« PreviousContinue »
Verse ift.-I INTO the angel of the church
U of Ephesus, write, these things faith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Christ commands John to write to the minister of the church of Ephesus. From verse 11th, chap. i. it appears that John wrote the whole book of the Revelation, and sent it to the seven Christian churches then in Asia Minor. Whether he wrote seven copies of it, and sent one to each of them, which is most probable, or sent the original, from which they took fix copies for themselves, is not told us, and indeed is of no great consequence for us to know.
By sending this book to these seven churches, not only were they favoured with the important instructions which it contains ; but a very wise precaution was taken to preserve it in existence and purity to succeeding ages. Lodged in seven different churches, it was not very probable that all the copies of it thould be destroyed, or that so many churches should conspire to corrupt it by interpolations of their own.
Along with the book of the Revelation, or rather as a part of it, John wrote a short epistle to the minister of each of these churches. In these epistles he gives, by the command, and in the very words of Christ, an exact and minute description of their respective characters and situations, and exhorts them to correct what in them is wrong in sentiment and conduct; and to improve what is right. By this minute description of their real character, he not only taught them their duty, but also led them to acknowledge the inspiration of this book. When, in the particular epistle addressed to each church, they were told so exactly those sentiments and that conduct, which they knew to be their own, could they entertain a doubt of the inspiration of this book, or of the power of its divine Author of describing as exactly the sentiments and conduct of other persons and churches in every age of the world?
The argument addressed to them is the same which convinced the woman of Samaria, John iv. 19. that Jesus was the Messiah. When Jesus told her all her real and even secret history, she faid, verse 19th, “ Sir, I perceive that thou art a “ prophet.” And she thus 'addressed the inhabitants of Sychar, verse 29th, " Come, see a man H 2
“ who told me all things that ever I did; Is not " this the Christ ?”
The epistles addressed to the pastors of these churches, were addressed to them, not in their private, but in their public characters, as pastors of their particular churches; for the things contained in them evidently relate to the whole church.
Ephesus was the principal city of lonia, and even of Asia Minor. The gospel was planted in it by Paul, as mentioned in Acts xix, near twenty years before the date of this book. From Ephesus the knowledge of Christianity spread through the rest of Asia Minor. In this city stood the famous temple of the goddess Diana. To the Christian church planted in that city, Paul wrote the canonical epistle, which is addressed to the Ephe. fians, about seven years after he had founded that church.
The epistle contained in the first seven verses of this chapter, addressed to the church of Ephesus, is all written in the name, and in the very words of Christ.
“ These things faith he who holdeth the seven " stars in his right hand."* Christ is here described by two of the particular symbols, which are contained in the general hieroglyphical description of his person and character, chap, i. 12,-16. It is he who guides and supports his ministers by his REVELATION. wisdom and power, extended to them in his pro- . vidence and grace. It is he who inspects his churches, perceives what is good and bad in. them and adminifters praise and reproof accordingly.
Verses 2d, 3d. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou haft tried them which say they are apostles, and are not ; and haft found them liars : and haft born, and hast patience, and for my names fake haft laboured, and hast not fainted.'
*This, and all the other fix epiftles, Christ begins, by assuring these churches, that he knows their works. As the Son of God, he knows all their works perfectly. He knows all their actions, public, private, and secret; all their intentions, and the motives of their conduct. He searches their hearts, and tries their reins. As a full proof that he knows their works, he particularly enumerates them. He praises them for their labour, their diligent endeavours to detect impostors, and to propagate the truth, their patience under per. secution for the religion of Jesus, to which, at this time, they were exposed under Domitian,-and
for estimating men, not by their external appen. dages, but by their real characters. Like the citizen of Zion, they despised vile men, but honoured them that fear the Lord. He praises them for their care in trying, and for their success in detecting false apostles, who neither taught the doctrines of Jesus in their purity, nor produced proper cre. dentials of their extraordinary commission. Chrift repeats their long-suffering, their patience, and their labour, to show that they had long continued in the practice of these virtues ; and that he might take notice of that principle, from which they acted, and which preserved them from fainting under their persecutions, even an attachment to his name. It was because they believed and trusted in him as the Christ, and the Son of God; it was because they ardently desired to promote the knowledge of his name, and the interest of his religion in the world ; in fine, it was because they firmly believed his religion to be the truth; that they practised such things, and persevered in that course with such patience, at the expence of their property, liberty, and fame, and at the risk of their lives..
Verse 4th_Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.