The Apocalypse, or Book of Revelation, is addressed to the seven churches of Asia Minor. These were essentially John’s congregations. Asia Minor is now part of Turkey and these lands are now overwhelmingly Muslim. None of these churches exist any longer.
In the church in which I grew up and the Bible College I attended there was a great deal of focus on the the Book of Revelation (as the Bible Church tended to refer to it). There was also no small amount of triumphalism in relation to the seven churches of Asia Minor. The party line was that if we are not faithful to Christ we will simply dry up and disappear. God doesn’t like lukewarm churches and lukewarm churches (by implication, the churches of Asia Minor) have all now essentially disappeared.
A month or so ago there was a great deal of press over the Armenian Genocide, in which between 800,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were either murdered or sent off to the desert to starve to death by the Turks in the early 20th century. It is to the great shame of the United States that no American president or official leader has been willing to call this murder of essentially a whole people group a genocide in order to appease the modern state of Turkey.
The Seven Churches of the Apocalypse would have been Armenian churches. Why have the churches of Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Ephesus, and Smyrna disappeared? It’s not because they simply faded away; they were murdered. They are martyr churches. They are all (with the exception of Ephesus and Smyrna, which were likely Greek churches) Armenian churches.
I am ashamed that when I was in college I held such a superior attitude over the seven churches of Asia Minor because my piddly little denomination (the Bible Church) existed while these congregations had disappeared. Oh that I could be so faithful as these modern day martyrs in the face of torture, death, and starvation in the desert. Thanks be to God for the Armenian saints of the Armenian genocide who witnessed to the faithfulness of Christ to their very end.