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Ephesus -The Seven Churches of Revelation

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The Seven Churches of Revelation

 

A.     The letter to the church in Ephesus (2:1-7).

Rev. 2:1 “To the angel a of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”[1]

1.     The Church (2:1).

2:1. At the time this letter was written, Ephesus was a major city of Asia Minor, a seaport, and the location of the great temple of Artemis (cf. Acts 19:24, 27-28, 34-35), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Paul had visited Ephesus about a.d. 53, about 43 years before this letter in Revelation was sent to them. Paul remained in Ephesus for several years and preached the gospel so effectively “that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).

The church accordingly had a long history and was the most prominent one in the area. The pastor or messenger of the church was addressed as the angel (angelos). The word’s principal use in the Bible is in reference to heavenly angels (William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957, pp. 7-8). But it is also used to refer to human messengers (cf. Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24, 27; 9:52).

Christ was holding seven stars in His right hand and walking among the seven golden lampstands. The “stars” were the angels or messengers of the churches and the “lampstands” were the seven churches (1:20).

2.     The Strong Points (2:2-3).

2:2-3. Christ commended those in the Ephesian church for their hard work . . . perseverance, their condemnation of wicked men, and their identification of false apostles. (False teachers were present in each of the first four churches; cf. vv. 2, 6, 9, 14-15, 20.) In addition they were commended for enduring hardships and not growing weary in serving God. In general this church had continued in its faithful service to God for more than 40 years.

3.     The Rebuke (2:4).

2:4. In spite of the many areas of commendation, the church in Ephesus was soundly rebuked: Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love. The order of words in the Greek is emphatic; the clause could be translated, “Your first love you have left.” Christ used the word agapēn, speaking of the deep kind of love that God has for people. This rebuke contrasts with what Paul wrote the Ephesians 35 years earlier, that he never stopped giving thanks for them because of their faith in Christ and their love (agapēn) for the saints (Eph. 1:15-16). Most of the Ephesian Christians were now second-generation believers, and though they had retained purity of doctrine and life and had maintained a high level of service, they were lacking in deep devotion to Christ. How the church today needs to heed this same warning, that orthodoxy and service are not enough. Christ wants believers’ hearts as well as their hands and heads.

4.     The Exhortation (2:5-6).

2:5-6. The Ephesians were first reminded to remember the height from which you have fallen! They were told to repent and to return to the love they had left.

 

Cross References: (Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; John 14:15, 21, 23; 21:15-16; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:8).

In calling the Ephesian believers to repentance Christ was asking them to change their attitude as well as their affections. They were to continue their service not simply because it was right but because they loved Christ. He warned them that if they did not respond, the light of their witness in Ephesus would be extinguished: I will . . . remove your lampstand from its place. The church continued and was later the scene of a major church council, but after the 5th century both the church and the city declined. The immediate area has been uninhabited since the 14th century.

Mary’s example Luke 10:38-42John 12:1-8

One additional word of commendation was inserted. They were commended because they hated the practices of the Nicolaitans. There has been much speculation concerning the identity of the Nicolaitans, but the Scriptures do not specify who they were. They apparently were a sect wrong in practice and in doctrine

“The Gk. name “Nicolaus” means “to conquer the people.” It refers to the development of a priestly caste (clergy) in the church that throws aside the common believers. While there must be pastoral leadership in the church, there must not be a distinct “clergy” and “laity” in which the former lords it over the latter.[2]

5.     The Promise (2:7).

2:7. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. The tree of life, first mentioned in Genesis 3:22, was in the Garden of Eden. Later it reappears in the New Jerusalem where it bears abundant fruit (Rev. 22:2). Those who eat of it will never die (Gen. 3:22). This promise should not be construed as reward for only a special group of Christians but a normal expectation for all Christians. “The paradise of God” is probably a name for heaven (cf. Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4—the only other NT references to paradise). Apparently it will be identified with the New Jerusalem in the eternal state.[3]


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 a Or messenger; also in verses 8, 12 and 18

[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids

cf. confer, compare

pp. pages

vv. verses

[2]Wiersbe, W. W. 1997, c1992. Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament. Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.

NT New Testament

[3]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

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