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Saturday, November 5 2016

Revelation 2: Why Were The Seven Churches Listed In That Order?

"Send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea"

The Book of Revelation is actually a letter, dictated by Jesus Christ to the apostle John, while John was on the island of Patmos (see The LORD's Letter From Patmos). Patmos is located in the Aegean Sea just off the west coast of Asia Minor, or Turkey, as it is known today.

The letter was addressed to seven church congregations on the nearby mainland. They are addressed, by location, in the second and third chapters (keeping in mind that there were no chapters in the Scriptures as they were originally written): Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

Why were they listed in that order? Look at the second map below. From the island of Patmos, Ephesus is the first city that the letter could have reached - Ephesus is closest to the coast. Then, the cities are listed in a simple clockwise mail route with the Biblical listing and their sequence of geographical location being identical. See the Fact Finder question below to understand the incorrect theory that some devised (but which has now been proven incorrect by their own example) that declared that those seven churches, that existed together at the same time, were seven "church eras" over the past 2,000 years.

Asia Minor

Each of the seven church congregations had specific strengths and weaknesses.

Ephesus was visited by the apostle Paul during his missionary journeys (see The Miracles At Ephesus and The Idol Pedlars). The Ephesians epistle was written by Paul to them (see Ephesians 1: What Does Predestination Mean?, Ephesians 2: Who Called Satan A Prince?, Ephesians 3: God, Who Created All Things By Jesus Christ, Ephesians 4: Eve Was Created From Adam; What Woman Was Created From Jesus Christ?, Ephesians 5: Who Tries To Imitate God? and Ephesians 6: The First Commandment With Promise).

"2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;

These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:1-7 KJV)

Smyrna became a regional center for worship of the "divine" Roman emperor. It was the site of the temple to Tiberius, who reigned at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Despite that environment, Christians in Smyrna were true and faithful. Of the seven churches addressed by The LORD, only Smyrna and Philadelphia were spoken of with approval in that time. In later years, Polycarp, a student of the apostle John, served as a leader of the church at Smyrna, and he was martyred there, burned at the stake, about 155 A.D.

Seven 7 Churches of Asia Revelation Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea

"2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write;

These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." (Revelation 2:8-11 KJV)

Pergamum, or Pergamos, was the capital for the Pergamenian kings until about 133 BC when it came under Roman control. The Romans made it the central city of their new province of "Asia."

In 29 BC a temple for the worship of Caesar Augustus (the Roman emperor who later called that famous census that resulted in Jesus Christ being born in Bethlehem i.e. Luke 2:1) was erected in Pergamum, however worship of him and subsequent emperors was long rivaled there by the cult of the pagan god Zeus, the symbol of which was a serpent. Pergamum's massive throne-like altar of Zeus, that some have speculated was the symbolic "Satan's throne" reference in Revelation 2:13, is now in the Berlin Museum.

Parchment, an ancient writing material made from the processed skins of animals, most often that of calves, sheep and goats, was invented in Pergamum to free the great library there from dependence upon imported papyrus, mainly from Egypt.

"2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write;

These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." (Revelation 2:12-17 KJV)

Thyatira was the center of craft and trade guilds that made prosperous use of the natural resources of the area. The apostle Paul visited the city on a number of occasions during his missionary travels. Although they were commended for their faith and service, they were rebuked for their tolerance of paganism. The "Jezebel" referred to in the letter was not the long-dead evil Jezebel of the Old Testament, but another person by that name who drew people away into worshiping the idol Artemis, also known as Diana.

Notice that Jesus Christ quoted Psalm 2:9 ("Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel") in verse 27 below.

"2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write;

These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

2:28 And I will give him the morning star.

2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 2:18-29 KJV)

Fact Finder: How and where do the seven churches exist today?
See Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?


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This Day In History, November 5

1138: Ly Anh Tong became the emperor of Vietnam.

1219: Damietta was captured by the "Crusaders" (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).

1414: The Council of Constance (ecumenical council) opened.

1492: While on his voyages to claim the "New World" for Spain, Christopher Columbus "discovered" maize (i.e. "corn") from the natives of Cuba. All of the voyages of Columbus were within the Caribbean Sea area, none to North America which was discovered by Vikings, over 500 years before Columbus, with their landings on what is today the east coast of Canada (see the map at Thanksgiving In History and Prophecy).

Maize

1530: The St. Felix's Flood destroyed the city of Reimerswaal in the Netherlands.

1556: Akhbar the Great routed the Hindus under Hemu by turning their elephants against them at the Battle of Panipat in the Hundu Revolt.

1605: Guy Fawkes was arrested for the "Gunpowder Plot" - English Roman Catholics failed in a plan to blow up the British House of Parliament and kill King James I (from whom the King James Version of the Bible is named).

1757: During The Seven Years War, Prussian forces under Frederick II defeated French forces at Rosbach.

1831: Nat Turner, a U.S. slave working to free his people, was sentenced to death in Virginia.

1854: During the Crimean War, British and French forces defeated the Russian forces at Inkerman.

1911: Italy announced the annexation of Libya, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.

1914: At the start of the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), France and Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) that then had control of the territory that is today Israel (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel Of Judah). At the end of the war 4 years later, control of the land of Israel went to the British, who in turn administered it until 1948 when the modern state of Israel was born. The British liberation of "Palestine" enabled the modern state of Israel to be born, something that did not and could not have happened during centuries of occupation by the Ottomans - see The Balfour Declaration.

1917: Three years after the beginning of the First World War (1914-1918), U.S. troops under General Pershing entered the war against Germany.

1928: Mount Etna in Sicily erupted and devastated a large area including the village of Mascali which was completely buried.

1950: During the Korean War, British and Australian forces of the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade successfully halted the advancing Chinese 117th Division during the Battle of Pakchon.

1956: The 8th and last day of the Sinai War. At a cost of 180 men killed and 4 captured, 20 planes and 2,000 old vehicles, Israel in a 100-hour campaign occupied the entire Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, had destroyed 3 divisions, killed 2,000 of the enemy, and took nearly 6,000 prisoners. Israel also captured a huge amount of military equipment, valued at over $50 million (see A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).

Suez War

1965: Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith declared a state of emergency in preparation for his declaration of independence from Britain.

1990: Meir Kahane, a U.S.-born rabbi who advocated expelling all Arabs from Israel, was assassinated in New York.

2006: Saddam Hussein, the conquered President of Iraq, and his co-defendants Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar were sentenced to death in the al-Dujail trial for the role in the massacre of the 148 Shi'as in 1982.

2007: China's first lunar satellite, Chang'e 1, entered orbit around the Moon.

2009: U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 30 at Fort Hood, Texas. It was the largest mass shooting at a US military installation.



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