The Seven Churches


Prolog:

For most readers - this will be a very, very strange explanation - about some verses from the beginning of the The Book of Revelation. The idea that Book of Revelation is about Religions other than Christianity- will just not be acceptable to many Christians. Yet - that is the explanation presented here.

The Book of Revelation is addressed to Seven Churches. The churches named are what we call archtypes. That is to say - it is not really to the seven historically insignificant locations named but rather those names are stand-ins for the real subjects. Oftentimes, the true significance of Scripture is far beyond the expectations of the members of the religion who claim ownership of that Scripture.

Thus it is - that the Messiah expected and promised in the Jewish Scripture was the Messiah and Lord for what was far beyond what was then probably less than 2 million persons who considered themselves "The Chosen People". Likewise, the Message and Meaning behind the Book of Revelation is much greater than that attributed to it by Christians in general. This is an introduction to that expanded concept.

Introduction

The Book of Revelation, in the Bible, was a spiritual message revealed by Jesus Christ through St. John the Divine in about 96 AD, sixty three years after Jesus' ascension. John was on the island of Patmos and is believed to have been nearly 90 years old at the time. The Book of Revelation is a deeply mystical writing and in order to comprehend the dramatic concepts within it, one must be willing to examine it with spiritual eyes and an openness to inquire if there is a deeper meaning than the literal meaning of the words that one sees on the surface.

The prophetic message in the Book of Revelation is about the destiny of seven churches. These are referred to as seven candlesticks and each one has the name of a town that was in John's teaching circuit and which still exists in what is now west Turkey and is somewhat north of what we now call Palestine and Israel.

Revelation -verses 1:10-17 (Introductory Verses)

1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

The central concept being presented here is that the towns and their names represented spiritual "archetypes" of what the prophecy was really about - which is the churches, or rather, major religions of the world.

The little towns themselves, while historical and geographic realities, have fallen into obscurity, but the Prophetic Message about the state of the Seven Churches, The Seven Golden Candlesticks, that is to say the Seven World Religions, in the "Last Days" has come to have GREAT significance.

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The first of the seven churches was the Sabean - here called the Church of Ephesus.

2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

This is the most ancient of the churches. It is religion as found in the remmanents of Ancient Tribes of the Earth. Hence the commendation of its Patience.

This church is so ancient (4000-5000 BC) that we don't really know the name of its Revealer, but symbolically many contribute it to Adam. Bahá'u'lláh says there were a "thousand Adams", but much of what is written here is symbolism and we won't dwell upon it. In our chart we attribute the the Revealer to being Abraham because that is the practice of many of the present day followers of the Sabean religion.

2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Each of the Churches receives a COMMENDATION and a CONDEMNATION. This was the commendation of this church.

2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

And here is the condemnation.

2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Which may be why we really know so little about this church.

2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

The Nicolaitanes were a group that had risen against religion. It is to be noted that God hates the deeds of the Nicolaitanes - and NOT the people.

2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Each of the churches will receive such a call to enlightenment. The Tree of Life in the midst of the Paradise of God - is called the Divine Lote Tree. It is said to be the point beyond which there is no passing. Symbolically it is the Manifestation of God. Meaning that one can go no further in Paradise or know more of God - than what is revealed by the Manifestation. The blessing here is that those who are open and receptive - to what the Holy Spirit says to ALL the churches will recognize the next Manifestation of God. I realize that I am going a bit far in delving into such mystical meanings - so I will restrain myself on such points from here out.

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The second of the seven churches was the Hindu - here called the Church in Ephesus. The Revealer of this church was Krishna (2000-3000 B.C.)

2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

The First and the Last. The Alpha and Omega. He which was and ever shall be.

In the concept of Progressive Revelation - all the Revealers are the one and the same. Jesus said - "Before Abraham - I am." The Jews of course disputed with Him about that.

Here is a similar quote from Bahá'u'lláh.

