The seven churches are the primary focus of the first three chapters of Revelation. They are represented by seven golden lampstands, and the seven angels – or messengers – of the churches, represented by seven stars in the right hand of Jesus. Only one of the churches is in another part of the Bible. The Church at Ephesus received a letter, the Book of Ephesians, from the Apostle Paul.
The three approaches to understanding these churches all agree they were existing churches that received copies of the Revelation at that time. They differ on how these churches may or may not apply to church history, including the modern body of believers.
There is one perspective that these messages only applied to those seven specific churches and the messages have no lasting significance. One of the criticisms of this theory is that it dismisses the prophetic nature of the messages, and reduces the significance of the prophecies coming from the glorified Christ.
There is also the chronological perspective. According to this view, each church mentioned in these chapters represents a period in church history. Each of these periods can be traced and assigned to a specific phase of the growth and change of the body of Christ over time, from its inception, to its decline before Christ’s return.