Revelation 2:1-7, 12–17
“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.
2 “ ‘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. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 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. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 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.
To the Church in Pergamum
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.
13 “ ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
When we study God’s Word, it should lead us to both rejoicing and repenting.
- What stands out to you from the text?
- What questions or comments do you have about it?
- In what ways did you find yourself encouraged and/or rejoicing when you heard the message?
- In what ways were you challenged to repent or change when you heard the message?
- How did the teacher connect this passage to Christ? What other connections do you see between this message and the redemptive work of Christ?
- What is one thing that you want to remember from this sermon?
- Why is that important to you?
Fast Facts on Ephesus
- Known as “the Supreme Metropolis of Asia.” It was 4th largest in the Roman Empire with about 225,000 people in AD 96.
- Major financial center and had the most important seaport in Western Asia.
- Home to Artemis worship (fertility, sexuality). Her temple was one of the seven wonders of the world.
- Heraclitus (an Ephesian philosopher) was so appalled by the immorality in Ephesus that he said the citizens were “fit only to be drowned, and that the reason he could never laugh or smile was because he lived amidst such terrible uncleanness.”
- Tradition says John was living in Ephesus and pastoring this church when he wrote the Gospel. This also makes it likely that Jesus’ mother Mary was a member of the church in Ephesus.
Fast Facts on Pergamum
- The symbol of the city was the sword. It was one of the few cities that Rome had given “the right of the sword.” (The power to inflict capital punishment.)
- It was the capital of its province of Asia and was famous for its magnificent library. As the capital, it was a center of Caesar worship. In 29 BC it won the right to build the first temple in honor of Caesar Augustus.
- Behind the city, a huge hill rose 1,000 feet. The hill had a host of temples and altars, with two being most dominant.
- Asklepios was thought to be the god of healing. His symbol was the serpent. People flocked from all over the world to this temple for healing and worship.
- Zeus was thought to be the greatest of the Greek gods. “Zeus, the savior.” His temple was massive and dominated the city.
Fast Facts on Smyrna
- It was a beautiful city and was called “The Crown of Asia.”
- Its coins were stamped “1st City in Asia in Size and Beauty.”
- It was destroyed in 580 BC and rebuilt in 290 BC.
- It was fiercely loyal to Rome. It lived by the saying, “Rome first in all things.” In 195 BC, it was the first city to build a temple to the goddess of Rome (Dea Roma).
- Smyrna is modern Izmir and is the only city of the seven still in existence.