Background and History of the City of Ephesus:
Accordance with the legend the name of the city of “Ephesus / Ephesos” is derived from the “Apasas”, the name of the “Kingdom of Arsawa” (The city of the Mother Goddess / possibly a Hittite fertility deity who subsequently became identified with “Diana”). Ionian immigration started around 1200 B.C. (this city, in accordance with Tacitus records, was founded in 1400 B.C.) and since them the city is known as an Ionian Greek City, under the leadership of Ionian Androclus, son of Crodus. In the middle of the Sixth Century B.C. the city was captured by the Lydians. In 541 B.C. Croesus (their King) was routed by the Persians and Ephesus was joined to other cities in the Ionian confederacy. Was during this period of time that their deity was identified with “Diana”, also known as “Artemis”. During the Peloponnesian wars served as a key naval based. In 334 B.C. it felt to the Macedonian Empire under Alexander. The city of
Ephesus sided with Syrian Empire against the Romans and eventually became capital of Asia, with autonomous municipal government and senate.
The city was call the “Queen of Asia”, extremely wealthy and beautiful city in all. Women enjoyed equal rights to Men and were known women artist, sculptors, painters and teachers. During the night time it was lighted with oil lamps around the streets of the city, demonstration of their opulence and wealth. Later in history when the Christians were brought from all over the Roman Empire to be flung by lions, Ephesus was also called “The Highway for Martyrs”. The Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) was build by Croesus before his death and destroyed by a fire on 356 B.C. (same night that “Alexander the Great” was born). Alexander offered to rebuild the temple, but the Ephesians refused the offered because in accordance with them there was not proper for a “god” (Alexander was considered a god) to build another god’s temple. Later on one of Alexander’s generals rebuilds the Temple of Artemis.
It was located near the river Cayster (now Lower Meander) and it was the main way of communication between Rome and Eastern Provinces. One main road ran eastward through a pass to Sardis and then to Galatia and beyond. Another lead to Magnesia and up to the Valley of the River Meander to Iconium; a third ran through Collasae and Laodicea to the Euphrates. Through the port were a continual commerce and trade with Italy and Greece.
Architectural features, such as the theater which was 495 feet in diameter and held 25,000 people (Acts 19). The Marble Way, lined with status and fountains, ran from the temple of Artemis through the city to the Megnesia Gate. This particular aspect of this road in conjunction with the temple of Artemis was with the purpose to bring the sensation to the inhabitants of the city of Ephesus as if Artemis was blessings their city through out their limits boundaries. The most powerful and part of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” is in fact the temple of Artemis. This temple was four times larger than the Parthenon at Athens, and stood on a platform of 425feet by 220 feet. The temple itself was 340 by 165 feet. It was composed of 120 Ionic columns each of 60 feet high.
It was in this temple in were Paul was preaching against the ecstatic sexual depravation on the rituals taking place by the locals. These rituals involved both males and females prostitutes. This city was also famous for the searching of the knowledge such as math, astrology, magic and many other rituals at the time of Paul. Many of these magicians and fortune tellers heard the Word of God; they themselves burned their books and other artifacts, allowing the Gospel of the Lord to grow in an incredible manner. Ephesus became very important for the growth of the Gospel of the Lord. Later due to the gradual unusable harbor (due to the erosion caused by the deforestation on the area) the main road was diverted to Smyrna. When the income of such rituals at the temple was threatened by Paul’s preaching the mob (these were financially depended from the temple rituals) went against his life and he left Ephesus. In this city of Ephesus it was established the first bank in the history of human kind and it function under the chief priest of the temple.
It is believed that Timothy became their first bishop (1st Tim 1:3):
1Ti 1:3 LITV
(3) Even as I called on you to remain in Ephesus, (I going to Macedonia), that you might charge some not to teach other doctrines,
It is also here in Ephesus that we find Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos. It was here also that the bishop of Ephesus was accorded rank and authority of a patriarch over the churches in the province of Asia and in 431 A.D. the Emperor Theodosius II called a general church council at Ephesus to consider the hotly argumentative hard to swallow question of the time whether the Virgin Mary should be described as the mother of God. This particular and very important point on the Christian teachings was occupying much of the time of the members of the assemblies in determine if it was “Christotokos” (Birth giver of Jesus Christ and not Birth giver of God) or “Theotokos” (Birth giver of Christ and Birth giver of God). Two Hundred bishops on what it was a third Ecumenical Council decided concerning this subject in an affirmative way and in favor of “Theotokos”.