XLVII. O Jews! If ye be intent on crucifying once again Jesus, the Spirit of God, put Me to death, for He hath once more, in My person, been made manifest unto you. Deal with Me as ye wish, for I have vowed to lay down My life in the path of God. I will fear no one, though the powers of earth and heaven be leagued against Me. Followers of the Gospel! If ye cherish the desire to slay Muhammad, the Apostle of God, seize Me and put an end to My life, for I am He, and My Self is His Self. Do unto Me as ye like, for the deepest longing of Mine heart is to attain the presence of My Best-Beloved in His Kingdom of Glory. Such is the Divine decree, if ye know it. Followers of Muhammad! If it be your wish to riddle with your shafts the breast of Him Who hath caused His Book the Bayan to be sent down unto you, lay hands on Me and persecute Me, for I am His Well-Beloved, the revelation of His own Self, though My name be not His name. I have come in the shadows of the clouds of glory, and am invested by God with invincible sovereignty. He, verily, is the Truth, the Knower of things unseen. I, verily, anticipate from you the treatment ye have accorded unto Him that came before Me. To this all things, verily, witness, if ye be of those who hearken. O people of the Bayan! If ye have resolved to shed the blood of Him Whose coming the Bab hath proclaimed, Whose advent Muhammad hath prophesied, and Whose Revelation Jesus Christ Himself hath announced, behold Me standing, ready and defenseless, before you. Deal with Me after your own desires. (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 101)

This one quote from the Bahá'í Writings pretty much sums up what this is all about - that each of the Revealers of the Seven Churches are all the One and the Same.

In reality not only they - but the Manifestations wherever they appear througout the Universe and All time. That is the reason that there is none other Name (identity - not vocal sound) under heaven by which men are saved. It is by the Manifestation - God made Manifest - who appears through all eternity and all infinity. Again - I may almost be going too far.

2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

One must remember that while this is about the Hindus, at the time it was written it was to the Christians and thus recognizes their dealing with the Jews at the time.

2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

I could make commentary on each verse - but you will probably think already what I will be writing to be overly long - so I will restrain myself.

2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

The message to each of the Churches ends with a similar promise. I will not mention this again.

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The third of the seven churches was the Jewish - here called the Church in Pergamos. Coincidently, each of these Greek names has a spiritually significant meaning - but I will not go into such detail. The Revealer of this church was Moses (1250 B.C.)

2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

You can see here that this is addressed directly to the Jews - "the children of Israel".

2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

Amazingly, today even in Israel - the far larger majority of the Jews say in public opinion polls - that they are "not religious".

2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

The "new name" is of course the name of the New Manifestation - which of course no one recognizeth except those who do "receive it". All these things have spiritual significance - such as the "hidden manna". Just too much to go into.

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The fourth of the seven churches was the Parsee/Zoroastrian - here called the Church in Thyatira. The Revealer of this church was Zoroaster (900-1000 B.C.) This church is not very well known about among most Christians (who in fact know very little about any of the others except to usually express their prejudices about them.) This religion does appear in the Bible - when the Magji came following the star and looking for the Christ child. Those wise men from the East were Zoroastrians who as told in the Bible had in their religion the prophecies about the coming Manifestation (Jesus).

2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

The emphasis is on fire here because they are sometimes considered to be "fire worshippers".

2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

The commendation.

2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

The condemnation.

2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

One has to get into historical matters to explain many of the verses.

2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

2:28 And I will give him the morning star.

The study of stars, and astrology had great significance among the Zoroastrians. The allusion to the Morning Star - and the reference to the search of the Wise Men in the Gospel - has a connection.

2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

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The fifth of the seven churches was/is the Buddhist - here called the Church in Sardis. The Revealer of this church was Gotama Buddha (500 B.C.)

3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Saying again - that He has ALL the Seven Spirits of God - or all the Seven Churches. The verses altogether are a theme about Progressive Revelation.

One of the amazing things about these Scriptures is that they describe the order in which these religions appeared on the earth - as well as the nature of each one of them.

This is of course astounding to those who have an inclination to see - but to those who are fixed in their dogmas they will simply close their eyes and ears and see nothing of this in it.

3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

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The sixth of the seven churches was/is the Christian - here called the Church in Philadelphia. The Revealer of this church was of course Jesus Christ (26 A.D.) I will make mention of the significance of the Greek name for this one name since it is known to Christians. It means brotherly - and it is common for Christian to refer to their Christian brothers and sisters. Also the city of Philadelphia in the US has the title the City of Brotherly Love.

