Revelation - Lesson 4

The Seven Churches (Part 1)

John had a vision of the Son of Man. He had a message for the church at Ephesus.

Lesson 4
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The Seven Churches (Part 1)

  • There is a wide range of interpretation of the book of Revelation because of the nature of visions. When John writes Revelation, he uses a pool of images that are familiar to him and his readers and we need to take into account what the images meant to people at the time.
  • Apocalyptic literature is based on the idea that the natural order is set within a larger content of a spiritual reality and that the dynamics of the spiritual realm play themselves out in the physical realm.  Apocalypse is a message from God regarding what God is about and what he is going to do.

  • The occasion for writing Revelation was the vision John had and the situation of the seven churches. John is trying to describe a scene in which various scenes are being played out simultaneously. John emphasizes the importance of living out your theology, as opposed to only being doctrinally correct.

  • John had a vision of the Son of Man. He had a message for the church at Ephesus.

  • Messages for the churches at Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamum.

  • Messages to the churches in Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis and Philadelphia.

  • A message to the church at Laodicea and a vision of Jesus as a Lamb who shares the throne with God.

  • A vision of God the creator and the redeemer Lamb.

  • A vision of the seven seals.

  • A vision of the seven trumpets.

  • This lesson dives into the idea of encountering God in the world, warns about the destructiveness of sin, and presents a powerful angelic figure symbolizing God and Jesus as triumphant over fallen Babylon, with a mysterious aspect of the vision.
  • A vision of the seven trumpets. Chronology of the origin and development of the teaching of the rapture and dispensationalism.

  • A vision of how the death of Jesus on the cross has made it possible for us to be in relationship to God.

  • The description of the nature of Satan's war against God's children and in contrast to a description of God's redeemed.

  • A vision of the seven bowls.

  • A vision of fallen Babylon.

  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the concept of Fallen Babylon and the transformative power of the cross. It emphasizes that accepting the cross liberates you from the world's illusions, allowing you to accept your own falsity as healed and yielding to the Holy Spirit's action. The lesson challenges the idea of choosing between the world and Christ, proposing that you can choose both simultaneously, seeking unity, wholeness, and love at the deepest level of your being.
  • Dr. Mulholland answering questions from the students.

  • A vision of the victory of the Lamb and discussion of the wrath of God.

  • A vision of the New Jerusalem.

  • Dr. Mulholland's lesson delves into God's love as the core of self-discovery. False self obstructs the truth. True self blooms in faith, openness, trust, and yielding to God, shifting focus from ego to divine presence. Embrace this shift, become citizens of a new Jerusalem in a fallen world.
  • A vision of the people of the New Jerusalem.

  • John wrote the book of Revelation as a call to radical discipleship as faithful citizens of God’s new Jerusalem in the midst of a fallen Babylon world. There is no video for this lecture.

Revelation is a vision of Jesus the Messiah. John focuses on the profound depths of what God has done, is doing, and will ultimately consummate in and through Jesus. A second central theme in Revelation is the role of the cross in what God has done and will accomplish. The contrast and interaction of the "New Jerusalem" and "fallen Babylon" is also a significant theme in Revelation. Videos for lectures 7, 8 and 9 are not avialable yet. Lecture 23 was recorded in audio only. 

We think that the title of the devotional book that Dr. Mulholland reads from at the beginning of some of the lectures might be Merton's Palace of Nowhere by James Finley. Unfortunately, Dr. Mulholland is deceased so we can't confirm this. 



Dr. Robert Mulholland


The Seven Churches (Part 1)

Lesson Transcript


You know what? I'm going to ask you about that. Yeah. I went in this morning. Right, right, right, y'all. Yeah, I put it all together in clusters around the flats. Good. That's your dog? Yeah. It's a girl. And I know a guy who survived for quite a while, and I would. I would think. It's not like he's been stabbed. That's weird. Just looks like I have no idea. You know, I did my. I didn't know my mother. We are over here. Button I a. It's more like a little square by security. You click on that and I like to get it for them. Not all. Oh, you see this? I'm gonna get that little box right there. You have something like that. See, if I click that. That synchronized. That was for Greenwood. He tells headquarters of When you realize that some people get one or two responses, it's either it's the projects never really work. Oh, I have family buried there. I'm really sorry that I know some people. I know. It's just like it's a beautiful city. It's awesome. Well, good morning. You know anybody out there? Yeah. The core of our being is drawn like a stone to the quiet depths of each moment where God waits for us with eternal longing. But to those depths, the false self will not let us travel like stones skipped across the surface of the water. We are kept skimming along the peripheral, one dimensional fringes of life. The sink is to vanish. To sink into the unknown depths of God's call through union with himself is to lose all that the false self knows and cherishes. Thus, the false self does not face or even acknowledge the darkness within. On the contrary, the darkness is proclaimed to be the brightest of light, while turning from the rays of the false self to the path of interior prayer.


We find ourselves on the horns of a dilemma which is finally resolved only in a childlike abandonment to God's mercy. On the one hand, there is the great truth that from the very first moment of my existence, the deepest dimension of my life is that I am made by God for union with Himself. The deepest dimension of my identity as a human person is that I share in God's own life, both now and in eternity, in a relationship of untold intimacy. On the other hand, my own daily experience impresses upon me the painful truth that my heart has listened to the serpent instead of to God. There is something in me that loves darkness rather than light, that rejects God, and thereby rejects my own deepest reality as a human person made in the image and likeness of God. Pray with me. Our gracious, loving God may be here in these words of our brother. Your words speaking to us, calling to us your love, yearning after us, seeking to restore us to wholeness in that relationship of loving union with you. Lord, we pray that you would enable us to abandon this false self, to lose that self for your sake. That we may find our true life here with Christ in you. In his name, we pray. I'm in. Okay, let me start learning a few names. I don't know. Here. This is wonderful. I've never had a class where I've known over half the people one began. There's a few. A few I don't. Daniel Dellinger. Daniel. Daniel. Had to learn your names. You're not here. Andrea Bremer. Okay. Elizabeth Brown. And I think I know Chris Christie or you hear Christie. Oh, there you are in front of me. Okay. And William Cobb.