In 262 A.D. the city of Ephesus was destroyed by the “Goths” and it is today but a sad reminder of its former glory, as a small unpretentious village of Selҫuk in Turkey.
We had finished a simple but very important background on this particular assembly. Now let’s start with the body of Chapter 2 of the Book of Revelation in regard to the assembly of the Ephesians.
Rev 2:1 LITV
(1) To the angel of the Ephesian assembly, write: These things says the One holding the seven stars in His right hand, He walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:
Remember that in the previous chapter (Revelation Chapter 1), the meaning of the star was given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ:
Rev 1:11 LITV
(11) saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last; also, What you see, write in a scroll, and send to the seven assemblies of Asia: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.
Rev 1:20 LITV
(20) The mystery of the seven stars which you saw on My right, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are angels of the seven assemblies, and the seven lampstands you saw are seven assemblies.. Below is an image of the lampstand described on the Book of Revelation.
The angel that is mentioned in the Book Revelation Chapter 2 verse 1 is no one else than one of the seven angels on His right hand that He (The Lord Himself) will use as messenger to take the letter that the Lord Himself is dictating to the Apostle John tailored specifically for the assembly of Ephesus. All through the Bible, we see how the angels are use by the Lord as messengers for His cause and will, with no differences in this particular time.
I use the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible and based on this version of the Holy Bible there are 191 verses that mention the word “angel” and the word “angel” itself is 200 times among those 191 verses. Using the same translation we can find that the same word, “angel”, in the Book of Revelation is used 53 times on a total of 53 verses of the Book.
Please, pay close attention to the verse in Rev 1:11 and how detailed God is in His instructions to the Apostle John. God specifically indicated to John to (see, write, send) write whatever John sees in a scroll and to send it to the seven assemblies of Asia. He never indicated to John to send it to the angel of the assembly. He said to send it to the assembly. The angel that God is referring to is the messenger that God has prepared for the message to be sent with. Noticed carefully how in verse 20 of the same chapter, God gives the meaning of the mystery of the stars in the hand of God, and God identified them as “…the seven stars are angels of the seven assemblies,…”. These seven angels are in the hand of God because they are under the command and control of the All Mighty God as trusted messengers to each of the assemblies.
Why is this so important, you may ask? It is because, understanding that there is no hierarchy on the Body of Christ (this is once we are with the Lord and from the eye of the Lord there is no hierarchy other than the Lord as the One in Command. The men had created a hierarchy because their sinful nature does not allow them to keep the All Mighty as the One in control). In the Body of Christ there is no distinction of any one more or higher than the other, but everyone equal and at the same level thru the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ. First we must look at the time in were the disciples of the Lord asked Him who was the greater in the Kingdom of Heaven? And this was His response…
Mat 18:3-4 LITV
(3) And He said, Truly I say to you, Unless you convert and become as the little children, not at all can you enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
(4) Then whoever will humble himself as this little child, this one is the greater in the kingdom of Heaven.
As you can see there is no one higher or lower, with more nor less responsibilities nor more nor less either obligations that the other in the Body of Christ which is the Church, everyone has the same responsibilities and obligations. You might say, what Paul say about the different gifts? Well here is what I like to bring to your attention…
Rom 1:11-12 LITV
(11) For I long to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, for the establishing of you;
(12) and this is to be comforted together among you, through the faith in one another, both yours and mine.
The spiritual gifts imparted to us as members of the Body of Christ are for the mutual edification and to help the establishment (to help the foundation) of each other through the faith in one another. In a way that we will continue our Christian journey. But this is another subject.
Click on this link to view the PDF Format File illustrating in a more clear and concise manner the Letter to the Ephesian Assembly Rev 2:1-7 (Letter to the Ephesians’ Assembly Format).
Continuing with Rev 2:1
Rev 2:1 LITV
(1) To the angel of the Ephesian assembly, write: These things says the One holding the seven stars in His right hand, He walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:
God also indicated to John that he not only is holding the seven stars in His right hand but also is walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstand… When the Lord God came in the person of the Lord Jesus the Christ (The Only Begotten Son of GOD), He suffered
For all of human kind on the Cross, died as a Man on the Cross carrying our sins with Him, and paying for our debt as sinners.
Isa 53:9-12 LITV
(9) And He appointed Him His grave with the wicked, but He was with a rich man in His death; though He had done no violence, and deceit was not in His mouth.
(10) But Jehovah pleased to crush Him, to make Him sick, so that If He should put His soul as a guilt offering, He shall see His seed; He shall prolong His days; and the will of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand.
