The message to Ephesus, Revelation Chapter 2 Verses 1-7 (NASB)



The first angel to receive a message for a church is the one at the church of Ephesus, Revelation 2:1.

The city of Ephesus is on the Asia Minor (now southwest Turkey) seacoast. At the time of the writing of Revelation, it was a capital of Roman Asia. The harbor at Ephesus is noted for its shifting bottom. This gives added meaning to the expression "...that you have left your first love.",

"Ephesus" itself means "desired". It is the same kind of desire that Paul talks about in Ephesians 5:25-30 that a husband, who loves his wife, has for her. In the same way, Christ "desires" the church at Ephesus and wishes to take care of it.

Ephesus, as a church, was established by Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 19). John, the author of Revelation, was "minister" there for quite some time. Between Paul and John, there are indications that Timothy was in charge of the churches in the area. Extrabiblical sources indicate that Mary the mother of Jesus died here.

     To the ANGEL of the church in Ephesus write:
         *  THE ONE who holds the seven STARS in his right HAND,
This is part of the vision John saw in the first chapter (Revelation 1:16). The right hand denotes the hand of power and authority.
         *  THE ONE who walks among the seven GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS, says this:
This, too, is where John's vision in chapter 1 opens with "one like a son of Man" in the midst of the lampstands (Revelation 1:11). The fact that "THE ONE" walks among the golden lampstands verifies that these really do exist and may be removed (Revelation 2:5).

    I know
      (1)  your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and
The Lord is not forgetful of our works - Hebrews 6:9-12. But remember that works is the result of faith and love - James 2:17-18.

Perseverance results in God's compassion and mercy.

      (2)  that you cannot endure evil men, and
According to Proverbs 8:13, if you fear the Lord, then you hate evil. Ephesus did not put up with these evil people.
      (3)  you put to the test those who call themselves APOSTLES,
           and they are not, and you found them to be FALSE, and
Earlier in John's life, he wrote that we should test the spirits - 1 John 4:1-3, if they are true or false. What is the test to be an APOSTLE?
      (4)  you have PERSEVERANCE and

      (5)  have ENDURED for my NAME's sake and
What did the church endure for Christ's sake? Acts 5:37-42 describes the beatings and reprimands to be silent.
      (6)  have not grown weary.
The church had not grown weary of holding forth the word in Christ's name NOT in the names of "transient apostles".
    BUT, I have this against you, that YOU HAVE LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE.
It is not clear what was meant by "FIRST LOVE". It may have referred to the original love the members at the church at Ephesus had for each other. Organization and "church" activities probably had replaced the "first love" as the church had grown.

On the other hand, the "first love" may have referred to their "inner devotion" to Christ. Again "things" had become more important.

The apostle Paul retained his first love. In fact, it became stronger, broader, richer, deeper, and truer - Philippians 3:7-11.

   "FIRST LOVE" is

     *  exclusive  -  It excludes the world and the flesh and
                      resists the devil.

     *  makes Jesus Christ preeminent  - Keep seeking the things
                                         above, where Christ is.
                                         Colossians 3:1-4.

     *  very active  -  It seeks to please the Lord Jesus Christ
                        by keeping His words.  John 14:21-24.
If you have "lost your first love", He, Jesus Christ, has "somewhat against you." If you never have had that "first love", now is the time to get that first love.
    REMEMBER therefore from where you have fallen, and
As with life, past experiences are vitally important to ongoing action. Don't do the things you did before if they were bad and do the things in the past which were good.

There is a parallel incident recorded in the Old Testament in 2 Chronicles 12:1-14 where King Rehoboam "forsook the law of the Lord". As a result, God allowed the King of Egypt to conquer Rehoboam and plunder the treasures of the house of the Lord, the temple.

    REPENT and
Rehoboam humbled himself and bought temporary reprieve. The full anger of the Lord was turned away from him (v. 12).
    DO the deeds you did at first
We do what we do for the Lord not because it is printed in a church bulliten or because "I like that person" - we do those deeds because we LOVE the Lord.

Rehoboam never did the deeds he did at first. In fact, he did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord (v. 14).

    or else I

       1)  am coming to you and
Those eyes of fire are coming to you (Revelation 1:14).
       2)  will remove your LAMPSTAND out of its place.
The lampstand is NOT destroyed just removed. Why? Later in Revelation, the pseudo church will need these "removed" lampstands to form its organization. However be aware that Christ does not walk in its midst.
    unless you REPENT.
What is that FIRST LOVE? 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 tells us exactly what that love is. The question before you then becomes: Do you fake your LOVE or is it the real FIRST LOVE?
     `Yet this you do have, that you HATE the DEEDS of the NICOLAITANS,
     which I also HATE.
What a negative complement!!! BUT when the love (even first love) is gone, the only thing left is hatred.

The meaning of the word Nicolaitans is "consume or conquer the people". The Nicolaitans may have been a devisive sect of that day about whom we have no record. Or it may refer to church leaders who consumed or conquered (controlled) the people. In other words, these probably were false prophets/teachers/apostles.

John, the author, warns about these in 1 John 4:1-3. Furthermore, John indicates that deception is the great trademark of the Devil - 2 John 6-10. The church at Ephesus was aware of these false prophets and had "hated their deeds" but not the people themselves.
     He who has an ear, let him hear what the SPIRIT says to the CHURCHES.
Besides REMEMBER, REPENT, and DO (Revelation 2:5), the people in the church at Ephesus are asked to HEAR. However, this time rather than it being Christ talking (Revelation 2:1), it is the SPIRIT talking to ALL the churches. BUT you must hear first.
     To him who overcomes
We, humans, continually fight a spiritual battle to overcome principalities, powers, seen and unseen. For the "overcomer", there is comfort to know Christ has already been there and done that. Christ is not the enemy; He only causes "good things" for the "overcomer". This is described in Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:18-23, and Colossians 1:15-18.
     I will grant to eat of the TREE OF LIFE which is in the
The TREE OF LIFE is first mentioned in Genesis 2:9 and it gives everlasting life. When sin entered this world, we humans were banned from getting to it in Genesis 3:22-23. However, here it is promised to 'overcomers'.

Even at the end, this TREE OF LIFE is shown as straddling the river of life flowing from the throne (Revelation 22:2). Lastly, anyone who takes away from the words of this Revelation prophesy will have their part in the tree of life removed (Revelation 22:18-19).

In Jewish apocalyptic works, it is mentioned that the glorious new age of the Messiah will have Eden restored to its former beauty and lusciousness (including the TREE OF LIFE). Isaiah 51:2-3 sounds alot like the new Jerusalem of Revelation. Everyone knows that it is the Lord who made the desolate wilderness like Eden again as described in Ezekiel 36:33-36. In fact, before the fall of man into the sinful state, we all, in a sense were in this Eden - Ezekiel 28:11-19. The TREE OF LIFE is symbolically the source of our eternal life. This place of fellowship and sustenance for the 'overcomer' is no longer forbidden or hidden.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only.