Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 2:4

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Affections;   Backsliders;   Church;   Ephesus;   Instability;   Love;   Lukewarmness;   Scofield Reference Index - Satan;   Thompson Chain Reference - Backsliding;   Deterioration-Development;   Love;   The Topic Concordance - Hate;   Repentance;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Affections, the;   Backsliding;   Love to Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ephesus;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Apocalyptic literature;   Ephesus;   John, letters of;   Love;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Patience of God;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Peter, the Epistles of;   Thyatira;   Timothy, the First Epistle to;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Letter Form and Function;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Asia;   Magi;   Nicolas;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Brotherly Love;   Ephesus ;   Love;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ephesians, Epistle to the;   Song of Solomon;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sepharvaim;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ephesus;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Tim'othy;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Chain;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for April 1;   Every Day Light - Devotion for March 25;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee - The clause should be read, according to the Greek, thus: But I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love. They did not retain that strong and ardent affection for God and sacred things which they had when first brought to the knowledge of the truth, and justified by faith in Christ.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee - Notwithstanding this general commendation, there are things which I cannot approve.

Because thou hast left thy first love - Thou hast “remitted” ( ἀφῆκας aphēkas) or let down thy early love; that is, it is less glowing and ardent than it was at first. The love here referred to is evidently love to the Saviour; and the idea is, that, as a church, they had less of this than formerly characterized them. In this respect they were in a state of declension; and, though they still maintained the doctrines of his religion, and opposed the advocates of error, they showed less ardor of affection toward him directly than they had formerly done. In regard to this we may remark:

(1) That what is here stated of the church at Ephesus is not uncommon:

(a) Individual Christians often lose much of their first love. It is true, indeed, that there is often an appearance of this which does not exist in reality. Not a little of the ardor of young converts is often nothing more than the excitement of animal feeling, which will soon die away of course, though their real love may not be diminished, or may be constantly growing stronger. When a son returns home after a long absence, and meets his parents and brothers and sisters, there is a glow, a warmth of feeling, a joyousness of emotion, which cannot be expected to continue always, and which he may never be able to recall again, though he may be ever growing in real attachment to his friends and to his home.

(b) Churches remit the ardor of their first love. They are often formed under the reviving influences of the Holy Spirit when many are converted, and are warm-hearted and zealous young converts. Or they are formed from other churches that have become cold and dead, from which the new organization, embodying the life of the church, was constrained to separate. Or they are formed under the influence of some strong and mighty truth that has taken possession of the mind, and that gives a special character to the church at first. Or they are formed with a distinct reference to promoting some one great object in the cause of the Redeemer. So the early Christian churches were formed. So the church in Germany, France, Switzerland, and England came out from the Roman communion under the influence of the doctrine of justification by faith. So the Nestorians in former ages, and the Moravians in modern times, were characterized by warm zeal in the cause of missions.

So the Puritans came out from the established church of England at one time, and the Methodists at another, warmed with a holier love to the cause of evangelical religion than existed in the body from which they separated. So many a church is formed now amidst the exciting scenes of a revival of religion, and in the early days of its history puts to shame the older and the slumbering churches around them. But it need scarcely be said that this early zeal may die away, and that the church, once so full of life and love, may become as cold as those that went before it, or as those from which it separated, and that there may be a necessity for the formation of new organizations that shall be fired with ardor and zeal. One has only to look at Germany, at Switzerland, at various portions of the reformed churches elsewhere; at the Nestorians, whose zeal for missions long since departed; or even at the Moravians, among whom it has so much declined; at various portions of the Puritan churches, and at many an individual church formed under the warm and exciting feelings of a revival of religion, to see that what occurred at Ephesus may occur elsewhere.

(2) the same thing that occurred there may be expected to follow in all similar cases. The Saviour governs the church always on essentially the same principles; and it is no uncommon thing that, when a church has lost the ardor of its first love, it is suffered more and more to decline, until “the candlestick is removed” - until either the church becomes wholly extinct, or until vital piety is wholly gone, and all that remains is the religion of forms.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-2.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

But I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love.

What a shocker is such a statement as this. The charge is not that they were in danger of leaving their first love, but that they had already done so! A lot of ink has been wasted on the explanation of "what" exactly was their first love. The first love of every true church is our Lord himself; and what is indicated here is the departure (in heart) of the Ephesian church from their Lord who had redeemed them. Oh yes, they were still busy with all kinds of tremendous works; but, significantly, these were not designated as "the work of faith." They were running their religion from a center of affection, not in the Lord, but in themselves. Of course, they were still advocating and defending all of the great doctrines of the faith, but the love of the Saviour was missing.