(11) He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul; He shall be fully satisfied. By His knowledge the righteous One, My Servant, shall justify for many, and He shall bear their iniquities.
(12) Because of this I will divide to Him with the great, and with the strong He shall divide the spoil; because He poured out His soul to death; and He was counted with those transgressing; and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for those transgressing.
He Himself told the disciples that He was going to leave behind the “Counselor, the Holy Spirit”…
Joh 20:21-22 LITV
(21) Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you. As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.
(22) And saying this, He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.
Act 1:8 LITV
(8) but you will receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you will be witnesses of Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Read also the following verse:
Isa 9:6 LITV
- For a Child is born; to us a Son is given; and the government is on His shoulder; and His name is called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isa 11:1-2 LITV
(1) And a Shoot goes out from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch will bear fruit out of his roots.
(2) And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest on Him; He will have the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.
Why I made these references? This proves that when the Lord left, He left behind the Holy Spirit to guide us and to represent Him here on Earth while the time of the will of God will be done. God is walking in the midst of the lampstands and is up to us to claim His presence. God is in the midst of all the assemblies because He is impartial and has no preferences. He loves all of us the same.
Also we must understand the particular way these seven assemblies were chosen by the Lord. Please remember we already review the reason why there are seven assemblies. The number seven mean “completeness”, this number is not a holy number, remember the Dragon and the Beast out of the Sea both have seven heads and they are not holy, even though they are part of the Holy Plan of GOD. The reason there are seven assemblies is because through these seven assemblies it is seen the church as a whole unit and completion.
Rev 2:7 LITV
(7) The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To the one overcoming, I will give to him to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.
Another important subject to notice is that all the seven letters were sent to the seven assemblies. In other words, each assembly received the full pack of seven letters whether it had their name on it or not, but it was included on the spiritual delivery. Noticed this in the beginning of the Rev 2:7 in were the Lord in a very clear and specific way declared the plural of the word “assemblies” but in contrast He uses only a singular when referring to the hearer.
Rev 2:2 LITV
(2) I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and that you cannot bear evil ones; and you tried those pretending to be apostles and are not, and found them to be liars.
Everyone in the Body of Christ knows well and recognized the Omniscience and Omnipresence, All Powerful and All Mighty Creator God, but as our Father, He still reminding us His attributes, for us to understand that He cares.
Let’s analyze the following terms, these analysis are based on the KJ Translation of the Holy Bible:
Works = G2041
From ἔργω ergō (a primary but obsolete word; to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication an act: – deed, doing, labour, work.
Total KJV occurrences: 176
Labour = G2873
From G2875; a cut, that is, (by analogy) toil (as reducing the strength), literally or figuratively; by implication pains: – labour, + trouble, weariness.
Total KJV occurrences: 19
Patience = G5281
From G5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: – enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).
Total KJV occurrences: 32
Bear = G941
Perhaps remotely derived from the base of G939 (through the idea of removal); to lift, literally or figuratively (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.): – bear, carry, take up.
Total KJV occurrences: 27
Apostles = G652
From G649; a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (apostle), (with miraculous powers): – apostle, messenger, he that is sent.
Total KJV occurrences: 81
Liars = G5571
From G5574; untrue, that is, erroneous, deceitful, wicked: – false, liar.
Total KJV occurrences: 3
These seven assemblies described in a prophetic way the future of the “Body of Christ” here on Earth. If you read carefully, you will notice that there is a gap in time between the 69 weeks and the Seventieth week of Daniel in chapter 9. That gap is what I believe to be the time of the Church under the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dan 9:24-27 LITV
(24) Seventy weeks are decreed as to your people, and as to your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make atonement for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
(25) Know, then, and understand that from the going out of a word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem, to Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks and sixty two weeks. The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in times of affliction.
(26) And after sixty two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of a coming ruler shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end shall be with the flood, and ruins are determined, and war shall be until the end.
(27) And he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week. And in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. And on a corner of the altar will be abominations that desolate, even until the end. And that which was decreed shall pour out on the desolator.
Click on this link to see a diagram of the Weeks of the Book of Daniel on a PDF Format (Time Table of the Weeks on Daniel 9 ) this second link will illustrated the chapters of the Book of Daniel in a chronological order also on a PDF Format ( Daniel’s Timeline Based on Chapters on PDF ).
