Choosing the right messenger
Amongst orthodoxy (the professing church) there are various opinions as to who exactly the seven messengers may be who are mentioned in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 with one group suggesting that they are literal angelic beings while the other insist that they are human messengers.
Let us consider the sensibleness of the two to see which makes more sense.
The first idea, that the messengers were actual angelic beings suggest “that each church had a “guardian angel” or some type of heavenly being associated with its congregation. There is however a difficulty with this interpretation as it states that John was writing the letters to them.
Are we to supposed that John wrote physical letters to angelic beings? How would he accomplish such a feat, how were these letters going to be delivered and by whom?
Why should he write letters to angels—were the letters going to be read to the congregations by celestial beings?
Now from a reading Rev 1:1 what we gather of the sequence of events is this:
God first revealed (or uncovered) his plans in regards to the recovery of mankind and the gospel age to his Son (our Lord Jesus Christ as he had been proven worthy to open the sealed scroll which contained this information, See our study of Revelation Chapter 5), he (Jesus) then gave it to an angel (whose responsibility was the work of signifying it —putting it into signs and symbols, a symbolic language), once this had been accomplished it was then relayed to John.
Now once John received the Revelation, he was then instructed by the Lord to write letters to the angel of seven specific churches chosen by the Lord explaining the conditions therein.
Now if these were indeed literal angels, why beat around the bush, would it not have been more reasonable for the Lord to simply relayed the messages directly to the angels himself, especially seeing as John a human being had no way of contacting and delivering any physical message (letters) to angelic beings?
Likewise, according to the opening statement to each of the angels of the seven churches it appears that the angel is in some way associated with the church himself, for we read:
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience…” (Rev 2:1, 2)
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty…” (Rev 2:8, 9)
Are we to believe that a celestial being is suffering tribulation and poverty?
This first interpretation defies both reason and common sense and has way too many holes in it to be feasible.
“Another interpretation (much more reasonable) is that the “angels” were human envoys sent to John. During the time that the apostle was exiled on the Isle of Patmos, it is possible that local congregations sent delegates to him to inquire of his condition. These delegates could be the “angels” or “messengers” that were entrusted with the letters on their return trip. However, it is more likely that the seven angels were the human leaders—the bishops, elders, or pastors—in the churches to whom the letters were addressed, and that these then shared the messages with the rest of the church.”
This of course still presupposes that the letters were specifically written to those seven literal churches listed in Revelation, begging the question why these seven.
Why would these specific seven churches be chosen, were there not other Christian churches residing at the time?
Why would the Lord choose to ignore the other churches in Asia Minor many of whom which were much more numerous and more influential, such as the churches at Jerusalem as well as those of Antioch, Corinth, Colosse, Philippi, and Thessalonica?
Now however if we look at this from still another viewpoint, that these churches were purposely selected by the Holy Spirit because of their etymological meaning (the meaning behind their names), and their historical background, which would shed light in a symbolical sense upon the experiences of the nominal Church of God all during its seven stages of development, all then would comport well with the exalted theme of the opening lines of Revelation, viz.“To show his servants things shortly to come to past”
ALL his servants not only those residing in these seven literal churches at the time, but ALL his servants throughout the age.
Now although we are in agreement with the thought that the seven angels or messengers were indeed human agents, we DO NOT necessarily believe that they had to be bishops, elders or pastors in the churches, they could just as likely be faithful believers who resided outside of the professing church. The text simply states that they were “angels” i.e. messengers used by the Lord to convey a message to the church. Nor do we believe that these messengers had to be actually living at the time Revelation was written. No, we believe these individuals were each specially chosen by the Lord at various times throughout the history of the church, each to deliver a specific message pertinent to the church at that time.
Continued with our next post.
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