“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.’” (Revelation 2.1-3, NKJV)
The church at Ephesus had a great history, being formed through the efforts of Apollos, Aquila, Priscilla and Paul. Paul spent two years lecturing in the school of Tyrannus, and as a result all who lived in Asia Minor heard the word of the Lord. From prison, Paul wrote an amazing letter to the Ephesians enumerating the riches of grace we have in Christ Jesus and also giving military instructions for how to wage spiritual warfare. We do not know who the angel (overseer) of the church was at this time.
Jesus identified Himself to the church of Ephesus as the One who holds the seven stars (messengers) in His right hand and who walks is the midst of the seven golden lampstands (churches). He is in the churches, watching all we do, leading and guiding us by His Spirit. It is His church and Bride, and He has a vested interest in her welfare.
He knew their works. Nothing escapes His attention. He who observes the falling sparrow is well acquainted with all that we do and endure for His name’s sake.
- He knew their labor. The word refers to “intense labor united with trouble and toil.” The Ephesians had agonized in their service to the Lord. They were willing to continue in spite of opposition and at great cost to themselves.
- He knew their patience. This describes the characteristic of a person who is not swerved from his or her purpose, regardless of the trials or difficulties faced. The Ephesians had suffered long and kept the faith.
- He knew that they couldn’t tolerate evil. Ephesus was steeped in sensuality, immorality, idolatry and the occult, but the church erected a strong barrier preventing it from infiltrating the church. A healthy body is able to ward off infection.
- He knew that they had tested so-called apostles and found them to be liars. All that glitters is not gold. Many who claim to be sent by God are in fact hypocritical liars. The church had a good investigation system for exposing them.
- He knew that they had persevered without becoming weary. The word means to pick up something and carry it or to bear what is burdensome. They had borne their load for the long haul and didn’t give up.
The Ephesians really had a lot going for them, which the Lord was very careful to point out. I think that if Jesus said these things about us, we would feel pretty good. But as we will see tomorrow we can have many commendable things going for us and yet one thing is wrong. Jesus, as a skillful surgeon, knows just where to place the scalpel to remove the cancer. He who loves us with an everlasting love is passionate against anything that would separate us from Him.
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