Bet you didn't know that the Benny Hinn type could be in the Apocalypse letters? Sound crazy? Well come along and let me make my case, darnit!
Long story short, from my analysis a couple years back, the seven letters were the ages of the Church. There is a real easy way to make them fit. Simply use the ages per secular academic partitioning, almost, and the remaining ages after our time as just the age of peace of Our Lady and, finally, the great apostasy.
Now, obviously, any way you cut it, the first age of the Church is clearly Pagan Rome.
Let us cite the text now for reference:
Apocalypse Chapter 2:
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he, who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:  I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil, and thou hast tried them, who say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:  And thou hast patience, and hast endured for my name, and hast not fainted.  But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first charity.  Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first works. Or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaites, which I also hate....
As we see, there are three dimensions of critique by the Christ here:
The first dimension is mainly praise, which makes sense since the pagan Rome Church is very pure, persecuted, from the top hierarchy to the bottom laity.
The second dimension we will treat last, as it applies, quite possibly, to the Pentecostal sport-coat zing-rayers.
The third dimension is the Nicolatians They are mentioned in this letter and in the third letter.
Regarding these Nicolatians, it is kind of mysterious. One wikipeidia suggests they were Gnostic in nature. I will actually go with this, as follows: Again, recalling that the Nicolatians appear in letters one and three, also recall that the third letter in my view was the Middle Ages, which is also the third age by modern Church academia and secular analysis
Basically, I argue, what category of heresies could Nicolatians be? That is, what primary type of heresy set arose both in the pagan-Rome era and in the Middle Ages in high prominence? Well, I concluded the Dualistic Heresies. More notably, the first heresy off the bat in Church history is Gnosticism. It IS dualistic: it draws a dichotomy between matter and spirit. Matter being evil, spirit being good. Moreover, at least two other significant pagan-Rome-era heresies match dualism:
Again, both of these arose in the first age, Pagan Rome.
We probably know that Marcion was a heretic that rejected the Old Testament. This is true, but even more so: Marcion saw the Old Covenant as dominated by Satan, the god of the physical, and saw the New Covenant as from a different god, the good God of the spiritual. It, too, pitted matter against spirit, like Gnosticism.
Manichaism was similar to these. This heresy would outlast the turning point of the Edict of Milan, and was even the heresy that St Augustine was trapped in before he converted to Catholicism.
This, again, is letter One, Pagan Rome. The Nicolatians, who we are trying to argue can image dualism, are also mentioned in letter THREE. Astonishingly, letter Three, or the Middle Ages, saw a great resurgence of dualism in two greater heresies of the age, namely, the Albigensian Heresy, and the Catharsists. Once again, dualism between bad force of matter, and good force of spirit.
So it fits pretty good.
Now for the second dimension of letter One critique that we put to the side. Here, Christ makes a simple and gentle rebuke, "But I have this against you: you have lost your first love."
The first love that we all need, above all else, is charity, and second, truth.
Now, where have we seen an Apostolic or Christological rebuke for placing some thing or things above charity?
Firstly, 1 COR 13! The famous discourse of love! Here, the perennial Apostle to the Gentiles is calling out the typical Christian community for having such covetousness for the CHARISMS that they fail to desire the REAL gifts: CHARITY! Hence:
"...and if I know all mysteries, and have faith to move mountains, and can heal the sick, but if I have not LOVE, I am NOTHING!"
Hence, the Christ's rebuke in this age of Pagan Rome could very well be pointing to heretical communities that are so absorbed in the signs and wonders of the fleeting charisms, that they have forgotten that in the end, it is charity that matters and not the flashy stuff.
Toward that end, there actually was one notable heretical sect that bragged about their flashy charism of so-called New Prophecy in such a manner that they insisted they were the true Christians and not their opponents.
These were the Montanists. They were a sect that set themselves apart as holier because of a stricter moral ethic (not allowing remarriage after death of a spouse, imposing greater fasts than the regular church, and general stricter ethical standards; Hebrew calendar for Easter; the view that Christians who fell from grace could not be redeemed, veils for women virgins..), and because of a presumed, glaringly supreme charism, the New Prophecy, as it was called. They were apocalyptic, and they considered their enemies mere natural or carnal men, as opposed to themselves, spiritual.
Regarding the aforementioned charisms, we know from our Church history that whereas the miracles and astonishing charisms were prominent and high in degree in the beginning time of the Church, nevertheless, as time progressed, the signs and wonders began to fade [although not completely] because, the Gospel beginning to take hold in multiple, stable communities, the signs and wonders, as they could be termed, were no longer necessary to bring persons to faith. Toward that end, just as we have the Montanists who clung to an unnecessary and glamorous prophecy, too, we read in history that some groups of Christians were clinging to the miracles that were fading, and thereby argued that because their communities had a high presence of the self-same wonders, that it made them the true Christians over and above the Church.