Okay. When we see if I can remember those over the weekend. Thank you. Okay. Coming back where we left John on Patmos. And whose day when John says I pointed out to you, remember that John is locating himself in two different contexts at the same time, and he does have, I think, economic and natural and then economic and humanity. So I was in the island is called Patmos, and I was in the spirit. And what John means by being in the spirit is is really difficult to. To unpack. As you read through the rest of the New Testament, you find that the Christian life entails all sorts of things in the spirit that you pray in, the spirit that you sing in the spirit. You do all sorts of things in the spirit. If we live by the Spirit, Paul says, let us also walk by the Spirit. So one of the basic understandings of the Christian life in the New Testament is that it is life in the spirit. And of course, that's one of Paul's great. You know, there's two ways of human life. Life according to flesh and life according to the spirit. So whether John is just simply indicating, you know, that that he was being fairly Christian, we don't know. Or is he indicating that he entered into this vision experience? Is that what he's indicating by being in the spirit? In another aspect, it's in the spirit on the Lord's Day. And there's only two places in the New Testament where we're finding is bone marrow by intake. Korean K Mirror in the Lord's Day. Emerge Day, of course, was the day after the Sabbath, the day resurrection. So is by defining the day on which this experience happens.


You see, is John trying to signal something to us? Most likely he is, but whatever it is, you know, it it goes beyond what I can understand here. So now another aspect. It's on the Lord's day. So John is is in exile. So he he does not have the advantage of worshiping with the Christian community. He's he's on his own. And now, of course, realize that you're dealing with a culture that is primarily a communal culture, not an individualistic culture. One of the great problems we have in reading the New Testament is that we are such a privatized, individualized culture, we just automatically, unquestioningly presume that that is exactly the same worldview that the culture of the New Testament had. And it was not. New Testament is a communal culture. Your identity is intimately and inseparably conjoin with a community of some sort. And of course, when you became a Christian, you see your identity became immersed in the Christian community. You left whatever community you had been a part of, and you became part of a new family and your identity was found in that new community. So John may may be indicating here that even though he is separated from the community, he is still participating in the same spirit in which they are participating. He is, in a sense, joined with them, although he is away from them physically. So there's all sorts of possibilities that John may be playing with here. And maybe there's a combination of these that that are at work, but I'm not really sure. So here's a good project for somebody if you haven't decided on your project yet. To try to figure out what John means when he says, I was in the spirit of the Lord's test.


And then he hears behind him a voice, a great voice, like a trumpet. And of course, what imagery would come to mind to a Jewish reader at that point. A great voice. Like a trumpet. That's a lot logical material. Well, it could have eschatological implications, but there's that. There's an earlier you know, as they look back in their history, there's another example where you have a loud voice, like a trumpet. Mount Sinai. Sinai. Yeah. In Sinai. Yes. And so you see. Is John signaling something here? This this would be Sinai images. And then the voice is saying to him, Write what you write in a book, what you see, and send it to the seven churches, to ethicists, to Smyrna, to Pergamon, etc., to artists Philadelphia, and let them see it. I mentioned the other day that the seven probably is being used not only for seven actual churches. We know the churches were there, but also they are representatives of the church in its totality, seven being the number of totality, fulness, completion, etc.. And we'll see how there's a sense in which those seven churches really do mirror the church throughout history. I mean, we'll see that in our time today. There are in churches, there are land to see in churches. You know, there are Smyrna churches, There are Sardis churches. And so what John is is receiving in this vision, too, to pass on to these churches is every bit as relevant today as it was for those original seven churches and to the other churches of that time. McKenzie Is it possible that the reason that these particular seven were chosen is because maybe they cover the scope of issues that Jesus wanted the people to know? Yeah, I think so.


And you'll see, I call them the good, the bad and the ugly. And there are two good churches. That is, they are they are living as faithful citizens of New Jerusalem in the fall and Babylon world. There are two bad churches and they're almost totally accommodated to that, to their worldview, value system and lifestyle of the one world around them. And then you have three ugly churches that are trying to sort of have it both ways, you know, trying to live with one foot and form of Babylon, one foot in New Jerusalem. So, yeah, I think that what John has received here for those seven churches is for the church in its totality with John, have had any way of receiving communications to know what was going on specifically in those seven churches in exile. Would he be able to get communication from them? Presumably that would be possible because remember, they're there, their ships coming back and forth all the time asking about Patmos. So anyone who wanted to try to get communication to John probably would have been able to do it. I mean, remember, John is not locked up in a prison somewhere. He just sat on an island, can't get off. So presumably it would be possible for them to do that. And of course, one of the early traditions in the church is that the john is associated with the church and everything. So if Ephesus is a place from which he was banished, he least would know that church and presumably would have had knowledge of the other churches in that circuit. And one of the interesting things about those churches that you're trying to trying to figure out, is there some sort of a structure here in the way in which John is given them? The only certain one is that you can start an emphasis and go from the emphasis to the Pergamon to the Smyrna, the Pergamon here, the Philadelphia, this artist Hosea I mean, started as Philadelphia latter.


You can do that in the circuit and then from from there to see you can come back to Ephesus without backtracking anywhere. I mean there were a system of Roman roads. What they will enable you to make that that circuit in an unbroken kind of way. Now, there may be other dynamic. For instance, the second letter is a good church, Smyrna And the next to the last letter, the sixth letter. Philadelphia is the other good church. When we'll see when we get to the center was seven. There's a center. Okay. Sanitaire is the center. And we see some dynamics in the letter 2 to 5 here that sort of tend to pull things together into that center. So, you know, there's another piece. But then, you know, Ephesus is one of the ugly churches and Latakia is one of the bad churches. So it's hard to find. What's the correlation between these two? Although maybe, as we'll see when we look at there may be an antithetical relationship there in a sense, both, well, bad and ugly, but there's some connections in there as well. So we'll look at that can. So and the voices telling John to write what he sees and send it to these seven churches. You. And as we mentioned the other day, John has a turn around. You know, this this vision doesn't lead him in the direction that he's looking. Even though he's in the spirit, you see, he has to totally re-orient himself to enter into this visionary experience. And there may be a lesson here for us not about having visions, but in the way in which God encounters us. You know, I think that part of that false self that Merton talks about is that. The false self constructs for itself.


