SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW)

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Chapter 2

1 (ch. 1:16, 20; Psalm 121:3, 4; see EGW on Ephesians 5:25). Constant Diligence in Behalf of His Church—In the message to the church at Ephesus, Christ is represented as holding the seven stars in His hand, and walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. He is represented as “walking” among them, thus illustrating His constant diligence in behalf of His church. He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. Nor does He become indifferent. These figures are to be carefully studied by the undershepherds, and faithfully applied to their own experience, that they may not lose sight of their great privilege of securing light from the Source of all light, and giving it in turn to those for whom they labor (Letter 4, 1908). 7BC 956.1

1-5 (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). The Warder of the Temple Courts—[Revelation 2:1-5 quoted.] The words fall from the lips of One who cannot lie. The picture reveals eternal vigilance. Christ is in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, walking from church to church, from congregation to congregation, from heart to heart. He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. If the candlesticks were left to the care of human beings, how often the light would flicker and go out! But God has not given His church into the hands of men. Christ, the One who gave His life for the world, that all who believe in Him may not perish but have everlasting life, is the watchman of the house. He is the warder, faithful and true, of the temple courts of the Lord.... 7BC 956.2

Christ walks in the midst of His churches through the length and breadth of the earth. He looks with intense interest to see whether His people are in such a condition spiritually that they can advance His kingdom. He is present in every assembly of the church. He knows those whose hearts He can fill with the holy oil, that they may impart it to others. Those who faithfully carry forward the work of Christ, representing in word and deed the character of God, fulfill the Lord's purpose for them, and Christ takes pleasure in them (The Review and Herald, May 26, 1903). 7BC 956.3

(Ephesians 1:1, 15, 16.) Evil Results of Neglect—[Revelation 2:1-5 quoted.] In this scripture are outlined the conditions of acceptance with God. The first experience of the Ephesus church led to good works. God took delight in the fact that His church reflected the light of heaven by revealing the spirit of Christ in tenderness and compassion. The love that dwelt in the heart of Christ; the love that caused Him to give Himself a sacrifice for humanity, and to suffer with forbearance the reproach of men, even to the extent of being called a devil; the love that prompted Him to perform mighty works of healing during His ministry—this was the love that was to be revealed in the lives of His disciples. 7BC 956.4

But they neglected to cherish Christ's compassion and tenderness. Self, as manifested in hereditary traits of character, spoiled the principles of the grand, good works that identified the members of the Ephesus church as Christians. The Lord Jesus must needs show them that they had lost that which was everything to them. The love that constrained the Saviour to die for us, was not revealed in its fullness in their lives; and hence they were unable to bring honor to the name of the Redeemer. And as they lost their first love, they increased in a knowledge of scientific theories originated by the father of lies (Manuscript 11, 1906). 7BC 956.5

2. See EGW on Galatians 5:6. 7BC 956.6

2-6. Losing the Talent of Love—This message is an example of the way in which the ministers of God are to give reproof today. Following the commendation for earnest labor comes the reproof for losing the talent of love, which is a most sacred trust. It was the love of God that saved the fallen race from eternal death (Manuscript 136, 1902). 7BC 956.7

4 (2 Peter 3:18; 2 John 6). Love for Christ Need Not Flag—“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Thine is a decay, a declension in holy zeal—not forsaken is the object of it, but lost is the fervor. The first affection of the convert to Christ is deep, full, and ardent. It is not necessary that this love should become less as knowledge increases, as the more and increased light shines upon him. That love should become more fervent as he becomes better acquainted with his Lord.... 7BC 956.8

God will accept nothing less than the whole heart. Happy are they who from the commencement of their religious life have been true to their first love, growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sure result of their intercourse and fellowship with their beloved Lord will be to increase their piety, their purity, their fervor. They are receiving a divine education, and this is illustrated in a life of fervor, of diligence and zeal.... 7BC 956.9

It is our work to know our special failings and sins, which cause darkness and spiritual feebleness, and quenched our first love (The Review and Herald, June 7, 1887). 7BC 957.1

