In the first eleven verses of Revelation in the Bible, John receives a word/vision from Jesus which he is told to write to the churches in his day.
The picture John is given is of seven lampstands, each representing a church which is given the task of reflecting the light of Christ in its specific place. In the midst of the lampstands, Jesus stands glorified, brilliantly shining, holding seven golden stars in His right hand. The stars are the angels of the seven churches.
Apparently, there is a significant connection between the stars and the lampstands. John is to write to the ‘angel’ of the church of Ephesus first. So, the angel is the spiritual receiver of these words but the church (people who believe in Christ in Ephesus) are the recipients of the actual words John writes.
The church of Ephesus is first praised for its love of righteousness, for its perseverance and toil, and for its hatred of what is evil in God’s sight. But these praises are followed by a dire warning. Their deeds are not enough to keep their lamp burning.
Jesus repremands this church for losing its first love—their love of Jesus which overflowed in loving deeds. They had become self-righteous and unloving. Their message became about right actions and right causes but not about Jesus.
Jesus says if they don’t repent, he will remove their lampstand—I assume the Spirit of Christ which was reflected in their church would be removed. They had to repent of their self-serving motives and desires, their legalistic grasp of what they thought was right and good.
I know these people. I am like these people. Have I strayed from my first love? I like recognition for good deeds. It’s easier to follow rules than to evaluate my motives. Evaluating motives often results in conviction of sin and necessitates humble recognition, confession, and repentance of those sins. This is the hard work of Christianity.
The warning is for Ephesus’ ultimate benefit and blessing. They are told they must repent and turn back to their first love and do the things they first did.
We are not told if the church at Ephesus repented. Nevertheless, the Bible says, All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) Therefore, these words are written to us. We’re to heed this warning.
I was in despair, angry, hopeless, and full of fear, before I knew of Jesus’ love. Then, he spoke to my heart—I understand your hurts. I died for your sins.
So, having remembered, I must turn back to my Savior. I want my life to reflect the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus loved me first and loves me still but won’t allow me to stray from pure love without reproof. That’s true love!
Jesus says, if you have ears to hear, heed the warning He gives to the church at Ephesus. If we do, we will one day hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant,” and he will embrace us and lead us into His glory where we will have fullness of joy.
We love, because He first loved us. (I John 4:19)