Some Thoughts on the Seven Churches of Asia in Revelation chapters 2 & 3.
This letter (book of Revelation) was sent to seven churches of Asia (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea). So when each church received the letter she also read the messages to the other churches as well as her own. The messages to these churches are:
1. Local - to these 7 historical churches (1:4)
2. Admonitory - an admonition to all of the Lord's churches throughout history. ("saith to the churches")
3. Individual - lessons to anyone who will listen ("he that hath an ear", 2:7, et.al.)
Prophetic (possibly): Some people believe that these 7 churches are prophetic of the church age -- in other words, 7 periods of history within the church age. It doesn't seem to have worked out historically according to the general prophetic idea usually based on these churches.
There is a general pattern to the seven letters:
1. Greetings - "unto the angel of the church of..."
2. Description of the Author - "he that holdeth the seven stars...he which hath the sharp sword...etc."
3. Commendation of good works (except for the church at Laodicea)
4. Condemnation of sin, error, etc. (except for Smyrna & Philadelphia)
5. Warning - "Repent...be faithful...hold fast...etc."
6. Exhortation - "hear what the Spirit saith..."
7. Promise - "To him that overcometh will I give...be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee...etc."
The last four messages (Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea) reverse the order of the Promise and the Exhortation. It is also interesting to note the order in which the churches are addressed. The churches that receive the first and last letters are in grave danger of judgment - repent or I will come quickly and remove thy candlestick, and I will spue thee out of my mouth - though the first (Ephesus) has several good things to commend it and the last (Laodicea) seems to have none. Then the 2nd & 6th mentioned (Smyrna, Philadelphia) receive only commendation. The three placed in the middle of these four (Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis) are between these two extremes and receive commendation, condemnation and warning.