Church at Ephesus
Revelation Chapter Two 1-7
Before, we begin this chapter I believe it is well to note that each message is Christ prophetic word or message to each of the seven churches is so vast that there way that this individual can give a full or complete understanding of our Lord’s message to Israel, the church, and the last days. According to most teaching by many they teach that John is the author of the book of Revelation: Says who? Then my question would be if Christ said write to the angel of the church then is John the author or Jesus? The logic is about the concept of authorities of dictated and who wrote the words being dictated? In addition, we need to remember what the first verse of scripture state in Revelation 1:1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated by His angel to His bond-servant John,” Revelation 1:1 NASB. However, there is also another view that Paul writes to the Hebrew people in Hebrews 12:2 about that Christ is the author and finisher of our faith.
In a brief introduction I find it very interesting the book of Revelation brings out a very significant reality that is very prophetic word, revelation, and a Divine vision is found in the biblical number seven meaning “completion” and “perfection”. I bring this to your attention that before we get into the deep meaning for studying these seven messages that each church has its own message that brings alive the Words of our Lord form that century to this very day.
However, in order to gain a better understanding Revelation 2 and 3 of these seven messages we must keep in mind Jesus introduction in Revelation 1:9-20. These seven churches of Asia Minor represent Israel, the church, and the last days essentially holy
However, still imperfect, earthy, and yet still has many infirmities and sins. Before we can enter into a full discussion or writing of the seven messages, a word must still be said in regards to the significances of each church and its message that Jesus sent. According to the book of Acts and the epistles these churches really existed and our Lord commissioned the apostle John to write these messages that would represent the churches then as well as today and the development need to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
The Church at Ephesus
The Backslidden or the loveless church
A Basic Foundation
What the study of this church is about this purpose what can we learn from the church at Ephesus and do we fail in our love in the same manner? Our first lesson in this first message is as an individual is that our Lord has stated a message about the loss of love and a truth about the loss of love. The church at Ephesus presents this reality of Christian activity of a faithful church with a loss love or a loveless church. It is commended twice for its patient endurance and bearing up the name of the Lord Jesus. I further believe that it is well to note, the meaning of the name of the church at Ephesus, “meaning desirable.” From my studies and research I found that this church shares its name with a Greek man’s hopes for a bride. I state this because I believe that this relates this perfect description for this church mark the beginning of the bride of Christ according to Paul’s writing to the church at Ephesus in the book of Ephesians. Even though there will be seven message which means seven prophetic divisions of the church, it still will be the bride of Christ.
From what the Lord states this church at Ephesus is strong in its doctrine when it began. You find in many commentaries that I states this with complete assurance, I believe that the church at Ephesus Paul on his missionary journey that he spent much time teaching the elders of the church at Ephesus the doctrine of Christ and the works of God and the love of God through the Holy Spirit. When studying the book of Ephesians 1 you will find that Paul was writing to the saints at Ephesus and teaches that of God’s preordained plan before the foundation of the world Ephesians 1:4. In addition, Paul left Timothy at Ephesus to select elders for the church that was full of sound doctrine or that they were too be strong in the doctrine of God. Moreover, I believe that Paul taught them on a mature level than he did with any of the other churches in his missionary work.
As we consider the first message that Jesus dictates for the church at Ephesus it is the message of lost love. Before I go any further it is well to note that there are those scholars and theologians who teach that these churches was the end of the apostolic age, however, I believe that we are still living in this apostolic age today according to what the epistles state about the last days. Again please note that in each of Jesus messages that He sent to each church He gives a personal description of Himself and is addressed to the angel of each church.
Here are seven warning signs that signal that a church or individual has left their first love.
1 Christ is no longer the central focus in their personal life and their Christian life.
2 They neglect relationship with the Lord and spend less time in prayer, worship and reading the Word of God.
3 They allow family, friends, job, and their own desires to come between their relationship with God and His Son.
4 There is a loss of intimacy in their relationship with God and His Son.
5 They are caught in a cycle of dead works of not completed works.
6 They are more tolerant of sin.
7 They will no longer have a burning passion for the lost or the non-Christian.
The message that Jesus sent to the church at Ephesus: Revelation 2:1-7
Jesus addresses the angel of the church 2:1
Jesus gives a self-description of Himself 2:1
I know thy works: Revelation 2:2
The lost love church Revelation 2:4
A call to repent “or else” Revelation 2:5
He that overcometh Revelation 2:7
He that hath an ear Revelation 2:7
Jesus Self-description of Himself
Ephesus: He who holdeth the seven stars in His right hand (seven means or stands for complete or completeness) (right hand = power, strength, authority) (seven golden candlesticks = churches)
Name and meaning of the church
Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) name means “desirable” the apostolic church, the backslidden church, the church that had forsaken its first love, an active church in sound doctrine however deficient in love, the church of loss love.
