I love charts because it helps me to see the big picture in a glance. Years ago, I made a chart of the various characteristics of each Church as described in Revelation 2-3. Unfortunately, that style chart doesn’t fit into this blog format so I’ve revamped it somewhat.
Because the Lord admonishes us to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” I hope this chart will facilitate our hearing. While I believe these commendations, rebukes, and commands from the Head of the Church may be applied to us as individuals, these letters were written specifically to churches-at-large. So moreover, how does our local church or the church as a whole in our community measure up to the Lord’s guidance expressed within these letters? Which church does your church most closely resemble? Only two had no rebuke. May we pray for our churches to please the Lord, that He will not have cause to rebuke us! Let us pray for our churches that we would repent where we need to repent and strengthen and continue what He has commended. Let us “hear,” in the sense of obedience, “what the Spirit says to the churches”!
Each Church has these categories:
- Name with an adjective as a memory aid to their main characteristic
- Meaning of their name, which may be insightful
- Revelation of a characteristic of the Lord Jesus Christ
- Commendation from the Lord (Only Sardi did not get a commendation. So sad!)
- Rebuke from the Lord (Only Philadelphia & Smyrna received no rebuke.)
- Judgment to come, if no repentance
- Command from the Lord
- Reward promised by the Lord for obedience to His command
- Relevant Scriptures to read for more understanding
THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION
Revelation: The Lord holds seven stars (angels/messenger) in His right hand and walks in the midst of the seven candlesticks (churches) (1:20-2:1)
Commendation: Works, labor, patience, eschews evil, hates deeds of Nicolaitans, shows discernment.
Rebuke: Left first love
Command: Remember! Repent! Do the first works!
Judgment: Will remove their lampstand/candlestick
Reward: Overcomers will eat from the tree of life.
Relevant Scriptures: Revelation 2:1-7; Ephesians 5:14
Revelation: Jesus Christ as the First and Last; resurrected from the dead; alive
Commendation: Works despite poverty & tribulation amidst satanic influences
Command: Do not fear! Be faithful even to the point of death!
Reward: Crown of Life; not hurt by second death
Relevant Scriptures: Revelation 2:8-11; Philippians 1:28-29
Revelation: Christ has a sharp, two-edged sword.
Commendation: Works and hold’s Christ’s name despite dwelling near satan’s throne
Rebuke: Idolatry, immorality, holds Nicolaitan doctrines (shows lack of discernment), greed
Judgment: The Lord will fight against the miscreants in their midst.
Reward: Hidden manna; white stone with new name
Relevant Scriptures: Revelation 2:12-17; 18:4; Amos 9:10; Isaiah 3:12; 45:20; 2 Peter 2
Meaning: “sacrifice of labor”
Revelation: Christ, the Son of God, is portrayed as having eyes like blazing fire and feet like burnished bronze. Christ searches the minds and hearts of men.
Commendation: Works, love, service, faith, patience, more works
Rebuke: Compromising; toleration of Jezebel and her evil teachings (shows lack of discernment); idolatry
Judgment: Sickness, great tribulation, and even death for Jezebel’s children/followers
Command: Already gave a chance to repent. To those who repented: Hold fast!
Reward: Overcomers will eat from the tree of life.
Relevant Scriptures: Revelation 2:18-29; Ephesians 5:14
Meaning: “prince of joy”
Revelation: Christ has the Seven Spirits of God and the seven stars
Commendation: NONE (but they did have imperfect works)
Judgment: The Lord will come upon this church unexpectedly
Command: Be watchful! Remember! Hold fast! Repent!
Reward: A few clothed in white garments: their names will not be blotted out.
Relevant Scriptures: Revelation 3:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:4
Meaning: “brotherly love”
Revelation: Christ is holy and true and holds the key of David. What He opens, no man can shut and what He closes, no man can open.
Commendation: Works, faithful, keeps word and name; perseveres, open door
Command: Hold fast!
Reward: Kept through (G5083) the hour of trial; crown, pillar; names written on.
Relevant Scriptures: Revelation 3:7-13; Ephesians 5:14
Meaning: “just people”; “rule of the people”
Revelation: Christ is the “Amen”, the Faithful and True Witness; the beginning of the Creation of God.
Commendation: Works (lukewarm)
Rebuke: Lukewarm; thinks highly of self but is spiritually poor
Judgment: Will be spewed out!
Command: Be zealous! Repent!
Reward: Overcomers will sit with Christ on His throne.
Relevant Scriptures: Revelation 3:14-22; Matthew 22:8
FALSE DOCTRINES & PROPHETS
These false doctrines and/or false teachers infiltrated the early church.
Ephesus was warned against Nicolaitans, those who would rule the laity, and false apostles.
Smyrna was warned against “those who say they are Jews, and are not.”
Pergamum was warned against Nicolaitans, the “teaching of Balaam” and idols.
Thyatira was warned against the false prophetess Jezebel who was promoting sexual immorality.
Philadelphia was warned against “those who say they are Jews, and they are not.”
Laodicea was warned against their pride in their possessions. (v3:17) Perhaps this is why they had become lukewarm in their devotion to Christ.
Has anything changed? How are our churches being spiritually attacked today?
Interestingly, there is no particular mention of a false doctrine to Sardi. Perhaps lying devils need not waste their assaults on a dead church!