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HOW GOD WANTS TO SEE CHRISTIANS – AN EXAMPLE FROM THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS

(Saturday, January 09, 2021)

1.0 BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

Ephesus [in modern day, Turkey] was not the official capital of the province, Pergamum was, but Ephesus was the greatest city. It was a port city and a commercial center. The trade routes from the east and the south all terminated there at Ephesus. So, it was a wealthy city; it was a materialistic place. It was also a center of pagan worship. The cult of Artemis, or Diana, was there. Diana was the goddess of the chastity, hunting, wild animals, forests, childbirth, fertility, and among the Greeks that was perhaps relatively innocuous, but among the Ephesians, which was not only a Greek but an Asian city – a kind of amalgamation of both – the goddess took on more of the Asian qualities of religion, and it became a very sensual, hedonistic religion of Artemis. The temple of the goddess was a very large temple. In fact, it was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world of that time. So, the city of Ephesus stood in the shadow of this great temple, and it was under the spell of paganism and the occult. The so-called Ephesian letters, which circulated throughout the ancient world, were charms that were widely believed to heal sickness and bring luck.

Moreover, Ephesus was a center of emperor worship. The penalty could be harsh for not honoring Domitian as lord and god, and these people were required to go to the temple and take a pinch of incense and offer it on the altar, and confess that Domitian, this Roman emperor, was lord and god of the earth.

Ephesus was also a hotbed of early Christian evangelism [Messianic Community] and remains an important archaeological site and Christian pilgrimage destination. It is mentioned multiple times in the New Testament, which is more than any other churches of that era. It is mentioned in the Acts of Apostles [Chapters 18 & 19], Epistles of Apostle Paul [Letters to Ephesians, 1st & 2nd Timothy] and Epistles of Apostle Peter [1st Letter to churches of Asia Minor as well as 2nd Letter to all churches]; Epistles of Apostle John [1st, 2nd & 3rd Letters], Gospel of John as well as The Book of Revelation [special message to church of Ephesus is given in Chapter 2] were written and recorded from Ephesus. Therefore, it is an ideal church to know about the DESIRE and WILL of God, which He wants to see among the true Christians.

1.1 Ephesus between 129 BC to 262 AD

In 129 BC, King Attalos of Pergamon left Ephesus to the Roman Empire in his will and the city became the seat of the regional Roman governor. During the reign of Tiberius, Ephesus flourished as a port city. A business district was opened around 43 BC to service the massive amounts of goods arriving or departing from the man-made harbor and from caravans traveling the ancient Royal Road. The reforms of Caesar Augustus brought Ephesus to its most prosperous time, which lasted until the third century AD. Caesar Augustus was the first Roman emperor, reigning from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history. According to some sources, Ephesus was at the time second only to Rome as a cosmopolitan center of culture and commerce.

Ephesus played a vital role in the spread of Christianity. Starting in the first century AD, notable Christians such as Apostle John and Apostle Paul visited and rebuked the cults of Artemis, winning many Christian converts in the process. Mary, the mother of Yeshua the Messiah and Mary Magdalene spent their last years in Ephesus with Apostle John. The house and their tombs can be visited there today.

However, the Bible reveals that not every Ephesian was open to Paul’s Christian message. The Chapter 19 in the Acts of Apostles tells of a riot started by a man named Demetrius. Demetrius made silver coins featuring the likeness of Artemis. Tired of Paul’s attacks on the goddess the city worshipped, and Demetrius worried that the spread of Christianity would ruin his trade, he plotted a riot and enticed a large crowd to turn against Paul and his disciples. Ephesian officials, however, protected Paul and his followers and eventually Christianity became the city’s official religion and church flourished. Initially, there was the practices of the Nicolaitans, a very early heretical group that had mixed Christian faith with pagan eroticism.

In 262 AD, the Goths destroyed Ephesus, including the Temple of Artemis. Some restoration of the city took place, but it never regained its splendor. Emperor Theodosius erased all traces of Artemis during his reign. He banned freedom of worship, closed the schools and temples and forbade women many of the rights they’d enjoyed before. The Temple of Artemis was destroyed, its ruins used to build Christian churches.

