As we read through Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Timothy, we see that these churches were spiritually healthy as Paul last ministered in this region. But by the time Revelation was written, approximately thirty years later, five of these same churches had suffered serious spiritual decline. Ephesus had left its first love, and most of the rest had been infiltrated by false doctrine and sin. Only two of the seven that Jesus addresses are not condemned by Him in some fashion, Smyrna and Philadelphia, yet today none of the seven currently exist. So, what are we to make of this?
Remember how your fathers, in times gone by, defended God’s truth, and blush, ye cowards, who are afraid to maintain it! Remember that our Bible is a blood-stained book; the blood of martyrs is on the Bible, the blood of translators and confessors. The pool of holy baptism, in which many of you have been baptized, is a blood-stained pool: full many have had to die for the vindication of that baptism which is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” The doctrines which we preach to you are doctrines that have been baptized in blood, swords have been drawn to slay the confessors of them; and there is not a truth which has not been sealed by them at the stake, or the block, or far away on the lofty mountains, where they have been slain by hundreds. Charles Spurgeon
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation were not only written to the churches Jesus is addressing in the late first century, they were written to all churches throughout the Church Age. There are many insights we need to grasp from these letters. Yes, two of the churches were commended, yet five were rebuked. We need to remember that Jesus Himself is giving these commendations and rebukes, so we need to listen and heed what He is saying because they apply to us today every bit as much as to the seven. As we sit in our pews we should strongly consider which of these churches our own church more closely resembles.