**Apologies for the quality of the audio for this study – we experienced technical problems that we were unable to resolve**
This study, taught by pastor Barry Forder at our Sunday morning service on Sunday 24th January 2016 is the 3rd in our verse-by-verse study through the book of Revelation.
In this study we begin looking at the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3.
The letters were from Jesus to the Pastor’s of seven churches that existed at the end of the 1st century in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). The word translated ‘Angel’ in the introduction to each of the 7 letters is the Greek word ‘Angelos’ which simply means ‘Messenger’. As you begin to study the letters it becomes clear that the recipient was not intended to be an ‘Angelic being’, and of course, Jesus would not need to pass a letter to John for him to then deliver to an Angelic being, nor would the encouragements or rebukes within these letters be given to an Angelic being! We did note that the same applied in chapter 1 where the ‘Angel’ mentioned in verse 1 is later in Revelation shown to be ‘of thy brethren the prophets’ and not an Angelic being (see Rev 19:10 / Rev 22:9).
We saw in the previous chapter that these Pastor’s were represented by seven stars that Jesus held in His hand. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:11 that the role of a Pastor is not one the someone simply decides to do, nor is it a position that can be given by man, ‘ordination’ can only come from God. Paul is clear, the role of Pastor (‘Poimen’ in the Greek – which means shepherd), is given by God for the church “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). It is no surprise therefore that we see Jesus holding these Pastors in His hand, and writing these letters of encouragement and correction to them.
However, the messages were not just intended for the Pastors, they were to be given to the whole congregation, for the Pastor is not above the congregation, he is just one part of the body, equal in rank and authority with all other believers. There is no hierarchy in the Kingdom of God, we are all to ‘do our share’ (Ephesians 4:16 / 1 Corinthians 12) as part of the body with Christ as our head.
So we see in each of the letters that they were for the churches that existed at that time, but also for anyone who has ears to hear. So we can all learn and benefit from this instruction given by Jesus to His Church.
However, we were told in chapter 1 that this is a book of prophecy, so it should come as no surprise that these letters also have a prophetic message that reveals in advance the history of the Church from the time of its inception at Pentecost to the Rapture – the ‘blessed hope’ and ‘upward calling’ we are eagerly awaiting! The scope however goes even beyond the Rapture to revel the apostate church that will exist in the last days, that will go into tribulation and ultimately be destroyed (this is detailed in Revelation 17 & 18).
What may come as a surprise is that this ‘prophetic history’ of the church is revealed at least twice more in scripture. Once in the 7 parables given by Jesus in Matthew 13, and then dramatically seen in the history of the Nation of Israel. This study takes you through the 7 distinct ages of Israel’s history, and when overlaid with the history of the Christian Church we see that as Solomon said “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
May this study bless you as you grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
You can listen to the audio on this web page, or save it for later listening. The PowerPoint slides in PDF format are also available for download.