churches? It’s the first of 54
instances in Revelation in which we see the number 7. It’s worth a minute of our time to
understand that this number is usually associated with completeness. We have seven days in a week. Often, in Revelation, after seven
“somethings” it is finished.
|So, is this then a
sign of “completeness?” The futurist
argues that this implies that this is the “complete” history of the
church. Extending that argument to
other sevens makes it seem rather weak. (Pun intended)
|It’s just possible
that the completeness means that these churches may stand for all
others. They are a picture of the
“complete” church, not in chronological order as much as through all times.
possibility: they may simply have been
the seven churches over which John had some authority, or for which he had
some special love.
|Grace and peace from
|Note the order
here. We are told in Hebrews (Heb.
8:5) that the tabernacle is the pattern of things in heaven, and this is the
“tabernacle” order of the Trinity: the
Father (corresponding to the ark in the Holy of Holies), the Spirit (the
lampstands in the Holy Place) and the Son (the sacrifice on the altar).
|He who was, is and
is to come -- John butchers the Greek here.
It is interesting to note that one author (Barclay) thinks the
butchered Greek a good reason to deny the authorship of John the Apostle --
and then gives the butchering theological significance. For what John has done here is to alter the
grammar in two ways:
|• First, he changes
it so that the name of God, I AM, remains unaltered by the demands of the
|• He also changes
another tense to prevent giving the impression that God can change.
|The next name, the
seven spirits, has caused a lot of trouble for commentary writers (I notice
that futurists tend to ignore the problem -- which may be a sign of
intelligence!) We are not used to
thinking of “Seven Spirits of God.”
There are these possibilities, among others:
|• Again, it may
simply imply completeness.
|• It could mean
(there is some textual support for this in the Greek) that the Spirit is
present equally among the seven churches.
|• It could be a
reference to Isaiah’s prophecy of Christ:
|(Isa 11:2 NIV) The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him--
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of
power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--
|I suspect this is
another “locked door.”
|And then, of course,
Jesus Christ (segue to next slide).