The Ephesian Church

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The significance of the letters to the seven Churches.

2. The City of Ephesus & the Church: A background.

3. Areas of commendation or approval.

4.”First love”? What is it?

5. Areas of condemnation or weakness.

6. Consequence of leaving “your first love”.

7. Christ’s Prescription for the Church.

8. Alternative to Christ’s Prescription.

9. Conclusion.

Bible Text: Revelation 2: 1-7

1. The significance of the letters to the seven Churches.

a. These letters were written to the seven historical churches in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) identifying each Church’s strength or weakness.

b. Seven is the number of completion or perfection.

c. Thus, seven perfectly represent all possible spiritual conditions that may be seen in churches throughout the ages.

d. Each letter starts with “I know your works or deeds” (Rev. 2:2, 9, 13, 19, 3:1, 8, &15). This points to Our God’s Omniscient nature, His  interest and evaluation of our works, activities, and life (Ps. 139: 1-12).

e. Each letter ends with “let him hear what the spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22). This indicates that each letter is important to every church.

2. The City of Ephesus and the Church.

a. The City of Ephesus contained several temples including that of Artemis, the goddess of childbirth and midwifery (Acts 19: 23-29).

b. The worship of Artemis was associated with immoral sexual practices contrary to God’s commandment (Ex.20: 3-4, 34:14).     

c. The Ephesian Church was established by Paul during his third missionary journey (Acts 19 & 20).

3. Areas of commendation or approval.

a. “I know your works, your labor, your patience” (v.2a).

i. Christ commended the Ephesian Church for her works, labour, and patience.

ii.Works-The Ephesian Church were aware of their official ministry and service. Christ knew the work this Church was doing on His behalf.

iii. Labour-The Ephesian Church toiled for the Lord.

iv. Patience-This Church had the capacity to abide or the ability to remain under pain or pressure for a long time.

b. “That you cannot bear those who are evil” (v. 2b)-MORAL AND DOCTRINAL PURITY.

i. The Church never tolerated immorality or apostasy.

ii. They exercised Church discipline when people refused to heed to God’s word (Tit. 3:10-11, 1 Tim. 5:19-20, 2 Cor.6:14-17).

c. “And you have tested those who say they are apostles….” (v. 2c)-SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT”.

i. The Ephesian Church had the ability to distinguish true apostles from the false ones ( 1John 4:1-6) .

d. “You hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans” (v. 6).

 i. Who were the Nicolaitans? What were their deeds?

ii. The Nicolaitans were a class of professing Christians who sought to introduce false doctrines into the Ephesian Church.

ii. They held the belief that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication in opposition to the Church decrees (Acts 15:20, 29).

iii. They indulged in idolatrous feasts and brought the impurities of those feasts into the Church (2 Pet 2:1).

vi. They were identical to those who held the doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14, 2 Pet. 2:15, Jude 1:11, Numbers 25:1-3, 31:16).

THE LORD found ONE WRINKLE, BLEMISH, or SPOT with the EPHESIAN CHURCH: “THAT YOU HAVE LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE”. (v.4)  Eph. 5: 27.

4. “First Love”? What is it?

a. “First love” refers to our early love, the proof of our new life in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:22, John 13:34-35).

i..“First” means “foremost in time, order, or importance”. “First love” could mean “things of first concern, or most important consideration to God”.

b. SOME OF THE AREAS THAT MEASURE ANY CHURCH’S ATTITUDE TO THIS “FIRST LOVE”:

i. Sound teaching of the word(2 Tim.3:16, 2 Tim. 2:15, Eph. 4: 11-13).

ii. Fellowship-confession of sins (Jam. 5:16), assembly (Heb. 10:24-25), partaking-of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:24-25), contributing to the needs of the saints (Rom. 12:13, Acts 11:29, I Cor. 16:1-2, Heb. 13:16), bearing one another’s burdens (Gal.6:2),  pleasing one’ neighbour (Rom. 15:1-2), and showing love (1 John  3:10-11, 4:12).

