A. The Nature and Purpose of the Seven Letters
Here are the more popular views on the nature of these seven letters.
1. Pastoral – These churches were definitely historical entities to which John was instructed to write. The most basic interpretive approach is to understand the letters as reflecting realistic, concrete circumstances existent in these churches. Consequently, the primary application is to the respective congregations and the problems they faced in the last half of the first century.
2. Representation – It has also been suggested that these churches represent seven different types of churches (even seven different types of Christians) which may be found not only in the first century but in any period of church history. This view has arisen partially in an attempt to explain why these seven churches were chosen and not others. There were other churches in Asia of equal, if not greater, importance, such as Troas (Acts 20:5ff.), Colossae (Col. 1:2), and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13). Ladd suggests that “John chose these seven churches with which he was well acquainted so that they might be representative of the church at large” (24). Ramsay contends that the Asian church had slowly developed in an organization of seven groups and that a