Revelation 2: the Letter to the Churches
Review: We are looking at the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, written by the Apostle John in AD 95. John the Beloved had been boiled in oil, then exiled to an island named Patmos, a little ways off the coast of Asia Minor.
Our Basis for Study: What does the passage say? What does the passage mean?
How does this truth affect me?
1:19 - breakdown of the book -have seen [vision], is now [7 churches], is to come [ch4+]
Tonight we will look at the “now” - the letter to the churches of John’s day.
Remember, we are taking a futurist view as we look at this book, looking to the messages to the churches in chapters 2 & 3 as having been messages to these actual churches, but having relevance for our church today.
*Did God’s message to the churches come true?
-Of the 7 churches, only 2 are condemned completely: Sardis is dead and Laodicea is rejected. Among the 7 cities today, only two are desolate and uninhabited: Sardis & Laodicea.
-Only 2 churches are praised without any condemnation: Smyrna & Philadelphia. In the many years of fierce fighting between Muslims & Christians that culminated in the Turkish conquest, the last two cities to fall to the Turks, long after the others had surrendered, were Smyrna and Philadelphia.
-One church, Ephesus, was told that it would be moved from its place, and Ephesus is the only city of the seven that has moved its location several miles inland.
These messages were for 7 congregations in John’s day. Yet, if circular letters, the application would have been a warning for all congregations who read the letter. God uses the 7 churches as examples of the result of sins. So also we can apply the same commendations and warnings to our lives today.
EPHESUS: A careless church [a loveless church]
Ephesus was the chief Aegean port of Asia Minor, the gateway to the Orient from Greece and Rome. It became the largest city in the entire region. 200,000 - 300,000 or more people lived there. It was the practical capital of the province of Asia. It was host to the Pan-Ionian games, which rivaled the Olympics of Greece.
Next to its port, the biggest contributor to its wealth was a shrine to Artemis [the goddess Diana]. Pilgrims came from all over the world to worship in the temple and buy images of Artemis and charms reputed to have great powers to heal and work other miracles. I n the temple was a huge statue of Artemis, thought by some to have been carved by a meteorite (Acts 19:35). Prostitution was part of the worship. Diana was a goddess of fertility. The temple also had a rear room that served as a bank.
TEXT: To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
messenger, pastor - the one in charge
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand
God is in control of everything going on in the church
and walks among the seven golden lampstands:
I know your deeds, - they were a serving church
your hard work - a sacrificing church - they “labored till the point of exhaustion”
and your perseverance. - a steadfast church - “endurance under trial”
I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, - a separated church
that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not,
and have found them false. (2 John 7-11)
You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name,
and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.
- You can serve, sacrifice, and suffer, net not love Christ!
- They had works, but they were not motivated by love.
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 - in judgment
and remove your lampstand from its place. - today city is a heap of stones
But you have this in your favor:
You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
-in Pergamum, will be the doctrine: it advanced
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
*this message is for individuals *pay heed! *God intends this message for all
To him who overcomes,
I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
-was in Eden, is now in heaven; offered continual life -heaven
Strengths of the church:
-they were a working church: they had hard work, good deeds, and perseverance
-they were a well-taught church: they uncovered false apostles