1.2 How the Church Ministry started in Asia Minor?

The presence and sharing of Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah by Apostle John and Apostle Paul was strong in Anatolia (the near-east, part of modern Turkey, the western part was called the Roman province of Asia). The authorship of the Johannine works traditionally and plausibly occurred in Ephesus. The Book of Revelation, written by John in Patmos (a Greek island about 30 miles off the Anatolian coast), mentions Seven churches of Asia. Ephesus was one of the seven churches addressed in the Book of Revelation, indicating that the church at Ephesus was strong. Although the church of Ephesus was established by Apostle John, but it was nourished by Apostle Paul [especially he dealt mostly with Gentiles and issues arose between Jewish & Gentiles believers], and other Gospel preachers and teachers. During AD 53–57 Apostle Paul lived in Ephesus [during his third ministry journey], working with the congregation and apparently organizing missionary activity into the hinterlands and during 62-64 AD [from Rome] also wrote epistles to the church of Ephesus. Moreover, The First Epistle of Peter (1:1–2) is addressed to Anatolian regions.

The Acts of the Apostles indicates that there had been a Jewish community at Ephesus for over three hundred years [around 250-260 BC] and some of them were converted believers in Yeshua by the time when Paul the Apostle visited Ephesus [around 53 AD]. Ephesus was an important centre for Early Christianity from the AD 40s. Initially up to 48 AD Apostle John [during the period when Agrippa I (37-44AD) was suppressing the church of Jerusalem], then from AD 53–57 Apostle Paul lived in Ephesus [during his third ministry journey], working with the congregation and apparently organizing missionary activity into the hinterlands. Initially, according to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul attended the Jewish synagogue in Ephesus, but after three months he became frustrated with the stubbornness or hardness of heart of some of the Jews, and moved his base to the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). Paul introduced about twelve men [Hellenized Jews and gentiles] to the ‘baptism with the Holy Spirit’ who had previously only experienced the baptism of John the Baptist (Acts 19:1–7). Later a silversmith named Demetrios stirred up a mob against Paul, saying that he was endangering the livelihood of those making silver Artemis shrines (Acts 19:23–41). Demetrios in connexion with the temple of Artemis mentions some object (perhaps an image or a stone) “fallen from Zeus”.

On the southeast shore of the Black Sea, Pontus was a Greek colony mentioned three times in the New Testament. Inhabitants of Pontus were some of the very first converts to Christianity. Pliny, governor in 110 AD, in his letters, addressed Christians in Pontus. Of the extant letters of Ignatius of Antioch [Pisidian] considered authentic, five of seven are to Anatolian cities, the sixth is to Polycarp. Smyrna was home to Polycarp, the bishop who reportedly knew the Apostle John personally, and probably also to his student Irenaeus. Papias of Hierapolis is also believed to have been a student of John the Apostle. In the 2nd century, Anatolia was home to Quartodecimanism, Montanism, Marcion of Sinope, and Melito of Sardis who recorded an early Christian Biblical canon.

After the Crisis of the Third Century, Nicomedia became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in 286. The Synod of Ancyra was held in 314. In 325 the emperor Constantine convoked the first Christian ecumenical council in Nicaea and in 330 moved the capital of the reunified empire to Byzantium (also an early Christian center and just across the Bosphorus from Anatolia, later called Constantinople), referred to as the Byzantine Empire, which lasted till 1453. The First seven Ecumenical Councils were held either in Western Anatolia or across the Bosphorus in Constantinople.

Ephesus associated with the life of several saints of that era [of 1st & 2nd century AD], such as the Philip the Evangelist, brother of the Apostle Barnabas, Hermione, Aristobulus, Paul of Thebes, Adauctus and his daughter, Callisthene. It is also thought that Mary Magdalene also lived there. Moreover, according to Eusebius of Caesarea, the first bishop of Ephesus was Apostle Timothy, student of the Apostle Paul.

Until the 4th century AD, Christianity and Paganism co-existed in the city, but Christianity became the dominant religion in Ephesus in the course of time. This is mainly evident from the conversion of religious monuments, the increased use of Christian symbols, as well as the destruction of various pagan places of worship.

