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The Coming Tribulation: A History of the Apocalypse: Tribulation Part 2A: The Seven Churches of Revelation

The Coming Tribulation: A History of the Apocalypse: Tribulation Part 2A: The Seven Churches of Revelation

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Published by rdlugi01
The Coming Tribulation: A History of the Apocalypse: Tribulation Part 2A: The Seven Churches of Revelation:
The Seven Churches: Revelation 2:1 - 3:22
1. Ephesus: Initiation (2:1-7)
2. Smyrna: Persecution (2:8-11)
3. Pergamum: Accommodation (2:12-17)
4. Thyatira: Compromise (2:18-29)
5. Sardis: Corruption (3:1-6)
6. Philadelphia: Revival (3:7-13)
7. Laodicea: Apathy (3:14-22)
The Coming Tribulation: A History of the Apocalypse: Tribulation Part 2A: The Seven Churches of Revelation:
The Seven Churches: Revelation 2:1 - 3:22
1. Ephesus: Initiation (2:1-7)
2. Smyrna: Persecution (2:8-11)
3. Pergamum: Accommodation (2:12-17)
4. Thyatira: Compromise (2:18-29)
5. Sardis: Corruption (3:1-6)
6. Philadelphia: Revival (3:7-13)
7. Laodicea: Apathy (3:14-22)

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Published by: rdlugi01 on Aug 31, 2009
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10/19/2011

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The Coming Tribulation: a History of the Apocalypse
 
Part 2: The Time of the Tribulation and the Signs of its Coming
 
Subpart A: The Seven Churches
 Revelation 2:1 - 3:22(also available on-line at www.ICHTHYS.com)by Dr. Robert D. Luginbill
Contents of the Series
: The Coming TribulationPart 1: Introduction (Rev.1)Part 2: The Time of the Tribulation and the Signs of its Coming (Rev.2-7)Part 3: The Tribulation Commences (Rev.8-11:14)Part 4: The Great Tribulation (Rev.11:15-15:8)Part 5: Armageddon and the Second Advent (Rev.16-19)Part 6: Last Things (Rev.20-22:5)Part 7: Preparing for Tribulation (Rev.22:6-21)
Contents of Part 2A
:The Seven Churches: Revelation 2:1 - 3:221. Ephesus: Initiation (2:1-7)2. Smyrna: Persecution (2:8-11)3. Pergamum: Accommodation (2:12-17)4. Thyatira: Compromise (2:18-29)5. Sardis: Corruption (3:1-6)6. Philadelphia: Revival (3:7-13)7. Laodicea: Apathy (3:14-22)
Introduction:
We concluded the first part of this series with a consideration of the trueChristian hope – our ultimate resurrection and eternal future with our dear Lord JesusChrist. For us, the current generation of the Church, standing on the very brink of theTribulation, this “hope” is more tangible than ever before, because there is the very realprospect (if not the inevitability) that some who read these words will survive in the fleshto see our Lord return to earth, and will at that moment be “caught up” in resurrection atHis glorious return. In all our detailed investigation of the Tribulation’s terrifying events,this perspective of hope rather than of fear should be carefully maintained. For we whohave chosen for Him are most certainly
not 
the objects of God’s wrath which will bepoured out upon the earth during those terrible years, and whatever we may be calledupon to suffer in the time between the Tribulation’s commencement and our Lord’sreturn will be for His glory and our glorification – our labor is not in vain in Him(1Cor.15:58). The overwhelming reality of His final victory and our blessed unificationwith Him at that time will transcend to such a great degree whatever horrendous trials itbe our lot to endure in the time between that all such relatively “light affliction” will not
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be worthy of comparison to the glories destined to follow them. May He who is ourLight also transcend in our hearts these events even before the fact in the midst of thedarkness to come!For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be comparedwith the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18 KJV
 
The Seven Churches: Revelation 2:1 - 3:22
 In our preliminary discussion of the seven churches in the previous installment of thisseries it was explained that, in addition to being seven literal and historical local churchesexisting in John’s day, these seven are also representative of the seven eras of the ChurchAge that had only just begun at the time Revelation was written. These indicationsinclude:
 
John’s apostolic authority (especially as the last apostle) extended to the entireChurch, not just these seven (1Cor.9:1-5; 12:28; Gal.2:7-9). This is not a messagedesigned by him to address specific issues in particular churches (as 1-3 John),but a message given by God to
the
seven “churches” (Rev.1:11: the definitearticle is significant here, because there were clearly more than seven localchurches at the time of writing).
 
