“Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” (Revelations 1:11)
The warning voice, the “great voice of a trumpet” the first words Jesus sounds out speak straight to the most important point for everyone, the ultimate reality: I, Jesus Christ, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…” There is no other and there is nothing more important to all mankind and their existence! And there is nothing more important to the church, no matter what the church is going through. (There is much more about this already spoken to at length in an earlier post on Revelations 1:8 “Jesus the Beginning and End of All Things: Including Us“.)
Jesus is the creator with all authority over us. He is everything to us, and everything to these seven church congregations.
He very specifically instructs John to write the book of Jesus’ Revelation and then tells him how to publish it: by sending it to the seven congregations.
Every book in the Bible was inspired and directed by God. Many of the Epistles were originally addressed to specific individuals and congregations – yet God designed that they would be written so that they could later be published to a larger audience: “everyone”. Additionally, and He has protected them and preserved them in the Bible and requires us to live by them today.
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
The book of Revelations is no different. In fact, after the 3rd chapter of Revelations even the casual reader would come to understand that this book is plainly intended to be for a larger audience. (That is why in Revelations 1:3 it states: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”) Consequently, we realize that the seven congregations have a greater meaning than a physical place of meeting, but that they represent spiritual conditions that have existed among God’s people at different times throughout history – and even today. There is a lesson for everyone of us in the message to the “seven churches which are in Asia.”
It is again very important to recognize the context of who the Revelation message is addressed to: “servants” (see “Understanding Revelations”), and the “church”, which is the congregation of the true servants. Jesus very specifically is speaking to the church concerning things that have and will affect the church. There have been so many money making efforts that have attempted to explain Revelations as a prophesy concerning fantastical things happening on the earth. But that is not what this message is about. It is about things that affect Jesus’ church – his servants. It is about spiritual conditions that affect the hearts and souls of individuals: causing them to either love, hate, or fake Jesus and his truth. It is about spiritual things, because it is spiritual things that mostly affect and concern the true servants of Jesus Christ.