2:1-4: "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.”
The lamp stands represent the churches, and the angels represent the leaders of the churches. For John, this must have been a hard letter to write. John spent a lot of time in Ephesus; in fact he is eventually buried there. Therefore, for Jesus to start with this city’s church, it represents the seriousness of the message that Jesus wants to proclaim. Jesus tells John to write these small letters of warning and encouragement. He begins with the Mighty Ephesus. This city was home of one of the largest libraries of the ancient world and home of one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. This church became a hub of Christian activity. Jesus commends them of their hard work and patience as they labored for the gospel. One defining mark of the church of Ephesus was that it would not tolerate the false teaching of that day. The church would loyally and effectively test those who claimed to be Apostles and root out the false teachers that would come to their city.
Jesus however, had a problem with them, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” They were working hard and doing the things that were right and true. However, in the midst of their labor they forgot why they were working. Their love had slipped away to a lifeless and passionless orthodoxy that was full of truth but no love. It is easy to work yourself out of the passion that once existed. Paul wrote of the Ephesians, “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,” around 30 years before. What happened between that time? We can get so filled with truth and knowledge that we grow cold and bloodless. Our work turns in to a robotic display of duty, and of drudgery. If we work without love then our work displeases Jesus. Paul warned this to the Corinthian church, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:1-3
Let us not forget our first love. Jesus is our first love. There can be no greater lament when the devotion of your life tells you that you do not love me anymore. Let us not grow cold in our love for Jesus. Do not let legalism and knowledge overpower the pure passion for our savior.
Old Testament: Hosea 5-8 New Testament Rev. 1