Wednesday 31 August 2022

Bible Book:

Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. (vs 7 and 11)

Revelation 2:1-11 Wednesday 31 August 2022

Psalm 37:12-29


The book of Revelation has seven letters each written to a different church. Each begins with a phrase linked to the grand vision in chapter 1 (see yesterday's notes). The letters are presented as the words of Christ, delivered through the vision received by John, and passed on to the churches. Each has critical feedback on how that church is doing with the call to follow Jesus Christ. There are some details about each church's context, but there is much about which we can only speculate.

Today's passage features messages to the the churches in Ephesus and Smyrna.

Ephesus was a successful trading city, and a religious centre through the great temple of Artemis (one of the ‘seven wonders’ of the world). It was an early Christian church dating maybe from 52 AD when Paul left Priscilla and Aquila there (Acts 18:18-22), and Paul himself later stayed two years there (Acts 19:8, 10). The events of that time match the description of the church here in Revelation – both persevering in a hostile environment and negotiating diverse ideas within the church. While the letter praises the Christians in Ephesus for enduring patiently and sticking to good teaching, they are criticised for abandoning their first love. This could include both love for God and love for each other. They go together in a Christian community – as Jesus said: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) You might find the worship song My First Love by Stuart Townend to be a helpful response to this challenge.

Smyrna had a proud tradition of allegiance to Rome, being the first city to build a temple to the god Roma, and in 23BC it won permission (over ten other Asian cities) to build a temple to Emperor Tiberius. The city also had a large Jewish population that was hostile to Christianity. This all made it a difficult place to live as a Christian, and indeed one of the most famous martyrs of the early church period was Polycarp, the 12th martyr in Smyrna, burned on a pyre for refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord. The promise of the ‘crown of life’ for those who are ‘faithful until death’ was precious in Smyrna.


To Ponder:

  • What are some challenges which might result in Christians of any era ‘abandoning their first love’?
  • How do you think facing such persecution affected the faith of the Christians in Smyrna?


Faithful God, help us to remember our first love for you and for other people. We pray for all who are struggling to respond to your faith in them. Amen.

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