This is the first message to the seven churches. In this first message, Jesus Christ reiterates that He is the One who sends this message and He is the One who is intimately aware of the condition of each and every church to which He is sending His message. In each message to each of the seven churches the Lord highlights an attribute that was revealed to John by Jesus Christ as He made known to John his ministry. In the message to the Ephesians, Jesus declares that He knows their condition and He is indeed sending this message through John, His chosen vessel.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke to me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I say Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. 19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstand which you saw are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:10-20
Stating His divine prerogative right at the beginning of His message to the church at Ephesus, immediately following His explanation of the symbols to John, shows the urgent nature of this message to this church. Jesus Christ, the First and the Last, the risen and ever living One, knew all about them, and commended them for their many good works, but those works just weren’t good enough because the Ephesians had left off their first love, that glorious love for the Savior that every believer has right from the moment of salvation. They weren’t acting because they loved Him and loved His children; they were serving in the oldness of observance of the letter, and not by the fervency and power of the Holy Spirit. Love for their Savior and for others was not their motivation.
In God’s sight, doing what is right isn’t enough; we must have the right motivation. If we don’t have the correct motivation, zealous faithful love for our Savior, then whatever we do, be it ever so glorious and wonderful, is just dust and ashes. It may have an appearance of goodness, but its ability to move others to know and love our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ is muted and dulled. Jesus Christ, through the apostle John, warned the Ephesian believers about their tremulous condition, they were serving the Lord not out of love for Him and love for others; they were duty bound believers, headed for obscurity, losing their privileged place of being a witness for Christ and His glorious gospel of salvation.
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
Jesus Christ urged them to repent and return to their first works, those works of love from which they had fallen. His judgment would be to remove their church and their godly influence throughout Asia. That is how important love for our Savior and love for others is; when the church loses this savor it ceases to be the church. Fleshly observance of the precepts of God, and the traditions of men doesn’t make the church, the church is established upon loving God, our glorious Savior, loving others and living for His glory because of our great love for Him. This love will usher in obedience and reverence for our holy God through knowing and doing what He tells us in His Word, the Bible.
Jesus showed the superiority of love to the Jewish leaders of His day when He summed up the Law and Prophets with these two broad commandments as He was questioned by a Pharisee who was a lawyer, an “expert” in the law of God. His answer is our directive for how to live for Him.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
In the New Testament epistles, the Holy Spirit, through Paul, showed how keeping the Ten Commandments is actually an expression of love for our neighbor, as Jesus said. Love for God and for others will always result in keeping His Word.
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10
So we can see the urgency of this rebuke for the Ephesian church from the Lord Jesus Christ. Unless they returned to their first love, they would cease to be a church. How does it go with you dear believer? Are you walking in love, or living by rote. Are you filled with the Holy Spirit expressing His fruit of love, or are you operating in the flesh, striving with all of your might to be that good “Christian” that is constantly held up to you. Come before the Lord, repent of your fleshly works and rejoice in the God of your salvation living for His glory and praise. The reward for those who overcome is to eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God, which is eternal life. It isn’t doing church, being a good “Christian” or doing our daily devotionals that proves our salvation, it is love for our Savior, and reflecting His love for others which moves us to live godly and holy lives that proves our faith in Christ Jesus and so our salvation. God bless us.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts our fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love His brother also. 1 John 4:16-21
22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord come! 1 Corinthians 16:22