Seven is the number of completion and perfection in the Bible. Paul wrote to 7 churches (map HERE) as well (Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Colosse, Phillipi, and Thessalonica). Jesus also gives 7 Kingdom Parables in Matthew 13. Some scholars connect the 7 letters of Revelation to the 7 Parables. Here is a great and short comparison HERE. Also, note only the 4th letter (letter to Thyatira) features a woman. As does Jesus’ fourth Kingdom Parable of the woman and the leaven. Jesus was speaking to the church as a whole by choosing 7 to address, which includes believers today as well.
Jesus lays out the spiritual problems he saw in the churches of the first century in chapters 2 and 3. The people were being buried in the problems and worries of the day and desperately needed to see the end–the salvation they were longing for. In chapters 4 & 5, we’ll see the answer–Jesus, the Lamb of God, judgment, and New Heavens and New Earth. This is the rest of the story of Revelation.
Some commentators say the order of the churches is significant as well and speaks to general historical periods of the church. Below are two I found I thought were interesting:
From The Revelation Record by Henry M. Morris:
Church Period in Church History Dates
Ephesus: Apostolic Age Before A.D. 100
Smyrna: Age of Persecution A.D. 100 to 313
Pergamos: Imperial Church Age 313 to 590
Thyatira: Age of Papacy 590 to 1517
Sardis: Reformation Age 1517 to 1730
Philadelphia: Missionary Age 1730 to 1900
Laodicea: Age of Apostasy 1900 to ?
From The Seven Epistles of Christ by Taylor Bunch
Ephesian: “The universal church of the days of the apostles, or the first century of Christianity.”
Smyrna: Second and third centuries, “the age of martyrdom, when pagan Roman emperors attempted to destroy Christianity with the violence of the sword.”
Pergamite: Covering 250 years (from Emperor Constantine to Emperor Justinian the Great) “the church was exalted to royal power and kingly authority through a union, or marriage, with the state.”
Thyatiran: 538 to 1520, the corrupt, political church of the Middle Ages.
Sardian: 1520 to the mid 1700’s (“but doubtless embraces the entire history of Protestantism to the end of the gospel dispensation”); the church of the Reformation, and a partial work.
Philadelphian: From the mid 1700’s to the present; the church of 18th and 19th century revivals, worldwide missions movements, and renewed expectation of Jesus’ return.
Laodicean: Middle 1800’s to the end of the Christian dispensation, “a sad comment on modern Christendom.”
Commentators stress these are not rigid periods of time and say the last 4 will persist to the End Times.
Remember this is just an interpretation. These letters were written to the first century Christians and none of this historical time had even happened yet, so literalists don’t put any credence into these timeframes. I just find it fascinating so thought I’d share. God in His infinite wisdom does have a plan and I’m sure the order is meaningful.
I love the comparison with the 7 Kingdoms. The more I study the Bible, the more I see how only God could be the One, True God and how I see the intricacies and connections of the Bible with open eyes. God is awe!