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Author Topic: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent  (Read 1477 times)

Jeff

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What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« on: February 01, 2005, 05:20:29 PM »

What do the seven churches in Revelation chapter two and three stand for? Some people say they represent different periods of time in history, others say they don't. What do you believe they stand for, if anything?

Tony Warren

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Re: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2005, 07:29:55 AM »
>>>
What do the seven churches in Revelation chapter two and three stand for? Some people say they represent different periods of time in history, others say they don't. What do you believe they stand for, if anything?
<<<

I believe that the seven Churches of Asia represent the Church universal. The number seven is a number that signifies the totality of whatever is in view. So when Christ speaks to the seven Churches in Revelation chapters two and three, He is ultimately speaking to the totality of Churches that existed during that era, the Churches that came after, and the Churches that exist today. He is demonstrating to the universal Church the blessings of obedience, and the certain judgment of disobedience. The message is, just because we are in a Church doesn't mean that we are saved. People who are truly saved are not in willful lawlessness simply because they believe grace abounds.

Romans 6:15-17
  • "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
  • Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
  • But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you."

The epistles of Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are an example of the judgments that will come upon the Churches for disobedience, and of God's commending the Churches that hold fast the doctrines of Christ. A Church cannot be a Church in name only, else God will judge it and bring it down.

I do not believe that these messages are (as some suppose) illustrating that each Church is representing a chronological dispensation, or seven distinct eras of Church history. I do not believe that there is any real Biblical warrant or justification for this conclusion. Or if there is, I haven't yet heard it. You can find in the message to the Church at Ephesus, the commending and warning to the Church today, and you can equally find in the Church of the Laodicea warnings to the Church today. They don't only pertain to, or represent Churches in distinct periods of time. i.e., when God warns the Church of Ephesus that if they don't repent, they will have their Candlestick (Church) removed out of it's place, He is talking to the Church then, to the Church a thousand years ago, and to the Church today. He has divinely inspired writings to a total collective or associated body and is warning them of the judgment for forsaking Him. Just as Christ would address Peter, John or Matthew and yet also be warning or encouraging the whole Church or Church universal who would read His words in the future. In other words, He, being Omniscient and inspiring the Bible, He was talking to the totality of the Church (signified by the number seven) and giving them notice. It's no coincidence that John wrote these epistles to only these "seven" Churches in Asia (What is now Turkey). They are written as examples for all Churches, that we take heed that in our arrogance we think we stand, lest we fall. ..as Israel before us did.

1st Corinthians 10:10-12
  • "Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
  • Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
  • Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

Thus all the Church should remember their first love, lest they fall after this same example. Likewise, when a letter is addressed to each of the seven [aggelos] or Messengers (not angels) of the Churches, it does not mean to be for those particular Messengers only. But to all God's Messengers of all His Churches that would exist throughout the world, throughout history. When John, under inspiration of God wrote to the messenger of each Church, it is understood to be the divinely inspired word of God to the messengers of the Churches throughout history.

nosce te ipsum"
 
Peace,
Tony Warren
"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. -Psalms 32:5"

Jeff

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Re: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2005, 03:47:25 AM »
I do not believe that these messages are (as some suppose) illustrating that each Church is representing a chronological dispensation, or seven distinct eras of Church history. I do not believe that there is any real Biblical warrant or justification for this conclusion.

Thanks for your response Tony. It seems to be the only one that I have gotten. Isn't your view a bit on the unorthodox side? What I mean is, doesn't most of the Church believe that the seven Churches do represent seven periods in Church history?


Quote
The epistles of Revelation 2 and 3 are an example of the judgment of the Church for disobedience, and of God's commending the Church that holds fast the doctrines of Christ. A Church cannot be a Church in name only, else God will judge.

 Matt. 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

How can God judge the new testament church when it is the pillar and ground of the truth? Doesn't God judge the people, not the Church?

Melanie

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Re: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2005, 03:37:47 AM »
Thanks for your response Tony. It seems to be the only one that I have gotten. Isn't your view a bit on the unorthodox side? What I mean is, doesn't most of the Church believe that the seven Churches do represent seven periods in Church history?

Dispensationalists do. But that is because they look at the seven churches as dispensations. However, we know that their methodology is unsound. But the reformed Church generally do not. See this link for example.

http://web.archive.org/web/20080513173025/http://www.tulip.org/trf/Rev02a.htm

We look at it as a sort of snapshot of the whole church.


Quote
Matt. 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

How can God judge the new testament church when it is the pillar and ground of the truth? Doesn't God judge the people, not the Church?

My mother always told me never to answer a question with a question, but in this case, I think it is appropriate. When God judged old covenant Israel, was he judging just the people, or did he judge the whole covenant body? Is the nation of Israel still the representation of his congregation? No, because God judged the body. Matthew 16 does not mean God won't ever judge his congregation, it means the gates of hell won't prevail against his people.

Dave Taylor

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Re: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2005, 01:11:00 PM »
Jeff,
Revelation chapters 2 and 3 describe the '7 churches' that John wrote about.

There are only 29 verses in chapter 2, and 22 verses in chapter 3...totally 51 verses about them.

Why not tell us, using those verses, (and any other verses you can find within the Bible), how those verses, or other verses, tell us we should interpret them as "representing different periods of time in history" as dispensatanalism teaches?

