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Revelation 2:1: Christ's Inspection of the Churches

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Verse 1:[1] Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith (Rev. 1:16, 20) he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, (Rev. 1:13) who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks…

[To the Angel of the Church of Ephesus] Here, as in what follows, a Paronomistic[2] Allusion is to be noted, to which sort Grotius, Mede, and all Interpreters agree that the Prophetic style aims (More’s Prophetical Exposition of the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia 3:5). The Spirit deliberately chose these Churches, which even by their very names, like certain marks inscribed on the forehead, indicate their entire condition (Brightman). In the word Ephesus there is able to be a twofold Allusion (More), 1. to ἔφεσις/ephesis/desire (More out of Grotius), so that it might express the fervent love and desire of the primitive Church for the things of Christ (More): or, 2. to ἄφεσις/aphesis (Brightman, More), which either expresses a neglecting, whence we designate that which is growing weak (Brightman); or, it means the same thing as ἀφετήρια/apheteria, a starting point, whence begins the course of the succession of all the seven Churches (More). This Church is put in the first place, partly because it was the greatest and most populous (Cluverus), and most famous (Cotterius), and the first among them in embracing the faith (Brightman), whence it flowed unto the rest (Brightman, similarly Cluverus): partly, 2. because this city especially represents the Gentile Church. Now, these seven cities comprehend the universal condition of the Gentile Church. And we think that the Antitype of this Church is the first Christian Church unto Constantine the Great (Brightman). Here, He calls an Angel, either, 1. προεστῶτα, or the president (Beza, Zegers), the Bishop (Estius, Menochius, Hammond, etc.): Now, Ephesus was the Metropolis of Asia Minor (Menochius). This was, either, Timothy (certain interpreters in Grotius, thus Pererius, Lapide, Menochius, Tirinus) [concerning whom you will see many things in Pererius, Lapide, and Estius]; or, a certain other, Jewish with respect to nationality. See Acts 18:26 (Grotius). Or, 2. the Teachers and Pastors (Cluverus), or Ministers, of this Church (Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 154). The change of the singular number into the plural proves that it was not here written unto one, as in verses 10 and 19[3] (Cluverus). This phrase translates שליח צבור, shaliach tzibbur, angel of the congregation, which was the title of the minister of each Synagogue, who was attending to the public reading and interpretation of the law and prophets; just as also these minsters were reading these Epistles publicly in the assembly (Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 154). Or, 3. the Bishop and the Church at the same time, from a comparison with verse 7 (Piscator), all the Bishops, Pastors, and Christians. For, that by Angels, according to the Apocalyptic style, all those that act or do business under their Prefecture in any manner are represented or insinuated, it is possible for no one to doubt (More’s Prophetical Exposition of the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia 3:4). This Epistle, just like those that follow, is inscribed to the Angel immediately, to the Church mediately. Therefore, care is to be taken lest we either confuse, or rigidly separate, the counsels and materials; and it is to be considered what agrees to the former, or to the latter (Durham).

Ephesus was the principal city of Asia the Less, it lay in the western parts of it, upon the Ionian Sea; a city of great riches and trade, but much given to idolatry and superstition, famous for the temple of Diana. Paul was there twice; at his second coming he stayed thereabouts three years, Acts 18-20. He was by a tumult driven thence into Macedonia, and left Timothy there, 1 Timothy 1:3. It appears from Acts 20:17, that there were more ministers there than one; but they were all angels, and from the oneness of their business are all called an angel.

[Who holdeth (note the progress: Revelation 1:16, ἔχων/having; here, κρατῶν/holding: Thus Revelation 1:13, He was in the midst, etc., now, He walketh, which is characteristic of authority, as in Mark 11:27 [Cotterius]: It is a periphrasis of Christ [Piscator]) the stars, etc.] That is, He protects, preserves, and cherishes (Ribera, similarly Pareus, Durham, More); from whom then all good gifts flow (Cluverus), and the good works that are here mentioned; whom therefore thou art especially obliged to love (Ribera); who also is able to cast thee down to the earth (Cluverus). Words out of chapter 1 are often repeated in what follows, for in that there is a certain εἰσαγωγὴ/isagoge/introduction unto all the following. And the individual things are suited to their own places. What Christ says in this place, that is, the Bishops are precious in my sight and diligently kept like gems in my hand: Therefore, they ought to attend diligently to themselves so that they might keep their purity. For a defaced gem is easily cast away. Which similitude is applied to Jeconiah, Jeremiah 22:24 (Grotius).

These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand; that is, Christ, Revelation 1:16, 20, who hath put an honour on his ministers, showeth special favour to them, and will protect them.

[Who walketh in the midst, etc.] As a priest, in conformity with the type of the Old Testament, as a Head of household in his own house, inspecting and carefully attending to particulars, examining, purging, and kindling the lamps (Cluverus), so that he might see whether they light well; if they light not sufficiently, so that they might be cleansed (Grotius), and kept in vigor (Cluverus); if they light not even with this care, so that they might be removed from their place as useless. This sense is indicated to us in verse 5 (Grotius). He warns that He has the power to subvert or transport them (Cluverus). Previously he saw Him standing; now, walking in the midst of the Church. This teaches that He does not sit idle in heaven, but is near at hand to the Church, and considers all things in person, proves and compensates the faithful, chastens idleness, etc. (Pareus).

Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; who hath a special eye to his church, being not an idle spectator, but present with his church, to observe how all in it walk and perform their several parts, and is at hand, either to reward or punish them.

[1] Greek: Τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον, Τάδε λέγει ὁ κρατῶν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἀστέρας ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ, ὁ περιπατῶν ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ἑπτὰ λυχνιῶν τῶν χρυσῶν.

[2] Paronomasia is a play on words.

[3] Verse 24 may be here intended.

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