Write What You See for Others to Read

…and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:9-11, NIV 1984).

My Musings – John heard the voice of Christ “like a trumpet.” Trumpets are important in Revelation. In Revelation 4:1 the trumpet calls John up to heaven, which some suggest is an allusion to the rapture. In Revelation 8:2, trumpets signal that the wrath of God will be poured out on the world. In the Old Testament, the Jews used trumpets to gather the assembly, to announce war, or to proclaim special days (Numbers 10). God’s trumpet will call the Church home (1 Thessalonians 4:16), gather Israel (Matthew 24:31), and announce war on the world (Revelation 8:2).

The seven local churches listed were not the only churches in Asia Minor at that time (see Colossians 1:2; 4:13).  These churches may have been chosen because they were located on the connecting roads of a circular postal route.  A messenger delivering John’s message would arrive first in Ephesus. The other cities are arranged in the sequence a messenger would follow on foot to reach them. The distance between them generally varies from about thirty to forty-five miles.

Apart from the geography, they also had a many-faceted completeness to them. On one side was Smyrna, a Church exposed to persecutions leading to death.  On the other side was Sardis, having a reputation for spiritual life and yet dead. Laodicea, who in its own estimation was rich, needing nothing, and possessing ample talents, were deemed to be lukewarm to Christ’s cause. This contrasts with Philadelphia, which had little strength, yet in keeping Christ’s word had an open door set before it by Christ Himself.  Ephesus was intolerant of evil and of false apostles yet had left its first love. On the other hand, Thyatira, abounding in works, love, service, and faith, allowed the false prophetess to seduce many.

The church in Ephesus was in conflict with false freedom that is characterized by licentiousness (the Nicolaitans).  Pergamos was in conflict with Balaam-like temptation of fornication and eating meat sacrificed to idols. Philadelphia was in conflict with the Jewish synagogue and legal bondage. These were in contrast with Sardis and Laodicea that faced no active conflict to challenge their spiritual energies due to their intoxicating states of complacency and humanism.

My Advice – What John was shown, was not for his eyes only. He was to write it down as a record to be passed around to these seven churches and down through many generations for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. This contrasts with God’s instructions to Daniel, “seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” (Daniel 8:26, NIV 2011). While Daniel characterized it as appalling and “beyond understanding” (if what he was shown was the same), it would be foolhardy for us to ignore it.

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3, NIV 1984).


Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 796). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1888). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 1:11). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 553). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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