In presenting each church in this verse by verse commentary I will give you five different translations of the Bible to give you a better understanding of each church.
Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; (KJV)
Revelation 2:1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: NIV
Revelation 2:1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The one who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: NASB
Revelation 2:1 To the angel of the Messianic Community in Ephesus, write: Here is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden menorahs: CJB
Revelation 2:1 To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things say He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: NKJV
As we begin with this church it is well that we begin on this note. There are many ways to interpret what Jesus dictates to John; “to the angel of the church” could possibly be interpret to the spirit of the church, to the pastor of the church or the guardian of the church. No matter how we interpret, it I believe it would be appropriate to say that each message was sent to encourage them in their trials and tribulation. You should also consider the each church Christ reveals their doctrine, discipline, and their love.
As we study more in detail this first text of scripture it reveals some very important things about the Lord’s introduction of Himself. The first important element is He who walketh in the midst brings out His Divine presence to the church. The second important element is His hand that holds up the church or His Divine support to the church where we and when we are deficient in love and grace one for another. And the third important element is His Divine power and authority. We can find the Divine activity in the power of God and Christ is active in the church then and today.
The first message addressed to the first church: “messenger, seer, pastor, angel” the Greek word for angel is “aggelos” in English “angel” however, the Bible regarding the human-being the human messenger (Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24, 27; 9:52)
Christ holds the pastor and the church responsible for leadership in love.
General reference to pastors and their responsibility
1 Timothy 1:18-19; 4:12, 16; 5:20,22; 6:3-5, 17; 2 Timothy 1:8, 13; 2:2-3, 14; 3:5; 4:1-5; 1 Peter 5:7
Note: to each church the letter or message is addressed to the pastor or angel. The word angel can be interpreted as messenger, or pastor. As I have stated before angel simply means messenger or it identifies one as a messenger. What is most vital to understand that the pastors of all churches then as well as today derive their message from Christ by the Holy Spirit and is responsible to give that message to the church. By our Lord addressing His message to the pastor of the church He is placing the message in the proper perspective to the church with the proper authority given by the Lord.
No matter how we interpret, I believe it should be appropriate to say that each of these messages has been sent to first encourage, secondly to warn them of trails and tribulation that was to come. Take also into consideration that these seven churches Christ reveals their doctrine, discipline, and their love. When Christ states that He holds the seven stars in His right hand is stating to the church of His sovereign power of protection. You could also interpret the right hand that is Christ Divine hand of protection on the church, however, it could also be interpreted that the right hand of supreme authority.
The point of logic in each message to the seven churches that God and Christ did not speak to any individual or group in the churches, however, they spoke directly to the angel or pastor whom they had appointed with the office of pastor. When we think about responsibility as pastor in any church today and what the Lord warns this church at Ephesus about then we also need to address the problem in the church today. One of the big problems today comes by the means of television that pastor gain great power and glory and people in the church allow it. To put it in this manner it is wrong for any church to esteem its pastor or messenger to the point that it over shadows or over powers Christ and the Word of God. Nevertheless, it also is wrong to show little esteem or respect for the pastor or recognize that they are God’s messenger. (1 Timothy 5:17)
It also is well to keep in mind as we study the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 of what the Lord stated in Revelation 1:19 in His introduction to these seven messages. The Lord gave these three important terms or elements that would affect the church in the days to come: These are three major issues the first “the things thou hast seen” the second “the things which are” and the third “the things which shall be hereafter” taken from the King James Version. From the Complete Jewish Bible it translate it in these words “So write down what you see, both what is now, and what will happen afterwards.” You can see in both of these translation of the Holy Scriptures they both address the three major elements which are the conditions found in the prophetic word of the book of Revelation regarding Israel, the church, and the last days. I stress these three major points of Christ revelation because in the seven churches holds a vast knowledge of Christ instructions of what is needed in the days to come.
Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: (KJV)
Revelation 2:2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. NIV
Revelation 2:2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; NASB
Revelation 2:2 I know what you have been doing, how hard you have worked, how you have persevered, and how you can’t stand wicked people; so you tested those who call themselves emissaries but aren’t – you found them to be lairs. CJB
Revelation 2:2 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 lairs. NKJV
General reference to: Psalms 1:6; 1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 11:13; Job 17:9; John 15:9; Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 12:1; 1 Peter 1:13 to these words “tested, perseverance, endure patience”. Now we must also take into consideration these areas also first the scriptures prescribed patience (Ecclesiastes 7:8; Luke 21:19; Romans 12:12; Titus 2:2; Hebrews 10:36; James 1:4; 5:7;) the second thing we need to remember about patience is waiting on God (Genesis 49:18; Psalms 37:7; 40:1; Isaiah 25:9; 26:8; 32:2; Acts 1:4)
There was an old saying I heard when I was growing up “it is time to get down to business.” In Revelation 2:2 is where Christ gets down to business in His first message to the church at Ephesus where He makes His commendation as well as exposed those who claim to be apostle and were not. One might interpret it in this manner that these are the individuals within the church who are stating false doctrine and claiming to be something they are not. It is also well to note that in the early church those placed in leadership were alert to both mental and moral corruption that prevailed around them in addition, they saw to it that this sinful and corrupt did not hold office in the church. Moreover, men were given oversight or position in the work of the church because of their spiritual power not because of their social prominence or worth. They were intolerant to sin. In today’s modern church it makes little difference what men and women are in the church morally or spiritually, just so we get them to become members of the church it is all about numbers today. When we consider the church in Ephesus it was not concerned about the quantity of people, however, they was concerned about the quality in people. Jesus commends them for their spiritual discernment.
You find in verse two one phrase that is repeated seven times in Revelation 2 and 3 to each church “I know Thy works” therefore, I truly believe that our Lord is fully aware of what each church was doing in each of their works as well as He knows what will take place in the church work today. Throughout the New Testament from the four gospels and in the book of Acts and the epistles that it clearly teaches the necessity for works of ministry and the works of the saints to enter into the kingdom of heaven. However, there are many scholars and theologians as well as many Christians who will not agree with what was just stated. Nevertheless, it is my understanding of what I read about in the seven churches as well as the rest of the book of Revelation and its prophetic word the apostles of the Lord clearly define and instruct the work that is needed to enter the kingdom of heaven and to have eternal life.
Let us address it in another way: “I know thy works” the Lord is letting it be known that He knows both their good works and their bad works as well as their evil works that goes on in Christian living within the church. In addition, Jesus’ here is also demonstrates omniscience.
To the church at Ephesus, I know thy works (Revelation 2:2
To the church at Smyrna, I know thy works (Revelation 2:9
To the church at Pergamos, I know thy works (Revelation 2:13
To the church at Thyatira, I know thy works (Revelation 2:19
To the church at Sardis, I know thy works (Revelation 3:1
To the church at Philadelphia, I know thy works (Revelation 3:8
To the church at Laodicea, I know thy works (Revelation 3:15
There is much written on the subject of works or ministry in the church today. To be honest I do not know your works however I do believe that it is vital to know what the Spirit of God instructs us to do regarding the work of the Lord God Almighty today. The Lord addresses their labour this to my understanding it their works in just one form of work in the church. Yet if we consider this “and how thou canst not bear them which are evil” is this not a form of work in the ministry of the church. This is a hard issue to address without being completely honest and not to mix words. There are people who are evil and do enter the door of the church with their false work even though they know the church is to be holy. Jesus Himself warns in the gospels and His apostles write in the epistles to be aware of false Christ, false prophets and false teachers who come in His Name. There are some people who are evil; and the spirit that drives them is evil. Therefore, the result of their life tends to be evil. Jesus knew His apostles as well as the leaders of the church at Ephesus would not tolerate the presence of evil people who was among them.
Furthermore, there is much that can be written on the subject of works. Therefore, let me try to give you just a small glimpse of what has already taken place with the church at Ephesus and ask is it part of the church make-up today. Where the church of Ephesus was in the city where the temple of Diana was which was a temple filled with the spirit of antichrist. The church at Ephesus therefore had to be strong in the knowledge and doctrine of God’s Word. Furthermore, Jesus is not addressing those in the temple of Diana He is addressing the Christians in the church at Ephesus about knowing their works.
Is church discipline necessary why or why not? What is the plain truth about discipline in the church? Does the church teach discipline? “If not why not?” Yes I could write a deep theological issue to point out the view and give you the history of each of these churches, however, that does not give you or teach you the message Jesus sent. I believe the understanding of Christ wanted for us is to hear his commendation and warning about the loss of first love, using false doctrine, false teaching, false pastor, and false prophets in the church of the last days. In addition, how each church has its strong points and its weakness, loyalty, and their self-satisfied attitude?
“and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them lairs:” It is from these words of Christ that we can interpret that there was those who came among them at the church at Ephesus who claimed themselves to be an apostle or a special messenger of God. However, they were sent by Satan to bring a false word to corrupt the church of the living God. The apostles of Christ of that day that Christ sent each church also knew to test or determine the spirituality with a correctness to protect the church from this false doctrine. The leaders and the people at Ephesus knew the Word of God and it doctrine and they therefore, they quickly recognized that these were the false apostles and that their doctrine was false also and did not meet the standards or principles of God’s Word. It is well to note: God and Christ are not pleased nor will they bless those who listen or follow false apostles, prophets, and teachers.
Revelation 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. KJV
Revelation 2:3 You have persevered and endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. NIV
Revelation 2:3 You are persevering, and you have suffered for my sake without growing weary. CJB
Revelation 2:3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. NASB
Revelation 2:3 “and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. NKJV
(“And hast borne” KJV; (“and you have persevered” NIV) (“and you have perseverance” NASB;) (“you are persevering” CJB)
(“and hast not fainted” KJV) (“and have not grown weary” NIV) (“without growing weary” CJB) (“and have not become weary” NKJV)
General reference to persevering or perseverance
Job 17:9; John 15:9; Acts 13:43; Romans 2:7; Galatians 6:9; 2 Timothy 3:14; Hebrews 12:1; 1 Peter 1:13
Another key word for perseverance and that is endurance and being in contrast with patience and longsuffering.
In this text of scripture, we see Jesus pointing out how the church labors in persevering the name of Jesus and they do it with all of their might. The apostle Paul also wrote about the church not growing weary for the sake of Christ, for in due season they should reap the promises of God if they faint not. (Galatians 6:9) Let us also take into consideration this fact, that if we do not endure the spiritual striving or to bear one another burdens we are not fulfilling the law of Christ Galatians 6:2.
This text is vital for the church to understand the meaning of “borne” It is used for many meanings in the Bible for example, Jesus said to “take up His cross and follow Him”. In other words this means to bear the cross of Jesus. With the help of the Lord, I will try to relate some of vital significance of borne for the sake of Christ and His messages He sent. One of the significances is for every Christian to bear in their body the marks and strips that our Lord bore for us on the cross. In addition, it is the law of Christ to bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) Another vital part of this is that every Christian is to be part of the root or vine to be the branch that bears the fruit of Christ. (John 15; Romans 11:18)
To “borne” also means that every individual that they discharging within themselves the obligation of discipleship for the work of the Lord. Another issue in the word “borne” is to carry or to bring, which brings out the fact of what we carry around in our heart. The understanding that the Lord has given to me is that we are not to be carried away with every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14; Hebrews 13:9) Finally to endure or enduring temptations or persecutions for out of them all, the Lord will deliver you. (2 Timothy 3:11)
The word patience here in Revelation can be viewed as the Christian character of the church and the condition of the patience they bore. In Revelation 3:10 the word patience means the word of Christ’s patience on His part. In addition, patience also can mean how we grow in trials of life for God, and in the trials for the carrying the gospel of Christ’s message. I believe that Christ here in this text is pointing out the significance of how the church was discharging their duty of responsibilities against the evil doctrine around them. In other scriptures, it is stated as “be not weary” or “becoming weary”.
The apostle John and the apostle Paul both wrote about endurance or trails that come during the time of suffering Romans 12:12. Endurance is necessary during our worse times or worse struggles Hebrews 12:7, and here are verse that deal with what will that place during the time of the beast and to keep the commandments of God in the last days Revelation 13:10; 14:12. Furthermore, endurance brings the spiritual knowledge and the spiritual growth needed in this present day as our hope in entering into the kingdom of heaven.
