The letters to the churches begins in chapter 2 of the book of Revelation. Now to understand the letters we must understand the cities themselves and the time period. The book of Revelation was written in the last decade of the first century A.D. Sixty years after Jesus walked upon the earth. John is an old man now and exiled to the isle of Patmos by the Roman Emperor Domitian. Most that has actually seen Christ are old like John or have gone on to be with Christ if they called Him their Savior.
Ephesus at the end of the first century was the most prominent city in Asia Minor. In fact all seven of these cities, either ruins or still standing in some form, are found within the boundaries of Turkey.
Of the seven churches Ephesus is the only one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Acts, as well as having a letter sent to them that become a part of the Bible, the book of Ephesians. Evidence supports that pastor at large for Ephesus was Timothy of first and second Timothy, but as mentioned before most that actually had walked or met Christ were gone now.
The state of the church in the 90s A.D. were the next generation of people that chose to become Christian. Most were raised from birth on the tales and stories of the miracle worker know as Jesus Christ that rose from the dead, but they had never actually seen Him.
Revelation 2:1 – To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: “The words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.”
CHRIST THE SOVEREIGN JUDGE: The Glorified Christ is shown here to be holding the seven stars or angels of the seven churches, as well as He walks amongst the seven golden lampstands which are the churches themselves. This to me means Christ Himself has toured the churches first hand and is fully prepared to comment upon their state and what He thinks needs to be done in each to correct any issues that are found. The holding of the stars means that not only that He has authority over the churches, but they are in fact sanctioned to exist under His blessing. So those within it have stated they wish to be a child of Christ and have bowed before Him and asked Him into their lives.
Revelation 2:2-3 – “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
COMMENDATION: Christ has seen that those in Ephesus have been diligent in their faith and have even tested those that paraded themselves to be messengers of Christ, but were found to be false. So here Jesus finds things happening within this church that please Him and so it states has such.
Revelation 2:4-5 – “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
INDICTMENT: The word “love” used here is “Agapen” is the deepest most meaningful type of love and because they have fallen from this first love they were seen by Christ Himself as of having a major problem because he used the word “repent” meaning to turn around, do a 180.
When Christ walked amongst us He added two commandments to the ten we already had. The first and most important of these was to Love God with all our heart, mind and soul. To love God with the human trinity to show love to the Holy Trinity. To love God though His the Son the Lord Jesus Christ so completely means we are to place God first and foremost in all that we do. Every single action that we do must be done thinking of: “How would Jesus do this?” “How would God want me to do this?” Every single action we do in our lives and every single day of our lives.
These were teaches that this church knew for the gospels had been in their possession at this time, and they had heard these very words spoken of from within them.
This re-emphasizes just how important it is to live like an image of Christ 365 days a year not just on Sunday or when it is convenient. For Christ Himself says to “repent” for they had strayed away from their love for Christ. Their hearts had cooled for God and thus opened the door for a falling away and due to this falling away Jesus threatened to remove their lampstand. The lampstand was removed in 431 when the last inhabitants of Ephesus were forcibly removed by the Turks.
Revelation 2:6 – “Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
Who the “Nicolaitans” were no one knows. The mere fact that any true history of them has ceased to exist shows just how much Jesus Christ despised them, for all we have left of them is a meager mention of their name twice in this book and both times it is not in a flattering light.
Revelation 2:7 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant at eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
Here we see that not all will hear the words and understand them and that this message is given through the Holy Spirit. Those that do hear and overcome are promised to eat of the “tree of life,” in other word granted eternal life in the service of God.
Here we see how as a church as a whole at the end of the first century was starting to drift away from Christ. For they had not seen Him. They did not know Him as a person, but a tale told to them by their elders. This is true now as well in many. They see God and Jesus as a story, a fairy tale. Not realizing Jesus was real and there is evidence that still exists that say yes Jesus is real and what He did was real as will and what He offers to all is just as real.