Revelation 2:1
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.

New Living Translation
"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

English Standard Version
“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.

Berean Study Bible
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.

Berean Literal Bible
To the messenger of the church in Ephesus write: These things says the One holding the seven stars in His right hand, walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.

New American Standard Bible
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

King James Bible
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 candlesticks;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
"Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: "The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says:

International Standard Version
"To the messenger of the church in Ephesus, write: 'The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lamp stands, says this:

NET Bible
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus, write the following: "This is the solemn pronouncement of the one who has a firm grasp on the seven stars in his right hand--the one who walks among the seven golden lampstands:

New Heart English Bible
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: "He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks among the seven golden lampstands says these things:

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And to The Messenger of the assembly of Ephesaus write: 'Thus says he who holds the seven stars in his hand, he who walks among the menorahs of gold:'”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"To the messenger of the church in Ephesus, write: The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lamp stands, says:

New American Standard 1977
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

      The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

Jubilee Bible 2000
Unto the angel of the congregation {Gr. ekklesia – called out ones} of Ephesus write; These things, saith he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:

King James 2000 Bible
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things says he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands;

American King James Version
To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the middle of the seven golden candlesticks;

American Standard Version
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:

Douay-Rheims Bible
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he, who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:

Darby Bible Translation
To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: These things says he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamps:

English Revised Version
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:

Webster's Bible Translation
To 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 candlesticks;

Weymouth New Testament
"To the minister of the Church in Ephesus write as follows: "'This is what He who holds the seven stars in the grasp of His right hand says--He who walks to and fro among the seven lampstands of gold.

World English Bible
"To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: "He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks among the seven golden lampstands says these things:

Young's Literal Translation
'To the messenger of the Ephesian assembly write: These things saith he who is holding the seven stars in his right hand, who is walking in the midst of the seven lamp-stands -- the golden:

Study Bible
To the Church in Ephesus
1To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2I know your deeds, your labor, and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and you have tested and exposed as liars those who falsely claim to be apostles.…
Cross References
Acts 18:19
When they reached Ephesus, Paul parted ways with Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue there and reasoned with the Jews.

Acts 18:21
But as he left, he said, "I will come back to you again if God is willing." And he set sail from Ephesus.

Acts 19:1
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the interior and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples

2 Corinthians 6:16
What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people."

Revelation 1:11
saying, "Write in a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."

Revelation 1:12
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands,

Revelation 1:13
and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe, with a golden sash around His chest.

Revelation 1:16
He held in His right hand seven stars, and a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth. His face was like the sun shining at its brightest.

Revelation 1:20
This is the mystery of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Treasury of Scripture

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the middle of the seven golden candlesticks;

the angel.

Revelation 2:8,12,18 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things said …

Revelation 3:1,7,14 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things said …

church. See on ch.

Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What you …

holdeth.

Revelation 1:16,20 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went …

Revelation 8:10-12 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, …

Revelation 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with …

John 5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a …

walketh. See on ch.

Revelation 1:12,13 And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, …

Ezekiel 28:13,14 You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was …

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am …

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: …

II.

(1) Unto the angel of the church of (literally, in) Ephesus.--On the word "angel," see Note on Revelation 1:20, and Excursus A. Adopting the view that the angel represents the chief pastor or bishop of the Church, it would be interesting to know who was its presiding minister at this time; but this must be deternined by another question, viz., the date of the Apocalypse. Accepting the earlier date--i.e., the reign of Nero, or (with Gebhardt) of Galba--the angel is no other than Timothy. Some striking coincidences favour this view. Labour, work, endurance, are what St. Paul acknowledges in Timothy, and which he exhorts him to cultivate more and more (2Timothy 2:6; 2Timothy 2:15; 2Timothy 4:5). Again, against false teachers he warns him (1Timothy 1:7). Further, there is "a latent tone of anxiety" in the Epistles to Timothy. The nature with which he had to do was emotional even to tears, ascetic, devout; but there was in it a tendency to lack of energy and sustained enthusiasm. "He urges him to stand up, to rekindle the grace of God, just as here there is a hint of a first love left." (See Prof. Plumptre, Ep. to Seven Churches.)