There is yet another vital word we need to address in this text of scripture and the word is forbearance. Yes the apostle Paul also addresses forbearance when he writes to the church at Corinth where Paul states “bears all things” 1 Corinthians 13:7. Also consider these texts of scriptures referring to forbearance (Ephesians 4:2; 6:9; Colossians 3:13).
Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. KJV
Revelation 2:4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. NASB
Revelation 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: for you have forsaken your first love. NIV
Revelation 2:4 But I have this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. CJB
Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. NKJV
General Reference to loss of love or grown cold
Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 10:2; Matthew 24:12; 1 Timothy 5:12; Revelation 2:4
Other words for loss of love is “backsliding” and “forsaking” God in addition, forsaking Christ. Old Testament words would be estrangement and wanderers. Here are some references to forsaking God: (Ezra 8:22; Jeremiah 1:16; 2:13; Ezekiel 6:9; 2 Peter 2:15) Backsliding references: (Malachi 3:7-18; Galatians 4:9; Hebrews 10:38; Luke 9:62)
The Warning or the Bad News
Before, we begin to look at Jesus warning and what is seriously wrong. I believe it is well to understand and take note to the way the Lord addresses this warning to Ephesus. He states “you, that have left your first love”. (NKJV) Jesus did not say that they did not have love at one time, however, that they did not have it now or anymore. What is the distinction between leaving or losing that Jesus is addressing here to Ephesus. To my personal understanding leaving is a deliberate act, though it may not be one done suddenly. One might interpret that they had left their first love, yet everything on the outside looked the same. My logic is that if you were attending this church at Ephesus you might interpret they were doing all they could do that they were vague in their feelings and yet would be hard to pin down. I believe this with all my heart and soul that a church or individual without love all is vain.
Jesus warns His church and literally states “Nevertheless I have this against you,” or “Yet I hold this against you” we must see and remember that the Words of Christ are as valid today as they were then. Therefore, they are as applicable to our churches today as to the church at Ephesus. When it comes to the message of God and Christ Jesus it is a serious matter because God and Christ sent the message “I have this against you.” In addition, Christ also in this text warns them that they had left their first love. Another way of stating this is “you have forgotten your first love” therefore, what I believe Jesus is saying to Ephesus as well as the churches today is that you are so busy, laboring, discerning, persevering church, and hating evil, that you have forgotten your Lord and your God. My point of understanding is this we have abandoned our personal relationship with Christ Jesus.
Yet another way of describing the loss of their first love is in the word weakness. Jesus goes on to describe in two ways this weakness the first one might say that the church; here at Ephesus were genuine Christians whose love had decreased since their conversion. In our term of understanding their love had taken a back seat in their life as a Christian. Secondly, their lack of love proved this reality that maybe they had never really been converted to Christ, meaning that their loss of their first love is another way of saying they were absence of love.
With this study of the message, Jesus sent I have been doing a lot of thinking about the message Jesus sent to the seven churches. In Revelation 1, Jesus appeared to John in His heavenly figure. Jesus also speaks to John with the voice of a trumpet to get John’s attention. As Jesus begins to critique the seven churches in His message to each church of course, we must understand that seven stands for the complete church then and today.
The focus of this text of scripture is on the evaluation of losing its first love. What does it mean to say to the church or any individual Christian that may have lost their first love? Is it telling that they have abandoned their faith that they had at first? Now may I bring a word of caution so often the teaching is about the “agape love” to describe this verse of scripture? One of the things I believe Christ is saying is when He says, “remember from whence thou hast fallen” could mean from when you were called. Secondly, to get back to the level of enthusiasm you had for the Lord first.
Moreover, I believe that Christ is looking at how this church was severing the congregation and the community with the depths of Christ and God’s love. I also believe that the answer is quite simple that Jesus is saying to the church of Ephesus to rekindle their love for the first work and the foundational love that was preached. Why do we need to be reminded of our calling and Christ commandment to love one another especially now?
