1. Jesus’ exact statements about the works of the Church of Ephesus

In the previous post, I wrote that while Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for their works, labor and patience, He also reprimanded them for having lost their first love:

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 (Revelation 2: 1-7).

We know that we will be rewarded for our labor in Christ.  However, Jesus revealed that He values a church that loves Him above all else. The question is, however, what works did Jesus refer to when He told the Ephesians – “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience…”

2. The meaning of the word “works?”

Ergon is the Greek word for “works” in Revelation 2: 2. In the New Testament ergon or works is used in relation to:

a. Miracles, signs and wonders

  • The works of Christ – Mt11: 2
  • Jesus was a prophet mighty in deed (ergon) and word – Luke 24: 19
  • Jesus said that the disciples would do “the same works that I do” – John 5: 36
  • After they saw Him feed the 5000, the  people asked Jesus what they should do in order to “work the works of God” – John 6: 28.

b. Believing God’s word

Jesus told the people that “the work of God” was to believe on Him – John 6: 29

c. Doing good works or well doing

  • After giving the sermon on the mount, Jesus told the people to let their light shine before men so they would see their “good works” – Mt 5: 16
  • A good work (describing Mary Magdalene’s washing of Jesus’ feet) – Matt 26: 10
  • Well doing – Romans 2: 7
  • Examples of good works – washing the saints feet, lodged strangers, bringing up children, relieving the afflicted – 1 Tim 5: 10

d. An assignment/work of the ministry

  • Jesus said that He had finished the work given to Him by the Father – John 17: 4
  • Having been sent forth by the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas fulfilled the work of preaching the gospel and sailed back to Antioch – Acts 13: 2; 14: 26
  • John Mark forsook the work of the ministry in Pamphylia – Acts 15: 38
  • Our works shall be revealed – 2 Cor 3: 13
  • The work of the Lord – 1 Cor 15: 58; 1 Cor 16: 10
  • Leaders are assigned in the church for the work of the ministry – Ephesians 4: 12
  • Work of an evangelist – 2 Tim 4: 5

e.  Works describe the works of the law in contrast to salvation or justification by faith

f. Good works are evdences of a transformed life

  • But works must be accompanied by uncorruptness, gravity and sincerity – Titus 2: 7

3. Concluding thoughts on the priority that God places on  relationship rather than works

The church of Ephesus had all of the above “going on” and yet the Lord was dissatisfied! Was He being unreasonable?

The warning to us is that the Lord Jesus is jealous for fellowship and we will lose the savor of His Presence if:

  • we focus on doing works to the exclusion of time spent with Him!
  • and if we focus on works to the exclusion of walking with Him
  • Have you ever seen a so called great church or believer that does all the right things but does not have the sweet aroma of the anointing. That is literally a dry place!

As I concluded this post,  the Lord reminded me of His charge against the Jews for doing works and omitting the critical elements of love and obedience to Him. Read more in Psalm 50.