How to Read the Seven Letters to Seven Churches in Revelation (Graeme Goldsworthy)



The book of Revelation features seven mini-epistles to the churches of Asia: Ephesus (2:1-7), Smyrna (2:8-11), Pergamum (2:12-17), Thyatia (2:18-29), Sardis (3:1-6), Philadelphia (3:7-13), Laodicea (3:14-22).

In Gospel In Revelation, Graeme Goldsworthy lays out a suggested structure for these short letters, as well as an idea how they function in the book of Revelation:


  1. Address to the angel of the church.
  2. Description of the author, Christ.
  3. Reference to works followed by praise or criticism.
  4. Warning of consequences of faithlessness.
  5. Exhortation to persevere.
  6. Promise to all who overcome.

*(There are some slight variations, especially in the warnings and exhortations.)


The seven messages to the churches structure Christian existence during the overlap of the ages as a creative tension between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.


The seven letters to the churches serve to introduce the main themes of Revelation by dealing with them at the outset in the down-to-earth context of the daily life of the local congregations. The drama of redemption is thus shown to have on-going effects in the world of human existence. Christians are not onlookers while a cosmic conflict rages in spiritual realms, but rather they are participants. The letters prevent the apocalyptic descriptions of this spiritual struggle from being detached from our daily struggle. The risen and glorified Christ calls upon his churches to be faithful to his gospel and to persevere in well-doing. During this period of the overlap of the ages the lordship of Christ in the world is expressed through the church which is made up of responsible human beings. The good works which are demanded are part of the apocalyptic struggle with the powers of darkness. Because the final inheritance of Christians follows on a life characterized by good works, it may be spoken of as reward, even though its basis is not those works but Christ’s merits.

Found in The Goldsworthy Trilogy pages 235, 242-243

Kevin Halloran

Servant of the Word. Husband. Blogs weekly at Anchored in Christ. Content Strategist/Trainer in Latin America with Leadership Resources International.