Revelation is written to seven churches in Asia Minor, a peninsula in modern Turkey. Revelation provides descriptions of each Church.
- Ephesus(Revelation 2:1-7) – the church known for having labored hard and not fainted, and separating themselves from the wicked; admonished for having forsaken its first love (2:4)
- Smyrna(Revelation 2:8-11) – the church admired for its tribulation and poverty; forecast to suffer persecution (2:10)
- Pergamum(Revelation 2:12-17) – the church where ‘Satan’s seat’ or ‘throne’ is; needed to repent of allowing false teachers (2:16)
- Thyatira(Revelation 2:18-29) – the church known for its charity, whose “latter works are greater than the former”; held the teachings of a false prophetess (2:20)
- Sardis(Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that has a good name; cautioned to fortify itself and return to God through repentance (3:2-3)
- Philadelphia(Revelation 3:7-13) – the church steadfast in faith, that had kept God’s word and endured patiently (3:10)
- Laodicea, near Denizli(see Laodicean Church) (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church that was lukewarm and insipid (to God) (3:16)
The letter to the churches follows a common pattern. The Lord first addresses each church and identifies himself then defines that he knows about the church in question. After this, a challenge or rebuke is given, followed by a promise. In all seven cases the admonition is included, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”, although sometimes this comes before the promise and sometimes after.
These churches, with their strengths and weaknesses, were significant to God. Each one, all together, they reveal God’s patience with his people, his desire for holy worship, his intent to judge those who harm his people, and his intent to create a new world where his people could worship him forever.
By reading their stories and praying for the church, we fulfill the purpose of Revelation and receive the blessing promised to all who publicly read the book.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.