7 CHURCHES (wiki complete)Above/Below (EPHESUS& PLEIADES)

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This article is about the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. For other uses, see Seven Churches (disambiguation).

Map of western Anatolia showing the island Patmos and the locations of the cities housing the seven churches

The Seven Churches of Revelation, also known as The Seven Churches of the Apocalypse and The Seven Churches of Asia (referring to the Roman province of Asia, not the entire continent), are seven major churches of Early Christianity, as mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation. In early part of the Revelation, on the Greek island of Patmos, Jesus Christ instructs his servant John of Patmos, through an angelic intermediary, to: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamum, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” [1]

“Churches” in this context refers to the community or local congregations of Christians living in each city, and not merely to the building or buildings in which they gathered for worship. [2][3]

The seven churches are located in:

Ephesus (Metropolis of Ephesus)

Smyrna (Metropolis of Smyrna)

Pergamum (Metropolis of Pergamum)

Sardis (See of Sardis)

Philadelphia (Metropolis of Philadelphia)

and Laodicea, near Denizli (see Laodicean Church)

The seven churches of Asia in stained glass in York Minster by John Thornton

1. Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) – the church known for having laboured hard and not fainted, and separating themselves from the wicked; admonished for having forsaken its first

2. Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) – the church admired for its tribulation and poverty; forecast to suffer persecution

3. Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) – the church located at ‘Satan’s seat’; needed to repent of allowing false teachers

4. Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) – the church known for its charity, whose “latter works are greater than the former”; held the teachings of a false prophetess (2:20)

5. Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that has a good name; cautioned to fortify itself and return to God through repentance (3:2-3)

6. Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) – the church steadfast in faith, that had kept God’s word and endured patiently (3:10)

7. Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church that was lukewarm and insipid (to God) (3:16)

The letters follow a common pattern. For example: the Lord first addresses each church and identifies himself, [4]

then defines things that he knows about the church in question. [5] After this a challenge or reproach is given, [6]

followed by a promise. [7] In all seven cases the admonition is included, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”, [8] although sometimes this comes before the promise and sometimes after.

Although the letters differ in length in accord with the needs of each community, all conclude with an appeal to hold fast and to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Each church is promised that everyone who conquers will be rewarded by Christ.

Some historicists typically interpret the seven churches as representing seven different periods in the history of the Western Church from the time of Paul until the return of Jesus Christ. [9]

Scofield states that “these messages by their very terms go beyond the local assemblies mentioned.” [10] He is of the opinion that the letters have a prophetic purpose disclosing the seven phases of the spiritual history of the Church. Other writers, such as Clarence Larkin, [11]

Henry Hampton Halley, [12] Merrill Unger, [13] and William M. Branham [14]

also have posited the view that the seven churches preview the history of the global Church.

Mosaic in St Mark’s Basilica of the seven

Historicism has been criticized by the Eastern Orthodox Fr. Dimitri Cozby, who writes that historicists take a greatly oversimplified view of church history: “Since dispensationalism is Protestant in origin its ‘Church history’ is strictly Western. The dispensations take into account almost nothing of Orthodox history after the period of the early councils which we share with the

Chapters 2-3 of the Revelation has specific messages for each of the seven churches. The message of each of the seven letters is directed to the angel of the particular church that is mentioned.

Origen [16] explains that these “angels” are the guardian angels of the churches, a view upheld by Henry Alford. But Epiphanius [17] explicitly rejects this view, and, in accordance with the imagery of the passage, explains it of the bishops.

John sees a vision of the Son of Man, who walks among seven lampstands and has seven stars in his right hand. Revelation 1:20 states that “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” The comparison of a teacher to a star is scriptural. [18]

Augustine of Hippo’s reason for interpreting angels of the churches as the prelates of the church is that St. John speaks of them as falling from their first charity which is not true of the angels. [19][20] Others would say that the falling away relates to the churches, not to the messengers, as each of the seven letters conclude with the words “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

In the New Testament, the Greek word

) is not only

for angels (άγγελος[1]

used for heavenly angels, but also used for human messengers, such as John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10 ,Mark

,Luke 7:27 ) and God’s prophets

) [21] C.I. Scofield

(Revelation 22:8-9

has noted that “The natural explanation of the ‘messengers’ is that they were men sent by the seven churches to ascertain the state of the aged apostle … but they figure any who bear God’s messages to a church.” [22]

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Tweet Seven Churches of Revelation

The names of the seven churches of

Revelation are symbolic names and

represent the church down through the

ages from the beginning of the New

Testament church, right to the end at

the second coming of Christ Jesus, and

reveals the condition of the church at

different periods in history.

Revelation 1:12-15 …’And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst

of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they

burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.’

Christ Jesus is the one walking

amongst the candlesticks (churches),

which shows His relationship with His

church … “He is in constant

communication with His people. He

knows their true state. He observes their

order, their piety, their devotion.

Although He is high priest and mediator

in the sanctuary above, yet He is

represented as walking up and down in

the midst of His churches on the earth.

