Chapter 17 – The Seven Churches
There is a definite correlation between the seven parables of the Church-kingdom, and the seven churches of Revelation. A study of the seven churches is vital if we are to understand both what Jesus and His people, and Satan and his people, have done in the Church from Pentecost to the present.
Chapters 2-3 of Revelation have various interpretations:
1. The messages are to seven actual churches
2. The messages were written on an “if the shoe fits” basis to all the churches of that time, and those continuing down to the present day.
3. The seven churches are seven consecutive periods of Church history
All three are valid to some degree, but try as I may to see other viewpoints, I keep coming back to number three as the correct view. We must bear in mind that Revelation is a book of prophecy. We should expect, then, that the material contained therein in primarily prophetic, not merely exhortative, which would be the case with the first two views. That is not to say the messages to the churches do not contain exhortation, for they do; but their value consists of being useful in understanding the Church age, together with what Jesus expects our response to be to conditions arising in the churches: to resist and overcome evil. Let us look at these churches one by one.
Jesus commended this church for their intolerance of evil men and for exposing false apostles. They patiently bore the trials they suffered for the Name of Jesus. They hated the works of the heretical Nicolaitan sect (which Jesus also hated) which, some Bible historians say, advocated carnal pleasure under the guise of Christian liberty. But Jesus had to reprove this church for losing the ardor they had for Him at first. Perhaps they had settled into routine. He tells them to repent and regain their fervor or they would lose their place.
This is the church of the first century—the apostolic church. They had so much good, but the tendency to settle into a routine of church services, good works, even prayer and Bible study, cannot be substituted for the intense, personal relationship Jesus desires of each believer. Their failure to retain the love of Jesus as the foundation of their church was enough to gain them the threat of losing their standing.
Of the seven
parables of the kingdom in Mt 13, the first, the parable of the sower
was under persecution: thus, materially poor, though spiritually rich. They suffered
slander from those who said they were Jews but were, in reality, of the
This is the
church of the first three centuries which had to endure the worst of the cruel
persecutions under the Roman emperors. This church and
of the tares and wheat corresponds to
Satan has a throne in
The corresponding parable is that of the mustard seed. The birds of compromise, concession, worldliness, and heathenism had begun to nest in the branches of the Church.