As the church takes over the leadership of God’s people, the armies of Satan march on against it. One by one, they knock down the ranks of God’s kingdom. John, banished to hard labor in Patmos, sees a vision of Christ with messages bracing His armies to face the enemy.
The number 7 used for churches, stars, candlesticks, etc. represents perfection and completion. This could imply all churches throughout the ages. Authored by the triune God (1:4-5), these letters are God’s message to us today.
We see several fake believers invading the Church bringing in sex, religion, politics, wealth, power, etc.
On the flip side we also see individual conquerors in every church, though the church may be destroyed, gaining rewards.
Ephesus, meaning “The desired one” demonstrates toil, patient endurance, aversion to evil folks, testing false apostles, etc. The one flaw of abandoning their first love is enough to bring them down.
Smyrna, meaning “myrrh - death” is poor (yet rich), facing slander, testing, tribulation and death. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna fed and provided for his arrestors prior to being burnt at the stake.
Pergamos, meaning “mixed marriage”, is involved in just that. While they hold fast Christ’s name in martyrdom, they fall short. They also: hold teachings of Balaam, Nicolaitans, and practice sexual immorality.
Thyatira, meaning “continual sacrifice”, demonstrates love, faith, service, patient endurance, latter works that exceed first, have not learned deep things of Satan. Yet they tolerate Jezebel – sexual immorality, etc.
Sardis, meaning “remnant”, have a few who are unpolluted while most others have a reputation of life but are dead. Their works are not complete.
Philadelphia, meaning “brotherly love”, has little power, kept word and not denied Christ’s name.
Laodicea, meaning “power of the laity” has only negatives. lukewarm, neither cold not hot, they feel rich, prosperous, needing nothing. Their condition is wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. Rev 3:20 paints the tragic picture of Jesus outside the door of the church, knocking.
All 7 literal churches are eventually destroyed. Can we extrapolate that to the failure of the global church? That individual conquerors forming the real church, Christ’s bride, usher God’s kingdom? What we clearly know is that only Christ is worthy to lead His people (Rev 5:12).
In what ways do we see similar traits in our churches today? How can we positively influence the church, the world and be a “conqueror”?