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The Seven Churches of Revelation

Outline overview:

Church Characteristic Description of Jesus Desired Response
Ephesus, the Steadfast (2:1–7) Works hard, perseveres, rejects the wicked, endures, but left its first love He walks among the seven lamps (is in heaven) Return to first love
Smyrna, the Persecuted (2:8–11) Suffers, is in poverty, endures persecution He who died, is alive again Remain faithful
Pergamum, the Morally Compromising (2:12–17) Remains true, is faithful to death, but tolerates immorality He holds a sharp, double-edged sword Repent of evil ways
Thyatira, the Doctrinally Compromising (2:18–29) Does more than at first, but tolerates immorality, false doctrine Eyes of fire, feet of bronze Hold to the truth
Sardis, the Counterfeit (3:1–6) Reputed to be alive but spiritually dead, deeds are incomplete Holds the Spirit, angels, in His hand Wake up, obey what they have already heard
Philadelphia, the Obedient (3:7–13) Has little strength yet has kept the Word, patiently endures Holds the key of David (messianic authority) Hold tight to what they have
Laodicea, the Materialistic (3:14–22) Neither cold nor hot, wealthy, but poor spiritually Ruler of creation Be earnest, repent under discipline

Another Approach to the Seven Churches

Some commentators have taken the seven churches of Revelation as contemporary churches which double as symbols of the Christian church through the ages. According to this view each church represents a period in church history, during which Christianity itself is marked by the characteristics specified in the related letter. Usually those who take this view related each church of Revelation 2–3 to the following periods.

Ephesus     The Apostolic Age

Smyrna     The post-apostolic era of persecution

Pergamum     The Catholic era, during which the priesthood developed

Thyatira     The Dark Ages

Sardis     The Reformation

Philadelphia     The “true church” of every age

Laodicea     The “lukewarm” church of the twentieth century[1]


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[1]Richards, L. 1991. The Bible reader's companion. Includes index. Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.

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