Ephesus.--The chief city of Ionia, and at this time the most important city in Asia. It possessed advantages commercial, geographical, and ecclesiastical, and, in addition, great Christian privileges. It was a wealthy focus for trade; it reached out one hand to the East, while with the other it grasped Greek culture. Its magnificent temple was one of the seven wonders of the world; the skill of Praxiteles had contributed to its beauty. The fragments of its richly-sculptured columns, now to be seen in the British Museum, will convey some idea of its gigantic proportions and splendid decorations. But the religious tone induced by its pagan worship was of the lowest order. Degrading superstitions were upheld by a mercenary priesthood; the commercial instinct and the fanatical spirit had joined hands in support of a soul-enslaving creed, and in defence of a sanctuary which none but those devoid of taste could contemplate without admiration. But its spiritual opportunities were proportioned to its needs. It had been the scene of three years' labour of St. Paul (Acts 20:31), of the captivating and convincing eloquence of Apollos (Acts 18:24), of the persistent labours of Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:26); Tychicus, the beloved and faithful, had been minister there (Ephesians 6:21); Timothy was its chief pastor.

These things saith he. . . .--The titles by which Christ is described at the opening of the seven epistles are mainly drawn from Revelation 1. The vision is found to supply features appropriate to the needs of the several churches. The message comes in this epistle from One who "holdeth" firmly in His grasp (a stronger word than "He that hath" of Revelation 1:16), and walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. The Church at Ephesus needed to remember their Lord as such. The first love had gone out of their religion; there was a tendency to fall into a mechanical faith, strong against heresy, but tolerant of conventionalism. Their temptations did not arise from the prevalence of error, or the bitterness of persecution, but from a disposition to fall backward and again do the dead works of the past. There was not so much need to take heed unto their doctrine, but there was great need that they should take heed unto themselves (1Timothy 4:16). But when there is danger because earnestness in the holy cause is dying out, and the very decorum of religion has become a snare, what more fitting than to be reminded of Him whose hand can strengthen and uphold them, and who walks among the candlesticks, to supply them with the oil of fresh love? (Comp. Zechariah 4:2-3; Matthew 25:3-4.)

Verse 1-3:22. - The epistles to the seven Churches. Once more we have to consider rival interpretations. Of these we may safely set aside all those which make the seven letters to be pictures of successive periods in the history of the Church. On the other hand, we may safely deny that the letters are purely typical, and relate to nothing definite in history. Rather they are both historical and typical. They refer primarily to the actual condition of the several Churches in St. John's own day, and then are intended for the instruction, encouragement, and warning of the Church and the Churches throughout all time. The Catholic Church, or any one of its branches, will at any period find itself reflected in one or other of the seven Churches. For two Churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia, there is nothing but praise; for two, Sardis and Laodicea, nothing but blame; for the majority, and among them the chief Church of all, Ephesus, with Pergamum and Thyatira, praise and blame in different degrees intermingled. The student will find it instructive to place the epistles side by side in seven parallel columns, and note the elements common to each and the order in which these elements appear. These common elements are:

(1) Christ's command to the seer to write;

(2) his title, which in most cases is taken from the descriptions in Revelation 1;

(3) the praise, or blame, or both, addressed to the angel, based in all cases on intimate personal knowledge - "I know thy works;"

(4) the charge or warning, generally in connexion with Christ's coming;

(5) the promise to the victor;

