How do the seven churches fit in?
These letters to the seven churches, in chapters 1 to 3, are written in a different style to the rest of the prophetic text of Revelation. We are not told why these particular towns were selected but perhaps the apostle John who wrote down the visions was an overseeing elder in this area of Asia Minor, now Turkey. The letters are separate from the prophetic text but have a very important connection to it.
Obviously, the letters had a relevant application to each of the seven churches – praising good works and admonishing error and problem behaviour. After it was written the Book of Revelation would have been read in each of these towns. But that is not where the letters’ teaching would have stopped; the letters also have a more prophetic purpose.
Firstly, many scholars believe the seven letters represent the Christian church throughout the ages from the apostolic age to the end-of-days when Christ returns.
Secondly, other scholars believe they apply to the church scene immediately before the return of Christ.
Thirdly, some believe that the letters only apply to the actual churches at the time when John wrote them.
There is evidence supporting all three views. So which one is the correct view and the right application? I personally believe all three are correct in their application to the Christian church, and that it is a useless waste of time pitting each against the others in the search for truth. Nowhere are we told we must accept only one interpretation or one view.
Also these seven letters are not separate from the prophecy, and yet not directly part of it. We find they are needed to understand more clearly certain aspects of it. They give instruction to God’s elect, His Church, on how to prepare for the end-of-days when all the events portrayed in the prophecies take place. The church is to make herself ready for the return of the King. It needs correction and it needs encouragement, and the letters do just that. We must take heed of its instruction if we are to be ready and waiting for our Lord’s return.