SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. (Revelation 2:3)
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelation 2:4)
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. (Revelation 2:5)
The first of the seven churches, Ephesus was one of the premier cities of the Greco-Roman world. As the third largest city in the Roman Empire, the city’s secular significance also led to its importance as a church. Consider this: in all of Paul’s missionary journeys he spent the most time in Ephesus (about three years), Timothy the disciple of Paul became one of their elders, and even the Apostle John may have been an elder in Ephesus. The church, therefore, was certainly brimming with highly-decorated leaders.
Christ’s words to the Ephesians are both positive and negative. Jesus commends their work, their endurance, and their upholding of proper teaching. On the surface, they were teaching, serving, and suffering well for the sake of Christ; however, the Lord also brings before them a complaint: they have forgotten their first love. Therefore, Jesus pleads with them to repent of their lost love, or He will remove their lampstand from its place.
The message to the Ephesians stands as a poignant reminder that right things done with the wrong heart are actually wrong things. Though Christ longs for us to be a people of good works, His desire is that our works would flow from the overflowing love in our hearts for His glory and His kingdom.
Read verses 1-3 and discuss the following.
- Jesus opening commendation to the Ephesians is seemingly ideal. They were serving without end, patiently enduring in the midst of suffering, and not tolerating false teachings. If Jesus wrote a letter to you personally, would He be able to say the same words about you?
Read verse 4 and discuss the following.
- Though the Ephesians appeared to have a stellar resume as Christians, Jesus delivers a startling rebuke to them: you have abandoned your first love. How is it that we can do things correctly, but still be wrong by doing them without love?
Read verses 5-7 and discuss the following.
- Jesus gives to the church of Ephesus the expected response to His rebuke. What are the three commands that He gives to them? Why are each of them important?
- Each letter ends with a promise “to the one who conquers.” What does the Bible mean when it speaks of a Christian who conquers? How is it different from the world’s view of conquering?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Prayerfully reread this letter to the Ephesians. Consider what aspects might actively relate to your present walk with Christ.
- Consider whether you, like the Ephesians, have forgotten your first love in Christ. If so, practically apply Christ’s commands in verse five.