Today we begin our visits with the seven churches of The Revelation. Our visits will vary in length. We will sit a spell and ponder deeply some of the churches, while others we will stand just inside in the front door, glean, and move on. Ephesus, the first church we visit, will be one where we pitch a tent and camp for a couple of sessions. There is so much to learn from the words of Christ to this church.
My plan is to teach most of the lessons in writing, as has been the case up till now. I am hoping to do a short wrap-up video to go along with each lesson on the churches. The goal for the videos is to make sure you and I really ‘get’ what Jesus is telling us in the message to the churches. If we do, it will change our lives and worlds.
Before we move on, just a reminder that there is a private Facebook group for this Revelation study. It is for anyone who would like to extend the conversation that is begun here. There we ask the deeper questions and encourage one another in our Revelation journey. If you would like to be part of the Facebook page, simply email me at [email protected] ~~ I would be happy to add you to that page.
Let’s begin today by reading Jesus’ words to the church at Ephesus.
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.
3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
Ephesus was the most important city in Asia Minor. Its boasted a population of approximately 250,000 and was the primary harbor city for Asia. The main theatre in the city could seat 25,000.
Ephesus was the center of worship for the goddess Artemis, also known as Diana. The Artemision, or Temple of Diana, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Because the inner courts of this temple were considered inviolable, the building served as the major financial institution in the city, as well as a safe-house, of sorts, for accused felons.
The worship of Diana was incredibly vile and disgusting. Her idol was a grotesque, multi-breasted image that was believed to have fallen from heaven. The temple was attended by numerous priests, eunuchs, and slaves, while thousands of temple priestesses working there were nothing more than religious prostitutes. John MacArthur says that “the temple grounds were a chaotic cacophony of priests, prostitutes, bankers, criminals, musicians, dancers, and frenzied hysterical worshippers.” MacArthur Commentary p.58 Can you even imagine?
It was in the midst of this pagan city that we find the church in Ephesus. Like the city in which it was positioned, the church at Ephesus was the most prominent of the seven, and was the mother church to all the others. (Acts 19:10) This church, birthed by Paul, Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos, was where John spent the last years of his life. It is likely that John’s leadership of this church was the cause of his arrest and exile on Patmos.
With this background, let us turn to Jesus’ greeting to the church in Ephesus.
Please scroll back up and read Revelation 2:1 once again.
Jesus’ greeting to this church is taken from the vision John recorded in Revelation 1:13, 16, and 20. He stated in Revelation 1:20 that the seven stars in his right hand are the angels of the seven churches. Although there are several interpretations of what this might mean, the one that makes the most sense to me is that Jesus is addressing this to the pastor of the church in Ephesus. Some believe He is speaking to a heavenly guardian of the church, while others believe it is a human messenger to the church that is being addressed. It is impossible to know for sure.
Jesus also describes Himself as the One ‘who walks among the seven golden lampstands.’ He told us in 1:20 that the lampstands are the seven churches. That is pretty easy to understand and we will end our discussion here today.
In the video below I have offered something for you to ponder; something that is likely very pertinent to everyone who is part of the church of Jesus Christ. Please take time to view the video, then come back and engage.
- Can you draw any comparisons between Ephesus and the world in which we live today?
- What about comparisons between the church at Ephesus and the church of Jesus Christ today?
- Why is it important that Jesus walks among the lampstands and holds the stars in his right hand?
- Was there anything in today’s study (blog post or video) that challenged, strengthened, or encouraged your faith?