John to the seven churches that 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, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:4-6, ESV)
John is writing to seven churches in Asia Minor. Click on the satellite photo on the left to get a larger picture of the region and location of the seven churches. But John is not just writing to these particular seven churches in history, John is also writing to all the churches throughout history after Christ's first coming until Christ's second coming in glory and power. Not only is John writing to churches collectively, but John is writing to Christians individually that make up the church.
From the first we see symbolism in play in Revelation. The number seven is used both literally because there are seven real churches Revelation is addressed to. But seven is also figuratively -- seven represents the full or complete number and hence indicates Revelation is written to the full church. Seven is also used to refer to the Holy Spirit ("seven spirits who are before his throne"). In this sense, seven only has figurative significance. The language of Revelation is symbolic imagery. We need to keep that in mind as we read and listen to the book.
John tells the seven churches, and also to us that we have grace and peace from God. We often forget the magnitude of this news. We deserve God's wrath for our sin, but instead we have grace and are at peace with God. We are freed from our sins through Christ's death which is the basis of our being at peace with God. This is great news!
There is more great news. God the Father reigns from his throne, Jesus has conquered death and being the first born implies we will follow in his steps. Further, Jesus rules the kings of the earth. No matter what we see in the world, Christ is ruling over the kings of the world. Not only that -- we rule also. All who belong to Christ are a kingdom of priests, we are intermediaries between God and the human race. This is a high calling.
God is ruling now. Christ has conquered death. We live in God kingdom as priests. We have been given great grace. As we go on in Revelation we will see how God reigns and how we conquer.