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Revelation’s Commentary – The Seven churches – Part I

Verses 1:20 through 2:24

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Begin Text:

 

Our last study ended with Revelation 1:20 and I would like to refresh your thinking with this verse because it is important in today’s study:

 

Revelation 1:20   The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

 

The imagery used here is pretty easy to understand. The “right hand” of Jesus after His departure from Earth was His church. This is why the seven angels and the seven churches are found in His right hand. The number seven indicates completion, fullness and perfection. Christianity is represented as seven candlesticks because the Church had displaced the nation of Israel as the light of the world.

 

You may recall how a single lampstand seen in Zechariah 4 represented the nation of Israel. After Israel rejected Jesus, Jesus established His Church. To ensure its success, Holy Spirit power was given to believers in Jesus at the Feast of Pentecost in A.D. 30. This wonderful event (Acts 2) signaled the inauguration of the Church. The Christian Church had been selected to be the trustee of the gospel because… Israel’s lampstand had been removed and Israel’s appointment as trustee of the gospel had been revoked. This is why Jesus was seen standing among the seven lampstands (the seven churches).

 

What about the seven angels?

 

Because of the Father’s love for Christ chosen church, the seven angels (or seven spirits) that stand before the Father have been assigned to Jesus. They were to carry out His commands as He directed His church from Heaven. For the past 2,000 years, the most powerful angels in Heaven have helped Christians fulfill their mission and purpose.

 

The seven messages to the seven churches are addressed to the seven angels because they are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1:14

 

Let’s get into an A.D. 95 context:

 

Jesus had been gone for about 65 years when the vision was given to John. Tradition says that all of the disciples, with the exception of John, were probably dead. The apostle Paul had been dead for 30 years. The city of Jerusalem had been in ruins for 25 years. There was no central authority for Christians nor unified Christian organization. There were few widely respected Christian leaders. As a religious body, Christianity was fracturing and most vulnerable.

 

With the pioneers of the Christian movement gone, Christianity was fast mutating according to the “baggage” of its recent converts. Of course, there were more than seven Christian churches on Earth in A.D. 95. However, the seven churches in Asia Minor were selected by Jesus because (a) they were physically close to Patmos so, many copies of this vision could be sent to them and (b) these seven churches collectively faced and represented the problems that all Christian churches face.

 

These seven churches in Asia Minor existed simultaneously and they do not represent seven periods of church history as some people claim. They are not prophetic. They are didactic – examples used for the purpose of illustration.

 

The seven (a complete number) churches in Asia Minor were selected by Jesus to represent the whole of Christianity at any given time. The point here is that the words of Jesus to the angels of the seven churches are timeless. His words are universal. They are just as applicable today as they were 2,000 years ago.

 

The seven messages to the seven churches are highly important. Here’s why: Every Christian will find himself on one of the seven churches if you understand their condition. Your “membership” in a particular church is determined according to your spiritual condition. In other words, If your experiencing the victory or the problem that Jesus identified in the church of Ephesus, then you are a “spiritual” member of the church of Ephesus.

 

If you discover that you have the same problems experienced in two churches, then you need to wake up and repent because you are slipping out of the church of Christ – although your membership at your local church may be quite honorable!

 

If after studying the seven churches you discover that you have all of the problems associated with six churches, you need to know that you are no longer a Christian. You have drifted away from Christ and His church. I realize these are strong words, but these are not my words!

 

Notice that Jesus speaks to the seven angels assigned to the seven churches instead of the churches because each angel is empowered to help members in each church overcome their failures.

 

The Church at Ephesus:

 

Revelation 2:1   To the angel (assigned to work with people who have the Ephesus experience for the next 2,000 years) of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of (Jesus) him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:

 

Revelation 2:2   I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men (in your church), for you have tested those who claim to be (my) apostles but are not, and have found them false.

Revelation 2:3   You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

 

Revelation 2:4   Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

 

Revelation 2:5   Remember the height (of joyous faith and devotion) from which you have fallen! Repent and (out of love) do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place (I will abandon you as I abandoned the nation of Israel).

 

Revelation 2:6   But you have this in your favor: You hate the (subtle, but evil) practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

 

Revelation 2:7   He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the (seven)churches. To him that overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

 

Commentary:

 

What causes a Christian to lose his first love for Jesus!

Answer: The resurrection of the carnal nature.

 

A transformation of the heart has occurred when the direction of our love changes. A Christian loves in an outward direction whereas a pseudo-Christian loves himself, he loves in an inward direction. This is a critical point because every Christian faces two deadly forces each day that can kill our “first love” for Jesus.

 

Our first enemy is our carnal nature and the second enemy is the devil. Our carnal nature is our natural nature. It is a selfish self-resurrecting monster and it begs for gratification every day. This monster within us never stops yelling, “make me first.” The devil knows this. Our carnal nature constantly asserts itself and the devil preys upon our selfish inclination through our eyes and ears.

 

Paul said that he had to put his carnal nature to death every day. “I die every day I mean that, brothers just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1Corinthians 15:31) 

 

The only way our carnal nature can be put to death is through God’s power. He has to give us the power – He has to fill us and renew us with His divine love every day. When a Christian does not drink in God’s Word and receive the power of the Holy Spirit, he loses touch or communion with God. He loses the marvelous power of agape love as it evaporates; the power of the carnal nature becomes stronger.

 

When a Christian becomes too busy to meditate and pray about the stressors and temptations of life, he or she becomes weak in agape power. We begin to see things subjectively instead of objectively. Our feelings become sensitive and we become critical of others. The carnal nature is mean because it cares most about self.

 

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