GREG SIMASFaith-Leadership-Culture

How the Church in Ephesus Missed Sustaining Revival and What We Learn From It

Revival is a word that is tossed around so much these days. Many churches talk about revival; some might say they are “breaking into revival” but I only know of a few that are truly there.

Revival in Ephesus

The church in Ephesus is one of the New Testament churches that were no-doubt in revival.

The Apostle Paul made his trip to Ephesus in 52 AD and stayed there about three years until 55 AD. Ephesus was a port city having a population of nearly 300,000 people. It was home of the goddess Diana (Artemis) the daughter of the Greek god Zeus. Legend has it that her statue fell out of heaven to Ephesus. Thus the city was known as the Seventh Wonder of the World.

Testimonies of Amazing Ministry and Changed Lives

We see in Acts 19 how powerfully Paul ministered in Ephesus. Here are some of the highlights.

• People were being saved (Acts 19:1)

• People were being baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6-7)

• Paul preached and taught powerfully (Acts 19:8-11)

• Extraordinary miracles were happening through Paul. Handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick and their illnesses were cured and evil spirits left them. (Acts 19:12-12)

• Many confessed their evil deeds and burned their occult scrolls worth over 10 million dollars, publicly. (Acts 19:18-20)

About 5 years later in 60 AD Paul pens the book of Ephesians while under house arrest in Rome. The church is growing. Tons of people are converting to Christianity. Testimonies keep pouring in.

Yet, some 43 years later a rebuke comes to the church in Ephesus from the Lord (Rev. 2:1-7).

Ephesus is chosen as one of the churches that the Lord rebukes. What happened?

The church moved from the pinnacle of reformation to the point of having their influence (lamp stand) removed altogether. Revival was not sustained into the second generation.

Pauls Strategic Prayer

When Paul penned the letter to the Ephesians he prayed two great prayers, Ephesians 1:17-19 and Ephesians 3:16-17. These prayers virtually say the same thing.

Paul knew that the church could never sustain revival on just doing the second commandment alone.

The focus of the first great prayer in Ephesians sees Paul asking the Father to give the church a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they may know him better.

The focus of the second great prayer is for the church to be strengthened so Christ may dwell in their hearts. To be rooted and established in the love of Christ.

He concluded the prayer exhorting them to know His love so that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

No rebuke, just a plea to love Jesus more. No programs, just an appeal to continue to discover the depths of Christ.

Stay Hungry.

Go deeper.

Get revelation.

Live from the overflow.

Keep the affections of the heart squarely on Jesus and revival will continue to increase both now and into future generations. That’s it. This is the essence of the prayers prayed.

Shocking Result

What’s alarming is the rebuke that comes to the Church in Ephesus in the book of Revelation.

Rev. 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

The church had forsaken the very thing Paul had commanded; they left their first love. They missed it!

The affections of their hearts drifted towards doing ministry at the expense of intimacy. The lamp of influence was about to go out.

How sobering….

It must be extremely difficult to keep the priority straight in the midst of rapid city-taking ministry where the raw power of God is being radically displayed and lives are being drastically changed.

As we move into a greater wave of revival we need grace to stay steady in pursuing God wholeheartedly.

Our goal is not revival but the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). If we make the daily choice to know Him better we will have leaned the lesson the Ephesian church missed.

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  • My pastor spoke on this at the beginning of December and he has been taking our church deeper into Jesus. Layers and layers of self and sin are being peeled off as the the Truth of the Gospel is being preached.

    When Jesus reigns in us and we live for Him then revival comes.

    Great word thank you so much for sharing this. 🙂

    • Yes. So glad to hear what is happening in your church. Awesome!

      We have to stay focused on building the Kingdom inside of us before we can extend it outside of us.

      Thanks again for sharing!

  • Eph 1:17-19 is the prayer for wisdom and revelation. 😉
    This subject has been foremost on my heart recently. I’ve been praying for wisdom and revelation and to be rooted and grounded in love that I may live from the overflow. To pursue God first and most is the focus of my life. Good word! Keep writing. I glean much encouragement from your blog, and share it with others often.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I will keep writing asking God for his grace to do it more often. 🙂

      So glad to read about your pursuit of God as the focus of your life. This is an inspiration to all who read your comment. Keep going!

      Thank-You for sharing.

  • this is a good reminder – not just for churches and movements but also for us as individual believers.

    i especially liked : “Our goal is not revival but the image of Jesus.” yes, yes, yes. may it be so for all of us.

    • I can’t tell you how times in the early days I had to be reminded that I cannot USE Jesus to to get revival. I had to step back and realign my heart. That’s why what Paul says to the church in Ephesus is so critical. Thanks for sharing!

  • I am in the midst of doing a study on Ephesians. I printed out Ephesians 1:15-23 and am going to laminate it. I want to remind myself of all that the Lord has for me in Christ.

    In my church we are doing a verse be verse study of Revelation right now. To read the rebuke to the Ephesian church is hard to believe after reading of how they began and had grown earlier.

    And yet, you’re so right. We can start out strong but can easily get caught up in ‘doing ministry’. How I want my heart’s desire to be set on Jesus. May my love for Him grow more and more. And His love in me can’t help but spread to others as I abide in Him.

    Thank you for this reminder to keep the focus where it belongs.


    • Hi Debbie — There is something about an outpouring of the Spirit that causes us to loose focus. Sounds weird but I really don’t know what it is that creates this. Growing in wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him MUST continue to be our number one target in the midst of the increased ministry tasks that a revival brings. — Thanks for sharing!

      • Hi Greg,
        I stopped by to read this post again and just had to respond to this comment you made in reply to Debbie.

        3 years ago, (we had a different pastor than the one we have now), we started to have an out pouring of the Holy Spirit, but only a few in the church we touched, the pastor and youth pastor being of the few. The focus quickly lost Jesus and drifted to the gifts and what is in it for me attitude. Within less than 2 mths the fire of the Spirit was gone, the youth pastor left and the pastor started his own vineyard house church. Since having our new pastor, (he’s been with us for 1 year), the movement of the Spirit is coming back but very slowly. The focus is on Jesus, repentance, forgiveness and spreading the Gospel.

        If we lose sight of Jesus and He is not our focus the Spirit of the Lord will leave our churches. In these times that we are living in it is very important to make sure we check our hearts and make sure God is number one in our lives or we could find ourselves outside the gates weeping and gnashing our teeth.


        • I have seen the scenario you mentioned above played out too many times. Often it’s both a theology issue and a leadership issue. I believe the move of the Spirit in your former Pastor and Youth Pastor were genuine yet something was dropped in leadership.

          Revival is messy. It has to be pastored well. It’s not easy. People need time. Questions need to be answered. This requires wisdom. As leaders we live in the tension of our own “deeper” encounters with God, discerning what God is saying and leading our people well.

          A move of the Spirit is just that, a move of the SPIRIT. New experiences and deeper encounters take place. The Bible says we are to desire (literally be passionate for) the Gifts of the Spirit. It’s not wrong to desire the Gifts. Ultimately, we have to remember the Spirit comes to help us love Jesus more THROUGH THE ENCOUNTER. We must keep Jesus as our main pursuit. Always.

          My prayer is for all of you. For your church and your new Pastor as well as the former Pastors. We are all learning and growing. Jesus is the head of the church and I am so grateful that He leads so well. 😉

          • Hi Greg,
            Thanks for sharing what you know. I too believe that the pastors both felt the leading of the Spirit but Satan came in quickly and squashed it through pride, rebellion and poor theology.

            Thanks for the prayers! I too am so thankful that Jesus, our Head, leads us well.


  • This post is so timely for the lent season. i love to read this kind of posts about God. Thanks for sharing this.. Good job!

  • This word about Ephesus…. losing the second generation…. I need more of this! any other related sites?

    • Don, I don’t have any other related sites. I did this study on my own. I would pull up some tools and do a deep study on the progression of Ephesus from AD 65 to AD 95. This will be my next step to take it even deeper. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  • Hi Greg
    Thanks for the study. I am currently studying what the Lord said to the 7 Churches and was hoping to discover if any or the Churches still exist. I believe that Ephesus was destroyed so asssume that particular Church no longer exists. What strikes me most about the Lord’s word to all the Churches is that they would only receive the promises of God if they had ears to hear what the Spirit was saying and be those who “overcome”. As I understand it, he who overcomes is the only guarantee we have that our names will not be blotted out of the “Lamb’s Book of Life”. Would love to know if you have gone deeper into this study yourself and is you know the outcome for all 7 Churches
    The Lord Bless and keep you in His Peace


    • Cher. I don’t know the outcome of these seven churches. I do know that they were all in Asia minor and were in close proximity to one another. This is interesting to me. I do think if you did a little research on the internet you will get some answers. Also, I use Logos Bible Software to do these types of research projects. It’s a fabulous resource.

      I am encouraged by your diligence in the Word. Keep going and thanks for sharing here on M1P.:)

  • Very grateful for all the post. Some elders and I were sent out to plant a Church about 20 months ago. God is helping us to concentrate on knowing and loving Jesus. Your post has really helped. The statement ” we can’t use Jesus to get revival” has been a food for thought.

    • Adetutu. Jesus is always the means AND the end. He is the author and sustainer of revival. Love what you guys are doing and what you are going after!

  • Hi Greg. I’m do greatful to read about the Ephesians church. In the actual moment my local church that I fellowship with is in big crisis. People are resigning from serving in the church. I think there’s something wrong in the leadership of the church. I also think that we have forsaken the love for one another. I have a fear that what happened to the Ephesus might happen to ours.

    • Hi Nkhensani, Yes, if the love of the Father is not squarely set in the middle of the local church then the church centers it’s focus primarily on ministry and not intimacy. If this continues then love for one another can become abandoned and continual conflict arises.


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