Revelation 2: Ephesus
1. Who is this message/letter from? The Lord Jesus () who is with His churches ("lampstands" ) and knows their true condition.
(For questions 2-4, give relevant contemporary examples). 2. What does He commend this church for? What are its strengths? - hard working (vs 2), endured hardships not just for the sake of it but for Jesus' name, and are not weary (vs 3). - strict against sin (vs 2, 6) "do not tolerate wicked people" "hate practices of the Nicolaitans" (church discipline?) - doctrinal discernment (vs 2) Not gullible. Remembered the teaching and warnings of Paul.
3. What does He criticize this church for? What are its weaknesses? - forsaken the love they first had (vs 4) Love for God or others? Ultimately inseparable (). But considering how "works" (2:5) usually refer to acts of mercy, and John's overwhelming emphasis elsewhere to "love one another", and how they were enduring hardships for Jesus' name and not weary (one must have love for Jesus!), I think the emphasis here is on the latter. This church seem to fit the profile of uncompromising conservatives who are not warmly compassionate. Tolerating persecution from without while being intolerant of all people within. They had light but no heat. Perhaps their zeal (heresy hunting) led them to set the bar so high that all but the most mature were not embraced.
4. What does He command this church to do? - remember and Repent and do what the works they first did
5. What does He promise? - if do not repent, remove lampstamp (vs 5) - to those who overcome, access to the tree of life (vs 7). It may contrast with the local Artemis cult oak tree-shrine in town (cf Blomberg).
6. Compare SBC 3P Youth to this church. Do we share the same strengths and weaknesses?
7. In what ways can we practically apply these truths?