Unknowingly, and perhaps without considering Jesus’ condemnation of this church this is exactly the place I have sought to find and join for a very long time. Oh the joys of sitting in a men’s bible study, because of course this is how it would be, and parsing Scripture with brothers that knew theology, were conversant in creeds and confessions, and literate of history. The sheer delight of hearing the entire Word preached, book by book with a proper and right hermeneutics and exegesis. The comfort in seeing a session of manly men of God managing church business as elders. Myself of course being unqualified for such a role as I am not a husband of one wife and I can be quarrelsome. Singing Psalms, a rightly regulated order of service, liturgy, hymns, and sacraments. When the occasional heretic, apostate or reprobate enters the doors and utters error and refuses to repent, after being chastised by two or three the bum would be shown the way out the door.  All of this has always sounded pretty good to me.


Instead, very often in life, I have found variations. There is the Second Restoration Church of Pergamun, a megachurch in love with trying to be relevant to the culture so much it has adopted its ideology. These sorts are everywhere. There is the United Methodist Church of Thyatrian that has been seduced by Jezebel not unlike all the mainline folks.  Some that have left the last group started churches in Sardis, trying to cover their reputations only. Then there is the First Baptist of Laodicea, some of these want to be megachurches, and many love the culture. My mother, bless her heart, attends the Third Independent Baptist Church of Smyrna. The First and Second churches of that city were not KJV-only but you know there is just so much trash in the world why take chances they say. They are faithful and persevering.


I know that there exists sprinkled here and there Philadelphia churches, folks that reject the culture, that do not listen to Jezebel (or even let her speak) and have reputations that are truly alive. But I am quarrelsome remember? I want that thing that exists in my version of The First Reformed Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Ephesus. The thing is, I know of, not in a real personal way but as much as one can know of a person digitally, elders from other churches in the same synod as my imaginary perfect church. And it could be, I cannot say for certain, they might receive the same condemnations as Christ pronounced on Ephesus.


Kim Riddlebarger describes Ephesus


“It might be helpful to know a bit about the city of Ephesus and the church which was founded there in the early 50's of the first century.  The city of Ephesus was famous throughout the ancient world for its temple dedicated to Diana (Artemis).  In Acts 19, we read of Paul’s two years spent in the city which came to an end after certain Jews tried to exorcise a demon in the name of Jesus, only to have the demon possessed-man turn on them and beat them to a pulp (Acts 19:11-20).  As a result of this incident, there were so many occultists in the area who came to faith in Jesus Christ that it was not long before those making a living selling religious trinkets associated with Diana worship and the temple began to see their formerly thriving businesses dry up.  As Luke recounts in Acts, a near riot ensued when the local theater was filled with scores of merchants and worshipers of  Diana shouting “great is Diana of the Ephesians,” and seeking to do great bodily harm to the apostle Paul.


Archaeological evidence indicates that the temple drew pilgrims from the surrounding areas–making it quite a tourist attraction–and that the temple held much land and financial clout, controlling much of the local banking interests.  Ephesus was also the home to one of the world’s largest libraries, as well as being a center for the occult.  In the words of one writer, “if there was any city in which the church needed spiritual discernment, it was Ephesus.”  Indeed, this congregation will be commended by Christ because of that very fact.  But the Ephesian church will also come under rebuke for having lost its first love, perhaps the inevitable fall-out in a church besieged by false doctrine and controversy." [1]


“if there was any city in which the church needed spiritual discernment, it was Ephesus.” Riddlebarger quotes Johnson in Triumph of the Lamb. So here we find the brothers and sisters in this church surrounded by a hostile culture with a well-formed worldview and beliefs. Many that came to faith in that church previously held to those pagan beliefs and they all still swam in the same metaphorical pond with neighbors and family that still espoused those beliefs. You can imagine the daily angst that elders like ‘brother Basil’ felt as yet another pagan idea got worked into a Scripture study when “Ezio” started off talking about his personal interpretation by saying “I think” or “I feel” and then proceeded to introduce yet another pagan idea. Session meetings in that city might have gone on six days a week on some weeks as issue upon issue of matters of decline and correction came up. Jesus commended them for this saying “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.” (Rev. 2:2) We might assume they grew weary of the work but in the next verse, we are told they did not. And yet Jesus condemns them in verse four saying they have abandoned their first love. They had ceased the love of preaching the Gospel to those around them.


We might think this is unfair to them. Here is a church amidst the apex of pagan practice. Heretics are rising up left and right, people are coming into the church and not putting off all error. Come on Jesus, those folks had a lot on their table. We imagine that at some point the presbytery of the city met and said “yeah all these fools will not listen, the elect, they will find us and we will teach them but we have too much work to do inside the doors right now. “  And Jesus condemned them for that.


I still want to Join the First Reformed Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Ephesus, if one existed near me. I hope they received the message in Revelation 2:2-7 and still have a lampstand and that they have balanced their commendable adherence to orthodoxy with a love of sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world. John expanded rather than change my mind in this regard.