Are the 7 churches mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3 historical or symbolic?


In Revelation, John identifies himself several times (Revelation 1:1, 1:4, 1:9 22:8). He explicitly addresses Revelation to the seven churches in Asia Minor. These churches are located in seven different cities being, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea (Revelation 1:4, 1:11).

Revelation 1:1-10 is a short introduction. The first part of the vision is addressed to the seven churches. When reading about these churches, they represent the character of the seven churches.

They are seven different conditions of the church, seven ministry types, seven groups of people that have seven different personalities or attitudes toward Christ.

These seven represent seven continents or in other words, the entire world’s spiritual condition is established in one of these seven dispositions.

You “personally” and specifically fall into one of these seven churches, or attitudes.

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne” Revelation 1:4

When Jesus speaks to each spirit of the seven churches, He has something against them, which depicts the spiritual influence that particular church or its people are under. This is to say, that the spirits that are influencing the people in these churches are demons causing the people to move away from the Lord in the manner represented by each spirit as described bu Jesus Himself. All but the exception of Philadelphia.

The Seven Churches

- Ephesus – Loveless Church (Rev 2:1-7)

- Smyrna – Persecuted Church (Rev 2:8-11)

- Pergamos – Over Tolerant Church (Rev 2:12-17)

- Thyatira – Compromising Church (Rev 2:12-17)

- Sardis – Sleeping Church (Rev 3:1-6)

- Philadelphia – Genuine Church (Rev 3:7-13)

- Laodicea – Luke Warm Church (Rev 3:14-22)

The seven Spirits that are before His Throne in Heaven, refers to the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit that is before the throne of Jesus (Isaiah 11:2-3). The seven-fold nature is described as the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord, which is Righteousness. (Galatians 5:22-23) describes the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is righteousness. Righteousness is to be in right standing with God. This all symbolizes that Jesus possesses all these characteristics in his judgment of man.

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© Tony - W.A.M