Morning Bible Study
Even though we think of the Book of Revelation being about the future, we
will see that its real aim is to affect the present. The entire book is written to seven churches,
and the specific letters to the seven churches is at the heart of what the book
Applying the Seven
With the seven letters to these seven churches in Asia, we are going to see
principles that apply on a variety of levels.
1. Seven churches
There is a sense in which these are seven literal letters written to seven
specific, historical, literal churches that existed about 2,000 years ago.
2. The entire church
With the number seven being a symbol of things complete or perfect, there
is a sense in which these letters are written to every part of the universal
church of Jesus Christ throughout history.
Jesus will give the admonition in each of the letters:
(Re 2:7 NKJV) “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
In other words, these letters are for all churches to pay
Throughout church history we have seen various movements, divisions, or
denominations spring up.
churches can be a picture of seven types of denominations.
There will be some denominations that will look a bit like
the loveless Ephesus, while others might look like lukewarm Laodicea.
churches can be like the different types of churches you will find in each
Not every Calvary Chapel or Baptist church has the same
The different churches can become pictures of different types of
Jesus not only addresses the letters to the “churches”, but to individual
(Re 2:7 NKJV) “He who has an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit says to the
There are going to be some
people who have a tendency to be more like one church than another.
If you are honest with yourself, you are going to find that each of us has a tendency towards all
Everyone in this room who has an ear to hear, ought to pay attention to
what Jesus is saying to all the churches.
I believe there is a prophetic undercurrent with these letters as well.
You can see patterns in church history that roughly parallel the
progression of these churches.
There is an order
to the churches. The progression of the
“flavor” of one church to the next can be seen in church history if you stand
back and look at the bigger picture.
We’ll talk about this later (at end of chapter 3)
Structure of the
As we go through the letters, we’re going to see that they all follow a
pattern. There are seven elements that are
common to most of the letters. I’ll tell
you more next week …
2:1-7 The Letter to Ephesus
:1 “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
:1 the church of
Show “Map to
letter was written, Ephesus was the major city of Asia Minor.
In John’s day,
Ephesus was the second largest city in the world after Rome. It had a population somewhere around 500,000
The great temple
of Artemis was located at Ephesus and considered one of the seven wonders of
the ancient world. It was considered the
largest building in the world at that time.
The history of the church of Ephesus:
Both Paul and Apollos had a hand in the first preaching of the gospel in
Ephesus, but it wasn’t until Paul
stopped through on his third missionary journey (AD 53) that the church
three years in Ephesus, the church grew and ended up influencing most of Asia
at that time.
:1 the seven stars
–these stars were symbolic of the seven “angels” or “leaders” of the seven churches (Rev. 1:20)
:1 the seven golden
lampstands – these are the seven churches that Jesus is writing these letters to (Rev. 1:20)
:1 who walks in the
Last week we talked about how Jesus here was dressed like a priest. In the Holy Place the priest would enter
every day to clean, refill, and relight the lamps.
We as the church are the “lights of the world”. Jesus is walking among the lampstands
cleaning and helping His church to be bright lights.
:2 “I know your works,
your labor, your patience,
Jesus appreciates that this is a church that has worked hard for the Lord.
:2 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;
– bastazo – to take up with the
hands; to sustain
They did not
“put up with” evil people.
:2 you have tested
– peirazo – to test: for the purpose
of ascertaining quality
There was a
freshman who won first prize at his Science Fair.
In his project
he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total
elimination of the chemical “dihydrogen
1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
2. It is a major component in acid rain
3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
4. Accidental inhalation can kill you
5. It contributes to erosion
6. It decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
7. It has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients
He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical. Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and
only one knew that
the chemical was - Water! The title of
his prize winning project was, “How Gullible Are We?”
Sometimes Christians are just a bit too gullible.
When Paul gave his parting words to the elders at Ephesus some forty years
earlier, he gave them a warning about what was up ahead and what to do about
(Ac 20:29–30 NKJV) — 29
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you,
not sparing the flock. 30
Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things,
to draw away the disciples after themselves.
John himself had warned the church at Ephesus:
(1 Jn 4:1
NKJV) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits,
whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the
Apparently the church at Ephesus had taken these warnings to heart.
They became known as the church that dealt with the “wolves”, and Jesus commends them for
:3 and you have
persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and
have not become weary.
– bastazo – to take up with the
hands; to sustain (“bear” in vs. 2)
Even though they did not “put up with” evil people, they did “put up with”
the difficulties of their lives.
– hupomone – steadfastness,
constancy, endurance; it’s staying true even when things get tough. (“patience”
in vs. 2)
– kopiao – to grow weary, tired,
exhausted with toil or burdens (“labor” v.2)
Several times now Jesus has commended them for their endurance.
Roy Cleveland Sullivan
was a U.S. park ranger in Virginia, 1942-1977.
sad is that after enduring all these difficulties, Roy died at the age of 71
from a self-inflicted gunshot wound over unrequited love.
He endured lightning strikes, but quit over matters of the
Sometimes the heart issues are the most difficult ones.
former surgeon general of the United States and a vocal opponent of abortion on
demand, tells of a family whose severely handicapped child he delivered and
helped to keep alive after birth. He writes, “I asked the child’s mother,
‘What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you?’”
‘Having our child born with defects that required thirty-seven operations to
“Then I asked, ‘What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?’
‘Having our child born with defects that required thirty-seven operations to
Koop goes on to explain: “I know what she means. It’s been terribly hard on
them, but, through the experience, they’ve grown enormously as a family.
They’ve had a remarkable spiritual reawakening. One of their sons is now in law
school planning to defend the rights of the handicapped. The other child has
now had fifty-five operations, with one more scheduled. Despite the hardships,
it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience for them.”
