In Revelation 2 and 3, we encounter seven letters written to seven different
churches. Seven is the number of fullness. They represent the churches of
all times and places. And we know from Revelation 1 that the Lord is the
one who holds his church in his hands. The church is His primary concern;
He stands amid the lampstands, representing His church. The heavenly
Bridegroom cares for His bride so that she will be a spotless bride on the
day of her marriage.
That the Lord truly and thoroughly knows His bride is immediately evident
from the structure of the seven epistles. All seven letters follow the same
pattern. They all begin with an address: "Write to the angel of the church
which is at ......" The Lord knows His church, wherever that church is. Then
follows a self-designation of Christ: "This says He who....", followed by a
description from Revelation 1:12-18, Christ's appearance to John. What
Christ reveals of Himself to a specific congregation has to do with what is
going on in that congregation and, therefore, what that congregation needs
to hear and see. This is followed by words of praise. Very often, we then
read something like, "I know your works, ....." How pastoral that the Lord
begins with this! The Lord begins with positive words of praise and
comfort. The only congregation where this is missing is Laodicea, the last
or seventh congregation. But these words are followed by words of
condemnation. Something like, "But I have against you....." Then, it appears
that something is wrong in every congregation except Smyrna, the second
congregation. But in His mercy, the Lord addresses the problems in His
congregation. Ultimately, He desires a holy, spotless bride! He prepares His
bride for eternal life with Him. Then follows a correction in the form of a
warning and threat. Something like, "Remember then......, but if not......"
The Lord is clear in what He wants us to change, and so He gives clear
corrections. That correction is followed by a call, an exhortation, and a
recommendation. In words like, "He who has ears, let him hear what the
Spirit says to the congregation." The Lord takes his bride by the hand and
leads her. Finally, a promise follows: "He who overcomes......" Remarkable,
how the last words are always a promise. It is the first thing we take away
as a congregation: the promise of the Lord. How clearly we see in the
structure of these letters that the Lord knows His congregation. What a