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What is the significance of the seven churches in Revelation?

Why are we only told about those churches? Why 7?

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Seven used in scripture generally indicates completeness.Creation for example was completed in seven days.

Following the pattern, the whole purpose of God will be completed in seven millennia. Christ’s reign over the earth will occupy the seventh millennium as the Sabbath of rest promised to the people of God.

Hebrews 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

There were seven lamps made for the holy place to give light within the tabernacle.

Exodus 25:37 And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.

Light is used symbolically for preaching the gospel of Christ in word and deed.

Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

We might then reasonably suppose that the seven churches in Asia symbolically represent the whole church of Christ.

Church’ is the Greek word‘ecclesia’ which denotes‘a congregation of believers’. Each ‘ecclesia’ was autonomous but all were part of the one body with the true gospel and doctrine.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,

All scripture is written for the benefit of those who read it, whatever generation they belong to.

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning...

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition...

Revelation is no exception, the message is given for all Christ’s servants and those who read and hear (understand) and keep in mind what is said are blessed.

Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

‘Shortly’ and ‘the time is at hand’ is not to be understood in terms of man’s threescore years and ten, but in God’s terms set against eternity. The prophecy in Revelation has been fulfilling now for almost 2000 years. Psalm 37 written 3000 years ago speaks of ‘yet a little while’.

Psalms 37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

The seven churches were real churches and what is said was necessary for their individual circumstances at the time; but we note that each letter ends:

‘He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches’

In English it means ‘he that has understanding, let him take notice’. It is a phrase used by Jesus to those who heard his parables:

Matthew 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

It draws attention to what is said as being important for all those in Christ who hear it and indicates that each generation who will ‘hear’ are to examine firstly themselves and secondly their own churches in the light of what is said to each of the seven.

In the same way that the successes and failures of Israel are recorded for our learning, so the successes and failures of the seven churches in Asia are brought to our attention.

People have similar failings in every generation and congregations do not remain static. They are founded, they prosper and grow; they have problems and decline; some fall into apostasy, some suffer persecution, some cease to be; others recover and the cycle is repeated.

The problem is exacerbated today with so many different churches with differing doctrines and the truth can only be determined by diligent attention to scripture.

If we view what is said to the churches as an exhortation to ourselves to look after the spiritual welfare of our own congregation then we will be acting the part of faithful servants. When problems arise we are exhorted to ‘repent’ and to ‘hold fast’ to the truth.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

I hope you have found this helpful.

May God bless you,
Glenn,
thisisyourbible.com


 
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