Last Friday afternoon, I had the chance to speak briefly with Alan Bandy from “CafÃ© 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.