1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:
2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.’” Revelation 2:1-7.
During a time of tribulation and severe persecution in the first century, Jesus’ message goes out to the seven churches situated in Asia Minor [Asian part of modern Turkey] by way of consolation, comfort, and warning; to strengthen and encourage them to remain faithful to Him till the very end. The churches were situated in hostile environment among Gentiles. The “seven churches” signify types of churches as a whole to whom the messages of Jesus are addressed.
Message to the church in Ephesus – Rev. 2:1-7
Jesus presents himself as the One “who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands” (2:1). In Rev 1:20 Jesus reveals that “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands … are the seven churches.” Angels refer to messengers. Jesus is in charge and control of His churches everywhere.
He always knows what each church (and individual Christian) is thinking, saying, feeling, and doing. So, at the outset of the message Jesus says: “I know.” He lets the Christians in Ephesus know that He is aware of their –
- Labor and patience;
- Abhorrence of those who are evil and the deeds of the Nicolaitans (2:1, 6);
- Testing of liars who claimed to be apostles; (2:2) (cf. 1 John 4:1-3);
- Patient perseverance in their Christian calling (2:3);
- Tireless labor for the Lord’s name’s sake.
From these qualities we may conclude that the church in Ephesus was a model church. However, in spite of their faithful and patient endurance and tireless labor for the Lord, Jesus finds this to say to them: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (2:4). This implies that the church was serving Christ out of a sense of duty rather than out of love for Him. Even though the intent was right, the motive was wrong.
Jesus reminds the church of its plight and exhorts it to repent with the grim warning that if it didn’t do His bidding, He would come quickly and remove its lampstand from its place.
Jesus concludes His message to the Ephesians with a promise and reward : “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Lesson: As Christians, both our intent and motive should be right. Love for Christ and our fellow human beings should form the basis of our life and service unto the Lord. Then we would be truly following in His footsteps.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.