CHAPTER 7 – Revelation 2:1-7 教會須有真愛行動 ACTIONS OF TRUE LOVE BY THE CHURCH


主耶穌吩咐約翰寫信給小亞細亞七個教會。從基督對這七個教會的評論,可以看見甚麽是主所喜悅的教會?教會該有的特質是甚麽?主對這七個教會所說的話,都很簡單,因為預言通常都是扼要的。

The Lord Jesus instructed John to write to the seven churches in Asia Minor. From the comments that Christ gives of these seven churches, we can see what kind of churches are pleasing to the Lord. What are the special characteristics that a church should have? The words that the Lord speaks to these churches are very simple, because prophecies are usually short and to the point.

對這七個教會的預言,都有固定的形式,就是:主的自稱,稱讚的話,責備的話,鼓勵的話,警告的話,應許的話等。前面主的自稱與後面應許的話,都與該教會的缺點或需要有關。當基督自稱說祂是「死過又活的」,後面又應許說「沒有第二次死的害」,那是因為示每拿教會,是一個受苦很深,有很多殉道者的教會。

The prophecies for these seven churches have a set format which is: The Lord’s self description , words of commendation, words of rebuke, words of encouragement, words of warning, and promises. The self-description of the Lord in the beginning and the promise at the end is related to the shortcomings or the needs of the church. When Christ’s self-description is “died and came to life again”, the promise at the end is “will not be hurt at all by the second death, because the Church in Smyrna was a church that suffered profoundly and had great number of martyrs.

最初的教會

THE EARLY CHURCH

1 你要寫信給以弗所教會的使者。

1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write.

以弗所代表第一、二世紀、即使徒時代的教會,當時因為仍然有使徒的存在,所以這信裡也提到使徒。下面六個教會都不再提使徒,這絕對不是巧合,乃是精確的預言。

Ephesus represents the 1st and 2nd century church during the era of the apostles. At that time there were still apostles, that is why apostles are mentioned in the letter. Apostles are not mentioned again in the letters to the other six churches. This is definitely not a coincidence but an accurate prophecy.

以弗所是最初的教會,所以主責備他們失去「最初的愛first love 」,一語雙關,最初的教會,失去初愛。第一期教會非常重要,如果第一個教會開始走偏路,以後的偏差會更大。

Ephesus was the first church that was established that is why the Lord rebukes them for forsaking “their first love”, a double edged remark: the first church lost their first love. The first church was very important, because if the first church started deviating from the truth, then the ones that follow would depart further away from the right path.

雖然七個教會代表七個教會時代,不過任何時期,都有某些教會有相同的問題、軟弱與長處。所以每一封信,都值得我們學習,好知道神對眾教會的期望是甚麽。四福音很多重要教訓,是主親自教導的。但當時新約教會還未產生,還不知道主對教會的期望是甚麽。到這時候,主對眾教會說話,對教會的期望非常清楚。主說:「對眾教會所說的話,凡有耳的,就應當聽。」不單以弗所,眾教會也要作同樣決志。耶穌在世上時常說這話,要求人作決定。我們要追求、要立志成為主所稱讚的教會,避免效法主所責備的教會,這樣我們必定成為主所喜悅的兒女。

Although the seven churches represent seven church eras, the problems that many churches encounter during different times are similar, they all have weaknesses and strengths. Each letter contains things that are worth learning for all the churches. In the four Gospels the Lord himself taught many important lessons. At that time the New Testament church was not established yet, so they did not know what the expectations of the Lord were. Now, the Lord is speaking to the seven churches and He is letting them know very clearly what His expectations are . The Lord said: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” All the churches should make the decision, not only the church in Ephesus. When Jesus was in the world, He also asked people to make a decision. We should seek to become a church that is pleasing to the Lord, and avoid being a church which the Lord rebukes. In this way, we will become children of God that will bring joy to the Lord.

