The Seven Churches of Revelation and Their Messengers

The Book of Revelation is a very controversial portion of the New Covenant Scriptures. Much is preached and taught from the book on any given basis, in any given church, in any given denomination or lack thereof, all over the world, and much of what is preached and/or taught is likewise just as controversial.

I’ve heard my fair share of ideas and sermons and lessons over the years that have taken some part of the Revelation of Jesus Christ as their source. One place in particular that seems to be highly utilized by the ministry is the second and third chapters, which deal with the Lord’s direct address to, as it is written “the angel” (or messenger) of each specific church. Like anyone else, I’ve heard some good ideas and some bad or mistaken ideas, and some ideas for which I hold no opinion either way.

But there is one bad or mistaken idea in particular upon which I intend to focus. I suppose the mistake is made due more to ignorance/lack of knowledge than out of any intentional desire to mislead. And for that, we can first, be grateful, and second, give some grace to those who have mistakenly taught something regarding the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 and their respective messengers.[1]

But before I dive in, I want to explain how the mistake happens, which should give some indication of just what the mistake is.

We English speaking Christians sometimes don’t realize how the way we understand our native tongue negatively affects our ability to understand the Bible. We pick up whatever English translation we prefer, read and study, maybe do some research into any given text for greater insight, and go about our way, thinking we’ve understood pretty well whatever part of the Holy Scriptures we’ve studied.

And perhaps, rightly so. But sometimes, some part of the way the English language works and is used, whether grammatically, syntactically, or otherwise, even if a small part, makes it nearly impossible to completely understand what the Bible is “saying”, as it were, unless someone who has invested the time and effort, or just happened to stumble upon a grammatical or syntactical (or otherwise) disconnect when studying a text, makes their discovery known.

And that is what I’m attempting to do here: make a discovery known. I am by no means the first to have found out what I’m about to share, and I’m certain to not be the last. But of the various circles of Christianity in which I have personally traveled, whether in casual or intimate fellowship, I have never seen anyone ever talk, write, preach, or teach on what I’m going to share.[2]

So, if I’ve gained your attention, and if you’d like to take the time to learn something you may have never known before about the seven churches of Revelation and their messengers, then by all means, read on and I hope, be enlightened and blessed, as I was.

To begin, please allow me to share each of the two chapters in Revelation in full, from the King James Version (since most people I know are KJV readers):

Revelation 2

1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
8. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
12. And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13. I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
18. And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
19. I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
20. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
26. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28. And I will give him the morning star.
29. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 3

1. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
2. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
8. I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
9. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
12. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
14. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

These chapters are very well known. But what is not so well known, at least in my experience, is that sometimes, as Jesus speaks directly, He doesn’t directly speak to the entire church, but rather, only to the respective messengers of each church. Here’s what I mean:

In English, we can use the personal pronoun “you” or the possessive pronoun “your” and mean either a single individual, or we can use the same exact personal pronoun, or the same exact possessive pronoun, and mean more than one individual, and still be grammatically correct. Even the conjugational forms of any accompanying verbs are the same!

And because this is so, we tend to glance over the different uses in the King James Version of “ye” and “your”, not really paying attention to whether or not the audience being addressed in any given verse is singular or plural. As it pertains to the second and third chapters of Revelation, this is a mistake. A really bad one, as it turns out. I will show how, but in order to do so, I will have to do some color coding to help you the reader make sense of what I’ve been trying so far to communicate.

Take Revelation 2:1-7,

1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and [thou] hast found them liars:
3. And [thou] hast borne, and [thou] hast patience, and for my name’s sake [thou] hast laboured, and [thou] hast not fainted.
4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

First, you’ll notice I emboldened the word “angel“. I did so to make it stand out. Note that here, as well as in the underlying Greek text, the word is in the singular, that is, Jesus is only addressing one specific angel or messenger (as opposed to several). This is an important fact as we continue. Next you’ll notice that I changed the font color to red for every instance of the following words: thy, thou, and thee (including the various uses of “thou” I inserted in [brackets] to help make the sense of the text stand out).

The reason I changed the font color to red for each “thy”, “thou”, and “thee” so they will stand out is because in Greek, they are all instances of either singular possessive or singular personal pronouns.

This means that, as verse 2 begins, all the way through verse 6, Jesus isn’t speaking to everyone in the church at Ephesus. He is merely speaking to the angel/messenger. Jesus isn’t commending and/or condemning the entire assembly for their works, labor, patience, abandoning first love, and etc., He is commending and/or condemning the angel/messenger only.

So what about verse 7? We see here the word “church” is plural, as in “churches”. Does this mean a change has occurred? Is there now a different audience? In a word, yes!

