BACKSLIDING, FIDELITY, APOSTASY AND DEADNESS. These seven letters are more in the nature of messages than letters. They trace the dawn, the development and the decline of Christendom, showing clearly that in the last days preceding Christ’s return, the religious trends will be moving away from the truth of Biblical Christian faith.
In addition, the seven letters show that Satan actively sows tares among the wheat in the churches. Ephesus, the first church, has left her first love and Christ is outside the last church, Laodicea. Yeast of false doctrine permeates Thyatira. Pergamum succumbs to worldly compromise and Sardis is dead. Only Smyrna the persecuted church and Philadelphia the missionary church remain true and faithful to Christ. Within each church, there is the opportunity for individual believers to be overcomers.
Clearly, Christ intended for all seven churches to hear all seven letters and take them to heart. Each congregation is responsible for its individual members and for its leaders; each leader and each individual believer is at the same time fully responsible for himself and for the congregation. To understand Christ’s complete message to the Church, it is necessary to compare the letters as well as the backgrounds of the historical churches.