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The Church of Ephesus

I. The message sent to Ephesus (Revelation 1:1-7). 

(1.) For their diligence in duty: I know thy works, and thy labour, v. 2. 

(2.) For their patience in suffering: Thy labour and thy patience, v. 2. 

(3.) For their zeal against what was evil: Thou canst not bear those that are evil, v. 2. 

“…Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write…”

Church ministers sometimes are called  ‘angels’ because they are the messengers of God to mankind. 

“…These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks…”

  • Christ holds the seven stars in his right hand
  • Christ walks amidst the seven golden candlestick just as he promised, “…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20).

If he’s amidst of the churches he’s also able to know;

  • our works, and thy labour, and thy patience for him 
  • those who are true or false labourers

Another revelation is true believers have also this ability in them;

  • to be able to try spirits, especially to try those that say they are apostles when they are not, and not be afraid to deem them liars. (ref. verse 2). Why we try spirits is because sometimes the prince of Persia disguises himself as an angel of light.
  • believers, they’ve ears to hear “what the Spirit saith unto the churches”
  • they hate “the deeds of the Nicolaitans” which is evil heresy!

The Nicolaitans were a group of people who sheltered themselves under the name of Christianity. They held hateful doctrines, and practiced against Christ or his people, and what they did hurtful to all true Christians.  An indifference of spirit between truth and error, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but it is not pleasing to Christ. 

(1.) For their diligence in duty: I know thy works, and thy labour, v. 2. 

This may more immediately relate to the ministry of this church, which had been laborious and diligent. Dignity calls for duty. Those that are stars in Christ’s hand had need to be always in motion, dispensing light to all about them. For my name’s sake thou hast laboured, and hast not fainted, v. 3. 

(2.) For their patience in suffering: Thy labour and thy patience, v. 2. 

It is not enough that we be diligent, but we must be patient, and endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. Ministers must have and exercise great patience, and no Christian can be without it. There must be bearing patience, to endure the injuries of men and the rebukes of Providence; and there must be waiting patience, that, when they have done the will of God, they may receive the promise: Thou hast borne, and hast patience, v. 3. We shall meet with such difficulties in our way and work as require patience to go on and finish well. 

(3.) For their zeal against what was evil: Thou canst not bear those that are evil, v. 2. 

It consists very well with Christian patience not to dispense with sin, much less allow it; though we must show all meekness to men, yet we must show a just zeal against their sins. This their zeal was the more to be commended because it was according to knowledge, a discreet zeal upon a previous trial made of the pretences, practices, and tenets of evil men: Thou hast tried those that say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars. True zeal proceeds with discretion; none should be cast off till they be tried. Some had risen up in this church that pretended to be not ordinary ministers, but apostles; and their pretensions had been examined but found to be vain and false. Those that impartially search after truth may come to the knowledge of it.

2. The rebuke given to this church: 

Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, v. 4. 

Those that have much good in them may have something much amiss in them, and our Lord Jesus, as an impartial Master and Judge, takes notice of both; though he first observes what is good, and is most ready to mention this, yet he also observes what is amiss, and will faithfully reprove them for it. The sin that Christ charged this church with was their decay and declension in holy love and zeal: Thou hast left thy first love; not left and forsaken the object of it, but lost the fervent degree of it that at first appeared. 

Observe, 

  1. The first affections of men towards Christ, and holiness, and heaven, are usually lively and warm. God remembered the love of Israel’s espousals, when she would follow him withersoever he went. 
  2. These lively affections will abate and cool if great care be not taken, and diligence used, to preserve them in constant exercise.
  3. Christ is grieved and displeased with his people when he sees them grow remiss and cold towards him, and he will one way or other make them sensible that he does not take it well from them.

3. The advice and counsel given them from Christ: 

Remember therefore whence thou hast fallen, and repent, etc. 

(1.) Those that have lost their first love must remember whence they have fallen; they must compare their present with their former state, and consider how much better it was with them then than now, how much peace, strength, purity, and pleasure they have lost, by leaving their first love,

  • how much more comfortably they could lie down and sleep at night,
  • how much more cheerfully they could awake in the morning,
  • how much better they could bear afflictions, and how much more becomingly they could enjoy the favours of Providence,
  • how much easier the thoughts of death were to them, and how much stronger their desires and hopes of heaven.

(2.) They must repent. They must be inwardly grieved and ashamed for their sinful declension; they must blame themselves, and shame themselves, for it, and humbly confess it in the sight of God, and judge and condemn themselves for it. 

(3.) They must return and do their first works. They must as it were begin again, go back step by step, till they come to the place where they took the first false step; they must endeavour to revive and recover their first zeal, tenderness, and seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as diligently, as they did when they first set out in the ways of God.

4. This good advice is enforced and urged, 

  1. By a severe threatening, if it should be neglected: I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of its place. If the presence of Christ’s grace and Spirit be slighted, we may expect the presence of his displeasure. He will come in a way of judgment, and that suddenly and surprisingly, upon impenitent churches and sinners; he will unchurch them, take away his gospel, his ministers, and his ordinances from them, and what will the churches or the angels of the churches do when the gospel is removed? 
  2. By an encouraging mention that is made of what was yet good among them: This thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate, v.6.

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Laurence Muzembi (Th.D, D.D, MDiv, B.A in Biblical Studies, Cert in Counselling & Psychotherapy ) is author, pastor, life coach and business consultant. Tired of seeing Christians stumble and crush landing, he sets up Muzembi.Org as a guiding beacon for them, and to make a difference.

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LC Muzembi

Biblical advice for new and growing Christians