(2.2)    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:


1.   Let me begin by pointing out something that verifies my conviction that the Lord Jesus Christ’s remarks are addressed to an individual. Do you see the three words “thy” here in verse 2? All three English words translate the Greek word sou, which is found three times in this verse, and which is the second person singular pronoun. This is proof that Jesus was directing His comments to an individual. Had He been speaking to the congregation He would have used the word umwn instead of sou. Now that we have reinforced in our thinking that the Lord Jesus Christ’s remarks are directed to the angel of the church, the pastor of the church, and not the congregation as a whole, we can more easily grasp His message.


2.   Notice what the Lord Jesus Christ tells that preacher. He begins with a single word; “I know.” There are two Greek words which are most commonly translated into our English phrase “I know.” The word ginwskw seems most frequently to refer to knowledge that is gained from learning or by observation.[1] But we have here another word, oida, which commonly overlaps in meaning with ginwskw, but which tends toward referring to just knowing, to just understanding, to just having information about something or someone.[2] This is no surprise to us who are already convinced that Jesus is the All-knowing Lord, Who sees all. Turn to John 2.23-25, where we see evidence of the Lord Jesus Christ’s omniscience:


23   Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

24    But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,

25   And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.


We pastors need to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd, Whose flock it is we tend, sees and knows the works of His men, knows the labors of His men, and knows the patience of His men.


3.   “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience


a.   Have you noticed that what the Lord Jesus commends in this pastor’s life is what ought to be in every Christian’s life, according to Paul? You see, it is the work of faith, the labor of love and the patience of hope our Lord is referring to here, that Paul first makes reference to in his writings in First Thessalonians 1.3-10:


3     Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

4     Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

5     For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

6     And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

7     So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

8     For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

9     For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

10   And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.


b.   My friends, the Christian life is all about relationships and effort. From Revelation 2.2, and from First Thessalonians 1.3-10, it is easy to see that the apostle Paul reflected in his desires for those Christians in Thessalonica the Lord Jesus Christ’s desires for His servant in the Ephesian congregation. Three kinds of relationships drive the Christian’s life, and dominate the preacher’s life. There is my relationship with the nameless and faceless lost, characterized by the work of faith to get them under the sound of the gospel. There is my relationship with those whose faces you now recognize and whose names you now know, because they have come under the sound of the gospel, characterized by the labor of love. Then there is my waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ, characterized by patience, performing my duties but waiting, until He comes again.


4.   “and how thou canst not bear them which are evil


a.   Now, notice something about this Ephesian pastor which I think is lacking in the hearts and lives of most pastors today. My friends, we live in a very civil society, in which it is thought that we must never think or speak ill of anyone. Oh, we must never saying anything that smacks of disapproval. That would be judging, and we must never make value judgments.


b.   This sentiment seems especially prevalent among those who are “ministers.” One must not ever criticize Billy Graham or Franklin Graham or Jerry Falwell or Benny Hinn, according to most. But friends, the Lord Jesus Christ is not only commending this Ephesian pastor for the positive aspects of his ministry, his work, his labor and his patience, He is also complimenting His man for what some would perceive to be the negative aspects of his ministry. His confrontation of and opposition to evil men, both those in and those not in the ministry, is actually commended by the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone nowadays seems to think it is always and in every case wrong to criticize a preacher.  Folks, it is never wrong to criticize wrongdoing.


c.   Do you know what the word “Ephesus” means? It means desirable.[3] Do you think it is an accident that the pastor of the “desirable” church is a pastor who hates what Christ hates, and who works, labors and is patient, even when no one else is aware that he is? I do not. The reason so many churches are pastored by mealy mouth sissy boys is because so many church members want no other kind of preacher. That is why I thank God you folks are made of better stuff than most church members I know.


4.   “and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars


a.   I think the Lord Jesus Christ is here referring to a problem this pastor faced, which will be more explicitly named in verse 6. What is important for us to see at this point is the approach this pastor took with respect those who said that they were apostles.


b.   Notice that he did not treat them according to what they said they were. They said they were apostles. But regardless of what they said, this pastor is commended.  “. . . thou hast tried them which say they are apostles.” What did he do? He examined them, scrutinized them, evaluated them, tested them.[4]


c.   What did he find? He found that those so-called apostles were liars. I wonder what would happen these days if pastors started “trying” those who say they are missionaries, who say they are preachers, who say they are God-called men? Do you think there would be some open range liars caught? I think so.


5.   So, in light of what we have seen in this verse, please recognize something that is very important to me. I urge you, and I say this with much love, to back me up all the way when I move against sin. Help me to be a good pastor by standing with me as I, by the grace of God, “not bear them which are evil.” Amen? The Lord Jesus commended the Ephesian pastor for so doing.


(2.3)    And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.


1.   You can read, in Acts chapter 19, about the tremendous upheaval that took place in the city of Ephesus as the Gospel spread throughout the city. So, the things mentioned here in Revelation 2.3 should be considered in that light.


2.   Persecution fell upon every Christian, but the focus of the attack undoubtedly fell upon those in positions of spiritual leadership. So, Christ is again commending this man of God for sticking with it, for His name’s sake. When the pressure to quit came, this man, and others as well, no doubt, did not quit. Why? Because they were doing what they were doing for Christ’s sake. And because, unlike so many today who are quitters, who cut and run, they were real Christians, they were real men, they were real servants of God.


3.   “And hast borne” has reference, not to evil men, but to burdens, circumstances. This is the run of the mill persecution that every Christian of that era and location had to put up with.


4.   “and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” I think the word “fainted” has reference to what you can be tempted to do when you work. If that is true then we have in this verse the same three components that are found in verse 2, only in reverse order. Thus, we see that this pastor is being commended again by the Lord Jesus, for the same efforts.


5.   By God’s grace, that pastor must have been quite a fellow. And the quality of his ministry was reflected in the quality of the Ephesian congregation’s ministry and reputation. 

[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 199-200.

[2] Ibid., pages 693-694.

[3] L. Sale-Harrison, The Remarkable Revelation, (New York: Sale-Harrison Publications, 1930), page 41.

[4] Rienecker, page 815.

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