The Christians in Ephesus were still carrying out good works. However, they were acting without love towards God, or to other people. Once they had that love; now they did not. Christ told them to remember, and to repent.
Usually ‘to repent’ means to confess our evil deeds to God. Here, the Christians were not guilty of evil deeds; in fact, Christ had spoken about their many good deeds (verse 2). So here, the word ‘repent’ had its original meaning in the Greek language. That meaning is to change our minds - that is, our attitudes. Those Christians had done those things without an attitude of love. Now, they must show love in all that they did. They should continue their good works. However, as they did at the start of their relationship with God, they should act in love.
Otherwise, Christ said that he would ‘remove their lampstand from its place’. A lampstand is an object to hold a burning oil lamp. In Revelation 1:20, it meant a church in its relationship with Christ.
There are many different ideas about what Christ was warning here. However, all these ideas seem to agree about two matters. Firstly, there would be great trouble for the church in Ephesus. Secondly, that trouble would affect severely the Christians’ relationship with God.
Christians have many troubles in this world, and those early Christians suffered greatly. However, no trouble can be worse for a Christian than something that affects his relationship with God (Matthew 10:28). It would be terrible if, for example, God’s Holy Spirit was no longer active in the church at Ephesus (Psalm 51:11). It would be terrible for a Christian to think that God had left him (Psalm 42:9-10). It would be terrible not to be aware of his love (1 John 4:7-11).
Next part: About the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.