Who Is “the Angel Of The Church” In Revelation?

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus, write the following: (Rev 2:1)

The city of Ephesus was one of the most remarkable jewels of the ancient world, in fact possibly number three in population in the Asia Minor (around 150,000 people), which is located in the Modern day Turkey. When Emperor Augustus in 27 BCE moved proconsul of Asia from Pergamum to Ephesus, the great period of political and financial prosperity for the city of Ephesus has officially begun. Years later, Strabo, an important Roman historian, in his writings stated that Ephesus was a city second in greatness only to Rome itself (Strabo, Geography, Vol. 1-7, 14.1.24.) Like all cities of the ancient world this city itself was a religious institution. The Ephesians were the protectors of the cult of Artemis the Great (Acts 19:35), a Greek mother goddess of prosperity well-known and adored throughout the Mediterranean. She in turn was thought to be supremely concerned with the well-being of the city of Ephesus and by extent anyone who paid her homage from any other place in the Greco-Roman world. The Temple of Artemis was said to be so magnificent that it was counted among the seven wonders of the ancient world.

In Acts 19:8 we read that “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.” On the steps of the magnificent Library of Celsus one can even now see a picture of the Jerusalem temple menorah engraved into the stone. This shows that the book of Acts’ testimony about Jewish presence in Ephesus was accurate, even though up-to-date no Jewish synagogue has been identified among its archeological ruins.

The city of Ephesus had also a very interesting and rich history of Christ-followers connected to it. Apostle Saul (Paul) lived and worked there proclaiming the Gospel unhindered for several years (Acts 19:10). It is understood that sometime in mid-60s he wrote his 1st Letter to the Corinthians and several other letters from there. There Saul Paul stated: “…I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Cor. 16:7-9). Luke stated in Acts 19:17 that “Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus… were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” This description was authored in response to the evil spirit’s rebuke to some Judeans residing in Ephesus who used the name of Jesus and Paul for purposes of healing and exorcism (Acts 19:15-17).

In our English translations this letter is addressed to ἄγγελος (angelos) “the angel” of the Church in Ephesus. There are two terminology issues that need to be mentioned. The use of the word “church” to translate the word ἐκκλησία (ekklesia) is a bit problematic here. We are dealing here with the first century context. In the first century there were no churches, not even Jewish churches as they are sometimes being referred to. A church as an institution is by definition separate in its essences from an Israelite synagogue. Given John’s anti-Roman Jewish attitudes in this letter, we are probably dealing with mixed Israelite and non-Israelite Jesus-following assemblies in the Asia Minor.

As such it is reasonable to suggest that these assemblies would have a shared or at least be very familiar with Jewish synagogue practice. Up until today synagogues have a person, usually called is שליח ציבור (shaliach tzibur) – lit. “a public messenger”. His job was to lead people in prayer, make congregational announcements and present any correspondence received by the assembly among other things. Is it possible that this is what is meant here by the term ἄγγελος “an angel” (angelos/malach/shaliach-tzibur/messenger). This, of course as was already mentioned in other sections, is not the only interpretive option, perhaps heavenly messengers are in fact in view.

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  1. Righteous Canon

    I think I’ll just wait a little while and ask our Saviour who He was referring to.

  2. Selva Moses

    The Greek word angelos (G32), is being used that simply means messenger. Here it refers to the pastors of the seven churches. It is used of people in Rev. 1:1,20; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14; 15:1,6,8; 16:1-17; 17:1; 21:9,17; 22:8-10 Jude 1:13.

    1. Andre

      Timothy, disiple of Paul, was Bishop of Ephesus at the time. He is the angel being referred to…

    2. Andre

      And the pastor in Ephesus was Timothy, who was appointed so by Paul, and died there for the faith…https://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_timothy.html

  3. George W Walker.

    I read through more thouroughly all posts up to this point on this page.

    I see the subject of Angels and its meaning in the book of Revelation.

    I also see, only recently what was done through Ananiahs in the spiritual healing of Paul when Ananiahs laid hands on Paul and said Brother Saul,…

    Its obvious here, that since Ananias was made aware, of Pauls lack and need of understanding after his experience with Jesus, that he needed revelation from a being that he recognized.

    Ananias was Spiritually Aware of Gods Access to himself

    Yet, be was present in this world.

    He was a contact to give Paul access via Spirit Being with Earthly Presence.

    Ananias could be both Seen and Heard, while he had simoultaneous Spiritual Access to the Lord Jesus.

    Paul had had Access to the Lord Jesus, on the Road to Damascus, when he was Blinded and traveling to Damascus.

    Paul, was without knowlege of Jesus, he had need to access the Lord Jesus, and also to trust that access.

    Real Communication with the Lord Jesus, is not easy.

    It is very difficult in todays workd, but is still known perhaps, because we are today, without a unified Trust in the way your interests seem headed, towards a Valid Trust of a Spirit World, when Spiritually Authorized by the Lord Jesus.

    Who has been told, “I am Jesus, Lord of All, and if you were told that, what would be your reaction.

    Would you just assume, that Jesus has just spoken to you, and you are a mere man, and the God’s Son, of the God of Creation has really addressed you.

    But if he did, you can be assured he would fillow that with more men who he’d prepared for what ever he had planned.

    Reminds me of a question i’ve had for ages.

    How many of us, have ever had a vision of the Angel Michael.

    How many of you would reveal this publicly.

    How many of those hearing this actual fact, of an Angelic Vision, would say, hey, thats great.

    What did he say?

    Would a Pastor today say, why you?

    Why havent I seen him?

    Why did he appear to you?

    Who are you?

