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Frank W. Nelte

November 1995


The Seven Churches of Revelation


How Christ Appears

Good Points

Bad Points

Punishments Stated

Rewards Offered

Advice Given

Other Comments


(Revelation 2:1) "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:"

Pictures Christ being in full control

(Revelation 2:2-3) "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; "and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary."

6 "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."

(Revelation 2:4) "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love."

Not all left their first love. This was the era of the apostlesâ€" they didn’t!


Must view from perspective of the people in that era, not from our perspective of enthusiam of learning Truth for first time.

(Revelation 2:5) "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place; unless you repent."

All 7 of the candlesticks have "specific places." There is a predetermined sequence and these 7, and THESE 7 ONLY, make up the whole New Testament Church of God from Christ’s first coming down to His second coming.

(Revelation 2:7) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."'

Clearly this reward applies to EVERYONE who will be in the first resurrection.

(Revelation 2:5) "Remember therefore from where you have fallen;..."

It seems like this advice was specifically needed at a certain time during the Ephesian era, though this is also advice for Christians throughout the ages.

This is the era that started off with the apostles...had all the true teachings which Christ had taught them in person (see Matthew 28:20). They looked forward to the kingdom of God.... They had, zeal and many good traits. At some stage they started to let down and once all the original apostles had died false teachers entered the flock...probably spanned the time from the day of Pentecost 31 A.D. into the 300's A.D..

This is one of three eras which really does "the work of God"


(Revelation 2:8) "...These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:"

(Revelation 2:9-10) "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. <<10>> "...Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days...."

This era endured tribulation (persecution) and poverty for probably 10 years.


Since nothing was held against them, they is no punishment listed.

(Revelation 2:10-11) "...I will give you the crown of life. 11 "...He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."'

The focus is beyond the second death. Again, this reward is clearly not limited to those from the Smyrna era.

(Revelation 2:10) "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer...Be faithful until death,..."

Overcoming the fear of death and the fear of suffering amounts to overcoming Satan. This advice is also for us

This era was a poor and persecuted lot. In spite of persecutions, it seems like they continued to cling to the truth of God. In general terms this era probably spanned the time from the 300's A.D. into the 600's A.D.. From this era we can see that God does allow His people to be persecuted and even to be killed. The persecutions seem to indicate that they basically kept to themselves and did not associate with those of the false churches, thereby avoiding doctrinal pollutions.


(Revelation 2:12) "...These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:"

The sharp sword which cuts both ways is the Bible,

(Revelation 2:13) "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

The people of this era lived in the areas that were controlled by the Catholic Church. They held fast to the name "Church of God" and they did not deny the faith.

(Revelation 2:14-15) "But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 "Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

The problems that Christ points out with this era are problems with wrong teachings and wrong practices, more so than a wrong attitude. Wrong ACTIONS inevitably also produce wrong attitudes.

(Revelation 2:16) "...or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth."

The punishment only applies to those who get involved in the pagan ways of the world around them. In plain language, this expression "fight against them with the sword of my mouth" means that people will be judged by the Word of God, the sword. The Word of God makes abundantly clear that we are not to compromise God’s ways at all.

(Revelation 2:17) "...To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."

These rewards look beyond the resurrection. They are not limited to those who were a part of the Pergamos era; they really apply to all who will be in the first resurrection.

Short and to the point.

(Revelation 2:16) 'Repent,..."

Repent for tolerating wrong practices. Repent for putting up with evil from others who are supposedly "brethren." God hates compromise

In general terms this era probably spanned the time from the 600's A.D. to somewhere around 1000 A.D.. They did not have a printed Bible available. Very few of them would have been able to read Greek, let alone Hebrew. The Bible was not yet available in their own spoken languages.

The lesson for us is: don’t tolerate or condone false ideas. God will never accept those who compromise with the ways of this world!


(Revelation 2:18) "...These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:"

To this era Christ appears in His glory at His second coming.

(Revelation 2:19) "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first."

The expression "I know your works" is used for every era. In itself it is a neutral statement, basically meaning "I know your actions." If an era is to be RECOMMENDED for "works", then the word "works" has to be repeated in the message to convey this point.

(Revelation 2:20) "Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols."

Notice that the bad points are the same ones that were mentioned to the previous era, though the order is reversed. It is a matter of sexual transgressions which were being condoned, and an involvement in the customs of the false religion. However, what this message tells us is that the wrong influence was getting strongerâ€"going from Balaam to Jezebel represents an escalation. Jezebel was worse than Balaam

It is important to carefully notice the use of the pronouns in these verses.