Our Lord Jesus Christ is and was concerned for His entire Church, not just forthese seven local churches. This revelation of His Person is clearly meant to befor His entire bride, the whole Church universal, and not merely for a very smallportion of it.
 
The book of Revelation is the heritage of the entire Church. It is meant to blessall who read it (Rev.1:3), and meant to show all who consider it (Rev.22:7) whatwill happen in the end times.
 
Revelation, after beginning with the messages to the seven churches in chapterstwo and three moves immediately to the history of the end times on the far side of the Church Age’s two millennial days. The book is indisputably focused on theconclusion of the Church Age, so that the preceding messages to the sevenchurches only make structural sense as an overview of the intervening twomillennia.
 
The seven lampstands cannot well be understood as only these seven localchurches, for they are seen alone in the presence of Christ in chapter one(Rev.1:12-13), and again alone in the presence of the Father’s throne in chapterfour (Rev.4:5). The lampstands, light-giving bodies which represent the role of the Church universal in reflecting the truth of Christ in this dark world, and doingso as a totality in both instances, must therefore represent more than seven localchurches in the first century.
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The description of Jesus Christ as “in the midst” of the seven lampstands, holdingthe seven stars, the angels of these churches (Rev.1:12-16), is symbolism whichstrongly suggests His authority over the Church, and the entire Church at that, andwould be very hard to apply exclusively to seven local churches. The numberseven, the number of perfection in the Bible, also argues for these seven“churches” to be a symbolic representation of one complete Church (cf. the sevenspirits of Is.11:1-2 and Rev.4:5 standing symbolically for the one and only HolySpirit).
 
The text of Revelation 4:1 “what (i.e. the Tribulation) must take place[immediately]
after these things
(i.e., the “events” of the seven churches)” onlymakes good sense if the seven churches be taken as the aggregate period of timebetween John’s penning of these words and the commencement of the Tribulation(see section II below).
 
Finally, it is appropriate for the last book of the Bible to be addressed to Christ’sentire Church (rather than merely to seven local ones).This interpretation helps to explain other apparent anomalies in the messages to the sevenchurches. Why, for example, should the church at Colossae, a mere dozen miles distantfrom that of Laodicea and the recipient of a canonical epistle from the apostle Paul lessthan a decade before, be omitted in favor of Laodicea, if not for the fact that the situationat Laodicea was symbolically more applicable to later developments in the Churchuniversal? And there were, of course, many other local churches at time of writingbeyond Asia Minor as well as within it. It is, in fact, only because of the symbolicimportance these churches bear for the historical eras of the Church which theyrespectively represent that they have been included in the list. In addition to theseconsiderations, the interpretation of the messages to these seven churches will be seen toreinforce what has been suggested above: the seven churches are, in addition to beingseven actual local churches ministered to by the apostle John nearly two thousand yearsago, representative of seven distinct periods in the history of the Church Age which isonly now in its final phase.From a structural point of view, these seven also give us – importantly – a historicalperspective which pushes our thinking forward from the beginning of the Church,through its history, then down to commencement of the end times, that is, the Tribulationwhich is the threshold of Christ’s return. Thus, the two chapter treatment of the sevenchurches or seven phases of the Church Age is an important link between John’s present(chapter one) and the events of the end (from chapter four forward). Chapters two andthree, therefore, “fill in the blank” as to the events of the Church Age that come betweenthe time of writing and the time of the end. The fact that this transitional discussion is soextremely rapid and contains no discernible or fixable dates (before the benefit of historical hindsight) also means that the sense of immediacy and imminency of theapproaching apocalypse (along with the corresponding urgency for believers to be alert
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