A false god. Constructs an idol that it calls God befalls self, thinks it has God under its control in some way, and therefore God must encounter the false self on the false self terms. You know, the false self or the religious false self wants God in its life, but it wants God on its terms, not on God's terms. And so you see, if we if we have this this idol that we call God into which we import a of information, you see, and that that that becomes God and we expect God to meet us in that idol. We're going to be very disappointed. Because in order to encounter the living God, we're going to have to turn around from that idol. We're going to turn around into a different orientation if we are to encounter the reality of who God is and God himself. So that's something we can pick up from this. So John turns to here to see whose voice it was. It was speaking with him. And when he turns, he sees seven golden lamp stands. Now, where is John getting that imagery from? You may know Temple. The temple? Yeah. Yeah. In the temple. In the sanctuary of the temple. But the temple building itself had two, two basic parts. You had the sanctuary, which was sort of the. When you came in the door, you entered the sanctuary. Then at the far end was the holy of holies. And in the sanctuary, there were three things. As you went straight in to the holy of holies, not you don't go into it. You go to the curtain between the sanctuary in the hallway. Always there was the golden altar. The altar of incense. To your right was the table of the show bread.


And to the left was the seven branched candelabra. So John is using Apple imagery here, and we're going to see this play itself out all the way through the vision. We've already seen that John understands us, the Christian community, to be priests. Remember, he has made us a kingdom and priests. So there you've got a temple imagery to begin with. You get it again here, the seven lamb stands. And then in the midst of the lamb stands, John sees one like the son of man. Now, let me say something here. Notice he says, I saw some someone like the Son of Man Communion. There is the Greek term here. All the way through John's vision. We find the words harmonious, which means like or we find the word hos, which means ass. And over and over and over and over again. John says, I saw something like this. Or what I heard was as this. And that's a signal to us that, oh, even using the imagery that he's using this this imagery that is very familiar to him and his readers, even though he's using this imagery, it cannot fully convey the reality of the experience he had. It can't fully convey the vision. So over and over, we'll see. John C son see something like this or he hear something like this or what he saw was as something. And he's indicating to us, you see that this image that I'm using that you know so well, you see, such as readers, doesn't really contain the reality. But it points to it. And of course, as John weaves the dynamics of the vision together, you begin to be able to dope out what it is he has experienced. So here he sees one light son of man clothed with a long robe with a golden sash across his chest.


Now, this clothing could be either the attire of the high priest. Or it could be the attire of the king. And we've seen that we are a kingdom and priests. So it suggests that what John is seeing here is the high priest over us, the priests and the king over the kingdom, so that Jesus is both the priest, the high priest and the king. And of course, in Hebrews, Jesus is the high priest after the Order of Melchizedek. So it's not an unusual imagery that John is using. His head and his hair were white as white, wool, white as snow. Now, where's John getting that imagery from? Anybody know? Isaiah Simmons is Daniel seven and the ancient of days. His head and his hair were white as white roll white as snow. Now this is interesting here because he what John is doing. Is he is saying Jesus is God. He is using imagery from the Jewish pool of images that are images for God and applying them to Jesus, the son of man. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like, burnished bronze. Refined as in a furnace. And again, images of light and brightness of fire in a Jewish pool of images are images for God. So again, you see, John is is utilizing imagery to describe his encounter with Jesus that is saying to his readers, Jesus is God. And then his voice was like the sound of many waters. Now that that imagery is is not is as clear as the ones you are looking at. But it's sort of it's sort of an alteration, isn't it? Now, if you think what the Johns say about this voice that he heard behind him back in verse ten, like like like a trumpet, a loud voice, like a trumpet.


And now he says, it's like the sound of many waters. And you want to say, Wait a minute, John. Which is it? No logical cognitive left brain wants to sort this out. Say, well, which is it? I mean, is it like a trumpet or is it like the sound of many waters? And John's answer would be, Yeah. Trumpet underwater. It's like both underwater, but it's neither. You know, these are images that are pointing to the reality. And the reality transcends both the trumpet and the many waters. What's your explanation about him seeing the voice? Because I think he reveals commentary. He said it could have been the opening. So did he actually see something? Because, you know, the scene of the voice he saw and heard his vision begin. He hears this voice like a trumpet behind him. Okay. Then he turns and he sees one like the son of man. And then he described but then when he goes to describe his voice. You see, he changes his description. And we're going to see that John does this frequently. He modulates his imagery. And it's part of trying to convey to his readers that this experience cannot be fully contained within the poverty of human language, that human language is not sufficient. There are no images sufficient to contain the reality. And there's a good lesson in this. Because we do this again and again and again. Let's just take our concept of God. We take the word God and we attach to that word a certain set of concepts. And the problem is, is that then. The word with its attached concepts becomes God instead of God. You see the way we the way we describe, we then say, well, that is God when it's not the word, God is not God, we make it God, because whatever we pour into it, you see, that becomes our identification of who God is.


And therefore God is our definition. And we've separated ourselves from God by the way we define God. Oh, and Barfield has a wonderful book on this one. Barfield was one of the inklings with C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and Charles Williams and Owen Barfield and Barfield. It's called. And something about images in the title. This is what he deals with. And it shows how through human history we've done this, you know, that we create conceptual patterns for something, and then the conceptual pattern becomes a reality. And we've separated ourselves from the reality that it once pointed to. And we think that that's the reality. And of course, his point is that's exactly what we do with God. So. So here I think John is not only telling us how impossible it is for him to to convey in conceptual terms or in imagery the reality of the vision. But I think it's also an alert to us not to substitute the image for the reality. Which is exactly what the false selfies you see, the false self that we're reading about in our devotional, the false self creates an image that it calls God. And that image substitutes for the reality because the false self cannot stand the reality because the reality calls the false self to lose itself. And that's not what it wants to do. The religious false self will do anything as long as it doesn't have to lose itself. It'll become fanatically religious. As long as it doesn't have to lose itself. It'll go to seminary and it'll give up good occupation, you know, and come to seminary and go deeply into that. As long as it doesn't have to lose itself, as long as it can maintain control over its relationship with God or with the idol we call God.