After the Book of Acts (which cover the first 30 plus years of the Church foundation and historical data) and some small details that either could be seeing or implied through out Paul’s writings, there is not much we can see in and through the Bible that tell us the history of the Church. There is also a very important point to observe about these seven assemblies and that is, the order in were they are placed; it does match the history of the Church. If these seven assemblies were placed in any other order other than the one they are, it would it be almost impossible to make this claim. We as believers recognized the power on the will of God and how His will plays in the human history as it does in our individual lives. There are not circumstantial events in the Bible, everything have a place and a time.
God is always in control of the entire Creation and by definition He is also in control of our lives.
Rev 2:3 LITV
(3) And you bore up and have patience and on account of My name you have labored and have not wearied.
Here in verse three of the chapter, the Lord indicated vividly the positive points on this particular assembly. These are, if you will, the “Pros” of this particular assembly. Among the seven assemblies there are some that have “Pros” points and others “Cons” others have them both, but the Lord is very clear on them and on each of those points.
- “…bore up…”
- These mean that the particular assembly pushed/press forward in spite of every thing that came against them.
- This is also in the Pauline’s epistles:
- Php 3:12-14 LITV
- Not that I already received or already have been perfected, but I press on, if I also may lay hold, inasmuch as I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
- Brothers, I do not count myself to have laid hold, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind, and stretching forward to those things before,
- I press on after a mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
- “…have patience…”
- Rom 5:3 LITV
And not only so, but we glory also in afflictions, knowing that affliction works out patience,
- Heb 12:1 LITV
So therefore we also, having so great a cloud of witnesses lying around us, having laid aside every weight and the easily surrounding sin, through patience let us also run the race set before us,
- This particular assembly had been through many afflictions which resulted in their favor, by worked out “patience”. Patience is the step before the “proven character” is worked out on the Christian life. More important it is the fact that “proven character” worked out one of the two elements incorporated into the “Christian Faith” and necessary for our access to the “Grace of GOD” and that is “HOPE”.
- Rom 5:4-5 LITV
(4) and patience works out proven character; and proven character, hope.
(5) And the hope does not put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us;
- Heb 11:1 LITV
- Now faith is the essence of things being hoped, the evidence of things not having been seen.
Now here is where the Lord is extremely specific on His detail of the “Pros”, and that is “…on account of My name you have labored and have not wearied…”
First we must understand that the term “labored” means to work on the fields. This is completely related to one of the jobs of the Body of Christ. But there is no work without the result of the fatigue and thirst. It is then when your prayers and foundation on the Word of God will take effect in you, supplying you with the spiritual nutrients that your Christian life will need.
More importantly this is reference to the “First Century Church’s History”.
This first link is for a PDF File that will illustrate for your convenience the Seven Assemblies related to the History of the Church in a time line. (Time Line of the Church History base on the Seven Assemblies). This second link is a Wikipedia file link to help you to have an overview of the “First Century Church History/Apostolic Age”. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Christianity#Apostolic_Age )
During this period, the apostolic church, as it is named, dedicated much of their time in the “King’s business” but the Lord preferred time with the King (Himself) rather than time in the business of the King. Many times we are more concerned with the responsibilities of the assembly and the human obligations, which included the dissemination of the message. As human, we have the tendency to worry about what is belong to “Cesar” when it comes time to react in the field of the Lord, without remembering that the Lord Himself told us, we have nothing to worry about. The Lord also and in a clear manner said to us the following:
- Mat 6:34 LITV
Then do not be anxious for tomorrow. For the morrow will be anxious of itself. Sufficient to each day is its own trouble.
- Act 2:47 LITV
praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the assembly, the ones being saved from day to day.
Notice how the Lord, not the effort of the apostles, but the Lord’s Himself added to the assembly.
Rev 2:4 LITV
(4) But I have against you that you left your first love.
Here in verse four, the Lord made very clear His discontent with this particular assembly and that was the fact of them to leave behind their “first love”. Let’s make clear the term “first” and the term “love” used here in this verse:
Contracted superlative of G4253; foremost (in time, place, order or importance): – before, beginning, best, chief (-est), first (of all), former.
Total KJV occurrences: 100
From G25; love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast: – (feast of) charity ([-ably]), dear, love.
Total KJV occurrences: 116
As you can observe, first love is referring to the love and mutual relationship between each one of us and God Himself. Once that relationship is establish the rest of all our needs are meets by the immeasurable mercy of the Lord.
How this is seeing on the Church in the human history and time line.
(Below is the link to the First Century Time Line / The Apostolic Age of the Church Click on the link to see the “Time Line”)
I like to make mention a few Biblical references that will make you reasoning this particular verse, maybe in a different way from the traditional perspective.
