<span id=printer_friendly>Printer-friendly version</span>Printer-friendly versionSend to friendSend to friend

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ~Rev 2-3

In the second and third chapter of Revelation, the Lord gave instructions to the seven churches of Asia. Through the seven letters, the Lord reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the seven churches – the things that they ought to continue to do and the sins that they needed to repent from. All seems well, except when we question who the recipients of the letters were, we begin to encounter some difficulties. The letters were written to the “angels” of the churches which could otherwise be translated as “messengers” of the churches. So to whom exactly were the letters addressed to? Were the letters written to messengers or angels? And how does the identity of the recipients of the letters affect the understanding of these letters?

“Angel” in the passage comes from the Greek word “aggelos” and is also translated as “messenger,” used in both singular and plural forms. Based on these seven verses alone, it is not possible to determine whether the recipient is an angel or a messenger. We need to know the Lord’s own explanation for “angel” by referring to the previous chapter before we can begin to understand to whom the letters were addressed to.

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet … In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword …

"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” ~Rev1:12-20

The word “angels” in the verse “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches,” uses the same original Greek word “aggelos.” Based on how the Lord explained it, the seven lampstands were seven churches and the seven stars were the angels (or messengers) of the seven churches.

The reason why “aggelos” was translated as “angel” instead of “messenger” could be because “stars” being heavenly lights of the skies were unique and different from common lights on earth. Since angels came from Heaven, they were likened to “stars” in the heavenly skies. Furthermore the word “angel” was used more than fifty times throughout the book of Revelation, and they were also the ones to announce God’s judgements upon the nations on earth. Therefore, it only seemed natural to use angels as representatives to receive the letters written to the seven churches. However, there are some issues with such reasoning. For example, this could suggest that in every church there is a guardian angel assigned by God. This will no doubt introduce mysticism to our Christian belief and could develop into an unhealthy adoration of angels even to the extent of worshipping them.