Letters to Seven Churches #1
Lesson #3 on The Book of Revelation
TEXT: Revelation 2:1-17
Rubel Shelly, teaching
LETTERS TO SEVEN CHURCHES #1
(EPHESUS, SMYRNA, AND PERGAMUM)
1. The seven letters follow a standardized form: Jesus is described (in relation to the vision in
ch.1 and in view of that church’s situation), the church is examined (for both strengths and
weaknesses), and a challenge to faithfulness is issued. Which two churches receive only
praise? Which church receives only criticism?
2. What do we know about the founding of the church at Ephesus? Cf. Acts 18:18-21; 20:31.
Other than Paul, what other Christian leaders spent time nurturing the church in Ephesus?
3. What were the strengths of the Ephesian church? What was its one glaring weakness? What
was the challenge issued to the church by the Risen Christ?
4. Why do some writers refer to Smyrna as The Rich Poor Church. In what sense was it “poor”?
In what sense “rich”?
5. Smyrna is warned of an intense ten-day period of persecution that lay ahead for believers
there. The martyrdom of a Christian in Smyrna named Polycarp in 155 is a beautiful story of
faithfulness to Christ in the face of persecution. If you don’t know the story, why not Google
it? It will be worth the effort and time.
6. Pergamum was the Capital City of Asia Minor and the first city in that province to build a
temple for the emperor cult in 29 B.C. How does this explain the letter’s statement about
“Satan’s throne”? How would this put Christians in Pergamum under special pressure? Who
was Antipas? What makes him unique within the Book of Revelation?
7. What do we know about the heretical teaching of the Balaamites and Nicolaitans at
Pergamum? Had the entire church embraced their teaching? What duty did the church have
in relation to these false teachers?
The seven churches of Asia Minor were about to undergo a severe testing of faith in connection with an
ordeal of persecution that had already begun before the close of the first century. In the initial vision of
the Risen Christ in Revelation 1, he is walking among those churches. He is there to comfort, encourage,
and support; he is also there to inspect, warn, and correct. As G.B. Caird put it: “Together the letters
constitute a visitation of the churches to see whether they are in a fit state to face the coming crisis.”