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15: To the Seven Churches (Rev 2:1-3:22)
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15: To the Seven Churches (Rev 2:1-3:22)

The Basics


The Lord Jesus Christ, who is in the midst of the lampstands and holds the seven stars in His right hand, commands John to write to each of the seven churches. Christ’s messages to the churches consist of commendation for their spiritual progress, warnings against their shortcomings and sins, and promises for those who persevere. The words to each church are also for the collective body of believer. So “he who has an ear” should heed what the Spirit has to say to the churches.

Key Verse

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22)

Did You Know…?

1.         Nicolaitans (2:6): “A heretical sect within the church that had worked out a compromise with the pagan society. They apparently taught that spiritual liberty gave them sufficient leeway to practice idolatry and immorality.” 13/1926

2.         Satan’s throne (2:13): “The center of Pergamos was a large hill covered with pagan temples, some of which were used in worship of the Roman emperor.” 1/1912

3.         Balaam (2:14): “Since the name “Balaam” can mean to ‘conquer the people’ (Heb. ba‘al ‘am), which means the same as ‘Nicolaitans,’ and since they are mentioned together in this letter, both groups may be closely related….” 9/441

4.         White stone (2:17): “A widely used symbol for victory or special privilege….” 1/1913

5.         Book of life (3:5): “In ancient cities the names of citizens were recorded in a register till their death; then their names were erased or marked out of the book of the living. This same idea appears in the OT (Exod 32:32-33; Ps 69:28; Isa 4:3).” 9/449

6.         Gold, white garments, eye salve (3:18): “Refers to three items in which Laodicea took great pride: financial wealth, an extensive textile industry and a famous eye salve.” 13/1929

7.         Dine with him (3:20): “The ‘eating’ (deipne-o) refers to the main meal of the day, which in Oriental fashion was a significant occasion for having intimate fellowship with the closest of friends.” 9/459


Key Words/Phrases

General Analysis

1.         Read through both chapters and fill out chart D at the end of this lesson. Spend some time to compare the messages to the various churches.

2.         Why do you think that the words of Christ to the churches are placed at the beginning of the book?

3.         What are the prominent themes in the letters?

Segment Analysis

2:1-7 (Ephesus)

1.         Christ walks in the midst of the lampstands. What personal lesson can you learn from this?

2.         How are we to test and expose the “false apostles”?

3a.       What is meant by “you have left your first love”?

3b.       What is the consequence if we fail to repent?

3c.       How should we restore and maintain our first love?

4.         Why did the Lord commend the believers for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans?

5.         What does eating from the tree of life represent (cf 22:2,14)?

2:8-11 (Smyrna)

6a.       What difficulties were the believers in Smyrna facing?

6b.       How do the words of the Lord provide great consolation?

7.         Why does affliction and material poverty often result in spiritual wealth?

2:12-17 (Pergamos)

Read Num ch. 22-25; 31:16; 2Pet 2:15; Jude 11 for background information on Balaam and the worship of Baal-peor.

8a.       At what point were the believers in Pergamos strong? Where were they tempted?

8b.       Contrast the church in Pergamos and the church in Ephesus. What is it that the Ephesian believers had that the believers in Pergamos lacked? What sin must the believers in Pergamos repent of?

8c.       How are false teachings sometimes more destructive than physical persecution?

9.         Why is the sword of Christ an effective and appropriate symbol in this context?

10a.     What could the hidden manna refer to?

10b.     What could the white stone with a new name refer to?

2:18-29 (Thyatira)

11a.     What reminder can the commendation in 19 and command in 25 give us?

11b.     What can we learn from the word “nevertheless” in 20?

12a.     What was Jezebel like and what were her works?

12b.     Why would the killing of Jezebel’s children let all churches know that Christ searches the minds and hearts?

13.       What are “the depths of Satan”? (cf. Col 2:8; 1Cor 2:6)

14.       What does it mean to be given the morning star? (cf 22:16)

3:1-6 (Sardis)

15.       What would someone who “has a name that he is alive and is dead” be like? Why is this so dangerous?

16a.     According to the Lord, what must the believers in Sardis do?

16b.     From the words, “Be watchful” and “I will come upon you as a thief,” what do you think causes death in a Christian’s life?

17.       Explain the threefold promise to those who overcome.

3:7-13 (Philadelphia)

18.       What is the key of David and the open door that Christ sets before the believers? (cf. Isa 22:20-23)

19a.     Under what circumstance had the believers in Philadelphia persevered?

19b.     How does their reward fit their faithfulness?

20.       What is the trial that shall come upon the whole world? How can we be kept from the hour of trial?

3:14-22 (Laodicea)

21.       What does it mean that Christ is “the Amen” (cf. Isa 65:16)?

22a.     Describe the condition of being lukewarm.

22b.     Why is being lukewarm so offensive to the Lord (15,16)?

23a.     What did the Laodicean believers think of themselves?

23b.     Why is their view of themselves so different from what the Lord thinks of them?

24.       What three things did the Laodiceans need? Explain what they represent.

24b.     Do you have these things in your life?

25.       What can we learn from 19 and 20 about God’s love?

Final Thoughts

26a      In the letters to the churches, what kinds of people will have to suffer the second death? Compare your list with Rev 21:8.

26b.     Go through the commendations and the rebukes the Lord gives to the churches and list the things that you are short of or weaknesses that you find in yourself. Then go through the exhortations and write down what you must do to overcome.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church