Greek For The Week: The Seven Churches Of Revelation

Day 1 of 7 • This day’s reading


 Ephesus: A Church Missing Love 

One missing ingredient can ruin an entire entree. Just ask my pal, Josh. He had been trying to concoct his own chili. After hours of experimenting, he let us taste it. It immediately became apparent something wasn’t right. 

Seeing our confusion, his mother tried it and said, “You forgot to add chili powder!” It’s the one thing that makes chili, chili, and it was missing. 

The Ephesian church, too, learned a lesson about missing ingredients. Of the seven churches in Revelation, Ephesus was the premier. It boasted the greatest harbor and market place in Asia. Cultures, customs, and religion met here. One Roman writer called Ephesus the “Light of Asia” because it shone with greatness.

The Ephesian Church had a mighty beginning: Paul started it and some of Christianity’s strongest leaders were associated with it. Here, Christianity experienced some of its first great victories.

Jesus said the church had many of the right ingredients:

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. (Revelation 2:2)

The Greek word for toil, kopos, means “to be weary from taking a beating.” It describes intense labor, like a wrestler engaged in competition.

The Ephesians also had patient endurance, known in Greek as hypomonē. It was the kind of gallantry that withstood hazard until the situation became victorious. The Ephesian church had overcome threats, grown holy in the midst of wickedness, and expanded despite demonic attack. 

On top of that, the church preserved true doctrine from false. The Greek word tested, peirazō, described assessing a city—finding out what it’s made of—to see if could be conquered. The Ephesians stood up to false teachers and protected its turf.

Despite these wonderful attributes, one key ingredient was missing. Like my friend Josh, who had tried to make chili without chili powder, the Ephesian church was missing love. It had grown cold; it was rare to find them showing God’s love within their community. This was a big problem. Love comes from God (see Romans 5:8), is evidence of eternal life (see 1 John 3:14), and demonstrates to the world that we are followers of Christ (see John 13:35). 

Like the Ephesians, we may end up accomplishing titanic achievements for the kingdom of God. But if we neglect love, God won’t be pleased, because love is what makes everything else pleasant to His taste. So, go after kingdom feats with all your might. Just make sure to add the love.