The seven churches were located on a trade route that ran from Ephesus up to Pergamum and then down to Laodicea. However, these were not the only churches in the immediate vicinity. There were churches at Colossae, Antioch, and several other places. It is most likely, therefore, that the Holy Spirit chose these particular seven churches to represent the whole of the church through the whole of the church age. So these letters are for us as well.
In my next post I am going to give you some of the background to each of these seven churches which will help you to understand the letters more fully. However, for now, I want to give you a summary of what they contain. It is easier this way to grasp the full import of what Jesus is saying to His church in general, both then, throughout history, and now.
We can categorise the bulk of what Jesus has to say to his church under two headings – Commendation and promise, and Condemnation and warning.
Condemnation and warning – what Jesus does not approve of and cautions us against
• Don’t lose your first love. Doctrinal orthodoxy is no replacement for zealous passion for Jesus.
• Do not allow the world to infiltrate the church or your life
• Do not allow so called ‘Christian’ false apostles and their teaching to corrupt the church, or you.
• Complacency is sin.
• Don’t be self-deluded and confuse material blessing for spiritual life.
• Repent and do the things you did at first, or you will lose what you have… and what you did when you first became of disciple was to love Jesus.
• Repent of your sinful practices, or else you will find yourself fighting against God’s Holy Spirit.
• Unless you repent of your wicked ways, you will suffer the consequences of your own thoughts and actions.
• Wake up and do the best with what you have.
• Remember what you have received, and obey it.
• Repent of your apathy and complacency, and seek Jesus for true riches.
Commendation and Promise – what Jesus approves of and His assurances to us.
• For the good things you do, for your hard work and perseverance.
• For not tolerating wicked men, and testing those who claim to be apostles.
• For enduring hardship and not growing weary.
• There is the promise of life to those who endure to the end.
• There awaits the crown of life for those who endure persecution, poverty, and hardship for their faith.
• Well done, for living right where Satan has his throne yet remaining true to Jesus’ name.
• That you are doing more now in faith, love, deed, and service than you did at first.
• Those who persevere to the end will have true authority and blessing.
• Those who live lives separated from sin will enjoy eternal life with God.
• For keeping the Word of God, even though you have little strength, Jesus will honour you before your detractors.
• Jesus will protect through the hour of trial those who keep his word.
The Lord has some tough things to say to his church, but he always overlays these admonitions with words of affirmation and promise. Even to the pathetic Laodiceans he designed his rebukes to bring them, and us, to repentance and life. “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”