Seven Lessons from Seven Churches

Text: Revelation 2-3

The book of Revelation was addressed to the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:4). Each of these churches is addressed individually in chapters 2-3. There are many lessons to learn from the Lord’s message to each of these churches. We will consider just one lesson from each church here.

Ephesus: They Had Left Their First Love (Revelation 2:4)

  • Very positive things said about Ephesus (Revelation 2:2-3, 6) – but we must do the right things with the right motivation
  • Their first love was Christ (Matthew 22:37) – but He was no longer of primary importance to them
  • Our motivation must be to please the Lord (Colossians 1:10) – this is the only way to maintain obedience (John 14:15)

Smyrna: The Lord Knew Their Tribulation (Revelation 2:9)

  • Sometimes when we face hardships, we might think that no one knows of our struggles – even if that were true, the Lord knows (Psalm 56:8)
  • The Lord’s knowledge of their tribulation was to encourage them to remain strong (Revelation 2:10) – but it would not take away their tribulation
  • Sometimes we will suffer, despite following Christ – we will be rewarded in the end (2 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Peter 3:14)

Pergamum: They Tolerated False Teachers (Revelation 2:14-15)

  • Unlike Ephesus that was intolerant of error, Pergamum accepted it – despite the appearance of a strong faith during a time of persecution (Revelation 2:13)
  • But they tolerated error – this can be easy to do when we spend so much energy guarding against outside threats
  • We must be watchful for threats from without and within (Acts 20:29-30) – false teaching cannot be tolerated (Romans 16:17; 2 John 10-11)

Thyatira: They Tolerated Sin (Revelation 2:20)

  • Like Pergamum, Thyatira tolerated error – also tolerated sin
  • Patience can exist for a time (Revelation 2:21) – but not unending tolerance
  • Sin, if it is tolerated in the church, will spread (1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 6) – those in sin who refuse to repent must be marked and avoided (1 Corinthians 5:4-5, 11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14)

Sardis: They Were Dead (Revelation 3:1)

  • They had a good reputation – but the Lord does not see as man sees (Revelation 3:2)
  • The way to fix this was not to look to the world (or the churches of men) – the solution was to return to the standard (Revelation 3:3; cf. 2 Timothy 1:13)
  • A dead church does not necessarily doom the individual members of it (Revelation 3:4) – but they must remain faithful to Christ (Colossians 1:10; 1 John 1:7)

Philadelphia: They Were to Hold Fast What They Had (Revelation 3:11)

  • Like Smyrna, the Lord had no condemnation for this church – they were to hold fast and continue doing what they were doing (Revelation 3:8, 10)
  • They were likely a small church (Revelation 3:8) – little power (limited resources, abilities, etc.)
  • But they had an open door before them – churches must be working, no matter their size (Ephesians 4:16)

Laodicea: They Were Lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-16)

  • They were content with their circumstances (Revelation 3:17), but there were focused on worldly things – they forgot that true riches were found in Christ (Revelation 3:18)
  • No matter our physical circumstances, we cannot forget our need for the Lord (Philippians 4:12-13; 1 Timothy 6:17)
  • They were lacking in zeal (Revelation 3:19; Titus 2:14)

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