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Lesson 3 - Jesus' Messages to the Seven Churches

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Overall Question:  What can each of the seven churches teach us as Christians?

Note: the first of the churches was studied in last week’s lesson.

Memory Text: Revelation 3:21 New International Version To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.


Sunday – Christ’s Messages to Smyrna and Pergamum

Smyrna – represents A.D. 100-313 – the Age of Martyrdom

Revelation 2:8-11 God’s Word Translation 8 “To the messenger of the church in Smyrna, write: The first and the last, who was dead and became alive, says: 9 I know how you are suffering, how poor you are—but you are rich. I also know that those who claim to be Jews slander you. They are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Don’t be afraid of what you are going to suffer. The devil is going to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested. Your suffering will go on for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 Let the person who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. Everyone who wins the victory will never be hurt by the second death.

Revelation 2:9 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Intermittent persecution at the hands of various Roman emperors characterized the experience of the church during this period. Under Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138), and Marcus Aurelius (161–180), persecution was sporadic and localized. The first general, systematic persecution of Christians was conducted by Decius (249–251) and Valerian (253–259). Political oppression reached a bloody climax under Diocletian (284–305) and his immediate successors (305–313)… In 313, ten years after the beginning of these persecutions, Constantine and his colleague Licinius issued an edict that granted Christians (and all others) liberty to practice their religion.

Pergamum – represents A.D. 313-538 – Rise of the Papacy

Revelation 2:12-15 Good News Translation 12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: “This is the message from the one who has the sharp two-edged sword. 13 I know where you live, there where Satan has his throne. You are true to me, and you did not abandon your faith in me even during the time when Antipas, my faithful witness, was killed there where Satan lives. 14 But there are a few things I have against you: there are some among you who follow the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak how to lead the people of Israel into sin by persuading them to eat food that had been offered to idols and to practice sexual immorality. 15 In the same way you have people among you who follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans.


Monday – Christ’s Message to Thyatira

Thyatira – represents A.D. 538-1565 – Dark Ages and Reformation

Revelation 2:18-29 New Century Version 18 “Write this to the angel of the church in Thyatira: “The Son of God, who has eyes that blaze like fire and feet like shining bronze, says this: 19 I know what you do. I know about your love, your faith, your service, and your patience. I know that you are doing more now than you did at first. 20 “But I have this against you: You let that woman Jezebel spread false teachings. She says she is a prophetess, but by her teaching she leads my people to take part in sexual sins and to eat food that is offered to idols. 21 I have given her time to change her heart and turn away from her sin, but she does not want to change. 22 So I will throw her on a bed of suffering. And all those who take part in adultery with her will suffer greatly if they do not turn away from the wrongs she does. 23 I will also kill her followers. Then all the churches will know I am the One who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you for what you have done. 24 “But others of you in Thyatira have not followed her teaching and have not learned what some call Satan’s deep secrets. I say to you that I will not put any other load on you. 25 Only continue in your loyalty until I come. 26 “I will give power over the nations to everyone who wins the victory and continues to be obedient to me until the end. 27 ‘You will rule over them with an iron rod, as when pottery is broken into pieces.’ [Psalm 2:9] 28 This is the same power I received from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. 29 Everyone who has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

Daniel 10:6 New English Translation His body resembled yellow jasper, and his face had an appearance like lightning. His eyes were like blazing torches; his arms and feet had the gleam of polished bronze. His voice thundered forth like the sound of a large crowd.


Tuesday – Christ’s Message to Sardis

Sardis – represents A.D. 1565-1740 – Decay of Protestantism

Revelation 3:1-6 New Living Translation “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. 3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. 4 “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. 6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Matthew 24:42-44 New International Reader’s Version 42 “So keep watch. You do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 You must understand something. Suppose the owner of the house knew what time of night the robber was coming. Then he would have kept watch. He would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready. The Son of Man will come at an hour when you don’t expect him.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 Contemporary English Version I don’t need to write you about the time or date when all this will happen. 2 You surely know that the Lord’s return[a] will be as a thief coming at night. 3 People will think they are safe and secure. But destruction will suddenly strike them like the pains of a woman about to give birth. And they won’t escape.

4 My dear friends, you don’t live in darkness, and so that day won’t surprise you like a thief. 5 You belong to the light and live in the day. We don’t live in the night or belong to the dark. 6 Others may sleep, but we should stay awake and be alert. 7 People sleep during the night, and some even get drunk. 8 But we belong to the day. So we must stay sober and let our faith and love be like a suit of armor. Our firm hope that we will be saved is our helmet.

Matthew 5:44-48 Easy-to-Read Version 44 But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. 45 If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. 46 If you love only those who love you, why should you get a reward for that? Even the tax collectors do that. 47 And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than anyone else. Even the people who don’t know God are nice to their friends. 48 What I am saying is that you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.


Wednesday – Christ’s Message to Philadelphia

Philadelphia – represents A.D. 1740-1844 – Great Awakenings

Revelation 3:7-9 Common English Bible Write this to the angel of the church in Philadelphia: These are the words of the one who is holy and true, who has the key of David. Whatever he opens, no one will shut; and whatever he shuts, no one opens. 8 I know your works. Look! I have set in front of you an open door that no one can shut. You have so little power, and yet you have kept my word and haven’t denied my name. 9 Because of this I will make the people from Satan’s synagogue (who say they are Jews and really aren’t, but are lying)—I will make them come and bow down at your feet and realize that I have loved you.

Revelation 3:10-13 English Standard Version 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

2 Timothy 2:19 God’s Word Translation In spite of all that, God’s people have a solid foundation. These words are engraved on it: “The Lord knows those who belong to him,” and “Whoever worships the Lord must give up doing wrong.”

Exodus 34:6 Good News Translation The Lord then passed in front of him and called out, “I, the Lord, am a God who is full of compassion and pity, who is not easily angered and who shows great love and faithfulness.


Thursday – Christians in Laodicea

Laodicea – represents 1844 to Christ’s Second Coming - Apathy

Revelation 3:14-17 English Standard Version 14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:15 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY A recognition of this application [to Seventh-day Adventists] stands as a constant rebuke to self-satisfaction and an encouragement to live wholeheartedly according to the pattern of a of perfect life in Christ Jesus.

Hosea 12:8 Easy-to-Read Version Ephraim said, ‘I am rich! I have found true riches! No one will learn about my crimes. No one will learn about my sins.’

Revelation 3:18-22 Christian Standard Bible 18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. 20 See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 “To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”

1 Peter 1:7 Contemporary English Version Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns.

Isaiah 61:10 New Living Translation I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.

Ephesians 1:17-18 New English Translation 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, 18 —since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints.

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