Some very interesting postulations have been presented regarding the situation here, such as the following:

Their intolerance of imposture and their hatred of heresy had bred an inquisitorial spirit which left no room for love. They had set out to be defenders of the faith ... only to discover that in the battle they had lost the one quality that really matters.[14]

While true enough, in a sense, such an interpretation seems to imply that it was their very loyalty to the faith that resulted in their lapse. Their hatred of heresy "bred" their defection; and that cannot be true. Whatever caused their failure, it was not intolerance of imposture, nor hatred of heresy. "Only the pure Word produces a pure faith, and ... pure love."[15] To suppose that brotherly love could exist without a hatred of heresy and intolerance of imposition is to suppose that apples can grow where there is no tree. "Love itself is misconceived when it is supposed that it can be great and strong without faithfulness to the Word."[16]

Some of the interpreters of this passage seem to be of the opinion that love of the brothers is here contrasted with sound doctrine, and that, of course, the latter is more important; but such teaching is not in the passage. As a matter of fact, it is an addition to the word of God to affirm that, "A slackened sense of the obligation to mutual love formed the cardinal sin at Ephesus."[17] That such a lessening of mutual love had indeed occurred is doubtless true, but it was not the cardinal sin; that was "their leaving their first love, who is Christ." A failure in the Christian's heart of his love for Christ results quickly in all of the other failures.

We should not pass this verse without noting the allegations often based upon it to the effect that this slackening of love and zeal must indicate that at least a generation had elapsed following the days of Paul before such a defection could have occurred. Almost all of those who prefer a 95 A.D. date for this book rely heavily upon such an assumption. However, as Plummer said, "This verse is certainly no obstacle to the theory that the Apocalypse was written about A.D. 68."[18] The notion that many years must have elapsed prior to the failure of the Ephesians does not take account of many facts given in Scripture. The Galatians defected from the gospel within two or three years (at the most) after they were converted. The frequent apostasies of Israel in the Old Testament often occurred at once after periods of loyalty. Only a few days elapsed while Moses was on Mount Sinai, but that was plenty of time for Aaron to make the golden calf. Not only do the theories of many years preceding the lapse ignore such Scriptures, but they are grounded in an ignorance of human nature. The same city that welcomed Jesus Christ on Sunday with palms and hosannas shouted him to the cross on Thursday! No "thirty or forty years" was necessary to produce that!

[14] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 31.

[15] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 86.

[16] Ibid., p. 87.

[17] James Moffatt, Expositor's Greek New Testament, Vol. V (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 351.

[18] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 68.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee,.... So the Jews represent God saying, concerning their fathers, "Abraham", &c. יש לי עליהם "I have something against them"F1Pesikta Rabbati apud Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 60. 4. . Christ has nothing against his people, his faithful ministers, and true churches, in a judicial way, or to their condemnation, for there is none to them that are in him; but he has often many things to complain of in them, and to rebuke and chastise them for, in a way of providence: and what he had against the church at Ephesus, and against the churches in the period which that represents, follows,

because thou hast left thy first love: by which is meant, not hospitality to strangers, or an affectionate care of the poor of the church, or a zealous concern to feed the flock, and maintain church discipline; but the love of the saints to God, and Christ, and one another, which appeared at the beginning of this church state, when they were all of one heart and one soul, as generally at first conversion love is the warmest; and so it was at the first planting of Gospel churches, and therefore here called first love. Now this, though it was not lost, for the true grace of love can never be lost, yet it was left; it abated in its heat and fervour; there was a remissness in the exercise of it; what our Lord had foretold should be before the destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled in this period of time, the love of many waxed cold, Matthew 24:12; through the prevalence of corruption in some; and through an over love to the world, as in Demas, and others; and through a desire of ease and freedom from reproach and persecution; and through the introduction of errors, which damp the heat of love, and spirit of religion; and through the contentions and divisions among themselves, as at Corinth, Galatia, and elsewhere, which greatly weakened their love to one another, and to divine things; and which was very displeasing to Christ, who, for the restoring of them, gives the following advice. Compare with this 2 Timothy 1:15.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Nevertheless I have [somewhat] a against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

(a) To deal with you for.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-2.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

because — Translate, “I have against thee (this) that,” etc. It is not a mere somewhat”; it is everything. How characteristic of our gracious Lord, that He puts foremost all He can find to approve, and only after this notes the shortcomings!

left thy first love — to Christ. Compare 1 Timothy 5:12, “cast off their first faith.” See the Ephesians‘ first love, Ephesians 1:15. This epistle was written under Domitian, when thirty years had elapsed since Paul had written his Epistle to them. Their warmth of love had given place to a lifeless orthodoxy. Compare Paul‘s view of faith so called without love, 1 Corinthians 13:2.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-2.html. 1871-8.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

4. Here the Spirit reveals that these people, with all their sterling orthodoxy, were in a back-slidden state, having lost their first love, instead of exchanging it for perfect love, as the Lord willeth.

