Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write
Of the city of Ephesus, (See Gill on Revelation 1:11) and (See Gill on Acts 18:19). The church here seems to have been founded by the Apostle Paul, who continued here two years, by which means all Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, ( Acts 19:10 ) ; of this church, (See Gill on Acts 20:17); it is named first, because it was the largest, most populous, and famous, and was nearest to Patmos, where John now was, and most known to him, it being the place where he had resided; and it was the place from whence the Gospel came to others, and spread itself in lesser Asia; but especially it is first written to, because it represented the church in the apostolic age; so that this letter contains the things which are, ( Revelation 1:19 ) ; and in its very name, to the state of this church in Ephesus, there may be an allusion; either to (efesiv) , "ephesis", which signifies "desire", and may be expressive of the fervent love of that pure and apostolic church to Jesus Christ at the beginning of it; their eager desire after more knowledge of him, and communion with him; after his word and ordinances, and the maintaining of the purity of them; after the spread of his Gospel, and the enlargement of his kingdom in the world; as well as after fellowship with the saints, and the spiritual welfare of each other: the allusion may be also to (afesiv) , "aphesis", which signifies "remission", or an abatement; and so may point out the remissness and decay of the first love of these primitive Christians, towards the close of this state; of the abatement of the fervency of it, of which complaint is made in this epistle, and not without cause. This epistle is inscribed to the angel of this church, or the pastor of it; why ministers are called angels, (See Gill on Revelation 1:20); some think this was Timothy, whom the Apostle Paul sent thither, and desired him to continue there, ( 1 Timothy 1:3 ) , there was one Onesimus bishop of Ephesus, when Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna, of whom he makes mention in his epistle F24 to the Ephesians, and bids fair to be this angel; though if any credit could be given to the Apostolic Constitutions
These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right
the Syriac version reads, "that holds all things, and these seven stars in his right hand"; for the explanation of this character of Christ, (See Gill on Revelation 1:16); only let it be observed how suitably this is prefixed to the church at Ephesus, and which represents the state of the churches in the times of the apostles; in which place, and during which interval, our Lord remarkably held his ministering: servants as stars in his right hand; he held and protected the Apostle Paul for two years in this place, and preserved him and his companions safe amidst the uproar raised by Demetrius the silversmith about them; here also he protected Timothy at a time when there were many adversaries, and kept the elders of this church pure, notwithstanding the erroneous persons that rose up among them; and last of all the Apostle John, who here resided, and died in peace, notwithstanding the rage and fury of his persecutors: likewise Christ in a very visible manner held all his faithful ministers during this period in his right hand, safe and secure, until they had done the work they were sent about, and preserved them in purity of doctrine and conversation; so that their light in both respects shone brightly before men. Moreover, as this title of Christ is prefixed to the epistle to the first of the churches, and its pastor or pastors, it may be considered as relating to, and holding good of all the ministers of the Gospel and pastors of the other churches; and likewise of all the churches in successive ages to the end of the world, as the following one also refers to all the churches themselves:
who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
(See Gill on Revelation 1:12); (See Gill on Revelation 1:13); Christ was not only present with, and took his walks in this church at Ephesus, but in all the churches of that period, comparable to candlesticks, which held forth the light of the Gospel, and that in order as the antitype of Aaron, to him these lamps, and likewise in all his churches to the end of the world; see ( Matthew 28:20 ) .
F24 Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 36.
F25 L. vii. c. 46.
F26 Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 39.