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Having studied the letters to the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 in general, we will now begin examining each of them separately. Since God's church has recently split into hundreds of different pieces, it would be futile to seek to identify each as one of the seven.
Internal evidence in Revelation shows that a fulfillment of these messages to the churches--perhaps the major one--is an end-time message to all seven at once. Therefore, no matter the historical application, all seven messages are pertinent to the end-time church.
In examining the seven churches of Revelation 2-3, we have found that Christ usually commends them for their good works, though He also includes some negative analysis and correction. Christ finds good and bad mixed fairly consistently throughout the whole church and warns all to overcome.
The messages to the seven churches are intended for those whom God has called in the end time wherever they are fellowshipping today, whether in an organized church or scattered as individuals. The attitudes of one or several of these messages, then, could reflect our character traits and should be approached as such, Thyatira included.
In dealing with the first four churches of Revelation 2, we have examined churches that the church of God has considered to have existed before the "end-time era." We have generally taught that the last three churches exist in this age. Let us first examine Sardis, an era few would knowingly choose for themselves, to see if Sardis fits this perceived pigeonhole.
The letter to the church at Philadelphia is the one to which most current church members relate. Upon analyzing Revelation 2 and 3, the vast majority among us consider it to be the best of the churches through the ages. Is our evaluation of Philadelphia justified, or have we allowed our bias to color our understanding?
Very few among us wish to be associated with "the church of the Laodiceans." Among the seven churches, Laodicea is the last before the return of Christ, and it is unquestionably dominant today. The far-reaching works conducted under the direction of Herbert W. Armstrong are fading memories.
This series on Revelation 2-3 has shown from internal biblical evidence that the seven churches all exist in the end time. It has also agreed with our traditional understanding that the seven churches form a chronological chain stretching from the days of the apostles until today. The last of the seven, Laodicea, is the most prevalent right now.
The entire Bible is written to, for and about God and His relationship to the church. It is the preparation manual for the 144,000 saints who will become the bride of Christ at His return. Thus, we find many parables, analogies, similitudes, allegories and imagery directed at and defining the church. Dozens of such figures refer to the church.
In the previous study, we discovered a few of the Bible's symbols for the church of God. We learned the church is symbolized as a family, a city or cities, and mountains or hills. As a symbolic or coded book, the Bible's array of imagery describing the church is not complete with just these few symbols. As God's sons and daughters, and as Jesus Christ's bride-to-be, the New Testament church receives special attention in God's Word.