The seven letters: Every letter concludes by saying, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Today’s Theme: You must see Him well to hear Him well — He is the glorified Christ.
9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
9 John: He is the human author. He was an old man now. The last living apostle. The teenager, when called to Christ, is now an old man. He had endured to the end.
9 On the island called Patmos: off the coast from Asia Minor where the seven churches were. It acted like an Alcatraz Island for the Roman empire. Prisoners were forced to mine the marble quarries on the island.
9 Your brother and partner: His attitude — total humility.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day: He had a miraculous prophetic vision from the Holy Spirit on a Sunday.
11 To the seven churches: These seven church are found in an “A” pattern, following major Roman roads, near the Western coast of modern Turkey.
Common elements in each letter: a description of Jesus (7), a compliment (6), a correction (5), and a promise (7).
- Ephesus — cold church.
- Smyrna — hurting church.
- Pergamum — sinful church.
- Thyatira — seduced church.
- Sardis — dead church.
- Philadelphia — loyal church.
- Laodicea — blind church.
Jesus is working on His church.
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.
The lampstands are later defined as the seven churches (1:20) and are a perfect illustration for the church — burning the oil of another, broadcasting the light. The long robe and the golden sash speak of his current priestly work.
Priest would fill the oil, clean the soot, trim the wicks, and inspect so the lampstands would continually burn. We are the light of the world, so Jesus has to tend to us!
What will He work on in you?
Jesus provides wisdom for His church.
14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow.
Representative of purity and age in the Bible, which go together, for purity is eternal and eternal is pure.
His wisdom is eternal and pure. Do you believe He has great wisdom for you? Are you acting like it?
Jesus sees His church.
14 His eyes were like a flame of fire,
The church in Thyatira received this, and the next, description. For them it served as a clear reminder that Jesus saw every sin in them.
Jesus sees His church! His vision is total. But His vision is also perfect. He sees right through me. He knows me better than I know myself. What does He see in you?
Jesus offers judgements for His church.
15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace,
Bronze is a strong composite metal, but likely refers to judgement here. Again, Thyatira received this description, and they needed words of judgment.
Jesus offers judgements to His church! With their false doctrine they needed to know His judgements are the ones which stand.
Who cares what man thinks? Man often holds temporary opinions, not eternal facts. What judgements is He offering you?
Jesus speaks to His church.
15 and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
No single church gets this description because all churches need this. We need His voice. Jesus speaks to His church! He is the Word became flesh! (John 1).
- So loud you can’t hear anything else.
- So many streams converging into one.
- So constant.
Will He have ample opportunity to speak to you?
Jesus holds the leaders of His church.
16 In his right hand he held seven stars,
We later learn these are “the angels of the seven churches” (1:20). Likely angels, some think they are human messengers.
Jesus disciplines His church.
16 from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword,
We naturally think of the double edged sword of God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12). But this was a heavy sword used to kill and destroy (see His use in Revelation 19). And the Pergamum church that received this description received His discipline (2:12).
“He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Will you accept His disciplinary word in your life?
Jesus radiates through His church.
16 and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
Remember when Jesus was transfigured? “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). That was a glimpse into His eternal glory, which John now sees permanently.
Jesus radiates through His church! Paul had a mystery to explain: “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Jesus wants to transform you: “We all…are being transformed into the same image…” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
But will you allow Him access to transform you?
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
17 As though dead / he laid his right hand on me: Like Daniel had done before him.
17 Saying: Jesus begins to speak. He doesn’t stop until all the letters are completed.
17 First and the last: Laodicea needed this description.
18 The living one / Alive forevermore: Smyrna received this description.
18 Keys of death and Hades: Philadelphia received this description.
19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
I believe this provides a clean outline for the book.
This is the real, glorified Jesus. No matter who we construct in our minds, Jesus is majestic and awesome. “…we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16).
Do you want to know Him? Remember where John saw Him (Patmos). It is often in those moments we know Him best.
See Him so you can hear Him.