Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 2:1
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:” – Revelation 2:1
Over the seven days, I will be looking at what John wrote, by the inspiration of God, to the seven major churches in Asia Minor. In these seven letters, God gives a message to each that is specific to each and speaks of issues that could fit the Churches throughout history. It is important to look at these and examine our church and ultimately ourselves to see where we stand regarding these.
We will start this series with the Church in Ephesus. “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:” Revelation 2:1. We know from chapter one what He is referring to. “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20. There are many ideas regarding what the seven stars representative. However, a reasonable explanation is that as the lampstands are the Churches, the angels probably refer to the leaders of each church. Also, notice the wording in our focus verse. “To the angel of the of the Church in Ephesus”. Revelation 2:1a.
This starts out stating what is good and honorable. “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake and have not grown weary.” Revelation 2:2-3. Christ is telling them through John that He knows the hard work they are doing, the deeds they are doing for Christ. They are commendable works that show the overall manner of their life. They had toiled long and hard and patiently bore the hostility of a society at odds with their goals. And they uprooted those who claimed Christian beliefs and of being apostles, placing themselves within the Church but were wicked people whose only goal was to lead true Christians astray. And in all this, they did not grow weary, but persevered in the work of the Church. And this was not all that easy, for Ephesus was home to the emperor’s cult and the worship of the Greek goddess Artemis.
However, He had one thing against them which required correction. “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4. Jesus commends the Ephesians for their many acts of good and hard work. They tested teachers to see whether their professions were real, and they endured hardship and persevered without growing weary. But they had lost their warmth and zeal for Christ, which caused them to simply go through the motions of good works, motivated not by the love of and for Christ, but by the works themselves. What was once a love relationship cooled into mere religion. Their passion for Him became little more than cold orthodoxy. And being surrounded by so much paganism and false teachings, they had many opportunities to correct doctrines that were false and confront the false teachers. But these things became, in some ways, the focus of their work and not their love for Christ.
Christ then says one more good word to them. “Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Revelation 2:6. These were men who encouraged each other to eat that which was sacrificed to idols as well as committing various forms of sexual immorality. Christ called these to repent and return to Him, and commended the Ephesians for standing strong.
And we face this same challenge the Ephesian Church did, and there are few churches that are not in danger of having a certain number of false teachers. However, it is essential that we reprove these teachers in love. And we can only do this if our focus is on our love for Christ and for our neighbor and not on the act of the false teachers. It is essential that what drives us is our love for Jesus and not anything else. The Ephesians became toi focused on everything else but in the process neglected their love for Christ. And when this happens, we leave the love that brought us to Christ and we focus on everything else.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.