After Jesus directly speaks to the angel/messenger, and shares with the angel/messenger His commendations and condemnations, Jesus leaves off  by telling the seven churches what the Spirit is trying to say to them collectively, as it pertains to overcoming and the rewards inherent to overcoming[3]. By this point, then, neither Jesus or the Spirit is speaking directly to the angel/messenger.

Let’s go on:

Revelation 2:8-11,

8. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9. I know thy works, and [thy] tribulation, and [thy] poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Note I did the same thing here with “angel” as I did with 2:2, since both in English and in Greek, angel/messenger is in the singular form (i.e. I emboldened the text). As before, I made some words red. This time, however, I also made some words blue. The words that are red (including the words in [brackets]), are again instances of the singular forms of either the possessive or personal pronoun. The instances where I changed “you” and “ye” into blue is where the pronouns change to plurals in Greek.

So as before, where the red is, Jesus is only speaking to the angel/messenger. But where the words are blue, Jesus is speaking about more than one person, while still speaking only to the individual angel/messenger. Essentially the Lord is telling the one angel/messenger that both he and some other angels/messengers are going to be cast into prison by the devil and etc. But note! At no time has Jesus addressed anyone else. As with Ephesus, so with Smyrna. Jesus isn’t speaking to or about the entire church. Likewise, as with Ephesus, so with Smyrna: it isn’t until verse 11 that Jesus changes the addressee, to share with the seven churches what the Spirit has to say about overcoming and the rewards thereof.

How about the next church?

Revelation 2:12-17,

12. And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13. I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and [thou] hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
16. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

The pattern again emerges. An emboldened reference to a singular angel/messenger, along with several uses of the singular possessive and personal pronouns. In each case where I have changed the color to red, it again signifies that Jesus is speaking to the angel/messenger and to no one else. The one use of “you” that is in blue is plural, and refers to both the angel/messenger and the other members of the church.

To finish out the second chapter of Revelation, let’s move on to verses 18-29.

Revelation 2:18-29,

18. And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
19. I know thy works, and [thy] charity, and [thy] service, and [thy] faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
20. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
26. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28. And I will give him the morning star.
29. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

This is a longer passage than the first three, but the pattern is still mostly the same, but with one twist toward the end (represented by green text). One “angel” or messenger addressed, thus indicating that Jesus is not speaking to the entire church. Jesus knows the following things about this one angel/messenger:

  • Works
  • Charity
  • Service
  • Faith
  • Patience
  • Works (a second time)

And yet, even with the above, Jesus still has something personal to say to the singular angel/messenger. Jesus has a few issues with him (not the whole church, mind you, just the angel/messenger). This angel/messenger tolerates Jezebel, and allows her to teach and to seduce the sundry servants[4] in the church which constitute the ministry of their local assembly. See how the blame, then, falls upon the shoulders of the angel/messenger, and not upon the entire church at Thyatira?

However, eventually, Jesus leaves off talking to the angel/messenger, and instead, begins addressing the various servants/ministers of the church in Thyatira (see verses 23.), as demarcated by the blue font[5], who had committed fornication and eaten things offered to idols. This indicates that the individual servants/ministers who had succumbed to the seduction offered by Jezebel will face a “reap what you sow” type of judgment.

Lastly, Jesus finishes the chapter by talking directly to the church at Thyatira, as seen in the green text. Here, both “you” and “ye” are in the plural in Greek, and so, represent a group, as opposed to an individual, being addressed.

Finally, as before, Jesus begins speaking generically about what the Spirit is saying to the seven churches as it pertains to overcoming and the kinds of rewards available to those who overcome, although He presents this portion in reverse order, mentioning first the rewards of overcoming, then concluding with the standard comment about the Spirit and what it’s saying to “the churches”.

Going into chapter 3, should we suppose that the pattern remains unchanged? Let’s find out.

Revelation 3:1-6,

1. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
2. Be [thou] watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Beginning in chapter 3, we again see Jesus only addressing one individual, namely the angel/messenger of the church that is at Sardis. Much like the last angel/messenger of the last church, Sardis receives from the Lord a scathing rebuke, that is, He accuses the angel/messenger of being dead spiritually all the while pretending to be alive in the Spirit. He tells the angel/messenger that his works before God are incomplete (according to the Greek meaning behind the word “perfect”). This is heavy, dreadful language couched in an awful tone.

After the accusation, Jesus directly threatens the well-being of the angel/messenger. The Lord’s last direct remarks to the angel/messenger are to tell him that there are in Sardis a few saints who, unlike the angel/messenger, haven’t defiled their garments (which is to say, endangered their salvation through unrighteousness[6]), who then, because this is so, receive a grand promise, having been found worthy of it.

