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Revelation 2:5: The Threatened Removal of the Candlestick

Updated: Dec 22, 2019

Verse 5:[1] Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; (Matt. 21:41, 43) or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

[Be mindful[2] (that is, Consider [Grotius, thus Durham]: Thus take μνημονεύειν in 2 Timothy 2:8,[3] and the Hebrew זָכַר often[4] [Grotius]: It includes the act, not only of memory, but also of conscience and affection [Durham]) therefore whence (that is, from what degree of honor [Grotius]) thou hast fallen] That is, How much thou hast diminished with respect to fervor, and how thou hast been made dissimilar to thyself (Menochius): compare thy present state with thy former (Durham). It does not appear that he had laid aside charity altogether, as Ambrose and Haymo maintain, for he was also enduring such great things for Christ at that time; but that he had diminished with respect to that (Ribera).

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen; that is, in what degree thy love was formerly, and compare it with what it is now.

[And, etc., καὶ μετανόησον, καὶ—ποίησον] That is, μετανόησον πρὸς τὸ ποιῆσαι, repent in order to do (Grotius). And return to thy senses (which includes two things, 1. indignation towards sin and themselves on account of sin, 2 Corinthians 7:11; 2. an external and internal change of manners, and amendment of life [Durham]), and do thy previous works (Beza, Piscator), that is, the original works of piety, charity, etc. (Pareus). They take these words ἐξηγητικῶς/exegetically; but I prefer to explain them separately, so that the repentance proposed to the soul might designate the hatred of sin and love of virtue, but the former works might denote the fruits of repentance, as in Matthew 3:8 (Gomar).

And repent; repentance in man, signifieth both the change of the heart and of the actions. And do the first works; recover thy former warmth of love, and zeal for good works.

[But if not, etc., εἰ δὲ μή, ἔρχομαί, etc.] But if by no means (or, if not [Valla], or, otherwise [Valla, Erasmus, Vatablus]), I will come (or, I am coming [Vulgate]; the Present tense indicates haste [Ribera]) against thee (or, to thee [Montanus, Piscator], namely, so that I might punish [Ribera, Menochius], as what precedes and follows teaches: Elsewhere God is said to come in order to help[5] [Ribera]) quickly (that is, sooner than expected [Pareus, similarly Durham]), and remove (ἔρχομαί ταχύ, καὶ κινήσω, I come quickly, and I will remove, is nothing other than, ταχύ κινήσω, I will quickly remove: Thus ἐλθὼν πρόσφερε, coming, offer, Matthew 5:24, and ἐλθὼν θεραπεύσω, coming, I will heal, Matthew 8:7: Thus πορεύου, καὶ ποίει poreu/ou, go and do, Luke 10:37, and πορευθέντες μάθετε, having gone, learn, Matthew 9:13 [Grotius]) the candlestick (He does not say, I will extinguish the lamp, for the kingdom of God never perishes, but is only transferred, Matthew 21:43 [Cotterius]) of thee (emphatically, so that He might magnify the loss, as the loss both of a most excellent thing, and of his own possession [Durham]: And He says thy because Ministers have a special relation to their particular Churches [Durham’s Commentary upon the Book of Revelation 105]) out of its place (Piscator, Beza). Here He calls a candlestick, either, 1. the Episcopal office or dignity, which He threatens to withdraw from Him, either by death, or by the will of the people, or by the force of enemies (Ribera). Or, 2. the Church, from a comparison with Revelation 1:20 (Gomar, similarly Menochius, Durham). I will remove this from its place, that is, from its status (Menochius out of Lapide), so that thou be not the head and Bishop of it; and I will deliver it to another (Menochius, similarly Tirinus, Zegers). I shall cause it to be that thy people will scatter elsewhere, namely, unto those place where there is greater care of the poor (Grotius). Or, it is an Hypallage, thy candlestick I will remove, in the place of, thee I will remove from thy candlestick: Which sort of expressions are not harsh to those speaking enigmatically or Poetically; or, which I prefer, the removal of the Candlestick I interpret as a threat, by which it is indicated that the Church is going to be, not indeed carried or snatched away, but by some tempest of events, moved, driven, and oppressed (More’s Prophetical Exposition of the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia 3:9). Others: I will deprive thy Church of my grace (Gagnæus out of the Greeks), and will carry off the truth and dignity of the Church (Brightman, similarly Durham). Now, this happens in two ways, 1. when the Church is made heretical: 2. when the Gospel either is withdrawn, or made unfruitful, etc. Question 1: How is this threat against the Church a punishment of the minister? Response: On account of the special relation and affection of the latter towards the former, as his joy and crown, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20, and the matter of glorying (Durham). Question 2: Why is the Church punished on account of the sin of the Minister (Durham, thus Pareus)? Response: It is neither rare, nor unjust, for an entire assembly to be punished on account of the sins of one or many; see 1 Corinthians 5 and 11 (Pareus); and 2 Samuel 24 (Durham); for in general the examples of those ruling trickle down to the common people (Pareus). This Church was not free of the sin of the minister (Durham): from the sharing of the punishment is made known the sharing of the sin (Gomar). Question 3: Why does He so threaten this Church, where no external cause of so great a penalty appears? Response: So that He might teach just how little He esteems the form of piety and discipline (in which perhaps they were trusting) without the power and sincerity of it (Durham).

Or else I will come unto thee quickly; if thou do not, I that know thee, and walk in the midst of thee, will show myself an enemy to thee. And will remove thy candlestick out of his place; and unchurch thee, and say unto thee, Lo-ammi, You are not my people.[6] Which threatening is long since made good; for where is now the famous church of Ephesus?

[1] Greek: μνημόνευε οὖν πόθεν ἐκπέπτωκας, καὶ μετανόησον, καὶ τὰ πρῶτα ἔργα ποίησον· εἰ δὲ μή, ἔρχομαί σοι ταχύ, καὶ κινήσω τὴν λυχνίαν σου ἐκ τοῦ τόπου αὐτῆς, ἐὰν μὴ μετανοήσῃς.

[2] Greek: μνημόνευε.

[3] 2 Timothy 2:8: “Remember (μνημόνευε) that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel…”

[4] For example, Ecclesiastes 5:19, 20: “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember (כִּ֚י לֹ֣א הַרְבֵּ֔ה יִזְכֹּ֖ר, for he shall not much consider) the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.”

[5] For example, Hosea 6:3.

[6] Hosea 1:9.

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