The seven churches described in Revelation 2 and 3 are representative of the Christian church throughout the centuries.
This is a view that has been taken by Bible students through the centuries. Seventh-day Adventist expositors have historically taken this position, as well.
The angel instructs John to “‘write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this’” (Rev. 1:19, NKJV). The vision of the seven churches relates to the past, the present, and the future. It records the triumphs of God’s church, as well as its failures. It shares the church’s victories, as well as its defeats. Although the seven churches can represent a historical continuum of Christian faith down through the centuries, there are vital lessons in each one of these churches for God’s people today.
Ephesus, for instance, provides a striking illustration of heaven’s appeal for revival and reformation.
Read Revelation 2:1-6. What are the good things about this church? But what are the problems, as well?
Ephesus, here, is equated with the New Testament church from approximately A.D. 31 to A.D. 100. These early Christians were zealous for their faith. They labored unceasingly for the advancement of the gospel. The disciples diligently preserved the doctrinal purity of the church. They had no tolerance for heresy and were fierce defenders of truth.
As time went on, however, the members began to lose their “first love.” They substituted duty for devotion. Doing Jesus’ work became more important than their relationship with Him. Gradually and almost imperceptibly, their experience with Jesus began slipping away. They were laboring hard to defend the faith, but something vital was missing in their own spiritual experience. Love for Jesus and for one another was desperately lacking.
What was it like when you first came to know Jesus? How can you still maintain that “first love”? Why is it so important that you do? What things threaten to turn you away from that love?