The Seven Churches
Revelation – The Seven Churches
Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are letters to seven literal churches in John’s day. However, these churches are also symbolic. They mirror seven churches in the Old Testament as well as seven Church Ages. In this article, we will analyze each church in Revelation, the Old Testament, and as a prophetic age. A famous book about this topic is An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages written by William Marrion Branham in 1964. Branham’s teachings are considered to be its own branch of Christianity called Branhamism. Although I don’t agree with all of his teachings, it is clear God gave him spiritual discernment on some things, which can be learned from. Part of our study will include ideas from Branham.
The Ephesian Church
The church in Ephesus was founded by Paul in the middle of the first century. Ephesus was a very large and rich city. The government was run by the Romans, but the language was Greek. It is believed that John, Mary, Peter, Andrew, and Philip were all buried here. The theme of this church can be seen here:
Revelation 2:2-5 – I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, and have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (NIV)
God first praises the church of Ephesus for their hard work and perseverance, but then says they have forsaken their love for God they used to have. What is God talking about? A similar theme can be seen in the Old Testament:
Exodus 20:19-21 – and say unto Moses, ‘Speak thou with us, and we hear, and let not God speak with us, lest we die.’ And Moses saith unto the people, ‘Fear not, for to try you hath God come, and in order that His fear may be before your faces – that ye sin not.’ And the people stand afar off, and Moses hath drawn nigh unto the thick darkness where God [is]. (YLT)
In Exodus, God freed His people from slavery by using ten plagues. The Israelites worked hard and persevered, and God rewarded them for that. However, as they traveled through the desert, they began to doubt God. In this passage, the Israelites were too scared to speak with God directly, and relied on Moses to speak to God for them. Moses told them not be afraid, but they refused to listen to him. In other words, this church preferred to be governed by men, therefore only having an indirect connection to God. God wants everyone to speak to Him directly.
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