Remember, the main character in the book of Revelation is the Church. Certainly Jesus plays a leading role as we see Him defeat Satan and evil from seven different perspectives, but He does so to rescue His bride, the Church, which includes you and me. So it only makes sense that this account begin with Christ calling to His Church. Although He addresses seven (we'll see this number often) particular congregations with their individual characteristics, it becomes clear that these churches are a synecdoche (word of the day: a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole) of the universal Church of all times and places.
Notice that each of these mini-letters follows the same pattern:
To the church in _____________ , write...
These are the words of Him... [various descriptions of Jesus]
Even if Revelation was the only account in the Bible that told us about Jesus, we would still know everything we need to know about Him! There's a ton of theology in these descriptions!
Each mini-letter in today's chapter begins with an acknowledgement of the positive attributes of the church. It should be comforting for you to know that Jesus knows the good things you do, even if nobody else recognizes them!
Nevertheless, I have this against you...
All of the churches we read about today (with the exception of those goody-two shoes in Smyrna) were called out by Jesus for their sin. Know that Jesus will not tolerate sin and will hold you (and your congregation) accountable for the things you do and don't do in the life of your church (notice how in most cases, the churches were not sinning overtly, rather they were simply tolerating the sins of others!)
To the one who is victorious...
Remember, the book of Revelation was given for your comfort, so that you could have No Fear for the Future. Be comforted by the promises made to you in chapter 2!
He who has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches...
Even though God's Word, and especially this particular book, are given for your comfort and benefit, you have an obligation to read / hear it. Interestingly, even though it's Jesus dictating these letters to John, notice that it's the Spirit who's speaking to the churches!
Dig even deeper: I'll have the sermons from our recent series on Revelation embedded at the bottom of each post. Even if you don't want to listen to them in their entirety, you can easily see the sermon slides and be reminded of the outline and key passages.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Exodus 34:15 (NIV)
“Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL— Where is the tree of life? (See verse 7.)
Questions from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all of which are active in bringing these messages to the Church
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will strengthen you to be victorious (v7, 11, 17, 26)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: