First Love
Lessons from Jesus’ Words to the Ephesians Church

Revelation 2:1-7


2:2  I know your deeds your hard work and your perseverance.

“Know” is “oida” and refers to complete and full knowledge. 

“Deeds” is “erga” (“erga”) menas  “works”

  • used 20 times in Revelation,
  • 12 in ch.2-3

“Hard work” is “kopon” (“kopon”) means “laborious work, toil.”  

  • This word does not mean just “labor” but working to the point of exhaustion.
  • They have not just labored for the Lord but have gone beyond to the place that they are working while most people would have given up. 
  • The only thing that keeps them going is the drive not to quit. 
  • There effort at this level requires physical, mental and emotional commitment.
  • These believers would have been evangelizing, teaching and meeting physical needs in their community.

“Perseverance” is “ ‘upomonhn” (“hupomonen”) means “patience, and endurance under difficult circumstances. 

  • There is a Greek synonym for “perseverance” which is “makrothumia” which refers to patience with people. 
  • Here “hupomonen” refers clearly to patience with difficult circumstances.


The focus is on their EFFORT and their ENDURANCE.


This formula is seen in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 as

  • work (ergou) of faith,
  • labor (kopou) of love,            
  • steadfastness (‘upomonhs) of hope. 
  • The same three words are used and connect as genitives to faith, love and hope.  Now consider 1 Cor. 13:13


2:2  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.


These are two more things they are commended for in regards to:

1)  Not tolerating wicked men. . . .sin

2)  Not tolerating imposters and false doctrine. . . .truth



The first is in regard to men who may name Christ and profess to Christianity but have no power over sin.  They are unregenerate in their lifestyles.  No one is perfect or sinless, but if there is no change, no production of righteousness, and no fleeing from sin this man should not be tolerated.


The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”     1 John 2:4


  No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either  seen him or known him.”       1 John 3:6



The second is in regards to Paul’s warning in Acts 20:28-31 concerning false shepherds.

False teaching will destroy the effectiveness of the local church just like sin will.


 The Bible warns in:


“Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s   clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.”                                                                                Matthew 7:15


 “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in   the flesh, have gone out into the world.”                          2 John 7


            “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching,  do not take him into  your house or welcome him.”                2 John 10


“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will  be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive   heresies, even    
denying the sovereign Lord who bought them. . .”          2 Peter 2:1


 The early church had traveling apostles and teachers that would go around and encourage and teach the believers.  John trained men and sent them out. 


             “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.  For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that                 

 none of them belonged to us.”                          1 John 2:19


 In Ignatius’s book to the Ephesians in 6:2 and 9:1 he wrote to the Ephesians concerning this same issue about twenty years after John wrote Revelation:


            “You heed nobody beyond what he has to say truthfully about Jesus Christ. . . I have  heard that some strangers came your way with a wicked teaching.  But you           did not let   them sow it among you.  You stopped up your ears to prevent admitting what they  disseminated.”


The use of the word “apostle” refers to:


“Apostle” or “apostolos” occurs three times in Revelation:


 1)  Representative sent by one of the Apostles – In Rev. 2:2 as a term for a special messenger, an itinerant missionary, whose legitimacy could be confirmed or disconfirmed by certain criteria.  These men would have connection to the original apostles in some way such as having traveled with them, having been trained or placed in position by them, or having gone through their school.  Today our only connection to the apostles and their original doctrine and belief system is the word of God.  So, today this use of the term true “apostle” would refer to those who teach the doctrines that are presented in the scripture. 


A false apostle would fall into one of three classes:


             a)  They teach from the scripture but twist and distort the true teaching of the apostles.


                         “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand,   which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other  Scriptures, to                                                                        their own destruction.”      2 Peter 3:16


b)  They teach from their own imaginations concerning visions and revelations  that they have had.  Are their visions more important today than the word   of God from the hand of the apostles??  They were not in the days when  the apostles where alive.  Why would they be today?   “Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and  his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost  connection with the Head.”    Colossians 2:18,19


            c)  They abandon the word of God and the spiritual concept and teach human  view point and the basic principles of this world system instead.


