Saturday, January 3, 2009

Christ's message to the First Church in Ephesus

Rev 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;
These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his
right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden

There are seven spirits before the throne of God,
and seven candlesticks. In the right hand of Alpha
and Omega, the Beginning and Ending, the First and
Last, there are seven stars, which are the angels of
the seven churches in Asia Minor. The seven
candlesticks are the seven churches.

Ephesus is where Mary, mother of Jesus went to
live. I find this divinely ironic. Ephesus was the
capital of Diana worship. In fact, the church posed
a threat to the prosperous idol trade. Mary usurped
the false goddess, not that Mary was a goddess,
even though the Roman system eventually morphed
Mary with Diana. This reality represents the
greatest threat to salvation, the combination of
paganism with Christianity. Almost all sins can
be forgiven but, as we learn with the admonitions
to the seven churches, the worst sin, is corrupting
the religion, the Jewish religion, with paganism,
yet, we see with the church of our age that it
is completely paganized with exactly these
remnants from the old customs.

John addresses the seven churches, that along with
the Apostles, he helped
found, in order of how they
ministered to them first
to last. He was an exile on
the isle of Patmos, and
it's the end of the Apostolic
First Century. The
seedling seven churches were
to be the template
of the Church.

He is supposed to have finally been able to go
back to Ephesus, and this is where he joined
Mary in death. I believe John was Mary's youngest
child, and Christ's half-brother. He was the last
of the original disciples and Apostles, and
was at least 100 when he passed away.
He wrote the Gospel and letters of John.
He sat on Christ's right hand side during the
last Passover supper. He calls himself, "the
one who Christ loved." He is known for his
message of "all you need is love."

Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and
thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them
which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say
they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:


Rev 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for
my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee,
because thou hast left thy first love.

This church has all the attributes endowed by Christ,
especially diligent to build up and establish the Word
of God. They do not suffer false Apostles or infiltrators.
They have brought forth many souls into the Kingdom
of God. This is a strong and fruitful church, but, this
isn't enough to buttress them from the ominous complaint
from Christ, that they've left their first love.

From experience, I know that I've gotten so involved
in studying the Bible and doing good works, that I've
lost touch with the simplicity of the message of hope
and love in Christ. I've gotten puffed up and proud
of my knowledge, and sacrifices, chastity and piety,
but, not for too long, because, I've always been thrown
back to the pit.

It's a fine line we walk, and in our zeal to be perfect,
to be Christlike and holy, we abandon the original
love we had when we were first saved.

Without humility, love, kindness and the passion
towards God which sanctifies us, our good works,
piety and studying are in vain.

Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou
art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else
I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy
candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Rev 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds
of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

There are two schools of thought interpreting
Nicolaitans. The most likely meaning is by considering
verse 2:14 when addressing the 2nd Church, the
condemnation is leveled at Balaam, who put
stumbling blocks before the children of Israel.

In the context of the Church, the Greek word for
Nicolaitans is loosely interpreted to convey the
meaning of "destroyer." Baalam had a Hebrew
translation of "swallower." But, the context is
too similar not to embrace this interpretation.

The second interpretation is that the word
for Nicolaitan is a compilation of Greek words
that mean hierarchy, condemning the promotion
of brethren above each other, such as with
high offices of clergy, when all brethren are
endowed with equality.

Even though the hierarchical structure of both
the Catholic and Protestant churches have room
for criticism, I doubt this was blasphemous since
there was a foundation for elders, bishops and
Apostles, established by Christ.

The Nicolaitans seem to refer strictly to a
sect that combined pagan ritual, and were
deliberately corrupting the doctrines of the
church by introducing idolatry and traditions,
as were their customs in the former pagan
temples that the churches replaced.

They most likely found it acceptable to take
the Christian symbols of faith, and incorporate
them into the pagan religion they were
accustomed to. Indeed, this is why the
church became corrupt, in the first place.
This may not seem like a great deal, but,
it is.

This is the basis for the great judgment of
the church, and why the church is considered
the whore. A whore will sleep with lovers for
money, or pleasure, carelessly abandoning
her first love. This is what the Israelites did
in the Old Testament, and why they were
sent to Babylon. This is also what the churches
did, when they also incorporated the pagan
customs into their religion. It is spiritual
harlotry, and the greatest sin of all.

This mixing of cultures inevitably corrupted
the church, as we see with pagan festivals
like Christmas being completely established
in the church. Few Christians even care that
these things were anathema, and forbidden.
They were stumbling blocks to the first churches,
and have led to great heresies today.

Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what
the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that
overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life,
which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

This phrase, "he that hath an ear.." is repeated
throughout the admonitions to the seven churches.
How many Christians read Revelations, feeling
confident that these warning do not apply to
them, while decorating Christmas trees, painting
Easter eggs, or even unwittingly stumbling in
false beliefs inherent in even the seemingly most
established churches?

How many of us hear sounds, but, do not listen
to what the words are saying? IF Christ is
telling us that it is NOT okay to combine any
pagan custom into the Jewish religion, which
is what Christianity is, then, will many hear this?
Unfortunately, not many.

Like the Ephesians, even the best churches, full
of good works and zeal, may lose their first love.
The first love is Jesus, and Jesus' religion was
JUDAISM, not pagan customs.

When we read these final words of Christ to the
Church, they refer to ALL OF US, and it's our
duty to take these words to heart. If the first
churches were almost all corrupted by the end
of the First Century, when they had the Apostles
and their gifts, how much worse is it for the
predecessors of those churches, which shepherd
our souls today?

Unless we break free of the bondage of carelessly
participating in men's traditions, without heeding the
true Gospel message, we are all in danger of losing
our souls. We need to take it seriously.

The churches will preach against homosexuality
and sex, but, these are not fatal stumbling blocks
to salvation, and we are usually aware of these
sins of the flesh. We all have committed them.
Lusting after someone of the same sex is the
same sin as someone lusting after a member of
their own sex. It is not in our sexual behavior
which commends us to God. I'm not saying it's
okay to fornicate. All I'm conveying is that
not one of us is without sins of the flesh. If
they're not sexual in nature, they're pride,
or eating too much, etc.

Corrupting the doctrines of Christ,
mixing his theology with paganism, is what will
be held against us. Yet, the church, even good
churches, and good Christians are hopelessly

These carnal sins will not damn us, but, the seemingly
innocuous act of hanging ritual mistletoe is far greater
a sin, according to the way the Nicolaitans and how
introduced these very pagan rites into
Christianity, just like Baalam corrupted the
Israelites into temptation by offering them
food offered to idols. Christmas is far far far
more egregious than this error.

Ephesus (Ἔφεσος)
Ancient City of Anatolia
The Celsus Library EphesusEphesus (Efes)
The Celsus Library

According to the New Testament, Ephesus became an
important center for early Christianity from the 50s AD.
Paul used it as a base and spent there more than two years
on his third missionary journey (Acts 19:8, 19:10, 20:31).
He became embroiled in a dispute with artisans, whose
livelihood depended on selling the statuettes of Artemis
in the Temple of Artemis (Acts 19:23–41). He wrote between
53 and 57 A.D. the letter 1 Corinthians from Ephesus (possibly
from the "Paul tower" close to the harbour, where he was
imprisoned for a short time). Later Paul wrote to the Christian
community at Ephesus, according to tradition, while he was
in prison in Rome (around 62 A.D.)

The Apostle John lived in Asia Minor (Anatolia) in the last
decades of the first century and from Ephesus had guided
the Churches of that province. After Domitian's death the
Apostle returned to Ephesus during the reign of Trajan,
and at Ephesus he died about 100 AD at a great age.
Ephesus was one of the seven cities addressed in
Revelation (2:1–7), indicating that the church at Ephesus
as still strong.

Two decades later, the church at Ephesus there was still
important enough to be addressed by a letter written by
Bishop Ignatius of Antioch to the Ephesians in the early
2nd century AD, that begins with, "Ignatius, who is also
called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in
Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness
and fullness of God the Father, and predestinated before the
beginning of time, that it should be always for an enduring
and unchangeable glory" (Letter to the Ephesians). The
church at Ephesus had given their support for Ignatius,
who was taken to Rome for execution.

The house of the Virgin Mary (Turkish: Meryem Ana,
meaning "Mother Mary"), about 7 kilometers from Selçuk,
is believed to have been the last home of Mary, mother of Jesus.
It is a popular place of pilgrimage which has been visited by
three recent popes.

The Church of Mary close to the harbor of Ephesus was
the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, which
resulted in the condemnation of Nestorius. A Second Council of Ephesus
was held in 449, but its controversial acts were never approved

by the Catholics. It came to be called the Robber Council of Ephesus
or Robber Synod of Latrocinium by its opponents

Ephesus (Turkey)
Ephesus (Efes)

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