4, 5 (see EGW on ch. 3:14-18; 1 Kings 11:4). Spiritually Fallen, but Unaware of It—In view of the many virtues enumerated, how striking is the charge brought against the church at Ephesus: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” This church had been highly favored. It was planted by the apostle Paul. In the same city was the temple of Diana, which, in point of grandeur, was one of the marvels of the world. The Ephesian church met with great opposition, and some of the early Christians suffered persecution; and yet some of these very ones turned from the truths that had united them with Christ's followers, and adopted, in their stead, the specious errors devised by Satan. 7BC 957.2

This change is represented as a spiritual fall. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works”—as outlined in the preceding verses. The believers did not sense their spiritual fall. They knew not that a change had taken place in their hearts, and that they would have to repent because of the noncontinuance of their first works. But God in His mercy called for repentance, for a return to their first love and to the works that are always the result of true, Christlike love (Manuscript 11, 1906). 7BC 957.3

Loss of Love a Moral Fall—The losing of the first love is specified as a moral fall. The loss of this love is represented as something that will affect the entire religious life. Of those who have lost this love, God says that unless they repent, He will come to them, and remove their candlestick out of its place (Manuscript 1, 1906). 7BC 957.4

6 (Jude 4). The Sin of the Nicolaitans—Is it [our sin] the sin of the Nicolaitans, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (The Review and Herald, June 7, 1887)? 7BC 957.5

(Romans 3:31.) Doctrine of the Nicolaitans—The doctrine is now largely taught that the gospel of Christ has made the law of God of no effect; that by “believing” we are released from the necessity of being doers of the Word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned (The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1912, reprinted from The Signs of the Times, February 25, 1897). 7BC 957.6

7 (ch. 22:2). The Leaves of the Tree of Life—[Revelation 2:7 quoted.] Must we wait until we are translated before we eat of the leaves of the tree of life? He who receives into his heart the words of Christ knows what it means to eat the leaves of the tree of life. [John 6:33-63 quoted.] 7BC 957.7

When the believer, in the fellowship of the Spirit, can lay his hand upon truth itself, and appropriate it, he eats the bread that comes down from heaven. He enters into the life of Christ, and appreciates the great sacrifice made in behalf of the sinful race. 7BC 957.8

The knowledge that comes from God is the bread of life. It is the leaves of the tree of life which are for the healing of the nations. The current of spiritual life thrills the soul as the words of Christ are believed and practiced. Thus it is that we are made one with Christ. The experience that was weak and feeble becomes strong. It is eternal life to us if we hold the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end. 7BC 957.9

All truth is to be received as the life of Jesus. Truth cleanses us from all impurity, and prepares the soul for Christ's presence. Christ is formed within, the hope of glory (Manuscript 103, 1902). 7BC 957.10

7, 11, 17, 29 (ch. 3:6, 13, 22). Ears Closed to Folly and Nonsense—“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” If you “hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” and meditate upon the instruction given to them, your ears will be closed to the folly and nonsense which surround you. You will neither hear and repeat these things, nor will you ever hanker after them. When Christ satisfies the soul hunger, these trivialities are to you distasteful and disgusting. You have no desire to feast upon them, but choose instead the bread of heaven (Manuscript 92, 1901). 7BC 957.11

9. The Synagogue of Satan—Christ speaks of the church over which Satan presides as the synagogue of Satan. Its members are the children of disobedience. They are those who choose to sin, who labor to make void the holy law of God. It is Satan's work to mingle evil with good, and to remove the distinction between good and evil. Christ would have a church that labors to separate the evil from the good, whose members will not willingly tolerate wrong-doing, but will expel it from the heart and life (The Review and Herald, December 4, 1900). 7BC 958.1

10. Crowns Bestowed by Christ—In that day of final punishment and reward, both saints and sinners will recognize in Him who was crucified the Judge of all living. Every crown that is given to the saints of the Most High will be bestowed by the hands of Christ—those hands that cruel priests and rulers condemned to be nailed to the cross. He alone can give to men the consolation of eternal life (The Review and Herald, November 22, 1898). 7BC 958.2