Revelation 2:1 Index
"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;"
Research Material

"Unto the angel..." (Revelation 1:20)

"...of the church of Ephesus..."

  • GREETING: Salutation to the church - "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus..." (KC 32)
  • HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
    • Ephesus means desirable. (KC 32)
    • Ephesus was the largest city in Asia Minor during the time of the apostle Paul. It had a population of at least 225,000 when the Christian church was established, and some historians hold that, at the height of its witness, the church had over 50,000 members. Its missionary endeavors were unequaled in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. "And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 19:10).... The church in Ephesus had a wonderful list of pastors that ministered in that great city. Paul started the church, working there for three years, and the great preacher, Apollos, labored, there as well. Timothy, Paul's protege also pastored the church in Ephesus, and the beloved apostle John, made this his home for awhile. Tradition also says this is where Mary the mother of Jesus lived.... Ephesus was on one of the main routes from Rome to the Orient. It was located in modern Turkey, where the Cayster River flows into the Aegean Sea. This made a natural harbor, and the mild climate and rich soil made for good farming. For this reason, many wealthy businesses were located in the city. In fact, it was one of the richest cities in antiquity and boasted one of the largest banking establishments in the East, housed in the temple of Diana.... Ephesus was taken over by the Lydians in the sixth century B.C., but fell to Cyrus in 546 B.C., becoming part of the Persian Empire. It is referred to as one of the ribs in the bear's mouth in Daniel 7:5, and it fell to Alexander the Great in 334 B.C., becoming part of the Grecian Empire. (Daniel 7:6; Daniel 8:21-22). (KC 33-34)
    • Diana was a many-breasted pagan goddess of fertility. It was believed that she fell from heaven and she was known as "the great mother of the gods." The growth of Christianity in Asia Minor the at en ed the trade of crafting silver images of Diana, and as Christianity was infiltrated with paganism, Diana's image was replaced with that of the Virgin Mary (the Madonna) and worshiped. In fact the title "Mother of God" was given to the Virgin Mary at the Council of Ephesus in AD 151.... The Temple of Artemis was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was 425 feet long and 220 feet wide, covering four times the area of the famous Parthenon of Athens. It had 117 columns, which were 66 feet high and 7 feet in diameter. The building of the temple of Diana took 120 years. It was completed between 430 and 420 B.C.... The theater at Ephesus was able to seat up to 25,000 spectators. It was completed in its present form under Trajan. It was here, in A.D. 57, that Demetrius's protest against the Apostle Paul took place in which the Ephesians cried out for two hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" (Acts 19:34). (KC 34-35)
    • Ephesus seems to show fewer points of analogy than some others, but the keynote of the church is that of change -- it has fallen away from its first love. The admonition to repentance is accompanied by the alternative penalty -- "I will... remove they candlestick out of his place" (Revelation 2:5). This particular warning must have seemed rather a vivid illustration to the Ephesians, more so than to any of the other churches, for before John's time the city had already been compelled to move to keep up with the receding shore line of its harbor, which eventually became completely filled by silt. (Froom 91-92)
    • Some define the name Ephesus as meaning "desirable." In John's day Ephesus was the leading city of the Roman province of Asia, and later was its capital.... It was situated at the western terminus of a great highway that crossed Asia Minor from Syria, and this, together with its location as an important seaport on the Aegean, made it a focal point for trade. Christianity appears to have been preached there first about A.D. 52, by Paul, when he stopped for a short time while homeward bound to Jerusalem and Antioch from his Second Missionary Journey. His friends Aquila and Priscilla settled there at that time, and together with an Alexandrian Jew named Apollos - whose concept of Christianity seems to have been pre-Pentecostal - fostered the work of evangelization until Paul's return, probably a year or two later (Acts 18:19 - 19:7). This time the apostle remained at Ephesus for about three years, longer than at any other place on his recorded missionary journeys. This would seem to indicate that his work there was especially fruitful. His biographer, Luke declares "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jew and Greeks" (Acts 19:10). After his first Roman imprisonment Paul appears to have visited Ephesus again, probably about A.D. 64, leaving Timothy in charge (1 Timothy 1:3). (7BC 742-743)
    • Nothing further is definitely known of the history of the church at Ephesus until its name appears probably about three decades later in the Revelation. However, tradition indicates that John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, became the leader of this church, presumably after the breakup of the Christian headquarters at Jerusalem about A.D. 68, during the Jewish-Roman War. Thus, at the time the Revelation was written, Ephesus must have been one of the leading centers of Christianity. Consequently it was fitting that Christ's first message by John should have been addressed to this church. Its central location with respect to the Christian world as a whole makes all the more understandable the fact that its spiritual condition could well be characteristic of the whole church during the apostolic period, the era of Christian history reaching approximately to the end of the 1st century (A.D. 31-100). It may well be called the Age of Apostolic Purity, an attribute highly desirable in God's sight. (7BC 743)
  • THE CHURCH AGE:
    • The church of Ephesus represents the period from the death of Christ 31 A.D. to 100 A.D. Fresh with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the followers of Christ went out telling everyone of a crucified and risen Saviour who had died to save them from this sinful world. This was a period in church history where the gospel was spread with great rapidity throughout Asia Minor. Paul stated that in his lifetime it had to all of Asia. (KC 34)

"...write; thee things..."

  • IDENTIFICATION: An aspect of Jesus's life that will be an encouragement to the church - "These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;" (KC 32)

"...He that holdeth..."

  • Or "to hold fast," a more vigorous expression than is used in Revelation 1:16. (7BC 743)

"...the seven stars in His right hand..." (Revelation 1:16, 20)

  • Christ defines for us who the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks represent. "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches" (Revelation 1:20).... The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. The word "angels" in the original text, means messengers or ministers. Colossians 1:18 tells us that Jesus never turns the Church over to man. Instead, He holds His ministers in His right hand, caring for and empowering them to preach to the world.... The seven lampstands are the churches, and Christ is walking among them, filling those in attendance with holy oil that they might be a light to the world. The Church does not have light of itself. It is the members who must shine " Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). (KC 34)
  • In a special way the leaders of the church on earth are to be under the protection and control of Christ. In their appointed task they are ever sustained by divine power and grace. It is to be noted that the characteristic way in which Christ introduces Himself to each of the seven churches is drawn from the composite vision John saw in Revelation 1:11-18. (7BC 743)

"...who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;" (Revelation 1:12)

  • A more vigorous description of Christ's relationship to His church than in Revelation 1:13, where John simply refers to Christ as being "in the midst of the seven candlesticks." As the individual churches of apostolic times enjoyed the watchcare, attention, and ministry of Christ, so has the Christian church as a whole throughout the successive periods of its history. Thus is fulfilled His promise to the disciples to be with them "always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). (7BC 743)