THE EPHESUS LETTER
Does the idea of exploring old mysteries intrigue you? Then you may be fascinated by astounding spiritual clues hidden within 7 ancient letters written to 7 churches in Asia Minor. This 7 part series is simply an introduction to a small portion of Revelation, the last book, and an entirely prophetic book of the Bible. We’re on a search for clues to determine the essential value of these letters. However, for a more detailed or intensive study of Revelation, you may wish to review other web studies such as those found at apocalipsis.org.
As mentioned in our Introduction, the 7 letters to the 7 churches were the beginning of a vision recorded by a disciple of Jesus, John of Patmos in the last book of the Bible sometimes entitled, ‘The Revelation‘. (Note: When studying prophetic writings of the Bible, it is important to realize prophetic writings reveal mysteries and truths, as outlined in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 28: 8-9): 8From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. 9But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.” Jeremiah 28:5-9
Armed with this insight into ‘true’ Bible prophecy, let’s take a ‘sneak peek’ visit to Ephesus. The Ephesus Church was an important and mature church in the time of early followers of Jesus Christ. The church was situated in the seaport city of Ephesus, which was a leading capital of some quarter of a million people. As you may already know, the Apostle Paul wrote a long letter to the Ephesians, which informs us that this church probably played a key role in the lives of early followers of Jesus Christ. However, the Ephesian society of the day was powerfully influenced by false gods and idolatry. Chief amongst these ‘gods’ was a female fertility god, Artemis. People believed Artmenis brought wealth and revered her by building her a temple. The temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. Within this ‘other gods’ environment, Christianity was considered a dangerous influence with its emphasis on humility and moderate living and worship of one true God. Non-Christians feared losing their wealth if they offended Artemis and allowed Christianity to take hold.
Time to open Mystery Envelope #1 (or should that be unroll the scroll of Letter # 1?) (a drum roll, please…) As we read the Letter to the Ephesus Church: (Revelation 2: 1-7) …we discover that it opens on a positive note:
I KNOW THE MANY GREAT THINGS YOU’RE DOING…
This letter is addressed to the angel’ (some texts say ‘leader’) of the church in Ephesus. Jesus commends the Ephesus Church for working hard and for their godly patience in the midst of trials and sufferings. The letter shows us that the Ephesus Church aren’t ‘quitters’. They are disciplined, determined and make godliness a priority. They don’t tolerate sin. They are adept at examining ‘leaders’. This church even uncovered ‘leaders’ amongst them who were false and had lied about being apostles. The Ephesus Church stayed on its spiritual toes by also silencing the ungodly influence of a group called the Nicolaitans (better known as the Balaamites, who had seduced the Israelites into immorality). However, in the midst of approval, this church receives a solemn warning. In spite of their merits, we hear in the letter that the Ephesus Church has forfeited something of immense value to their faith– their ‘first love’ – a love for God and putting Him first.
Personal Deduction & Study:
Read through this letter again in Revelation 2: 1-7 . Consider answering the following questions as you read: How is it possible that a Church of Great Things’ might end up doing great things, yet lose sight of their ‘first love’? What might Jesus be asking this church to hear or learn from the Spirit of God? How can Christians listen more closely to God and hear from God’s Spirit?
Collect # 1 of 7 clues here. The same great promise or inheritance available to the Ephesus Church is also for you! What is it?
(Next Letter – No. 2 The Smyrna Letter)
© 2011 S. Michaels