The letters to the seven churches in Revelation are addressed to those whom each one applies. As a whole, they are the measure by which any church or group of fellowshipping believers ought to examine themselves.
In the letter to Ephesus, Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus commends their appraisal of apostate individuals and groups. To have done this, the Ephesus church would have known these people, observed their activities and measured them according the fruit they had borne, understanding their corruption of the teachings given by Jesus and His apostles. Their perceptions would have been confirmed by the witness of the Holy Spirit before that of any brethren.
How then might they, as an entire church, have left their first love and what bearing does this have on the warning and promise given in the conclusion of the letter?
Jesus warned of such an eventuality during his sermon which is recorded in Matthew chapter 24, verse 12: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” There is a clear connection in this statement. It indicates cause and effect.
When iniquity abounds, both in the world and in the church, it can monopolise people’s attention, their conversation, their studies, their preaching and even their prayers. They may begin to see iniquity in everything and everybody outside of their accepted group. They may begin to judge and reject others according to superficial things which are nothing of themselves, setting standards of equally superficial observances and ignoring the clear teaching given in Romans 14:1-14. They may judge according to whether their their arguments constrain others to their point of view rather than trust the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. It may become progressively easier for them, by an ever increasing number of manufactured excuses, to abandon that love for others which is the very same means by which they might overcome, having become preoccupied with discernment between good and evil and seeing it as a measure of godliness.
The “candlestick” of Ephesus and every other church addressed in the letters of Revelation is its ministry, the means by which it ought to enlighten the world. This will be removed from them, as it well ought even by natural consequence, unless Jesus’ warning is heeded.
To the overcomer in Ephesus, Jesus promises the liberty to eat freely from the tree of life. This should remind us to take another look into Genesis, where Eve and then Adam forfeited that liberty by choosing to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45 Jesus is described as the last Adam: “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” Who then is “the last Eve” and what might she be tempted by subtlety to do?
I leave any readers of this post to conclude the answer to these last questions and further, to examine their own position rather than that of others in light of this and every other letter to the churches in Revelation chapters 2 & 3.