基督的自稱

THE LORD ‘ S SELF-DESCRIPTION

1 那右手拿著七星,在七個金燈臺中間行走的。

1 These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.

祂右手拿著七星,七星代表教會領袖,都是祂所揀選、祂所安排的,都安穩在祂有能力的右手之中。他們教導、帶領教會邁向國度的建立。祂在七燈盞中行走,表示祂一直關懷眾教會的需要。祂關心教會,也要我們彼此關心。這種彼此關心的行動,稱為愛。教會如果失去愛,早晚會失去原來的純正信仰,也會失去智慧、失去亮光。

He holds the seven stars in His right hand. The seven stars represent the leaders of the church, which He has set up and chosen; these leaders are secure under His strong arm, His right hand. They teach and lead the church to stride towards the establishment of the Kingdom. He walks among the seven lampstands, showing that He cares for the needs of all the churches. He cares for the church and He wants us to care for each other. This action of caring for each other is called love . If the church loses its love, sooner or later it will lose its original belief, its wisdom and its light

對教會的稱讚

THE LORD’S COMMENDATIONS

2 我知道你的行為:勞碌、忍耐;也知道你不能容忍惡人,你也曾試驗那自稱使徒,卻不是使徒的,看出他們是假的來。3 你也能忍耐,曾為我的名勞苦,並不乏倦。

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

這段稱讚的話有幾個相近的辭。erga 勞工、忍耐作工;kopos 辛勞、忍受煩惱;upomonein 忍受痛苦與苦難;bastazw 容忍,忍辱負重。這種種忍耐力,都受到主的稱讚。即今人所推崇的EQ 情商,為著將來,忍受現在。該忍能忍,不該忍不忍。神喜悅這種有原則的忍耐。他們為主、為主的名,受逼迫忍耐。但對於惡人,對歪曲真理的事毫不容忍,他們為一次所交付的道,竭力爭辯。

These words of commendation contain some terms that are similar. “ Erga ” deeds, to work patiently; “ kopos ” hard work, to endure troubles; “ upomonein ” perseverance, endure pain and suffering; “ bastazw ” tolerate, bear disgrace and a heavy burden. This endurance was praised by the Lord. Like having a high EQ (emotional quotient), enduring hardships at the present and hoping for a better future. Bearing all kinds of difficulties but not tolerating things that are against their principles. God is pleased with this kind of people because they are eager to endure persecution for the Lord and for His name but are not willing to tolerate any wicked people who distort the truth.

「使徒」當時有廣義與狹義兩種用法。狹義來說,只用在12 使徒身上,但廣義上,凡受教會差派的也叫做使徒。所以當時有好些人,自稱受教會差派到他們中間來,原來是假使徒。在那時候,交通不像今天發達,不容易檢查出真假使者。他們怎麽知道是假的?藉著靈裡的相交、從接觸中知道真假。因為真基督徒的特色,就是坦白光明的相交。我們在光明中彼此相交。也可以看到他們所做的事,他們所讀的書,他們講話的內容,從這些,就可以知道他們的靈是怎樣的靈。

[Apostles] This word can be used in two ways. In the narrow sense of the word, it is used only for the 12 apostles, but in the broad sense of the word, anyone who is sent by the church could be called an apostle . At that time, there were some who claimed to be sent by the church, but they were in fact false prophets. During those days, communication was not as developed as today, so it was difficult to verify if a person was a false prophet or not. How then were they able to differentiate a fake one from a real one? One way was thru fellowship in the Spirit; because the characteristic of a real believer is truth and light. We have fellowship in the light. Another way to know if they were the real thing was through their actions, their speech and the books they read. Through these things they could know what kind of spirit they had.

對教會的責備

THE LORD ‘ S REBUKE

4 然而有一件事我要責備你,就是你把起初的愛心離棄了。

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

他們在信仰上嚴緊、很有原則,不讓有偏差的道或人,改變純正的福音。但他們忽略教會的另一種重要原素,就是彼此相愛、彼此關顧。

They guarded their belief very carefully; they did not let anyone change the truth of the Gospel. But they neglected the other important element of the church, which is to love one another, to care for one another.

這「愛」字加了一個「心」字,成了「愛心」,使人誤會,以為只要心裡愛就夠,嘴巴熱就夠。有人愛在心裡,嘴巴在罵;有人愛在嘴巴上,常講我愛你。約翰說:「不要只在嘴巴上,要在真誠的行動上。」

Some people love just with their mouths saying sweet words like “I love you”. Others love only in their hearts while they say harsh words with their mouths. John said: “let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

基督不是要求人對祂的愛,不是因為他們對主失了熱愛,心裡沒有熱情,所以受責備。聖經所說的愛,第一,是在行動上的愛,第二,是用對人的愛來證明對神的愛。教會的罪有兩大類:一在信仰上走偏了;二失去了愛的行動。失去行動的教會,很快失去亮光,失去燈臺作用。那時,無論信仰宣言多純正,教會必定衰落,因為失去了燈臺的作用。

Christ is not rebuking them for not having a passionate love for Him in their hearts. The love which the Bible speaks about is: 1) Love with actions; 2) Love for people to demonstrate love for God. The two great sins of the church are: 1) Deviating from the truth of the Gospel; 2) Losing their deeds of love. A church without deeds will lose its light very quickly, and it’s function as a lampstand. At that time, no matter how genuine its faith might be , the church will fall for sure because it has lost its effect as a lampstand.

