The letters to the seven churches of Revelation 2–3, while clearly applicable to the local situations of each church, have traditionally been understood by Adventists as apocalyptic in nature and prophetic of seven periods of church history.1 However, more recent Adventist commentators, while not totally excluding the possibility of a secondary prophetic application, have tended to interpret them like other NT letters, focusing on the local, first-century context of these seven cities as primarily in view.2 This new approach has been critiqued in a previous article, in which I examined the genre, structure, and content of these letters in light of the overall structure of the book of Revelation, but only briefly discussed the prophetic application of these letters to church history.3 The present study is an attempt to provide further exegetical support for the approach there outlined by examining the letter to Laodicea as a test case. Following a brief summary of the most salient points from that article, it will be argued that literary, historical, and archaeological information combined contribute toward understanding the prophetic application of a given letter which in turn helps illuminate similar apocalyptic images that appear in later sections of the book.



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