the weblog of Alan Knox

The Churches of the Revelation…

Posted by on Feb 11, 2007 in definition, scripture | 2 comments

Last Friday afternoon, I had the chance to speak briefly with Alan Bandy from “Café Apocalypsis“. Alan has taken a break from blogging while he is working on his dissertation. The topic of his disseration is the Book of Revelation. He shared some things with me that I had never noticed before.

Almost everyone is familiar with the seven churches of Revelation. John was told to write letters to the church in seven cities: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. However, these letters were not meant only for the individual churches.

First, notice that the letters were included in the Book of Revelation. Thus, John intended for all of his readers to “hear” what the Spirit had to say to each church. While the commendations and warnings may have been given to specific situations, there were also univeral applications (that is, application to more than the single church receiving its “letter”).

Second, notice what is repeated at the end of each “letter” to each church: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:11, 17, etc.). Did you catch that last word? The Spirit is not speaking his message to that particular “church”, but to the “churches”.

Perhaps these letters were not as specific as we tend to think. And, perhaps there was more interaction between the churches of different cities than we normally see today.


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  1. 2-11-2007


    That is a very interesting point. I have heard many theories about the seven churches in Revelation. I don’t ever recall anyone noticing the plural at the end of the passages before.

    I know it is not your dissertation, but I wonder about your first point. If John intended them for all by including them in the book, do you think Paul did not intended any of his letters for all by only writing them to specific churches?


  2. 2-11-2007


    I think Paul did expect a wider readership than the addressed group of believers. First,remember that Galatians is written to a region, so there would be churches in several cities there. In “The Pastoral Epistles”, while they were addressed to individuals, it seems that Paul intended for others to read the letters (especially Philemon, which appears to be the most individualistic letter). And, third, remember that on at least one occasion (Colossians), the recipients were specifically told to send their letter to another group (Laodicea), and to read Paul’s letter to that group.