on Revelation 2 :1
Unto the angel of the Church of Ephesus - By αγγελος, angel, we are to understand the messenger or person sent by God to preside over this Church; and to him the epistle is directed, not as pointing out his state, but the state of the Church under his care. Angel of the Church here answers exactly to that officer of the synagogue among the Jews called שליח ציבור sheliach tsibbur, the messenger of the Church, whose business it was to read, pray, and teach in the synagogue. The Church at Ephesus is first addressed, as being the place where John chiefly resided; and the city itself was the metropolis of that part of Asia. The angel or bishop at this time was most probably Timothy, who presided over that Church before St. John took up his residence there, and who is supposed to have continued in that office till a.d. 97, and to have been martyred a short time before St. John's return from Patmos.
Holdeth the seven stars - Who particularly preserves, and guides, and upholds, not only the ministers of those seven Churches, but all the genuine ministers of his Gospel, in all ages and places.
Walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks - Is the supreme Bishop and Head, not only of those Churches, but of all the Churches or congregations of his people throughout the world.
on Revelation 2 :1
The Epistle to the Church at Ephesus
The contents of the epistle to the church at Ephesus - the first addressed - are these:
(1) The attribute of the Saviour referred to is, that he "holds the stars in his right hand, and walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks," Revelation 2:1.
(2) he commends them for their patience, and for their opposition to those who are evil, and for their zeal and fidelity in carefully examining into the character of some who claimed to be apostles, but who were, in fact, impostors; for their perseverance in bearing up under trial, and not fainting in his cause, and for their opposition to the Nicolaitanes, whom, he says, he hates, Revelation 2:2-3, Revelation 2:6.
(3) he reproves them for having left their first love to him, Revelation 2:4.
(4) he admonishes them to remember whence they had fallen, to repent, and to do their first works Revelation 2:5.
(5) he threatens them that, if they do not repent, he will come and remove the candlestick out of its place, Revelation 2:5; and,
(6) he assures them, and all others, that whosoever overcomes he will "give him to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God," Revelation 2:7.
Unto the angel - The minister; the presiding presbyter; the bishop - in the primitive sense of the word "bishop" - denoting one who had the spiritual charge of a congregation. See the notes on Revelation 1:20.
Of the church - Not of the churches of Ephesus, but of the one church of that city. There is no evidence that the word is used in a collective sense to denote a group of churches, like a diocese; nor is there any evidence that there was such a group of churches in Ephesus, or that there was more than one church in that city. It is probable that all who were Christians there were regarded as members of one church - though for convenience they may have met for worship in different places. Thus, there was one church in 1 Corinthians 1 1 Corinthians 1:1; one church in Thessalonica 1 Thessalonians 1:1, etc.
Of Ephesus - On the situation of Ephesus, see the notes on Acts 18:19, and the introduction to the notes on the Epistle to the Ephesians, section 1, and the engraving there. It was the capital of Ionia; was one of the twelve Ionian cities of Asia Minor in the Mythic times, and was said to have been founded by the Amazons. It was situated on the river Cayster, not far from the Icarian Sea, between Smyrna and Miletus. It was one of the most considerable cities of Asia Minor, and while, about the epoch when Christianity was introduced, other cities declined, Ephesus rose more and more. It owed its prosperity, in part, to the favor of its governors; for Lysimachus named the city Arsinoe, in honor of his second wife, and Attalus Philadelphus furnished it with splendid wharves and docks. Under the Romans it was the capital not only of Ionia, but of the entire province of Asia, and bore the honorable title of the first and greatest metropolis of Asia. John is supposed to have resided in this city, and to have preached the gospel there for many years; and on this account, perhaps, it was, as well as on account of the relative importance of the city, that the first epistle of the seven was addressed to that church. On the present condition of the ruins of Ephesus, see the notes on Revelation 2:5. We have no means whatever of ascertaining the size of the church when John wrote the Book of Revelation. From the fact, however, that Paul, as is supposed (see the introduction to the Epistle to the Ephesians, section 2), labored there for about three years; that there was a body of "elders" who presided over the church there Acts 20:17; and that the apostle John seems to have spent a considerable part of his life there in preaching the gospel, it may be presumed that there was a large and flourishing church in that city. The epistle before us shows also that it was characterized by distinguished piety.
These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand - See the notes on Revelation 1:16. The object here seems to be to turn the attention of the church in Ephesus to some attribute of the Saviour which deserved their special regard, or which constituted a special reason for attending to what he said. To do this, the attention is directed, in this case, to the fact that he held the seven stars - emblematic of the ministers of the churches - in his hand, and that he walked in the midst of the lampbearers - representing the churches themselves; intimating that they were dependent on him, that he had power to continue or remove the ministry, and that it was by his presence only that those lamp-bearers would continue to give light. The absolute control over the ministry, and the fact that he walked amidst the churches, and that his presence was necessary to their perpetuity and their welfare, seem to be the principal ideas implied in this representation. These truths he would impress on their minds, in order that they might feel how easy it would be for him to punish any disobedience, and in order that they might do what was necessary to secure his continual presence among them. These views seem to be sanctioned by the character of the punishment threatened Revelation 2:5, "that he would remove the candlestick representing their church out of its place." See the notes on Revelation 2:5.
Who walketh in the midst, ... - In Revelation 1:13 he is represented simply as being seen amidst the golden candlesticks. See the notes on that place. Here there is the additional idea of his "walking" in the midst of them, implying perhaps constant and vigilant supervision. He went from one to another, as one who inspects and surveys what is under his care; perhaps also with the idea that he went among them as a friend to bless them.
on Revelation 2 :1
2:1 Write - So Christ dictated to him every word. These things saith he who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand - Such is his mighty power! Such his favour to them and care over them, that they may indeed shine as stars, both by purity of doctrine and holiness of life! Who walketh - According to his promise, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. In the midst of the golden candlesticks - Beholding all their works and thoughts, and ready to remove the candlestick out of its place, if any, being warned, will not repent. Perhaps here is likewise an allusion to the office of the priests in dressing the lamps, which was to keep them always burning before the Lord.