1 ¶ 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; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, 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: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 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. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 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.
John is told to write a letter to Ephesus and immediately their works, labor, and patience are commended. Also, though, it is acknowledged that they hate counterfeit apostles. Is there evidence of complaining about counterfeit apostles in the Bible?
2Peter 2:1 ¶ But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Romans 16:17 ¶ Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches [sermons, maybe?] deceive the hearts of the simple.
Remember what Jesus said about these kinds.
Matthew 7:21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The Ephesians are commendable but they have left their first love. It is important to read Ephesians to understand the dangers and pitfalls spiritually that the rich church of Ephesus faced, the things that Paul was clearly concerned about. Rather than post the entire letter here we need to read it as a letter to get the feel of what he was concerned about and clearly what happened. Also read about Paul’s experiences in Ephesus in Acts.
This warning to Ephesus, and to us by extension is about getting back to first things, the foundation and fundamentals of our faith as charged by Christ through Paul.
Christ speaks of His hatred of Nicolaitanism, in Greek victory over the laity. In the Roman church it is the priest as the actual representation of Christ on earth rather than the individual Christian. The priest is a separate class of individual closer to God than the laity. In the Independent Baptist church it is the preacher as the, ‘man o’ God,” who cannot be questioned and is often followed even if he is guilty of crimes to which he confesses. I listened to news interviews with the congregation of an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) preacher in Virginia who had confessed to criminal behavior and they said they would follow him no matter what because he was the, “man o’ God.” In more modernistic churches it could be the educated clergy who has been to seminary and, well, he’s not going to argue with you because he has a degree, don’t ya know.
Sometimes this evil manifests itself in a celebrity preacher’s opinions becoming dogma that must be true simply because he said it. There are a small number of such preachers in the IFB church in America who literally can say whatever pops into their head and it is as if God Himself spoke it. This is the essence of Nicolaitanism, which Christ hates. A preacher is held to the same standard or tougher than everyone else. He is not God walking in the flesh and if what he says does not line up with Scripture in context you should discard it. In every sermon, remember to chew up the meat and spit out the bones. You can learn from almost anyone and almost anyone will have some error in what they say. God does not dictate letters to preachers as if they were His secretaries. He gives them wisdom and understanding to preach His word.
Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
2Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
Beware of Nicolaitanism. It can destroy a congregation and render it spiritually powerless.
What does it mean to overcome or to endure to the end?
1John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
We now know where the tree of life is. It is in paradise which is in heaven.
See Luke 23:43; 2Corinthians 12:4; and 1Peter 3:19.