And lastly, as before, so again, here the Lord addresses the churches at large to tell them what the Spirit is saying to them regarding overcoming and the rewards that pertain to those who overcome.

So far, we’ve read about five different angels/messengers for or of five different churches, and in each one, we’ve seen the same basic pattern, with only a few minor divergences. How will the Lord speak to the last two angels/messengers? Read on to find out.

Revelation 3:7-13,

7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
8. I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and [thou] hast kept my word, and [thou] hast not denied my name.
9. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
12. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Of all the seven different angels/messengers, we finally read of one shining example of godliness and perfection, without flaw. Imagine being on the receiving end of these kind compliments. At no point in His address to this angel/messenger does the Lord have anything negative to say. But note! Each instance where either the possessive or personal pronoun is used (e.g. thy, thee, and thou), only the singular form in Greek is present. This means the accolades spoken here by the Lord are not addressed to all the saints at Philadelphia; rather only the angel/messenger is being addressed.

And now, for the sixth time, we read of what Jesus tells us the Spirit is saying to the members of the seven churches regarding what good will come their way if they but hold on and overcome.

Revelation 3:14-22,

14. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be [thou] zealous therefore, and repent.
20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The infamous Laodiceans! But oh, what a bad rap they’ve received. And why, you ask? Because, as has already been the case the first six times, so is the case here, at the last. In every instance as seen above by the red font, when Jesus speaks directly to someone, it is always and only that, to someone and not to someone’s. There is only one audience here, and it is only an audience of one. Jesus is only speaking to the angel/messenger, not to the entire church about the church. Only the angel/messenger is being condemned and admonished.

Here’s where people get confused: First, they don’t know that the underlying Greek text indicates a difference between singular and plural forms of the 2nd person possessive and personal pronouns. Then, second, because translators haven’t done a good enough job in showing this to be the case, the meaning is obscured completely, in English. Finally, third, because in each instance of address, Jesus tells John to write to the angel of the church. This has caused many people for a long time to think that everything written after John’s use of the word “church” to then pertain to the saints that make up the church, when the reality is far different.

The only time Jesus has anything to say to the entire body of believers in each city is when He tells them what the Spirit is saying to them about overcoming as it pertains to the various rewards that await them individually and collectively if they do.

See this:

JESUS DOESN’T HAVE A SINGLE NEGATIVE THING TO SAY TO ANY OF THE CHURCHES AS A WHOLE!

Rather each church and its members, as a whole, are encouraged by the Spirit to pursue an overcoming life and lifestyle, simply for the fruit of doing so. And what fruit it is! Here’s a list:

  • The right to eat from the Tree of Life in the middle of the Paradise of God
  • The Second Death will not cause harm
  • The right to eat from the “hidden manna” (whatever it is)
  • A white stone with a new, secret name individually given to each person who overcomes
  • Power over the nations
  • The right to rule over the nations with a rod of iron, to break them like pottery is broken
  • The morning star (whatever this is or means)
  • The right to be clothed in white raiment
  • A guaranteed place in the Book of Life
  • Jesus will vouch for each and every one who overcomes, before the Father and the angels
  • Be made a permanent, lasting pillar in the church of Christ’s God
  • The name of Christ’s God will be written upon the saints who overcome
  • The name of the city of Christ’s God will also be written upon the saints who overcome
  • Jesus will write His new name upon the saints who overcome
  • The right to sit in the throne of Jesus Christ

All these great rewards are displayed before the seven churches, and so, by extension, to all the local churches throughout the world, present and past. The reason? To encourage and embolden the believers to keep striving for holiness and perfection. To never quit or give up hope.

These things are not promised to the seven angels/messengers. Rather, six of the seven are commanded to repent or suffer dire consequences, even though four of the six were also highly lauded by the Lord for the good that they did.[7]

What does this mean? And what is the mistake I mentioned in the beginning?

If you’re like me, and you’ve heard someone preach or teach on the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, you’ve likely heard the preaching or teaching from “The Pastor”, as the phrase often goes. And sometimes, “The Pastor” specifically states, or sometimes, merely intimates that he, as “The Pastor” is the angel/messenger, that is, just as he is the one called by the Lord to preach or teach in the church, i.e. to share with the congregation sermons he calls “messages”, thus making him the messenger (or angel), so also back in the first century, the individual, respective angels/messengers of these seven churches would have been “The Pastor” of whichever of the seven churches being discussed.

Then what happens, is that “The Pastor” attempts to draw comparisons between the church he “pastors” and one or more of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, by using—and this is key—either the compliments the Lord gave to the individual, respective angel/messenger of whichever church being discussed (and thereby partaking in the compliments as the reason the church is receiving them since he’s such a good “Pastor”), or the condemnations the Lord heaped upon the individual, respective angel/messenger of whichever church being discussed (thus distancing himself from the church he “pastors” so as to not appear as guilty as the church he “pastors” for their obvious flaws so he can blame them and not be the reason the Lord is condemning them).

This is a terrible mistake! It has caused a lot of confusion and hurt feelings. “The Pastor”, if he really is the angel/messenger[8], if he is going to try to use the Lord’s words from Revelation 2 and/or 3 to either compliment or condemn the church he “pastors”, is either going to seriously misuse Holy Scripture by causing the members of the church to believe the Lord is complimenting them with words He only ever assigned to one person in the Bible, i.e. to the angel/messenger (i.e. “The Pastor”) or, he is going to seriously misuse Holy Scripture by causing the members of the church to believe the Lord is condemning them with words He only ever assigned to one person in the Bible, i.e. to the angel/messenger (i.e. “The Pastor”).

Admittedly, the second misuse, in my opinion, is far more damaging then the first. But think back to when you, the Reader, ever heard a sermon or lesson on these seven churches. Did “The Pastor” or whoever it was that preached or taught, try to use the things we now know Jesus only ever said to the angel/messenger to make comparisons with you and the other members of the church?

The fact is, is that if the word angel/messenger, as found in Revelation 2 and 3, does refer to “The Pastor” as most people have come to believe, then that means the angel/messenger/pastor is the one—THE ONLY ONE—who gets to receive any of the credit or the compliments for the success of his ministry. Conversely, if, for example, a Jezebel, whatever she be, whether literal or figurative, is teaching and seducing members of the ministry, it is the angel’s/messenger’s/pastor’s fault, and his alone.

Additionally, if “The Pastor” of a modern day, local assembly is anything like the angel/messenger of the church at Sardis, then the few who are there who don’t defile their garments don’t do so despite the reprehensible moral failings of the angel/messenger/pastor.

Finally, while I could attempt a point by point critique, please allow me finish by going back to the first of the seven angels/messengers, namely the angel/messenger of the church at Ephesus. From what we’ve learned, if “The Pastor” is the angel/messenger, let it ever only be said that the only one who can be accused of abandoning his or her first love is “The Pastor”. Let it ever only be said that the only one in danger of having his candlestick removed is “The Pastor”, not the church.

I conclude with this:

James 3:1 (NIV) reads,

1. Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

When a person presumes to teach the Word of God to others, whether they have an actual invitation from the Lord to be a teacher or not, they must always realize the risk. Every time a person begins to teach, that is, to indoctrinate others into and with the Holy Scriptures, they are in danger.

Just as, for example, a police officer, a fireman, a pilot, a welder, a road construction worker, a stunt double, or a foundry worker is constantly in danger as they work, as long as they know what they are doing, and do what they are supposed to be doing, at all times, according to the methods put before them when they were being trained, they will consistently be okay and complete their tasks safely.

What about the Bible teacher? Will he be okay? What risks does the Bible teacher take when he opens his mouth to speak the words of God? The risks are great, as the judgment God will bring forth upon the teacher, if the teacher is in error, can cost the teacher greatly, even in terms of eternal rewards.

As stated near the very beginning of this blog, I don’t think most anyone who has made the mistake of not recognizing the underlying difference between singular and plural uses of the 2nd person pronouns (and etc.) are inherently evil, or are maliciously lying to gain an advantage.

But let’s be honest. Whenever a mistake is made in Bible teaching, all are damaged. The teacher is damaged, as his ministry, anointing, and potentially, even his soul, hangs in the balance. The church is damaged, as many have been trained to believe and obey everything the ministry says regarding the Word of Truth.

If the teacher in question has enough popularity or has an extensive ministry that reaches beyond the local congregation, even more of the church is damaged when he makes a mistake in what he teaches.

This is why we need to be so careful in what we say. Let us not so often speak in certain absolutes. Yes, some parts of the Bible are without question readily understood, and so, can be affirmed without fear. But look how one tiny little piece of information, namely, in just who is and who is not being addressed by Jesus in Revelation 2 and 3, if the teacher is lacking that one tiny little piece of information, can lead to such a severe error and a terrible presentation and representation of Bible doctrine, that entire churches fall under, and into, condemnation and heresy, simply by ignorance.