Let me be so bold as to state that it is obvious that the Lord is not talking about believers who once loved him, but those who ceased to love Him. My reasoning with this thought is that true love can never be quenched. In addition, anyone who ceases to love Christ and God never truly love them at all. Even the prophets of God the Old Testament warned about the fact that God’s people did sometimes leave their first love. They did this by their indolence, neglect of duty, and through the cares of the world Jeremiah 32:38-40. I remember back to 1962 when I was baptized and how I felt at that time however, sometime later the coals of that fire die out and only a single coal was still burning because of the cares of the world. I state this to stir up your memory, and to see if there is still a little fire burning by stirring up the coals a little. Let the pastor be honest and proclaim honestly to you one of the most besetting sins is the sin of neglect of Christ and Christ love which is the sweet communion with our Savior.
To sum it all up the church was doing all of the right things however not for the right reason. My reasoning is that when you lose the motivating force behind your calling of doing the right things you have changed your calling. Jesus was simply spelling it out that we need to remember our motivation that we had at first, which is most important. Furthermore, what Christ is saying that anything less than our first love for Him will result in the consequence of Him removing our lamp from His mist?
There are many Christian people that have left their first love of Christ shortly after they were saved. Yet it happens all the time. Yes, it has happened from the time that Jesus sent this message to the church at Ephesus with many people and many churches. The sad part of this is people still claim to be servants of Christ, but within themselves have established their own identity and requirement for Christian living. Therefore, by doing so they are no longer have the identity of their first love and the teaching of God’s Commandments.
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. KJV
Revelation 2:5 Therefore, remember where you were before you fell, turn from this sin, and do what you used to do before. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your menorah from it place if you don’t turn from your sin! CJB
Revelation 2:5 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. NJKV
Revelation 2:5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place NIV
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent. NASB
In this text of scripture alone there are these elements or issues we need to consider the first is Christ call for remembering where we fall short in our Christian living. The second is the need of repentance from our backsliding condition. The third is our returning to God or else we bring the judgment of which Christ speaks of being removed.
General reference to repentance: (Isaiah 22:12; Ezekiel 18:31; Matthew 3:2; Matthew 21:41; Luke 13:2-3; Acts 3:19; 8:22; 17:30) References to returning to God: (Hosea 6:1; 14:1; Malachi 3:7; Luke 15:20; 1 Peter 2:25) Reference to judgment spoken of by Christ and God through the scriptures and using this term “threated with judgment” Leviticus 26:17; Deuteronomy 28:15; 31:17; Jeremiah 7:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:12)
The church here at Ephesus received from Christ a very serious rebuke that there was now something lacking in the church at Ephesus. There was now a certain defect in her spiritual life, hidden, perhaps, from the eyes of men, however, known to our Lord who reins in the hearts: therefore, a serious defect that would lead the church to be removed unless it remember from where it had fallen, repent, and do the first work. According, to the context of this text of scripture it is not surprising that the Lord sharply rebukes the church at Ephesus as well as the urgent need to repent. There are three elements in this text of scripture to be addressed the first the call to remember, repent, and do the first work.
It is easy to forget. Everyone has done it at one time or another. Some things that are forgotten is to check the door to see if its locked when you leave the house and carries little or no consequence. However, forgetting all that God has done for us, forgetting the gift of salvation, is far greater consequences than anyone can imagine, for us to forget the good of God, is to open the door to the destructive force of Satan.
Let me say to you in this manner that the church at Ephesus had gotten so involved in “CHURCH WORK” that they had forgotten the purpose and reason why Christ instituted the church and the reason that Christ gave the church its commission to make disciples Matthew 28:19-20. In that day as well as today the fatal error then was the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees were the religious zealots outwardly making a show of keeping the letter of the law of God? However, inside of their hearts, Jesus said they were dead and described them as white washed tombs, beautiful on the outside but full of dead men’s bones. (Matthew 23:37) If our work and service is not done out of love and faith for God and Christ Jesus it is worthless. Therefore, that which is done by faith and love pleases God and Christ Jesus and it will be rewarded.
Remember the key word Jesus told them that they needed to “remember” back to where the fall began. My question is: Do you remember when and where you lost that love? Would I be safe in saying that many people and even those who claim to be Christians never have known Jesus as their first love? In other words, Jesus has always been second or someone else and they therefore have made no commitment to be faithful to His love. First love begins with commitment and first work in order to have a proper relationship with the Lord. I will remind you that Jesus loved us first while we were yet sinners. Jesus’ first work was to deliver His Father’s message that salvation had come. Have these things become so far from you that it is hard to remember or relate to your first love for Jesus? It is a fact that people often leave their “first love” however, they continue as a good church going person.