Yeah. Tom can ask real quick with the with the first ten and verse 14 and 15, could John also be describing this excuse me, describing Jesus as all consuming because you had mentioned loud like a trumpet. Oh, no. His his eyes were were glistening. White fire. Rushing water is not just a stream of water, but a stream of I mean, a stream of waters anyway. Now, to me, looking on the outside in, could John also be describing him as all consuming, that he's beyond just something simple that we can grasp? Yeah, I think I prefer the word overwhelming. Overwhelming. Okay. Yeah, I'll go with that. Do you know, although in Hebrews, our God is a consuming fire. Okay, I'll go with that. Either one would probably work. Okay. In his right hand, he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp two edged sword. And his face was like the sun shining with full force. And again, that image of of, you know, you can't look at the sun shining in full force. And there's another image for God, the fire image. Now we're going to find out what the seven stars are. The from his mouth came a sharp two edged sword, and that's going to appear again. And again, this is an image that we find elsewhere in the New Testament. Paul, for instance, talks about the Sword of the Spirit. And the course this comes from Jesus mouth, the sharp two edged sword and what John is trying to convey, and we'll see how it plays itself out further on the vision is that this is the word capital W word. That is the the reality. The unchangeable reality against which all that is unreal crumbles. I mean. Falsehood crumbles in the face of truth.


And all that is false, you see, finds its demise when it encounters the word capital W. So this is the word. And we'll see how how he wars with the fallen world, with the word, the word what war is against them. Another image he uses later on is a rod of iron. Of course, in those days, an iron rod was the hardest thing there was. And, you know, you don't bend an iron rod. It bends, you know, it breaks you. So it's the idea of the inexorable reality of God. That this is an unchanging reality. Against which all unreality must ultimately crumble. And John says, When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Now, this is a typical response in the Jewish poll of images when when people encounter the Angel of God or encounter God, you know, they fall flat on their face. So John falls at his feet as though dead. And he just overwhelmed with this this vision. But he placed his right hand on me saying, do not be afraid. Again, go back to the Old Testament where people have encounters with angels of God or with God itself. And the first thing they hear is, don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. So Jesus said, Don't be afraid. I am the first. And the last and the living one. I was dead. There's the crucifixion. And see, I'm alive forever and ever. There's the resurrection. And then here's the first thing Jesus says in the vision I have the keys of death and Hades. Remember my my little triangle picture the other day, the rebellious order, the foundation of the rebellious order of death in Haiti. Hmm. The first thing that John receives in his vision, the first word from Jesus, is that in his death and resurrection, the foundation has been pulled out from under fallen Babylon.


I have the keys of death in Hades. The fallen Babylon has been undone in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Now, of course, the first and the last alpha and omega, which John will use later. Another image for God. God is the first and the last. God is the living one. Although here you see you're getting living one in sort of a polyvalent understanding. The living one is God being the eternally living one. But Jesus, who is dead now, being the living one. Which, of course, he amplifies. I was dead. Behold, I'm alive forever more. And I have the keys of death in Haiti's. Yeah. Really? Born in. Specifying that he's not talking about the Jewish gods. He's talking about Christ. So I'm just trying to imagine what the readers at that time would have been thinking, especially if it was a Jewish crowd or whatever that that was reading this. Yeah. The question is, what would the Jewish crowd that's reading this have understood what John is saying at the beginning? Of course, you you do have that imagery of the long blond robe with the golden sash around, which is either priestly or kingly. That ties back to to the priest. But then these images that he uses for God, you would you would think, well, you know, John John is having a he often John is having an encounter with God. Although he introduces it's one like the son of man. I suspect he does that so that his readers don't pour into it their concepts of Son of Man. You see, it's beyond this. But then the imagery that he uses is divine imagery, this imagery of God. Well, when you get down to the verse where the whole I was dead and I'm alive forevermore.


See, that takes all of his imagery that he's using. It is gone imagery and revealing that it was God who died upon that cross and was raised that Jesus is God. So at this point, they would they would not. Remember, this is a revelation of apocalypse to Christian Jesus, the Messiah. So here you see is where things start coming together. And this is this is a feature of. Writing in those days, not just revelation. But the way the way in which you kept your audience's attention with rhetoric or literary rhetoric, who would be hearing it read? It would become aural for them. Is that you? You introduce things, but you sort of leave them. Hey. And here is know that there's going to be a resolution somewhere down the road here. And then when you get to the resolution, you see, you say, Ah, yeah. So here is sort of a minor example of that. We're going to see some others where John will impose something and you've got to wait chapters before you get the resolution of what he introduced. But this is this is typical rhetorical style, which plays itself out in written rhetoric, written oratory, which is what we've got here. Remember, blessed is the one who reads and those who hear. So as they hear this, Terry, you see there, there, there, all these pieces are sort of floating around up there and then boom, it comes together. I bet they hold the line forever more, huh? See, that explains now that now they remember all of that stuff, you see. But this. The one like the son, a man you could say, Well, I'll be Jesus. Well, why does he say like, why does he just say, I saw the son of man? There's still a question at that point.


But when you get here, you see the question, isn't it? Yeah. Yes, it really is. It is. And of course, in a sense, you see what he's doing. The first thing Jesus says, the first thing John hears is, in a way, the heart of the whole vision. That the cross has undone. A Babylon. The cross has undone the rebellious order. I have the keys of death and Hades. Then Jesus says to him, Now, write what you have seen. What is what is to take place after this? Now, another Greek lesson here, an interesting feature of revelation. There are Well, there is a standard Greek word preposition for with. It's the Greek word. Soon as you in Sigma Epsilon. None that means with. That preposition never appears in Revelation. And that is one of the unusual features of the Septuagint. Sun is not used in the Septuagint either. Now, what the connection here is, I don't know. But if you don't use the preposition soon for with. How do you say with. Well, the the preposition metaphor. One of its. Meetings is with. Now we'll see some places. Where it's unmistakably clear that that's exactly the way John is using this. Where he's using metaphor to say with. But there are other places where it's ambiguous. So here you see is is John saying is John recording what he heard from Jesus? Did Jesus say. Right. The things which you saw and the things which are about to take place are about to come to me with this. With these things. Actually, these things. And that's the question. And at this point, you know, I can't answer it. Yeah. Isn't that like midtown with the accusative is after metal. With the genitive, it's with gender. Generally, that's the case.