5 所以應當回想是從那裡墜落的,並要悔改,行起初所行的事。

5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

耶穌臨上十字架之前,多方教導、叮囑眾門徒,要他們彼此相愛,這樣別人就能知道,他們們是主的門徒。所以教會的見證,不只是懂得傳,而且要懂得愛,教會有愛的行動,就是最好的傳福音方法。

Before Jesus went on the cross, He instructed His disciples in many ways urging them repeatedly to love one another, in that way others will know that they are Jesus’ disciples. Therefore, the witness of the church is not only to know how to share the Gospel but also to know how to love. The church must love with actions; that is the best way to share the Gospel.

主不喜悅的教會,是沒有行動的教會。這裡有兩個教會受到嚴厲的責備,就是老底嘉與撒狄。老底嘉教會代表今天的教會,我們在其中,我們在這些沒有行動的人中間。主知道每個教會有甚麽行動。

The church that the Lord is not pleased with is a church that does not have actions. The two churches here that were sternly rebuked by the Lord are the church in Laodicea and the church in Sardis. The church in Laodicea represents today’s church, which includes us; we are among those who do not have actions. The Lord knows the actions of each church.

我們的觀念是多做多錯、少做少錯、不做不錯。神不是這樣,能做的善事不去做,就是罪。神創造了世界、世人,希望人藉著彼此幫助照顧,大家生活得好。但人失敗了,大家互相鬥爭,互相殺害。神只要求教會彼此相愛。新約教會開始的時候,藉著彼此相愛、凡物公用、互相照顧、甚至照顧不同語言的肢體,所以他們發展飛快,這就是他們起初的愛。這種起初的愛,慢慢失去了熱力,只重頭腦的智慧,只重信仰純正。他們愛的行動不夠。

We think that if we do a lot of things, we will make lots of mistakes, if we don’t do much, we will make fewer mistakes, and if we don’t do anything, we will not make any mistakes at all. God doesn’t think that way. If you don’t do the good that you are supposed to do, that is considered a sin. When God created the world and human beings, He hoped that by caring and helping each other, every body will have a better life. But the human race failed, all we think about is to fight against each other and to kill each other. God only requires the church to love one another. When the New church started, by loving one another, they helped each other and shared all their material possessions, they even helped members of the church that spoke different languages; that is the reason why they multiplied in numbers so quickly, that was the love they had at first. That kind of first love, gradually grew cold, they were only emphasizing intellectual knowledge and true belief. They were lacking deeds of love.

他們還有可取之處,即不亂愛、不放縱。尼哥拉黨的人就是放縱慾望、想做就做、不管對錯的人。他們覺得神造我是這樣,我順其自然,想吃就吃,想喝就喝,想做就做,不要壓力,不要禮教,只要自由。

But they had something in their favor; they were not promiscuous and were not indulgent. The Nicolaitans indulged in lust, they did what they wanted and did not care if it was right or wrong. They believed God made them that way and they should let nature run its course, they would indulge in eating and drinking, no pressure, no manners, only freedom.

鼓勵與警告

ENCOURAGEMENT AND WARNINGS

5 若不悔改,我就臨到你那裡,把你的燈臺從原處挪去。

5 If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

基督要他們回想,他們是怎樣失去了初愛,要回原位,要有原來的first love ,要再回到first work ,要行起初所行的事。

Christ wanted them to recall how they lost their first love and to return to how they were originally, return to their first love, return to their first work.

怎樣彼此相愛?去「行」,不是講,不是想。

How to love one another? Go do it, not just talk about it or think about it. DO IT.

