Seven Churches of Revelation
When Jesus speaks, we all wish to listen. Where would we get better advice, anywhere?
Imagine if Jesus spoke a message directly to our own ecclesia. Who would not wish to listen attentively, eagerly, thoughtfully, earnestly? And then to apply that advice promptly to our own Christian life?
That is the blessing accorded to seven Christian communities in Asia Minor in the closing years of the first century of the Christian era. John the Apostle was the channel of these messages, sent to a pastoral leader of each area.
Imagine, as a courier arrived with a lengthy letter, sent by the last remaining apostle. But unlike the Gospel of John or an epistle from John, this letter was from the Master himself, Jesus Christ. Upon examination, within this letter was a message written expressly for the saints in your own area.
Decades ago we heard a memorable baptismal address by Br. John Hull, speaking as though from a letter addressed from heaven above to the candidates for baptism. An invitation to the most wonderful privilege ever to be extended to anyone, anywhere, at any time — to be part of the Bride of Christ. There were conditions, advice, delightful offers, and pledges of divine assistance. Would we not treasure such a letter, and save it for life? Review it, re-read it, ponder it, and love it?
In that discourse was a metaphor for the lessons and privileges extended to us through the Scriptures. But in the case of seven churches in Asia Minor, 1900 years ago, it was real, specific, and personalized.
The remarkable thing, in this case, is that Jesus, in those messages, also spoke to each of the periods of the saints throughout the age, also personalized for the experiences they would face in their time and circumstances.
Today we have the privilege of not only a letter from Jesus to our period, but we are free to read the other six messages also and glean lessons from each of them, helpful to us. In every single case Jesus closes with a reminder of the grandeur of our calling, and the remarkable, undeserved privileges awaiting each of us — including you, the reader, individually.
Our authors have thought deeply about their articles. They have labored long and carefully to recall the history and circumstances of the seven periods of church history and remind us of encouraging lessons from each one.
What a privilege to focus on Jesus’ letters to the seven churches. May they be treasured letters whose advice and direction we will follow in shaping our character, service, and faith.