THE EPHESIAN CHURCH AGE






The Bible Reference - Revelation 2: 1-7

The First Church Age - Ephesus

The Time Period - 50 AD to 170 AD.

The Messenger - St. Paul







THE FIRST CHURCH AGE - EPHESUS

T he city of Ephesus was one of the three greatest cities of Asia. It was often called the third city of Christian faith, with Jerusalem first, and Antioch second. It was a very rich city. The government was Roman but the language was Greek. Historians believe that John, Mary, Peter, Andrew and Philip) were all buried in this beautiful city. Paul, who founded the true faith in this city, pastored here only about three years; but when he was absent from the flock he was continually, prayerfully, mindful of them. Timothy was its first bishop. I Tim. 1:1-3,

"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, Which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightiest charge some that they teach no other doctrine."
The very name, Ephesus, has a strange compound meaning, "Aimed at", and "Relaxed." The high aspirations of this age that had begun with the fullness of the Spirit, "the depth of God,' whereby they were aiming at the high calling of God, began to give way to a less watchful attitude. A less ardent following of Jesus Christ began to manifest itself as an omen that in the future ages the physical vehicle called the church would sink to the awfulness of the "depth of Satan." It had become relaxed and was drifting. Already the age was backsliding. It had left its first love. The tiny seed planted in that Ephesian Age would one day grow in the spirit of error until all foul birds of the air would roost in its branches. So inoffensive to human reasoning would that little plant appear to that New Eve (the New Church) that again she would be deceived by Satan. The Ephesian Age had presented to her the opportunity for God's best, and for awhile she prevailed, and then relaxed, and in that unguarded moment Satan planted the seed of complete ruination.

The very religion of Ephesus types out perfectly this first church age and sets the tenor of the ages to come. In the first place, the magnificent temple of Diana, that was so many years in building, housed in its sacred courts the most lusterless and unobtrusive, image of Diana that one could imagine. She was absolutely unlike any other of her images seated in the other temples dedicated to her. She was simply an almost shapeless female figure that finally sunk into the block of wood from which she was carved. And her two arms were formed of two simple bars of iron. How perfectly this depicts the spirit of antichrist loosed in the first age. There be was loosed in the midst of the people, and yet took no shape as to alarm the people. Yet the two arms of iron bars showed that it was his intent to crush the work of God as be made his inroads. And no one seemed to notice when or what he was doing. But one day they would notice, when with those arms of iron his 'deeds' became 'doctrine', and his doctrine became the law of an empire.

The order of temple service is also very revealing. There were, first of all priest who were eunuchs. This sterile priesthood presaged the sterility of a people who would drift from the Word, for a people who claim to know God apart from the Word are as barren of life as is a sterile eunuch. Secondly, the temple had within its confines the virgin priestesses who performed the religious acts of the temple. This showed forth the day that ceremony and form, ritual and works, would take the place of the Holy Spirit and no longer would charismatic manifestation fill the temple of God. Over them all was the high priest, a man of political power and public influence, portraying what was already in progress, though not too manifested, that is, the church would soon be given over to the leadership of man with man's plans and man's ambitions and "thus saith the Holy Ghost" would no longer be a living reality. And underneath them all were the temple slaves who had no choice but obedience to the religious hierarchy. What can this mean but the day would come when the vested clergy, by political maneuvering, state help, and the substitution of Word and Spirit for creeds, dogmas, and human leadership, would enslave the laity while the leaders luxuriated in ill gotten wealth and enjoyed their filthy pleasures, and the poor people who were to be served according to God, now became the servants.



THE TIME PERIOD

Paul founded the church at Ephesus about the middle of the first century. This enables us to set the date of the beginning of the Ephesian Church Age, about 53 AD and ending in 170 AD.



THE MESSENGER - ST PAUL

The messenger (angel) to the church of Ephesus was the apostle Paul. That he was the messenger to the first age of the Gentile era cannot be denied. Though to Peter was granted the authority to open the doors to the Gentiles, it was given to Paul to be their apostle and prophet. He was the Prophet- Messenger to the Gentiles. His prophetic office, by which he received the full revelation of the Word for the Gentiles, authenticated him as their apostolic messenger. To this agreed the other apostles at Jerusalem. Gal. 1:12-19, Gal. 2:2, Gal. 2:6-9, Rom 11:13.

His manner of ministering set the pattern that all future messengers were to aspire to, and actually sets the pattern for every true minister of God, though he would not attain to such height in the prophetic realm as did Paul. Paul's ministry had a three-fold quality and was as follows:

First of all, Paul was absolutely true to the Word. He never deviated from it no matter what the cost. Gal. 1:8-9, Gal. 2:11,14, I COR. 14:36-37.

Notice that Paul was unorganized, but Spirit-led, as when God moved upon Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt. Jerusalem's council never sent Paul out, nor did it have any power or jurisdiction over him. God, and God alone, did the sending and the leading. Paul was not of men, but of God.

Gal. 1: 1, " Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead:"
Another reference is GAL 2:3-5.

Secondly, his ministry was in the power of the Spirit, thereby demonstrating the spoken and written Word. I COR. 2:1-5, ACTS 14:8-10, ACTS 20:9-12, ACTS 28:7-9.

Thirdly, he had the evident fruit of his God-given ministry.

2 Cor. 12:11, "I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing."
I Cor. 9:2, "If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord."
2 Cor. 11:2, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealously: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

Paul had been the means of bringing in multitudes of the Gentile sheep; he fed them, and cared for them, until they brought forth righteous fruit and were prepared to meet the Lord as a part of the Gentile bride.

At the time of the giving of the Revelation, according to tradition, Paul had already died a martyr, but John was carrying on in his stead exactly as Paul had done in the days of his ministry. The death of Paul, before the Revelation was given, does not at all annul the fact that he was the messenger to the Ephesian Church Age, for the messenger to every age, regardless of when he appears or goes, is the one who influences that age for God by means of a Word-manifested ministry. Paul was that man.




THE BIBLE REFERENCE

REVELATION 2:1-7:

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;

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou has tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

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.

But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitines, which I also hate.

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.


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GAL 1:12-19:"For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For we have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
But when it pleased God, Who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me, by His grace,
To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not among flesh and blood:
Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

GAL. 2:2:"And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by means I should run, or had run, in vain.

GAL 2:6-9:"But these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, I maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the Gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter:
(For He That wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the Same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
And when James, Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."

Rom. 11:13:"For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office."

GAL. 1:8-9:"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach another gospel unto you than that ve have received, let him be accursed."

GAL. 2:11,14:"But when Peter was come to Antioch I withstood him to the face, because be was to be blamed.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
"
I Cor. 14:36-37 "What? came the Word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

GAL 2:3-5:"But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Cbrist Jesus, that they might bring us in bondage:
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you.

I COR. 2:1-5:"And I, brethren, when I came to vou, came not in excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

Acts 14:8-10, "And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:
The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked."

Acts 20:9-12, "And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutycbus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, be sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
And Paul went down and fell on him and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves for his life is in him.
When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.
And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
"

Acts 28:7-9, "In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed."