“…to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:1,2)
Today, Ephesus is one of the world’s most heavily excavated ancient cities. And the archaeologists have uncovered more proof of what was always assumed: during the New Testament (NT) era, it was a very impressive town!
And Lord’s people in 1st century Ephesus may have been the most fortunate local church ever. Consider:
- 2 NT letters were written to the church (Ephesians, 1 Timothy).
- Paul had pastored there almost 3 years, and Timothy too was in a shepherding role.
- also part of the congregation at different times were the Apostle John, and other characters featured in Acts: Apollos, Pricilla & Aquila.
If ever a church should have had a firm foundation for spiritual growth and health, it was Ephesus.
But the words of the Lord Jesus are haunting:
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance.
I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested
those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them
false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name,
and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” (Rev.2:2-4)
So what happened? The Ephesian church that Paul addressed 3 decades after the resurrection appears to be healthy, growing, unified and spiritually mature.
But the next generation of Ephesian believers – while maintaining proper doctrine, protecting against false teachers, and persevering in the cause of truth – retreated in their love for Christ.
Takeaway: orthodoxy is meaningless if my love of the Lord Jesus is fading. Have I lost my first love?