This Week's Focus Passage

Revelation 2:1 ‘To the angel of the church in Ephesus, write.’

Who are the correspondents involved in this letter? Does it not take two for communication to be completed? There must be a sender as well as a receiver else there is not true, or complete, contact. So just who is the sender, or writer, of this letter; this most important document? And who is the recipient of this epistle. It is said clearly that it is to the angel of the church in Ephesus, even as it is spoken at the beginning of each of the seven letters to the seven churches. So who was this angel? Some regard this as a reference to Christ Himself, arguing that the contents of the letters are part of His revelation to the churches referred to in 1:1 when it is said that God sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John. However, in 1:20, we are informed that the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches. This leads many to believe that the angels are ‘messengers’ [which is what the word often means], in other words, the individual pastors of these individual churches. There appears to be room for disagreement in these matters. Happily, the bottom line, to put it that way, is that these letters are part of The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show unto his servants; Revelation 1:1. Perhaps the remarks of one holding the latter view could prove helpful. Derek Thomas has written:

“The stars are the ‘angels of the seven churches’ (1:20) best understood as the angels or guardians whose function it is to watch over the church and protect it. Perhaps it is our worldliness that prevents us from accepting this interpretation. Why should it be difficult for us to think of angels protecting the church in a corporate sense, just as they do individual Christians?”

He cites Hebrews 1:14 in defense of his last statement, where the writer/preacher has reminded us, in speaking of the angels:

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for
the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?

Whichever position one takes, it remains God’s blessed truth that each message which was written to each of the seven churches has been preserved for us; for the entire church of Jesus Christ and coming to us from Him.

The seven messages may rightly be said to contain both bad news and good news, in particular for five of these seven which are called unto repentance. In each case, Christ has commended behavior in these churches, but in the case of five of them, namely, Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, and Laodicea, He has also found it necessary to rebuke them and call them to repent. Only Smyrna, along with Philadelphia, are excepted from this remonstrance. In our focus passage for this week we will focus on the church in Ephesus.

The Risen One begins this letter, as we have already intimated, with some encouraging commendations. He said to this Ephesian church:

I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false; and thou hast patience and didst bear for my name’s sake, and hast not grown weary.

He commends them in several areas. In having done so, He has delineated a number of things that the church today would be commended for if, indeed, they practiced them. I know thy works. He is not ignorant of their works; the things they do in their desire to please God. It seems only fair to presume that these works are such as may be consistent with the works prescribed by God in His Word, else He would not here be commending them. He is aware of their labors, thy toil and patience. They not only do good works, but they have been doing them with patience; we infer patience before both God and men. This church in Ephesus canst not bear evil men; how many of the churches that name the name of Jesus Christ seem to be in the habit of bearing evil men; there is no discipline whatever. Ephesus, on the other hand didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not. They of course found them false. How many churches in our day have men (and women) calling themselves apostles? May God have mercy! Ephesus not only performed these duties, but they were patient in it and did not grow weary of doing the right thing. It would surely be good if it could have been left at this point, but it could not. Christ added:

But I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place.

What is it to leave one’s first love? What is intended by the expression ‘first love’? Consider the ‘radical change’ known in Scripture as regeneration, or the new birth. What were the first fruits, or evidences, of that glorious revolution in our hearts? Could it not be subsumed under the concept of a great change of direction? Did we not begin to love what we once hated, and begin to hate what we once loved? Did we not experience love for God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom we had formerly cared nothing for? Did we not find ourselves loving the Word of God which we had previously shunned? Did we not now feel love for the people of God whom we at one time desired greatly to avoid; a people that struck us at best as quite odd. May it not be said that these new feelings betokened a new love; yea, a first love of this sort? To leave this first love, then, would involve no longer being inclined to speak with God in prayer; to hear His voice in the preaching, or even in the reading of the Scriptures. One would begin to care little about being in company with lovers of Jesus; one would begin to drift away from such things. Such a one is now, at the very best, complacent about spiritual things. They are enamored once more with the things of the world. Christ writes this letter to challenge them, he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. A. W. Tozer issued his own warning, saying, ‘the trouble is not that the church is in the world; rather the trouble comes from the fact that the world is in the church.’

David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church


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