2.0 GUIDANCE FROM GOD AND APOSTLES

2.1 Ministerial Stay and letters from Apostle John [42-48, 64-100AD]

2.1.1 Ministerial Stay

The Acts of the Apostles relate how after the death of Christ, his followers were persecuted in Jerusalem. St. Stephen was stoned in around 35 AD, Apostle James [brother of Apostle John] was beheaded in 42 AD. And any further relate how they divided the world between them for preaching the Gospel, and Apostle John was given Asia Minor.

At his crucifixion Yeshua asked his beloved disciple, John, to look after his mother [John 19:26–27]. Apostle John was the brother of the apostle James; he was also the son of Zebedee [(a fisherman of Capernaum, Galilee and friend of Joseph (husband of Mary, the mother of Yeshua) The Urantia Book 129: 1.2]. His mother’s name was Salome who is believed to be a sister of Mary, the mother of Yeshua. According to the Acts of Apostles, John was a significant leader in the earliest church, but he drops out of the biblical record after Paul mentions him as a “pillar” of the Jerusalem church in Galatians 2. While John was living in Ephesus, John had with him Mary, the mother of Yeshua for a few years and probably Mary Magdalena as well. Apostle John and Mary, the mother of Yeshua and probably also Mary Magdalena went to Ephesus between 42 and 48 AD and lived there. He established the first Christian community in Ephesus and went around Asia Minor with Apostle Peter, spread the Gospel of Yeshua, and founded several churches in Asia minor.

It is said that John owned a home in Jerusalem and that it is possible that the interview Nicodemus had with Yeshua was held there. Apostle John seems to have been present for the apostolic Council of Jerusalem (51 AD) described in Acts 15, since Paul mentions John explicitly along with Peter and James [brother of Jesus] the Just one of the “pillars of the church” there. The apostle John rose to a position of influence within world-wide Christianity and shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, he moved permanently to Ephesus.  He was the preacher of the church in Ephesus and had a special relationship with other churches in the area [as we know from the letters to the Seven Churches in Asia, in the Book of Revelation (Chapter 2&3)]. In 64 -66 AD, after Apostle Paul was decapitated outside the city wall of Rome [Apostle Peter was also crucified upside down in the same year in Rome], Apostle John again became the leader of the Ephesians church community.

He was tried to be killed several times; once a glass of poisonous drink was given him but with a miracle poison came out in the form of a snake when Apostle John was ready to drink it. In other time, John was also sentenced to death in a boiling vat of oil in Rome. Yet he emerged unharmed from the experience.

Then, while in Ephesus, by order of the Roman Emperor Domitian, John was exiled to an island called Patmos.  In what is known as the cave of the Apocalypse (located on this island), the sacred text of the book of Revelation was given to the apostle John by Yeshua, which was revealed by the Almighty God (Revelation 1:1; it is here that John recorded what is written in the New Testament book of Revelation.)

Domitian ordered his exile because he saw John as a threat to his rule. However, his popularity and influence in the Christian community continued through correspondence with all the churches.

When he was released from exile [around 95 AD], he returned to Ephesus and lived till the time of the Roman emperor Trajan. John’s brother, James, was the first of the apostles to die; on the other hand, John was the last. All of the apostles met a violent death, however, John died peacefully in Ephesus (at an advanced age, around the year 100 AD.) It is said that John founded and built churches throughout all Asia Minor, and worn out by old age, died in the sixty-eight year after our Lord’s passion and was buried near the same city (Ephesus). When John was evidently an old man in Ephesus, he had to be carried to the church in the arms of his disciples.  At these meetings, he was accustomed to say no more than, “Little children, love one another!”  After a time, the disciples wearied at always hearing the same words, asked, “Master, why do you always say this?” “It is the Lord’s command,” was his reply. “And if this alone be done, it is enough!”

2.1.2 Gospel and Epistles

Apostle John wrote 5 books in the New Testament. He wrote The Gospel According to John, First, Second and Third John, and he was the penman of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. All of his books were written later in life and after all the other books in the Bible were recorded and had the central target audience of the believers of Ephesus. We don’t know the exact time or order of the books having been written, but here are some possible dates:

The Gospel According to John [69-90 AD]

The purpose of the Gospel of John is “to show that YESHUA is GOD forever on Earth and in Heaven, the great I AM, the image of the FATHER and HIS ETERNAL LOVE”. The manifestations of this approach were done through: (i) YESHUA is the CREATOR of the WORLD, (ii) John the Baptist knew the LAMB before His Baptism, (iii) YESHUA is the LIGHT and LIFE eternal, (iv) Many disciples walk no more with YESHUA, and (v) YESHUA is in control of all from Beginning to End.  

