“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
The apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos during the brutal reign of Domitian. The Roman Emperor reigned from 81-96 AD. John’s crime was that he proclaimed and shared the saving message of the Lord Jesus (Revelation 1:9). On Patmos, John received a prophetic revelation that included seven letters to seven churches that existed at that time in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). These letters contain both correction and encouragement, which are relevant not only to the believers of that time but also to us today. In this series of articles, we will examine each church to explore their significance.
The first church addressed was the church in Ephesus, which was a prominent city at that time. “Under Caesar Augustus, Ephesus became the capital of the Roman province called Asia, which today is the western portion of Turkey (Pergamum had been the capital earlier). It was the residence of the apostle John before and after his exile on Patmos, and it was the site of the great temple of Artemis (Latin, Diana).” 
One of the things that Jesus commends them for is their strong doctrinal stance. They stood strong and were praised “by Christ for turning from both moral corruption and theological error.”  This principle should be embraced by every church, especially in an age of increasing compromise with the world.
Head But Not Heart
However, everything was not perfect at Ephesus. In Revelation 2:4, Jesus rebukes them for having left their first love. It is important to note that they did not lose their first love but rather “left” (aphíēmi) it. Aphíēmi means “To send forth or away, let go from oneself. To leave, desert, quit.” A helpful analogy is someone who deserts their military duty or post. Somewhere along the way, they had lost their love and devotion to Christ. For a Christian, we are called to love the Lord above all else and be fully devoted to Him (Matthew. 22:37; John 14:21, 23).
“Christ had their heads and hands, but not their hearts.”
The church in Ephesus teaches us the importance of maintaining doctrinal purity while also nurturing our love for Christ. In other words, we must strive to balance the two by balancing our head and heart. Have you allowed other things to take first place in your life? Is your heart devoted to anything else above your first love for Christ?
Dr. Steven F. Pace
Decatur Bible Church
 Ryrie Study Bible – NASB 95 Updated Edition, pg. 2015.
 John Walvoord. Revelation Commentary, pg. 55.
 See also Jeremiah 2:2 for leaving a deep and devoted love of the Lord from youth.
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament.
 David M. Levy. Revelation – Hearing the Last Word.