In the archetype seven days of creation, God set the stage in the first three days: day one for the spiritual world of light and darkness, day two for the heavens and seas, and day three for the earth with its adornments.
Ephesus is the first church, whose name means “My Darling.” The spiritual heart of the Lord for his Church – and of her for Him – is love. Love is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Her love relationship with Jesus is the spiritual stage upon which all other matters rest. He tells us:
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place – unless you repent.”
Revelation 2:4-5 NKJV
These are the words of a jealous husband to an unresponsive wife. What are the works of love between a bride and her husband? She hardly takes her eyes off him, serving him day and night, hating the moments when he must be away. The work itself is not important; being with him is everything. She drops what she is doing to greet him with joy when he returns. Whatever he does, she wants to be with him, doing it with him. The church in Ephesus worked very hard for Jesus, but in time her heart was more focused on the work, and she forgot her true love.
As prophesy, commentators compare the Church of Ephesus with the first century Church. Early in that time, many like Barnabas that had real estate sold it and laid the money at the apostles’ feet, to care for the poor among them (Acts 4:32-37). The apostles appointed deacons to perform the daily distribution of food for widows with no one to care for them (Acts 6:1-4), and whenever they gathered, those that had food shared with those that were hungry at their love feasts (Jude 12, Acts 2:42, 46, 1 Corinthians 11:17-22). The early Church enjoyed communion as part of a meal together. Churches also made gifts as they were able to missionaries and churches in other provinces that were in need.
In time, this letter indicates they became preoccupied with false teachers and heresy. They tested the false apostles and found them liars, but somewhere along the way, lost their love. It is easy for a church to lose its love when it has been taken advantage of by false shepherds. Some leave, while others become hard in their hearts and continue working, with their “first love” placed on a shelf. Why would we need to repent if we are living pure and working hard for Jesus? Because this is a spiritual matter, not one of good and evil. Love is the spiritual foundation of the Church. Without love, our good works mean nothing.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV