In the second section of the Book of Revelation which deals with “the things which are” (Revelation 1:19; we come to the letters to the Seven Churches. These letters are inserted between two visions. The Vision of Christ in the middle of the Seven Candlesticks in Chapter 1 then the Vision of the Four and Twenty Elders round about the throne in Chapter 4.
Within these letters we will learn something about each Candlestick individually (each church individually) and how it is applicable in the present and the future.
As he addresses the seven churches of which he was an overseer, John paints a portrait of church history in its entirety.
The seven messages that follow have a four-fold application.…
First, they are to be applied locally. The cities of the seven churches are given in the order of an ancient Roman postal circuit. Making the distribution of these letters to others and to the church that is addressed.
Second, they apply ecclesiastically (relating to the Christian Church). Anyone who cares about the church or is involved with the church needs to study these letters because every problem, difficulty, and challenge facing the church is addressed in these seven letters.
Third, they apply personally. These letters apply to us individually. How can we know that? Each letter ends with “Let hethat hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith.” Anyone with an ear, this is for you.
Fourth, the letters apply prophetically. For us today, most of the events are history because we’re approaching the end of the church age. However, John was writing at the beginning of the church age, the events of which he wrote had not yet transpired.
In addition to a four-fold application, there is also a pattern seen in each letter.…
First, there is positive affirmation. Jesus finds something to affirm or compliment in the churches.
Second, there is corrective exhortation.
Third, there is an eternal motivation.
And finally, there is partial revelation.
“To the angel…
Meaning “messenger,” it is most likely that the word angelousused here speaks of a pastor, or leader.
…of the church of Ephesus…
The church of Ephesus that being addressed is in A.D. 33 to A.D. 100. By A.D. 97—the year John recorded this book—the church was already a mess.
The Book of Acts presents the model of the way the church was supposed to function. But Acts only covers a span of thirty years. By the time John penned Revelation a mere sixty years later, the purity of the church had been compromised to such a degree that they were in a position to hear the Lord say, “Unless you repent, I’ll not stay in your midst” (Revelation 2:5).
These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand,
Who are the seven stars? The leaders or pastors of these seven churches.
…who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.
Where is Jesus walking? In the midst of the church. You will meet believers, former believers, and even unbelievers who say, “Well, I’m not into church.” That’s too bad, because Jesus is. If Jesus is into the church, shouldn’t we be?
Even though these churches we were in a mess and they were hurting Jesus was still walking in their midst.
Revelation 2:2, 3
2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
know = oida, meaning to see…
works = denotes deeds or actions.
if you read it from the sentence structure of the Greeks, your or thy would follow the word works.
So it would read. I know the works of you! Instead of “I know your works.”
Giving meaning that Christ, knew implicitly the personal works of each church and in particular this church…
Jesus gives the precise things that He knows about the church of Ephesus…
kopos = used to depict a farmer who works in his field during the hottest season of the year…
He is describing the church here that it is doing very tiresome and weary work –
Here, Jesus gives His affirmation. He says, “First of all, I affirm you for staying with the task. That is, you’ve worked hard. You haven’t fainted. Often the temptation is when the tough gets going or it the work and the workers gets a little heated is to leave. Here, there is a compliment issued that they stayed the course, they remained faithful.
Galatians 6:9 (KJV) 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Secondly, Jesus affirmed that they’d stood with the truth. They had rooted out the deceivers who have come into your midst.”
Often, I have heard and no doubt you have as well, people saying to us Christians, “Don’t judge me. Didn’t Jesus say to judge not lest ye be judged?”
However, may they be reminded that fifteen verses later, He said, “Beware of false prophets who will come into your midst as wolves in sheep’s clothing. By their fruit you shall know them” (see Matthew 7:15, 16).
So what is Jesus saying? In Matthew 7:1, He says we’re not to judge for condemnation. In verse 15, however, we are instructed to judge for identification.
You have to judge whether or not it’s a lamb or wolf. You have to work through the fluff to find out what lies beneath.
The people in Ephesus tried people who claimed to be an apostle. They had faith but they also had discipline. We need true Apostle’s that will possess the land.
Apostle (during the time of the Greek Orator Demosthenes (384 bc – 322 bc) the word apostolos, was a naval term that described an admiral, the fleet of ships that traveled with him, and the specialized crew that accompanied and assisted him.
This fleet would be sent out to sea to locate territories that civilization was non-existent. Once the territory was discovered and identified the admiral, along with his specialized, apostolic crew, would disembark, settle down, and work as a team to settle the and establish a new community. they would begin to shape and form a strange land into a replica of life as they believed it should be. Their purpose was the total colonization of the strange land.
Among the resources of the Apostle was everything that he would need to build, teach, and reach the natives and then disciple them into this new way of life.
The word apostle was so closely associated with traveling that it became synonymous with the idea of a passport or travel documentation. If a person wanted to travel or exit out of a country, he needed a travel document, this document was called an Apostolos. The same word translated apostle. This document guaranteed the right of passage and the ability to move freely from one place to another.
When the word apostolos was applied to a New Testament individual, it referred to God anointed ministers, who were called by God to lead believers to spiritual heights that would otherwise be not possible without the leadership of an apostolic minister.
A new testament apostle was given revelation of truth and spiritual experiences filled with heavenly insight.
The apostle also was one who had the authority to act in the stead of the one who sent him. Much the way an ambassador works today. Dispatched by the ruling authority to operate and conduct business on behalf of that ruling authority. When the apostle acted and directed, the actions and words were interpreted to be from those that sent him to represent them. The connection between the person who was sent and the sender was nearly inseparable.
So when the people of the early church heard or read the word apostle. They understood what it meant. It meant…
This person was selected by God and commissioned to represent the Lord
That apostle arrived in that city or region with a mandate and a vision for establishing the church. He was a pioneer, overseer, coordinator, and the chief leader, for establishing the word of God in the region. He also was a passage way to take the church to new levels through his apostolic anointing.
He was authorized to speak on behalf of the Lord and act on the Lords behalf. and the government of heaven backed him up. Thereby giving the apostle apostolic authority and spiritual backing to accomplish the vision of the heavens.
He was a man of divine revelation, not just a pragmatic idea guy, but supernatural insight and wisdom. That was vital for the growth and building up of the church.