    And if he’d appear to you without saying one word, what would you say about why he appeared to you with no words, as he appeared.

    Strange that God, or Jesus would appear at all.


    Maybe its strange that the Pastor asked these questions of someone who’d seen an Angel, also.

  4. George W Walker.

    I have taken a course in Japanese, have also read much during my childhood.

    Ive found, that the term Jin was used in Arabic for a way to refer to spirits, ,We say Genie, and Anjel, in Japanese, the term used for people is Nihon Jin, where Nihon is a name for Japan.

    Im not an authority on Etymology, but in English, in the Study ive done, the Scriptures seem to refer to men as Angels or seem to say that men have ministering Angels.

    I wonder if its possible that in some cases when men talk to certain angels, of a country, or nation, are they talking to the ministering Angel of a Ruler of a nation or city state.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      It it not outside the realm of possibility. The question is whether this is the case here in Revelation.

      1. George W Walker.

        I know that its not part of your material, and its also not on the cutting edge, of what we are studying.

        I said what i did, about what we have learned and everything i recall that i have learned.

        I have also heard the idea expressed regarding the Head of the churches, being the Angels of the Seven Churches.

        The part describing the use of the word JIN, describes a situation in the use of the word for spirit in Arabic, and Japanese.

        Thus showing that Angels are involved acgively in mens lkves, as part of the man. in even other Societies.

        When i see that not many know this, and not many even talk about different understanding, then my understanding is excited to look at all possibilities.

        Ive already looked at that in a very interesting light, that of Angelic Visitation, accomplished perhaps only to use Gods Direct Angelic Involvement, in order to shape man’s involvement in a more active way in Gods Work.

        This may have been taking place all along.

        The Lack of Conversation and transference of knowlege re: Angelic Visitation, perhaps Withheld Such Knowlege.

        It may forcefully have retarded any Active involvement by man in such activities.

        One of the things ive noticed, is the substitution of the field of medicines and doctors to avoid involvement by man in Angelic activities.

        This has actually been accomplished even in Churches, by appointment of Ministera of Psychiatry.

        The subject of Angelic Visitation brings accjsations of Hallucinations when that subject is broached.

  5. RamonAntonio

    A very interesting book I’m reading now by Moises Silva: Biblical Words and Semantics makes a very compelling case of the difference between etimology and semantics, the lat being the understanding of a word or phrase in the context of the time its used in the original document. This illuminates this issues of meanings by words. I tend to look further into the semantics, the meaning, rather than into etimology, thus, I concurr with Dr. Eli’s approach. We should look for the sense of the use of any word or phrase rather than our dictionary etimology which may be an indirect reflection on the meaning sometimes.

    On who is the Angel I like very much the discussion and also agree that some questions will be with us forever. I love an answer that Father Raymond Brown gave to a journalist in an interview. The journalist asked father brown on some specific issue regarding Scripture and he calmly said… “there are some issues that I reserve to discuss personally in Heaven…”

    Even though, and continuing with my note that Jesus was indeed served personally by angels in the Gospels I tend to think that being this words by Jesus to John and literally rendering the meaning to John that the letter is addressed to be said and read to and by the angel of Ephesus, Jesus may have been saying that he who serves Him is His angel and the letter shall be sent to a servant of Jesus in Ephesus. John, a very gifted writer, then leaves the words without any other clarification for the meaning is indeed a complete sequitur: the one who reads this letter to those in Ephesus is indeed an angel of the Lord.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Ramon, shalom. Thank you for your continual contribution to our studies! I think etymology is very important, BUT it only gives you a RANGE of possible meanings and can not give us a definitive meaning in most cases, BUT coupled with the context study the probability of “getting it right” goes up significantly.

  6. John la Madrid

    “Read More Carefully” interesting comment…OK..I have re-re-reread just to my sure I’m still in the ballpark…The Article Title…Who is the ANGEL??? of the “CHURCH” the ANGEL is the issue to me not word semantics about English Greek Arabic and Hebrew dealing with home house groups in the 1st century…WHO IS THE ANGEL???? As a retired Professor I believe I still think fairly well for an old fart…And No one is dealing with the ANGEL…we all have our personal opinions on home house churches…Shalom and Blessings

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes, yes… some questions simply cannot be answered definitively. Does not means we should not ask them and try to answer the best we can. Three options were presented in the article body: supernatural being from God’s realm, a mere human messenger and more specifically שליח ציבור (shaliach tzibur) Synagogue prayer leader/secretary which can be translated from Hebrew into Greek as “messenger”. Shalom!

  7. Kat H

    Is the heavenly gift (Hebrews 6:4) a revelation from a Heavenly messenger, rather than the Holy Spirit itself? This would help me distinguish the role of a Heavenly messenger:)

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I think it is a gift from God.

    2. Richard Leigh

      I think the heavenly gift of Hebrews 6:4 is the salvific enlightening gift of the Holy Spirit.

    3. jsusnme

      According to the highlighted link, Hebrews 6:4, the gift is Jesus and is distinguishable from the sharing of Holy Spirit. Here are the verses associated with Hebrews 6:4 in the link:
      q Heb 10:32

      r Jn 4:10 Eph 2:8

      s Heb 2:4 Heb 2:5 Ga 3:2 Ga 3:5

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        This is a worthy discussion, but perhaps in another context. Thanks.

  8. jane z. mazzola

    Along that line, congratulations that you are progressing toward expanding the website into another language, Mandarin Chinese. No doubt there will be many looking forward to this presentation.
    Blessings for safety during Purim & all the days ahead for all of you in Israel.
    Jane M.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you so much, Jane for your encouragement and support!