Calvin Theological Seminary New Testament professor Jeffrey Weima has written a user-friendly book that examines and helps explain the seven sermons the apostle John recorded in the second and third chapters of Revelation.
Inspired by God, the sermons were written down and sent to the seven churches in Asia Minor.
“The seven sermons are typically seen as written to churches that are spiritually healthy, encouraging them with the good news that Christ will come and ultimately vindicate their faith in him,” Weima said. “Careful study of these sermons, however, reveals a different picture—namely, that most of these early churches were spiritually unhealthy, and thus Christ has to warn them about the ways that they are compromising their faith. The fact that the modern church in the west is also guilty of doing the same things makes these sermons especially relevant and applicable to today’s situation.”
“The sermons in Revelation are written “to send a message of inspiration” to Christians being persecuted for their faith. In some cases, Weima said, they were even condemned to death for refusing to accept the Roman gods.
The startling imagery and metaphors in the seven sermons can, like the rest of Revelation, be intimidating for some readers. Weima, however, opens his book by explaining that his goal is to make the sermons come alive by offering background, purpose, and a framework that can help readers more deeply appreciate these sermons.
“I want to show how these seven ancient sermons are still relevant for today,” said Weima in an interview.
Weima is a biblical scholar who for years has led tour groups to many places in the Middle East. When the tour stops in modern-day Turkey, where the seven churches in Revelation were located, he offers insights and explanations to bring people more deeply into those passages of Scripture. He includes those insights in his book.
“Each chapter ends with my own sermon as a model of how the text could be preached or taught today,” Weima said. He ends the chapter on the church in the ancient town of Philadelphia—one of the only two churches that held fast to their faith—with these words: “When our faith is tested and persecution (or hard times) comes our way, how are we going to respond?”
He adds: “Let us recommit ourselves to Jesus Christ .... who sets before us an open door by which we have free and full access to God and the kingdom.”