A Letter By Jesus To The Church In Ephesus: In The Age of Paul The Apostle

Happy Weekend to you all 🙂

Today, we are going to look at one church I have always found interesting from the biblical events.

As we previously looked into types of the church ages in the article of the church of Laodecia, we now go back to the beginning of the church age which is immediately after the death and resurrection of Jesus. From about the period between 30AD-130AD

May the Holy Spirit guide us and lead us in all truth as we journey through unraveling this letter.


A letter by Jesus to the Church in Ephesus according to Revelation 2:

1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.


Now, we start by understanding what was going on around Ephesus.

Ephesus was a robust city of approximately 200,000- 280,000 people during Paul’s time. It had exquisite monuments that attracted people from all over the world. The people of Ephesus were extremely knowledgeable and well read. In fact, there, existed the largest library in the city. The library of Celsus. It had four female statues erected representing wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and virtue (Arete).

Image Credit :Designing Buildings Wiki—The Library of Celsus.

In the two letters we have gone through so far, we are noting that Asia minor was a hub of pagan worship and idolatry, and Ephesus was no exception. It was the home of the temple of the greek goddess Artemis, also known as Diana, or modern day Wonder Woman. (The temple is currently considered as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.)

It was in Ephesus that Christianity was birthed in the whole region of Asia Minor. Of whom Paul was once a leader/pastor.

Jesus commends this church for two things.

Firstly, their zeal for Him. know your works, and your labour, and your patience, 
And how you have persevered, with patience for My name’s sake and have laboured, and not fainted.

The Ephesian church, had such a tremendous impact in the city, that it affected not only the region in Ephesus but throughout all Asia Minor. This church is said to have turned the world upside down for the sake of the love they had for Jesus, and the works they did in His name.

The culture of worship in Ephesus was that  of Artemis (Diana). And despite the idolatrous condition surrounding the city, the church was able to bring many into faith so that the ephesians stopped worshiping Artemis and became followers of Jesus. This caused the craftsmen who were making the idols of Artemis to go out of business.

The trade of graven images was good business for many in Ephesus and now that people were no longer buying these idols, it meant no money to them which profited. A protest broke out in the city’s amphitheater between the Christians and other Ephesians.

Image: RoadRunnerTravel Ancient theatre in Ephesus

Acts 19

24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen.
25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade.
26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands.
27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”
29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions.
30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him.
31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater.
32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together.

This dispute was later agreed to be taken to court by them who were aggrieved.

Secondly, their denouncement of false teachings and doctrines. And how you cannot bear them which are evil: and have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them to be liars. And that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

False teachers too, existed during Paul’s time. These are those who pulled people away from the true gospel of Jesus and seduced them into observance of religious rites like circumcision, introducing heretical teachings of lording over people/ being the go-between of man and God.

The nicolaitanes doctrine, which was similar to that of Balaam, is believed to be of a sect that promoted licentiousness as the proper way of life. They claimed to have received their teaching from Jesus, who had given them authority for their teachings. Teaching people false doctrine in the effort to harmonize immorality and idolatry with the Christian faith.The Ephesians did not tolerate these distortions and deceptions but rebuked them with ardent zeal.

These same false doctrines were tolerated by the Church in Pergamum.

Jesus expresses His strong abhorrence of these doctrines. One would suppose the reason to be, because He died primarily to redeem man unto God and to abolish any system/religious ritual/priestly ordinance,  that hindered anybody to have a direct relationship with God through Him, being that He is the only mediator between God and man and our great High Priest.

Rebuke

However, this church is rebuked by Jesus,  Nevertheless 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 lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

After the death of the apostles of Jesus, just like it happens after one/two generations of a powerful revival, the zeal they first had for Jesus started to subside. Jesus commands them to repent else He will remove the lampstand/candlestick from them.

To understand what Jesus means by this, we also need to find out what the candlesticks/lampstands represent in the Bible. And Zechariah the Old Testament prophet will help us to understand; as he received revelations/visions of things to come.

Zechariah 4

2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps.
3 Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.”

description of two trees

4 So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, “What are these, my lord?”
5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.”
6 So he answered and said to me: “This is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.

The seven lampstands represent the seven churches walking in the power of the Spirit of God. “This is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. These, too, align with the church ages since the Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus on the day of Pentecost. The first followers of Christ being the first receptors. —  You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8.

Revelation 1

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

It is interesting to note as well, Jesus introduces Himself in this letter as, the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. (Seven Churches)

The promise

To conclude this letter, Jesus promises them that overcome, will He grant to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

Revelation 22

1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

These letters as we have noted, apply to all the churches. And this specific letter leads us to ask ourselves as a church and as individuals, “have we forsaken the love we have for Jesus, and the love we also have towards our neighbors? Are we zealous towards the things of God, or have we fallen away into worldly ease and comfort? And are we watchful to His truth, lest we become deceived?”

The Good News is that, as long as we can still say today, Jesus is still in the business of grace. Like the prodigal son, ready to welcome us home and give us His Holy Spirit to guide us, counsel us, advise us and lead us in all truth.

May we examine our hearts everyday, as we ask Him to reveal to us everyday His true way. Loving our brothers and sisters, even those who are not in faith, just like the Ephesian church; with much zeal, that we may be a light to them, so that their hearts may be turned towards our Lord Jesus Christ. 🙂

Featured Image by: Turkey Destinations

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