The natural explanation of the "messengers" is that they were men sent by the seven churches to ascertain the state of the aged apostle, now an exile in Patmos (cf) Philippians 4:18 but they figure any who bear God's messages to a church.
The messages to the seven churches have a fourfold application:
(1) Local, to the churches actually addressed;
(2) admonitory, to all churches in all time as tests by which they may discern their true spiritual state in the sight of God;
(3) personal, in the exhortations to him "that hath an ear," and in the promise "to him that overcometh";
(4) prophetic, as disclosing seven phases of the spiritual history of the church from, say, AD 96 to the end. It is incredible that in a prophecy covering the church period, there should be no such foreview. These messages must contain that foreview if it is in the book at all, for the church does not appear after Revelation 3:22. Again, these messages by their very terms go beyond the local assemblies mentioned. Most conclusively of all, these messages do present an exact foreview of the spiritual history of the church, and in this precise order. Ephesus gives the general state at the date of the writing; Smyrna, the period of the great persecutions; Pergamos, the church settled down in the world, "where Satan's throne is," after the conversion of Constantine, say AD 316. Thyatira is the Papacy, developed out of the Pergamos state: Balaamism (worldliness) and Nicolaitanism (priestly assumption) having conquered. As Jezebel brought idolatry into Israel, so Romanism weds Christian doctrine to pagan ceremonies. Sardis is the Protestant Reformation, whose works were not "fulfilled." Philadelphia is whatever bears clear testimony to the Word and the Name in the time of self-satisfied profession represented by Laodicea.
mystery (See Scofield "Matthew 13:11") .
Other Scofield entries containing Revelation 1:20:
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