Chapters two and three of the book of Revelation consists of seven letters from Christ to seven churches. In each of the letters, there is a description of Christ, some specifics about the particular church, instruction on what to do and a promise.
These were actual churches in the cities mentioned at the time the letters were written but I also believe that every church today, if they take an honest, good look at themselves, can point to one of the seven churches and say, “There we are.”
What about your church? What type of church are you?
When Christ speaks of the characteristics of each church; He has some good and some bad things to say about four of them; two of the churches He has nothing bad to say, and one church; He has no praise for.
Church number one is Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7). When speaking of the church’s good traits, this church seems like the perfect church. They were hard workers (Christ compliments them on their labor twice), they were patient, not rushing into things, working in the Lord’s time. They also knew the Word of God well enough to recognize false teachers, and they did all of this in the Lord’s name.
However, there was one big problem with the church; they had left their first love. They were not working for the Lord, not because they loved Him, but because it was their duty. The heart for the work was gone. This is serious because Ephesus is the only church of the seven in which Christ threatens to take the church away (compare Revelation 2:5 with Revelation 1:20).
The second church is Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11). Smyrna is one of the two churches Christ has nothing but good to say about. Against the worldly standard the church was poor; in fact, Jesus uses the word “poverty” when describing their worldly possessions but praises them for being spiritually rich. The church was persecuted and went through much suffering; the word “tribulation” is used twice in describing them. Because of their spiritual riches Satan was after them and Christ promises them a crown of life.
Church number three is Pergamos (Revelation 2:12-17). This church is an interesting one because Christ commends them for not denying Him but He rebukes them for accepting false doctrine. The basic truth of the gospel is still there but it is hidden because of other teaching that has overshadowed it, and that other teaching is not Biblically correct.
The rest of Revelation chapter two is the church of Thyatira. Like Ephesus, Thyatira is complemented on her work, patience and even her faith. Unlike Ephesus however, she is not founded in the Word well enough to recognize false teachers and allows them to teach in the church. The work continues but with all the false teaching the gospel is lost in the mix.
Chapter three of Revelation begins with the fifth church, the church of Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6). Sardis is often described as a church that is dying. Christ criticizes the church because their works are not pure but also praises them because some of them are worthy to “walk with me in white.” He encourages them not to give up and tells them to “be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain.”
Church number six is Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). Philadelphia is the second and last church Christ has nothing but praise for. He praises them for keeping His Word, not denying
His name, going through the open doors He has provided them in getting the gospel to others and for having “a little strength;” this is probably because of their reliance on Him.
The last church, the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) is the only church Christ had nothing good to say about, in fact, He said they make Him sick to His stomach. Being neither hot nor cold, the church is indifferent and filled with selfishness. They rely on themselves and their material wealth for the things of everyday life because they “have need of nothing.” In doing so they do not live by faith as Christians should do (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38) The sad thing is they don’t even realize that spiritually they are broke, destitute and blind. Christ is on the outside, knocking on the door, hoping someone answers.
There they are; the seven churches. Honestly, take a deep look inside, determine which church you are, and then follow the correction Christ gives to each church on how to fix the problems.
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Ind., and is considered by many as an expert on Biblical prophecy. He and his wife, Julie, have four grown children and 11 grandchildren. All Scripture references are from the KJV. Blog: www.preacherjohnson.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.