The first church (of the seven churches of Asia) that Jesus addressed through the pen of John is the church of Ephesus. The message is recorded in Revelation 2:1-7, saying —
1 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;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Ephesus needs to repent!
In this message to the church of Ephesus, you’ll find four common components that are in what was written to every church:
- The words “These things saith” followed by a description of Jesus Christ so we all know who is talking and evaluating. To Ephesus, Jesus is described as “he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;” (Rev. 2:1).
- The statement, “I know thy works” before addressing the particular strengths, weaknesses, instructions, and promises for that church (Rev. 2:2)
- The declaration “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 2:7).
- A promise to “him that overcometh” or “he that overcometh” — to Ephesus, He said, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).
After points 1-2 and before points 3-4, Jesus lovingly speaks to where the church of Ephesus was at spiritually. He addressed them, but it was in one book sent unto the seven churches (Rev. 1:11) and written in the scriptures inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16) so ALL the churches then and now could benefit from the truth and learn from the lessons within. God is so good to us!
While Ephesus had many great attributes to be celebrated (listed in v. 2-3, 6), Jesus loved the church of Ephesus (and us) enough to tell them the truth about what they needed to work on. Just as He did with the rich young ruler (Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22), He dealt with the one thing they needed to fix: despite the things they did right, Jesus says, “Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Rev. 2:4).
They left their first love, but “first” can mean a lot of things. What does “first” mean in this verse? Watch this video to find out.
Jesus demanded then and requires now that He be prōtos (S:4413) first! That means first in order, priority, rank, or importance. It’s not enough to do the right things; your priorities must be in order! God must be first in our HEART! Rather than just going through the motions, we must love Him above all and put Him first! He wants not only our service and patience; He’s the kind of God who wants a relationship where we are excited and passionate about Him!
Thankfully, God gave Ephesus instructions in Revelation 2:5 that we can follow if we find ourselves not loving God as much as we used to love Him or should love Him. He told them,
- “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen” – Take the time to reflect and remember: How did you use to love God? How close were you? How excited were you about the things of God (His house, His service, His presence, His Word, etc.)? How did you fall from that passion and love?
- “Repent” – Leaving your first love is a serious matter to be repented of! God deserves better; He deserves your best! It’s time to change your heart and mind, to change direction and turn from whatever has your attention or affection to the God who wants more from you. Repent!
- “Do the first works” – Start doing the things you did before you left your first love! No matter what your emotions are saying, put God in the proper place in the order of your life. Prioritize the things that bring you closer to Him (prayer, studying, worship, praise, fasting, church attendance, etc.) and return to your first love!
Ephesus then and church now: Don’t leave your first love! He’s worth it all.
What did you learn from the church of Ephesus? What stands out to you? Share your comments below!