First, Second and Third Letters of John [85-100AD]

The Epistles of John were written to various audiences. They were all written between the period of 85-100AD when John was living in Ephesus. The first epistle was not addressed to anyone in particular group but was written more as a sermon for Little Children or New Believers[who know forgiveness & know fatherhood], Young Men [who have developed strong, digested scripture & defeated satan] and Fathers [who have length & depth of experience]. It was written for following reasons:

  • They will be Satisfied [1 John 1.4] to promote Harmony [1 John 1:3]
  • They will be Sinless [1 John 2.1] to produce Happiness [1 John 1.4]
  • They will be Safe [1 John 2.26] to protect Holiness [1 John 2.1]
  • They will be Sure [1 John 5.13] to prevent Heresy [1 John 2.26] & provide Hope [1 John 5.13]

The letter differentiated between Life & Death, Light & Darkness, Truth & Lie, Love & Hate, Righteousness & Lawlessness, Children of God & Children of Satan, Love of the Father & Love of the World. However, the letter emphasised that “Either you are Children of God [The Word] or Children of Devil [The World]- no third option”. If they are children of God [the Word], then:

  • They must enjoy the Life, because God is Life [1 John 5:1-21].
  • They must express Love, because God is Love [1 John 3:11-24; 4:1-21]
  • They must embrace Light, because God is Light [1 John 1:5-10; 2:1-11]

However, if they are children of Devil [the World], then will have Lawlessness, Lust, Lies [1 John 2:15-29; 3:1-10]

Moreover, 1 John 3:9 says, “No one who has God as his Father keeps on sinning, because he has God as his Father” [i.e. Born of God & Abiding in Christ]; and 1 John 3:10 says, “Here is how one can distinguish clearly between God’s children and those of Adversary [Devil /Satan]: everyone who does not continue doing what is right is not from God. Likewise, anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God”.

The second and third epistles were written to give emphasis on having both, “Truth and Love” among the men and women. They have the following common messages in both the letters:

  • Love is Truth [2 John 1-3; 3 John 1]
  • About following Truth [2 John 4; 3 John 2-4]
  • About following Love [2 John 5-6; 3 John 5-8]
  • Some Reject Truth [2 John 7-9] Some Refuse Love [3 John 9-10]
  • Don’t invite them [2 John 10-11] Don’t imitate them [3 John 11-12]
  • Our Joy [2 John 12-13] Your Peace [3 John 13-15]

2.2 Ministerial Visits and letter from Apostle Paul [53-64 AD]

Paul was probably 30 years old when he was converted on the way to Damascus miraculously [Acts 9:1-25]. Then he spread the Gospel of the Yeshua for about next 29 years from his conversion. However, initial 14 years he struggled a lot and spend his time in Arabia [3 years; Galatians 1:17], Damascus & Jerusalem [1 year with other Apostles; Galatians 1:18-19; Acts 9:26-30], Tarsus and surrounding region [8 years almost alone but some support from Barnabas; Galatians 2:1-10; Acts 9:30] and Antioch-Syria [2-3 years with Barnabas; Galatians 2:1-10]. In the remaining 13-14 years of his life, he rendered his services to spread the Gospel of Yeshua in the Ephesus [Acts 18:19-21]; and other churches. In Asia Minor Ephesus became the base for Christian evangelism and from here “… all residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10; 26).

2.2.1 Ministerial Stay

The Book of Acts indicates that a community of believers in Yeshua was already in existence at Ephesus before Paul’s first visit there (cf. “the brethren,” Acts 18:27, in addition to Priscilla and Aquila). It was already established by Apostle John and Apostle Peter. However, the Holy Spirit reportedly did not permit Paul, on his second missionary journey to proclaim the Gospel in Asia, Mysia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7), that refers to John’s previous missionary activity there.

The first Christian community in Ephesus was established by Apostle John and developed by Apostle Paul. Paul came into the city to fulfill the promise that he had given on his brief visit when returning from Corinth and stayed for about three and one half years [Acts 19; Acts 19:8 -10] and also wrote the letter 1 Corinthians from Ephesus in captivity (possibly from the ‘Paul tower’ near the harbour, where he was imprisoned for a short time). Apostle Paul’s third missionary journey brought him to Ephesus from the end of 53 – mid 57 AD, which is the longest recorded time he spent in any city. When Paul came to Ephesus, first in the synagogues and then everywhere in the city, he preached the gospel and gained followers. Later the church of Ephesus became the head of the Seven Churches in western Asia Minor.

Apostle Paul had to struggle with magicians and soothsayers in Ephesus while struggling with state offices and pagans. In a short time, Ephesus became the third important city of Christianity after Jerusalem and Antioch [of Syria]. Christianity rapidly gained popularity in Ephesus and by the popularity of this new religion, the jeweller Demetrius and others who earned a living by selling and making silver statues of Mother Goddess Artemis, were quite distressed. Demetrius and his colleagues provoked thousands of people and met with them in the Ephesus theatre and started shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” Apostle Paul wanted to face the crowd, but disciples would not let him. Finally, the city clerk announced that the courts were open for people who had a complaint and dispersed the crowd. After this event Apostle Paul left Ephesus and went to Macedonia.

It is seen that Ephesus had an important place in the lives of both apostles [Apostle John & Apostle Paul] but both of them were not in Ephesus at the same time. Initially, John and Paul led different communities in Ephesus. Although the Apostle John resided in Ephesus for many years (and likely died there), it was Paul who started the church within it (see Acts 19). He first visited the city, for a brief period, during his second missionary journey. During his third missionary journey he resides in Ephesus for almost three and one half years.

2.2.2 Epistles

Between 53 and 57 AD Paul wrote the letter 1 Corinthians from Ephesus in captivity (possibly from the ‘Paul tower’ near the harbour, where he was imprisoned for a short time). Later, Paul wrote the Epistles to the Ephesians & Timothy while he was in prison in Rome (around 62-64 AD).

[1] The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians

The Epistle of Paul to Ephesians was a general letter on christian life with an emphasis on having both dimensions, “Inside Church” as well as “Outside Church”… and must have both the dimensions in order. The Chapters 1-3 explains the dimension of Inside Church [about His Purpose & Power- in Vertical Dimension]. It says about relationship to God [in Yeshua], salvation worked in, doctrine, what we are saved by, forgiveness, justification, our release, adoration, and divine sovereignty. These Chapters give us the outline of worship doctrine.

  • Praising [Ephesians 1:3-14]: To sum up all things in Yeshua the Messiah for God’s Purpose
  • Praying [Ephesians 1:15-17]: To know the God’s Purpose and Power
  • Preaching or Sermon [Ephesians 1:19-23; 2:1-22; 3:1-31]: The God’s Power and Purpose are revealed in-  [1] Yeshua the Messiah raised up to reign (1:20-23); [2] Gentiles raised up to rejoin; [3] Paul raised up to reveal (3:1-13)
  • Praying [Ephesians 3:14-19]: To know the God’s Purpose and Power
  • Praising [Ephesians 3:20]: To do exceedingly abundantly God’s Power   

The Chapters 4-6 explains the dimension of Outside Church [about Our Walk & Warfare- in Horizontal Dimension]. It says about relationship to others [in the Lord], salvation worked out, duty, what we are saved for, holiness, sanctification, our response, application, and human responsibility. These Chapters outline the response of post worship services in our daily lives.

a. Our Walk in [Ephesians 4:1-32; 5:1-33; 6:1-9]:

  • Humility
  • Unity
  • Maturity
  • Integrity
  • Charity
  • Purity
  • Docility [wives, children, slaves (employees)
  • Responsibility [husbands, parents, masters (employers)

b. Our Warfare [Ephesians 6:10-20]:

  • For Protection
  • By / through Prayer

[2] The Letters of Paul to Timothy [1 Timothy & 2 Timothy]

These are apostolic letters because they don’t direct the reader [Timothy] to go as a pastor or evangelist but as an apostolic delegate for a short period with specific purpose. The purpose was to address [resolve] the issues of the Messianic Community [Church] by focusing on their external responsibilities. The whole thrust of the letters was to get the Messianic Community [Church] right in order for the world to be evangelised. The ultimate objective of the letters was to work on the principle of “if the church is right, the world is going to be saved”.  

These letters can be studied in three ways:

a. Writer [Paul]: About Gospel & Salvation

(i) Pattern of his life

  • Past changes
  • Present circumstances
  • Future prospects

(ii) Purpose of his life

  • Objective [Devine Indicative]- God as saviour and king [Immortal, Invisible, Living, etc.]; Yeshua as saviour and judge [Birth, death, resurrection, ascension, return]; Holy Spirit as gift & gifts [Gift experienced, gift exercised]
  • Subjective [Human Imperative]- Experimental by past justification [Water baptism, Spirit baptism]; Ethical by present sanctification [Separated from evil, Set apart for good]; Eschatological by future glorification [Need for perseverance, Reward for perseverance]

b. Reader [Timothy]

(i) Timid Jew [Circumcised]

  • Jewish mother and grandmother
  • Godly background, taught scriptures in little child
  • Gentile Father, Paul circumcised Timothy to go with Paul to preach/ teach gospel in synagogues.
  • Born in Lystra
  • Set a part of prophecy – three special assignments, sent to Thessalonica, Corinth & Philippi as Paul’s delegate
  • Collaborated in writing at least 6 letters of Paul- Thessalonian [2], Corinthians [2], Philippians [1] & Philemon [1]      
  • Has health problem, needed lot of moral support
  • Closest to Paul- as Son

(iii) Address [Ephesus]

  • Wrong elders
  • Concern of leadership
  • Central error [bad teaching in wrong leaders]

Task Assigned to Reader [Timothy]

  • To complete the transition – quality leaders and quality members
  • To confront the troublers- errors they propagate, example they presented, effect they produced
  • To communicate the truth- message to be declared, model to be demonstrated.

2.3 Epistles from Apostle Peter [62-67 AD]

The Letters of Peter [1st Letter to Churches of Asia Minor & 2nd Letter to All Churches]

The letters have the three dimensions – Salvation, Suffering [consequences on the way to salvation] and Submission [how to deal with suffering?].

a. Salvation

There are two aspects of salvation – individual and corporate levels.

(i) Individual level– It comes through the word of God

– Living in HOPE with a tested FAITH for a joyful LOVE.

(ii) Corporate level– It comes through the people of God

– Living in SPIRITUAL HOUSE with a royal PRISTHOOD for a HOLY NATION.

b. Suffering

Suffering is the consequences on the way to salvation. We can suffer in following three aspects:

(i) Not Deserved

– don’t ever deserve suffering for the wrong things / doing but ready to suffer for right things / doing [for the Gospel]

(ii) Not Revenged

  • Don’t ever retaliate, but love [bless] them and pray for their salvation. Always good to them, not the evil.

(iii) Not Successful

  • Let it not get your spirit. They may be successful to suffer your body but not to your Spirit.
  • Submission

It talks about how to deal with suffering. It says, accept the suffering, don’t fight back on it, but never submit for the causes of spiritual blindness.

(i) Become subjects to rulers [national and local]

(ii) Be slaves to masters [even harsh]

(iii) Wives submit to husbands (especially unbelievers)

(iv) Youngers submit to elders [who serve, not lord]

2.4 Letter from God- The Revelation to John [95AD]

We read the letter to Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7. The letter introduces Yeshua as the one who holds seven stars in his right hand as He walks among the seven golden menorahs [candlesticks]. This description emphasized the light of Yeshua the Messiah’s Glory and Power. As their king, Yeshua gave a mixed evaluation of the church in Ephesus. They had commendable zeal for sound doctrine and didn’t tolerate wicked behaviour. They were specifically said to have hated the practices of the Nicolaitans, a very early heretical group that may have mixed Christian faith with pagan eroticism. But the Ephesian church also received a strong criticism. In Revelation 2:4 Yeshua told them that they have forsaken their First Love; they have lost their enthusiasm and zeal for Messiah [Christ] and His Kingdom. So, Messiah [Christ] warned them that if they didn’t repent and return to their earlier enthusiasm, he would remove their menorahs — their symbol of honour in heaven. In other words, they would be disciplined and perhaps even disbanded. However, further He says, who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities [church]- to him winning the victory [overcomer] I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life which is in God’s Gan-‘Eden.”’

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