The Seven Churches of Revelation 2 & 3

Dr Pierre Coovert

In my study of the history of the Cathares I stumbled across a map that shows that one of the centers of the Cathares was in the ancient city of Philadelphia in what is now Turkey. This has led me to a study, which is far from finished, of the seven churches of Revelation Chapters 2 & 3.

The fact that the church in Philadelphia is one of these churches is what caused be to start this study. Here is what Jesus had to say about this church:

Revelation 3:7-13 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The church in Philadelphia is one of the two churches for which Jesus had no condemnation. In essence it was a pure church. The Greek word for pure is katharos, from which we get the name Cathar.

This list of seven churches were seven real churches that existed at the end of the first century. I believe Jesus chose these particular churches, for there were many other churches, because they represented types of churches that would exist from that time until His return. I also believe that He placed them in the order He did because each of these churches represent the dominant type of church in successive periods during what we call the “church age.”

If this is true there are some conclusions that can be drawn about when these churches were dominant. The Philadelphia age would have started with the great missionary outreach of the late seventeenth century with William Carey.

I think it should be obvious to anyone who believes the Bible that we are now in the Laodicean period. I know that some will argue that I am only looking at this from an American point of view, but that is not so. I am talking about the dominant type of church, not the only church. Throughout the world there are faithful churches, but the dominant type of church of our day is a church that fits the Laodicean model.

What led me to write this post is neither the thought of the Laodicean or the Philadelphia church. It is the church just before the Philadelphia church, the church in Sardis. No one can argue that there was not a major change in the dominant church at the time of the Reformation. I think it would be good to see what Christ had to say about the church in Sardis, and therefore about the dominant church in the period from the Reformation until the middle of the seventeenth century and the start of the Philadelphia period.

Revelation 3:1-6 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

This period an awakening to the Scriptures. Nevertheless, this church or period is said to have a name that it was alive, but in fact it was dead.

Martin Luther, the one credited with starting the Reformation, is famous for realizing that “the just shall live by faith.” We should ask what his faith was in before we get too excited.

Here are his own words from “The Large Catechism of Martin Luther”:

“To put it most simply, the power, effect, benefit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is to save. No one is baptized in order to become a prince, but as the words say, to ‘be saved.’ To be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil and to enter into the kingdom of Christ and live with him forever.”

It should be obvious from this statement, and there are many other similar quotes that could be cited, that his faith was in his baptism, not in Christ. I cannot look into Luther’s heart to see if he personally received Christ as his Saviour or not, but I know that what he states in his catechism is a false gospel.

All of the reformers would have agreed with Martin Luther on this point. I know this will offend some readers, but the facts are the facts.

In my research on the seven churches I found many Protestant sites that try to refute the idea of the church representing periods in the church age. I fully understand why they would do so. The period that would represent the Reformation is not very flattering to them.

Whether or not the churches of Revelation 2 & 3 represent periods within the church age, the gospel of the reformation which required baptism for salvation was a false gospel. This is why it upsets me to hear so many Baptist preachers lift up the Protestant reformers as great men of God. There too are many Baptists through the ages who died to keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ pure for the lifting up a Protestants not to bother me.

Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved