My Bible reading has brought me around again to Revelation. In the intervening time, I had occasion to edit a Chalcedon article by Martin Selbrede which made it clear to me that in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3, Our Lord Jesus Christ is speaking to the “angels”–that is, the leaders–of the seven churches in Asia (https://leeduigon.com/2018/02/12/the-lukewarm-angel-of-laodicea/). The leaders, not the congregations.
So I read Chapter 2 this morning, and this time it made much more sense.
In 1:20, the Lord makes clear that the seven stars that John sees are the “angels” of the churches, and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches. Let’s see what Jesus says to the leaders–pastors, elders, whoever–of those churches.
Ephesus: the “angel” has “left thy first love,” and if he doesn’t repent, the Lord will “remove thy candlestick”–that is, take away his ministry. Or their ministry, if the church is governed by a council of elders.
Smyrna: Persecution is coming. It’s going to be hard. Hold fast! Your reward will be forever.
Pergamos: Whoever was ruling this church let doctrinal corruption into it–probably allowed certain of the congregation to snuggle up again to some of the old pagan gods. This sin is assiduously practiced in many, many “liberal” churches today.
Thyatira: Here, whoever was in charge allowed “that woman Jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess to teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (v. 20). Have we seen this in churches today? The Lord allowed time for the false prophetess and the erring “angel” to repent, but they chose not to.
The miracle is that somehow the Church survives the churches! Even in the most far-out, all-but-apostate churches, Our Lord has His true servants doing their best to “occupy until I come.” All of them, whatever the denomination whose sign is out in front of the building, are part of the true Church built without hands–and we are united in more ways than we know.
I’ll be reading Chapter 2 tomorrow.