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 Seven Churches Of God

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Map of Western Anatolia showing the island Patmos and the locations of the cities housing the seven churches.



The Seven Churches of Revelation, also known as The Seven Churches of the Apocalypse and The Seven Churches of Asia (referring to the Roman province of Asia, not the entire continent), are seven major churches of Early Christianity, as mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation and written to by Ignatius of Antioch. All seven sites are in modern-day Turkey and no longer have significant Christian populations since they were emptied of Christians under the Treaty of Lausanne. In Revelation, on the island of Patmos, Greece, Jesus Christ instructs his servant John to:

Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.


"Churches" in this context refers to the community of Christians living in each city, and not merely to the building or buildings in which they gathered for worship.

The seven churches are located in:


1. Character Of The Churches

  1. Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) - the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4).

  2. Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) - the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).

  3. Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) - the church that needed to repent (2:16).

  4. Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) - the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).

  5. Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) - the church that had fallen asleep (3:2).

  6. Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) - the church that had endured patiently (3:10).

  7. Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) - the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16).

2. Seven Messages

Chapters 2-3 of the Revelation had specific messages for each of these seven churches. The message of each of the seven letters is directed to the angel of the particular church that is mentioned. The term angel in this context could denote the local church leader, or it could refer to the spiritual guardian angel of that church. Certainly the consistent usage of the word elsewhere in the book argues strongly for then latter view.

The letters follow a common pattern: the Lord of hosts first addresses each church and identifies himself, then defines things that he knows about the church in question. After this a challenge or reproach is given, followed by a promise. In all seven cases the admonition is included, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches",  although sometimes this comes before the promise and sometimes after.
Although the letters differ in length in accord with the needs of each community, all conclude with an appeal to hold fast and to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Each church is promised that everyone who conquers will be rewarded by Christ.




                                   Mosaic in St Mark's Basilica of the seven angels.




3. Angels Of The Churches

John sees a vision of the Son of Man, who walks among seven lampstands and has seven stars in his right hand. Revelation 1:20 states that "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

Origen explains that these "angels" are the guardian angels of the churches, a view upheld by Henry Alford. But Epiphanius explicitly rejects this view, and, in accordance with the imagery of the passage, explains it of the bishops. The comparison of a teacher to a star is scriptural. Augustine of Hippo's reason for interpreting angels of the churches as the prelates of the church is that St. John speaks of them as falling from their first charity which is not true of the angels.

4. Interpretation

Futurists typically interpret the seven churches as representing seven different periods in the history of the Church from the time of Paul until the return of Jesus Christ.