Summary: In our text today we have the first of seven letters from Jesus to a church. By studying these letters we can learn to look at a church the same way that God looks at a church.
Ephesus: Laboring Without Love
Purpose: To discover God’s priorities for the church.
Aim: I want the listener to rekindle a fervent love for Christ.
INTRODUCTION: The abilities that world class athletes can demonstrate never ceases to astound me. I remember watching some of the gymnastic events at the Olympics. Sometimes I would watch a gymnast go through his routine and think that it was flawless only to hear the commentator say something like, “Oh, that’s too bad, that will be a big deduction.” I’m thinking, “Deduction for what? That was incredible.” The difference, of course, is that I don’t have a trained eye to discern what the judges are really looking for. It may look great to me, but that doesn’t get them a gold medal.
We must be careful that we don’t make the same mistake when we look at a church. If we aren’t careful, we could look at a church and say, “That is a wonderful church” at the same time that God is looking at the same church and saying, “That church needs to repent.”
In our text today we have the first of seven letters from Jesus to a church. By studying these letters we can learn to look at a church the same way that God looks at a church.
1:1-20 I. John’s Vision of the Past “the things which you have seen”
➽2:1-5:14 II. Christ’s Vision of the Present “the things which are”
➽2:1-3:22 A. The testimony of the church on earth
➽Vs.1-7 1. Ephesus: the loveless church
Ephesus. It was an inland city 3 mi. from the sea, but the broad mouth of the Cayster River allowed access and provided the greatest harbor in Asia Minor. Four great trade roads went through Ephesus; therefore, it became known as the gateway to Asia. It was the center of the worship of Artemis (Greek), or Diana (Roman) [she was idolized with a multi-breasted statue as a goddess of sex and fertility], whose temple was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Paul ministered there for 3 years (Acts 20:31), and later met with the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 20). Timothy, Tychicus, and the Apostle John all served this church. John was in Ephesus when he was arrested by Domitian and exiled 50 mi. SW to Patmos. [MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (Re 2:1). Nashville: Word Pub.] Tradition says that Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived in Ephesus and was buried there.
“It was a pagan city with idolatry and immorality dominating its religious social life…. The uncovered archaeological ruins of ancient Ephesus are amazing to behold. One of the first things to strike the tourist is the size of the city. This was no small village, but a major metropolitan area with perhaps as many as 500,000 inhabitants. The Roman amphitheater seats 25,000 people with an acoustical design that eliminates the need for microphones. One can imagine it crowded with people shouting ‘Great is Artemis (Diana) of the Ephesians’ as Acts 19 records. Much of the city remains underground… waiting for archaeologists to uncover it..” [“The Coming World Leader” by David Hocking p.43]