Ephesus: Everything but the One Thing

The seven churches of Asia referred to in the book of Revelation were geographically identified assemblies of ordinary believers.  They each had various conditions of terrain, politics, and economics.  Each received their spiritual identity from Christ.  The messages to these churches train us in living a confident faith-life in the midst of a hostile environment through a process of affirmation, correction, and promise.  These come from the risen Christ, the Head of the Church.  This training takes place in seven areas: to love (Ephesus), to suffer (Smyrna), to tell the truth (Pergamum), to be holy (Thyatira), to be authentic (Sardis), to be missional (Philadelphia), and to worship (Laodecia).

Ephesus was a bustling city on the coast of the Aegean Sea, well known for its commerce, religion, and philosophy.  It was the leading port of Asia Minor, and four major trade routes ran through it.  It was the gateway to Asia.  The city’s Roman Temple of Diana (called Artemis in the Greek), the pagan goddess of  fertility, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Paul founded the church at Ephesus, and he spent three years there teaching and witnessing.  The church was also served by Timothy, Tychicus, Aquilla, Priscilla, and by the apostle John.  Some put the events of church history alongside the seven church letters and observe how they parallel the prophetic history of the church.  In doing this, Ephesus would parallel the Apostolic Period of the church from AD 30-100.

The church at Ephesus was commended for having strong doctrine and solid moral behavior.  Those who rejected the truth or taught strange ideas were not comfortable in this congregation.  But slow, imperceptible, and significant erosion occurred. Their passion and fervor became cold and manifested itself in mechanical orthodoxy.  Doctrinal and moral purity, undiminished zeal for the truth, and disciplined service, are not substitutes for loving Christ.  Those who overcome must do so in truth and in love.   


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