February 6 – 12, 2022
Ephesus – Desirable (A.D. 27–100)
“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write.” Revelation 2:1
Study Help: The Acts of the Apostles, 281–290; Maranatha, 15
“The True Witness bears testimony in commendation of the diligence of the church at Ephesus, declaring. ‘I know thy works;’ and all His commendations and reproofs are to be strictly regarded, for it is One who knows that speaks.” The Review and Herald, May 31, 1887 [Author’s italics.]
1 THE CITY OF EPHESUS
1.a. What form of worship made Ephesus a religious center? Acts 19:24–37
Note: “In the days of the apostles, the city of Ephesus was famed for the worship of the goddess Diana and the practice of magic. The temple of Diana was considered, for its size and splendor, one of the wonders of the world. Its surpassing magnificence made it the pride of both the city and the nation.” The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1882
1.b. Who were the first converts at Ephesus, and how strongly were they defending the truth? Acts 19:1–3; Revelation 2:2, first part, 3
Note: “On his arrival at Ephesus, Paul found twelve brethren, who, like Apollos, had been disciples of John the Baptist, and like him had gained some knowledge of the mission of Christ. They had not the ability of Apollos, but with the same sincerity and faith they were seeking to spread abroad the knowledge they had received.” The Acts of the Apostles, 282
2 EVIL MEN AND FALSE APOSTLES
2.a. Although the condition of the church at Ephesus was desirable, what kind of men did they have to face? Revelation 2:2, last part; 1 Corinthians 15:32; 2 Corinthians 11:13
Note: “The arrest [of Paul] was affected by the efforts of Alexander the coppersmith, who had so unsuccessfully opposed the apostle’s work at Ephesus, and who now seized the opportunity to be revenged on one whom he could not defeat. Paul in his second epistle to Timothy afterward referred to the machinations of this enemy of the faith: ‘Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil. The Lord reward him according to his works.’ In his first epistle he spoke in a similar manner of Hymeneus and Alexander as among those who ‘concerning faith have made shipwreck;’ ‘whom,’ he says, ‘I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.’ These men had departed from the faith of the gospel, and furthermore had done despite to the Spirit of grace by attributing to the power of Satan the wonderful revelations made to Paul.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 305
2.b. Among the apostles there were some whom they found to be liars. Who were some of these liars? Acts 5:1–10
Note: “Not only to the early church, but to all future generations, this example of God’s hatred of fraud and hypocrisy was designed to be a danger-signal. The brief but terrible history of Ananias and Sapphira has been traced for the benefit of all who profess to be followers of Christ. The punishment that overtook them should be a warning to all to guard against covetousness. It was covetousness that Ananias and Sapphira first cherished. The desire to retain for themselves a part of that which they had promised to the Lord led to fraud and hypocrisy.” The Review and Herald, February 2, 1911
“What is lying against the truth? It is claiming to believe the truth while the spirit, the words, the deportment, represent not Christ but Satan. To surmise evil, to be impatient and unforgiving, is lying against the truth; but love, patience, and long forbearance are in accordance with the principles of truth. Truth is ever pure, ever kind, breathing a heavenly fragrance unmingled with selfishness.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 936
3 A COMPLAINT AND A REPROOF
3.a. After the commendation of Jesus for the good work done by the church at Ephesus, what did Jesus remark? Revelation 2:4
Note: “The words of the True Witness should be carefully studied by all: ‘I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love’—grown cold, unsympathetic; hardness of heart has taken the place of brotherly, Christlike love.” The Review and Herald, February 9, 1892
“ ‘[Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love.’ Revelation 2:4.] Those mentioned in this scripture as losing their first love were not ranked with open sinners. They had the truth; they were established in the doctrine; they were firm to condemn and resist evil. Yet God declared, ‘Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee.’ They were losing their realization of the greatness of the love that God has shown for fallen humanity by making an infinite sacrifice to redeem them.” Ibid., February 25, 1904
3.b. What was the cause of the early Christians losing their first love? John 13:34, 35; 2 Timothy 4:1–4; 1 Corinthians 11:31
Note: “But the early Christians began to look for defects in one another. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour and of the great love He had revealed for sinners. They became more strict in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory of the faith, more severe in their criticisms. In their zeal to condemn others they forgot their own errors. They forgot the lesson of brotherly love that Christ had taught. And, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives, and that soon they would walk in darkness, having shut the love of God out of their hearts.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 241
“But after a time the zeal of the believers began to wane, and their love for God and for one another grew less. Coldness crept into the church. Some forgot the wonderful manner in which they had received the truth. One by one the old standard-bearers fell at their post. … In their desire for something novel and startling [some of the younger workers] attempted to introduce new phases of doctrine, more pleasing to many minds, but not in harmony with the fundamental principles of the gospel.” The Act of the Apostles, 580
4 WARNING BEFORE REJECTION
4.a. What warning and counsel was given to the church at Ephesus which is also extended to our time? Revelation 2:5
Note: “The message to the church at Ephesus is a close, decided personal testimony to them for leaving their first love, and an earnest call to repentance, lest their candlestick be moved out of its place. We need to heed these words of warning, and repent of our sins.” The Home Missionary, November 1, 1897
“The call to repentance is one that cannot be disregarded without peril. A belief in the theory of the truth is not enough. To present this theory to unbelievers does not constitute you a witness for Christ. The light that gladdened your heart when you first understood the message for this time, is an essential element in your experience and labors, and this has been lost out of your heart and life. Christ beholds your lack of zeal, and declares that you have fallen, and are in a perilous position.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 370, 371
4.b. Under what condition is there hope for a church or an individual that is in danger of losing the first love? 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 18:8; Ezekiel 18:31
Note: “The only hope for churches today is to repent and do their first work. The name of Jesus does not kindle the heart with love. A mechanical, formal orthodoxy has taken the place of deep, fervent charity and tenderness to one another. Will any give heed to the solemn admonition, ‘Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die?’ Fall upon the Rock, and be broken; then let the Lord Jesus prepare you, to mold and fashion you, as a vessel unto honor. Well may the people fear and tremble under these words: ‘Except thou repent, I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.’ What then? ‘If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!’
“The Spirit will not always strive with the heart that is filled with perversity. The infinite, forbearing One, who paid the price of His own blood to save His people, is addressing them. Who will hearken to His warning?” Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, 102, 103
5 WONDERFUL PROMISES
5.a. What other commendation is given to the church at Ephesus, and why? Revelation 2:6
Note: “The death of God’s beloved Son on the cross shows the immutability of the law of God. His death magnifies the law and makes it honorable, and gives evidence to man of its changeless character. …
“But the doctrine is now largely taught that the Gospel of Christ has made the law of God of no effect; that by ‘believing’ we are released from the necessity of being doers of the word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned.” The Signs of the Times, February 25, 1897
5.b. What promise is given to the overcomer in this period? Revelation 2:7
Note: “The fruit of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden possessed supernatural virtue. To eat of it was to live forever. Its fruit was the antidote of death. Its leaves were for the sustaining of life and immortality. But through man’s disobedience death entered the world. Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the fruit of which he had been forbidden to touch. This was his test. He failed, and his transgression opened the floodgates of woe upon our world.” Medical Ministry, 233
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 Why does the word “Ephesus” represent the early church?
2 Who hindered the work of the early church?
3 What caused the downfall of this church period?
4 What hope was given to the early church?
5 What was promised to the overcomers at Ephesus?
Copytight 2000, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.