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Reviews | The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia

The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia

W. L. Bedwell

Hardback or e-book (ePub)

144 pages

The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia

The Christadelphian review (from November 1988)

The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia

WHEN the news spread among the early believers in Christ that the apostle John had received from the Lord himself a detailed and personal message concerning themselves, their sense of excitement must have been intense. A new revelation from no less than Jesus himself! It is difficult for us to recapture that impression, but the work that Brother Bedwell has done in studying the message will be of immense interest and help to all sincere servants of the Lord in these latter days.

The author sets out to make clear not only the general position of the seven ecclesias in the Roman province of Asia (modern Turkey), but also many individual details which throw light on the message for each one of them. It is interesting, and undoubtedly significant, to learn for example that Laodicea was a prosperous banking and financial centre and that its inhabitants felt wealthy enough, when their town was devastated in the earthquake of A.D. 60, to decline Rome’s offer of assistance in the rebuilding; so, “Thou art rich and in need of nothing …” Further, they were accustomed to drink their water lukewarm, for their supply came by aqueduct from springs some miles away; so, “Thou art neither cold, nor hot …”

But the great value of this book lies in the way the author has first analysed the true spiritual condition of each ecclesia and has then turned the light on us in this 20th century, to enquire whether we are sufficiently aware of the dangers pointed out by the Lord. How does our spiritual condition, as ecclesias and as a brotherhood, stand up to Jesus’ examination of those early ecclesias? The result for us is much practical and penetrating exhortation. The charge that the Ephesians had abandoned their first love leads, in a highly interesting section of 11 pages, to a discussion of the ways we might be doing the same. The description of the idolatry and sexual licence of the provincial Roman society raises the question of our separation in the modern, not dissimilar, world. The trade guilds of Thyatira posed a threat to the brethren there. Do trade unions do the same to us? The need for a right balance between extremes in our preaching, and for a due reverence and respect in our approach to God are both treated. In short, the messages of Jesus are made the means of our re-examining our own attitudes, to the great profit of all who read them with care.

The book makes frequent references to original Greek terms, but never in an obscure or purely academic manner, always with a view to better understanding: as when we are informed that the exhortation, “Remember …” really means “Keep on remembering …”, a valuable observation.

This is a highly readable book. In the view of the present writer, it is the most significant writing among us on this subject since that of John Thomas in Eureka Volume I and is recommended reading for all brethren and sisters in Christ.

FRED PEARCE

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