While studying the seven churches of Revelation in chapters 2 and 3, another pattern within the book of Revelation has come into focus. In A Chronological Revelation I did not address the significance of the placement of the letters to these churches at the opening of the book since I believed they were not part of the chronology beginning in chapter five. However, I now believe they too are interwoven within this chronology as well.
Although the letters speak to the original churches as well as various groups within the entire body of Christ, they might also be speaking to the various groups of God’s Elect we see at the time of the end.
As discussed in the book, with the events of Revelation progressing, different groups of God’s Elect are revealed playing unique rolls. When overlaying these groups with the characteristics of the seven churches, the chronological pattern matches. The pattern is:
The Church Entering the Time of the End
Ephesus: The Loveless Church (Rev. 2:1-7)
The church that has lost its first love and transitioned from a faithful relationship based on love to an unfaithful one based on religious works is warned to repent prior to entering tribulation at the fifth and sixth seals.
The Martyred Church at the Fifth and Sixth Seals
Smyrna: The Persecuted Church (Rev. 2:8-11)
The faithful church emerging out of the loveless church endures tribulation unto death at the fifth and sixth seals.
The Unfaithful Church Descending Deeper Into
Apostacy During the Trumpets
(The Woman Riding the Beast, Rev. 17)
Pergamum: The Compromising Church (Rev. 2:12-17)
The apostate church surviving the tribulation of the fifth and sixth seals has compromised with the emerging beast system to stay alive. She is called to repent or face Christ’s wrath at his second coming.
Thyatira: The Corrupt Church (Rev. 2:18-29)
The apostate church has compromised itself into corruption by the beast system. The church is given time to repent but those that do not will enter great tribulation (the bowls).
Sardis: The Dead Church (Rev. 3:1-6)
The apostate church so corrupt as to be dead is now totally sold out to the Beast. This church is called to repent and watch or Christ’s return will be as a thief, not knowing what hour he comes (missing the rapture / suffering through the bowls).
The Raptured Church at the Seventh Trumpet
Philadelphia: The Faithful Church (Rev. 3:7-13)
The church that emerges following the tribulation of the fifth and sixth seals through the ministry of the 144,000 with patient endurance. This church is kept from the hour of trial by being raptured at the seventh trumpet. Those from the apostate churches that repent and remain faithful are also included in this group.
The Church Out of the Bowls
Experiencing the First Resurrection
Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church (Rev. 3:14-22)
The church uncommitted to either Christ or the Beast misses the rapture at the seventh trumpet and is not kept from the hour of trial (the bowls). This is the final separation of good and evil prior to Christ’s return with most taking the Mark of the Beast (being vomited out). Those that do not take the mark of the Beast, thereby answering Jesus’ knock on the door, are blessed by being resurrected first and reigning with Christ for one thousand years (Rev. 20:4-5).
The picture this is portraying is of the entire body of Christ as it passes through the time of the end. Beginning with a church that has lost its way entering persecution resulting in those that are faithful being martyred and those that are not, being compromised. Those that have compromised with the beast system begin the decent of the apostate church into corruption and eventual death as represented by the woman riding the beast in Rev. 17. Meanwhile the faithful church growing out of the 144,000 is blessed by being removed prior to the hour of trial by Christ at the rapture. The remaining church, lacking enough faith to be included in the rapture, endures the hour of trial being forced to choose between Christ (prompting their beheading and eventual reward) and the Beast (receiving its mark and being vomited out by Christ). This leaves only evil (other than the remnant of Israel) to endure Christ’s wrath at His second coming.
Copyright 2018 David K. Kidd