(Revelation 2:21-24) "And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 "I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. 24 "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden."

(Revelation 2:26-28) "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations; 27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'; as I also have received from My Father; 28 "and I will give him the morning star."

Clearly, these rewards are also not limited to the people from the Thyatira era. ALL those who will be in the first resurrection will receive "power over the nations."

"The morning star" is a reference to Jesus Christ

(Revelation 2:25) "But hold fast what you have till I come."

This is addressed to those who had NOT compromised with Jezebel. They had the truth of God. They already had godly love and an attitude of service and faith and patience and they had real works to prove these attributes (since faith WITHOUT works is dead, James 2:17, 26). These things they are told to hold fast.

In general terms this era probably spanned from around 1000 A.D. into the 1500's A.D.. They too did not yet have the Bible available in their own languages, or even printed in any language. It was only towards the end of this era that a few translations into the vernacular languages started to appear.

The two eras of Pergamos and Thyatira combined spanned almost 1000 years, or about one half of the entire time for all seven eras.


(Revelation 3:1) "...These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars:..."

To this era Jesus Christ identifies Himself in two ways: firstly that He sees everything, and secondly (similar to Ephesus) that He is in full control over the seven angels that oversee the seven eras. They report everything faithfully to Him.

(Revelation 3:4) "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments;..."

This is the only good thing that God tells us about the Sardis era. This expression refers back to being involved with Jezebel. The implication is that all the others in this grouping HAD defiled their garments through contact with Jezebel

(Revelation 3:1-2) " have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 ...I have not found your works perfect before God."

The final result of almost 1000 years of exposure to the influence of the false religion. The majority have been defiled by false teachings and practices. Even though they still have THE NAME "Church of God", they are, spiritually speaking, dead. It took Satan about 1000 years of influence always pushing to get the Church of God to where they had lost almost all of the truth.

(Revelation 3:3) "...Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."

The punishment mentioned is that what they thought they had will be UNEXPECTEDLY taken away. They think they have salvation guaranteed. But if they don’t watch and repent, then that will be taken from them.

(Revelation 3:4-5) "...they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

These rewards (to be clothed in white and to not have one’s name blotted out of the book of life) certainly also apply to everyone else in the first resurrection. Again this is not limited to this specific era.

(Revelation 3:2-3) "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die,... 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent...."

The Greek verb here translated as "strengthen" is "st�riz�" and it means make stable, fix, establish.

The picture is one of more and more of the truth of God being lost. So the admonition is STABILIZE the truth that is left. Think back and compare the vast gap between the things YOU received when you took over and the things you today still have. Realize just how much you have lost and let go of.

The Greek verb translated "hold fast" in verse 3 is "t�re�" and this means: watch over, give heed to, observe, etc.. So again the admonition is: think about the things you received and watch over them.

In general terms, this era has come from the 1500's into our present century. In the 1850's the majority of those who made up the Sardis era joined with the Sunday-keeping churches. A small remnant continued to hold fast to the Sabbath. It was a part of this remnant that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong came into contact with in the late 1920's. Today [1995] there is a movement among the last remnants of this era to also join the Sunday-keepers. Thus, finally, they are ready to die out completely.


(Revelation 3:7) "These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens":

To this era Christ shows Himself as IN FULL CONTROL OF GOD’S WORK; it is He who opens and shuts doors.

(Revelation 3:8) "I know your works. See, I have set before you[1] an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 10 have kept My command to persevere,..."

Notice a different approach in this description. With the other eras that are already past the focus is on what they achieved and accomplished. But with this era the focus is not on accomplishments, but on OPPORTUNITIES! An "open door" is an opportunity!

This is once again a clear indication of the perspective of this whole story. The perspective is from this time-slot of Philadelphia.

No bad points are listed for this era and thus no punishments are referred to either. However, before we draw any hasty conclusions from this omission, we need to again keep the time perspective in mind.

It is a mistake to assume that the Philadelphian era has no problems which need to be addressed and dealt with. This era STARTS OUT with keeping the commandments of God and having the name "Church of God." Since the whole account for all seven eras is written from the time-perspective of this era, therefore we are really expected to "hear what the Spirit says unto ALL the churches."