I challenge you, Dear Reader, to take James’ warning to heart. I challenge you to do everything within your power and means to make certain you’ve looked at every verse from every angle, in every conceivable way, before you presume to teach others about it. I challenge you to humbly admit to not knowing something when you don’t actually know it. I challenge you to confess and repent, when you’ve been shown something you never knew, something which proves you’ve been wrong for as long as you’ve been teaching the error.[9] I challenge you to allow others to scrutinize and critique your teachings, so that possible flaws can be discovered, and remedied, if so.

I challenge you, Dear Reader, to continually submit to Rabbi Yeshua, and the work of the Spirit of Truth, which He sends into your heart by faith. Perhaps spending more time with Him, and less time in a “pulpit” of whatever kind, trying to teach things we don’t really understand, will go a long way in furthering a decrease in our lack of Bible knowledge and acumen.

Peace and God bless,

The Votive Soul

_________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Once I get into the analysis, I want the Reader to realize I am using an Interlinear English-Greek New Testament, which not only has the actual Greek text with a literal English translation, it also has all the parts of speech listed (i.e. which words are verbs (with their moods and tenses), which are nouns, which are prepositions, which are pronouns, which ones are masculine, with ones are feminine, which are singular, which are plural, and etc.). All the information I provide below can easily be verified beginning here: http://biblehub.com/interlinear/revelation/2-1.htm

[2] As a matter of fact, I learned what I’m about to share from a comment I happened to read made by a servant of the Gospel from Canada on an online forum.

[3] In Greek, here, and through the Lord’s address, to overcome indicates a meaning closer to triumph or conquer from the literal definition meaning to subdue. It’s a military term, evoking mental images of war and battle, and the successes or failures thereof.

[4] Here, the Greek word is doulos, and is the most common word used by Paul, Simon Peter, and other writers of the New Covenant Scriptures when they call themselves the servants of God. This seduction then is a seduction made by Jezebel toward the ministry. In 1 Kings 21:25, we read that Jezebel “stirred up” her husband Ahab to commit wickedness. There, the Hebrew word for “stirred up” is suth and it means to seduce. It is possible, but uncertain, that this Jezebel either represents a collective term being used by the Lord to represent one, some, or all of the individual wives of the various servants. Also possible, but uncertain, is that Jezebel is a stand-in name for an evil spirit which had successfully seduced the servants (i.e. ministry) of the church in Thyatira.

[5] As with the other uses of the blue font, these uses of the possessive and personal pronoun (i.e. you and your) are, in the underlying Greek text, pluralized.

[6] A little later in Revelation, we are told that the garments of the righteous are clean and white, and as fine linen (See Revelation 19:8). It appears then, for the angel/messenger to have, with other members of the church at Sardis, defiled his garments, means they were to no longer be considered clean and white. Unrighteousness can easily saturate a person’s spiritual garments with grime and filth, that is, of a sinful nature.

[7] As mentioned, only the angel/messenger of the church at Philadelphia is lauded without reproof. Only this angel/messenger is not indicted as guilty before the Lord and so, commanded to repent.

[8] And that is highly debatable, as there is no clear consensus on just what Jesus meant when he told John to write to these seven different angels/messengers.

[9] And do so publicly, if the error was taught publicly.

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~ by votivesoul on 08/19/2016.

5 Responses to “The Seven Churches of Revelation and Their Messengers”

  1. Can’t follow. Too much not being able to see.

  2. good information indeed. the problem I have with this and many of the other didactic teachings from you and esaias, is the simplicity of Christ and the history of the world. unless I miss my guess, the vast majority of the billions who will stand before my Lord in judgment, served the Lord with gladness without ever owning a copy of the scriptures, let alone such dissecting knowledge as this article. the printing press is young, and electricity even younger. and so while I truly enjoy awesome teachings such as this, I have to wonder if people as gifted as yourself shouldn’t instead be refining the simplicity which is in Christ, since that’s where most folks live. hope that didn’t offend, and thanx for sharing your gift my friend

    • There is no offense taken, brother. I understand where you are coming from, and depending on who the audience is, stressing the simplicity of Christ is the key feature of all that I might speak or write on. Here at the blog, I write according to how I feel led, and since the audience is wide and varied, each of the topics speaks differently to every reader.

      The overall goal of what I write here is to help whoever might come and read the opportunity to see how much more there is to God, His Word, and the truths communicated to us from on High. Sometimes the fulfilling of that goal requires an in-depth study, other times less study and more exhortation is involved. Every once in awhile I am led to post a warning, as well.

      If you have time to go over the blog, I think you will seem such variation. I welcome your comments and input, even criticism. Peace and God bless, Aaron

      • thank you for your kind response. keep up the good work my friend.

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Always seeking to know God more

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