Saturday, February 25, 2017

Seven lampstands

and the seven lampstands are the seven churches (Rev 1:20). 
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent (Rev 2:5). 

Why seven churches? Why the lampstand metaphor for churches? What's the significance of removing a church's lampstand?

1. No doubt the churches in Revelation were real 1C churches. But were there only seven? Or is that sample dictated by John's numerology? 

2. The septunarian numerology in Scripture has its background in creation week.

3. But beyond that general background, there may be a more specific tie-in. The seven days of creation are distinguished by alternating light and darkness. Sunlight, dawn and dusk. So the lampstands in Revelation may mirror the seven units of daylight in Genesis. 

4. God is the giver of light. By threatening to remove the lampstand, God rescinds the gift of light. And, of course, that plays on the metaphorical connotations of light and darkness in Scripture.  

5. In addition, Rev 2-3 may evoke some other motifs from Gen 1-3. 

i) In the case of the Ephesian church, which is the inaugural example in Revelation, you have some explicit allusions to Genesis in the "tree of life" and the "paradise of "God. 

Moreover, to have "fallen" or "abandoned one's first love" recapitulates the sin of Adam and Eve. 

The fact that the Ephesian church is the first church in the sequence might provide a framework or textual clue for Genesis motifs in the other churches. 

ii) The "book of life" (Sardis) and "crown of life" (Smyrna) may be synonymous metaphors for the "tree of life". 

iii) The "morning star" (Tyatira) may recall starlight and the dawn/dusk refrain in Gen 1. 

iv) The "shameful nakedness" (Laodicea) and "garments" (Sardis) may recall the Fall in Gen 3. 

v) The temple/pillar imagery may recall Eden as sacred space (Philadelphia)

vi) The "white stone" (Pergamum) may be recall the gemstones of Havilah (Gen 2:11-12).

vii) And the Spirit refrain may recall Gen 1:2.

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