To the Angel of the
Historical Setting: Ephesus, population half a million people, 1,000 year old port city, a major city of western Asia. Location of the Temple of Artemis/Diana (one of the
Seven Wonders of the World). Church received epistle from
Paul, who stopped there several times, pastored by Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3-4), Apostle
John, had mother of Jesus as member.
Name Defined: “Desired One” The “desired one” left her first love of Christ. The early church is also desired by subsequent churches as the standard to which later churches should return.
I. Christ’s Description – Holds the stars (angels), walking in midst of lampstands (1:13, 16, 20)
1. Tenacity-works, labor, patience, perseverance, weariless (2, 3)
Their patience is that they kept the commandments of God (“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev. 14:12). It is a steadiness despite distractions.
2. Tolerance-cannot bear those who are evil (2)
Notice of its tolerance of sin—they didn’t have any. It could not bear sin. Remember in Acts 5 when Ananias and Saphira kept some money back. They died instantly upon Peter’s confrontation. That will inspire intolerance of sin. Do we in the church tolerate sin?
3. Testing-tested those claiming to be apostles (2)
False apostles were tested and proven false and liars. What are some false doctrines in the church today? Do we test those who claim to be apostles or sent out ones?
4. Testimony-hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans (6, see also 2:15)
1. left first love
Notice that the early church labored for Christ’s name’s sake. They had not fainted or become weary, despite all the persecution. But even in Jesus’ name, if we don’t have the right motivation of love, Christ calls us to repent.
Remember Matthew "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
What made the works Jesus was describing “lawlessness”? What were the first works of the Ephesian church? It is works done in faith and love. We know that faith without works is dead, according to James , but works without faith or works without love is also dead, according to Revelation 2:5.
1. remember from where you have fallen
3. return to the first works
1. return of Christ in judgment
2. removal of lampstand (church) from its place (city)
3. overcomers-to eat from tree of life, in the midst of the Paradise of God
The Primitive Church (30-100 A.D.)-This church is one which relates to the early church. Christ describes Himself as walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands and the early church did have Christ living among them. There also were false apostles in the Ephesian church, something predicted by Christ (Matt. 24:11) and reported by Paul (2 Cor. 11:3). After the death of John, churches no longer had true apostles as explained in Acts 1:22, using the criterion to replace Judas Iscariot.
While the early church was to be greatly commended, the Apostle John felt compelled to write frequently about the great need for love within the church during the last part of the first century, employing this same word agape (agape) in his gospel, all three letters and the Revelation. John uses a variation of the word to address the “beloved” and himself as the disciple whom Jesus “loved”. A working church losing its “first love” is an apt description of the church in John’s day.
The early church was wonderful, but it was not perfect. Just read 1 Corinthians!
’s history, the shema (the Hebrew word for the first
word “Hear” of Deuteronomy 6:4-7) was recited faithfully by Jewish men and
women, sons and daughters. It shows the primacy of love for God as being the
motivation for the people of God to keep the commandments. Israel
4 Hear, O
The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words
which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them
diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall
bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your
eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Israel
Love should motivate us
Despite the call from the Old Testament, and the repeated commands from Christ, it is oh so easy to stop loving God, even though we do everything else He commands us to do. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John ).
What is your motivation for your service to God? If it is anything less than love for Him, it is something to be repented of and returned to the first works which came from a heart of love for Christ.
Hatred should describe our attitude toward sin
But to have love does not mean we cannot hate sin. Notice what Christ commends them for in verse 6: Hatred! Hatred of deeds, not of people.
Irenaeus, writing less than 100 years after John, said these were followers of Nicolas, the last of the seven “deacons” listed in Acts 6:5 who had apparently backslid into a life of “unrestrained indulgence”—something that would likely be very popular in
By the second century, it had grown into a Gnostic sect who taught that
Christians could indulge in any and all lusts of the flesh. Ephesus
Notice the commendation Christ has for the church. The church has labor, patience, perseverance, not becoming weary, and later in verse six, it had a hatred of the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which was shared by God Himself.
We see the blessing for all of us who hear. You will see this phrase “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” That’s for us.
What does John mean by being an overcomer?
1 John 5:4-5, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
And what will we have for overcoming? Jesus will personally give us to eat from the tree of life.
Where is the tree of life? In
Where is paradise? In the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:4).
Who will be there? It is where we go to be with Christ (Luke ).
According to Rev. 22:2 and 14,
come down from heaven and be on earth