The prophetic significance of the church

The seven churches described in Revelation
The seven churches described in Revelation 2-3 are seven literal churches at the time that John the apostle was writing Revelation (A.D. 95). Though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today.
The first purpose of the letter(s) was to communicate with the literal churches and meet their needs at that time.
The second purpose is to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God’s truth.
A possible third purpose is to use the seven churches to foreshadow seven different periods (dispensations) in the history of the Church. The problem with this view is that each of the seven churches describes issues that could fit the Church in any time in its history. I personally am a dispensationalist, and believe that we can at least distinguish a period sequence as we compare this part of Scripture with the history of the church in the last 2,000 years.

The seven churches in Revelation listed
In Revelation 1, John the apostle sees the glorified Christ in a vision. Jesus is standing among seven golden lampstands. In His hand, Jesus holds seven stars (Revelation 1:13, 16). In verse 20 Jesus explains, “The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” 
  1. Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) - the church would be a lively church but would forsaken its first love (2:4).
  2. Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) - the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).
  3. Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) - the church that would need to repent (2:16).
  4. Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) - the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).
  5. Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) - the church that would think it's alive but was spiritually dead, fallen asleep (3:2).
  6. Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) - the small church that would endure patiently, keeps the Word and follows the Lord, and has a desire to share the Gospel (3:10).
  7. Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) - the church with lukewarm faith (situated far from a hot water source), democratic administered, would think it's rich but is poor, naked, and blind (3:16).

The seven churches as we see them displayed in the past 2,000 years
  1. Ephesus, lively large church
  2. Smyrna, much persecution
  3. Pergamum (320 AD) state church of Rome, Constantin became Christian, Augustinus (church is the people of Israel)
  4. Thyiatira, Isebel, papecy (6th Century), impurity, hemelkoningin/spiritual whoredom
  5. Sardis, church thinks is alive, but is dead, then Luther/Calvin reformation 1517,
  6. Philadelphia, much influence, powerful, beginning 1900-s, worldwide great revivals, thousands of missionaries were sent, expected the second coming of Jesus
  7. Laodicea, Glamor in mega-churches. Jesus is not in the church, stands outside (3:20). Pseudo-Christendom (spirituality).

The coming of Jesus is near.
Theo Niemeijer (sermon in Dutch)