Prior to his death, Christ told his disciples that is the true vine, and they are the branches. John 15:5. It is quite interesting to know that in the natural vine, life giving sap is released into the branches, enabling it to produce fruit. Christ clearly shows his disciples that without him they cannot carry out God’s work. This message communicated to the disciples was not for them only, but to all who believe in Christ. As he once said, ” I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their (disciples) words. Christ is the life of his Church. He gives those who believe in him the ability to complete the work, which he sees fit to give. As it pertains to the church, Christ has many roles in which he reveals himself. He likens himself as husband, father, Lord, and brother to mention a few. This is especially made evident in the book of Revelation. The letters to the seven churches is Christ showing his solicitude for his people. It is necessary to first establish the identity of these churches before I can discuss his divine nature.
There is a wide misconception among many Christians, as to who the author of Revelation is referring to. The majority assume John was talking to seven specific churches, while others believe he was not. This mystery must be explored. The number seven in the hebrew (shevah) denotes fullness, wholeness, or completeness. When God created the heavens and the earth, he finished his work in six literal days. The seventh day was made to indicate the termination of his work. However, the abundance of life was displayed. The churches are therefore, not seven specific churches, but all churches who believe in God. Paul makes this evident when he speaks to the Colossians as saints in the body of Christ. Colossians 1:2. This church was located in the same area of the seven churches. Miletus was another important church. As a matter of fact, Paul called the elders of the Ephesus church to visit him in Miletus. Acts 20:17-38. Furthermore, Miletus was nearer the isle of Patmos than any other church of Asia Minor.
It is seen through scripture John could not have been communicating to seven churches alone. The book of Revelation is symbolic, and should be held as such. Christ indicates this in the first chapter. He says, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. Revelation 1:20. In addition to this, it must also be determined if the apostle was speaking only to the churches during his time. Remember, God created the earth. A bounty of nature, vegetation, flowers, trees etc.. was seen in its perfection. Six days all was made, and God introduced the seventh day. The creator did not intend for seven days to be seven days alone, but the result of his work was whole and complete, the seventh day indicating this. The same thing applies for the seven churches of Revelation. Seven marks the whole or complete body of Christ. Therefore, the churches is the body of believers in every age.
An examination of the first two churches should be sufficient to show that John was speaking of religious organizations in every period. Ephesus in the Greek means desirable. This was a church very zealous for God. Christ says,” I know your works, your labor, your patience. ” Revelation 2:2. He also states, ” You have tested them which say they are apostles and are not, but you have found them a liar. Christ speaks of their good works. However, he is not slow to correct them. He says, ” Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee you have lost your first love”. Revelation 2:2,4. The church during the apostles’ era fits this description. The church losing its first love did not imply their love was altogether extinguished, but it diminished. The church during the time of the apostles were true believers in God, but in some of the churches there was sin. On one occasion, Paul had to correct some immoral act happening in the church. He had to often deal with jealousy, arguing, and backbiting in the church. 1 Corinthians 5:1.
The church of Smyrna means myrrh. This church endured a great persecution. The period of this persecution began during the time when all the apostles died out, except John. The ten day tribulation mentioned in Revelation is very much symbolic. In the bible, a day is a year. The prophet Ezekiel says, ” And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year”. Ezekiel 4:6. It is a noticeable fact that the last and most bloody of the ten great persecutions of the christian church continued ten years from AD 303 to 313 beginning under Dioletian.
As Christ speaks through John to the churches of Asia Minor, it is clear that he shows a great deal of concern for his church. Again we see him acting as a spiritual husband. The losing of the first love in Ephesus. He is a Father to his people, for he says, “Remember where you are fallen and repent, or else I will come to you and take your candlestick away”. The statement meaning he will correct his chosen as a Father. He is Lord because he holds the seven churches in his hand. Revelation 2:1. He is our Elder Brother because he shows all the churches that nothing passes his notice. So, John bears this message to the seven churches in every age. Thus showing all churches are included in John’s letters.