To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand…
In order to avoid repetition when we come to deal specially with each epistle, it seems desirable to notice some circumstances common to all and some peculiar to a portion.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THESE LETTERS COMMON TO ALL. What are these? what are the points on which they all seem to agree?
1. In all Christ assumes different aspects. He does not appear to all alike. He approaches each in some special character. Thus:
(1) To Ephesus he appears as one "who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, and who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks."
(2) To Smyrna he appears as "the First and the Last, who was dead, and is alive."
(3) To Pergamos as he of" the sharp sword with two edges."
(4) To Thyatira as "the Son of God, who hath his eyes as a flame of fire."
(5) To Sardis he appears as "he who hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars."
(6) To Philadelphia as "he that is holy and true, and hath the key of David."
(7) To Laodicea as "The Amen, the faithful and true Witness."
2. In all Christ addresses himself through a special officer. "Unto the angel." Who is the "angel" is a matter of controversy, and, to me, of little interest. Some seem very anxious to make him a bishop. If by "bishop" is meant a man who lives in a palace, fares sumptuously every day, rolls in chariots of wealth, and is invested with high-sounding titles, I do not think he could have been a bishop. No doubt he was the appointed messenger of the little community - one who had to receive and convey communications of general interest.
3. In all Christ declares his thorough knowledge of their moral history. Not merely the muscular, but the mental; not merely the works done by the body, but the works done in the body.
4. In all Christ promises great blessings to the morally victorious. "To him that overcometh." It is not said that every conqueror can have the same reward. To one is promised the "tree of life." To another, "to eat of the hidden manna," to receive a "white stone, with a new name written on it." To another, "power over the nations." To another, to be "clothed in white raiment." To another, to be made a "pillar in the temple of my God." And to another, "to sit with me in my throne," etc. To every moral conqueror there is a promised reward.
5. In all Christ commands attention to the voice of the Spirit. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." "The Spirit" - the Spirit of truth and right, of love and God.
6. In all Christ's grand aim is spiritual culture. His admonitions, promises, and threats in' each case tend in this direction.
7. In all Christ observes a threefold division.
(1) "There is a reference to some of the attributes of him who addresses the Church.
(2) A disclosure of characteristics of the Church, with appropriate admonition, encouragement, or reproof.
(3) Promises of reward to all who persevere in their Christian course and overcome the spiritual enemies who assault them" (Moses Stuart).
II. CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH SOME OF THEM DIFFER.
1. We find two, namely, Smyrna and Philadelphia, who received commendation. They do not seem to be blamed for anything in doctrine, discipline, or manner of life. Of Smyrna it says, "Thou art rich," that is, "rich" in the elements of moral goodness. Of the Church of Philadelphia it is said, "Thou hast kept the word of my patience."
2. Two of them, namely, Sardis and Laodicea, are censured. Of the Church of Sardis it is said, "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead." Of the Church of Laodicea, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot."
3. Three others are both praised and blamed. Those written to Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira contain mingled censure and commendation. In some respects they deserve the one, and in some the other. In three cases, however, the approbation precedes the blame, thus showing, as Moses Stuart says, and as Paul in his Epistles shows, that it was more grateful to commend than to reprove. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;
WEB: "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: