And you have endurance and have borne all things because of My name and have not grown weary. But I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love."
- Revelation 2:3-4
The seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 bear a double significance. On the one hand, they were actual local churches that existed in the first century A.D. But more importantly, since Revelation is a book of signs that are prophetic in nature, these seven churches signify prophetically the progress of the church in seven stages over the course of the last twenty centuries. The course of the church is foretold and prefigured in Revelation 2 and 3. Unfortunately, church history on man's side is mainly a story of degradation. But on God's side, it is a story of faithfulness.
The epistle to the church in Ephesus is a warning to us. The church in Ephesus shows us a church that had works, labor, and endurance, but a fading love. Love is the crucial point in this epistle. The whole battle of the Christian life is here. If we have the first love toward the Lord, this will usher us into the proper enjoyment of Christ as the tree of life. As we enjoy Him as the tree of life we will be brought into the light and spontaneously see who we are and who He is. It is through this cycle that we become the corporate testimony signified by the lampstands and the seven stars at the end of the epistle. We need to to love Christ and eat Christ. Then we will have the means to express Christ and magnify Him.