The Book of Revelation Part 3: Ephesus

Paul Preaching in Ephesus, (1649) Eustache Le Sueur
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’-Revelation 2:1-7

Commentary
Verses 1-2: The angels addressed by John are the presbyters or bishops of the churches to which he writes. The Greek word angelos means "one sent," a "messenger." The presbyters and bishops are called by Christ to teach and preside over the temporal affairs of His Church. Ephesus was an important city on the western coast of Asia Minor, which legend claims was founded by the Amazons-a tribe of brutally aggressive female warriors related to the Scythians, and of Indo-European origin. These Amazons are reputed to have been the offspring of Ares, the Greek god of war. Following the research of Derek Gilbert, this may be a connection to the Book of Enoch. Connecting what Ares was primarily known for to the account of the Watchers, we can make a potential connection between Ares and the fallen Watcher Azazel, who Enoch tells us taught men to "make swords, knives, shields, and breastplates..." (Enoch 8:1).

Model of the temple of Artemis in Ephesus
Ephesus was chiefly noted for the temple of Artemis (Diana), which was counted among the seven wonders of the ancient world. The cult of Diana is yet another potential connection to the Book of Enoch. If, as Derek Gilbert suggests in his book "Last Clash of the Titans", Zeus is in reality one of the rebellious angels (perhaps even Lucifer himself), this would mean his daughter Diana is one of the Nephilim, as her mother was a daughter of the Titans, who Gilbert connects directly to the Nephilim. The temple was stripped of its riches by Nero and the original city finally destroyed by the Goths in 263 A.D. The Third Ecumenical Council (431 A.D.) was held in a rebuilt Ephesus.

Paul preached the Gospel in Ephesus for three years and left his disciple Timothy to carry on the work. The Apostle John also spent his last years at Ephesus where he wrote the fourth Gospel.

"John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia."- Irenaeus

John was even said to have been buried there.

"John, who reclined on the Lord's breast...rests at Ephesus."- Polycrates

An ancient tradition says that Mary the mother of our Lord died at Ephesus. 

Timothy was probably the "angel" of Ephesus to whom John writes in the Book of Revelation. He is praised for his untiring labors in preaching the Gospel and his zeal in rooting out false teachers. He has also suffered persecution for Christ's name. Paul informs us that Timothy had been imprisoned for his faith, but he gives none of the circumstances. If this is indeed Timothy being addressed, he is now reprimanded because he has lost much of his former zeal. Paul had recognized in his beloved disciple a gentleness of nature that easily leads to the lack of that zeal and firmness so necessary. This is likely why he wrote to Timothy:

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control."- 2 Timothy 1:6-7 

Verses 3-4: What Paul feared has apparently come to pass. The words of John leave the impression that there has been a significant falling off in fervor and zeal. The consequences will be all the greater now that persecution is at hand. Our Lord's warning to Timothy proved to be fruitful on a personal level, as he was martyred for his witness of Christ not long after. To persevere in fervor and zeal is one of the greatest difficulties of the Christian life. Yet it is the strict duty of every Christian worthy of the name. 

Verse 5: A terrible punishment awaited Timothy unless he regained his former zeal in the ministry. The nature of this chastisement further indicates that the faithful were at fault even more than their "angel". "I will remove your lampstand (church) out of its place" by means of persecution, heresy, schism, and apostasy. Only too often has this threat been carried out in the history of the church. It is a menace hanging over every church that loses its first fervor and abandons its first works.

"Unless this were done, he threatened to remove their candlestick out of its place-that is, to disperse the congregation."- Victorinus

Verse 6: Our Lord commends Timothy for his hatred of the Nicolaitan heresy. The Nicolaitans were noted for their corrupt teachings and manner of life. The sect probably took its name from the founder, who is reported to have been a heretical deacon, Nicholas, one of the seven deacons ordained at Jerusalem.

"The Nicolaites are so called from Nicholas, deacon of the church of Jerusalem, who, along with Stephen and the others, was ordained by Peter. He abandoned his wife because of her beauty, so that whoever wanted to might enjoy her; the practice turned into debauchery, with partners being exchanged in turn."- Isidore of Seville

Christ doesn't say that He hates the Nicolaitans, but that He hates their evil works and their errors. This teaches us that we must also hate all error, but love the erring, especially those who through no fault of their own find themselves in heresy. Our love for them should show itself in earnest efforts to bring them to the knowledge and love of truth. 

Verse 7: A great reward is promised to those who overcome heresy and sin by adhering to the true Gospel. "To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life...".

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