Iii. Breaking of Bread (Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 11:23-29).

iv. Prayers (Psa. 65:1-2, 80:4, Isa. 1:15).

v. Showing honour (Rom. 12:10), compassion (Eph. 4:32), encouragement (1Thess. 5:11), giving freely (Acts 20:34-35), and practising hospitality (1 Pet. 4: 9).

vi. Fulfilling the Great commission (Mark 16:15-17, Mat.28: 19-20, Rom. 10:14-15).

vii. THESE ATTITUDES GLADEN GOD’s HEART AND HELP TO DEEPEN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.

5. Areas of condemnation or weakness.

a. “That you have left your first love” (v. 4).

i. The Church’s love for Christ is a responsibility we owe HIM as the husband of the Church. The Church cannot abandon or forsake it. It is OUR RESPONSIBILITY

6. Consequence of leaving “your first love”.

a. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen.”(v. 5)

i. This fall indicates a decay in holy zeal.

ii. It was contrary to what Christ was expecting.

iii. HE was expecting the CHURCH’s love for HIM to increase as their knowledge of HIM increased.

iv. HE was expecting the CHURCH’s love for HIM to become even stronger as they knew HIM more.

vi. JESUS was expecting GROWTH and NOT a FALL.

7. Christ’s Prescription for the Church.

a. “REMEMBER therefore from where you have fallen.”(v.5)

i. REMEMBER was Christ’s first prescription  to the Church’s weakness.

ii. Christ wanted the church go back, to reflect, and to recall the past.

iii. This reflection will help the Church:

a. To understand her true condition or state of decay in holy zeal.

iv. To determine if she was operating in the flesh instead of love and devotion that comes from an intimate relationship with HIM.

b. “REPENT and do the first works” (v. 5).

i. REPENT was Christ’s second prescription to the Church’s weakness.

ii Christ wanted the Church to have a change of mind, purpose and life.

iii. Christ wanted the Ephesian Church to recognize her POOR SPIRITUAL STATE.

iv. Christ wanted the church, THROUGH THIS RECOGNITION; to begin to take steps to get back to HER FORMER SPIRITUAL HEIGHTS.

c. “Repent and DO THE FIRST WORKS” (v. 5).

i. . DO THE FIRST WORKS or REPEAT was Christ’s third prescription to the Church’s weakness.

ii. Christ was telling the Church to get her PRIORITIES BACK IN ORDER.

iii. Christ was telling the Church to DO THE THINGS MOST IMPORTANT TO HIM (CHRIST) (prayer, fellowship, breaking of bread, teaching and learning of His word, showing love, giving freely, showing hospitality).

iv. AND NOT THINGS MOST IMPORTANT TO THE CHURCH (deeds, labour, moral and doctrinal purity, testing of apostles).

8. Alternative to Christ prescription-Removal.

a. “or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp-stand from its place.”(v.5)

i.The lamp-stand was a symbol of spiritual light from the Church to illuminate the spiritually dark world (Mat. 5:14).

ii. The Church through its “First Love” is to shine forth the good news about Jesus Christ to the world/unbelievers (1 John 4:7-8).

iii. Christ is warning the Ephesian Church that it would cease to be effective, lose her purpose and be scattered if she does not go back to her “First Love”.

iv. His coming for the present day Church will be to judge her and the world (Rev. 22:12).

9. Conclusion

i. This letter teaches us that labour cannot substitute or replace love.

ii. Our good efforts should come from our love for Christ.

iii. That it is possible for a Church to lose its spirit of love in an attempt to maintain sound teaching and moral and doctrinal purity.

iv. That prolonged conflict can weaken or destroy our love for God.

v. That in defending the faith, the Church needs to guard against any structure or rigidity that weakens LOVE.

vi. EVERY CHURCH SHOULD HAVE GOOD WORKS. HOWEVER, THESE GOOD WORKS SHOULD SPRING FROM OUR LOVE FOR CHRIST.