Joe McKeever on Ephesus: The Church That Forgot to Love

“To the angel of the church at Ephesus, write: These things says he who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: ‘I know your works…’” (Revelation 2:1ff) 

The first of the seven churches of Asia Minor is Ephesus. Its letter is found in Revelation 2:1-7.

Blessed are you among churches, Ephesus. 

You were begun, it would appear, by the highly esteemed husband-wife team of Aquila and Priscilla. On his way home from the Second Missionary Journey, the Apostle Paul left Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus but did not stay himself.

Ephesus had the ministry of the gifted Apollos, who would have been a media darling in our modern age from all evidence. (Move over, Joel Osteen!)

Paul spent three years ministering in Ephesus. (Acts 19 mentioned two years and three months, but in Acts 20, Paul tells the Ephesian leaders he spent three years there.) This was the longest time he gave to any one congregation.

Then, Ephesus was pastored by Timothy and later by the Apostle John. They had had the best.

Unto whom much is given, much is required, said our Lord in Luke 12:48.

The City–

Ephesus was the biggest city in Asia and the most important center for commerce, politics and religion throughout the region. With a population of 300,000, it was the third largest city in the Roman Empire.

The Temple of Artemis (Diana) was there. Said to be 400 x 200 feet in diameter and 60 feet tall, with 127 columns this was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Look up the Temple of Artemis and you’ll not be impressed. She was one ugly lady. And because of the emphasis on fertility, the statue was adorned with many female breasts. (Pastors, you probably won’t want to be showing that on the screen!)

Ephesus, we’re told, was considered the dividing point between the East and the West. (Which is interesting, since there is no automatic point delineating East-West the way there is with the North and South. We think of Psalm 103:12, “As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Ephesus was located at the mouth of the Cayster River between the Meander and the Hermus rivers. So it was convenient for travel, trade, cultural mixing, etc. Archeological remains today include a Domitian temple and a huge statue.

Not that any of this matters for our study. I am much aware that commentaries on these seven cities feel a necessity to give details on the city in question. But if I were writing a commentary on my church, to give details about Jackson, Mississippi, and its commerce, culture, history, location and such might be remotely interesting but would have little to do with what the Lord actually was saying in His analysis of the church. So, let’s go on.

I know your works…

The Lord says this to all seven of the churches. It figures, of course, since He “walks in the middle of the lampstands.” He is among us, seeing as no one else does, knowing it all. Nothing is hidden from His searching eyes.

The Lord knows the deeds of this church, its labors (to the point of exhaustion), its perseverance and its love for the truth. The Lord knows how their zeal for truth—pardon me, Truth!—drove them to put on trial some having fake credentials as apostles and putting them out of business. The Lord knows the Ephesians did all these things for His name’s sake, which sounds about as good as we could ask for.

But it isn’t. Something is wrong.

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Source: Church Leaders