The Revelation of Christ (Revelation 1-5) >Seven Churches >First Message, Ephesus
We now come to the seven messages to the churches of Asia in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In this lesson we look at the message to Ephesus, the church that had left its first love (Revelation 2:1-7).
¶“1To the messenger of the congregation in Ephesus, write: the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, and walks amid the seven golden lampstands, is saying, 2'I know your works, how you toil and endure. You cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who say they are apostles but are not. You have found them false. 3You have persevered and endured for the sake of my name. You have not grown weary.' ” (Revelation 2:1-3).
¶“4'However you have abandoned the love you had at first, and this I hold against you. 5So remember where you have fallen from. Return and do as you did at first. If you do not change, I will come quickly to remove your lampstand from its place.' ” (Revelation 2:4-5).
¶“ 6'But you do have in your favour that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans as I do. 7 If you have an ear, hear what the Spirit tells the churches. The one who conquers I will allow to eat from the tree of life in God’s paradise.' ” (Revelation 2:6-7).
Ephesus The chief city of the province of Asia. The city today is in ruins, an extensive archaeological site of interest. Paul worked with the church there for about two years on his third missionary journey.
The One who Jesus calls himself here "the one who walks among the seven golden lampstands" . He is present with the churches. We should live and act as in the presence of Jesus.
Toil and test The problem of false apostles making false claims and teaching false things caused the Ephesians to work hard and long challenging and exposing the deceptions.
Weary The Ephesians did "not grow weary in well doing" (Galatians 6:9). They endured for the sake of Christ’s name (his authority and reputation).
Left first love Their labour, although untiring, was not from the heart. They did it perhaps because they felt obliged to obey the Lord and keep up appearances. They had not grown weary, but they had lost their first love. We can practice our faith energetically, yet let it slip from our hearts. We don't stop being Christians, but we stop loving to be Christians. This is a first step to apostasy.
Remember and repent Jesus threatens them severely and calls on them to recall their former genuine love and return to it, otherwise he will "come" to punish them and will disown them.
Nicolaitans This appears to be a sect whose deeds and doctrines were abhorrent to Jesus, and to the Ephesians. The Ephesians were heartfelt about this at least. They may have left their first love, but they still maintained their hate. Jesus acknowledges and commends this. We often forget that, whilst love is necessary, so is hate. We should both love the truth and hate the error.
Tree of Life The tree of Life in the Paradise of God is shown to John at the end of his visions (Revelation 22:1-2). We remember too that before the fall there was a tree of life in the paradise of Eden. Jesus went into heaven to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-6). Jesus holds out the blessed assurance of hope in eternal life. This hope can revive faith and love.