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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

March 19, 2014

Revelations 1:17-20, 2:1-7

  1. Tonight we will conclude chapter 1 and introduce the Church of Ephesus. In our previous study of chapter 1 the entire Book of Revelation is introduced as the revelation of Jesus Christ (v. 1). We have taken this to mean not only that it is a revelation belonging to our Lord, but that it is also a revelation of (or about) Him. In verses 1-8 the Lord Jesus is described by the use of propositional statements about Him, while in verses 12-18 He is depicted by imagery which describes His character and His majesty. He is clothed in a robe reaching to the feet and girded with a golden girdle. The imagery of this long flowing robe is the imagery of one who has majesty, who has power. It is the authority, power and dignity of our Lord Jesus that is described in His dress. Notice His head and His hairs are white like wool. In the Old Testament, in the Book of Proverbs especially, white or gray hair is described as an evidence of dignity, of maturity. Obviously this is symbolic and the Scriptures are describing our Lord Jesus in terms that will inspire thoughts of wisdom, of insight, of experience. It says that His eyes were like a flame of fire. The fire is there is the sense that here is one who not only has maturity and wisdom, but He has discernment to see thorough. His feet were like burnished bronze. An almost white-hot glowing metal is an awesome sight, whether it speaks of purity or strength, it is intended to add to the awesomeness of the image that is standing before the Apostle John. In His right hand He holds the seven stars and out of His mouth comes the sharp two-edge sword. Now we see Him again as our Lord who is standing as the Sovereign amongst the churches. He is not aloof, nor disinterested; He is there and He is reigning and controlling and all things which are coming to pass are doing so by His direct authority and oversight. He is holding the seven stars and He judges with the sharp two-edged sword. His face is shining like the sun.

  2. Verse 17-20. It is no wonder that when John saw Him He fell at His feet as a dead man. He laid His hand on him and said Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last and the Living One, and I was dead and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of death and of Hades. The things, now He says, that you're seeing, the things which are, the things which shall take place after these things, write. Write it down. What we see then in chapters 2 and 3 is God in the Person of His Son speaking to His church of the things about which this book is intended to address. The Lord is standing amongst the church and all of those future things which are revealed are revealed to the churches in the midst of all of their problems and difficulties because that truth is essential truth to them where they are. The symbols of the seven stars and lamp stands are revealed as well. The stars are the angels or messengers of the churches and the lamp stands are the churches themselves. Each church will get a distinct letter all with a similar format. 1) Name of the church. 2) It’s Description of Christ. 3) Commendation – What that church is praised for. 4) Warning – What that church is rebuked for. 5) Promise. (Not applicable to this letter.) 6) Benefit to those who listen to the Word. 7) Prophetic Application.

  3. Chapter 2:1-7. The Church of Ephesus. It is appropriate that the church at Ephesus is addressed first. Ephesus was the largest city of the Roman province of Asia. By the time the gospel was preached here it had a population of more than a quarter of a million people. Located at the mouth of the Cayster River on a gulf of the Aegean Sea, it was a flourishing commercial and export center for Asia.Ephesus was also the terminus for the great road from the Euphrates, as well as other roads from the Cayster and Meander valleys. It was truly a breath-taking city. The traveler from Rome landing at Ephesus would proceed up a magnificent avenue thirty-five feet wide and lined with columns which led from the harbor to the center of the city. It boasted a major stadium, marketplace, and theater. Ephesus was also a prominent religious center. The imperial cult was not neglected in Ephesus. Temples were built to Claudius, Hadrian, and Severus. The major religious attraction, however, was the Temple of Artemis (Diana in Latin), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. About four times the size of the Parthenon, it was adorned by the work of many great artists. This was also a city that had many influences and was also frequented by many false religious teachers. The prominence and wealth of the city was a very attractive quality to false teachers.

  4. Verse 1. The letter is addressed to the angel or the messenger of the church. The stars are the angels or messengers of the seven churches. This could mean the established leader of the church. Christ holds the pastors in His right hand. This is the only place where His servants can be sustained and strengthened. The golden candlesticks are the seven churches. In the early days of the church of Ephesus, Christ walked in their midst as the recognized head, and men took instructions from Him. In verse one, Jesus establishes himself as the one who oversees and controls the church. The church is victorious and powerful by Christ and not man’s efforts. What we will see is that the Church thought they could be strong simply by being doctrinally sound in their teaching. The church knew scripture, but failed to practice the two greatest commandments to love God and love their neighbor.

  5. Verses 2-3. The Lord Jesus approved them for their sacrificial service (v. 2; Romans 12:1-2), suppression of evil (v.2; 1 Peter 5:8-9), spiritual discernment (v.2; 1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15), steadfastness (v.3; 1 Corinthians 15:58), and their stand against the deeds of the Nicolaitans (v.6; 1 Corinthians 16:13). They obeyed Paul’s instructions to them in Acts 20:28-31. They could not bear those who were evil. They tried (tested, proved) those who said they were apostles (ones directly “sent from” the Lord), and found them to be liars. They proved these imposters wrong by testing their message and their fruit, and realizing that these did not line up with the Word of God. They had endured, and had patience (perseverance), and labored (to feel fatigue; by implication, to work hard; toil) for Christ’s name's sake. And they had not fainted (become weary). It would seem that they had it all together, but sometimes your strength can be your weakness.

  6. Verse 4. Initially and for years I limited this verse to just forsaking the Lord. I only thought this verse could mean that the church lost its love for God which is implied in the text, but I think now that they had also lost their love for each other. They were so busy focusing on what they should hate, that they forgot what they should love. This church had focused so much on keeping the false teachers out that they forgot who they should let in and how people should be treated. You can become so focused on what isn’t God that you forget to remember that our purpose is to focus on what is God (1 John 4:7-16, 2:9-11).

  7. Verses 5. What is the remedy? Remember and repent. The church was commended earlier for their love (Ephesians 1:15-16). Instead of worshipping God they were too focused on seeing if the others were worshipping correctly. The church had developed a critical spirit about false teachers that bled into their relationships with fellow believers. This atmosphere of critique caused their fellowship to grow cold lacking the true love of God. Perhaps hatred of heresy had created suspicion and intolerance of each other’s differences and weaknesses. While doctrinal purity is important to the Christian faith, it can unintentionally lead to witch hunting and condemning spirit. We can defend the faith only if we first remember to defend love for one another. They had turned to what wasn’t God as opposed to what was GOD. The Lord shares that if this continues the church would not survive. The church must return to that genuine Love for God and love for each other (Ephesians 1:15-16; 4:15-16; 5:1-2). God’s church must be known for its love for God and love towards each other. Jesus told the church at Ephesus to repent and do the first works. This would mean devoting themselves as earnestly and fervently to the Lord as they were when they first walked with Him. Doing good works for the cause/sake of Christ, compassionately striving to win the lost, loving both God and man (charity), faithfully serving the Lord, diligently studying His Word, fervently and continually praying, among others.

  8. Verse 6. The church was commended again for not compromising to the false theology of the day that had infiltrated other churches.

  9. Verse 7. The allusion here is to the Garden of Eden. Just as our Lord walked in the garden in intimate fellowship with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:8), so He walks in the midst of the churches (Rev. 2:1). Satan robbed Adam of the joy of fellowship with God in the garden by turning his eyes away from the tree of life to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man had become preoccupied with knowledge and lost access to eternal life in Paradise. The church can loose its witness and its light by not focusing on the greatest witness which is LOVE.

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