(A Backslidden Church.)
2. THE COMMENDATION--"I know thy works, and thy labor, 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; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name's Sake hast labored, and hast not fainted."
3. THE COMPLAINT--"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou Hast Left Thy First Love."
4. THE WARNING--"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."
5. PRAISE--"But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate."
6. THE PROMISE--"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."
The complaint that Christ makes against this Church is that it "had left its First Love." Its character is seen in its very name, for Ephesus means to "let go," "to relax." It had become a Backslidden Church. Paul, who founded it, warned it of what should happen, in his parting message.
The significance of this warning is seen in the commendation of the Message, vs. 6--"But this thou hast, that thou 'hatest' the deeds of the Nicolaitanes which I also hate." Here Paul's "wolves" are called Nicolaitanes. They were not a sect, but a party in the Church who were trying to establish a "Priestly Order." Probably trying to model the Church after the Old Testament order of Priests, Levites, and common people. This is seen in the meaning of the word, which is from "Niko" to conquer, to overthrow, and "Laos" the people or laity. The object was to establish a "Holy Order of Men," and place them over the laity, which was foreign to the New Testament plan, and call them not pastors, but--Clergy, Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, Popes. Here we have the origin of the dogma of "Apostolic Succession," and the separation of the Clergy from the Laity, a thing that God "hates." The Church at Ephesus was not deceived, but recognized them as. false apostles and liars.
The character of the Church at Ephesus is a fair outline of the Church Period from A. D. 70 to A. D. 170.