First-Century Congregations

Compliments and Warnings

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.   Revelation 2:7 (NASB)

Jesus told the Apostle John to write to seven churches over two thousand years ago. Those letters have been preserved in Revelation 2-3. John wrote from a rugged, desolate island called Patmos where he was exiled (1:9). Jesus dictated the letters to John to encourage him and his fellow Christians, many of whom were facing persecution (1:11). Though it’s been a long time, the messages of the letters apply to us, too.

Jesus gave some of the first-century Christians pats on the back for a job well done (2:2-3). We too deserve to be praised when we share God’s love with others, persevere, or jump at the chance to help others.

But Jesus also warned the Christians of the need to repent (3:1-3). There’s still time for us to repent too.

Are we as excited about being a Christian as we were when we first came to Jesus (2:4-5)? Has materialism smothered our faith (3:17-19)? Do we listen to false doctrines which may lead us to do things we know are wrong (2:14)?

Do we need guidance or encouragement? Jesus is with us just as He was with the first-century Christians. He has overcome death and hell, sickness and evil. Though we still see and experience these things we can be sure that one day Jesus will return and destroy these things forever (21:4).

Meanwhile, as we wait for that glorious day, Jesus has made a promise to all who hear His voice and open the door to Him. He will come in and they will dine together, that is, they will have fellowship and intimate communication with one another (3:21). Doesn’t that fill your heart with joy and gratitude?

DIG DEEPER:

Read Revelation 1:13-18. Though John had at one time been the disciple who was closest to Jesus, why did he now fall at His feet “as though dead”?

Read Revelation 1:12, 16, and 19-20. Jesus stood in the midst of the churches. What object symbolizes the church in these verses? Why is it an appropriate symbol for the church? Who else is present?

Read Revelation 2-3. What did the first century Christians do that we still do today? What warnings are given? What words indicate that those warnings apply to us, too?

What church congregation didn’t receive a warning? What are the promises they received? What words indicate that those promises apply to us too?

Nancy J. Baker

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