Summary: The first century believers faced stiff opposition from political authorities determined to stop the spread of their message. Despite the increasingly harsh treatment, they were able to go a long way in fulfilling the Lord’s mandate to take the gospel to
THE REVELATION OF JESUS part 3
EPHESUS THE GREAT
The first century believers faced stiff opposition from political authorities determined to stop the spread of their message. Despite the increasingly harsh treatment, they were able to go a long way in fulfilling the Lord’s mandate to take the gospel to the end of the earth Acts 1:8.
Within three decades (30 years) they had won converts throughout the Roman Empire, including the capital of Rome itself.
One of the reasons the church was so successful was the emphasis on reaching cities. Ephesus, which we’ll look at tonight, is an example were Christian leaders influenced strategic groups of workers who not only turned the city upside down with their faith, but took the gospel inland so that all (Luke records) who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord Acts 19:10b.
Most likely, the seven churches address by our Lord in Revelation were established through the work begun at Ephesus
As I mentioned before, John is writing to seven specific churches, but Revelation is an open letter to all Christians, especially us today.
Jesus told John (1:19) to write what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.
I believe that Chapter one is what you have seen.
Chapters 2 and 3 is what is now
and from Chapter 4 on is what will take place later.
Let’s look at the churches.
Jesus dictated brief “love letters” to John for each of the seven congregations. Our Lord created a letter-writing-formula that in not found anywhere else in scripture. It’s as follows: (check handout)
1. a characteristic of the sender
2. a compliment to the recipients
3. a criticism against the recipients
4. a command to the recipients
5. a commitment to all who overcome
EPHESUS THE GREAT 2:1-7
By the time of John’s writing Ephesus had been an important seaport city for over one thousand years. It had been ruled by both the Persians and the Greeks before coming under Roman rule in 133 B.C. In the first century, Ephesus was the most important commercial center of the Roman province of Asia, the financial capital with over 200,000 residents. By the A.D. 300’s, its harbor had been silted up from the flow of the Cayster River. Today the site is an uninhabited ruin several miles inland.
During John’s time though, Ephesus was the city! It boasted of it’s finely sculptured temples to rival deities. The most magnificent of all was the temple to Artemis, (KJV translates Diana) the local fertility goddess.
Archaeologists have uncovered its ruins. Over 400 feet long by 200 feet wide, supported by 127 columns some 60 feet tall. It was one of the largest buildings in the world, deserving its reputation as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
A large Jewish population thrived in Ephesus and Christianity was fully established with the two year ministry of Paul (Acts 19). The Gospel was so successful that devotion to the cult of Artemis was threatened, causing a riot. It was from Ephesus that the message of Christ spread throughout the province.
According to Christian tradition, (Irenaeus and Eusebius) the aged apostle John used Ephesus as his headquarters. It is most likely that his three epistles were written here.
vs 1 Characteristic
Who is the angel? For our study I believe the angel to be the pastor of the local congregation.
The characteristic will always be something referring back to the vision of Jesus in Chapter one.
Jesus holds the seven stars....and walks among the seven golden lampstands
In chapter 1 Jesus is simply among the lampstands (churches), now he is walking among them, observing their deeds and their motives. Because he has been observing them, he can both compliment and criticize.
vs 2-3 Compliment
This section in each of the letters begins with I Know. Jesus knows the facts about each congregation and each Christian.
The believers at Ephesus were always busy, for they received a triple commendation: deeds... hard work and... perseverance. Forty years after it’s inception, the Ephesian church was still working hard.
One of the “deeds” they had done was to expel the evildoers from their church, and they had tested and rejected some false apostles. We don’t know who they were. They could possibly have come from a sect called Nicolaitans that flourished in both Ephesus and Pergamum.
* Note * 1 John 4:1-3 describes the test for discerning false prophets.
Verse 3 explains the perseverance of this church. The Ephesians had endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. From the earliest days, these believers had put up with hostility from those who worshiped other gods. They had been vigilant over the years in all the persecutions that came their way.