Yeah. But it's. We'll see. There are some places where John uses metaphor, where the context makes it unmistakably clear it's got to be with. Okay. Yeah. And of course, it could be that John is playing off of both dynamics here. But this is something that is both with and after. And as we get a little farther in, we'll see that that is a real possibility because John John is seeing you begin. The vision begins with the situation of these seven historical churches, but then sort of pulls back and looks at the larger reality within which they are experiencing their life in Christ in this fallen Babylon world. And of course, there is the final confirmation of John as well, although that's not focus. So he may be playing on both of these at this point. Then we get we get our first explanation. The mystery here. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw and the seven golden lamp stans, remember when he turns, he sees one like the son of man standing in the midst of seven golden lamp stands, and he has these seven stars in his hand. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. And let's think about that for a moment. And of course, the letters to them in churches, each one begins, as you can see, with epistles to the angel of the church in Ephesus. Right. Well, who is the angel of the church? Who are the angels of the seven churches? Well, there's all sorts of theories about this. One is that that a church, an earthly church, has sort of a heavenly counterpart. And it's represented in the heavenly round by its angel. Or every church has a guardian angel. That's the angel of the church.


Others that it is the pastor. Now, you all go along with that, okay? Right. Sam is. It's the bishop. You know, the the Episcopal. But all of those interpretations of angles do not take into consideration the nature of the early Christian church, the worshiping community in particular. When when the. Jewish believers were kicked out of the synagogue. What did they do? They didn't get together and say, Oh, we're not Jews anymore. We're Christians. Now we've got to develop a Christian way of worship. They didn't do that because they understood themselves to be the consummated covenant that God had consummated the covenant in Jesus, that God had fulfilled the promises to the prophets in Jesus. They were the true Israel. That's their understanding. So when they get kicked out by unbelieving Israel, you see they continue to go on the way they always had as God's covenant community. Now, the consummated community, which means they continue to worship in exactly the same way they always worship. Now, one aspect of Jewish worship, the essence of Jewish worship, was prayer. Hymns, Tom's reading of Scripture and exposition of Scripture. That sound familiar? Change a whole lot. Has it because our origins go back into our Jewish heritage. You see, now they didn't do some things a little bit differently. And one of the things was the corporate prayer. There would be a person selected from among the congregation to represent the congregation in prayer, to represent the congregation to God in their prayer. And when they did this and when we do it, like when I prayed this morning, I stood here, I faced you and I prayed. But in the synagogue, when it came time for the prayers, the person responsible for leading the community and for representing the community to God in prayer would come and stand in front of the Ark of the Torah, which in the synagogue is where they understood God's presence to be and would lead the congregation in their prayers and these AP benedictions to which the congregation would make responses, or it was sort of a sort of a liturgical kind of thing.


Now, there was a title for this position. This position was called The Shall, aka The Messenger of the Congregation. Uh huh. Now, what's the Greek word for messenger Angel Banks? Angela. What we're dealing with here is not some heavenly being. What we're dealing with is the individual in each of these churches that has represented that community to God. And now they are getting their response. The community is getting their response through God Messenger. So when Jesus says that the seven stars are the angels and the seven churches, you know, these are the messengers and Jesus has them in his right hand. An intimate connection, you see. Then the seven grandstands are the seven churches. Now, here again, you get into some of the dynamics and how John is using Jewish imagery here to portray a new reality. Because the seven branch candelabra was one of the symbols of Israel of the covenant people. If you look at the coins that were minted both during the Jewish war, 60, 60, 70, 80, and then in the bar, Kokhba revolt of 132 to 135, one of the standard features is the seven branched candelabra. That is a symbol for Israel. And so what is John seeing here? See. What John is experiencing in his vision is the church. Is the new Israel. And here is the son of man slash God in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands. So that So that God is intimately. Jesus is intimately. Involved with. The church. And these seven churches. Outside. Dr. Mullan Outside of the the Jewish tradition and the temple. Does the fact that their golden lamp stands have anything to do, any significant value? Well, the candelabra in the sanctuary was golden, right? I mean outside of that, is there any significant or symbolic value to to the fact that he makes this have acknowledged that it's gold, or is it just in reference to the temple? There may be.


I don't know. I mean, the first thing that's going to come to his Jewish readers minds is that the seven branch lamp stand in the temple. Yeah. Which which was golden. Who mentioned later the golden altar, which is also in the temple, the altar of intent. So, you know, there may be more to that. But. At least at the primary level. It's just simply using harmful imagery to convey this reality. Well, I've read some authors that will write that as a symbol of purity of the church and this, that and different things like that, because goal is to be pure and. Yeah. And of course when you read the letters these them in church. Yeah. Most of them are not very pure at all. Well I agree. It wouldn't hold up too well. You know when you when you move on vision, you know. Good question, though. Yeah, very much. I was just thinking of all in the churches that he started in Macedonia and all that. And then comparing it with what John saying here about the seven churches and specifically talking about the New Jerusalem or the new the New Jersey with the new Israel and its should there be any comparisons made between Paul and John when they're talking about when he's talking about this? You certainly can make comparisons between Paul and John, because Paul, one of Paul's images for the church is it is a temple, you know, and we are built into this as a dwelling place for God in the spirit. So in the Jewish pool of images. Where did God's presence dwell? God dwelt in the holy of holies in the temple. And we're going to see later on that this is another image that John picks up, that the new Jerusalem is the holy of holies because it's a cubic space and it's golden.


