1. Analyze the literary structure of the seven letters, and give a name to each of the standard sections that make up any given letter. What themes or words keep recurring? Make a grid or outline that briefly summarizes the contents of each letter section-by-section.
2. Which churches does Christ (John) praise? What churches does he criticize? Why? How would you describe the social, political, and economic status of the churches? Does their situation vary? If so, how?
3. Locate the seven churches on a map. Is there any reason Revelation goes to these seven congregations, in this particular order, when there were other churches in the region that do not get mentioned?
4. What challenges or problems are the churches facing? How is success described? What virtues are repeatedly praised? What must a church do to receive Christ’s ultimate praise? What is the significance of this? What is going on in these seven churches? What do you “read between the lines”? What was the greater challenge facing these churches: the temptation to assimilate to surrounding culture, or overt persecution by that culture? Cite evidence in support of your answer.
5. What evidence can you find about groups that are in conflict with each other? Based on your study of these chapters, what role does John play in the churches (outcast? critic? priest? gadfly? pastor? prophet? coworker? adversary?)? Explain your answer.
6. There are many cryptic phrases in these chapters, and commentators differ as to what they mean. Offer an interpretation of the following:
· “those who claim to be apostles” (2:2)
· “Nicolaitans” (2:6,15)
· “those who conquer” (2:7, etc.)
· “those who say that they are Jews” (2:9; cf. 3:9)
· “the second death” ()
· “where Satan’s throne is” ()
· “the teaching of Balaam” ()
· “that woman Jezebel” ()
· “fornication,” “adultery” (,22)
· “the deep things of Satan” ()