In Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus had John write down messages to seven churches. These churches were actual churches scattered through a region that is occupied by Turkey today. The Lord addresses real issues with those seven churches.
But I believe those seven messages to the seven churches are meant to apply to us today as well. Paul explains this intent of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 10:11 about all of Scripture, “These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.” (NLT)
So, those seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are not only representative of churches today, but of individual Christians as well. Jesus shared some very specific issues that we need to take to heart. At the close of each letter Jesus says, “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22)
Rather than repeat the whole chapters here, I’ve tried to glean some of the key points and have listed them below. In those two chapters, we see indictments against the churches, commendations, and warnings and encouragements.
With each indictment, Jesus urges the reader to repent and turn from their wicked ways and back to Him.
- “You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” (2:4 NLT)
- “You’ve compromised your lives by practicing things that go against your conscience, and you commit sexual sins.” (2:14-16 paraphrase)
- “You tolerate people in your life that cause you to sin and compromise your faith.” (2:20-21 paraphrase)
- “You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains. Repent and turn to me again.” (3:1-3 NLT)
- “You are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (3:15-16 paraphrase)
- “You say that you are rich and have everything you need. But you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” (3:17-19 paraphrase)
- “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.” (2:2-3 NLT)
- “I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.” (2:13 NLT)
- “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.” (2:19 NLT)
- “I know all the things you do. There are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.” (3:4 NLT)
- “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.” (3:8, 10 NLT)
Warnings & Encouragements
- “Look how far you have fallen from loving me and others! Repent and turn back to me and love like you did in the beginning.” (2:5 paraphrase)
- “I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. If you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.” (2:9-10 paraphrase)
- “Repent of your compromising and sexual sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against those among you who refuse to repent.” (2:16 paraphrase)
- “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things. Hold tightly to what you have until I come. To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, to them I will give authority over all the nations, having the same authority I received from my Father.” (2:19, 26, 28 paraphrase)
- “Those who follow the ways of Jezebel must repent. I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.” (2:22-23 paraphrase)
- “Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.” (3:2-3 NLT)
- “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.” (3:11 NLT)
- “Be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (3:19-20 NLT)
Where you do see yourself in these indictments and commendations? What actions does Jesus want you to take? Which of His encouragements can you claim as your own?
May we all heed what Jesus through His Spirit is saying to us.