The Revelation of Jesus Christ Pt 6, 2:1-7

JESUS’ LETTER TO THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS

Jesus’ letter to Ephesus, the first of seven letters, shows us our great need for devotion to Christ. We must be careful not to forget about the one we are serving, but to take ample time to fellowship with our Lord in love.

Before reviewing this letter, look here for a brief summary on the seven letters in general.

  1. Exposition
  2. Parable
  3. Cultural Relevance
  4. Prophetic
  5. Accompanying Epistle(s)
EXPOSITION

VERSE 1

"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that is holding the seven stars in his right hand, who is walking in the midst of the seven golden lamp-stands"
  1. TITLE OF THE CHURCH

The name Ephesus means “desirable,” which is fitting given the theme of this letter: love.

  1. TITLE(S) OF JESUS CHRIST
  • He that is holding the seven stars in His right hand
    • Jesus holds the messengers of each church in His hands. He continually holds them by choice, not letting them go.
    • Jesus manifests His love for us in His holding of us. He doesn’t let us go and is faithful to keep on holding. He does this for the messengers/leaders of each church and for us individually. Jesus tells us in John,
      • “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” [Jn 10:27-30]
  • [He] who is walking in the midst of the seven golden lamp-stands
    • Jesus, acting as our High Priest, continually monitors us. He is in the very midst of us, taking care of us. We can safely come to Him with all of our cares, “casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”
    • Jesus also manifests His love for us in His care for us. This is shown to us perfectly “because He laid down His life for us.” Notice the contrast between the hireling’s lack of care and Jesus fullness of care in John,
      • “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” [Jn 10:11-15]

VERSE 2-3

"I know thy works, and thy laborious toil, and thy endurance, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tested them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them false: And hast borne, and are possessing endurance, and for my name's sake hast laboured [until worn out], and hast not fainted."
  1. COMMENDATIONS
  • Thy laborious toil
    • The word used for “labour” means laborious toil. It is work that leaves you fatigued. This is a good thing according to Jesus, to work for Him in those laborious things He has given to us. And in this we can be abounding, confident that we are not wasting energy nor time. As Paul says, using the same word, “…be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of The Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in The Lord.” [1 Cor 15:58]
    • As with everything we do, our labors should be with love; we should labor in love toward the saints.
      • “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His name, in that ye minister to the saints, and continue to minister.” [Heb 6:10]
  • Thy endurance
  • How thou canst not bear them which are evil
    • The church at Ephesus does well in that they do not stand for evil and will not compromise. They will not carry along any evildoers. We, as the church, are not to bear along those who are practicing evil. The church is not to be a center which approves of and cushions evil.
  • Hast tested them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them false
    • They put to the test people claiming the authority of “apostle” and they have found them false. This is specifically what Paul warned the Ephesians about, so this is good that they are obeying and taking heed to Paul. He said in Acts 20:29-31,
      • “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
    • And again, Paul admonishes the Ephesians in His epistle regarding the purpose of spiritual gifts,
      • “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…” [Eph 4:14]
    • We cannot just blindly accept those who posit themselves as a church authority. No, but we must “test all things; hold fast that which is good.” There must be testing. Be like the Bereans who, “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11] And take the advice of Paul in Hebrews,
      • “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” [Heb 13:7]
  • Hast borne
    • The Ephesians have borne; they have carried. They have carried/borne their crosses faithfully.
      • “And He said to them all, if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” [Lk 9:23]
      • “If any man come to me, and does not esteem as less his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be my disciple.” [Lk 14:26-27]
    • In terms of this word bear, we are also to bear the reproach of Christ and bear each others’ weaknesses and burdens.
  • Are possessing endurance
    • Jesus commends again their endurance. They not only endured, they possessed endurance! That is something we should be striving for. Endurance is a good quality, one that contributes to our fruitfulness.
  • For [Jesus’] Name’s sake hast laboured until worn out and hast not fainted
    • They are running this race without fainting; they are obeying the instruction of Paul, who said,
      • “I have shewed you all things, how that in this manner, laboring until worn out, it is necessary to give support which matches the need of those without strength, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.” [Acts 20:35]

