The Seven Churches

The Seven Churches in the book of Revelation, chapters 1-3, were small churches to which Jesus Christ sent letters about how to improve their group life and fellowship. We work on the premise that families and some corporations are small groups in which we would like to have improved group life and fellowship.

Furthermore, the letters Jesus Christ sent to these Seven Churches were apparently dictated by Jesus himself and taken down as Jesus spoke them. So we study the communication skills manifested in these letters as those of Jesus Himself.

Discussion Suggestions:

1. What is the pronoun most used by Jesus in Revelation 1-3? Count the times He used it. Discuss what might be various tones of voice and hidden agendas back of the human use of this word.

2. Name the parts that recur in each letter. Notice the proportion and placement of encouraging things said in comparison with sad or difficult things. Count the times any forms of the words "listen" or "hear" are used in Revelation 2-3. How could these observations help in situations where communication turns out to be difficult?

3. Ephesus was white-hot in devotion and love at first (see Acts 19). Then with the influx of different new group members it had trouble accepting some (see Paul's letter to the Ephesians). How does Jesus' letter to the church in Ephesus help in accepting diversity?

4. Smyrna (modern Izmir) had a history of being bullied and snubbed. How does Jesus' letter to the church in Smyrna help in dealing with others who do not want to communicate with respect?

5. Pergamos was in competition with Alexandria for the largest ancient library. Then Alexandria cut off papyrus supplies so Pergamos invented parchment. How does Jesus' letter to the church in Pergamos help in dealing with open conflict?

6. Thyatira was a center of textile production and sales, the source of the colors of royalty (see Acts 16:14), a place of consumerism and economic corruption, a place where boundaries blurred and people controlled other people (compare Revelation 14:4-5). How does Jesus' letter to the church in Thyatira help in dealing with troubles that permeate a corporation, church, society, or other system?

7. Sardis perched on the top of a steep mountain, virtually impregnable to enemy attack, but the city's fame lay in its cemetery of famous people from years gone by. How does Jesus' letter to the church in Sardis help those who might feel spiritually dead because of abuse by people still alive or already dead?

8. Philadelphia was the city of brotherly love, not storge which is familial familiar love, not eros which is lovers' love, but philia which is friend love. Though earthquakes and enemies tried to level this city, its people refused to give up their community love. How does Jesus' letter to the church in Philadelphia encourage those under malicious attack?

9. Laodicea was the city of self-help, who refused empire help in rebuilding after earthquake, who boasted of its own physicians and mineral springs, a famous salve for healing eyesight, and sheep who bore black wool. How does Jesus' letter to the church in Laodicea speak to those who think they have no need?