And if you read the description of the holy of holies in the Solomon's Temple, it was a cubic space and it was all overlaid with gold. So you see, John keeps picking up this temple imagery for describing who his readers are. We are the priests. We are the temple, which Paul Nepal doesn't use priestly imagery, but he does use temple imagery a lot. And, of course, Jesus himself. You know, my my lectionary reading today and my devotions was, you know, it was the the crucifixion and some of the things that people were saying. This was in Mark's version, you know, like this one who said he would destroy the temple and raise it three days. I will believe it, because in John's gospel, Jesus said, you know, destroy this temple three days and we'll raise it up. It's one of those little features that sort of threads its way through those gospels. And I'm sort of at the heart of of the charges against Jesus was Jesus doing. Jesus is saying. I'm replacing the temple. I'm fulfilling the temple. And the early church came to realize that that's exactly who they were, that they were the temple. So, George, using temple imagery here is not only. A way that he can as clearly as possibly convey the reality of his vision to his Jewish readers, but also the same kind of understanding of who the Christian community is. We are the temple that is in drought dwelt. My God. Paul says in Corinthians, Do not know that you are the temple of the living God and that God spirit was in you. And he's not is not you singular? If you plural is the community that is the temple. And he does later on make the same imagery use for the individual as well.


You know, that we're we're we're part of Christ. We're joined with him and, you know, the temple of the body for the basic imagery is the Christian community is now the temple. Okay. Okay. He would have missed here. Any any other questions on either chapter one on what we've done so far? Before we get to the seven churches. Yeah. Joshua Number 19. That seems to be a key verse for a lot of different interpretations of the Book of Revelation, right? Do you have any thoughts on that as far as it's talking about, you know, meaning that like what John has seen thus far is what he has seen and then what he's seen now and the churches is what is what is happening now. And then what you will see is if you interpret Metta as like they did after, after and then the future. Yeah. Yeah, of course. This is one of the pivot points of interpretation, especially for this transitional interpretation. You know that after this date, especially the futurist, you see, so that what is the seven churches you see, of course, then reinterpreted as seven stages of church history. And then chapter four on is after this, you know, that's out there in the future somewhere. And as we'll see that that really doesn't work very well, especially anything in context of these seven churches. Because it basically would mean that the seven churches could stop reading at the end of chapter three because chapter four 222 means nothing to them. You'll see the image that I use here to jump ahead a little bit. How how are we to understand chapter 4 to 22? Chapters two and three are my problem because, you know, we're dealing with seven historical churches that Jesus is addressing what we do with 24 to 22.


The image that helps me with this. You've all seen television shows or movies that begin with a close up shot. You know, for instance, the shot would be on on Ryan here. Okay. And then the camera backs out and you see the whole class. Or, you know, you start in, you're in a room in a box out and you're outside, the building goes down. You see the whole the globe of the earth, you know. I think that's sort of what John is doing here. That is, you've got the the up close and personal aspect with the seven churches. Here are seven historical churches living their lives in a falling Babylon world. There it is. Then Ford of 22, the vision backs off and sees the larger reality within which. Those seven churches are existing. And part of that larger reality is both the now not yet aspect. We are now already citizens of New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem is a proud reality for John. Every time John speaks of New Jerusalem, coming down uses present verbs, present tense verbs. It's not real calm. It is coming constantly is coming. So it is the present reality within which the Christian community is living their life. Those seven churches you see are living their life in the midst of the fall in Babylon, world of Rome. And as we'll see when we get into chapter four 222, what John is seeing here are the dynamics, the larger dynamics of reality within which these seven churches are living and experiencing what they're experiencing. Does that help Josh? And the other question. Yeah. So you've got to be the narrative. Yeah. His personal introduction sort of morphs into the vision chapter. Verse 9.9 is his personal mentor. I, John, your fellow participant in the tribulation, the kingdom in the patient endurance was on the island of Patmos on account of the Word of God in the witness of Jesus.


I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and his personal introduction sort of morphs right into the vision. Which is the transition point. I want you. Yeah, right. Is that going to be apocalyptic? Well, you're back. You're back into his description of his of his vision, which, of course, would be consonant with apocalyptic literature, right? Yeah. Okay. Any others. Okay, let's, uh, let's look at the seven churches, then begin to look at the seven churches. And let me first one up here. I mean. And here, here's my picture for the good, the ugly and the bad. This is not master church, okay? You know, the good churches are those that are being faithful citizens of New Jerusalem. The bad churches are the ones that are almost totally subverted or accommodated to form a Babylon and the Ugly are the ones that are trying to, in a sense, have it both ways. Okay. So that's just a figurative way to try to describe those two. Here's here's the way they fall out. Philadelphia and Smyrna are the good churches. Emphasis pergamon and tired Hera are the ugly churches and Sardis and lived to see the battered churches. We'll see how that works itself out as we work through these these seven churches. Yeah. Is there any meaning in which direction they're pointing? Question was, is there any meaning and in which direction that point. No go. Somebody did this for me years ago. So you got to ask them why did you have them point the way that, you know, they got one to they got three pointing one way and four pointing the other, which is I mean, you can have all seven going one way or another way or you can mix three and four.


You got four and three. I don't think of how much I should read and don't read anything into it. And this is just a way of illustrating these three, the three groups of churches, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think that's okay. Let's look at, you know, just take a look at emphasis here briefly. Get this up. You or I can play with it better. No. This is part of the main street of Ephesus, the ruin. Ephesus was an interesting city. It was a major it was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire, Rome being the largest, Alexandria being second tier in Antioch being third and affixes being for. So it is a major urban center in the Roman world. The population probably was somewhere in the vicinity of half a million people in a larger area, quarter to half a million people in that general area. Here he is looking out of the harbor. Now, what made Ephesus interesting is the river that flowed through weapons into the Aegean. We bring all of the silt down from from the mountains. And the harbor was a shallow harbor. And so it would silt up and as it silted up, the waterfront would just move farther and farther and farther away from Ephesus. And so they had to keep moving the city to keep up. And there's a there's an account. I forget which KING It was where? The people were resistant to packing up and moving again, you know, moving the city closer to the harbor. And and so he he sent out his henchmen to block up the sewers, and the sewers flooded the city and they had to get out. And so they were able to move in the city toward the harbor.


