Salvation History in Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3

Recapitulation of Covenantal History

The imagery used to describe the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2 & 3) progresses chronologically from the Garden of Eden to the situation in the 1st century.


Ephesus: The Early World

The language of paradise is used throughout this passage.

- the one who walks among the lamp stands, as God walked through the garden Gen 3:8.

- the angel is guarding the church as Adam was told to guard the guarded and his wife in Eden Gen 2:15.

- the angel, like Adam has fallen having left his first love. Christ therefore comes to him in judgment and remove his lamp stand, as he banished Adam & Eve. The reward for overcoming is the Tree of Life.


Smyrna Rev2:8-11  The Patriarchs and Egypt are reflected here.

- "he who was dead and has come to life" reflects Isaac (Gen22:1-14; and Joesph Gen 37:18-36; 39:20-41:45; 45:4-8; 50:20).

- false Jews persecuted the true heirs as Ishmael persecuted Isaac (Gen 21:19; cf. Gal 4:22-31.)

- the danger of imprisonment at the instigation of a slanderer is paralleled in the life of Joseph (Gen 39:13-20).

- The "tribulation of ten days" followed by victory reflects the story of Israel's endurance through the ten plagues in Exodus.


Pergamum Rev 2:12-17  Wilderness Wanderings.

- The enemies of the Church are described as Blaam and Barak, the false prophet and evil king who tried to destroy Israel by tempting them to idolatry and fornication (Num 25:1-3; 31:16).

- Like the Angel of the Lord and Phineas the priest, Christ threatens to make war against the Balaamites with the sword (Num 22:31; 24:7-8).

- To those who overcome they receive manna and a white stone (Heb 9:4).


Thyatira Rev 2:18-29  Royal Kingdom into the Divided Kingdom

- Christ announces himself as the Son of God, the greater David (Ps 2:7; Ps 89:19-37).

- He rebukes the angel of Thyatira, whose toleration of his "wife, Jezebel," is leading to the apostasy of God's people (1 Kings 16:29-34; 21:25-26).

- He who overcomes will be granted, like David, "authority over the nations" (2 Sam 7:19; 8:1-14).

- The concluding promise alludes to David's Messianic psalm of dominion: "And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; like the vessels of a potter they shall be broken to pieces, as I also have received from My Father" (Ps 2:9).


Sardis Rev 3:1-6 Divided Kingdom & Exile

- The description of the church's reputation for "life" when it is really "dead," the exhortations to "wake up" and to "strengthen the things that remain," the acknowledgement that there are "few people" what have remained faithful, all are reminiscent of prophetic language about the Remnant in a time of apostasy (Is 1:5-23; 6:9-13; 65:8-16; Jer 7:1-7; Ezek 37:1-14).


Philadelphia Rev 3:7-13 The Return

The reference to the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews when they are not recalls the conflicts with "false Jews" in Ezra 4 and Nehemiah 4, Nehemiah 6 and Nehemiah13.

- The warning of a coming testing reminds us of the tribulation suffered under Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel 8 and Daniel 11.


Laodicea Rev 3:14-22 Judaism of Jesus Day, The Last Days (Pharisaic Judaism).

The Lukewarm Church boasting of its wealth and self-sufficiency, yet blind to its actual poverty and nakedness (Luke 18:9-14; Rev 18:7).