Ephesus was the capital and the largest city in the Roman province of Asia, located on the major trade routes. As the chief seaport of Asia, it was a very important commercial and religious center. The city was filled with such public buildings as temples, theaters, gymnasiums, bathhouses, and brothels.
It also was known for the practice of magic and was notorious for immorality and superstition. Yet, the most influential Christian church in the province was in Ephesus.
Read Revelation 2:1-4. How does Jesus present Himself to the church in Ephesus? For what great qualities does Jesus commend this church? What concern does Jesus also express?
In their early days, the Ephesian believers were known for their faithfulness and love (Eph. 1:15). Although they experienced pressure both from outside and inside the church, the Christians in Ephesus remained firm and faithful. They were hardworking and obedient to the truth; indeed, they could not tolerate false apostles in their midst. However, their love for Christ and their fellow members began to wane. Although the church stood firm and faithful, without Christ’s love even their own lamp was in danger of going out.
Read Revelation 2:5-7. What three things does Jesus urge church members to do in order to revive their first love and devotion to Christ and to their fellow believers? How are these three things sequentially related?
Prophetically, the situation in the church in Ephesus corresponds to the general situation and spiritual condition of the church from A.D. 31-100. The apostolic church was characterized by love and faithfulness to the gospel. But by the end of the first century, the church began losing the fire of its first love, thus departing from the simplicity and purity of the gospel.
|Imagine yourself as part of a congregation whose love is waning. The members may not be practicing any known or open sin. On one level, they are even doing what’s right; yet, they suffer from formalism and coldness. How can Jesus’ counsel here free such a church from this situation?|