希臘文多個愛字分得很清楚。ergos 慾愛;filia 有情感交流的愛;agapei 行動的愛。這也是主教導的愛:愛仇敵的愛,不是情慾、情感的愛,是行動的愛。行動證明有愛。接待客旅、照顧病人、幫助窮人,應該是常做的事。真正愛主的人,不像效法基督,修道士書上所寫的,應該像德蘭修女那樣去做,有行動纔是真愛。你去探望親戚,看見他們的小孩,可以嘴巴上對他說得很甜,說常掛念他,但他不吃你這一套。他會覺得,如果你真的是掛念他的話,就會帶東西來給他。

In the Greek language, the different kinds of love are defined very clearly. “Eros” intimate, passionate love; “Philia” friendship or affectionate love; “Agape” unconditional, sacrificial love, love with action. That is the love that the Lord taught about: The love for the enemy, not a sexual or emotional love but a love with actions. When there is action, it means there is love. To receive a guest in your house, to care for a sick person, to help the poor, those are things that should be done often. Someone who really loves the Lord, should not withdraw from the world and put emphasis only in his interior life as practices mentioned in the book “Imitation of Christ” written by a monk, but should have actions like Mother Theresa. True love involves actions. When you visit a relative and see their little kid, you could be very sweet to her and tell her that you missed her and that you love her but she will not buy it. The little kid will think: “If you really think of me and love me, you would have brought me a present.”

初期教會重視相愛,教會如果不是這樣,燈臺會被挪走,會失去見證的能力。果然,從第五世紀開始,以弗所教會衰落,到十一世紀完全消失。到了十四世紀,這一個在小亞細亞最大海港的城,變了死城,再無人居住了。這也是預言的一部分。以弗所是當時非常重要的城市,保羅在那里傳道一段時間,後來老約翰也在那裡牧會,他們得到最好的教導。但如果沒有愛的行動,到底都會失去燈臺的作用。

The early church emphasized in loving one another. If a church does not do that, its lampstand will be removed; it will lose its power to witness. Sure enough, starting in the fifth century, the church in Ephesus began to decline and in the eleventh century, it completely disappeared. In the fourteenth century, this large harbor city in Asia Minor became a dead city; no one lived there any longer. This was also part of the prophecy. At that time, Ephesus was a very important city, Paul preached the Gospel there for some time, later on John pastored a church there in his old age; they received the best teachings. But without the actions of love, at the end it will eventually lose its effect as a lampstand.

主的應許

THE LORD ‘ S PROMISES 

7 聖靈向眾教會所說的話,凡有耳的就應當聽。得勝的,我必將神樂園中生命樹的果子賜給他喫。

7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

上面這話,是基督、我們的王、我們的主所說的,如果我們對祂的指示還有不清楚的地方,聖靈還會教導我們,祂會一直不放棄對我們說話,直到我們遵行祂的旨意,喜悅祂的道路。所以凡有耳的都要常聽。

This verse contains words spoken by Christ, our King, our Lord. If we are unclear of His instructions, the Holy Spirit will teach us, He will not give up on us and will continue to speak to us until we follow His will and are content with His ways. Thus, whoever has ears, must listen at all times.

祂應許說:「得勝的,我必將神樂園中生命樹的果子賜給他吃。」生命樹的果是甚麽意思?是否指得著生命?如果信徒已經有了主生命,為甚麽還要再得生命?而且他們有純正的道,難道還不夠?領受主的道,與領受生命樹的果有甚麽不同?

His promise says: “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life.” What is the meaning of the fruit of the tree of life? Does it mean to receive life? If a believer already has the life of the Lord, why does he still have to get life? Furthermore, they have the true Word of God, is this still not enough? What is the difference between receiving the Word of God and receiving the fruit of the tree of life?

我們要從猶太人對生命樹的看法來了解。生命樹在所羅門王的寫作裡面,看為是智慧的源頭。箴言3:13-20 論智慧的時候,特別提到生命樹。11:30 :「義人所結的果子就是生命樹,有智慧的必能得人。」義人的果子與智慧有關。15:4 的「醫治的舌頭」,指智慧的言語能幫助人。舊伊甸園中有兩棵樹,代表真假智慧。以弗所教會守著主道,所以自認有智慧。但真智慧是行動的智慧,不是理論的智慧。

In order to understand this concept, we must look at what Jewish people consider the tree of life to be. In the writings of King Solomon, the tree of life is the source of wisdom. There is special reference to the tree of life in Proverbs 3:13-20. 11:30: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.” The fruit of the righteous and wisdom are related. “The soothing tongue” in 15: 4 refers to words of wisdom that can help people. The old Garden of Eden had two trees which represented true and false wisdom. The church in Ephesus guarded the Word of God and thus they thought they had wisdom. But real wisdom is wisdom with actions ; not just wisdom in theory.