Summary: As we read the mail to the church of Ephesus, we can learn truth about Jesus, about churches, and about ourselves.
Revelation 2:1-7 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
Intro: How many of you enjoy receiving letters in the mail? Not junk mail or bills or notifications, but real letters from a real person. Real communication. Most of us probably enjoy that kind of letter, even though very few of us take the time to write these kind of letters anymore.
Revelation 1:10-11 10 On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."
-The first church Jesus wrote to was in Ephesus. Ephesus was the greatest of the cities in Asia, even though Pergamum was the capital of the region. It was a great commercial center and a great port city. It shipped many tons of produce in and out of Asia.
-Ephesus was also a great religious center with the famous temple of the Roman God Artemis located there. Artemis was also known as Diana and was the goddess of love and fertility. The temple of Artemis was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world up along the pyramids and the hanging gardens of Babylon. Religion and magic were rampant in Ephesus and magic was popular there.
-Paul spent 2 years there establishing the church with Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos and Timothy spent time there as did John in his old age until he was exiled to Patmos.
-As we look at the 1st 7 verses of ch.2 which were addressed to the angel or messenger of the church of Ephesus, we can learn some things about Jesus, about churches, and about ourselves. That is how we’ll attempt to unpack these verses today. [Read verses]
What does this say about Jesus?
1. Jesus has ultimate authority over His churches – evidenced by holding its angels/msgrs in His hand (Look at Rev. 1:12-20 for a look at Jesus as Lord)
2. Jesus is walking/moving among His churches
3. Jesus knows all about His church, good and bad
4. Jesus will not tolerate lack of love in His family (Godward and manward)
5. Jesus commands His church to repent and love again
6. Jesus wants His church to be pure
7. Jesus wants His people to listen to the Holy Spirit
8. Jesus is all about giving life
What does this say about churches and believers?
1. Churches may be doing some things well (hard work, endurance, doctrinal purity)
2. Churches can sometimes stop up the flow of love to God and others. (This may come from fighting hard against false teaching. It may come from having been taken advantage of by ppl when trying to help the needy. It may come from spiritual drift – getting away from time with God, seeking Him, and becoming more like Him.)
3. Churches need to repent of their corporate failure or suffer removal from God’s favor
4. Churches should be concerned about holy living
5. People need to listen to what God is saying to each of the churches
What does this letter say to us?
1. Keep up the good work! Way to go!
2. Without love, we are nothing!
[Play clip from Fiddler]
Our greatest strengths can often be our greatest weaknesses also and for the Ephesians, they had got so busy that work and protecting the faith had replaced love.
“Do you love me?” Christ was asking.
“Yes we rooted out all those who teach heresy - of course we love you!”
“True. But do you love Me?”
“We fearlessly proclaim your word in spite of persecution”