Revelation Bible Study
To the Church at Ephesus
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stand: I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil, And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My; name’s sake and have not become weary, Nethertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place- unless you repent. But this you have that you hate the deeds of the Nicolations, which I also hate.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.
The apostle Paul preached and Ephesus from AD52 to AD55 (Acts 19:1-41, Acts 20:31). During his ministry the whole town was shaken and a cult books were burned.
Paul was arrested five years later in Rome and wrote a letter to the Ephesian church from prison in AD61.
Ephesians 1:17-18 : Paul prays the Ephesian church will no Christ in the fullest sense.
Other pastors ministered there also:
Onesiphorus 2 Timothy 1:18
Tychicus Ephehesians 6:21, 2 Timothy 4:12
Timothy - Paul left Timothy in Ephesus only pass through trip 1 Timothy 1:3
Christ sent his letter to the churches including Ephesus about six years after Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians.
Normally we measure churches by:
Attractiveness of facilities
Liberal or conservative theology
But God has other criteria for measuring churches.
John 13:35 by this all men shall know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
1/8 of the book of Revelation is taken up with the letters to the churches which means these letters are both revelant and important today.
One must understand the format in which Jesus writes to the churches.
1. To each church he introduces himself in a way that addresses their need or problem.
2. After His Introduction comes the review of the church and its ministry - a diagnosis.
3. In each review there is good news and bad news.
4. Jesus always gives instructions on how they are to conduct themselves according to their circumstances.
5. There is a kingdom promise to each church for him during or overcoming their problems.
Jesus salutes the church at Ephesus as: “He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven Golden candlesticks.
We know from Revelation 1:20 the seven stars ARE THE Angels (Pastors) of the seven churches and the lamp stands are the seven churches.
This is a prelude to his identification of their shortcomings, however, the initial report sounds good on the surface.
1. Ephesus is a dynamic church - Jesus says he knows their works.
They are a busy church with lots of work going on.-Remember, we are not saved by works.
2. Ephesus is an energized church-a missionary church that was instrumental in spreading the gospel throughout Asia.
3. Ephesus was a dedicated church. Jesus said “I know thy works and labor” . these people held jobs, raised families and Them together, and labored to exhaustion in the work of the church. 2 Samuel 24:24 ; the Saints were blessed because they were willing to sacrifice..
4. Ephesus was a determined church: Jesus said “I know that patience”.
Patient’s occurs twice in this letter. In verse two regarding service and in first three regarding suffering.
The patients reflected in first two is enduring while maintaining forth motion.
If you study this church in the book of acts you will find they had opposition. They were hated for the sake of the gospel. Trade unions tried to drive them out. It’s hard to keep going when severe pressure is applied. This church got better under pressure.
5. Ephesus was a disciplined church. Jesus said “How thou canst bear them which are evil”. They were not patient with evil men. They would not tolerate people calling themselves Christians and conducting themselves as unbelievers. A church that does not practice discipline cannot be blessed by God for he is a God of order.
6. Ephesus was a discerning church. Jesus said “Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars.” Ephesus cared about the purity of doctrine in its pulpit. They saw the truth of God’s word.
In that day many were claiming to be apostles and were not. Many claim apostolic succession, that is, an original apostle had laid hands owned them transferring the apostolic power to them. This church determined they were liars. This claim of transferred apostolic power continues today and is just as false today as it was in that day. We must be as diligent as the church of Ephesus in our discernment. Perhaps Ephesus discernment was aided by the fact that John, a real apostle, had pastured this church.
Verse six is a little harder to understand. Jesus applauded their dislike of the deeds of the Nicolations which God also hated. Nicolations is a compound Greek word.
Nico - means to conqueror.
Lations - means the general church population.
So the compound word meant “To Conqueror the Laity.”
This is the first evidence of the division between church leaders and clergy. Later when we study the churches st Thyatira and Pergamos we will find this system in full Bloom with bishops and archbishops and other religious dignitaries dominating the people and controlling the congregation.
The more you study church history the more you will realize how much paganism has infiltrated the church.
The Nicolations taught there were classes of people. Nicholas was a deacon in the church at Antioch and he founded the whole sect which was dominated by impurity and immorality.
The church at Pergamos had the same problem.
The Ephesian church had taken a stand of opposition against the deeds of the Nicolations..
Jesus took this same stand.
An early church writer, Clement, spoke of the Nicolations saying “They a abandoned themselves like goats.”
The Nicolations supposed they could do what ever their flash wanted and because they were Christians, they were forgiven.
They were not!
Rev 2:4 “nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee” - “you have left your first love”
Remember - Jesus has eyes that pierced the flesh and look straight into the heart. He tells the Ephesian church - you look good on the outside, but you have a heart problem!
What is first love?
First love spoken of by Jesus is that which is characterized by brand new believers who have just met Jesus.
Openly displayed love
New converts just love Jesus and don’t care who knows it.
Jesus is telling them your first love is Gone from our relationship and from your relationship with each other and with new people coming into the church.
They left this first love and Jesus admonishes them to find their way back to it. “or else”
Jesus has the prescription-
1. Remember from where you fell.
2. Repent: turnaround-go the opposite direction. Find your way back to the point where you worked but calls you love me.
3: Repeat: love is the most important factor of any church.
Love of God
Love of each other
Feelings follow actions - actions do not follow feelings. Just do it and trust God will give you the feelings.
Remember, repent and repeat.
A great prescription.
Jesus gave them an ultimatum “or else” …. I will take your light away.
Your testimony will die
Your witness will end
Your influence will end
ICOBOD - The Spirit of God will depart!
Remember - It’s not our works, it’s God’s merciful love.
Many have forgotten how merciful God really is.
He forgives constantly and repeatedly
He forgives completely
He forgives permanently
I wish those around me were that merciful. They want to charge me for a long time over my mistakes. They want to increase their scrutiny of my behavior so they can keep up the penalty of a indiscretion. They want to make a big deal over little things. They want to hate me and judge me. Sounds just like humanity doesn’t it. That’s what it is, humanity, Babylon, but it is not the Kingdom of God. Jesus was quick to put his finger on the problems of those who came in contact with, but only in a truthful, helpful way. He spoke in a way that said, I love you and want a better life for you. He said, I came to seek and to save that which is lost and I am willing to lay down my life to save them. Life here and in the Kingdom of God. He loved them enough to die for their sins, to make the payment of sin for them. In life we meet those with this spirit on rare occasions, but they are much too rare.
Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and body.
Love each other.
God is love, and without Him you can do nothing.
Look at history, Israel broke covenant with God and he divorced them.
Jesus promises manna from the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God for those who will return to the Love of God.
It’s worth the trip!
May the love of God and fellowship of His Holy Spirit abide with you always.