When this happens, church and Jesus becomes to them more of a social event and a meeting place to get caught up on the latest gossip. Furthermore, the church becomes a place where they can interact with people. What I am saying is they do not come to praise or adore our Lord Jesus with a pure heart devoted to the Lord. As a pastor, I have seen it happen many times in the past, these individuals service to God becomes more of a labor than the labor of love. Moreover, it becomes nothing more than a Sunday practice to have certain rules and customs that they use. Jesus as our first love is keeping Jesus more than anything we have and not replacing Jesus with something else.
Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. KJV
Revelation 2:6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolations, which I also hate. NIV
Revelation 2:6 But you have this in your favor: you hate what the Nicolatians do – I hate it too. CJB
Revelation 2:6 Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolations, which I also hate. NASB
Revelation 2:6 “But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans which I also hate. NKJV
There is so much said and taught about Revelation 2:4 of having left our first love. However, I find that Jesus in addition also sent a message about the deeds He hated. Jesus also stated that there was some who held the same feelings about the deeds of the Nicolaitanes. I believe that the Nicolaitanes were people who lead people into worship of pagan gods and to eat food sacrificed unto them. If you have really studied the Bible, you know that God makes it clear that there shall not be no other gods before Him. Nicolaitanes were a group of people who practiced the living of sexual immorality, idolatry, and false doctrine and this is very detestable to God by their ungodly manner of living in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I further believe that Jesus meant for us to look into His reasoning about the deeds and doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. What we can learn from the message that Jesus sent of anything and everything about their practice and doctrine? Jesus’ address to the churches and in those seven messages He deals with two of the churches about this practice and doctrine to the church at Ephesus and the church at Pergamos. The concepts or percepts that we must have “do not compromise with the things of the world or Satan and have lust of the flesh” that goes against the doctrine of God and what God requires of the church. Furthermore, we cannot compromise with the world in worship of God by following the things of the world.
As we consider the message of Christ and look at Christ’s reason for making this statement known about this practice there will be question that need to be addressed. I further believe that these questions apply to Christian living in the last days. What I am going to outline is by no means is the complete understanding of the things that God and His Son hates about the practice of the Nicolaitanes. I would suggest that you read all of the references and write them down so you can research them for your own personal understanding.
Outline of act and practices of the Nicolaitanes
The first commandment “have no other gods before me” Exodus 20:3, 5; Deuteronomy 5:9, 12:31, 16:22
Secondly, “proud or pride” Proverbs 6:17, 11:2, 13:10, 16:18, 21:4, 28:25
Thirdly is “liars” Psalm 63:11; Proverbs 19:5; Isaiah 44:25; Revelation 21:8 scripture reference for lying
Genesis 3:4, 37:32; Matthew 28:13; Acts 5:8
Fourth is “murder or killing” Matthew 2:16; Acts 7:58; however the practice of the Nicolaitanes would also be the spiritual murder or killing of the Spirit of God in Christians.
The fifth “a wicked or evil heart that devises evil” Proverbs 6:18, 12:2; Zechariah 8:17
The sixth “a false witness” Proverbs 6:19; Zechariah 8:17
The seventh “those” who live in wickedness” Proverbs 6:18; Jeremiah 44:4; Hosea 9:15; Psalm 5:5, 11:5, 45:7
In Jesus’ message, we need to recognize how many times throughout the scriptures that the word hate is used. For example how God tells us to hate idolatry. (Scripture references Deuteronomy 16:22; Proverbs 26:24; Luke 6:22) We must also consider what hate means one example means to oppose like our enemy. I believe we should hate men’s evil deeds however not hate men themselves. Notice that Jesus gives no direct word of hatred toward anyone, which keeps His word and His Father, only the work and deeds of the Nicolaitanes.
Another important part of the reason that Ephesus hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes was how they sheltered themselves under the name of Jesus, the name of Christianity or the church. Therefore, they held a false and hateful doctrines, and were guilty of not having a true Christian life and therefore, causing a spiritual indifference within the church. However, I must say in my own opinion that this group of people taught a false liberty and therefore causing many to sin against Christ and His church.
Again, ask yourself who were these Nicolaitanes? During my studies for the message Jesus sent in truth, opinions greatly vary as to who the Nicolaitanes were. In fact, I believe that the Nicolaitanes were people who manage to come into the house of the Lord God, who were never born again, who managed to make others believe they were Christian and were not. In addition, they began preaching a doctrine of heresies, and therefore abusing the grace and salvation of God.
From the Greek language Nicolaitanes literally means “conquerors of people,” while the Hebrew translation means, “destroyer of people.” Therefore, when we look at both of these translations one could say that these were a group of people who attempts to conqueror people’s minds, or lord over, and then destroy the church of our Lord God. Another way of addressing this is their primary objective was to bring division to the house of the Lord, and cause confusion about the doctrine of God among the brothern. These people were driven by a blind vanity of their pride and fight against the will of God. In conclusion, all of the deeds and doctrines of the Nicolaitanes were hated in the eyes of our Lord God. Furthermore, I would say any individual who is truly born again are loving the things of Christ and seek the deeper truth in the bond of fellowship with the Lord God.
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. KJV
Revelation 2:7 Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. To him winning the victory I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life which is in God’s Gan-‘Eden.’’’ CJB
Revelation 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches, To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. NIV
Revelation 2:7 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. NASB
Revelation 2:7 “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.” ’ NKJV
Within these first seven verses of scriptures in Revelation 2 and 3 were truly written to confirm the spiritual state of individuals within the church. These seven verses are addressed exclusively to the children of God. Every individual Christian of God has a spiritual attitude to hear what the Spirit of God is saying. When they become born again was born having spiritual ears, spiritual eyes, and with a spiritual mind. These are Christians, who walk in the Spirit that Paul writes about men and women who are able to judge the things that the Spirit saith unto them that the natural man and woman cannot. Therefore, to the natural man and woman these spiritual things are foolishness and therefore have no ability to discern spiritual things. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15
Using the spiritual mind opens up the spirit of the scriptures as the message of Christ over all of the churches and every Christian. In addition, it should be the song of the heart of everyone “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto him.” The Spirit of God is speaking a message of God and Christ for receiving a message of instruction. Moreover, it is not enough to hear the message but for the individual and the church to act accordingly to what the Spirit proclaim unto them.
I further believe that Jesus’ message sent by Him through His Holy Spirit continually brings instruction, warnings, and love by which we must follow and live. Sadly, to say if we do not hear what the Spirit is speaking, then there is no fellowship with the Lord, and we therefore become a ship in the middle of a stormy sea. The whole tragedy of it all is when we consider those who have tasted of the heavenly gifts dismiss the very notion that the Holy Spirit continually communicates guidance, fellowship, and warnings to every servant of God. What is even more tragic is when leaders of the church only communicates two things love, fellowship, and dismisses guidance and the warnings of God. Therefore, when these individual Christian become distracted from the initial outpouring of the Spirit of God their insight now has become centered on the things of self. Furthermore, by becoming distracted they are rejecting the power of God and the Holy Spirit, and therefore, become powerless to hear what the Spirit says unto them. What I am saying is what Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the people of the last days that they would have a form of godliness but denying the power of God. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 In addition, these individuals still have intact the form of godliness and continue to cling to Christian tradition, but denying the power of the Spirit which is needed in these last days.
Another thing, God will not force upon any of us His precepts, which we willingly reject. Within this concept, what happens is the Christian becomes powerless to hear the Spirit. To understand the message of having the ear to hear what the Spirit says, a study of the Holy Spirit is necessary for understanding the message Jesus sent. In order for us, the church, to receive each of these promises given by Jesus our Lord we must do as Paul wrote to Timothy, we must fight the good fight of faith. 1 Timothy 6:12 any individual Christian who refuses to fight the good fight of faith, I believe, will not lay hold of eternal life.
Jesus Christ also states to the seven churches “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches:” (KJV) this is my personal feeling that we need to see the spiritual things that Christ is instructing the churches then as well as today. Just one of the things that get my heart to pumping is when I look at the promise given to the church at Ephesus where Christ states that to him that overcometh that He will give to them the right to eat of the tree of life in the midst of God. If that does not get your heart to pumping then I would say to you that you need to go back to the altar of prayer and find out why your heart is not pumping with joy. In addition, what gets my heart to racing is the promise Christ gives to the church of Laodiceans where Christ promises to them that overcometh that He will grant that they can set down beside Him on His Throne as He set down beside His Father of His Throne Revelation 3:21. Commentary About the Seven Churches Symrna