“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4
These letters were dictated by the Lord to the Seven Churches which have been chosen to represent the entire church of God. Revelation is designed to reveal the various phases of the church in history, its fortunes, its lapses, its tribulations, persecutions and final triumph.
Letters to the Seven Churches
The first three are outlined as follows;
Smyrna Rev 2:8-11
The church of Ephesus, with the other six churches of Asia, were, at the time of John's writing, very flourishing churches, favored as much with the special presence influence of Christ as ever any churches were.
The church of Ephesus
The city of Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and the greatest city. As a great center it was sought by the Apostle Paul, who founded the church and labored there more than three years (see Acts 18:19; 19:1), and afterwards addressed to it the Epistle to the Ephesians. At a later period he placed Timothy there and addressed two epistles to him. All early church tradition declares that John from about A.D. 70 made this city his home until his death. There is not now standing a single house upon the site of the ancient city.
The church at Smyrna
The history of its planting is unknown, but it was probably founded by some of the evangelists under Paul's supervision. During the second century the church was prominent, and it has never ceased to exist. The city, so old that its beginnings are unknown, is still the second in commercial importance of the Turkish empire.
The church at Pergamos
The farthest north of the Seven Churches, a city once the capital of the kingdom of Pergamos, which was great and flourishing when John wrote. It still exists with about 14,000 population, of whom over 3,000 profess to be Christians.
These churches are written to as an example; Christ hereby declaring what all other churches, offending and declining in the same manner, might expect.
The first church John is commanded to write unto, is the church of Ephesus, and what is written is directed to the angel, the bishop, the president and chief minister in that church, to be communicated to all in the church, both ministers and people, as that which nearly concerned them all.
Christ, in the beginning of every epistle, notifies himself by the characters which he gave of himself in the former chapter, either as the faithful and true witness, or as the first and the last, or as having the seven stars in his hand.
He holdeth the stars in his hand, to show His power; supporting and directing them, for the good of his people.
“These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;” Revelation 2:1
Christ walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. This represents the following;
1. Christ's gracious presence with them.
2. His strict observation of them.
3. His tender care over them.
4. His protecting and defending of them in doing their duty to him.
5. His encouraging or reproving.
6. His rewarding or punishing.
a. The teachers of Christ (our Pastor) are stars - yet simply stars, they shine with a borrowed light, with a light derived from the sun: they shine for a time, and the day hastens when these stars shall disappear for ever.
These stars are in the right hand of Christ, in His power, and at His disposal; He appoints them their orbs where they shall shine, and appoints them also their time for shining.
b. That the church is a candlestick, a golden candlestick. As a candlestick has no more light than what is put into it, and must by continually maintained by a new supply of oil, such is the state of the church; and as a candlestick is a movable thing, remove the candlestick, and the light is removed with it: so when God removes the light of the gospel from a people, he unchurches them.
The church is called a golden candlestick, because as gold is the purest of metals, and excels other metals in preciousness, so God expects his church should differ as much from the world, as gold doth from common clay.
That there is a special gracious presence of Christ with his church in all her administrations. He walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks; it denotes His presence with them, and this presence, and a joyous presence.
The Morning Star is one of the titles of Christ – 2:28
Perhaps this verse burned in my heart more than any other today; “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (2:4)
The love here referred to, is evidently love to the Saviour; and the idea is, that, as a church, they had less of this than formerly characterized them. In this respect they were in a state of declension; and though they still maintained the doctrines of His religion, and opposed the advocates of error, they showed less ardor of affection towards Him directly, than they had formerly done.
All I am, and all I have,
I would devote to Thee.
Thou hast brought me with Thy blood
--let me spend myself and be spent in Thy service.
In life and in death let me be consecrated to Thee."
The Saviour governs the church always on essentially the same principles; and it is no uncommon thing that when a church has lost the ardor (keenness) of its first love, it is suffered more and more to decline, until "the candlestick is removed"--until either the church becomes wholly extinct, or until vital righteousness is wholly gone, and all that remains is the religion of forms.
I reflected on my own personal relationship with God;individual Christians often lose much of their first love. It is true, indeed, that there is often an appearance of this which does not exist in reality.
I have just started praying; “Father, I want a fire to burn when I talk to you. When I pray, I always want my eyes to be filled with the tears of a tender-heart – intersession for my family members, friends, and nation. I want to get a hold of you every day Lord, and when I rise from my knees, to know that I have prayed until the fire was lit for Christ – I want that more than anything else for my life!
Nothing but the fervent love of the Bride can satisfy the Bridegroom!
I Love You,