Letters to the seven churches in Revelation

Introduction

It is interesting to note that form a geographical stand point the order of the letters addressed to the churches goes up the coast with three cities and churches and down the coast with four cities and churches.  Keep in mind that John is one of the few apostles left at the point in time Revelation was written. He is writing warning the churches that is time for them to take responsibility for the state of the church.

There are six parts to these letters:

1. Address

2, Identificaiton

3. Acquaintance

4. Commendation

5. Exhortation

6. Encouragement

There are three lenses to look through when studying the letters. The first being from a historical perspective. By understanding the community in which the respective church was located allows better insight. Secondly looking at the letter in a futuristic manner. What does the letter say to churches today and in the future. Finally looking at the letters to the seven churches from an indiviidual perspective of how it applies to one personally.




Pictures of Ephesus

Ephesus

The first church mentioned in Revelation is Ephesus. The letter begins by recognizing the hard work and good deeds of the church. The Greek word used for hard working is: kapos which means working to the point of physical exhaustion. The church has preserved and endured. They have been upright. This church was cautious in who they listened to. They were discerning ad tested those claiming to be apostles. They were able t identify when the talk did not equal the walk. The church of Ephesus stayed away from false teaching. 

By all accounts this church appeared to have it all together. However, the church had forsaken their first love. They had been so busy working that they had not worshipped and fellowship with Jesus. Mark 12:30 command us to love the Lord with all our heart mind and soul. We can be hard working, serving, and in ministry but if we move away from our first love, Jesus, then our work is not as meaningful. I Corinthians 13 points out that without love we are nothing.

Acts 19-20 tells us that Paul spent about two years teaching the word at Ephesus. The members of the church had the privilege to be under great teaching and leadership. Oswald Chambers wrote:"It is the most ordinary thing to fall in love. It is the most extraordinary thing to stay there."

Jesus was pleased with the work the church pursued but dismayed by the lack of fellowship. The final part of the letter indicates that the church will not continue if they do not get back to their first love. Their works were most effective only if done in love. The church did die out. It was a huge church with an awesome beginning but they lost their first love and were extinguished.  

o the church in Ephesus 1"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 
      These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

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Church of Ephesus

Future perspective

Many scholars look at the letters to the seven churches as the seven stages of the church age. The thought is that each church represents a different stage in the church age. 

Personal lense

Have you ever been so involved at church that you felt exhausted? Maybe you've served faithfully in the choir, church nursery, as a Sunday school teacher, usher, director, committee member or in another role. Often times leadership in the church is certain to mean extra meetings and planning outside of Sunday. If you have worked tirelessly in ministry and feel burnt out then the letter to Ephesus is for you!

Jesus is clear that He appreciates the effort and hard work. However, He created us for fellowship. Jesus tells us in the New Testament that, He is the vine and we are the branches. A part from Him we can do nothing. If we are to bare fruit in our good works then we must abide in Him and He  in us. The only way that can happen is we are pursuing a relationship with him intentionally. We renew and refresh the relationship with Jesus through the study of His word, worship, prayer and fellowship with other believers as well. Before you get too burned out take time out to spend with Jesus. Maybe the start to abiding is the ability to say no to future obligations so you too can rediscover your first love!

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