The seven visions and blessings

The number seven is used many times in John's writing. In the book of Revelation seven is a symbol for completeness. So the letters to seven churches are more than correspondence to seven different church congregations in Asia Minor. These letters represent communication to the entire church on earth.

Much of Revelation is arranged in seven visions that encourage Christians to worship God and follow Christ Jesus, no matter what the circumstances. Some of the visions tell about the opening of seven seals that are used to close a book or scroll, the blowing of seven trumpets to announce events, seven angels of judgment, seven vials or bowls of wrath, and seven scenes, with the seventh telling about "a new heaven and a new earth." All of the visions point to the importance of keeping the First Commandment despite persecutions, wars, sickness, and any temptation that would try to make someone believe in other gods.

There are also seven blessings or beatitudes in the Apocalypse (1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7, 22:14). The first one begins: "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy." The seventh beatitude in the last chapter of Revelation starts with "Blessed are they that do his commandments."

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The Bishop of London on family values
October 27, 1997

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