“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive  philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles   of this world rather than on Christ.”                Colossians 2:8


  2)  The Office of Apostle -  In 18:20 the apostles are listed with the “saints and . .     .prophets”.  They are   persecuted by “Babylon” and witness her destruction.         Here they are a special group and office within the church.  This would include the 12 apostles but   would be bigger than them alone.


  3)  The 12 Apostles of the Lamb - In 21:14  “The twelve apostles” is the technical term       to refer to those appointed by  the Lord to begin the church.



2:3  You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name,

“persevered” is “ ‘upomona


endured hardships” is “ebastasas” and means “to take up” or “to bear”


2:3  and have not grown weary.


“not grown weary” is “kekopiakas” is perfect indicative active of “kopiaw” from above     which means “to work or labor to the point of being weary”. 

  • The word implies strenuous and exhaustive labor.  
  • This could refer to standing moral  in an immoral circumstances. 
  • They did not  give up  morally but continued to resist sin and hold to the truth.
  • They could have collapsed in two areas:

1)  Sin

2)  Truth




2:4  Yet I hold this against you:  You have forsaken your first love.

Every strength has its weakness.

Here the “heresy-hunting” had been paid with the price of fellowship within the church.

Their hatred of heresy had closed off any connection with believers with different views.

We need to realize that love and truth both teach that believers are at different levels of maturity and at different levels of understanding.


  1)  Spiritual Maturity


             “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”    Galatians 6:1,2 

 2)  Scriptural Understanding


             “So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.”

 1 Corinthians 8:11

3) Calling and Ministry Service

            “They saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.  For God, who was at work in the                  ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.”               Galatians 2:9


            “Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not   think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not                  continued with them in the work .  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.  Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas                     and left, commended by the brother to the grace of the Lord.”  

Acts 15:37-40  (2 Timothy 4:11)

4) Personalities

            If you want to keep a family or any group together you must be willing to accept different personalities and to be willing to tolerate or work through “personality conflicts.”





The church is not about you succeeding and others fail. 

The church is not about you being right and others being proved false.

The mission of the church is to commit to each other in growing as a body together. 

We need to help each other. 


This is where “Do not judge” comes into play. 

We do need to judge all things, but we judge to assist the body not to destroy it.


 The Church needs truth, discernment but also love for each other and an understanding that we stand together or we fall apart.

The plan for truth, maturity and love in the body is seen in Ephesians 4:11-16:



2 John 5 “I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning.  I ask that we love one another.”


John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


 2:5  Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first.


2:5  If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your  lampstand from its place.


“Repent” means “to change one’s thinking, to think differently.”

  • “Repent” is not in the present (tense of present time) imperative (mood of command) but is in  the aorist (tense of occurring action) imperative (mood of command. 
  • The aorist is a  point in time that is divorced from time. There is no English equivalent.  The action of  the verb is presently in progress. 
  • This means “if you do not continue to be repenting of   this fault, I will come to you. . .” 
  • In other words they had repented but needed to finish  the process of returning.


This is not a reference to Jesus coming back at the Parousia,

but a more immediate visitation. 


Similar to Jesus returning to judge Jerusalem in 70 AD.




The church is the light of the world.  Salt is good for nothing if it loses it saltiness but to be trampled on by men.


 2:6  But you have this in your favor:  You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.


 Nicolaitans were a sect of false teaching that had infected the Asian area. 

They are mentioned in the letter to Thyatira and to Pergamum. 

Basically the Nicolaitans had developed a theology that compromised with their society.

It appears the Nicolaitans continued in pagan practices like idol worship and sexual immorality. 


 Church tradition trace the Nicolaitans origin back to Nicolaus, the Gentile proselyte of Antioch who was appointed as on of the first seven deacons in the church in Acts 6:5. 


 The Nicolaitans claim to spiritual maturity allowed them to practice idolatry and immorality. 


2:7  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. 

2:7  To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life,    which is in the paradise of God.


The tree of life is said to make a person immortal in Genesis 3:22-24.  The overcomers will be allowed to eat from this tree when they reach the paradise of God.


Tree of Life in Proverbs

  • Wisdom (Proverbs 3:18)
  • Righteousness (Proverbs 11:30)
  • Satisfied Hope (Proverbs 13:12)
  • Controlled Speech (Proverbs 15:4)


This is what the tree of Life would have provided Adam and allowed him to properly manage, rule and enjoy life.