It is a matter of history (over the past 50 years or so) that we have had some people within our fellowship who have embodied all of the bad points that have been mentioned thus far. There are those who have left their first love, those who have become involved with fornication, those who have become involved with the things dedicated to idols, those who are spiritually dead, those who really don’t have any good works, and those who have the compromising attitude of the Nicolaitanes. To SOME degree all of those previous admonitions have applied to some people in this Philadelphian era.

(Revelation 3:9-12) "...I will make those of the synagogue of Satan... come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world.... 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."

These rewards refer to after God the Father has come to this earth with the New Jerusalem. All of these points apply to everyone in the first resurrection!

(Revelation 3:11) "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown."

This advice to "hold fast" implies that this group will face great pressure to "let go" of the truth which they have until that time "kept."

This era started with Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong in the late 20's and early 30's. In the late 20's Mr. Armstrong came into contact with remnants of the Sardis era, and from the beginning of 1934 onwards God used Mr. Armstrong to raise up a new era.

God restored a great deal of understanding in the course of Mr. Armstrong’s over 50 years as the leader of this era. It was not the restoration of "ALL truth", but it was the restoration of a great deal of the truth.

The restoration of ALL truth is contingent on a correct UNDERSTANDING of all things. And that will only be available once Christ Himself has returned. We do not yet have all understanding. And so we do not yet have all the truth.



















(Revelation 3:14) "...These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:"

The way Jesus Christ appears to this era is a hint that they have a problem with real repentance. The people this is addressed to have actually NEVER YET come to true repentance.

Many people have a hard time trying to understand this. The way they reason goes like this: all seven of these eras are God’s Church. THEREFORE the people in all seven of these eras must have repented at some time and then received God’s Spirit. Therefore the Laodiceans MUST have had God’s Spirit.

There are two problems with this kind of reasoning. Firstly, this ignores the time frame from which this era is being viewed. Secondly, this approach uses REASONING to counter the things that Jesus Christ plainly says to this era.

So understand the perspective of this message. Jesus Christ is describing the Laodicean era from the time frame of Philadelphia, which is from a time BEFORE any of them come to repentance.

There aren’t any! Not even one! There are not even "a few names" which have not defiled themselves. There is NOTHING good in this description of this era.

When people are truly repentant, when at least SOME people have the Holy Spirit of God, then there is at least SOMETHING good that can be said for them. But that is not the case with Laodicea, as viewed from the time-perspective of Revelation chapter 3.

Think about that! There is not one good thing that Jesus Christ mentions about this group.

(Revelation 3:15) "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot."

The most outstanding characteristic about this group of people is that they are UNCOMMITTED! They are not cold and not hot, neither totally "for" nor totally "against." Their conduct does not really reveal where they stand. They don’t evidence any firm views on the things they do and the things they accept. In short, when you ask them to commit themselves about where they stand doctrinally, their answer is:


(Revelation 3:16) "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

To "spit" something out of your mouth is a way of expressing total rejection and disgust. It pictures attaching no value whatsoever to the things you spit out; they are totally worthless to you.

This is fully in line with the rest of the description of this group. There was nothing good about them to start with and, unless they really change, they will be totally rejected. This means that they are in danger of committing the unpardonable sin.

(Revelation 3:20-21) "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."

Both of these rewards clearly apply to everyone who will be in the first resurrection. Everyone in the first resurrection will take part in the marriage supper that takes place at Christ’s second coming. And everyone who overcomes will become a joint-heir with Jesus Christ and sit with Him on His throne, which really means sitting with Him on the Father’s throne

(Revelation 3:18) "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire[1], that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see."

The advice to this group is: you need to come to a real repentance! Real repentance involves having our eyes opened to God’s way of thinking and seeing; it involves rejecting our own righteousness and putting on God’s righteousness; and it involves being prepared to face opposition and persecution for the things we must commit to.

This era started when Mr. Armstrong died and when Mr. Joseph W. Tkach became Pastor General. Mr. Tkach’s stay in power was characterized by the advancement and promotion of quite a number of men who really don’t even have God’s Spirit. Gradually Mr. Tkach built up a team of unrepentant administrators.

Gradually at first, and then later more forcefully, those who do have God’s Spirit guiding them were forced out of positions of authority and influence. As they were forced out, so they were replaced by others who are unrepentant. Those truly converted administrators which Mr. Tkach "inherited" were gradually pressured more and more to compromise their convictions.