My apologies for the slight delay between the last installment in the “Journey through Revelation” and this one. My husband had 2 friends die this week and a client who was only 29. This life is but a vapor friends – and it’s why I write about the hope we have beyond this world…
Today we will be in Revelation Chapter 2. Jesus is advising John what he should write to the seven churches. He’s starting with the church in Ephesus as we read Revelation Chapter 2 vs. 1-7:
“Write this letter to the messenger of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! (You have lost your first love). Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.
Anyone with ears to hear but listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor, a center of land and sea trade, and, along with Alexandria and Antioch in Syria, one of the three most influential cities in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. The temple to Artemis, one of the ancient wonders of the world, was located in this city, and a major industry was the manufacture of images of this goddess. John warned of false teachers coming to try and draw them away from their faith. False teachers did cause problems in the Ephesian church, but the church resisted them.
The one who walks among the 7 lampstands (the 7 churches) is Jesus. He holds the seven messengers in his right hand. This is indicating his power and authority over the churches and their leaders. Ephesus had become a large, proud church and Jesus would remind them that he alone is the head of the body of believers. This is something we have to be careful of today. We need to follow Jesus and not the man behind a pulpit.
God cares about your church just as he did these seven churches. He wants it to reach its greatest potential. The group of believers with who you worship and serve is God’s vehicle for changing the world. Take it seriously – God does.
Over a long period of time, the church in Ephesus had steadfastly refused to tolerate sin among it’s members. This was not easy in a city noted for immoral sexual practices associated with the worship of goddess Artemis. We also are living in times of widespread sin and sexual immorality. It is popular to be open-minded toward many types of sin, calling them “personal choices”. But when the body of believers begins to tolerate sin in the church, it is lowering the standards and compromising the churches witness. Use Gods’ word to set the standard.
Christ commended the church at Ephesus for (1) Working hard (2) Patiently enduring (3) not tolerating evil people (4) critically examining the claim of false prophets (5) suffering without quitting. Every church should have these characteristics. But these good efforts should spring from our LOVE for Jesus Christ. Both Jesus and John stressed love for one another as an authentic proof of the Good News. In the battle to maintain sound teaching and moral and doctrinal purity, it is possible to lose a charitable spirit. Prolonged conflict can weaken or destroy our patience and affection. In defending the faith, guard against any rigidity that weakens love. We must stand against sin – but love the sinner.
Paul had once commended this church at Ephesus for it’s love for God and others. But many of the church founders had died, and many of the second-generation believers had lost their zeal for God. They were a busy church – the members did much to benefit themselves and the community – but they were acting out of the wrong motives. Work for God must be motived by love for God or it will not last.
Just as when a man and woman fall in love, so also new believers rejoice at their newfound forgiveness. But when we lose sight of the seriousness of sin, we begin to lose the thrill of our forgiveness. In the first steps of your Christian life, you may have had enthusiasm without knowledge. Do you now have knowledge without enthusiasm? Both are necessary if we are to keep love for God intense and untarnished. Do you love God with the same intensity you did when you first became a Christian?
**Commentary taken from the Life Application Study Bible