John And The Letters To The Seven Churches In Asia Minor

The revelation piece was believed to be written towards the end of the time of Emperor Domitian who ruled between 81-96 A.D. Domitian was the second emperor to persecute Christians after Nero. The persecution was so great that is why a new strength in the hearts of the people in the province of Asia was necessary.

Roman province of Asia, which is the Aegean region of Turkey, suffered greatly because the new faith was in a fertile soil here. Paul had worked here for three years and then Timothy was around.

The writer of the revelation introduces himself as John. Therefore, there is a question mark on his name. Certainly, there is no way to mix up John Mark and John the Baptist. We have John the apostle, one of the twelve, the youngest and the most beloved disciple of Jesus. We have John the evangelist who wrote the most literary Gospel. We have John or three Johns who wrote three epistles. Then we have John the revelation writer.

There is an argument if these writings belong to the same person or different characters. According to some writers, there is the tradition of being John. However, the old tradition tells us that the youngest apostle came to Ephesus in his late years and had a long life. Nevertheless not just age of John, we can rely on his writing skills too: There is a deep spirituality in all these writings.

John wrote the Revelation in a cave on Patmos Island in the Aegean Sea. Patmos is off the coast of Turkey and not far from Ephesus. John was on his confinement there. Because lately he was in Ephesus, he knew the situation all over the province of Asia. 

All the seven churches that received letters written to the angels were in and around Izmir:

To the church in Ephesus (Selcuk) written that, they had endured hardships and had not grown weary. Yet they had forsaken their first love. Those who overcome, there will be the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

To the church in Smyrna (Izmir) written that, they had afflictions and poverty. Yet they were rich. More suffering was coming even to the point of death. Then there will be crown of life. Those who overcome there will not be any hurt at all by the second death.

To the church in Pergamum (Pergamon) (Bergama) written that, they had heretical teachings. Satan had his throne there. Those who overcome will receive some of the hidden manna and white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

To the church in Thyatira (Akhisar) written that, they had a misleading prophetess. Those who overcome will receive authority over the nations and the morning star.

To the church in Sardis (Sartmustafa) written that, they were dead. Still a few people had not soiled their clothes. Those who overcome will walk with him, dressed in white and their names would never blot out from the book of life.

To the church in Philadelphia (Alasehir) written that, they had little strength, yet they had kept the word. Those who overcome will be a pillar in the temple of God.

To the church in Laodicea (Goncali) written that, they were neither cold nor hot. He wished they were either one or the other. They were lukewarm. Those who overcome will receive the right to sit with Him on His throne.

There are deep spiritual meanings behind the words and numbers. Everything is meaningful to the writer and probably to the churches that receive them. They have something to do about those cities everyday life, church history, pagan beliefs and the Old Testament symbols. Finally, there is the promise: ‘’No longer will there be any curse.’’ The time is near. ‘’Come! Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.’’ 

Again, the old tradition tells us what had happened to John later on: According to Clement of Alexandria who lived in 2nd century A.D., John had moved from the island Patmos to Ephesus when Domitian was dead. In addition, Irenaeus who was a native of Asia Minor and Bishop of Lyons in 2nd century A.D. confirms that John, the Lord’s disciple was in Ephesus until time of Trajan. Eusebius, the father of the Christian history, quotes a letter of Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus  written to Victor, Bishop of Rome in 2nd century A.D. about the tomb of John that, “John, who leant back on the  Lord’s breast, sleeps in Ephesus.’’ 

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