(6) the call to each individual to give ear. Verses 1-7. - The epistle to the Church at Ephesus. Verse 1. - Unto the angel (see on Revelation 1:20). "The angel" seems to be the spirit of the Church personified as its responsible guardian. The Church of Ephesus. "In Ephesus" is certainly the right reading; in all seven cases it is the angel of the Church in the place that is addressed. In St. Paul's:Epistles we have "in Rome," "in Corinth," "in Colossae," "in Ephesus," "of Galatia," "of the Thessalonians." Among all the cities of the Roman province of Asia, Ephesus ranked as "first of all and greatest." It was called "the metropolis of Asia." Romans visiting Asia commonly landed first at Ephesus. Its position as a centre of commerce was magnificent. Three rivers, the Maeander, the Cayster, and the Hermes, drain Western Asia Minor, and Ephesus stood on high ground near the mouth of the central river, the Cayster, which is connected by passes with the valleys of the other two. Strabo, writing of Ephesus about the time when St. John was born, says, "Owing to its favourable situation, the city is in all other respects increasing daily, for it is the greatest place of trade of all the cities of Asia west of the Taurus." Patmos was only a day's sail from Ephesus; and it is by no means improbable that the gorgeous description of the merchandise of "Babylon" (Revelation 18:12, 13) is derived from St. John's own recollections of Ephesus. The Church of Ephesus was founded by St. Paul, about A.D. , and his Epistle to that and other Churches, now called simply "to the Ephesians," was written about A.D. . When St. Paul went to Macedonia, Timothy was left at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3) to check the wild speculations in which some Ephesian Christians had begun to indulge. Timothy probably followed St. Paul to Rome (2 Timothy 4:9, 21), and, after his master's death, returned to Ephesus, where he is said to have suffered martyrdom at a festival in honour of the great goddess Artemis." He may have been still at Ephesus at the time when this epistle was written; and Plumptre has traced coincidences between this epistle and those of St. Paul to Timothy. According to Dorotheus of Tyro (circ. A.D. 300), he was succeeded by Gaius (Romans 16:23). In the Ignatian epistles we have Onesimus (probably not the servant of Philemon), Bishop of Ephesus. Ignatius speaks of the Ephesian Church in terms of high praise, showing that it had profited by the exhortations in this epistle. It was free from heresy, though heresy hovered around it. It was spiritually minded, and took God as its rule of life (Ignatius, 'Ephes.,' 6-8.). Write (see on Revelation 1:11; and comp. Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 30:8; Jeremiah 30:2; Jeremiah 36:2; Habakkuk 2:2). Holdeth (κρατῶν). Stronger than "had" (ἔχων) in Revelation 1:16. This word implies holding fast and having full control over. In ver. 25 we have both verbs, and again in Revelation 3:11. A Church that had fallen from its first love (vers. 4, 5) had need to be reminded of him who "holds fast" his own; and one whose candlestick was in danger of removal had need to turn to him who is ever active (not merely is, but "walketh") "in the midst of the candlesticks," to supply them with oil when they flicker, and rekindle them when they go out. It is he, and not the apostle, who addresses them. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write,.... Of the city of Ephesus; see Gill on Revelation 1:11 and see Gill on Acts 18:19. The church here seems to have been founded by the Apostle Paul, who continued here two years, by which means all Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, Acts 19:10; of this church; see Gill on Acts 20:17; it is named first, because it was the largest, most populous, and famous, and was nearest to Patmos, where John now was, and most known to him, it being the place where he had resided; and it was the place from whence the Gospel came to others, and spread itself in lesser Asia; but especially it is first written to, because it represented the church in the apostolic age; so that this letter contains the things which are, Revelation 1:19; and in its very name, to the state of this church in Ephesus, there may be an allusion; either to "ephesis", which signifies "desire", and may be expressive of the fervent love of that pure and apostolic church to Jesus Christ at the beginning of it; their eager desire after more knowledge of him, and communion with him; after his word and ordinances, and the maintaining of the purity of them; after the spread of his Gospel, and the enlargement of his kingdom in the world; as well as after fellowship with the saints, and the spiritual welfare of each other: the allusion may be also to "aphesis", which signifies "remission", or an abatement; and so may point out the remissness and decay of the first love of these primitive Christians, towards the close of this state; of the abatement of the fervency of it, of which complaint is made in this epistle, and not without cause. This epistle is inscribed to the angel of this church, or the pastor of it; why ministers are called angels; see Gill on Revelation 1:20; some think this was Timothy, whom the Apostle Paul sent thither, and desired him to continue there, 1 Timothy 1:3, there was one Onesimus bishop of Ephesus, when Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna, of whom he makes mention in his epistle (x) to the Ephesians, and bids fair to be this angel; though if any credit could be given to the Apostolic Constitutions (y) the bishop of this place was one John, who is said to be ordained by the Apostle John, and is thought to be the same with John the elder (z), the master of Papias; but though only one is mentioned, yet all the elders of this church, for there were more than one, see Acts 20:17; are included; and not they only, but the whole church over whom they presided; for what was written was ordered to be sent to the church, and was sent by John, see Revelation 1:4; the letter was sent to the pastor or pastors, to the whole body of ministers, by them to be communicated to the church; and not only to this particular church did this letter and the contents of it belong, but to all the churches of Christ within the period of the apostolic age, as may be concluded from Revelation 2:7.

These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand; the Syriac version reads, "that holds all things, and these seven stars in his right hand"; for the explanation of this character of Christ; see Gill on Revelation 1:16; only let it be observed how suitably this is prefixed to the church at Ephesus, and which represents the state of the churches in the times of the apostles; in which place, and during which interval, our Lord remarkably held his ministering: servants as stars in his right hand; he held and protected the Apostle Paul for two years in this place, and preserved him and his companions safe amidst the uproar raised by Demetrius the silversmith about them; here also he protected Timothy at a time when there were many adversaries, and kept the elders of this church pure, notwithstanding the erroneous persons that rose up among them; and last of all the Apostle John, who here resided, and died in peace, notwithstanding the rage and fury of his persecutors: likewise Christ in a very visible manner held all his faithful ministers during this period in his right hand, safe and secure, until they had done the work they were sent about, and preserved them in purity of doctrine and conversation; so that their light in both respects shone brightly before men. Moreover, as this title of Christ is prefixed to the epistle to the first of the churches, and its pastor or pastors, it may be considered as relating to, and holding good of all the ministers of the Gospel and pastors of the other churches; and likewise of all the churches in successive ages to the end of the world, as the following one also refers to all the churches themselves:

