CHRIST’S PRESENCE (2:1)
Revelation 2:1 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;
There are several items in this verse that we must quickly go over before we get to the main thrust of the passage.
First item: what is “the angel of the church” that this letter is addressed to? We are not certain. It could be an angel, but why would Christ give John (the human author of Revelation) a message to give to an angel to give to a group of Christians in Ephesus?
The Greek word for “angel” (angelos) basically means “messenger.” It is translated as “messenger” several times in the KJV (e.g., Matthew 11:10; 2 Corinthians 12:7). Perhaps then “the angel of the church” is the pastor of each of the churches—the one who brings the message of Christ to each local congregation. The problem with this view is that nowhere else in the Bible is a pastor called an angel (and there’s no need to start with calling me an angel!)
By far one of the most popular shows that my younger kids watch is called Curious George. It is based on the books that first started coming out during World War II. Curious George is a monkey whose curiosity always seems gets him in trouble.
We live in a day of unprecedented curiosity about spiritual matters. Even as more people proclaim themselves to be atheists, there are many people to continue to explore the claims of the Bible and Jesus.
Many people are curious about who Jesus is. Their curiosity does not always lead them to salvation, however. We see this in the life of a man named Herod Antipas. You could call him Curious Herod.
This passage marks the first time the disciples are sent out on a mission. In Luke 10, Jesus sends seventy disciples, two by two, out in the same way.
This passage raises some interesting questions: as witnesses to the living Jesus Christ, should we expect to have the ability to heal diseases and cast out demons like these original disciples? Should we go on witnessing trips and take nothing with us? Should we be a people who own nothing but the clothes on our backs? Should we shake our feet at unbelievers when they reject the gospel we tell them?
How do we apply this passage for ourselves today? What can we copy?
Sometimes Christians have copied the instructions given to the disciples here almost exactly and had great success. In 1994, the China Gospel Fellowship sent seventy young evangelists out, two by two, with just enough money for a one-way journey. They trusted God to provide for their needs after that. Six months later, they had established new churches in twenty-two of China’s thirty provinces. 1
So how do we go about copying the disciples here? Let’s work through the passage, verse by verse, and see what we can copy for today.
God’s word is profitable…so says Paul the apostle:
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
What is the reason that the Bible is profitable? It is because it is “given by inspiration of God.” What does this mean? Peter explains it clearly:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20–21)
Peter says first, that the scripture is not of “any private interpretation.” It is not the work of ancient people who wrote down their own personal experiences with God. The Bible is not a human book like the ancient works of Socrates or Plato.
Instead, God, through his Holy Spirit, directed men like Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul to write the very words he wanted written.
This year, for the first time since 1956, Easter has fallen on April Fool’s Day. I am sure that’s a delight to many atheists, but it’s also what led me to our text:
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
The main question I want to answer today is this: is it foolish? Is the cross really foolishness? Am I a fool for believing in God and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The way I want to answer this is to unpack this one verse and see what it has to teach us.