Using the 7 Churches in Revelation to Examine Your Own Church – Part One

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Book of Revelation has a message for the 7 churches that could help us examine the health or sickness of our own church.

The Churches: Past and Present

The Book of Revelation has a message for the 7 churches that could help us examine the health or sickness of our own church. The7 churches in Revelation were actual physical churches in the locations the Apostle John gives, so these were churches that existed at the time John wrote these letters. Some scholars believe that these 7 churches are related to the 7 different church ages that have existed since Jesus founded His church 2,000 years ago, but these letters to the 7 churches were sent to each of the 7 churches. These churches were to share or exchange these letters with the other churches. They were meant for all the churches and I believe they have a message for our churches today.

The Church at Ephesus

The city of Ephesus gets its name, it is thought, from “Apasas,” the name of a city in the “Kingdom of Arzawa.” The meaning is the “city of the Mother Goddess,” or “To Sit Upon” (Rule?). Jesus tells the church, “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false” (Rev 2:2), and today, there are no shortages of self-proclaimed apostles who are not actually apostles at all. They’ve been tested and found false. Jesus does commend this church for “enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary” (Rev 2:3), however He tells them, “you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev 2:4). Have we done likewise?

The Church’s Death

Jesus warns them to “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Rev 2:5). The lampstand represents the church itself, so the threat of having their lampstand removed means that Jesus could shut down this church’s existence immediately. Churches are like people; they are born, they live and they die, but some will die sooner than others. Today, the church at Ephesus is history, not having embraced the warning from Jesus. To their credit, they did “hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (Rev 2:6), so who were the Nicolaitans? They lived in sin and compromised the grace of God, turning it into a license to sin. How many churches today have done the very same thing and will soon find their end! Could the Nicolaitans be related to Nicolaus who was a proselyte of Antioch? Could he be the same man who was also a deacon in the early church? Remember that Nicolaus and other church leaders were “set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:5-7), so it may be Nicolaus who started this satanic cult.

Satan’s Churches

Revelation chapter 2 seems to link the practices of the Nicolaitans with the practices of those who listened to Balaam (Rev 2:15). If you remember the account, Balaam used Midianite women to seduce the men of Israel which led them into sexual immorality while worshipping other gods, so the Nicolaitans could represent false churches which allow sin in the church to go unchecked, and that has clearly happened today. It’s gone so far as having homosexual women ordained as pastors and then marrying same-sex couples. What abomination! And they have a different Jesus than the One taught in Scripture. Many women are now ordained, even though this is contrary to Scripture (1 Tim 3; Titus 1), and worse, they marry same-sex couples in what is supposed to be a church. Yes, it’s a church, but Jesus is not the Head of it. Just as Satan has his own ministers, he has his own churches and now, his own denominations! We know this cannot be from God since those who practice such things won’t be entering heaven (1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:21; Heb 13:4; Rev 22:15).

Sexual Immorality & Idolatry

The Nicolaitans were attending idolatrous temples to receive food given or sacrificed to idols, and we know those satanic temples were places where they would engage in sexual immorality. Irenaeus, who was an early Church Bishop (Overseer), identifies the followers of Nicolas as one of the seven deacons chosen in Acts 6, and as men who “lead lives of unrestrained indulgence,” so apparently, Nicolas was never fully converted. He was a deacon in the church but not saved. His pride induced him into forming a cult; the Nicolaitans.

The Church at Smyrna

The Church at Smyrna’s name comes from the Greek word for myrrh and this was the chief export of Smyrna. They exported medicines, fragrances, perfumes, and burial fragrances. “Myrrh” means “Bitter” and this church became bitter in the mouth of God. Jesus tells this church, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:9). Since Satan has his own ministers, he also has his own churches and denominations. Jesus calls is “a synagogue of Satan.” Jesus warns them that they are about to face severe persecution (from Rome?), so they must remain “faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10b). Many churches today have caved in to societal pressures to conform to the world, therefore they no longer have Jesus as the Head of the church, but in fact, Satan runs these despicable churches.

The Church at Pergamum

Pergamum means “height” or “elevation,” or “a Citadel” or fortress, and it was a very proud city indeed, but Jesus tells this church at Pergamum, “I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality” (Rev 2:14). Clearly that refers to sexual immorality within the church, and sadly, some in this church “have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans” (Rev 2:15). The Nicolaitans were engaging in behavior or teachings that were contrary to the values of the early Christian community, leading lives of unrestrained indulgence. Is that not the state of many of the main denominations today that are falling into sinful practices and apostasy…abandoning biblical teaching for teachings for those that tickle the ears of their membership.

The Church at Thyatira

The name of Thyatira originates from the Greek word “Thuateira” which means “daughter” but is closely related to words meaning “a perfume” or “a sacrifice of labor,” so Jesus chastises this church. He tells them that this church (and many today) “tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Rev 2:20). Jezebel was perhaps the most wicked woman in the Bible but Jesus wants to present a spotless, virgin bride to God someday, but sexual immorality (also called idolatry) taints this church and Jesus has left the building in churches like this. Sadly, there is no shortage of these types of churches today. Jesus tells them they must repent (Rev 2:22).


We will look at the other 7 churches in the Book of Revelation and in examining them we can see how many of the churches today are just like these…they are into pragmatism more than the truth. In other words, if it works best for most of the people most of the time it must be right, but that is contrary to God’s Word. Right now, let me ask if you’ve been brought to repentance and faith in Christ. If not, read what will happen to you someday (Rev 20:12-15). Please put your trust in Christ today before you die, for surely judgment is coming at Christ’s return (Rev 1:7, 21:8) or after you die (Heb 9:27).

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