Welcome back to our visit with the church at Ephesus. We are beginning our journey in Revelation chapter 2 by considering what Jesus had to say to this church. Last week in THIS POST we learned a bit of background on the city of Ephesus and the church. We also considered Christ’s greeting to this church. I hope you had time to read the teaching and view the corresponding video. Now, let’s move on into the letter to the believers at Ephesus. Today’s lesson will be a longer one. Please hang in there with me.
In each of Jesus’ letters to the churches He says, “I know” certain things about you; things that are good and things that are bad. The Greek word used for ‘know’ is oida rather than the oft-used ginosko. Oida means complete knowledge, while ginosko means progressively acquired knowledge. Jesus was reminding the churches that HE KNOWS them inside and out. There is nothing they can hide from Him. They might think they are hiding sin and rebellion, but no dice. Jesus knows. That is a very good lesson for you and me to remember, friends.
Jesus tells the church in Ephesus HE KNOWS that they are a serving and sacrificing church. They serve to the point of exhaustion, and that service likely included witnessing to the lost, encouraging the saints, and caring for the needy. This church had it going on!
Jesus also knows that they are a church that perseveres under trial. This church had high standards and seemed to be staunch in their keeping of those standards. They were sensitive to sin and not willing to tolerate it, as evidenced by Christ’s reference to the fact that they do not tolerate the deeds of the Nicolaitans; deeds that drew Christians away from Jesus. (More on this group when we visit Pergamum.)
The church at Ephesus did not put up with false prophets and apostles. Paul had warned this very church that the time would come when false teachers would show up. (Acts 20:28-31, 1 Timothy 1:3-4) Ephesus took Paul’s warning seriously, and so should we. There are many false teachers dotting the landscape of the church today. They are preaching a false gospel…a prosperity gospel that promises our best life now if you have enough faith…or send enough money. BEWARE of them, friends. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Run from them.
All in all, this church was probably one that would receive tons of accolades today. They would win awards for attendance, baptisms, outreach, and service. Ephesus might have been a first century mega-church, drawing worshippers from miles around.
Jesus knew their hearts. He tells them that they have left their first love.
What in the world? They are serving themselves silly. How could it be?
Do you remember falling love? That first love is a totally sold out and devoted love. It is a love at all costs kind of love. When Jesus said that they had left their first love, He used a word for ‘left’ that means to let go from oneself. The church at Ephesus had forgotten to keep the main thing the main thing. It is likely that they had substituted service and labor for love of Jesus.
Jesus promised that if the church at Ephesus did not ‘straighten up and fly right’ as my Daddy would have said, He would remove their lampstand.
Conversely, Jesus told this church that for those who overcame, who were obedient to repent and turn back to their first love, He would make sure they would eat of the tree of life in heaven. Jesus is talking rewards here, it seems, since one cannot lose their salvation based on deeds.
These folks needed to remember their first love, to repent of their sin, and to repeat the deeds of their first love. This might include prayer, Scriptural study, fellowship, service, and worship all done with the right motives and in the right spirit.
Please view the video below for my take-away thoughts on Christ’s letter to the church at Ephesus. We must take this letter extremely seriously, friends. Once you view the video, please share your thoughts in the comment section.