Summary: Jesus' letter to the church at Ephesus
LETTER TO THE LOVELESS CHURCH
Ephesus was the most important seaport in all of Asia Minor; Ephesus was at the hub if the major highway network of Asia Minor; Ephesus was also a religious center. That has long since changed. Where once there was a great, thriving harbor, today there are only deserted ruins and a swampy, mud-filled plain.
The message of the gospel was first preached in Ephesus by a Jewish convert named Apollos. His story is told in the book of Acts.
Read Acts 18:24-26
Apollos had heard the preaching of John the Baptist. He had heard the message that the Messiah was coming and would bring His kingdom. Now he was in Ephesus, preaching this message to the Jewish community which made up a considerable part of the city.
Also in the city were two other Jews named Priscilla and Aquila. They were associates of the Apostle Paul. They had met Paul in Corinth, but then they moved on to Ephesus. They heard Apollos preaching in the synagogue and they took him aside and shared with him how the One of whom John the Baptist proclaimed was Jesus of Nazareth who had died and had risen from the dead.
It was some time after this that Paul came to Ephesus and met several men who, like Apollos, had only heard of the preaching of John the Baptist. Indeed, these may have been some of the earlier converts of Apollos. Paul shared the gospel with them and they also believed.
For the next two years, Paul stayed at Ephesus, preaching and teaching daily; the effect of this ministry was dynamic. New converts had a great idol-burning party that threatened to overturn the economy of the metal workers guild (Acts 19:24-28).
As we come to the book of Revelation, many years have passed. Paul has written a letter to the Ephesians, encouraging them to grow in their faith. The doctrinal foundation he laid is still to be seen in that church as a second letter is now addressed to them. This one is addressed by Jesus.
Read Revelation 2:1
This greeting contains a powerful description of Jesus. He’s pictured in two ways. He’s the one who...
• Holds the seven stars in His right hand.
• Walks among the seven golden lampstands.
Remember from last week what these two things represent: (Rev. 2:20).
The seven stars represent the angels of the seven churches.
The seven lampstands stand for the seven churches to whom these messages are addressed.
There’s a message here. Notice where Jesus is seen. He’s standing among the lamp stands. He hasn’t gone off and forgotten about His churches. He’s personally involved with all of their problems.
This is important for us to know because sometimes we forget that Jesus is in the midst of His churches. Sometimes we think that Jesus was only interested in what happened back then and that He’s lost track of things. That’s not the case. Jesus is still standing in the midst of the lamp stands.
THE LORD KNOWS YOUR DEEDS (Vv. 2-3)
Jesus has some good things to say about this church; they had a good track record:
• They were hard workers.
• They exhibited great perseverance.
• They didn’t didn’t put up with evil.
• They stood against false teachers.
• They had endured persecution.
This was a church that knew doctrine. It was also an active church. They didn’t view Christianity as a spectator sport. Too many people think of Christianity in the same way they think of football — twenty two men who desperately need rest being watched by seventy thousand people who desperately need exercise. Ephesus wasn’t like this. They were the kind of church that most pastors would give their right arm to serve. But there was still a problem…a problem that struck at the very heart of the church:
AN ABANDONED LOVE (Vv. 4-5)
These two verse give us the whole reason this letter was written to the Ephesian church. Do you remember the first time you ever fell in love? It was a time of intensity; possibly a time of innocence. You wanted to spend every single minute with that person who was the object of your love. Everything was new and exciting. But then the newness wore off and maybe the love as well.
Why? What causes this problem for so many? How do we get so wrapped up in life that we lose our first love? It’s not like these believers had never loved Christ in the first place. Several years earlier, Paul had praised them for their reputation of loving Christ.
I think that the problem at Ephesus was that the people began to focus on the teachings about Jesus rather than Jesus Himself. They began to focus on theology instead of the One behind theology.