Losing our first Love
What the city was like?
Ephesus had it’s first Christian contact in Acts 18:18-22 with Aquila and Priscilla. Later, Paul was there for two years, Acts 19:8, 10. Timothy was also there, 1 Tim. 1:3. It was as big as a city comparable to New York today. It housed one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the temple of Artemis, or as it is called in Latin, Diana. It had the right of self-government.
What the Text says about the Church at Ephesus.
- “Angel,” We have just been told what the seven stars and seven angels represent, cf. 1:13, 20. The Lord has the seven stars in his hand, and has walks among the seven golden lamp stands, as inspecting them. Although, this is also a promise from the Old Testament, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people”, (Lev. 26:12). “These are the Words” a solemn wording, similar to “thus says the Lord”. The Lord walks among the seven golden lamps, inspecting them, but also, able to give assistance to the churches.
- The Lord starts to tell the church that he has seen what the church has been up to. He doesn’t start with the bad things, rather, the good things. The “deeds” don’t refer back to specific works, but rather a way of life. “Hard work” in the Greek points to the work the leads to exhaustion. And “perseverance” implies toiling under difficult circumstances. The Ephesians had been warned about false teachers from Paul, Acts 20:29, then got Timothy to go to them to also combat false teachers, I Tim. 3:1-9. John again warns them about testing the spirits in I John 4:1, and 2 and 3 John deal with that issue. So it seems that the Ephesians had a great experience dealing with false teachers. Why is it that they suffered this issue so much? It was because of Ephesus’ location. It was a trade route between Rome and the East, so it got a lot of pagan and pseudo Christian teachers going through it. In fact, the word “false” in the Greek is “pseudo” in this text.
- The Lord again takes up the theme of perseverance, and hard work, but brings a new element into it. They have done it for Jesus’ name, which is a euphemism that means that they did it for Jesus. But this heresy hunting, had taken its toll in the congregation.
- This is the crucial verse in this small letter. Let’s remember that it was told to the Ephesians time and time again by John, that they are given a commandment, to love one another. The expression, does not exclude the love for neighbour as well. Their heresy hunting has created an atmosphere of suspicion, and this does not only stop them from loving God, but also one another, cf. 2 John 5. If we stop loving God, it will ultimately lead us not love our fellow believers, John 13:35.
- “Remember”, is not a suggestion, but rather, a command. Love is picture as a height, and this may be true, because when you are in love, you do feel like you are walking on air!!! Here “Repent”, is not that the church should take a decision once and for all, rather, that the church walks in continues repentance. Repentance is an active step that we should always practice, everyday if we pray the Lord’s Prayer. There’s a warning if repentance is not forthcoming. And it is not referring to the Second Coming, rather, to an immediate judgement.
- The Lord goes back to given them a pastoral commendation after the rebuke just given. The Nocalaitans are mentioned here and in 2:15 in Pergamum, and by the wording of the letter to Thyatira (2:20-21), we can conclude that this sect had influenced or attacked all these three churches. Eusebius, the church historians, says that the sect only lasted a short time. What we know about them is that they claim to practice idolatry and immorality under the banner of spiritual liberty.
- We are exhorted to hear, to pay attention. “let him hear” is a bad translation, since the verb is in the aorist imperative. Some discussions as to which Spirit is here referred, the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Christ. But the admonition is to hear and heed what the Spirit says. A promise for those who overcome is present in all the letters. But our overcoming is not by some special power or miracle, but like our Lord’s overcoming, by being faithful and always perseverance. The reward for perseverance is to eat from the tree of life, which is in paradise. Two words worth looking at. Paradise is of Persian origin that depicts a close garden. We see the tree of life in Genesis 2:9, Genesis 3:22-24 and Proverbs 3:18, where wisdom is called the tree of life. Some have said that the tree of life may now represent the cross, where one finds salvation.
What the text says about US?
Luis Alberto Jovel