Revelation Explained

This site contains my personal views on Revelation. I will be teaching through the book verse by verse. My teachings will be from a conservative evangelical background.

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Location: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Monday, September 26, 2005

Christ's Comments About the Church at Ephesus

"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: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 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. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate." (Revelation 2:2-6 - King James Version)

Jesus begins by complimenting this church. When He says that they worked hard, the idea is that they worked until exhausted. They were very busy in their Christian service and they kept up a tiring pace.

We can imagine that such a church would be very active helping the poor and needy of their community. Jesus compliments them for this.

This church was also careful about whose leadership they would follow. They did not follow just anyone. They examined the lives, claims and teachings of those who claimed to be called of God. If their lives were immoral; if they claimed an office to which they were not entitled; or if their teaching did not agree with Scripture, the church would reject them.

It would do us well today if we would examine more closely those who claim to be spiritual leaders. If their lives do not agree with what they teach or if their teaching does not agree with Scripture, we should reject them and what they say as not being of God.

In verse three, Jesus continues His praise. This church had been consistent in following the Lord. They had suffered persecution because of Christ, however this had strengthened them not defeated them.

We do not know the details of the suffering that the church at Ephesus endured. Acts chapter nineteen tells us about a riot that was started by those who opposed Christianity in this city. The main reason for the opposition was the profit made by the Temple of Diana in Ephesus. Those who made souvenirs for the temple were afraid that the spread of Christianity would put an end to idolatry. Possibly the church in Ephesus continued to suffer persecution from those who worshiped Diana.

With verse four, the tone of Jesus' message changes. This church was active and from outside appeared to be close to God. However, Jesus looked at their hearts and saw that their love for Him was declining.

Jesus is the first love of church and Christian. This church was active in its ministry. This church had pure doctrine. However this church was growing cold towards the Saviour. They were declining into a religion of form, tradition and ceremony.

This is a danger of which every Christian and church should be aware. We can become so busy doing religious activities that we have no private time to wait upon God and to draw close to Him. We must protect our personal relationship with the Lord against all intrusions so that our love for Him remains strong. All that we do for Jesus should be because of this love that we have for Him.

In verse five, Jesus gives this church some advice and a warning. Here is the Lord's advice on how to revive our love for Him when it begins to decline.

First, we must remember. Consider where we were in the past. When a person is first saved, his zeal and love for God burns hot. To remember this will make us desire revival. To remember the early days of our Christian life and the joy we had will make us turn back to God.

Second, we must repent. We must accept that we have allowed our love to grow cold. We have left God's fellowship; He has not left us. We need to tell God that we are sorry.

Third, we must return to our first actions. This refers to the basic Christian disciplines: private prayer, Bible reading, meditation on Scripture, heartfelt worship and witnessing. These are the things that often fall by the wayside as we become busy with other religious activities.

The warning to the church at Ephesus is that if they did not return to their first love, Jesus, and do their first works, primarily witnessing, they would lose their lamp stand. This means that they would lose the power of the Holy Spirit and their witness would die out.

It is interesting to note that not only is there no church in Ephesus any longer, but the city itself no longer exists. It is in ruins. There is only a small village occupying a little section of this once great city.

In verse six, Jesus adds one more compliment for this church. There is some disagreement over who the Nicolaitanes were. The name means “to conquer people.” It seems likely that these were a group among the early churches who were seeking to establish a power structure among church leaders.

They would teach that the clergy had authority over the members of the church and that certain clergy had authority over other clergy. This was the beginnings of the power structures that exist in many Christian denominations today. Jesus says that He hates the deeds of these people.

They sought to enslave people to their authority. They wanted to replace Jesus as Head of the church and put a man in His place. They were going against the words of Jesus when He told His disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27 - New King James Version)

When we seek to put ourselves in authority over other Christians, Jesus is displeased. We are to be servants bossesoses.


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