On Sunday nights I am preaching through Revelation, and it has been a tremendously rewarding experience thus far. I hope to preach the entire book, but it will take perhaps more than a year (or longer) to do so. For all I know, we might not make it past chapter five simply because I still struggle with exactly how to handle preaching those chapters in light of my eschatological system. At any rate, time will tell.
In chapter one John is told to write to the seven churches which are in Asia (1:11), and this comprises chapters 2–3. When John turns to see the voice that spoke to him he sees one like a son of man standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (1:12–13). After the Lord comforts him and tells him not to fear, he is told to write all that he sees (1:19). The Lord then explains the mystery of the seven starts and the lampstands. He says the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches (οἱ ἑπτὰ ἀστέρες ἄγγελοι τῶν ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησιῶν εἰσιν), which are the recipients of the letters in 2–3.
However, the question is over the exact identity of the ἄγγελοι for, as any Greek 1 student can tell you, ἄγγελος can mean either “angel” or “messenger.” Typically context provides the key to interpretation, but not so much here. When the ἄγγελος are the recipients of the letter in 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14 there is no further clarification provided. It seems that most translations take the route of “angel” (ESV, NASB, HCSB, KJV, NIV, ASV), but some choose “messenger” (ISV, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GWT, Weymouth NT, Young’s Literal). Continue reading