Revelation 2:1-7

“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” Revelation 1:19.

“The things which you have seen”, refers to everything John has seen here in Revelation 1:1-20.

“The things which are”, refers to the current church age from Pentecost to the rapture. The rapture is the removal of Christ’s church from the earth. The church age is laid out prophetically in Revelation 2 through 3:22. This will be examined in this and the next few entries.

“The things which will take place after this”, takes up the rest of the book and concerns the tribulation period which ends with the return of Christ to set up His reign on earth for a thousand years.

The thousand years ends with a short rebellion, followed by judgment day and the eternal state, Revelation 4 through 22:21.

We are about to enter the second section of the book, “the things which are”, Revelation 2 through 3: 22, concerning the present church age.

“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: 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; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.’” Revelation 2:1-3.

The church at Ephesus was established by the Apostle Paul. The name, Ephesus, can mean beloved, relaxation or desirable. The period in church history that it represents is 33 to 100 A.D.

Ephesus and the churches of this time period were established by the apostles of the Lord or by men who were their disciples so we know that the doctrine was what the Lord Jesus had in mind when He left His disciples with the task of building His church.

“Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20.

The fact that these men were obedient to this call is confirmed by the fact that Christ told them (and us) that He, “holds the seven stars in His right hand”, these seven stars, or messengers, are completely within the control of Christ.

In verses 2 and 3 the Lord goes on to describe the perfect church; they were hard working, they persevered, they had a missionary zeal, they went door to door, and they would not endure evil. They were careful to examine strangers who said they were apostles, and they rejected the ungodly liars.

“For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 4.

Perseverance, patience, labor, for His name’s sake, without becoming weary, but.

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left [quit or forsaken] your first love.” Revelation 2:4.

First and foremost, this first love was a fervent love for God, Christ, and by extension love of the brethren.

Things done out of love for “His name’s sake” became duties, and duty soon supplanted the joy of serving Christ out of love, and a thankful heart.

Some thirty years earlier the Apostle Paul had commended this church for their love.

“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…” Ephesians 1:15-16.

Jesus’ instructions were to focus on this.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12.

“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17.

The end product is this witness.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.

Busyness will kill the love in any church because the focus is imperceptibly altered until works are all the focus. It is much easier to do a job than it is to love one another, especially the difficult ones.

When we love one another church becomes a much more pleasant place to be and we look forward to going. Jesus commanded us to love one another for another reason, to maintain unity in the church.

This is one of Satan’s devices, divide and conquer, bickering, gossip, and hatred are the quickest way to destroy a church’s effectiveness, or dissolve it altogether.

There is a study on “Satan’s Devices”, posted on 6-15-19 if you are interested in reading more on this.

It might not hurt to review the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 for a refresher on the importance of love, it ends this way:

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.

The Lord commends the Ephesian church first, then points out the problem, and then gives a remedy for the problem.

“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.” Revelation 2:5.

Remember, repent, and return; remember “from where you have fallen”, repent is kind of like a u turn, “Lord, I see where I have sinned, I repent I will do it no more.” Return to “to do the first works”, in love as it was in the beginning.

The consequences were severe, the Ephesian lampstand was removed. Personally I feel that this failure to return to their first love has had a disastrous effect on all the rest of church history.

“But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Revelation 2:6.

Little is known of the Nicolaitans but the name itself really tells it all, it means one who conquers the people, or conquers of the laity (people).

The inference here and I think it is correct, is that these were people who wanted to dominate the church. This was accomplished later when the church became divided into a clerical hierarchy and the laity thus putting the operation and making of church doctrine into the hands of a few elite individuals.

No wonder the Lord hated their deeds, they were attempting to wrest control of the church from its proper head, Christ and take such honors upon themselves.

“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 2:7.

Seven times the Lord calls out to the churches, “He who has an ear, let him hear”, that is to say do not just listen, but pay close attention to what is being said, the sad history of the church shows that this was not well heeded.

“To him who overcomes”, both here and throughout the seven letters is a reference to true Christians who have put their trust in the finished work of Jesus at the cross for their sins.

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4-5.

The tree of life in the Paradise of God is a symbol of eternal life and is also mentioned in the description of the eternal state (the new heaven and the new earth).

“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:2.

This is so similar to some of the new age paintings depicting things like dolphins cavorting in clear blue water near an inlet with lush vegetation, the sunlit sky is blue with beautiful clouds floating by.

As you study prophecy and look at the ecological mess, caused by sin, in the world around you, the realization has to strike you that these people dream of making this world into the images they depict in those paintings.

Yet even if this earth had several hundred years of world peace it could never be returned to a Garden of Eden, man’s sinful nature would not allow it.

It is sad to think that people reject Christ for the world, to grasp at something that is impossible and throw away something that is inevitable.

The message to the church of Ephesus is to us also and the question is have we left our first love? If the answer to that is yes, then the Lord’s solution is the same, remember, repent, and return.

You may also find the articles, First Love, Part 1 published 1-14-19 and First Love, Part 2 published 1-21-19 in the archives of this site interesting.

Revelation 2:1-7 taken from updated on 9-22-16, reposted on 4-16-22.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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