Grace and Peace
“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11)
“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” (Rev. 2:1).
We have come to the introduction of the passage where the Lord speaks to all seven churches through their appointed angels, or “messengers.” He has a word to speak to the church at Ephesus, and so he writes to the “messenger” of that church. The message to the angel and the message to the church are identical. God speaks to His churches through His appointed and ordained servants.
The word angel need not refer to what we would call an angelic or celestial being. John the Baptist was called an angel (Mark 1:2). Human beings are called angels in the Old Testament also (Job 1:14; Is. 42:19; Mal. 2:7; 3:1). And the word is used by Luke to refer to ordinary messengers. Jesus “sent messengers (angels) before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him” (Luke 9:52; cf. 7:24). Now of course it is possible that the angels of the first chapters of Revelation are celestial beings, but in my view this creates many more problems than it solves.
So in the preamble to the message to the pastor of the Ephesian church, the Lord reminds him of the context. That man is not receiving a private word, or a private revelation. This comes from the one who holds seven stars in his right hand, and as he is speaking to one of them, the reminder is that there are six others there with him. The Lord who speaks this admonition to Ephesus is the same Lord who is walking in the midst of seven lampstands. The Lord ministers, in other words, within a community of churches.
What He says to each, He says pointedly to each, but all of them are invited to take warning from what he says to each. The Lord is praising and admonishing these churches in public. The saints in Laodicea and Philadelphia will know what was said to Ephesus, and vice versa.