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 Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 13) (verses 1 - 3)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 13) (verses 1 - 3)   Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:51 pm

Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 13) (verses 1 - 3)

The church of Ephesus is unique in 2 respects. It is the only church in this group of 7 that Paul also addressed in his letter. It is also the only church of whose prophetic message is the same period as the time the letter was originally scribed. The prophetic message covers the years A.D. 33 to 100. This church represents the post-Apostolic church. Jesus predicts their particular sins beforehand. We can call this church, “The Church Without Love.” We will see that these are hard-working people in this church. The name Ephesus means, “To Let Go.” They will indeed let go of their first love that they had at the beginning. Ephesus was the most prominent city in John’s day and it was the closest of the 7 churches to the island of Patmos. Inside the city was the Temple of Diana (or Artemis), which was a wonder of the world. The Temple of Diana promoted sexual immorality. It was also famous for the Library of Celsus and it had a prominent theater that will later be used for gladiator killing sports. It was a city of great commerce during this period.

Revelation 2:1 reads, “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:” This is a great introduction of the speaker of the following words: that is, Jesus. The Greek word for “holds” means “to hold authority.” Jesus holds all authority to the seven churches and the seven angels of the seven churches. Verse 2 states, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false.” Jesus gives a complement of the church before critiquing its flaws. Since we are to pattern ourselves after Jesus, we too ought to give those we intend to critique complements first. Jesus says “I know”. Jesus is all-knowing, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. There is a passage that some point to to say that Jesus is not omniscient: where Jesus says, “No one knows the day or the hour, not even the Son of Man.” Jesus said this when he was on earth his first coming. When Jesus first came to Earth he temporarily left his power in heaven so that he can rely on the Father for his power to be an example to us. Philippians 2:7 says that he made himself to be nothing and he took the form of a servant although he had all power. Of course Jesus now knows the day and hour as he is seated back on his throne of authority. He is not going to one day be surprised and say, “Oh, this is the day?”

He says, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance.” It should be comforting to know that Jesus knows when we are working hard even when man does not give you recognition. It should be the Lord who we are always working for and not just the employer. Also, our work needs to always include the Kingdom’s agenda even if it is secular work. Your occupation is not necessarily your work of calling, but you can incorporate God’s Kingdom agenda into whatever your pursuits are. The Greek for the phrase “hard work” means “exhaustive work.” The church in general during 33 AD to 100 AD was a hard working church, as exemplified through the Ephesian church. This was a period of great expansion, which can be seen in the book of Acts (see Acts 2:42-47). The Greek for the word “perseverance” means “serving patience.”

The second clause of verse 2 says, “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.” The church of Ephesus was a discerning church. They were patient with their service to the Lord, but not patient with evil. They made sure that evil did not creep into the Church by testing the spirits of the prophets and teachers. They attempted to purify their doctrine. During this time there was a doctrine of Apostolic succession, which said that one can become an Apostle when an Apostle lays hands on them and to anoint them. So many were claiming to be an Apostle at this time through Apostolic succession. To actually be a real Apostle, one needs to have been in contact with Jesus. Paul was an Apostle because the resurrected Jesus met him on the Damascus road. John warned in his writings in 1 John 4:1, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether or not they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Even though this church represents the Apostolic age, this applies to all churches in all ages. We still need to test the spirit of the teachers and preachers to make sure they are speaking sound doctrine: that which does not contradict Scripture.

Verse 3, Jesus says, “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” The word “persevered” in the Greek here means “suffering patience.” The church at this time was persecuted, but not as much as it will be in later times. To see how much the church at this time was persecuted, one can read Paul’s struggles (see 2 Cor. 4:8-12; 2 Tim 3:11) and the book of Acts. All Apostles, except the Apostle John, was martyred for their faith. In spite of this, the church grew in great numbers.

Jesus will next state their flaw, which we will pick up in the next lesson.
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Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 13) (verses 1 - 3)
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