With untiring wakefulness and

unremitting vigilance, He watches to see

whether the light of any of His sentinels

is burning dim or going out. If the

candlesticks were left to mere human

care, the flickering flame would languish

and die; but He is the true watchman in

the Lord’s house, the true warden of the

temple courts. His continued care and

sustaining grace are the source of life

and light.” (E.G.White, The Acts of The

Apostles, p585-586)

This is the first of seven studies on the

churches of Revelation chapters 2 and

3, of which there is so much to learn

from the Great Teacher Himself, Jesus

Christ, who is the instigator of these

seven letters to the churches. These

letters to the churches are full of

warnings, rebukes and commendations,

and we need to really heed what Jesus

is saying to the seven churches,

because as well as having messages for

those literal churches, and the church

throughout the ages, each message to

the churches also applies to us today.

Who are the angels that the letters are

written to? Are they literal heavenly

beings? No, in Bible prophecy an angel

is usually symbolic of God’s

“messengers”. In other words, His

people on earth. Now if you think about

these letters, is Jesus telling John to

write to literal angels? Of course not,

John is writing these letters to the

people of the churches, and maybe in

this instance, the angels refer to the

leaders/elders of these particular

churches. The first church is the church

of Ephesus.

To the Church in Ephesus –

Revelation 2:1-7 …..’Unto the angel of

the church of Ephesus write; These

things saith he that holdeth the seven

stars in his right hand, who walketh in

the midst of the seven golden

candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy

labour, and thy patience, and how thou

canst not bear them which are evil: and

thou hast tried them which say they are

apostles, and are not, and hast found

them liars: And hast borne, and hast

patience, and for my name’s sake hast

laboured, and hast not fainted.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against

thee, because thou hast left thy first

love. Remember therefore from whence

thou art fallen, and repent, and do the

first works; or else I will come unto thee

quickly, and will remove thy candlestick

out of his place, except thou repent. But

this thou hast, that thou hatest the

deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also

hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear

what the Spirit saith unto the churches;

To him that overcometh will I give to eat

of the tree of life, which is in the midst of

the paradise of God.’

The meaning of the name Ephesus is “Desirable”. Now this was the church in the age of apostolic purity and is thought to cover the period of

A.D.31 – 100.

Commendations

Christ commends this church for their

works, labour, and patience. Anyone

who comes to Christ and truly accepts

Him into their lives will be compelled to

do good works and labour hard for the

Kingdom of God. They will also endure

hardships and temptation in this life in

order to live pure, holy lives for Christ

Jesus. As we can see, Jesus commends

this kind of living. Unfortuntely, if you

mention works today, you will be

labelled as a legalist, and yet Christ

commends it. Many Christians today

think that their faith alone, without doing

any works will save them. God’s Word

rejects that thinking. Yes, we are saved

by grace, which is a free gift, but anyone

who claims to be a follower of Christ

should be compelled to “take up their

cross and follow Jesus”. They should be

compelled, like the church in Ephesus to

work, labour and endure!

James 2:20 …’But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?’

What else does Christ commend this

church for doing? He commends them

for exposing any evil amongst them and

for exposing anyone that say they are

disciples, but their lives show that they

are not. Unfortuntely today the churches

are prone to “bear” with and put up with

false teachings and sinfulness within

their midst, just for the sake of peace

and “unity”. Yet the church at Ephesus

was to be commended for making a

clear distinction between truth and

error, whether in doctrine or in life, and

for taking a firm stand against error.

2 Timothy 4:3 …’For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves

teachers, having itching ears.’

Now Jesus commends Ephesus for

“trying” (testing) them that say they are

apostles, but are not. How do they do

this? By diligently investigating any

teachings and claims made by these

apostles against the true Word of God.

Ignatius, writing early in the 2nd century,

speaks of the diligence of the Ephesian

Christians in shunning heresy (To the

Ephesians ix. 1). The apostle Paul had

already warned the church that

“grevious wolves” would come in “not

sparing the flock” and that men from

within the church would rise to speak

“perverse things to draw away disciples

after them” (Acts 20:29-30). Paul also

counseled the Thessalonians to “prove

all things” and “hold fast that which is

good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Peter

also wrote at length warning about false

prophets and false teachers who would

bring into the church great heresies. So

what must we do today? We must do as

the church of Ephesus did, and test

them that say they are followers of

Christ by their fruit, and test any

“teachers” according to the Word of

God, and expose any error.

Though at first it might not be easy to

recognize the subtle errors of their

teachings, the teachers themselves

could be known by their fruits (see Matt.

7:15-20). The GENUINE fruit of the Spirit

(Gal. 5:22, 23) does not grow in the lives

of those who teach and practice error.

The sincere Christian who is sensitive to

spiritual things is promised that he can,

if he will, detect the unchristian spirit

and motives that actuate every teacher

of error.

The church in Ephesus also hated the

deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which Jesus

also hates. Now who were the

Nicolaitanes and what did they do? The

Nicolaitanes were a Gnostic sect who

believed that you could continue living

in open sin and still be saved. Whereas

the Bible teaches that Jesus saves us

FROM our sins and renews our hearts

and minds through the indwelling of His

Spirit to change us and turn us from sin,

the Nicolaitanes taught that Jesus

saves us IN our sins, and it matters not

whether we turn from our sins or not.

