Christ’s Edict-letters to His Seven Churches

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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.

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