VERSE 4

"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast sent away/discharged/released/permitted to depart thy chief/most important/principal/first love."
  1. CONDEMNATIONS
  • thou hast sent away/discharged/released/permitted to depart thy chief/most important/principal/first love
    • Those in Ephesus were great at serving and doing good works. They even protected the flock from bad doctrine. They labored and did not faint, didn’t give up. Unfortunately, in all the business of ministry they forgot about the one for whom it was all for and about: they forgot about Jesus. Loving Jesus is more than good doctrine and good service, more than enduring in those things as well. Notice the word Jesus uses. To leave their first love means to discharge their first love, to allow their first love to depart, to release their first love. This was no passive accident; Ephesus, like Martha, were so caught up in the service, they forgot about the one they were serving. We need to be more like Mary.
      • “Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” [Lk 10:38-42]
    • The LORD says to Israel in Jeremiah,
      • “Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith The LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”
    • Does Jesus have to remember and look back upon the heated love of espousal? Or can He take enjoyment and pleasure in what is current? We must have zealous devotion to our Beloved Groom! Don’t let the heat of your love grow cold, but pursue Jesus in intimate fellowship (and not just in service/doctrine!).

VERSE 5-6

"Remember therefore from whence thou have fallen, and repent, and do the chief/most important/principal/first works; or else I will come unto thee in quickness, and will remove thy lamp-stand out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate."
  1. EXHORTATIONS
  • Remember therefore from whence thou have fallen
    • To not have a focused intent on Jesus Himself, in fellowship with Him, is to fall. The mark of a healthy relationship with Jesus is not measured in quantity of work but in fervency of fellowship/devotion.
    • Remember the heat of former passion. If there never was passion, there may never have been any relationship to begin with.
  • Repent
    • This is Greek word, metanoeó, which means to have a change of mind. They must remember, and then change their mind. We too must change our way of thinking when it comes to our relationship, our love relationship, with Jesus.
  • Do the chief/most important/principal/first works
    • The final step is to act upon the changed mind. We must put these rebukes of Jesus into practice or else our lamp-stand will be put out as well.
  • But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate
    • The name Nicolaitanes means “conquerors of the people” or “rulers of the people.” This name may refer to a sect or teaching which in application created a gross separation between church leaders and the people wherein the leaders exercised undue authority over the people.
      • Jesus hates lording over. Church leaders are in no way to lord over the flock. They are not more important, nor are they granted extreme authority as many enforce. Consider these verses:
        • “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy gain, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” [1 Pe 5:2-3]
        • “But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” [Mt 20:25-28]

VERSE 7

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that is overcoming will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the garden of God.”

  1. ADMONITION
  • He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches
    • Repeated in each letter. An admonition for the reader of the letter, member of the particular church or not, to hear.
  1. PROMISE

Note: those who are overcomers/overcoming are defined in 1 John: “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?” [1 Jn 5:4-5]

  • Will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the garden of God
    • The tree of life was originally in the garden of Eden. After the fall of man, the way to the tree of life was preserved/guarded.
    • As alluded to here, the way to the tree of life will one day be restored. This promise is sure to those who overcome by faith in Jesus. “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” [Rev 22:1-2]
    • The tree of life can symbolically represent devotion to Jesus. This is shown to us in 2 Corinthians,
      • “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

CONCLUSION

We need to be careful not to get too caught up in service and doctrine. Not that those things are bad, but they are not more important than fellowship and engaging in pure and simple devotion toward Christ. Strive to have a fervent espousal love for Christ; seek to have a correct balance between service, doctrine, and devotion.

