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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Forty-Third (The Churches)

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful week! This week we're going back to Revelation to take a look at the seven churches.

The first thing we need to do is remind ourselves what a church is. The word in Greek is ekklesia and when you look at its use in Greece it meant "a gathering of those summoned." Very appropriate, as we are chosen and summoned by Yehovah! (Revelation 3:20) It was an assembly of citizens in a city-state. Even more appropriate as we are citizens of heaven! (Philippians 3:20)

These citizens would meet for special sessions and four times in every tenth of the year. This equates to about every nine days...which is almost weekly! Hmmmmmm :) What did they do at these meetings? Well, the agenda was determined by a council called the prytaneis, or "presidents," and the ekklesia couldn't start any new business when they gathered. The presidents presided for a tenth of the year and rotated among the citizens, which meant ordinary citizens were involved in public administration.

So the presidents set the agenda and then the ekklesia discussed the items on the agenda and voted. Remember, there's a reason and meaning behind every word chosen by Yehovah and Yeshua (Jesus). I have my own belief of what that reason and meaning is for choosing ekklesia, and I'll let you pray on it and come to your own belief!

So now that we've reviewed (and deepened!) our understanding of ekklesia, let's get to the churches of Revelation. The first important thing to realize is these are churches, meaning they are believers, Christians. The second thing to realize is these messages are being sent from Jesus Himself to the churches by way of each angel assigned to them. And the third thing to realize is while these were churches in John's day (the writer of Revelation), they are applicable now as the spirit of these churches are still in the hearts of believers in the world today.

The first church written to is the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-6). The spirit of this church is one of discernment, as they test so-called apostles, and one of perseverance, as they have patience in their labor in Jesus' name. However, it is also one of hardness of hearts. We can see in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, they were praised for their faith in Jesus and love of the saints (Ephesians 1:15), but were warned not to be bitter, angry and full of wrath (Ephesians 4:31-32). In Revelation, they lost that first love of the saints and Christ, and as a result if they do not repent they will have their lampstand (the representation of their church) removed from heaven!

The next church is Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-10). The spirit of this church is one of purity in their motivation. Their works are acceptable to Jesus, and although they are poor, He says they are rich, meaning their lives are rich and meaningful despite how much money they have. They are provided a warning however, of persecution based on their works and purity of motivation. And with that, He also gives an encouragement to remain faithful.

The next church is Pergamos (Revelation 2:12-16). The spirit of this church is also perseverance, as despite being in a place where Satan dwells they hold fast to the name of Jesus. However, they are also warned of judgment as they put stumbling blocks in the way of His believers, even promoting fornication. Jesus warns of His coming against them with His Word (the sword of His mouth) unless they repent.

The fourth church is Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-28). Initially, it seems as the spirit of this church has got it all right with their works, charity, patience, etc. However, they also have a warning. They allow this spirit of Jezebel to work, causing Jesus' servants to sin. Those that allow this are those that commit adultery with her and will experience great tribulation unless they repent. He then provides another word of encouragement, this time to those that keep His Word: they will rule over the nations (in His millennial kingdom).

The next church is Sardis (Revelation 3:1-5). This message is a sobering one: your works are not acceptable. They have forgotten, or at least chosen not to be watchful for His coming. They accepted Him, however they do not live like He could come at any hour. These are those that think they can live however they like as long as believe in Jesus. His warning is clear though: there is a possibility of being blotted from the book of life. And if we recall, those not in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).

The sixth church is Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-12). The spirit of this church is one of steadfastness, as they keep His Word and do not deny Him. He encourages them to remain steadfast, and they will be given their crown. Not only that, they will be kept from the tribulation that will come upon the world.

The seventh, and final, church is the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-21). The spirit of this church is one of a lack of conviction. They fail to stand for His Word, or right and wrong, or truth. Despite this, they think they have it all, and they're doing everything right. However, it is this lack of conviction that causes Him to "spew them out." Something else interesting is He points out in verse 19 that He rebukes and chastens those that He loves, meaning just because things are easy for you doesn't mean you're doing everything right. A message of repentance is sent to this church as well. We are the light of the world, to shine on the world, not to be hidden or kept to ourselves (Matthew 5:14-16).

As His ekklesia, we need to periodically do a hard look at ourselves and determine if we exhibit one or more of the negative characteristics of these churches. In this way, we can ensure we pray for help from the Holy Spirit in these areas so we can correct ourselves. And while you're at it reflect on the positive characteristics you exhibit from these churches so you can strengthen and fortify those!

Bonus info: in Revelation 3:14 we get the origin of the Son of Yehovah, the Word, Yeshua. He was Yehovah's first creation! The Greek is arche ktisis theos, which means the first creation of God!

Have a great week! Shabbat Shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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