Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The Seven Churches of Revelation
Some people regard the presence of churches in the Book of Revelation as evidence that the Church will go through the Tribulation. However, a church is a called out assembly and can be an assembly of saints who are not saved in the church age. Notice that Stephen made reference to the “church in the wilderness” in Acts 7:38, referring to Israel after the Exodus. They were surely not saints saved in the church age; they were Jews under the Law. Likewise the church of Ephesus and these other churches are called out assemblies of saints; but they are Tribulation saints, not church age saints.
They are not baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, and thus they are not eternally secure. Rather, their salvation is conditional. They must endure to the end of the Tribulation or be martyred to be saved [Matthew 24:13; Revelation 2:10]. If they lose their salvation it is impossible for them to get it back [Hebrews 6:4-6]. And in order to be rewarded with something that you and I already have as a result of our salvation, or to get something that we don’t even need, they must overcome, which is what we have already done [1 John 4:4; 5:4].
Notice what they get for overcoming in Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, and 3:21. And compare what they are promised to what we already have.
Revelation 2:7 – the overcoming saints in the church of Ephesus get to eat of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise – this is a promise for the millennial reign of Jesus conditioned upon keeping the commandments [Revelation 22:1-2, 14] – church age saints have no need to eat of this tree because we will have glorified bodies
Revelation 2:11 – the overcoming saints in the church of Smyrna are promised that they will not be hurt of the second death – church age saints are already given this promise by virtue of our salvation in Jesus Christ [compare Revelation 21:8]
Revelation 2:17 – the overcoming saints in the church in Pergamos get to eat of the hidden manna and they get a white stone with a new name written in it – the hidden manna is the way some Tribulation saints are fed in the wilderness during the Tribulation and is not even available in the church age [Revelation 12:6, Micah 7:14-15]
Revelation 2:26 – the overcoming saints in the church in Thyatira are given power over the nations – they will need it when the Jews become the ruling nation of the world and reign with Jesus [Revelation 20:4, Isaiah 60:1-12]
Revelation 3:5 – the overcoming saints in the church in Sardis shall be clothed in white raiment and will not have their names blotted out of the book of life – church age saints are already going to be clothed in white raiment for the marriage of the Lamb [Revelation 19:7-8] and church age saints cannot have their names blotted out of the book of life since they are eternally secure [Philippians 4:3]
Revelation 3:12 – the overcoming saints in the church in Philadelphia will be made a pillar in the temple of God and will have the names of God and new Jerusalem and the Lord’s new name written upon them – as church age saints, we are not pillars in the temple of God, but rather we are the temple of God [1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19]
Revelation 3:21 – the overcoming saints in the church of the Laodiceans will be granted to sit with Jesus in his throne; church age saints are already seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Ephesians 2:6]
So, you see, the churches about which we are going to study are not local churches in the church age; they are called out assemblies of saints in the Tribulation. Thus, the compliments and warnings given to them doctrinally concern saints in the Tribulation, although church age saints can glean many very profitable spiritual truths from them.