THE LETTER TO EPHESUS
Lord, I don’t want to be one who knows about you but doesn’t know you. Holy Spirit, refresh and revive my walk with you.
Read REVELATION 2:1–7
To the Church in Ephesus
2 “To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
- Revelation 2:1 Or messenger; also in verses 8, 12 and 18
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Let us hear what the Spirit said to the churches then – and what the same Spirit wants us to hear now.
If one major source of John’s struggle to maintain hope in the coming of the reign of Christ was the dominance and power of the Roman Empire, another was the condition of the congregations of believers scattered across Asia Minor. Toward the end of the first century, these churches faced enormous pressures, internally from traveling preachers who advocated some kind of compromise with Roman idolatry and externally in the shape of growing social and political pressures to ascribe honor to both Christ and Caesar.
These pressures are evident throughout the seven letters to the churches which, taken as a whole, suggest that the condition of the Christian movement gave John much cause for concern. The believing community in the great port city of Ephesus features prominently in the history of early Christianity1 and the message sent to it now indicates that it had remained firm in its defense of the truth but had forsaken its ‘first love’ (v 4, AV). This seems to refer to the failure of love within the believing community, a problem which exactly mirrors the concern which troubled Paul with regard to the Corinthian church. The Ephesian believers may have been known personally to John, so this warning concerning a loveless orthodoxy would have affected him deeply. The same problem has, alas, persisted across the ages and ‘we too may be tempted to set so much store on our correct theology and proper process of church government that we risk forgetting that a church without love is already dead’.2
According to John’s gospel, Jesus was ‘full of grace and truth’.3 How can we retain both these qualities and avoid focusing on one to the detriment of the other?
Dear God, I know I am a great starter but a poor finisher. Give me the strength to persevere in my daily walk with you.
1 Acts 19; 20:17–38; Eph 1:15–17; 1 Tim 1:3–7 2 Catherine and Justo Gonzalez, Revelation, Westminster John Knox Press, 1997, p24 3 John 1:14
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