Here are Answers to the questions:
What HISTORICALLY (prophetically) are the “Seven Churches”?
Why are there ONLY seven FORETOLD in Revelation?
What exactly are the Seven Spirits of God?
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The Seven Churches … Real Epochs of history foretold.
There have been many attempts at explaining the 7 Churches presented in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation. Some have placed the Churches exclusively in the first century A.D. Others have seen a purely “spiritualized” meaning associated with these Churches.
In addition, many equate the greetings of other epistles, notably those of St. Paul, with the written “greetings” to these Seven Churches. Such is usually assumed to be an obvious comparison, with little or no explanation appended.
However, in actuality, there is little to compare. The greetings in the epistles of St. Paul are very “personalized” – as of a pastor who loves his flock and the warm greetings toward fellow laborers in the ministry. Paul’s greetings are rendered as follows:
“unto the “brethren”
“unto the “saints”
“unto all who are in Rome”
“…unto the Church of the Thessalonians”
“…We give thanks together for you all…”
“…to Timothy my own son in the faith”
“unto Philemon our dearly beloved”
In contrast, Revelation begins with a formal Title (in Greek): The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ. The book also addresses an “angel” of each of the seven churches…not (here) the Churches themselves. Hardly, the same “personal/pastoral touch. This is quite different and important to establishing the “identity” of the Churches. No doubt, individual churches are identified by name such as the church at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, etc. And John DOES provide a greeting from the Triune God (Rev. 1: 4-5):
“John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace be unto you and peace from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come…” However, the Lord then has John (Rev. 1: 19) write TO THE ANGEL of each of the respective (seven) Churches (2:1; 2:8; 2:12; 2:18; 3:1; 3:7; 3:14).
But, having mentioned the Apostle who is writing this book, his greeting in the name of the Triune God immediately (and unlike other New Testament books) turns DIRECTLY to the Lord speaking in the (grammatical) first person “I am Alpha and Omega…” (Rev. 1:8). This kind of introduction has the structure more of a prophet than the Apostolic greetings found elsewhere (cf. Isaiah 1: 1 -2, where the prophet is named but immediately the Lord is speaking in the first person, “Hear O heavens… I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.”). It has that interplay of address so frequently found in the Old Testament books where the prophet is speaking and the Lord speaks, oftentimes making it difficult to know who is doing the actual speaking in some cases.
This interplay between greetings which shifts from the Apostle to direct speech of the Lord is more a prophet-like characteristic of the book than other greetings of apostles to those they knew and to whom they wrote, showing in their writing a personal knowledge of individuals included in their writings.
John is instructed to write this book by command of the One who just directly introduced Himself to the Churches, namely “the Alpha and Omega”. Is this the pastoral approach so dominant in all the rest of the books of the New Testament (books in which churches are directly addressed)? Or, is this less personal a pastoral touch in that the Apostle is addressing ALL churches of Christ’s Body of the Church)?
In other words, the work is addressed by the ONLY ONE who could possibly know us all pastorally – our Lord and Mediator, Jesus Christ. And again, when the writing here in Revelation is THEN directed to the ANGELS of the Seven Churches, the appeal is less pastoral-like and more kingdom-like.
Learn what the Seven Churches represent historically…Learn what the Seven Spirits REALLY MEAN! (Remember there is only ONE, Third Person of the Trinity).
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