There are 3 layers of meaning:
** Context is to determine what the passage of Scripture meant to its original audience: who wrote it, when, why and to whom did they write it for. Basically understanding what the Bible meant in its original and its historical context.
** The church format is what Jesus has to say to the church. They all have a similar layout.
** Prophetic application can be controversial but I put it here because it is possible that the seven churches represent 7 different church periods throughout history – past, current and in the future. The church associated with a specific time does not mean it applies to every church during that time period. It simply means that it is a key feature of that time frame. When you place all the faults of each church side by side, these faults get progressively worse – showing we are headed towards the apostasy.
** Except for the first two (Ephesus and Smyrna), the other five all mention the way or how Jesus will come. Those statements are prophetic as they are how Jesus also talked to the Apostles about the End of Times. This is believed based on Jesus’ second coming comments starting from the Pergamum Church.
** The church meaning also may have something to do with linking the church to a specific church period in time.
** I personally believe that each of these churches shows how we as individuals can be throughout our journey with Jesus.
** Personal application is when you ask yourself what the passage means to you.
There is a format for each church:
First - a description of Jesus Christ.
Second - Jesus praises the church.
Third - Jesus finds fault within the church.
Fourth - Jesus provides instruction.
Fifth - What will happen if they do not repent.
Sixth - Jesus provides a reward.
** A format – it’s not in this exact order for each church and not all have each part within this format.
** The first is a description of Jesus Christ – descriptions He already listed for Himself in Revelation 1:12-18
** The second is where Jesus praises the church for what it has done right – what they have done right as a whole and as individuals.
** The third is when Jesus mentions where the church and individuals faulted.
** The fourth is when Jesus lays correction in order to find there way back to Him.
** The fifth is the consequences of not fixing their situation.
** Lastly, the sixth is Jesus letting them know if they do fix their current situation what He will reward them with.
2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says – “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
** The reason it is also for us today is because there isn’t anything we are doing now that hasn’t already been done before. The challenges these churches faced then are what we face today.
** Remember: Jesus’ goal is not to criticize but to correct!