An interesting note from Chilton's commentary, Days of Vengeance.
The seven churches (though quite real) can be seen to represent seven ages of Old Testament Church history.
1). Ephesus: Christ introduces himself as the Creator, the "angel" is commended for guarding the church from her enemies, and note the Edenic language at the end (tree of life...). Also, "the one who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands" is reminiscent of "walking in the garden," which in itself implies imminent judgment.
2). Smyrna: "tribulation ten days" takes us back to Egypt's ten plagues; "Who was dead, and has come to life" reflects Isaac (Gen. 22:1-4) and Joseph (Gen.37:18-16). False Jews correspond with Ishmael, imprisonment via slander is Joseph, and Aaron had a "crown of life."
3). For the skeptics, Pergamos is explicit. If dwelling "where Satan's house is" does not bring to mind the wilderness temptation of Christ (corresponding to the wilderness wandering of Israel: forty days=forty years, grumbling about food=fasting, etc), then the reference to Baalam and Balak should do it. Christ comes as our hero Phineas, and the overcomers are promised "hidden manna" (from the ark, see also Heb. 9:4).
4). Thyatira corresponds to to the Israelite monarchy and Davidic covenant. The "angel's" tolerance of Jezebel who leads God's people into sexual immorality (idolatry), that she and her offspring will be killed, and verse 27 corresponding to David.
5). Sardis would be the later prophetic period: reputation for life when it is actually dead, "wake up" and "strengthen the things that remain," and the "few people" who remained faithful.
6). Philadelphia is Ezra and Nehemiah, having "a little power," the Synagogue of Satan..." corresponds to "false Jews" in Ezra 4 and Nehemiah 4, 6, and 13 (please take a short chronology with Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah), the hour of testing recalls Antiochus Epiphanes (aka, Epimanes, the mad, sacrificed a pig on the altar, declared himself to be god), and he who overcomes will become a pillar in the house of God (rebuilding of the temple).
7). Laodicea is AD 30-70. The pharisaical judaism, the curse of Lev. 18:24-28, and the dominion with Christ granted to the true church.