I, or anyone else, can teach an unimaginable number of things about what anything in the Bible is suppose to represent...but it all should boil down to what the Bible itself teaches.  If we are to understand the 7 churches as "representing different periods of time in history", then the Bible should teach us this conclusion.

Fair assessment?

Jeff

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Re: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2005, 12:18:22 PM »
Jeff,
Revelation chapters 2 and 3 describe the '7 churches' that John wrote about.

There are only 29 verses in chapter 2, and 22 verses in chapter 3...totally 51 verses about them.

Why not tell us, using those verses, (and any other verses you can find within the Bible), how those verses, or other verses, tell us we should interpret them as "representing different periods of time in history" as dispensatanalism teaches?

Fair assessment?


 I'm not saying that I believe that the 7 churches represent 7 periods, I am just saying that this is what everyone seems to be teaching about them. I'm as in the dark about it as you are. But apparently most Christians are not. I would like to know why. Maybe there is something that I'm missing. My question is to try and better understand the orthodox churches position. Not only dispensationalists believe this, many reformed and historicist churches believe it also. They divide it up this way.

“It is generally agreed that these messages can have four applications. (1) The seven churches of John’s day; (2) The seven basic divisions of Church history; (3) The seven types of churches that exist today; (4) The seven characteristics that can exist any church or Christian.”

·        Ephesus – Apostolic church (A.D. 30-100)

·        Smyrna – Persecuted church (A.D.100-312)

·        Pergamos – Indulged church (A.D. 312-606)

·        Thyatira – Papal church (A.D. 606-Tribulaion)

·        Sardis – Dead church (A.D. 1520-Tribulation)

·        Philadelphia – Missionary church (A.D. 1750-Rapture)

·        Laodicea – Apostate church (A.D. 1900-Tribulation)


Tony Warren

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Re: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2005, 12:02:49 PM »
>>>
·        Ephesus – Apostolic church (A.D. 30-100)
·        Smyrna – Persecuted church (A.D.100-312)
·        Pergamos – Indulged church (A.D. 312-606)
·        Thyatira – Papal church (A.D. 606-Tribulaion)
·        Sardis – Dead church (A.D. 1520-Tribulation)
·        Philadelphia – Missionary church (A.D. 1750-Rapture)
·        Laodicea – Apostate church (A.D. 1900-Tribulation)
<<<

There is nothing in scripture that would even come close to justifying these "private" interpretations of the seven Churches. The seven Churches are not a declaration that there weren't more, rather the number seven is a token representing totality. In other words, these seven Churches  with warnings and proclamations of blessings, represent the universal Church of all times and places. But to go beyond that and say that the Church at Pergamos was the Indulged church (A.D. 312-606), or the Church in Philadelphia represents the Missionary Church (A.D. 1750-Rapture) is pure fantasy and speculation. Thus it is worthless as far as Bible exegesis is concerned.

nosce te ipsum"
 
Peace,
Tony Warren
"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. -Psalms 32:5"

Lawrence Man

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Re: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2005, 11:34:55 PM »
Quote
·        Ephesus – Apostolic church (A.D. 30-100)
·        Smyrna – Persecuted church (A.D.100-312)
·        Pergamos – Indulged church (A.D. 312-606)
·        Thyatira – Papal church (A.D. 606-Tribulaion)
·        Sardis – Dead church (A.D. 1520-Tribulation)
·        Philadelphia – Missionary church (A.D. 1750-Rapture)
·        Laodicea – Apostate church (A.D. 1900-Tribulation)

Where do the Eastern Orthodox churches fit in??? lol

I'm sorry, but as far as I can tell, this interpretation screams unbiblical.

God's peace!
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- Romans 8:18

Melanie

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Re: What Does The 7 Churches of Asia Represent
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2013, 06:21:12 AM »
The article below by Mike addresses this question very well.

What do the seven stars in the book in Revelation symbolize?
Are these "stars" angels or humans?

The explanation of the 7 stars, as with many of the symbols in Revelation, is given within the context of the passage in which it occurs. Here are the passages in which this phrase occurs in the book of Revelation.
Re 1:16  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Re 1:20  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Re 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;
Re 3:1  And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

In Revelation 1:20 the 7 stars are the "angels" of the 7 churches to whom he is writing. The word "angel" in the New Testament simply means "messenger". It can denote a divine messenger, which is what we usually think the term "angel" means, but it can also refer to a human messenger.
In this case it would seem that the letters are sent to the 7 churches to the one who is the leader of the congregation or by the hand of a particular messenger.

I think it refers to the leader of the church to whom the letter was addressed. Just as the "11 stars" in Joseph's dream in Genesis 37:9,10 refer to the patriarchs of Israel so these stars refer to the leaders of the churches to whom John was directed to write by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here's how Young's Literal Translation puts Revelation 1:20:

...the secret of the seven stars that thou hast seen upon my right hand, and the seven golden lamp-stands: the seven stars are messengers of the seven assemblies, and the seven lamp-stands that thou hast seen are seven assemblies.

This verse explains not only the meaning of the 7 stars but also the meaning of the symbol of the lampstand. The stars then are the messengers or leaders of the congregations to whom the book is addressed and the lampstands symbolize the actual congregations.
I hope you have found this helpful.
God bless,
Mike

 


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