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A.        The Nature and Purpose of the Seven Letters   Here are the more popular views on the nature of these seven letters.   1.            Pastoral – These churches were definitely historical entities to which John was instructed to write. The most basic interpretive approach is to understand the letters as reflecting realistic, concrete circumstances existen...Read More

It is appropriate that the first of the seven letters goes to Ephesus, for although not the titular capital of Asia (Pergamum held that honor), it was the most important political center of all. By the time the church received this letter, the city of Ephesus had grown to a population of @ 250,000. The imperial cult was present in Ephesus, as the temples of Claudius, Hadrian, Julius Caesar, Augustus, and Severus give ample testimony.   Religion and magic were hop...Read More

A straight sail from the island of Patmos of some 60 miles brings one to the port of Ephesus at the mouth of the river Cayster. Traveling up coast some 35 miles almost due north of Ephesus is the city of Smyrna (population @ 100,000). It is the only one of the 7 cities still in existence today: modern Izmir in western Turkey.   Smyrna was a proud and beautiful city and regarded itself as the “pride of Asia.” An inscription on coins describes the city ...Read More

If the Ephesian church was guilty of elevating truth above love, the church at Pergamum had elevated love above truth. Their commitment to love and tolerance had apparently degenerated into a weak sentimentality that threatened the theological purity of the church.   Pergamum, with a population of @ 190,000, was about 65 miles due north of Smyrna and exceeded its southern neighbor in love for and loyalty to the emperor. Pergamum was the capital city of the Roman ...Read More

Thyatira was the least known, least remarkable, and least important of the seven cities to receive a letter from the Lord. Yet the letter addressed to it is the longest and most difficult to interpret. The obscurity of the letter and the enigmatic character of certain words and phrases are largely due to the fact that background information on the history of Thyatira, specifically the cultural conditions and circumstances in the first century, is almost wholly lacking. I...Read More

Try to envision the scene at a typical funeral with its sprays of flowers, and bright, vivid colors, all of which is designed (at least in part) to divert one’s attention from the dark reality of death. The church at Sardis was like a beautifully adorned corpse in a funeral parlor, lavishly decked out in the splendor and fragrance of the most exquisite floral arrangement, set against the background of flowing drapery and soft, but enlivening music. Yet all are awar...Read More

One could make a strong case that the letters to Smyrna and Philadelphia are the most important ones of the seven, for in neither of them do we find one word of complaint. They both receive unqualified praise and approval. These, then, are truly churches of which Christ heartily approves. V. 7 Here we find a four-fold description of Jesus, again taken from the visionary portrait of him in chapter one. First, he is called The Holy One – An unmista...Read More

The courier who had been entrusted by the apostle John with the seven letters to the seven churches neared his journey’s end. Having embarked from the island of Patmos with the book of Revelation securely tucked away in his messenger’s pouch, he would have begun his travel along the circular route by first visiting Ephesus. Moving northward he would pass through the cities of Smyrna and Pergamum, at which point, turning southeast, his journey would lead him t...Read More