who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; see Gill on Revelation 1:12; see Gill on Revelation 1:13; Christ was not only present with, and took his walks in this church at Ephesus, but in all the churches of that period, comparable to candlesticks, which held forth the light of the Gospel, and that in order as the antitype of Aaron, to him these lamps, and likewise in all his churches to the end of the world; see Matthew 28:20.

(x) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 36. (y) L. vii. c. 46. (z) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 39. CHAPTER 2

Re 2:1-29. Epistles to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira.

Each of the seven epistles in this and the third chapter, commences with, "I know thy works." Each contains a promise from Christ, "To him that overcometh." Each ends with, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." The title of our Lord in each case accords with the nature of the address, and is mainly taken from the imagery of the vision, Re 1:12-16. Each address has a threat or a promise, and most of the addresses have both. Their order seems to be ecclesiastical, civil, and geographical: Ephesus first, as being the Asiatic metropolis (termed "the light of Asia," and "first city of Asia"), the nearest to Patmos, where John received the epistle to the seven churches, and also as being that Church with which John was especially connected; then the churches on the west coast of Asia; then those in the interior. Smyrna and Philadelphia alone receive unmixed praise. Sardis and Laodicea receive almost solely censure. In Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira, there are some things to praise, others to condemn, the latter element preponderating in one case (Ephesus), the former in the two others (Pergamos and Thyatira). Thus the main characteristics of the different states of different churches, in all times and places, are portrayed, and they are suitably encouraged or warned.

1. Ephesus—famed for the temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the world. For three years Paul labored there. He subsequently ordained Timothy superintending overseer or bishop there: probably his charge was but of a temporary nature. John, towards the close of his life, took it as the center from which he superintended the province.

holdeth—Greek, "holdeth fast," as in Re 2:25; Re 3:11; compare Joh 10:28, 29. The title of Christ here as "holding fast the seven stars (from Re 1:16: only that, for having is substituted holding fast in His grasp), and walking in the midst of the seven candlesticks," accords with the beginning of His address to the seven churches representing the universal Church. Walking expresses His unwearied activity in the Church, guarding her from internal and external evils, as the high priest moved to and fro in the sanctuary.2:1-7 These churches were in such different states as to purity of doctrine and the power of godliness, that the words of Christ to them will always suit the cases of other churches, and professors. Christ knows and observes their state; though in heaven, yet he walks in the midst of his churches on earth, observing what is wrong in them, and what they want. The church of Ephesus is commended for diligence in duty. Christ keeps an account of every hour's work his servants do for him, and their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. But it is not enough that we are diligent; there must be bearing patience, and there must be waiting patience. And though we must show all meekness to all men, yet we must show just zeal against their sins. The sin Christ charged this church with, is, not the having left and forsaken the object of love, but having lost the fervent degree of it that at first appeared. Christ is displeased with his people, when he sees them grow remiss and cold toward him. Surely this mention in Scripture, of Christians forsaking their first love, reproves those who speak of it with carelessness, and thus try to excuse indifference and sloth in themselves and others; our Saviour considers this indifference as sinful. They must repent: they must be grieved and ashamed for their sinful declining, and humbly confess it in the sight of God. They must endeavour to recover their first zeal, tenderness, and seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as diligently, as when they first set out in the ways of God. If the presence of Christ's grace and Spirit is slighted, we may expect the presence of his displeasure. Encouraging mention is made of what was good among them. Indifference as to truth and error, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but it is not so; and it is displeasing to Christ. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. We must never yield to our spiritual enemies, and then we shall have a glorious triumph and reward. All who persevere, shall derive from Christ, as the Tree of life, perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness, not in the earthly paradise, but in the heavenly. This is a figurative expression, taken from the account of the garden of Eden, denoting the pure, satisfactory, and eternal joys of heaven; and the looking forward to them in this world, by faith, communion with Christ, and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. Believers, take your wrestling life here, and expect and look for a quiet life hereafter; but not till then: the word of God never promises quietness and complete freedom from conflict here.
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