Many scholars believe that the letter to the seven churches in Revelation prophetically points forward to future periods in the history of the Church and point back in time to periods in Old Testament history. What can we take away from this ancient message to first-century churches?
The Church at Laodicea is said to represent the last era for the current form of the Christian Church. 2000 years ago, the church at Laodicea was sternly rebuked for complacency, compromise, and egregious apostasy. The Church of the last age will suffer the same fate.
Philadelphia was the youngest of the seven cities noted in the book of Revelation. To this church, Jesus offered only words of commendation and promise. Jesus commends this church for its ability to endure, to remain faithful to His Word, and not deny His name.
Sardis was a divided city that perceived itself as being better than it was. The message to the Church at Sardis reminds believers that a divided city is not a great city, that false pretenses lead to disaster, and that having a reputation for good is not the same as actually being good.
The Church at Thyatira represents a falling away from truth and profound apostasy. This city had ties to ancient Babylonian mythology which, in addition to being marked by violence and sensuality, had a particular ability to pervert (corrupt) true spiritual principles.