Summary: Christian love should be the foundation of everything we do for God.
FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN
Today I would like for us to open our Bibles to Revelation to study the letters of Christ to the seven churches in Asia Minor. As a way of introduction, note the following:
SOURCE: Revelation is of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. (1.1)
PROMISE: Blessed is the one who will read and take it to heart the message of this letter. (1.3)
WRITER: John wrote this letter to the seven churches in the province of Asia. (1.4)
READERS: Seven churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. (1.11)
PURPOSE: To encourage these churches during a difficult time of persecution and to what they can put their faith on as they wait for the Second Coming of Christ.
ILLUSTRATION Whenever I have a chance to visit a different city, I always see to it that I attend a different church than ours to learn from them. In deciding which one to visit I consider the following criteria: Building, Denomination, and Location.
I have learned that building and location are deceiving in terms of the vibrancy of the church. Conservative denomination is not always a guarantee of the soundness of theology. In short, it is not easy to examine and evaluate the ministry of the church.
Only the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, can accurately inspect each church and know its true condition, because He sees both the internals and externals of a church.
In our study of these letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor (Turkey), the Lord gave us an “X ray” of its condition. Conditions that are not just true of their situation but also illustrate the spiritual conditions of the churches today.
It is my prayer that we will benefit from these churches as we examine these letters sent by the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us read the first letter to Ephesus, Revelation 2:1-7.
BIG IDEA: Christians should always be motivated by love in everything they do in the name of Christ.
CITY OF EPHESUS
1. Ephesus was the largest and most important city in the Roman province of Asia with a population of approximately 250,000. About ¼ the population of Jacksonville today.
2. The city was devoted to the cult of Artemis and had a temple to the goddess that was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. (Acts 19:24, 27-28, 34-35)
3. It also had geographical priority since it was the best port of entry into that part of Asia Minor (e.g., Roman governors going to other regions in the area would embark there).
CHURCH OF EPHESUS
1. Paul had visited Ephesus about A.D. 53. He 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).
2. This large city was thoroughly stirred by Paul’s message (Acts 19:11-41), with the result that the silversmiths created a riot because their business of making shrines of Artemis was threatened.
3. The Ephesians had enjoyed known leadership like Paul, Timothy, and the Apostle John himself. The church in Ephesus had been established by Paul, who continued to minister there three years after its founding (Acts 20:31).
Angel of the church – can also be translated messenger. Some view this as the angel that represent the church in the heavenlies or the leader or pastor the church.
The one who holds the 7 stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lamp stands – refers to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ (see 1.12-18) The letter contains three main parts:
A. COMPLIMENTS (Revelation 2:2-3, 6)
Christ said “I know” which means he is aware or it has come to His attention.
a. YOUR DEEDS – refers the manner of life, the behavior of these people: Jesus was actually saying, “I know the life that you have lived”
b. HARD WORK/TOIL (NASB) – it refers to their persistent and painful struggles to maintain their Christian profession. “I know that you have had a difficult time in following Christ as you should.” It does not refer to their profession or job.
c. PERSEVERANCE – refers to the endurance of suffering and persecution that Christians were experiencing, and were to experience in the future.
d. INTOLERANT OF EVIL – they did not tolerate wicked men in the fellowship and carefully examined the visiting ministers to see if they were genuine. (2 John 7-11) They listened to Paul’s warning in Acts 20:28-31.
e. HAVE NOT GROWN WEARY – meaning they had not given up; they had not renounced their faith. Their hearts have always remained strong as they followed the Lord.