Epistle
A letter sent to a person or group of people. The New Testament contains many epistles from Paul and other leaders to various churches.
The Seven Churches - A Letter to Ephesus
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: The Ephesian Church symbolizes the early Church in the first century.
 
This article is part of a series. We recommend that you first read: Revelation 2-3: Letters to Seven Churches.
 

Read this letter’s full text in Revelation 2:1-7

Background

Ephesus was a prominent city—the gateway to Asia Minor. The city was the center for the worship of Diana (Mother of the gods) and in 480 BC the great temple of Diana was erected here as a symbol to the world. Her temple was four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens and was counted among the seven wonders of the ancient world. The temple was destroyed in 263 AD and only the foundation stones remain.

Historical Application

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (Revelation 2:1).



Public Domain. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seven_churches_of_asia.svg...

Each letter is introduced with a part of the description of Christ in Revelation 1. Here, Jesus walks among the candlesticks demonstrating His abiding presence.

The name Ephesus means "desirable." There was much that was commendable about the Christian Church here in Ephesus. It had patience and good works, and had tested the false teachers and had remained faithful to the truth. The Ephesian Christians hated the "deeds of the Nicolations," a group who sought accommodation with the pagan world and discounted obedience to God's law.

However, by John's day, before the end of the century, the first stages of disunity were creeping into the Church, provoking the admonishment, "Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love" (Revelation 2:4).



Ancient Ephesus Library
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The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Ephesus as well. We know this letter as the book of Ephesians and we learn much about this church from his epistle. Paul beseeches the Ephesian Christians to live worthy of their calling to serve God (Ephesians 4:1-2). He explains to them afresh what it means to have put on Christ (Ephesians 4:17-24). His warning to "grieve not the holy Spirit" (Ephesians 4:30) is an indication of the intensity of the battle for the soul.

Paul calls the Ephesians back to unity (Ephesians 4:3-6), and admonishes them not to sin but to walk in love and the light of the Gospel (Ephesians 4:26). These same sentiments are expressed in Revelation's letter to Ephesus:

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent (Revelation 2:5).

Each of the letters to the seven churches ends with an encouragement to overcome and each church is told of a special blessing they will experience in heaven. The church members of Ephesus are given one of the joys that await all of God's redeemed when they reach heaven:

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7).

Prophetic Application

Artemis, also known as Diana of Ephesus, with her many breasts to nurture the world....

The Ephesian church represents the first century after Christ. The Church had grown into a force to be reckoned with, and Christianity was starting to challenge the religions and ideological institutions of the day.

The apostle Paul remained in Ephesus for more than two years on his third major journey, and his preaching led to a major conflict between the Gospel and the worship of Diana. This preaching turned many away from idol worship, upsetting silversmiths who specialized in the manufacture of idols (Acts 19:26).

Satan can’t stand when souls are taken from his sphere of influence. The rapid spread of Christianity in the first century AD served to escalate the conflict between Christianity and paganism and the inevitable consequence was persecution.

The great pagan religions had been set up by Satan to counterfeit the plan of salvation and to deny access to the world's Redeemer. It has always been Satan's strategy to either force or deceive people to accept the counterfeit rather than the true.

In Ephesus, Christianity struck a blow to the worship of Diana, the Mother of the gods. It is noteworthy that the modern-day equivalent, the worship of Mary as the mother of God, finds its root in Ephesus. In 451 AD, at the Council of Ephesus, the Roman Catholic Church bequeathed the title "Mother of God" to Mary, thus reviving the ancient cult in a modern garb.

Ahead to A Letter to the Church at Smyrna

 

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