The seven churches of Asia Minor were real churches, in which Christ’s Gospel had been preached and sinners given new life and hope. They existed as actual historical entities in a province of Roman Asia in the closing decades of the first century.

The Apostle John, their spiritual leader, was deported to the Isle of Patmos during the Emperor Domitian’s persecution in A.D. 98. While he was in exile, the Risen Head of the Church gave him in a vision urgent messages for these churches, already menaced by sin and heresy.

“These letters concern us,” notes Professor Jean Cadier, “as the whole Bible does. What the Spirit says to the churches he says to all the churches throughout the centuries, throughout the world. The seven letters of the apocalypse are powerful in their relevance to our own churches, which also know the menace of heresy, the temptation of syncretism, the peril of indifference, and even they do well to listen to the call to repentance and vigilance.” Faithfulness or faithlessness of the churches in the midst of the ideologies and idolatries of this age is a crucial concern.

In the ruins of the churches of the past one may also view the shadows of the churches of today that heedlessly disregard what the Spirit says to the followers of Jesus Christ.—ED.

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