Friday in the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time

Revelation 2:1-7

Letters to the Churches: Ephesus

Having recovered from the initial shock of seeing the glorified Christ, John obeys and begins to write the letters to the angels (heavenly or earthly messengers—we don’t know) of the seven churches as dictated by Christ.  John writes from the island of Patmos to which he was banished for preaching the word, which lay just off the coast of that part of Asia Minor where these churches were located.  These churches were real churches in real cities with real believers.  Granted, these seven local churches represent the Church Universal, and their problems unfortunately reappear in every age; however, the descriptions and instructions presented in these two chapters were specific to them and their time and place.  Indeed, the entire Book of Revelation was written to and for them.  They do not represent church “ages” divorced from their context; they represent themselves.  And through our Lord’s message to them, we hear his message to us.

The Ephesian Church was on the whole a good church.  The Apostle Paul wrote them one of the most beautiful letters in all of Scripture.  They are commended for their doctrinal purity and their stand against those who taught others to compromise for the sake of “getting along” (the Nicolaitans).  They tested those who called themselves “apostles” and found them false.  And they even suffered, “enduring patiently and bearing up for [Christ’s] sake.”  No one could fool the Ephesian believers; they had their doctrine down cold.

But therein lay the problem: They were cold.  John, on the other hand, was turned from a “son of thunder” to the “beloved disciple.”  His letters exude love in every line.  Oh, those same letters carry a ton of doctrine as well, especially concerning the Sonship of Christ.  And who can outdo the Apostle Paul teaching doctrine?  Yet, it was he who said, “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2-3).  Many today think that doctrinal tests and love of brethren cannot coexist: This is a lie!  Doctrine without love is coldness; love without doctrine is sentimentality.  A Christian must believe right while loving right and love right while believing right.  

The Ephesians were given a stern warning to repent or be removed; they were encouraged to conquer that they may “eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”  Now that’s a reward worth loving for!

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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