In approximately AD 96, during his exile to the island of Patmos John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation), including seven letters to seven congregations in Asia minor (Revelation 2-3; see the map below). The Table below summarizes the messages to these congregations, highlighting Jesus praise (commendation), reproof (condemnation), exhortation (counsel) and promised reward to the overcomer (compensation).
Table summarizing Revelation 2-3
|Ephesus||Loveless||Patiently enduring persecution, hate deeds of false teachers||Left your first love||Repent, do again your 1st works||Eat of Tree of Life|
|Smyrna||Persecuted||Rich in faith and good works in spite of tribulation and hypocrites||NONE||Be faithful unto death||Receive crown of life, not be hurt of second death|
|Pergamos||Compromising||Held firm to Jesus’ name and did not deny the faith||Tolerance of Nicolaitanes, Balaamism, compromise,idolatry, and immorality||Repent||Receive hidden manna, white stone, new name|
|Thyatira||Tolerance||Love, faith, patience, and good works||Tolerance of Jezebel,idolatry, immorality||Hold fast what you already have||Power over nations, Morning Star|
|Sardis||Dead||A few are not defiled||Dead works||Watch, strengthen what remains, hold fast, repent||White raiment, keep name in Book of Life|
|Philadelphia||Faithful||Kept the Word and not denied Jesus||NONE||Hold fast to the faith||Pillar in temple, keep from hour of temptation Have name of God|
|Laodicea||Lukewarm||NONE||Lukewarm, spiritually poor, blind, and naked||Secure gold tried in fire, white raiment, eyesalve, be zealous, repent||Sit with Christ on His throne and eat with H|
Personal reflection questions
Considering the table above, prayerfully consider what Jesus would (1) write to your personally or (2) to your congregation, would he write a letter such as the seven in Revelation 2-3:
1.a) Which of these commendations (or praises) could be said of you personally? Why would you say so?
1.b) Which of these condemnations (or rebukes) convict your own heart? Why do you say so?
1.c) What will you do in response to this conviction?
2.a) Which of these commendations (or praises) could be said of your congregation as a whole? Why would you say so?
2.b) Which of these condemnations (or rebukes) would be most for your congregation as a whole? Why do you say so?
2.c) In response to your answer above (2.b) what could you do to reform your congregation in response to your convictions above?
Pray as the Lord leads you (a) for yourself and (b) for your congregation, and pray that you may be a bright light for Christ in your community.