Summary: Lessons from the church of Ephesus. Power Point, sermon notes, and video clips are available upon request.
We’re just beginning our study of Revelation. AS the book opens is around the year 95 AD. John the last of the original 12 disciple alive is an old man has been pastoring the church at Ephesus.
Also during this time Domitian is the emperor of the Roman Empire. He was the first Emperor of Rome who demands to be worshipped as a god. It’s in Ephesus that a (TAB) large temple complex is built and dedicated to Domitian. It had 2 gymnasiums – which were used for study and philosophical discussion. Now it’s interesting because each floor of this complex had these (TAB) columns, several floors then on top was an platform, a temple to worship Domitian’s and a huge statue of him. But notice, that the columns that held up the structure each had heads of Greek gods. So Domitians statue was literally being held up by the Greek gods. He was above them all.
As I said, his statue was huge. (TAB) it’s estimated to be approx. 27 feet high. And it’s positioned so that whether you came by land or sea… you’d see this statue of the great Domitian. It’s as if it’s declaring “I’m not king of kings, I’m god of gods”.
But he’s only one of many gods worshipped in this city. There’s Artemis, all the Greek gods. But because Domitian is the living, ruling Ceasar there is a special connection. He could visit them, and did. Ephesus was the center for Domitian worship. So at various places along the streets were small alters for him…. Were people were to stop and acknowledge him as god. In fact, this was enforce – those who refused could be punished.
(TAB) THIS…. is the city where the church of Ephesus is located. The church that John is pastoring. And many believe that because John only worshiped the one true God of the Bible, he was exiled to Patoms.
While at Patmos, John receives a vision from Jesus in all His glory. He tells him to write letters to 7 churches in the region. The first letter is to the church in Ephesus.
If you haven’t already, please turn with me to (TAB) Rev. 2:1. These are Jesus words. And he commands John (Read v.1)
Remember in the last chapter v. 20 Jesus tells us that the 7 lampstands are 7 different churches. And we see here that Jesus is walking in the midst of them. He knows them, He cares for their situations, their successes and their failures. And Jesus knows what’s going on with His church today. He knows what’s going on with the people who make up First Baptist Church. He knows what’s going on with you. And He’s commissioned His church all over the world, to share the life saving message of the gospel to a lost and dying world. The fact that He’s walking amidst them shows that he not only knows and cares but He takes the business of His church seriously! Let me ask you – do you take the business of the church seriously? That we (you and I) are to be and share light, to take a message of hope and life into a dark and dying world? Oh, He wants us to take it seriously. It’s the only hope in this world.
Let’s look at verse (TAB) 2-3 (read)
Jesus shares (TAB) commendations with them. In fact, we’ll see that He shares commendations with all 7 of the churches.
1st (TAB) we see that they’re a hard working church, diligent at all they do.
2. (TAB) they are a persevering church – they live in a city with rampant idolatry, street alters to worship the Caesar, with the risk of consequences if they don’t – and they persevere still.
3rd (TAB) they are devoted doctrinally. V. 2 says there are those who “said” they were apostles, but the church didn’t just open their arms and welcome them… NO! They tested them to make sure their teaching was sound… and when it wasn’t they refused to tolerate them.
4th (TAB) They’re a church that resists and even hates sin. Jump down to v. 6 (Read v.6)
The Nicolaitans were supposed “believers in Jesus” who compromised their faith in order to enjoy sinful practices of the day. Clement of Alexandria, a theologian of the 2nd century said this of the Nicolaitan, (TAB) “They abandoned themselves to pleasure like goats, leading a life of self indulgence.” They were a sect in the region who practiced impure acts. So much so that Jesus said (TAB verse) He hated their practices. The word “hate” is strong language – especially from Jesus… but notice he didn’t hate “the people”… He hates their practices.
So, the church of Ephesus, is harding working, diligent, they have a tireless perseverance EVEN in the face of hardship and persecution, they are devoted doctrinally, they resist and hate sin.