Paul founded the church at Ephesus around A.D. 52 (Acts 19-20), then appointed Timothy as its pastor around A.D. 65 (1 Timothy 1:3). Paul called the elders of the church to meet him Miletus when he was on his way to Jerusalem. Please read his impassioned last words to them beginning in 20:17.
These seven letters are both timely and timeless. John Stott put it this way: “So what does Christ think of the church? …[Revelation 2 and 3] contains seven letters, each addressed to a particular first-century Christian community in the Roman province of Asia … Although their message is related to the specific situations of those churches, it expresses concerns which apply to all churches. By praise and censure, by warning and exhortation, Christ reveals what he wants his church to be like in all places at all times.” -John Stott, What Christ Thinks of the Church
Over the next seven weeks (one letter each week) imagine Jesus dropping by for a weekly briefing. To do this Jesus invents a “form letter” comprised of a CHARACTERISTIC of the sender; COMPLIMENT to the recipients; CRITICISM against the recipients; COMMAND to the recipients; and a COMMITMENT to all who overcome. Take a few minutes and read through the 2:1-7 and see how these headings apply.
Here are a couple things to note as you prepare for Sunday’s message. Who are the “angels?” Your first response would be white winged Rambos. But that is because of our association of the word angel with the same. But in the first century the word “angelos” could simply mean a human messenger. Each usage of “angelos in 2-3 is singular not plural. Secondly, angels cannot be charged with wrong doing (2;4, 14, 20) and told to repent. Therefore, I think these messengers were what we would call pastors today. (This is the view of Dr John Walvoord, past President of DTS) John due to his ministry in this area would likely have known them.
Now note the eight-fold compliment Jesus pays to them.
But He had a criticism in verse 4. What was it? Right they left their first love. Most commentators think this refers to their love for Jesus, i.e. their love for Him had grown cold. I disagree with this position. So what could it be? Come Sunday and I will tell you.
His criticism is followed by a command to repent (in the first letter it has three steps). Note well, while John’s Gospel written to unbelievers never mentions repentance, Revelation often does. Interesting is it not? Thoughts on why?
Finally he makes a commitment to these believers. What is it? The word for overcomer is “nikaoo” some of you wear this logo!
We are going to have blast Sunday with this passage. So purpose to be there and give God some time this week.