Revelation 2:1-7 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does Jesus inform the Ephesian church that He knows about them? See Revelation 2:2a (printed below)

I know your deeds—your labor and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men. (Revelation 2:2a)

The Lord Jesus solemnly and authoritatively declares to the Ephesian church, “I know your deeds.” He is referring to the works that their faith was producing (note 1 Thessalonians 1:3). These works of faith are more precisely defined as “your labor and perseverance.” These Christian people exerted a great deal of hard work on behalf of the gospel and for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom; the Lord has seen their labors, He appreciates those labors, and He does not take them for granted. Furthermore, there was evident in this congregation a genuine Christian perseverance—a steadfastness in the face of opposition and even persecution.

2. For what else does Jesus commend this church (see verse 2b printed below?) What does this tell us about the church?

You tested those who claim to be apostles, but are not, and found them to be false. (Revelation 2:2b)

The Lord Jesus further commends these Christians for their refusal to tolerate “evil men,” men who “claim to be apostles, but are not.” This church was spiritually astute in detecting false teaching; they knew the doctrines of the faith, there was a depth to their understanding of biblical truth. Furthermore, they were active in expelling false teachers from the church; they were zealous to safeguard and maintain the purity of Christian truth and Christian life.

3. Despite all that is commendable about this church, what does Jesus have against them? See Revelation 2:4 (printed below) What do you think this means?

But I have this against you: You have left your first love. (Revelation 2:4)

Despite the commendation He has for this church, the Lord Jesus must go on to say, “I have this against you: You have left your first love.” There is much for which the Lord commends this church: their deeds inspired by faith, their zeal for the purity of doctrine and life, their steadfast endurance. But, nevertheless, the Lord Jesus declares, “I have this against you: You have left your first love.” The Lord Jesus is referring to the love that is dearest to the heart; the love that should occupy the pre-eminent place in our heart above all other loves; the love that is the desire for and devotion to Christ Himself.

4. What does the Lord Jesus instruct the church to do? See Revelation 2:5a (printed below)

Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the works you did at the beginning (Revelation 2:5a)

The Lord’s initial instruction to those who have left their first love is for them to “remember from where you have fallen.” That is to say, remember what Christ meant to you the hour you first believed. The Lord’s further instruction is to “repent.” Not only look back to the hour your first met Christ and believed in Him, come back to the Lord in whom you have believed: once more give Him first place in your heart and make Him the pre-eminent object of your love. Then our Lord counsels, “Do the works you did at the beginning;” works offered to Jesus out of love, works stemming from reliance upon the Holy Spirit.

5. If the church does not heed her Lord’s command, what will happen? See Revelation 2:5b (printed below) What do you think this means? Hint: Note the position of the lampstand as it was found in the Old Testament tabernacle and temple (see Exodus 40:21-22,24 printed below)

…or else I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, if you do not repent. (Revelation 2:5b)

Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle, hung the curtain that served as a screen, and shielded the ark of the Testimony, as Jehovah commanded him. (22) He put the table in the Tent of Meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the curtain…(24) He placed the lampstand in the Tent of Meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:21-22,24)

Note that our Lord’s exhortation is accompanied by a solemn word of warning: If you do not repent, “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” The place of the lampstand in the Old Testament temple was in the immediate presence of God: it was situated in the Holy Place, separated from the Holy of Holies only by the veil. To remove the lampstand means nothing less than removal from communion with Christ and with God. If this seems harsh, bear in mind that if the process of spiritual decline is not checked and reversed, it will continue to regress to the level of Phariseeism and dead orthodoxy, the kind of spiritual deadness about which the apostle Paul warns in 2 Timothy 3:2,4-5. The removal of the candlestick would be the just consequence of the church’s removal of their heart from Christ.