problem with these two chapters is that the interpretations are completely at
odds with each other. The poetic
approach views them as warnings to the church in general, based upon the idea
that “seven” churches is therefore a symbol of the complete church.
interpretation agrees, in general, with this, adding the idea that (like the
Preterist interpretation) these are letters addressed to the specific
churches in question. This, as will be
seen, is born out by the fate of each of these churches. It is quite the case that each of these
churches received the results promised.
|The futurist, on the
other hand, takes the interpretation that seven indeed signifies completeness
-- the complete history of the church age.
In this view, the letters to the churches are really not addressed to
those specific churches (at least, not primarily, but only by way of example)
but in fact these churches describe the seven “ages” of the history of the
church. This view has some practical
problems, but in general the distinction between one “age” and the next --
and determining just which part of Christendom is meant -- is so vague as to
make this technique plausible.
|Were it not for the
division among readers, it would be plausible to entertain a mixed view: that these letters represent the ages of
the church, amplified in more detail starting in Chapter 1. Unfortunately, such a soothing combination
of views seems to be impossible.
Opinion is so heavy, and invective so frequent, that no one who
seriously writes on the subject in this century seems capable of such a