EPHESUS-THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH
33 A.D- 100 A.D.
Jesus Christ had brought together his twelve disciples and started his ministry. After teaching the multitudes, healing the sick and performing miracles, the Jewish religious leaders had Jesus crucified. After three days He rose again and before He ascended into heaven a command was given.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”
This was the beginning of the first church age.
Since the original Church created from the Gospel being preached and spread by Jesus' Apostles this is known as the Apostolic age of the church.
In the book of Revelation this Church was greatly commended for their works, labor, patience and the fact that they would not allow false teachers into the fold. They were tireless in the 'Great Commission' that was given to them by Jesus. It is estimated that Paul traveled, mostly on foot between 10,000 to 15,000 miles spreading the Gospel.
There was one condemnation against them, that they had lost their first love, this could mean that they began to be more concerned with weeding out the false teachers and getting into the politics of a growing church than focusing on the love of Jesus and the salvation offered through Him.
They were to repent for this and in doing so would receive the tree of life.
A curious part in this portion of Revelation is that they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as Jesus did.
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 hast 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 Nicolaitans, 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.
Who were the Nicolaitans?
Who were these Nicolaitans that are spoken of in this part of the chapter. Nothing much is said of them other than a commendation for hating the teachings of them.
The Greek word for Nicolaitans means 'The conquer of the people'. The Nicolaitans were a heretical sect that used the Church as a means to control the masses, they taught that there was a power and rank structure within the church that must be strictly obeyed and adhered to.
Ultimately, this power structure that was used by the Nicolaitans, its conquering over the church laity and the threat of punishment or exile for those that did not follow the governmental ways of this church structure is something we see to this day.
Unfortunately this is, or at least bears great resemblance to the Catholic Church as a whole and many Christian denominations we see today.
Catholic Church Governing Structure
There has been a definite system throughout the history of the Catholic Church, and thus is most likely were the Nicolaitan teachings likely thrived and evolved into.
As Christians we can not climb on our soap box and pretend to be in opposition such as the early Protestants if we govern our churches in the same manner.