All this shews forth of Pharisaicalism and a cold heart, a lack of love ("You have left your first love"). The Pharisaical formula is one who is devoid of love, who considers himself better than others because of his rigorous code, and who values things that don't matter in place of those that do. For example, the Pharisee sees himself as better than Gentiles and the sinners. He considers himself superior to others on account of his national origin and that he does so many strict rituals better than others, while at the same time having a heart of stone that is far from God, thereby failing to realize that his pathetic ceremonies are meaningless.
Also, in complete parallel, the Montanists enshrine their showy charism of ecstatic prophecy, as it was referred to, while closing their hearts to what matters.
Moreover, all these characteristics are summed up in the word love in the alabaster jar scene: the Pharisee cannot show mercy and compassion on the woman who is a sinner, and Christ calls out his lack of charity with the parable on mercy: the one with 500 coins forgiven loves so much more because they have been forgiven so much more.
To follow this, let us consider an entire other dimension of love in Scripture from a truly perennial discourse, and this time, Christological:
“Peter, do you love Me?”
The issue here has everything to do with mercy for those who fall, and especially clergy who fall. Herein, the Donatist heresy sets in, whose spirit begins, sure enough, before Christianity triumphs over paganism with the Edict of Milan, and so lies within the confines of the first age.
Peter was the supreme mortal leader of Christians. Jesus picked Peter to lead his Church. And Peter's rear was put on the line in the Passion. We all know what happened: HE DENIED JESUS THREE TIMES!
And Peter had to live with that grief until the time of the Resurrection, when Jesus, far from condemning him, forgave him threefold and simultaneously urged him to charity and service.
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO QUESTION THAT CHRIST'S EPIC USE OF THE WORD LOVE IN THE POSITION OF MERCY TOWARD CHURCH LEADERSHIP WHEN IT HAS FAILED AND SUBSEQUENT CALL TO SERVICE IS A SCATHING PROPHECY FOR THE CHURCH TO CONDEMN THE DONATIST TYPE!
But then, what was Donatism? Probably most of us are aware that many Christians, including clergy, failed under the stress of the persecutions and apostatized rather than die for Christ. An initial wave of the heresy that denied that apostasy can be forgiven, and even some other mortal sins like murder or fornication, was Novatianism. Novatians denied that those who apostatized could be readmitted to the communion. This, again, reflects the Pharisaical disposition. The woman bathing the feet of Christ with her tears is a "sinner", not worthy of mercy.
Novatiansim is well situated in the era of pagan Rome, self-same safety of chronology in the midst of the third century as its origin.
Moving forward in time, Donatism focuses especially on the apostate clergy. It denies that prelates retain validity in sacramental operation if in serious sin, and likewise denies that prelates can assume sacramental duties after an apostasy through confession and penance, Hence, Peter should NOT be forgiven. He caved in.
To elaborate, the persecutions of Diocletian raged in the early 300s, up to around 305, especially in North Africa, the origin of our heresy here. Since many clerics offered up sacred texts and so forth to avoid martyrdom, they image the failing Peter who denies our Lord.
Donatism, and a sister sect, the Meleitans, continue the legacy of hard-hearted lack of mercy, arising just barely before the great crossing of the threshold with the Edict of Milan. The Donatists did not want to forgive the errant clergy. The spirit of Donatism is at least a few things: firstly, it means that, as just stated, clergy who apostatize should never be readmitted to the practice of their holy orders. Secondly, it means, in fact, that once a clergy apostatizes, they lose the true power to confect the sacraments validly. Moreover, Donatism is the spirit of the Protestantism: that when a clergy is in serious sin, their sacraments are invalid.
The Church has condemned this: priests and bishops can be in mortal sin yet still effecting valid sacraments. The power of the sacrament is proper to the office, not the character. This is ultimately a stab wound to Our Savior, who not only forgives Peter his supreme failure to witness under duress, but confirms him in his service:
Peter do you love Me? Feed my Sheep.
Peter do you love Me? Tend my Lambs.
Peter do you love Me? Tend my Sheep.
You have lost your first love.
This is the primary problem with the Pharisee: he lacks charity. That is, if it is true that liberals have love but no truths, Pharisees have truths but no love. So they value things that cannot help them without love. They are cold-hearted, unmerciful, bigoted, self-righteous.
We have seen all of this in the loss of love in Pagan Rome:
We have seen the Pharisees that trump out their tassels of Prophecy and hard-core discipline, or other miracles, and consider themselves better because of it, as if, like Benny Hinn, or the Pentecostals in general, the fact that they can wield a sport coat and knock rows of people on their buns by the power of the Spirit, it makes them something; or like the hyper-holy sects of SDA, who eat a plate full of vegetables with no sauce on them for Christmas Eve, who don't drink and smoke, and who "keep the real Sabbath" apart from the rest of the world.
Or the cruel sects that say the Church consists only of the elect, so that, therefore, ministers have no valid power to help you get to heaven if they are great sinners. God's true Church has only holy leaders and only holy people. "If only He knew that this woman was a sinner, He would not touch her."
"But I have this against you: you have lost your first love."