Church of the Nazarene – East Rock
The Seven Churches of Revelation
Revelation Chapter 1
Today we begin our new summer teaching series called “The Seven Churches of Revelation”
Over the next several weeks we will seek to understand the importance and relevance of this text in our lives today.
Just like the rest of our bible, we believe that Revelation is valuable and integral to our faith- It’s there for a reason
Through this study we want to hear and understand the warnings and instructions to these churches. As we do that, we also want to discern how we can learn from these warnings in our lives and through our local church.
It would be a mistake if we believe that this was only about something back then- 2000 years ago.
Our desire is to renew and refine our vision of life and what the church should be.
Who’s the author of this letter?
Verse 1 records that the author’s name is John. Historically the church as assumed this to be The Apostle John.
The dating of this letter is debated- but many believe it to be written late in the first century around 90AD
Verse 19 of chapter 1 records the instructions he was given.
1:19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”
“What you have seen” – The vision of Jesus Himself in Chapter 1. The only detailed biblical description of how Jesus now appears.
“What is now” – The message to the seven churches in Asia Minor in AD90
“What will take place later”- Represented in the rest of the book of Revelation. Things that will take place in the future, into our time and beyond.
So, John is told to write down what he sees and what he hears relating to the churches in his time, as well as events yet to happen in the future.
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
So what’s the message? What was he told to write down?
That’s what we call the book of Revelation and you don’t have to look far for the main theme.
The word Revelation means an unveiling, uncovering, or to make things known.
Notice, it’s the unveiling, or uncovering from Jesus Christ- to make things known.
There is a very real sense that Jesus is the one doing the revealing, the making things known, sharing a message to the churches.
Here in our text, In revealing himself and his message, Jesus also reveals the urgency of his message.
John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
As we enter the body of the letter, the recipients, those whom it is written are identified as the 7 churches of Asia.
And the theme, the focus of the letter comes immediately: Revelation is a Jesus letter.
Listen to some of the way’s he’s described here”
“him who is, and who was, and who is to come,” (verse 4)
the faithful witness, (verse 5)
the firstborn from the dead, (verse 5)
the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Verse 5)
“who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (verse 5)
“has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father (verse 6)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” verse 8
“who is, and who was, and who is to come,” (verse 8)
“the Almighty” (verse 8)
I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
John first heard the voice of the Lord, now he has turned and sees Jesus
Here we first encounter one of the more challenging aspects of the book of Revelation, and that’s it’s extensive use of imagery.
What a reader in the first century, familiar with the Old Testament, would have heard would have been themes like:
Jesus as a person of great dignity and authority
wisdom and purity
Themes of glory and splendor.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
Jesus response to John- Don’t be afraid.
“It begins and ends with me”
“I was dead- John you were there you saw it, but now look, I am alive forever. And I have the power and authority over death and hell. Do not be afraid- The victory is mine, and so are you.”
This is the revealing of Jesus Christ.
In our interaction and study of this letter we want to see Jesus through this book.
From the very beginning to the very end- it’s Jesus.
We believe that He will return, the dead shall be raised to life, there will be a final judgement where sin and evil are dealt with once and for all, Christ will be victorious, and those who profess Him as Lord will spend eternity with him in New Creation.
And friends that’s a message of hope if you are in Christ.
That’s the message these churches heard, and Christians throughout the church age have heard.
And we cannot miss the invitation of Revelation to Join that hope.
For all the prophetic messages it contains, it’s also an invitation letter to join Christ in His kingdom and that is to Come to him.
The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick.
Throughout our study, let us commit together to see Jesus, and to respond to his invitation.
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