List of Current Articles
A List of Resources
Useful Links
To leave feedback

Back Home Up Next

The Seven Letters to the Church &
The Seven Parables of the Kingdom

During the period of time between the First and Second Advents of the Messiah to establish the Kingdom, the kingdom is said to be in a “mystery” period. Paul revealed the “mystery that was hid” in the Old Testament, claiming it is the mystery of the church, the Lord’s Body and Bride, a body of Gentile believers that are joined to the root and stock of Israel.

In Matthew 13, the Lord presents seven parables concerning the “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” (verse 13). It is interesting to use this passage as an additional overlay while viewing the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, and the timeline of church history.

The Apostolic Age ~ The Parable of the Sower & the Seed

This is perhaps the most familiar of all the Lord’s parables. He explains that the sower is he that spreads the Word of God. Some falls by the wayside and is snatched away by the “fowls,” some grows quickly and then fades, some grows among thorns and is unfruitful, and some grows in good earth and bears much fruit.

The analogy to the Apostolic Age is clear, as this was the period when the Apostles, like sowers, were spreading the Word of God and “planting churches.” There was Satanic opposition everywhere they turned. The evil One attempted to get rid of the Word any way he could. 

The Parable of the Tares & the Wheat ~ The Smyrna Period

The Lord Himself explains this parable. He states that the tares and wheat grow together until the judgment at the “end of this world” (verse 40). While the ultimate fulfillment of the parable will be at the final Day of Judgment, there is nevertheless a picture of violence in the “reaping”—the cutting down of the crop in such a way as to separate the tares from the wheat—that is suggestive of the oppression and persecution suffered by believers in the second and third centuries.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed ~ The Pergamos Period

The Lord says the Kingdom is like a grain of mustard that grows up to be a great tree, so great that “the fowls of the air” make their home in the branches of it. In the first parable, the Lord states that the term “fowls” is a reference to the “evil one” or the devil. Remember where Pergamos was? The Lord said it was where Satan’s throne was! This picture of the demons themselves coming to make their home in the branches of the mustard tree corresponds precisely to the paganization of Christianity that occurred as a result of the church being “married” to Constantine’s secular administration in the fourth century.

The Parable of the Woman & the Leaven ~ The Thyatira Period

How many of the seven letters of Revelation 2 and 3 feature a woman? One. The fourth one. How many of the seven kingdom parables feature a woman? One. The fourth one. In the first instance, what is the woman doing? She is introducing false doctrine by teaching false worship to the church. In the latter instance, what is the woman doing? She is introducing leaven into “three measures of meal” so that the whole lump is leavened.

It is interesting to note that the “leaven” or false doctrine of the church of Thyatira has contaminated three major branches of Christianity—the Roman or Western branch, the Orthodox or Eastern branch (which is essentially the Roman Catholic Church minus the papacy), and even the mainline denominations that resulted from the Reformation. All three streams feature a priesthood or high–order of clergy who dress in vestments to distinguish them from the “laity” on sight; all three practice infant baptism and claim it to be the door into the “kingdom.” While mainline denominations do not teach the blasphemy of a continual sacrifice of Christ each time the “eucharist” is observed, they maintain that it is a “sacrament” that can only be “administered” by the “clergy.” And all three streams are amillennial in their eschatology, denying the “glorious hope” of His appearing.

The Parable of the Treasure in the Field ~ The Sardis Period

In this parable, a treasure is hidden, buried in a field. To obtain the treasure, a man must purchase the entire field—or in other words, he must take a lot  that is basically worthless to obtain the thing that is worthwhile.

While the Reformation was successful in shaking off some of the more blatant heresies associated with the papacy, it retained much that obscured the supposed central teaching of sola scriptura and salvation by faith.  Keeping with the analogy suggested by the parable, it is as if these central truths are buried beneath layers of pompous ecclesiology, dead orthodox theology, and unscriptural eschatology. There is something good  there, but you really have to dig to find it.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price ~ The Philadelphia Period

Nearly the inverse of the previous parable, this one recounts a man who found one single pearl of such great value that he got rid of all the other “stuff” in his possession to obtain that pearl. In contrast to the previous parable, the pearl is not hidden. It is brought out in the open in plain view.

The “brethren” of the Philadelphia period sought only one thing—the Lord Jesus Himself. They sought Him through the Word of God and through sincere spiritual fellowship with each other. They “sold” everything that did not, could not, bring them into a closer relationship with the Lord and a clearer understanding of the Word of God. They abandoned church buildings, altars, pulpits, clergymen, the liturgy, the church calendar, robes and vestments, infant baptism, and the accumulated theological wrestling and wrangling of more than a millennia. They found none of these things to be of the slightest value compared to the one goodly pearl they had found in the fellowship of the Lord and His Body.

The Lord Jesus—as Savior of all mankind. The Lord Jesus—as the very Word of God, who is Truth Incarnate. The Lord Jesus—the Soon and Coming of King who will sit in the seat of His father David to rule over all the earth just as He promised. It was the single-minded devotion to the Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus alone that drove and motivated the Brethren to go into all the world with the Gospel, to proclaim His Truth, to publish tracts and books on His soon coming, to lift up and magnify their Lord above all else—in simplicity and truth. A Pearl of Great Price, indeed!

The Parable of the Dragnet – The Laodicean Period

In the parable of the wheat and tares, only two kinds of people are envisioned—believers and non- believers. In the parable of the dragnet, it appears there are fish, or people, of “every kind”—good, bad, and indifferent (the lukewarm of Revelation 3:16).

Of course, it is the “indifferent” kind that characterize the Laodicean Age—that is, our own age, and our own day. In contrast to the steadfast devotion to the Lord we saw in Philadelphia, these people are devoted to social programs, to “theological relevancy,” to personal health, wealth and prosperity, to great works and great ministries, to fund-raising, to filling stadiums, to being on television, to “being recognized” as great ministers of God, to building programs, to every kind of scheme and contrivance man could possible imagine to promote the “work.”

It is interesting to note that in this chapter the Lord explains two of the seven parables, and in each case the Lord underscores the explanation with the admonition, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” It should be obvious, then, that as the Lord repeats this exhortation to each of the seven churches, it is not His intent that the letters should be obscure and unintelligible, but that He wants them to be read and understood. It also brings to mind His saying in the letters themselves, “He that hath an ear, let him hear...”

And how is it with you, brother? With you, sister? Do you have ears to hear? Can you receive the message the Lord sent to His church by his servant John, the message He is sending today? It is the same message, because the Lord is the same today, yesterday, and forever. If He hated the deeds and the doctrines of the Nicolaitans in the first century, is there any reason to believe He has now changed His mind? 

The Truth is not just a “blessing.” It is a responsibility. We know God from time to time will wink at the ignorance of His people. But when they know the Truth and refuse to act on it because it is inconvenient, or because it might result in ridicule and rejection on the part of good, godly Christians, whose approval they esteem above all else, there is trouble brewing. 

Ask the Lord to reveal to you if any of this is true, and if so, what He would have you to do about it. Pray for grace. Remember, all things are to be done decently and in order. We can know these things and still maintain grace in our relationships and fellowship with those who have not this knowledge. This is not a call to rebellion or revolution. It is a call to get our eyes opened as to our true condition as a church. And having our eyes opened, we will pray to the Lord as brothers and sisters, and together we will wait for Him to show us what’s next.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Romans13:11

Back Home Up Next