The Seven Churches of Apostle Paul

Question?   -   Newsletter   -   New!
Life of Apostle Paul Series
An Apostle?   -   How Long in Prison?
Roman Citizen?   -   Paul's Churches   -   Maps
Paul's Relatives  -  Writings  -  Miracles  -  More!
What are the seven churches of the Apostle Paul? Which of them were and were not started by him? When did he evangelize them? Which two cities did he write to that he had never visited? What is Paul's link to Revelation's seven churches (Revelation 2 - 3)?

Distinct Groups

The seven churches of Apostle Paul are seven distinct sets of Gentile converts to Christianity he wrote to in the first century A.D. These assemblies, composed of home fellowships, were located in the cities of Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi, Colosse, Ephesus and the Roman Province of Galatia.

Nine out of the Apostle Paul's fourteen New Testament writings, or 64%, are dedicated to his seven churches. Four of his other books are letters to individuals (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon) while a fifth is written to converted Hebrews.

Symbolic Number

The number seven symbolizes completeness and perfection in the Bible. Paul's seven churches represents the perfect fulfillment of his calling to preach the gospel to the world as the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13, also see our article on "What Was Paul's Commission?").

The Apostle Paul by Correggio
The Apostle Paul
Correggio, 1520 - 24

Number seven also manifests itself in another unique way related to the apostle's ministry. Paul was converted and began preaching the gospel in 33 A.D. His amazing ministry lasted for 35 years until his martyrdom in Rome in 68 A.D. 35 is 7 (symbolizing perfection) times 5 (representing God's grace or favor). His calling and ministry, therefore, was a perfect or complete act of grace, a fact which the apostle was well aware of (Galatians 1:15 - 16, 1Timothy 1:12 - 16).

The Seven Churches

Books: 1 and 2 Thessalonians
Dates Written: 50 and 51 A.D.

Thessalonica was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. The Apostle Paul evangelized the city during his second (49 to 52 A.D.) and third (53 to 58 A.D.) missionary journeys and started its church.

The books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, written from Corinth, are the chronologically first two writings by the apostle that were included in the New Testament.

The Christians in Thessalonica were known far and wide for their zeal and faith (1Thess. 1:8) even though they were not initially good students of the Bible (Acts 17:11).

Thessalonica is the only city in Paul's seven churches where he mentions that Satan the Devil had prohibited him from returning to them sooner.

For this reason we sought to come to you, even I, Paul, both once and twice; but Satan hindered us. (1Thess. 2:18).

Book: Galatians
Date Written: Early 53 A.D.

The Galatia region, the second set of seven churches, was one of the four Roman provinces the Apostle Paul dedicated the most evangelistic time during his long ministry. The others were Asia, Achaia and Macedonia.

Galatia is the only province-wide epistle Paul wrote. The apostle started Christian groups in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe and possibly others. He visited the province during his first, second and third missionary journeys.

The book of Galatians was written in Syrian Antioch and may have been the only one of the apostle's fourteen epistles written by his own hand (Galatians 6:11). Most, if not all, of his other books were written by others as he dictated to them (see 1Corinthians 16:24 and Philippians 4:23 in the KJV, Romans 16:22, etc.).

Paul, in Galatians, reveals more about his early Christian life than any other of his writings (Galatians 1:13 - 2:14).

Lystra was the city where Paul met a young man named Timothy. Taught the Scriptures when he was a child (2Timothy 3:14 - 15), Timothy would become an evangelist and Paul's greatest friend (Acts 16:1 - 3).

Books: 1 and 2 Corinthians
Dates Written: 56 and 57 A.D.

Corinth was the administrative center of the Roman province of Achaia. In the first century A.D. it was known for its large retirement community (Bible Lands, pg. 239).

Paul evangelized Corinth during his second and third missionary journeys and started its Christian church.

The apostle, prior to writing 1Corinthians, had written a letter to the young church at Corinth. This letter, unfortunately, is lost to history (1Corinthians 5:9).