Now, if you go to the site of Ephesus, now it's about five miles from the Aegean. You know, these ruins are a long way from the Aegean because over the two millennia since Paul was there, you know, the river kept silting it up. This is the theater nemesis seated about 24,000. Pretty, pretty good sized place. What is Rupp Arena? Seats about 24,000 in it. I'm sorry. Just picture a you know, a theater that seats the same as Rupp Arena, except this is in a half circle instead of completely surrounded. This was a really a major center of the city because this is where the public meetings were held, the meetings of the citizenship. Not everybody remembers a citizen in the Roman world. Citizenship is the privileged class, you might say, the upper crust. Most of the people in a Roman city would not have been citizens. Roman citizens? Yeah. Is this the exciting site? Yeah. Yeah. This is. That was the 18th site when what's called the riot in Ephesus. It wasn't really a riot. What was going on is that. The Christian. Movement was making such inroads into the life of offices and into the economic life of officers that the metal smiths were going out of business. And the reason for that was there was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world was the Temple of Artemus in Ephesus. And people will come from all over the world to worship at the Temple of Artemus. But of course, the primary constituency would be the local people. And the way you made your offerings to the Goddess is that you would buy a little figurine if you were wealthy. You buy a gold one. If you weren't quite that wealthy, you buy a silver one.


If you were not that wealthy, you buy bonds or a ten or copper or something like that, and then you would leave it at the temple as your offering. Well, nobody was buying the figurines anymore because they're becoming Christians. They weren't worshiping at the temple. And so the metals miss stir up the the the demos, which is the citizenship body and they all go flocking into the theater here. This place, which is where we know from inscription all evidence this is where the meeting, the official meetings of the demos took place. And you see the dynamics. The metals missed caused the problem. But for 2 hours the crowd chants, Great, is Artemus of effusion greatest armaments of infusions? You see that? That's the issue. People aren't worshiping animals anymore. And that says when the when the scribe finally gets them under control, the gravitas. Well, we know from inscription 11 is that this was the title of the you might say, the person in charge of the town meetings or the city meetings. And what he says to them. He says, We're in danger of being charged with sedition. There are the ring, there are the courts, and there are the regular assemblies if you want to bring charges against these men. The emphasis was a free city. It was called a free city. It meant that they were allowed to govern themselves according to their own polity, but they could not hold public meetings. Meetings of the citizenship body without first getting it on the calendar with Rome. This was an unscheduled meeting of the ecclesia of emphasis, and that's why the scribe says they were in danger of being accused of sedition. And that, you know, that brings them to their senses and they get out of there.


But that's the here's the temple. I mean, they be the theater. And theaters in the Roman world. Just a sidelight here. No extra charge for this. Yeah. You know, this the center part is is basically a circle. It gets flattened off in the end. But and the scenery, when they put on plays and stuff, you see, this is where the stage was here. But you can still see a large part of a circular, dynamic circle. Circular. This is here. The theater emerged out of the worship of Dionysus, the god of wine, and of course the rights of Dionysus were rebels. And they this this is called the orchestra. Which means the place where you dance. And so as the theater developed, you see it and it moves away. There's still a connections to Dionysus through throughout this period. But then they began to put on plays, the Greek plays. So they hand out a stage and they now have places in the back for people to change their costumes or what have you. So the theater emerges out of the worship of Dionysus. Here's a picture of the theater from the other angle. You see, it's a sizable place. Here is the main road. This is the road that went down. You can see it's going down toward where the Aegean is off in the distance. But this was the road that came from the harbor up through the city. This was the agora. You see the size of this thing, the marketplace. And you're just seeing, you know, seeing this moment. And here here's a right here, all the way down, all way back there, back in the distance here. This is a huge, huge place. And this was the center of life in a Roman city.


This is where the markets were. The public baths were usually, if not on the agora, they were right on the next street. The town council, the city fathers had their offices there. The primary deities of the city would have their temples there. The judgment seat where the governor would come and pronounce judgment in cases was in the agora. So this this was the major center of life when Paul goes to Athens. You know, he discusses with the Jews in the synagogue and then in the agora with anyone who's interested in talking with him, because here's where the people are. This is where you go. It's sort of the Roman equivalent of the mall, although much, much different dynamic. This is this is the gate at one end of the agora. Another magnificent structure. Was that Greek on the overhead, on the door? Uh, or is it Arabic? And I can't wait to see what it looks like. It's Greek. I see it better over here. This one looks like Greek letters. Not I'm not sure. It says it's an inscription to a picture here. It's an inscription to Augustus in the description. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's. Augustus is built. Built between four and two B.C. by two former slaves of Augustus, dedicated to the emperor and family to called Gustavus. And it's in order to know what it calls Augustus grows up here. So are. He is the son of the Divine. He was adopted son of Julius Caesar, who was defeated by the Roman Senate after his death. So Augustus is the son of God. But I can't tell if you would think being a dedicated Augustus, he probably would be in Latin, Although in the eastern Mediterranean, in the eastern world of Rome.


Greek was the standard language. In the west, it was Latin. And the only the only place where you get consistent Latin inscriptions is in Philippi, the Roman colony. All the inscription from our Latin. And they sort of prided themselves on being Roman. Now, later on. This is this is later. You have an Imperial temple built and of course, worshiping the emperor as divine. Although not all emperors, not many emperors wanted that in the first century, Gaius, Caligula did. And in the latter part of his reign, Nero, you know, went off the deep end in that way as well. Here. Here's the city hall, what's left of the city hall. That was after the riot. Now, this is a smaller theater that was sort of right beside the large theater. We're going have a big enough gate to do it in the small theater because it's the same thing in Amman, Jordan. There's a small theater next to large, larger cities. We have a small theater in a large theater. And small theaters would be for smaller events, obviously. Here's the aqueducts. One of the aqueducts bringing water from the mountains down into Apophis. Here's here's a picture on the coin of the Temple of Artemus. I. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Statue of Artemus. Artemus was on and got, among other things, the goddess of fertility. And so you have these pictures where she has, you know, multiple breast. The more. From Artemus of. And then, of course, there are the other traditional deities that that appear in various. The Imperial cult mentioned that, especially in the latter part of the first century. The mission was another one that was worshiped, in fact. Now, it's not an emphasis. I think it's in Pergamon, where they found a statue of the mission is about 18 feet high.


