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Revelation 2:4: Loss of the First Love (Sadness)

Updated: Oct 12, 2019

Verse 4:[1] Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

[But, etc., ἀλλ᾽ ἔχω κατὰ σοῦ] But I have something against thee (Beza, Piscator), that is, That I complain concerning thee (Grotius, similarly Beza). Concerning this expression, see Matthew 5:23[2] (Grotius).

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee; something to accuse thee of, and blame thee for.

[Because, etc., ὅτι—πρώτην ἀφῆκας] Because thy first love (that is, former, as in John 1:15,[3] in which place see what things are said, that is, that love so fervent: A certain weariness is wont to creep in with time even upon keen souls: Hence they are to be stirred as if from sleep both by others through admonitions, and by themselves through prayers and attentive meditations [Grotius]) thou hast laid aside (Beza), or, abandoned (Piscator). Thou hast remitted much of that charity, not of all sorts, but of that burning sort (Grotius): thou hast left (Erasmus, Montanus). Not simply, but relatively (Gomar), as far as the exercise and fruits of it (Durham); with respect to degree and fervor (Gomar, similarly Durham, Hammond), both in the habit of the soul, and in the use and operations of that (Gomar). Here He reprimands his lukewarmness in good deeds (Ribera, Pareus out of Ambrose), in the conversion of the Gentiles, and the stirring up of Christians unto better works; either, because he sees that the Ephesians worshippers of Diana were tenaciously resisting him, or, because he was disheartened by the long continuance of the labors (Menochius): that is to say, Thou art much in external reformation, profession, and zeal, but a lively passion in fulfilling thy duties is wanting to thee (Durham). He understands love here, either, 1. towards neighbors (Gagnæus out of the Greeks, similarly Durham), that is, beneficence towards those in need (Pareus out of Andreas Cæsarius), the care of the poor. This care always indeed had regard to Bishops, but especially was it burdening them in the new Churches where there were as yet no Deacons (Grotius). Or, 2. towards his flock, which he was neglecting, permitting some to perish through ignorance, others through the infirmity of the flesh, etc. See John 21:16, 17 (Brightman): or, 3. towards God (Durham, thus Camerarius), or Christ (Hammond, More): whom in the beginning he loved more than Father, Mother, etc.;[4] but afterwards this love was waning in them (More’s Prophetical Exposition of the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia 3:8), and many were beginning to act the part of Gnostics in this matter, and to consider a denial of the faith as a valueless matter (More, similarly Hammond); which was the doctrine and practice of the Gnostics (Hammond). [Concerning which Reverend Hammond explains at length.]

Because thou hast left thy first love; of late thou hast not been so warm in the propagation of my gospel, and maintaining my truth. The love of many in this church, both toward God and their brethren, probably was cooled, though not wholly extinguished.

[1] Greek: ἀλλ᾽ ἔχω κατὰ σοῦ, ὅτι τὴν ἀγάπην σου τὴν πρώτην ἀφῆκας.

[2] Matthew 5:23: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee (ἔχει τι κατὰ σοῦ)…”

[3] John 1:15: “John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me (ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν).”

[4] See Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26.

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