This is heresy which Jesus hates.

Unfortunately, this heresy has flooded

the churches today, and we now have

churches FULL of unconverted people,

continuing to happily and openly live

sinful lives in contradiction to God’s Ten

Commandments, while professing the

name of Christ Jesus. This is open

rebellion against Christ’s teachings and

we really need to repent and truly start

living the faith we proclaim. Make a

stand for the truth!

Rebuke

Christ has one rebuke for this church, in

that they had left their first love. Maybe

because of the false apostles and

prophets that had already come into the

church teaching heresies, many of the

people had been influenced in some

way by these false teachers, which had

caused them to fall from their first love.

This love probably included

wholehearted love for God and for truth,

and love for one another as brethren

and for their fellow men in general (see

Matt. 5:43, 44; 22:34-40). In spite of

diligent efforts on the part of many to

stay the tide of false teaching, a number

who remained in the church were no

doubt affected by it. To the extent that

error had found a lodging place in the

church, and the flame of faith and love

for Jesus and for truth and purity,

burned ever lower. Now we only need to

look around the different denominations

today to see that error has certainly

found a lodging place amongst them,

and the majority of professing

Christians are now happy to “put up

with” these heresies.

Remember, Jesus isn’t just speaking to

one group of people here, He is

speaking to people down through the

ages.

Now what was Christ’s response to this

problem with the early church? Even

though they had the commendations

above, the church was defective and in

need of stern reproof and chastisement.

Christ said that if they didn’t repent and

return to their first works, then He would

remove their candlestick from it’s place,

which would mean that the church in

Ephesus would no longer be Christ’s

church. Christ is showing that although

this church was a pure church in the

beginning and still had some good

qualities, it was now in a fallen state.

But Christ in His mercy patiently

provided an opportunity for Ephesus to

repent in order to remain as His true

representatives on earth. How serious is

this? This is the first pure Christian

church, and yet Christ is warning them

that if they did not repent and show the

“love” that He taught them, and the great

zeal for the gospel truth that they once

had, then they would no longer be His

church. How many churches are in this

fallen state today?

“At the first the experience of the church at Ephesus was marked with childlike simplicity and fervor. The believers sought earnestly to obey

every word of God, and their lives revealed an earnest, sincere love for Christ. They rejoiced to do the will of God because the Saviour was in

their hearts as an abiding presence. Filled with love for their Redeemer, their highest aim was to win souls to Him… They felt the importance

of their calling …. they burned with desire to carry the glad tidings of salvation to earth’s remotest bounds. And the world took knowledge of

them that they had been with Jesus. Sinful men, repentant, pardoned, cleansed, and sanctified, were brought into partnership with God

through His Son …

“… But after a time the zeal of the believers began to wane, and their love for God and for one another grew less. Coldness crept into the

church. Some forgot the wonderful manner in which they had received the truth. One by one the old standard-bearers fell at their post. Some

of the younger workers, who might have shared the burdens of these pioneers, and thus have been prepared for wise leadership, had become

weary of oft-repeated truths. In their desire for something novel and startling they attempted to introduce new phases of doctrine, more

pleasing to many minds, but not in harmony with the fundamental principles of the gospel. In their self-confidence and spiritual blindness

they failed to discern that these sophistries … would thus lead to confusion and unbelief. As these false doctrines were urged, differences

sprang up, and the eyes of many were turned from beholding Jesus as the Author and Finisher of their faith. The discussion of unimportant

points of doctrine, and the contemplation of pleasing fables of man’s invention, occupied time that should have been spent in proclaiming the

gospel. The masses that might have been convicted and converted by a faithful presentation of the truth were left unwarned.” (E.G.White, The

Acts of the Apostles, p579-580)

NOTE: Christ said “Remember therefore

from whence thou art fallen, and repent,

and do the first works; or else I will

come unto thee quickly, and will remove

thy candlestick out of his place, except

thou repent.” … This church had fallen

and Christ said that if they didn’t repent

and return to the first works, then they

would no longer be His church. This one

line shows the teaching of “once saved

always saved” to be false.

So what must we do? We must live

according to the Word of God in the

Bible. We must worship God in spirit

and truth. We must purge the evil from

among us. We must no longer tolerate

the error that has come into the church.

We must test everyone and everything

according to the truth of God’s Word. We

must love God with everything we have

and love one another as ourselves. And

what is the promise that Jesus gives to

all those who overcome this world

through Him? He says at the end of the

letter to Ephesus that those who

overcome will have the right to eat from

the tree of life, which is in the midst of

the paradise of God. What a promise!

Time is short, we are living in the Bible

end times and Jesus is coming soon.

It’s time to get right with God. Let Jesus

cleanse you today and begin to walk

with Him in spirit and truth.

This concludes the Bible study on the

first of the seven churches of Revelation

– Ephesus. See Seven Churches of

Revelation – Smyrna for the study on the

next church.

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