Revelation’s first sevenfold series (followed by seals, trumpets, and bowls) consists of seven “letters” or royal edicts, each of which follows a pattern:
- (1) The royal author describes himself in terms from ch. 1.
- (2) “I know” introduces his diagnosis of the church’s condition, both positive (except for Sardis and Laodicea) and negative (except for Smyrna and Philadelphia).
- (3) Comfort and commands flow from the diagnosis.
- (4) All of the churches are commanded to hear and heed all of the letters (“what the Spirit says to the churches,” 2:7, etc.).
- (5) A blessing is promised to “the one who conquers,” foreshadowing the final visions in chapters 21–22.
|Church||Reference||Description of Christ||Commendation||Rebuke||Solution||Consequence of Disobedience||Promise for Conquerors|
|Ephesus||2:1–7||holds the seven stars in his right hand; walks among the seven golden lampstands||doctrinal vigilance and endurance||loss of first love||remember, repent, and do the works done at first||removal of their lampstand||will be given the tree of life in paradise to eat|
|Smyrna||2:8–11||the first and the last, who died and came to life||spiritually rich, enduring persecution||—||be faithful unto death||—||will be given the crown of life and will not be hurt by the second death|
|Pergamum||2:12–17||has the sharp two-edged sword||holding fast Christ’s name, not denying their faith||false teaching||repent||war against them with the sword of Christ’s mouth||will be given hidden manna and a white stone with a new name on it|
|Thyatira||2:18–29||has eyes like a flame of fire, feet like burnished bronze||growing love, evidenced in deeds of service||lack of discernment; toleration of heresy||hold fast and keep Christ’s works till the end||each given as their works deserve||will be given the morning star and authority over the nations|
|Sardis||3:1–6||has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars||—||dead works||keep the Word and repent||Christ will come like a thief||will be clothed in white garments; name never blotted out of the book of life; name confessed before God and angels|
|Philadelphia||3:7–13||the holy one, the true one, who has the keys of David||patiently enduring, keeping God’s word and not denying his name||—||hold fast what you have||—||will be made a pillar in the temple of God, inscribed with the names of God, the new Jerusalem, and Christ|
|Laodicea||3:14–22||the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation||—||spiritually blind, bankrupt, naked, lukewarm||buy gold, white garments, and salve from Christ; be zealous and repent||will be spit out of Christ’s mouth||will dine with Christ; will be granted to sit with Christ on his throne|
Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 2464–2465). Crossway Bibles.