3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

Christians will of course see many references to Christ in this verse.

3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

The new name, as before, is of course the name of the new religion. There are many promises and symbolisms here - but our purpose has been only to show the general theme - that these Scriptures are about Seven Major Religions of the World - which have all come from God.

3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

To say more - would be to start preaching. :)

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The seventh of the seven churches was/is the Moslem/Islam - here called the Church of the Ladicieans. The Revealer of this church was Muhammad (622 A.D.)

It is amazing to the Christians (and of course rejected by them) that the Bible holds prophecies about Muhammad. The Moslems see many, many, prophecies in the Bible about Muhammad. But this is nothing new. The Christians see many, many prophecies in the Old Testament - about Jesus - which the Jews of course do not see.

And of course - there are many prophecies in ALL the Religions and Books of God - including the Koran - about the End Times (The Beginning of the Age of Fulfillment) and the coming of the Messiah to the whole of the world which the followers of those religions do not see except as the Return of their own Prophet.

3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye , that thou mayest see.

3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

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I have not gone into the meaning of many of the verses. But enough - indeed probably too much.

The theme is the Progressive Revelation of God and it all points towards the Manifestation of this Day and Age.

They that have eye to see and an ear to hear - will be joyed to see the bounty that God has revealed in the Books of Old - and will be eager to receive the Message unto the New Age.

But many will not see or hear the Message. Indeed many people look at the Bible and see only the carbon black of ink pressed upon the cellulose of paper - and say that they see NOTHING of the Spirit in it.


The Seven Religions (Churches) were:


Progressive Revelation - Nine Divinely Revealed Religions
Number Date Religion Revealer Book Rev. Verses
Church Name
1 5000 B.C. Sabean Abraham Kanza Rama Rev. 2:1-7
Sabean
2 3000 B.C. Hindu Krishna Vedas Rev. 2:8-11
Ephesus
3 1250 B.C. Jewish Moses Torah Rev. 2:12-17
Pergamos
4 1000 B.C. Parsee/Zoroastrian Zoroaster Ivesta Rev. 2:18-29
Thyatira
5 500 B.C. Buddhist Gotama Tripitaka Rev. 3:1-6
Sardis
6 26 A.D. Christian Jesus Gospel Rev. 3:7-13
Philadelphia
7 622 A.D. Islam/Islamic Muhammad Qur'án Rev. 3:14-22
Ladicieans


The Two Religions (to come) were:


8 1844 A.D. Bábí Báb Bayan Other
Chapters
9 1863 A.D. Bahá'í Bahá'u'lláh Kitáb-i-Aqdas Other
Chapters

Each Prophet/Manifestation/Revealer

Starts a new Calendar
Brings a new Book
Teaches His followers to love God
Teaches His followers to love his fellow man
Reinforces the former spiritual teachings
Brings new spiritual teachings
Brings social teachings suitable for that Day and Age
Tells His followers to watch for the NEXT Prophet - that is - His Return

While a study of each of the ancient religions would be interesting it is far beyond the limits of this presentation. Nevertheless, it was not beyond the view of the Bible. And it was to each of these Religions that the Book of Revelation was addressed.

Rev: 1:4

    " John to the seven churches which are in Asia ----"

The references to things like Seven Stars being in the Hand (or Crown) of the Messenger the Seven Golden Candle Sticks are symbolic and again refer to the Seven Religions being in the Hand and Kingdom of the Lord, and that He walks among them. One might note also that it is the Angel of Each Church that is addressed.
      Rev. 2:1 Ephesus
      Rev. 2:8 Smyrna
      Rev. 2:12 Pergamos
      Rev. 2:18 Thyatira
      Rev. 3:1 Sardis
      Rev. 3:7 Philadelphia
      Rev. 3:8 Laodiceans

Each Church (Religion) is generally praised for some aspect of its behavior and chastised for some other aspect. And thus it is that any open minded student of comparative religion can usually find some strong beneficial point in each religion along with some characteristic weakness in its followers.