Letters to Seven Churches #2
Lesson 4: The Book of Revelation
LETTERS TO SEVEN CHURCHES #2
(THYATIRA, SARDIS, PHILADELPHIA, AND LAODICEA)
Revelation 2:18 – 3:22
Rubel Shelly, teaching
1. Following the general pattern of these letters, things that can be praised are named first.
What were the good features of the church in Thyatira? What was its great fault?
2. Who was the historic figure named Jezebel? (cf. 1 Kings 16:31 – 21:25). What would the label
“Jezebel” say about anyone called by that name? Was this woman’s error that she was
female, a female who was teaching publicly in the church, or her false doctrine?
3. How does information in the video about two humiliating enemy defeats of Sardis help us
understand what is said to the church in that city? What is said to encourage the church’s
faithful minority of members?
4. Believers in Philadelphia had experienced the closing of many doors to them – Roman
citizens would have been denied opportunities because Jesus had been crucified for
treason, Gentile slaves likely were subject to special abuse, ethnic Jews were barred from
synagogues, and many from their families of origin. What was the open door for them?
5. Twice in these seven letters (2:9; 3:9), the term “synagogue of Satan” has been used. What
does it mean? How have these references been used to cultivate anti-Semitism?
6. Laodicea was famous for producing and weaving expensive black wool, served as a regional
center for trade, and was known as a banking and financial center. How does the city’s
wealth appear to have influenced the church there?
7. What was Jesus’ analysis of the church’s spiritual state? What does the indictment of the
church as “lukewarm” mean? How does the “remedy” of white garments and eye salve help
with the interpretation of the church’s identified fault of lukewarmness?
These seven churches represent a broad spectrum of possibilities. One has nothing good that can be said
of it (i.e., Laodicea), while two are spared rebuke (i.e., Smyrna, Philadelphia); all of them would have to
be on their guard against the seductions and pressures Satan was preparing. Is it not the same with local
churches in every generation? Because this is true, we learn a great deal from these seven letters.
Insights, counsel, warnings, and encouragement to them challenge us to be stronger churches in our
time and place. We dare not neglect the valuable lessons contained in these letters for our own times