Huge, huge statue of the mission as a god. And the East had much more of a tradition of worshiping their rulers has got, you know, even before the Romans come in, when Alexander, you know, takes this part of the world in what is today Turkey when he when he captures that back from the Persians he's worshiped as a god in Ephesus in all of the major cities, he's worshiped as a god. And when he gets in Egypt, he goes out to the to the oracle of Zusammen and he is proclaimed a god there. So the East had much more tradition of worshiping their leaders as gods than the Western Mediterranean. It's an altar of the goddess victory. Okay, you have Nike's on Nike and he in Greek means victory. And the goddess of victory was Nike. So you're you're worshiping a goddess or trampling her under your feet however you want. A significant Jewish Jewish population in Ephesus. There's a seven branch lamp. Stand by the way, the carving of one. And then early Christianity. And then we go to Smyrna from there. So. Come back to the offices. We can go ahead and get started. If you if you look at these seven letters. The they have a very, very common format. You know, it's almost as though Jesus handed John a boiler plate with blanks and fill in the blanks. I mean, everyone began to the angel or the messenger of the church in blank. Right. I know. And then, you know, I know your works or your situation. Then, of course, you have Jesus knowing the fault of the five churches that have problems. And then there's. There's a call to repent for those churches at the end. Let whoever has an ear, let them hear what the spirit says to the church as.


Which is interesting. And each each one of the seven is that who has ears here? What the spirit says to the church as. Which indicates these are not just the latter for emphasis and then just for happens. His epistles also pay attention to the other six. They're all to pay attention. And probably the churches include all the churches in the world at that time. You know, seven idea locality and then to the one who is conquering. And by the way, English translations have a problem with this. They usually say and sometimes even say it to the one who conquers it. There's always a future kind of thing. Check your Greek. It's the one who is conquering. And then there's a promise. So you have this standard format. Into which you plug the specifics of each of the churches. So literarily, there's a very stylized kind of thing going on here. So to the messenger of the church, an emphasis, Right. These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lamps, and now another. This is another feature of each letter. There is a description of Jesus from the first chapter, from the opening vision you see to describe Him to each of these churches. And the way in which Jesus introduces himself to his church. Relate in some way to the dynamic of what's going on in that church. So here Jesus is, the one who holds the messengers, you see. He has their messenger in his hand and he is in their midst, not off somewhere. He is in the midst. Yeah. Can we assume before we get too deep into this, can we assume that these churches originally upon their their start, were in the right place? In other words, it tells them to repent.


So therefore, can we assume that at least at one point they was on the right track? Well, we have to say at least more on the right track than they are now. Yeah. Whether any of them were perfect churches. I have questions. Well, no, but I'm just saying, if I've been reading again last night and it seemed like there's a fairly detrimental blow to certain theologies. You assume if you take in the fact that these churches were probably at least on one point where we're following Jesus in the right way, and then he calls them back and says, you need to get back on track here. Yeah, I think you have to presume that the, you know, the organ, the initial organization of that community of faith. Was more or less what it should have been. I mean, it was on the proper grounds. But then fallen Babylon has infected it in various ways. And at the same time, I think none of the no churches are perfect. And I think all of us can recognize our church in these churches and that what he's saying is trying to help them and us see where we lacking the growth. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. We can see ourselves here for ourselves individually. We see ourselves as communities of faith. These are like a mirror in which we can see what's going on in our own community of faith, in our own discipleship. So. So Jesus, you know, he way he introduces himself to them is really in a very intimate kind of way. I am intimately involved with you. I hold your messenger in my right hand. I am in your midst. You see, I mean, I know your works in other part of the world are playing in a lot of these.


I know your works, your toil, your patience, endurance. I know you cannot tolerate evil doers. You have tested those who claim to be apostles, but are not. And it found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently bearing up for the sake of my name, but you have not grown weary. That sounds pretty good. I mean, this sounds like a good church, right? Mm hmm. Well, let's see what happens here. Do that. Okay. What are we doing here? And the way it did that. It was the wrong thing, obviously. Oh, I know what I did. Here we go. Okay, now we do that. Now we can do it. Okay. And Jesus said, But I hate that word. I know your works and your sir praises into the sky, your call, your patience, endurance, your bearing up. But. But I have this against you. That you have abandoned the love you had at first. Now, what on earth is that? Well, we're fortunate here in that we have some knowledge about the beginnings of the Fusion Church, and we've just been looking at some of the dynamics of that. Here was a church. It was a community of faith, so alive in Christ that they were transforming the fallen Babylon world around them. They were making a decisive impact on that world. You have a story and acts about how people brought their magic books and burned them new believers. The magic was the antidote to the determinism of stoicism. The stoic philosophy is a very deterministic philosophy and astrology and woven into it. Your life was fated by stars under which you were born. But magic was the way to get out from under that, at least to a certain degree.


So when these people bring their magic books and burn them, you see, that is a public statement that in Jesus they have found something that set them free from the formative powers of the universe. Upon comes this dichotomy has. Powerful statement, you see. You find other healers trying to heal in Jesus name. And you have that interesting story about the the seven sons of schema Jewish priest who try to heal. Is this man's right in the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches. You know, we want the demon to come out and of course the demon overpowers them and sends off bleeding and naked. And then, of course, you have the story of the metal furnace. And the riot here was a church that obviously was being the presence of Christ in Ephesus. We're also told that the word went through the whole province of Asia from this infusion church. Hmm. So they they were they were so deep in a love relationship with Jesus that they were transforming the world around. What happened between the middle fifties. When that church was founded in the later sixties when John received this vision. Obviously, something has gone downhill here. They've lost the love they had at first. And it's not the church that poor power to pardon. This is not the church for rectitude. Yeah, it is the same church. Yeah. Well, now, here. The letter to the Ephesians is not for the early manuscripts. And when you read it, internal evidence is very clear. Paul's writing of the church you've never seen and they've never seen him. So we don't have a letter to the effusions. What we have is the account. An act which was rather extensive account. Paul's time there. Well, speaking of time, we'll see you on Tuesday.


Have a good weekend. Give me your contracts. You have them or get them to me today. I have ideas. Yeah.