Series: The Radical Call of Jesus
Message: Radical Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 98:7–9.
Read: Revelation 1:1–3:22 (ESV). Re-read in the English Standard Version for new insights or questions.
Reflect: Similar to Daniel and Micah, John uses his surroundings to share the prophetic vision. These seven churches were not only physical sites, but Jesus knew they could be used as carefully woven examples, to help the church through the future. As D. R. Briggs shared in A Simple Look at Revelation, “. . . all the messages together speak to God’s people today, those of us living in the ‘end times’” (p. 2).
Church 1—Ephesus was the gateway to Asia, considered one of the seven wonders of the world. It was the center of worship to the fertility goddess Artemis—or Diana as the Romans knew her. There is a story told of how 5,000 men castrated themselves in adoration of Artemis. There was a high level of immorality and corruption mingled with superstition. They adopted the gnostic Christian view of dualism and the practices of the Nicolaitans. Everything associated with the body did not matter as it would be destroyed; all that mattered was the soul. As Jacques B. Doukhan explains in his book Secrets of Revelation:
According to the prophetic testimony of the first letter, the first seeds of apostasy must have emerged out of the devaluation of both Torah and physical creation (p. 30).
That is why John shares the promise of the “tree of life” (Revelation 2:7). He brought the radical call of Jesus to the Church, the idea that they must not forget their roots. They were created. They had purpose. They were loved.
It was in that setting that the Apostle Paul established the Church (Acts 19), followed by our author, the Apostle John who was at Ephesus before and after his exile on Patmos. This Church was known for its faith in Jesus and its love for people (Ephesians 1:15). But several decades later, its decline in love for Jesus meant that it also declined in having love for each other. These early Christians arrived at a similar state that Israel was just before exile (Jeremiah 2:2). Jesus calls them to remember, repent, and do the works they are called to do (Revelation 2:5).
Respond: Pray for a renewal of your love for Jesus.
Research: Who holds teachings similar to the Nicolaitans today?