The cause of Christ was planted in Ephesus when Paul came to that city during the course of his third missionary journey. There, he encountered twelve men who had known only the baptism of John the Baptist (having received that ordinance after its expiration). Accordingly, Paul instructed them more precisely in the gospel, and immersed them “into the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5), which was the equivalent of being baptized “for the remission of sins” (cf. Acts 2:38).

Interestingly, later, when the apostle penned a letter to the Ephesian church, he reminded these Christians that they had been saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). A comparison of these complementary passages reveals that salvation by grace through faith does not exclude baptism; rather, it includes it. Thus, beside Ephesians 2:8, in your margin, note: See Acts 19:5 — baptism included.

Some forty years after the commencement of the Ephesian congregation, Jesus issued a letter to these people (Rev. 2:1-7). He commended them for many remarkable qualities. They were obedient, energetic, enduring, sound in doctrine, and untiring. But they had a problem — these disciples had left their “first love” (v. 4).

One is reminded of an admonition given to Jerusalem by the prophet Jeremiah. He encouraged those ancient saints to reflect upon the “love of your betrothal” (2:2). Unfortunately, love sometimes pales — and such was the situation at Ephesus.

Underline “first love” in 2:4, and marginally note: See Jeremiah 2:2. The Lord then encouraged these brethren to repent, and “remember from where you have fallen” (v. 5). The word “fallen” is interesting. It can denote a flower that has withered (Jas. 1:11; 1 Pet. 1:24), or a ship out of control (Acts 27:17,26).

Regardless of other admirable qualities, without love one is withered and void of controlled direction. Circle “fallen” and enter these references in your margin.