Here they are:
Rev_3:14-17; Jer_2:2-5; Mat_24:12-13; Phi_1:9, Phi_3:13-16; 1Th_4:9-10; 2Th_1:3; Heb_6:10-11
They did not retain that strong and ardent affection for God and sacred things which they had when first brought to the knowledge of the truth, and justified by faith in Christ. They were new creature in Jesus Gospel and ardent in the “Love for Each Other as Followers of the Way”.
While the Hebrew and Greek words for “love” have various shades and intensities of meaning, they may be summed up in some such definition as this: Love, whether used of God or man, is an earnest and anxious desire for and an active and beneficent interest ins the well-being of the one loved. Different degrees and manifestations of this affection are recognized in the Scriptures according to the circumstances and relations of life, e.g. the expression of love as between husband and wife, parent and child, brethren according to the flesh, and according to grace; between friend and enemy, and, finally, between God and man. It must not be overlooked, however, that the fundamental idea of love as expressed in the definition of it is never absent in any one of these relations of life, even though the manifestation thereof may differ according to the circumstances and relations. Christ’s interview with the apostle Peter on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias (Joh_21:15-18) sets before us in a most beautiful way the different shades of meaning as found in the New Testament words φιλέω, philéō, and ἀγαπάω, agapáō. In the question of Christ, “Lovest thou me more than these?” the Greek verb ἀαπᾶς, agapás, denotes the highest, most perfect kind of love (Latin, diligere), implying a clear determination of will and judgment, and belonging particularly to the sphere of Divine revelation. In his answer Peter substitutes the word φιλῶ, philṓ, which means the natural human affection, with its strong feeling, or sentiment, and is never used in Scripture language to designate man’s love to God. While the answer of Peter, then, claims only an inferior kind of love, as compared to the one contained in Christ’s question, he nevertheless is confident of possessing at least such love for his Lord.
There is also another important point I like to address to the reader of my Blog in regard to this assembly, and that is the mentioning of the “Nicolaitans”.
During the time of Paul there was a resurging of many false preachers, false doctrines and many other doctrines coming from other parts of the known world. Many of them affected directly or indirectly, due to the lack of knowledge of the Gospel of the Lord disseminated through Paul as a vessel. These were rapidly changing times in all aspect of lives such as Social, educational, military, and religious among other aspects of life.
The exact origin of the Nicolaitans is unclear. Some Bible commentators believe they were a heretical sect who followed the teachings of Nicolas (whose name means “one who conquers the people”) who was possibly one of the deacons of the early church mentioned in the Book of Act:
Act 6:5-6 LITV
(5) And the saying was pleasing before all the multitude. And they chose out Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
(6) each of whom they made stand before the apostles. And having prayed, they placed their hands on them.
It is possible that Nicolas became an apostate, denying the true faith and became part of a group holding “the doctrine of Balaam,” who taught Israel “to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.” Clement of Alexandria says, “They abandoned themselves to pleasure like goats, leading a life of self-indulgence.” Their teaching perverted grace and replaced liberty with license.
Other commentators believe that these Nicolaitans were not so called from any man, but from the Greek word “Nicolah”, meaning “let us eat,” as they often encouraged each other to eat things offered to idols. Whichever theory is true, it is certain that the deeds of the Nicolaitans were an abomination to Christ. They, like the Gnostics and other false teachers, abused the doctrine of grace and tried to introduce licentiousness in its place.
Also in accordance with Fausset’s Bible Dictionary:
Of the seven. Probably having no connection with the Nicolaitans, though Epiphanius (adv. Haer. i. 2, section 25) represents him as sinking into corrupt doctrine and practice. Clemens Alex. (Strom. iii. 4) says that Nicolas, when reproached by the apostles with jealousy, offered his wife to any to marry, but that Nicolas lived a pure life and used to quote Matthias’ saying, “we ought to abuse (i.e. mortify) the flesh.” No church honours Nicolas, but neither do they honor four others of the seven men. Confounders of Nicolas with the Nicolaitans probably originated these legends.
But in accordance with Smith Bible Dictionary:
Nic’olas. (victor of the people). Act_6:5. A native of Antioch. And a proselyte to the Jewish faith. When the church was still confined to Jerusalem, he became a convert, and being a man of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom, he was chosen by the whole multitude of the disciples, to be one of the first seven deacons, and was ordained by the apostles. There is no reason, except the simplicity of name, for identifying Nicolas, with the sect of Nicolaitans, which our Lord denounces, for the traditions on the subject are of no value.
All that we should be concerned with is that we do not get cough on the act of the “Nicolaitans”.
God Bless You All!