“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
John addresses his letter to the seven churches in Asia.
John is addressing these seven churches, which were real churches in real places, and he is addressing them directly. Just like Paul wrote to Ephesus or Corinth, John writes to these seven churches.
John is addressing these seven churches directly, but the number 7 here is still symbolically significant. Biblically, the number 7 represents fullness, or the essential nature of a thing. So just as Paul’s letters to various churches are to those churches but for all churches ever, John’s Revelation is to the seven churches but for all churches ever. The fact that these letters have application for all churches ever does not mean that the letters can be completely removed from their historical context.
Grace and Peace
John gives the apostolic blessing of grace and peace from the Triune God.
Grace and peace is really a summing up of what God does for us in the gospel. Grace is the undeserved gift we receive of God’s favor towards us through Christ. Peace is our reconciliation with God. And since this reconciliation rests upon Christ’s work on our behalf, the peace is sure and steadfast; it is a peace that no man can lose once he has been united to Christ by faith.
And this understanding of true peace is an extremely helpful tool in your evangelism. Men and women are constantly seeking for peace. Peace is a fundamental desire that people want to satiate. Peace is sought through various false religions, through good works, and through any means by which a person is able to numb their guilt. Any form of “peace” apart from repenting of sin and turning to Christ in faith is a false peace that will ultimately fail, because peace is not about feeling calm or having confidence in yourself or thinking God is pleased with you based on either what you have done or who you says God is. Peace is a reconciled relationship with God, which only comes through faith in Jesus. Peace has an objective standard.
Just the other day, Pastor Rony and I were enjoying some conversation and coffee in his backyard when a woman came up and asked if she could take a picture of us for her Instagram page, which she said was all about the importance of spirituality and wellness. Rony and I obliged the kind woman and began talking with her. She really liked the idea of helping people to achieve peace in their lives, and her main methods from what we gathered were meditation and finding healthy outlets for feelings. Rony and I asked her about sin, which she was fine enough with. But when we talked about God’s holiness and the need for sin to be paid for, things changed a bit in tune.
She was quickly done with our conversation, and decided to leave Rony’s fence line (after double checking to make sure she could still use our photograph and label it as an interesting spiritual conversation she got wrapped up in on her morning walk). When it came down to true peace, this kind old woman had none of it.
Peace is Reconciliation
So in talking with others, peace is often a great place to start. We remind people of the reality they are already aware of, which is that each man and woman has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Though surrounded by a world declaring “PEACE, PEACE,” there is no peace when you stand opposed to the living God. From this platform, the gospel of grace offers to sinners true peace, reconciliation with Almighty God.