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Ephesus Revisited! – Revelation 2:1-7

04/05/2015

How was Timothy’s Work at Ephesus Received?

Text: Rev 2:1-7

How can we assess the effectiveness of Timothy’s work at Ephesus? One possibility might be to read the words of Jesus to the church, in Revelation 2:1-7. Ephesus then was…

1.  A Labouring, Faithful Church. ; 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: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Humanly speaking, the church at Ephesus looks pretty good, outwardly, it’s a good church.

  1. Their works are commended. This was a hard working, patient, church, with endurance and stickability.
  2. Their doctrine is commended. They were doctrinally aware and as a consequence they were discerning too.

So this is such a commendable church. Look at some of the specific commendations given here:

  1. Intolerance of evildoers. They couldn’t bear those people who were evil.
  2. Discernment of false teachers. when preachers from other churches and regions appeared, they were savvy enough to work out who was a true Gospel minister and who was a charlatan, after their money, or after worldly applause.
  3. Awareness of deviation from biblical truth. They had no time for liars, no time for people peddling falsehood.
  4. They had a particular awareness of the false doctrine of the Nicolaitans. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. We don’t know who these Nicolaitans were, but we can get some hints from Rev 2:14-15. God hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans, and the Ephesian Christians hated those deeds too. We must love what Jesus loves, and hate what Jesus hates, no matter who finds that uncomfortable.

The Ephesians had a great deal of endurance, and despite attacks by false preachers, moral filth of their society, persecutions of the Roman state they had not fainted. Yet it is quite possible for such a church, doctrinally sound and passing on, to also be:-

2. A Loveless, Fallen Church. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love,; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Their first love has been forgotten. Love for whom, exactly, and what about us? Is it not the case that there is a grave danger that we too might be doctrinally sound, working in the church, but doing so with loveless hearts, hardened through time and trial, with that first love long gone and forgotten. Have we lost our: First Love for Christ? First Love for our brethren? First Love for the lost? First Love for Scripture? First Love for Prayer?

All of this may be what has happened in Ephesus. They have lost their first love, and they have become mechanical and ritualistic in their faith. Jesus describes this state as being ‘fallen’ –they have fallen from the place where they once were. So what does ‘fallen’ mean in this context? Is this an apology for the ‘saved and lost’ doctrine? Not at all! They have not (as yet) as an assembly, fallen away into apostasy, for Jesus is still in their midst, and still speaking to them, and calling them to repentance and forgiveness. So how can they return to their first love? They must:-

  • Reflect. 5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,
  • Repent. and repent
  • Return. and do the first works.

Biblical fidelity, doctrinal purity without LOVE is pointless. If we have no love, we MUST be aware of that, admit it, confess it, and repent of it, so that we can be forgiven and having experienced the forgiveness and love of Christ, then to go on and show that same forgiveness and love to each other and to our neighbours.

3. A Life-limited, Futureless Church.

This falling from our first love is serious, for it is a breach of the first table of the law. The first, and greatest commandment is that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind.

  • The Lord will ‘come quickly and Their ‘Candlestick’ will be removed. or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
    1. This reference to the church as a candlestick is introduced in chapter 1:12
    2. So what of Ephesus? You can visit Ephesus today? The ancient city of Ephesus is ruins. The ancient capital of the region is no more, and the pivotal lighthouse Empty churches and vacant pews suggest that we too have lost our first love. Could the Lord be taking away our candlestick too?
    3. And there’s even a warning here for reformed people, We need to be doubly vigilant, in case in our pursuit of theological excellence, we forget that we are sinners, and lose our first love, and fall into the decline suffered by the Ephesians.
  • The promise of eternal life. 7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. What does ‘overcometh’ mean? It means that true believers will be in heaven! That’s how we will know that they are believers in Christ, – because we will meet them in heaven.

We must examine ourselves, and reflect on our Christian life, and more importantly upon the Cross, where Christ died for our salvation, – have we lost our first love for Him, for His Work, His Word, Prayer, for the Lost? Let us then repent, and return to the Lord, and persevere until the end, so that we may be a part of His new heaven and new earth.

© Bob McEvoy

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