The Seven Churches of Revelation, part three

Part 1 @ http://polination.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/the-seven-churches-of-revelation/

Part 2 @ http://polination.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/the-seven-churches-of-revelation-part-two/

Who were the Nicolaitans? @ http://polination.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/who-were-the-nicolaitans/

Book of Revelation, Chapter 2, Verses 1-7: The letter to the church at Ephesus

To the angel of the church in Ephesus, write this:

The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands says this:

I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors. Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. But you have this in your favor: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God.

Each of the seven letters follows the same pattern:

  • Address “To the angel of the church in ___;
  • Description of the exalted Christ, author of the letter;
  • Lessons for the church;
  • Exhortation “Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches”;
  • Promise to all Christians who endure faithfully to the end.

I’ve introduced my idea about the seven churches being periods in church history; I’m not at all sure I’m right so take all this with pounds of salt. Please. That being said …

Ephesus seems to work beautifully as a type for the Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity.

The Apostolic Age was the period dating from the Resurrection of Jesus (c. ca. 33 AD) until the death of the last apostle, John (ca. 115 AD). This was the time when the church had preachers, teachers and witnesses who had known Jesus personally during His time here on Earth and when the books of the New Testament were composed.

Ephesus was the pre-eminent political, commercial and religious city in the Roman province of Asia, second in population only to Rome itself. And, although it existed for centuries before and after, its peak — during the 1st and 2nd century AD — pretty much coincided with the Apostolic Age.

Ephesus temple and theater

After Jesus commissioned the Apostles, they dispersed from Jerusalem (the pre-eminent political, commercial and religious city in Israel) and founded the first Christian communities.

The early church benefited greatly from the Pax Romana and the wonderful system of roads the Romans had built throughout their empire. Ephesus was not only connected to the rest of Asia by these roads, but it also had a great harbor that was served by a magnificent road, 70 feet wide and lined with columns. It must have been really something!

Ephesus imagining the harbor road

Ephesus as a type for the early Church is so cool. The anchor has been a Christian symbol for hope and steadfastness since the Apostolic Age. Imagine Jesus arriving at this grand harbor, putting down anchor and unloading His cargo of Good News!
Anchors from catacombs
And what a rich symbol is the anchor on the original Good News cargo ship when seen in light of Jesus’ admonition about having “lost the love you had at first.” It’s like … get back to the Word, people. “Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first.” I love it!

Speaking of realizing how far you have fallen, getting back to the lost love, etc., check out the image Jesus chose for this letter’s promise!

To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God.

When God created the Garden of Eden, He “made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)

After Adam and Eve disobeyed His command and ate of the latter, He said, “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever?” (Genesis 3:22)

To prevent human beings from becoming immortal, God expelled us from His garden, “stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24)

It’s so perfect!

Sources:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/revelation/2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_Age

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephesus

http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/symbols/anchor.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_standards

http://sietske-in-beiroet.blogspot.com/2010/04/on-tyre-roman-roads.html

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