The Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3 outline the sequential history of the Christian Church from its beginning until the Second Coming of Christ.This post considers the first three churches described in chapter 2.In the next post we consider the final four types of churches. All dates are approximate.
The Church In Ephesus (Pentecost—a.d. 100)~Ephesus was the apostolic church.Jesus said, “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans [the rulers of the day], which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God’” (Revelation 2:1-7).
Ephesus was the church in early purity, it was the desired one, but while it did good works it did not prioritize a key mark of a true Christian church—love!What a warning to all of Christ’s followers.They had lost their intense enthusiasm which once characterized their love for God.Our first priority must be love.While on earth Jesus told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
The Church In Smyrna (a.d. 100—a.d. 314) ~Smyrna was the martyr church—there were around five million believers martyred for the name of Christ during this period.Jesus said, “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death’” (Revelation 2:8-11).
Smyrna was a church suffering persecution, like crushed myrrh (myrrh means suffering and the city name is derived from myrrh).Another characteristic of the true and faithful church is patient enduring during times of suffering.
The Church In Pergamos (a.d. 314— a.d. 590) ~Jesus spoke in regard to the believers in Pergamos, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is.And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it’” (Revelation 2:12-17).
Pergamos was an intellectual church—boasting a library of over two hundred thousand volumes, but Pergamos was also a church united with the world—spiritually adulterous!Pergamos was a church that had risen to heights but slowly became a compromising church.They had returned to ritualism, clergy dominance, and they ignored the priesthood of all believers.Pergamos contrasted with the pure church in which our God desires no compromise with the truth as found in the Word of God.
May we heed our Lord’s warnings as given to these three types of churches.
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