“John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne…”
The salutation runs from verse four through verse six. This salutation sounds just like a salutation in an epistle, although Revelation is not an epistle.
John wrote five books of the New Testament. Revelation is the only book he signed. He refers to himself as “the one who Jesus loved” in the gospel of John. He says nothing of himself in First John. He calls himself the “elder” in Second and Third John. In Revelation, he refers to himself five times (1:1,4,9; 21:2; 22:8).
to the seven churches which are in Asia:
John designates those to whom he writes as “the seven churches in Asia.” They are people in the Roman province of Asia Minor (western Turkey today). These are the churches of chapters two and three. He names these churches in 1:11. The seven churches were actual churches, not symbols of churches.
Paul came to Asia on his second missionary expedition (Acts 16:6). God shut the door for him to minister there at that time. The time was not right. However, four years later, the time was right.
“And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10).
Of all the places in the Roman world, Paul had his greatest victories in Asia Minor. The first time he tried to launch his gospel team there, God closed the door. The second time, God opened the door. Paul stayed in Ephesus, the capital, longer than any other place of his ministry — three years.
John wrote Revelation fifty years later. Paul was by then in heaven. John outlived all other apostles. Probably all seven churches were established by Paul during his three years of ministry there.
Since John wrote Revelation to the seven churches, this book is for Christians. No wonder most non-Christians cannot understand this book.
Ministry depends on God’s timing.
Sometimes we try to force open a door of ministry. We do not seem to have the discernment to wait for God’s timing. We need to respect negative volition as well as positive volition.
“But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).
“Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia” (2 Corinthians 2:12-13).
“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains” (Colossians 4:3).
“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).