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;

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:

3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

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.

6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.


MEMORY VERSE: 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. —Revelation 2:7


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Christ commended both the “angel” (pastor) and the congregation at Ephesus for good works but gave stern admonition for departing from its first love, commanding repentance lest judgment should be given.




Revelation 2:1 “Angel”: Many believe this to be Timothy, who was pastor here after Paul’s execution. “Holdeth”: to be strong; rule; to place under one’s strong grasp; put under one’s control; master.

Revelation 2:2, 3 “Labour” and “has laboured”: labor unto weariness.

Revelation 2:4 “Somewhat”: The Authorized Version adds this, but it is not in the original, which says, “I have this against thee, that thou hast…” “Left”: send away from; release; be remiss. “Thy first love”: “It is the regretful cry of the heavenly Bridegroom, recalling the early days of His Bride’s love, the kindness of her youth, the love of her espousals (Jeremiah 2:2. Comp. Hosea 2:15). It is impossible not to see some reference in this to the language of St. Paul (which must have been familiar to the Ephesian Christians) in Ephesians 5:23-33, where human love is made a type of the divine” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).

Revelation 2:6 “The Nicolaitans”: “These were, as is commonly supposed, a sect of the Gnostics, who taught the most impure doctrines, and followed the most impure practices. The Nicolaitans taught the community of wives, that adultery and fornication were things indifferent, that eating meats offered to idols was quite lawful; and mixed several pagan rites with the Christian ceremonies” (Clarke’s Commentary). Peter, in his epistles, combats the teachings of this Gnostic sect, describing them as “following the way of Balaam.” The doctrine of Balaam, in Revelation 2:14, was to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit fornication. Since Balaam in the Hebrew is the same name as Niclaus in Greek, the followers of Balaam’s doctrines are called by John “Nicolaitans.”




The church at Ephesus began when Paul was passing through the area and found some disciples of the Lord. They had been taught by Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria who was eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, but only knew of the baptism of John the Baptist. Paul taught them about the Holy Spirit and stayed with them over two years, during which the church there grew mightily. Later, after being with them another three years, he prophesied that there would be grievous wolves—false prophets—who would come to devour; also false teachers would rise up from among their own people and draw away disciples. Paul also mentioned in his epistle to the Corinthians about fighting with “beasts” at Ephesus—a spiritual battle, no doubt, with both pagan foes and heretics. After Paul’s death early writers show that Timothy became pastor of the church there. We can recall Paul’s warnings and pleadings with Timothy, as a young man, to keep that pure gospel that had been committed unto him. He charged him to preach the word, to be an example, to be diligent.

That was A.D. 68. This was 95, and if the “angel” of Ephesus was indeed Timothy, as many Bible scholars believe, then he would now be fifty years old. He had been faithful. He had labored until he was weary. He had fought tooth and nail with the false apostles. The intense pressure had taken its toll. But Christ did not give up on Timothy or the church there. He is the One who walks in the midst of the churches. He holds the ministers in His strong right hand. The One who loves with an everlasting love also rebukes and chastens those He loves. He commended them for their labor and patience. But their strong stand against false doctrine and idolatry had eaten away at the original zeal and ardent love for Christ and for each other. He commanded them to repent; to turn around and go back to what they had at the first.

Two years later, Timothy, still faithful and evidently renewed by his obedience to this message, rebuked the idolaters who paraded past him in their lewd celebration. In their anger they beat him with clubs so severely he died from his wounds. How gracious the mercy, how tender the love of the Savior Who rescued him from burnout and restored his love so that he could face his final day!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




1. The Good: List the things for which the Ephesian church was commended .

2. “Nevertheless”: What did Christ have against Ephesus?

3. The Nicolaitans: What were their teachings and to what Old Testament person were they similar?

4. The Angel: Who was most likely the pastor of Ephesus at this time, and what happened to him soon afterward?




The truths taught by this message to the church at Ephesus are applicable to us today. We too can be so zealous for the truth that we don’t realize the fresh, tender, eager love for our Savior has gone into remission. Before long, our experience is just bare orthodoxy, and the essence is missing. It’s easy to do things, be super-correct in our theology, and depend on those things for our spiritual security, but be lacking in intimate communion, “just-for-love-of- You-Lord” worship and fervent devotion to Christ Himself. When we have fought hard, endured much affliction and opposition, and labored until we are bone-weary, the tendency is to grow jaded, hard, and cynical toward God and toward people.

Jesus’ call was for repentance. Remember those days of sweet “newlywed” love (recall Paul’s lesson to the Ephesians about the bride of Christ?), and let your heart return to close communion with the Lord. This is what it means to “overcome” a heart condition of love in remission. They who overcome are promised access to the tree of life. This refers to Eden where Adam and Eve walked with the Father in the cool of the day in sweet, intimate communion, does it not? The leaves of the tree of life, described in detail in Revelation 22, are for the healing of the nations. When you wear yourself out laboring and fighting, you need renewal, healing and wholeness. That’s what is there for you when you renew your ardent pursuit of Christ. Not only here in the midst of the battle, but on into eternity when you’ve fought your last fight, you can rest in the paradise of God.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




There are many people in loveless relationships. They perform the duties of marriage without the love to accompany it. They may be excellent providers or homemakers or caregivers but somehow their affections are not part of the equation and love is no longer their motivation.

They may feel as though they’re under a moral obligation or do this for various other reasons. But whatever has replaced their affection is just not strong enough to sustain the relationship. Any close observer would be able to see the stress cracks, the wearing away, the drudgery of duty and know that unless something changes soon, it will be just a matter of time before it all crumbles.

Our relationship with God is initiated by His love for us. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. We in turn love Him because He first loved us. Our Christian experience is sustained by His love for us and our love for Him. It is the glue that binds us together. It is a two part scenario, each part being of equal importance. He loves us and we must love Him in return.

Love is what activates our faith and brings pleasure to our Lord, for without faith it is impossible to please Him. But love has to be maintained and it must be guarded. Every moment of every day there are “passive” foes vying for our affection—“harmless” things that lead to harmful conclusions that can separate us from the God of love.

The saints at Ephesus had many things right. But they had lost the most vital thing—the proper motivation for their actions. The ultimatum was given—reactivate the love or risk separation.

No one wants to be in a loveless relationship—not even God.

—Bro. Darrell Johnson