-- Ben Patterson, "A Faith Like Mary's,"
Preaching Today, Tape No. 87.
There is great treasure in learning to endure. James writes,
(Jas 1:2–4 NKJV) —2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various
trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have
its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Learning to endure results in “perfection” or “maturity”.
:4 Nevertheless I
have this against you, that you have
left your first love.
:4 love – agape – brotherly love, affection, good will, benevolence
– protos – first in time or place
:4 you have left
– aphiemi – to send away; of a
husband divorcing his wife; to leave
It’s not a coincidence that Jesus uses a word that can be used for divorce.
The Bible tells us that our relationship with Jesus is like the marriage
between a husband and wife.
There are going to be principles that we will talk about here in terms of
our relationship with God, but they are the same principles that apply in a
Leaving my love?
Relationships go through stages.
There’s the first crazy in love stage.
And things can go downhill from there.
“Bob Smiley For Newlyweds
The thing is –
it doesn’t have to only go downhill.
God wants your
love for Him to grow warmer, not colder.
Love does change. It can mature. Or it can lessen.
How would you characterize your love for the Lord?
:5 Remember therefore
from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works,
– metanoeo – to change one’s mind, not
an emotional change but a change of choice
The way back
Jesus tells the church to do three things.
All are “commands”. None are
Look back to see where you’ve fallen from.
Look back to when you used to do things out of love for Jesus instead of
because you “had to”.
Has there ever been a time when you loved the Lord more than you do now? Do
you remember what it was like when you had a stronger love for the Lord?
For those of you who are new Christians, pay attention! There may be a time when you too will find
your love growing cold.
Something has come between you and Jesus and you need to turn around, you
need to remove the thing that’s standing between you and Jesus.
It might be a relationship.
Somebody has entered your life that has become a bigger
priority to you than the Lord.
It could be one of those bad fantasies – some guy or girl
that shouldn’t be in your life, but you are too infatuated to let them go.
It could be a good person in your life – your husband,
wife, kids – but somehow you’ve allowed them to become a higher priority than
It might be your job
You’ve gotten so sucked into working hard and advancing at
work that you’ve neglected your walk in the Lord.
God wants you to do an excellent job at work, but He
doesn’t want your work to be a bigger priority than He is in your life.
It might be “stuff”.
Jesus told a parable about a farmer not having a good crop
because the seeds he planted got choked out by thorns.
(Mat 13:22 NLT) The
thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too
quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of
wealth, so no crop is produced.
Has your quest for more “stuff” or even just holding on to
the “stuff” you already have – crowd out your time with Jesus?
It might be a disappointment
Something didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. You feel like God let you down. You haven’t realized yet that God may be
trying to do something in your life.
Whatever it is,
repent. Change your mind. Turn around.
Find the kinds of things you used to do when you were in love with Jesus,
and do them all over again.
It starts by repenting, changing your mind.
It continues by action, doing things that come from a love
Did you use to read your Bible all the time? Did you use to pray all the time? Did you use to go to church every chance you
could? Did you use to tell people about
Jesus? Then do all these things, not
because you have to, but because you want to love Him more.
The lessons between Jesus and the church apply marriage.
Marriage often goes through cycles.
Love can run hot and cold.
When love grows cold, don’t bail out on the marriage, get
the love back.
it used to be like.
Pray that God
will restore your love.
Repent – get
rid of the very real things or people that are hurting your marriage.
Repeat – start
doing those loving things.
:5 or else I will
come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
– kineo – to cause to go, to move
from a place
There has been no church in Ephesus for almost 1500 years.
:5 out of its place
Where is the “place” of the lampstand? In the presence of Jesus in the Holy
Jesus warns the Ephesians to pay attention to the issues of the heart.
There is no longer a church in Ephesus.
A little girl
got home from Sunday school, where she had been taught the verse: Let your
light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to
our Father who is in heaven. She asked her mother, when she repeated the verse,
what it meant. Her mom said, “Well, it means that when you are good and kind and thoughtful
and obedient, you are letting Christ’s light shine in your life before all who
The very next Sunday in Sunday school, the little girl got in a bit of a
fight with another student and created somewhat of an uproar—to such an extent
that the Sunday school teacher had to go and find her mother to get her settled
down a bit in the class. Her mother was concerned when she got to the classroom
and said, “Sweetie, don’t you remember about letting your light shine for the
Lord before men?” The girl blurted out, “Mom, I have blowed myself out!”
W. Frank Harrington, "The Love That Brought Him," Preaching Today,
Tape No. 51.
I think Jesus is warning the church at Ephesus that if they don’t take the
state of their heart seriously, they will have “blowed themselves out”.
:6 But this you have,
that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
– Nikolaites – “victory + people”
We know very little about these people.
We’ll talk more about them in two weeks.
:7 “He who has an ear,
let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
How many people in this room have an ear?
I have to confess that for the last 41 years, my love for the Lord has gone
up and down and up and down. I have
learned that I MUST keep coming back.
This is a warning that you can’t avoid.
:7 To him who
overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the
midst of the Paradise of God.” ’
:7 the tree of life
There was a
tree of life in the Garden of Eden. Adam sinned and we lost
another tree at Calvary. Jesus died for
our sins and brought life back to us.
God’s love for us was demonstrated there.
Jesus promises eternal life to those who “overcome”
What is required for Eternal Life?
(1 Jn 5:4–5 NKJV) —4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is
the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that
Jesus is the Son of God?
Jesus said we must “overcome”. It’s our “faith” that overcomes.
Have you put your life into the hands of Jesus?