Interestingly, the phrase "the third heaven" is found only once in Scripture. It is located in 2Corinthians 12.

I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago, was caught up to the third heaven. (Whether this man was in the body, I do not know; or out of the body, I do not know - God knows.) (2Corinthians 12:2, HBFV).

Book: Romans
Date Written: Winter of 57 A.D.

Apostle Paul knew as least 35 different people in Rome, some of which were his relatives (see our article on Apostle Paul's Roman Relatives).

Paul wrote Romans, his fourth set of seven churches, even though he hadn't yet visited the city (Romans 1:9 - 11)! He would, however, visit Rome when four years later he is forced to do so as a Roman prisoner.

Paul's letter is delivered by a woman named Phoebe who had business to attend to in Rome (Romans 16:1 - 2).

The first church building in Rome built by Roman Emperor Constantine, in 324 A.D., was constructed over what was believed to be the tomb of the Apostle Paul (Bible Lands, pg. 254).

Book: Ephesians
Date Written: 61 to 63 A.D.

The Apostle Paul established a church in Ephesus when he evangelized it during his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 19). He wrote the book of Ephesians during his two-year imprisonment in Rome.

The church at Ephesus had more Biblically well-known ministers (Paul, Apollos, John and Timothy) than any other.

The New Testament hints at the possibility that during Paul's 3+ year stay at Ephesus that he may have started other churches in the region (Acts 19:10).

Book: Philippians
Date Written: 61 to 63 A.D.

Paul evangelized the city during his second and third missionary journeys and started its Christian church. His letter to Philippi was delivered by a man named Epaphroditus.

Philippi, the sixth set of seven churches, is the first place on European soil where Apostle Paul preached the gospel (Acts 16:12 - 15).

Book: Colossians
Date Written: 61 to 63 A.D.

The seventh of Paul's seven churches was, surprisingly, not started by him. It was likely begun by either Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) or Timothy (1:1).

Another interesting aspect of Colossians is that Paul wrote this book without ever setting foot in Colosse!

Now I want you to understand what great concern I have for you, and for those in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in the flesh (Colossians 2:1, HBFV).

Link to Revelation's Churches

Paul wrote to seven sets of Christians which foreshadowed the seven churches in Asia Minor who would receive a spiritual evaluation from Christ (Revelation 2 - 3).

The apostle, as stated previously, started the church at Ephesus. The believers in this ancient metropolis would become the first ones whose faith was judged by Jesus (Revelation 2:1 - 7).

Ephesus is the only New Testament city (not region, see 1Peter 1:1) where the fellowships within in received a letter from more than one Biblical writer (Apostles Paul and John).

Paul's letter to believers in Colosse instructed them to also read his epistle in Laodicea, the last of Revelation's seven churches.

After you have read the epistle, see that it also is read in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you also read the one from Laodicea. (Colossians 4:16, HBFV).

There is no record, however, that Apostle Paul ever visited Laodicea (see Colossians 2:1).

Recommended Articles
Why Did Paul Circumcise Timothy?
Map of All Cities Visited by Paul!
Biblical Meaning of the Number Seven
What Are the Seven Heavens?
Map of Revelation's Seven Churches
Map of Paul's Greatest Missionary Success!
Were Paul and Timothy Good Friends?
What Is God's Grace?

The Apostle Paul
The Unknown Churches of Paul!
Was Paul Ever Married?
Was He a Sanhedrin Member?
Paul's First Miracle Milestones
Paul's Arrests    -    Paradoxes of Paul
What Was Paul's Commission?
Is He in Heaven?    -    How Did He Die?
Top Seven Places Paul Visited
Who Did Paul Curse?   -   Paul vs. Stupidity
Miracles Experienced by Paul
Biblical People Connected to Paul
Did Paul Write the Book of Hebrews?
What Were Paul's Miracles?
Basic Bible Study on Paul