Sean Harrison from the NLT Study Bible blog wrote a quick comment to my post concerning the NLT study notes on the seven churches of Asia. He wrote:
The NLTSB note is not intended to spiritualize the individual churches, as the notes on the individual churches’ letters show — each church’s letter addresses that church with reference to some aspect of that church’s historical setting. The NLTSB note is simply making the somewhat basic point that we should not conclude that these were the only churches in the region. The NIV Study Bible note aptly states the point.
I am glad that Mr. Harrison was willing to clear this up. If spiritualizing the churches of Asia was not the intention, I think the phrase “these seven churches represent the entire group” needs to be tweaked. This phrase sounds like the seven churches of Asia are representative of all local church (in Asia, or in the world). Maybe it would be better to say something to the effect that the letter was likely sent to all the churches of Asia, not just the seven named. Anyway, just wanted everyone to see that it was not the intention of the NLTSB to spiritualize the seven churches of Asia. The ESV Study Bible does spiritualize the seven churches to represent all churches.