‘…I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea”.’ (Rv 1:10-11)
Jesus’ words to St. John of Patmos refer to what are now known as The Seven Churches of Revelation or Apocalypse, first mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Each church was one of the founding communities of Christianity, and all are located in Turkey in the Roman province of Asia. Join with us at ITS Pilgrimage to experience a moving journey as we gather in worship with the Church communities.
The church that had forsaken its first love.
Due to much external and internal conflict from spiritual opposition of the temple of Artemis and fourteen other Greek deities worshipped, the church lost its first love of Christ and his saints. Commended for its hard work and perseverance, many Christians in Ephesus were promised the chance to eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God (the Garden of Eden).
The church that would suffer persecution.
Under pressure from the Jewish authorities, the church closed its doors to Christians. The leader prompted the Roman authorities to persecute the church. The devout citizens of Smyrna were promised exemption from the second death, thus a connection was made between the area and death.
The church that needed to repent.
Existing where Satan held his throne, Jesus asked the church to repent after many were encouraged by other religions to follow practices forbidden to Christians. As a result, paganism mixed with the true religion of the Church.
The church that had a false prophetess.
Plagued by a false prophetess known as Jezebel, in relation to the evil queen of Israel who worshipped idols, many believers were led to compromise certain pagan practices. Many banquets were held in Thyatira after which sexually immoral acts took place, encouraged by the religious intruders. Jesus told the people to be strong and he would give them authority.
The church that had fallen asleep.
Most known for its failure to act when under attack, Sardis was cautioned by Jesus to be watchful. Condemned criminals lost their citizenship and their name was erased from the public register. Believers who persevered though were promised never to be removed from the eternal book of life.
The church that had endured patiently.
Providing a pathway to some of the other churches, Philadelphia had an open door through which to share their worship and teachings. It became the most secure structure in the city, with the promise to be a pillar in the temple of God.
The church that was lukewarm and insipid (to God).
The Romans built an aqueduct so that the city’s thermal springs could be drinkable. When the area suffered from earthquakes, the church was immodest of its own wealth and refused to accept aid or assist others. The result was spiritual blindness in the light of wealth. Jesus promised those humble enough that they would one day sit with him on his heavenly throne.
(All images via Patheos)