Jesus' description of Himself:
The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands
Jesus explains that the "seven stars" are angels of the seven churches, and the "seven golden
lampstands" are the seven churches. Throughout Revelation, the Greek term for angels, "aneloi," was used to refer
to heavenly messengers. The seven lampstands may be reminiscent of the lampstand God directed Bezalel to make
during the construction of the Tabernacle (Ex 37:17-24) and kept in the Holy Place.
Background: As a major trade center and second largest city in the world during the time of the apostles,
Ephesus was known for the Temple of Artemis, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and cult prostitution.
It was also one of the first Asian centers to embrace the Imperial Cult, which was compulsory, and Domitian allowed
Ephesus the title of "guardian of his temple."
Praise and Rebuke:
I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men,
and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and
you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary.
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from
where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your
lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Rev 2:4-5)
Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
What the church of Ephesus did well:
1) The church discerned who was evil and disallowed them in their fellowship.
2) The church discerned who were genuine apostles and expelled those who were false. A short
time later, Ignatius wrote to the church commending them for not giving a home to heresy.
3) Despite the pressure and influence of cult prostitution and worship of Artemis and the
Imperial cult of Domitian, the church persevered as Christians.
4) The church disapproved the practices of the Nicolaitans. While little is known about this
cult, it is believed to be associated with some form of early Gnosticism.
The problem exhibited by the church of Ephesus appears to be righteous behavior without the
deep love and devotion for Jesus Christ. The Believers were reminded of their original fallen sinful condition
(Rev 2:5); serving God is in the context of agape love (see
God is Love) and, like salvation, is not accomplished
by one's own efforts.
Jesus calls upon the church of Ephesus to reflect upon their earlier work with agape love
against their current work without it and repent and make the correction.
Promise to Believers:
To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise
of God (Rev 2:7; 22:1-2).