(20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

(21) He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

This condemnation is as harsh as any ever given to ancient Israel. Christ declares he will spew these Christians out of his mouth. This can only mean that these Christians are no longer spiritually active in the mystical Body of Christ. Their primary failure is that they have placed wealth and material goods ahead of service to Christ. They have abandoned the zeal of the prophetic church of Philadelphia. This admonishment applies to individual Christians, in all churches, who place wealth and carnal pleasure ahead of service to Christ.

A 20 th century perspective of history confirms the fact that the seven letters can be interpreted as presenting a broad spiritual panorama of the church age. Moreover, the Prophet Daniel also presented a vision of the adulterous church in chapter 7 of his Book, as developed in appendix 7. This line of interpretation is vital for a proper perspective of the spiritual life of the church. Christians are aware of the carnal sins of ancient Israel under the old covenant. However, I believe many Christians simply take it for granted that the general Christian experience has been on a much higher spiritual level. The seven letters and Daniel 7 reveal that this has generally not been the case. The church has involved compromise and apostasy throughout most of its existence. Accordingly, many Christians have been making the non-Christians appear righteous just as Israel of old had. That is why the false spirit of judgment spawned by the exclusive view of God's grace is so wrong.

Copyright 2000 (c) by Joseph R. Bernhardt. All rights reserved.

The seven Christian congregations to which John addressed special messages in the Book of Revelation. From the Isle of Patmos John wrote seven messages to "the seven churches which are in Asia" (Revelation 1:4,11).

Revelation 1:4

4 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, NIV

Revelation 1:11

11 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." NIV

These seven messages, found in Revelation 2-3,

were to
Ephesus, the Loveless Church (2:1-7);

Revelation 2:1-7
2:1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.

3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. NIV

Smyrna, the Persecuted Church (2:8-11);

Revelation 2:8-11

8 "To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.

9 I know your afflictions and your poverty — yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. NIV

Pergamos, the Compromising Church (2:12-17);

Revelation 2:12-17

12 "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

13 I know where you live — where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city — where Satan lives.

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.

15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. NIV

Thyatira, the Corrupt Church (2:18-29);

Revelation 2:18-28

18 "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.

22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.

23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you):

25 Only hold on to what you have until I come.

26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—

27'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'- just as I have received authority from my Father.

28 I will also give him the morning star. NIV

Sardis, the Dead Church (3:1-6);

Revelation 3:1-6
3:1 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.

3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.