2:1–3:22 See theological note “The Local Church” on next page. Christ shows care for the churches by addressing each according to its needs, with encouragement, rebuke, exhortation, and promise. He shows detailed knowledge of them (“I know”). In all the letters there are allusions to circumstances or traditions of the particular city, probably including some that are no longer recognized. At the same time, all the churches are included in a universal calling to faithfulness and endurance until the promises reach their fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem. Their struggles contrast with the peace and satisfaction pictured in 21:1–22:5. The exhortations are reinforced by an opening allusion to some element of the majestic vision of 1:12–20, and therefore have universal bearing (1:4 note).
Each message has the same basic form:
1. Addressee: “to the angel of the church . . . write.”
2. Identification of Christ, alluding back to His majesty displayed in 1:12–20: “The words of him.”
3. Claim of knowledge: “I know.”
4. Evaluation: rebukes or commendations.
5. Promise or threat: usually “I will.”
6. Promise to “the one who conquers.”
7. Exhortation to listen: “He who has an ear.”
Note that (6) and (7) can occur in reverse order, and (5) can be included with (4).