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PARABLE

To those who are curious/interested, the parable of the sower and the seeds probably most correctly lines up with this letter. All the types of seeds are portrayed in the letter to Ephesus. Parable: Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:3-20, Luke 8:5-15

CULTURAL RELEVANCE
  1. These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks
    • Ephesus was a wealthy city with many oil-lit lamps lighting the streets. Something that a lot of cities were too poor to afford. Ephesus was a great political and trade center, however, and was able to afford this.
      • Jesus says, He holds the lamp-stands, not Ephesus; He trims the wicks and looks after the lamp-stands, not Ephesus. Ephesus may have wealth and oil and lighted streets but Jesus holds the true lamp-stands, Jesus has the true oil that lights them.
  2. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
    • According to a source online [biblicalephesus.com], outside of Ephesus there was a forest/grove called “Orthega,” which was thought to be the traditional birthplace of Artemis. In this Grecian story, Zeus and Leto conceived Artemis, or Diana of The Ephesians, beside the “holy spring…in the Orthega forest.” [ephesushistoricaltours.com]
      • Jesus is saying to the Ephesians, and to us, He is the one who has the tree of life, He is the one who has true paradise. The Orthega forest, the pleasures of the Greek gods are nothing compared to Jesus. He is the one with the tree of life, not Orthega, He is the one who gives access to the Paradise of God and the river of life, not these false gods.

PROPHETIC
  1. The church at Ephesus represents prophetically, The Apostolic Church of the 1st century, as does the parable of the sower. These are the first believers, the first church, who were excited to be following Jesus, The Christ of God; they received the word with joy and it produced fruit and these teenagers and young adults changed the entire world through the power of Jesus Christ and His great love for us.
    • Yet even the first “Church fathers” were going astray. The only reliable model for the church is the book of Acts. Jesus prophesied that the church would become more corrupted as time went on, so we should strive to look at the book of Acts and the Epistles for a perfect, biblical model of how the Body of Christ should function.

ACCOMPANYING EPISTLE

The letter from Jesus to the church at Ephesus is complimented by Ephesians as well as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. Or rather, those epistles are complimented by Jesus’ letter.

  1. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
    • The epistles of Paul to the Ephesians and John’s letter to The Ephesians (John was a leader at Ephesus as well) speak strongly about our love for Jesus Christ.
      • Paul tells the Ephesians that the love of Christ is unsearchable and surpasses all knowledge; that it should be our goal to draw nearer in love to Jesus and to strive towards comprehending that love, and in turn, showing our love back to Jesus through faith, love of the brethren, love of Christ, and good works. [Eph 3:16-21]
      • Paul also explains how marriage is a picture of Jesus and His Bride, which is us. That we are to be joined to Christ, as a husband is joined to his wife. This is what marriage is for; it is for making us more holy, that through the love of another human, and intimate connection, we would be able to comprehend better the spiritual connection and love we should be sharing with Jesus Christ, our Husband, our Bridegroom. [Eph 5:22-33]
    • John tells the Ephesians that a true follower will love Jesus and love the bride of Jesus, their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord. [1 Jn 5:1-12]
  2. and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars
  3. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
    • Ephesians’ and Paul’s farewell to its leaders also gives warnings and exhortations to keep the faith and to not be deceived or let in false doctrines.
      • Paul told the Ephesians to not be tossed about with every doctrine or with the craftiness and deceitfulness of sin and the world. Instead, Paul says to grow up in Jesus, our Head, to all things, and that we would put off the old deeds and put on the new man, given to us by Christ Jesus. [Eph 4:14-5:21, Acts 20:28-38]
    • John also does the same thing
      • John tells us how to discern who is of God and who is not. A true disciple, teacher, or spirit will confess that Jesus has come in the flesh, abides in the doctrine of Christ, and those who love the brethren and love Christ. [1 John 4:1-6, 2 John 1:7-11]

3 thoughts on “The Revelation of Jesus Christ Pt 6, 2:1-7

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