What Happens Next? Revelation 3:7-13, to the church at Philadelphia

A little background concerning the church at Philadelphia:

  • not a large city, but commercially busy.
  • prone to earthquake disasters.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

  • “the holy one” – “In the Bible “holiness” is the very essence of God, the quality that makes God what he is, different and set apart from human beings. It carries a sense of separateness from sin, of exclusiveness, of uniqueness”(Bratcher). Also a Messianic designation, meaning God’s servant or one who does God’s will. Thus when we combine Jesus’ self description here in this verse we end up with something like “the true, faithful divine Messiah-servant of God”.

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What Happens Next? Revelation 2:18-29, to the church at Thyatira

A Bit of Background Concerning the Church at Thyatira

  • Although we’re uncertain how the church came to be in Thyatira, Acts 16.14-15 mentions the conversion of Lydia who was from the area.

12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

  • A small city, but important for trade. The major road that led to Pergamum ran though Thyatira.

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The Danger of Superficial Distinctions

I. The Dangers of Superficial Distinctions (2.1-7)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

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What Happens Next? Revelation 2:12-17, to the church at Pergamum

A Bit of Background Concerning the Church at Pergamum

  • about 60 miles north of Smyrna.
  • known for being a great religious, intellectual, and medical hub of the day.
  • the city was known for containing the alter of Zeus, one of the 7 wonders of the world. Also had the first temple dedicated to Ceasar.
  • the city contained a medical center which accompanied the worship of the deity of medicine, Aesculapius (signified by a coiled snake on a pole).

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What Happens Next? Revelation 2:8-11, to the church at Smyrna

A Bit of Background Concerning the Church At Smyrna:

  • A port city located about 35 miles north of Ephesus. Current location is known as Izmir, Turkey.
  • A disciple of the apostle John served as pastor there until he was martyred around 155 AD.
  • A city of obvious wealth, known for its resorts, spas, and market places (Hunter, 29). First-hand geographical accounts in the first century describe Smyrna as “a beautiful city”.
  • We are not told in the Bible how the church came to exist in the city, many assume the gospel spread there from Ephesus.
  • The normal pattern for the letter given to each of the churches includes a: Commendation, Correction, Consequence of unheeded correction, and Conquering Promise. The church at Smyrna is one of two churches (along with Philadelphia) not given a Correction/Consequence.
  • This is also the shortest of the 7 letters.

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What Happens Next? Revelation 2.1-7, to the church at Ephesus

A Bit of Background Concerning the Church At Ephesus:

  • A thriving metro area at the time of John’s writing.
  • The capital and largest city of Asia (southwest Turkey) the city had a large seaport which made it an influential city of trade.
  • Enjoyed much freedom as a democratically self-run city within the Roman Empire.
  • The city has been described as being wealthy, cultured and corrupt (Summers, 108).
  • Chiefly known as the city which hosted the worship of the goddess Diana, thus it was a hotbed for Asian-influenced dark arts, necromancy, and exorcisms (Hodge, vi).
  • Acts 18-19 highlight Paul’s ministry to the city, staying for 3 years to teach the gospel. Acts mentions a who’s who of sorts of those involved in ministering there. Timothy was later placed in charge of the churches in this area.
  • Church tradition holds that the Apostle John ministered there in his later years and that Mary, the mother of Jesus, passed away in the city as well.
  • The church that was birthed there is thought to be quite large and influential.

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What Happens Next? Postmillenialism

Reminders

4 Ways to View Revelation…

Historicists – draw parallels between John’s vision and significant historical events. They seek to place major events of history within John’s writing like, the rise of the papacy, the protestant reformation, etc.

Futurists –  interprets the book of Revelation as literally as possible. This view leaves little room for symbolism. In fact, symbolism is only considered when something cannot be understood in a strictly literal fashion. Therefore, for the Futurist, the vast majority of Revelation has yet to take place. Futurism is most concerned with the time and the signs immediately preceding the return of Christ, and the state of God’s people at that future point.

Idealists –  see Revelation through more of an allegorical representation of the types of things or events believers may expect in the time between the inauguration of Christ’s kingdom and its consummation. This story is of the struggle of the Christian church in the world, and God’s continued preservation of his people through it.

Preterists – approach to Revelation understands that most of the book was fulfilled in the decades immediately following the establishment of the church. Though the book of Revelation does briefly address the distant future, most notably the return of Christ and final judgment, the majority of the book is concerned with the original readers’ present reality. Therefore, from where we are sitting, Revelation describes much of what has already taken place

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