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-2.html.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

This against thee, that (κατα σου οτιkata sou hoti). For the phrase “have against” see Matthew 5:23. The οτιhoti clause is the object of εχωechō didst leave (απηκεςaphēkes). First aorist active (kappa aorist, but with ες̇es instead of ας̇as) of απιημιaphiēmi a definite and sad departure.

Thy first love (την αγαπην σου την πρωτηνtēn agapēn sou tēn prōtēn). “Thy love the first.” This early love, proof of the new life in Christ (1 John 3:13.), had cooled off in spite of their doctrinal purity. They had remained orthodox, but had become unloving partly because of the controversies with the Nicolaitans.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Somewhat

Not in the text, and unnecessary. The following clause is the object of I have. “I have against thee that thou hast left,” etc. “It is indeed a somewhat which the Lord has against the Ephesian Church; it threatens to grow to be an everything; for see the verse following” (Trench). For the phrase have against, see Matthew 5:23; Mark 11:25; Colossians 3:13.

Hast left ( ἀφῆκας )

Rev., more correctly, rendering the aorist, didst leave. The verb originally means to send, away or dismiss. See on John 4:3.

First love

Compare Jeremiah 2:2. The first enthusiastic devotion of the Church to her Lord, under the figure of conjugal love.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-2.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

But I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first love — That love for which all that church was so eminent when St. Paul wrote his epistle to them. He need not have left this. He might have retained it entire to the end. And he did retain it in part, or there could not have remained so much of what was commendable in him. But he had not kept, as he might have done, the first tender love in its vigour and warmth. Reader, hast thou?

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-2.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Thy first love. The passage (Ephesians 1:15,16) addressed to the same church at an earlier day, by the apostle Paul, contains a striking allusion to the strength of their early love for the Savior and his cause. As is very often the case with Christians, it would seem that their zeal (Revelation 2:2,3) had somewhat outlasted their love.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-2.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Ver. 4. Thou hast left thy first love] Those first ripe fruits that Christ’s soul desireth, Micah 7:1, that kindness of youth, that spousal love, that God so well remembereth, Jeremiah 2:2. This Ephesus had left, and so became Aphesis, remiss and reckless, possessed with a spirit of sloth and indevotion. And surely he is a rare and happy man that can say in a spiritual sense (as it was said of Moses), that after long profession of zeal, his sight is not waxed dim, his holy heat not abated, that runs not retrograde, as did Solomon, Asa, others, with whom the end was worse than the beginning.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-2.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 2:4

What was Wrong in Ephesus.

I. The spectacle Ephesus presented was that of a Church working most laboriously and patiently, the machinery kept steadily in motion, all at work and always at work, but with waning love, the fires going down. The word "somewhat" in our English version suggests that the evil was comparatively slight. In point of fact, however, there is no "somewhat" in the original, and the charge is really a very grave and serious one: "I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love." It is as if the doctor, called in to prescribe for what you deem a trifling ailment, should startle you by pronouncing, "There is disease of the heart."

II. How is this decline of love to be accounted for? The answer must vary according to the case. In the onset we must be clear about this: that it is not due to any capricious action on the part of Christ, to any unaccountable desertion of the soul by Him, to any arbitrary hiding of Himself behind a veil, far less to any change in His heart. (1) One man tries to retain the joy of conversion all his days, without making any progress or seeking anything beyond. A kind of fitful emotion is kindled, a flashing up of affection with vows of fresh consecration and a better life, followed in a little while by apathy and gloom, and he resigns himself helplessly to let things take their course. This cause of declension is operating today more widely and subtly than many of us think. (2) Another cause of waning love is the abuse of self-examination. It is beset with many and most subtle dangers. (3) Again, a Christian man becomes absorbed in worldly pursuits and enjoyments. He has no time for spiritual pursuits, for meditation, for making acquaintance with things unseen and eternal. Can any one be surprised that he loses his first love? Would it not be a miracle if he kept it? Or again, there are worldly friendships, followed in no long space by worldly conformity. "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?"

J. Culross, Thy First Love, p. 62.


References: Revelation 2:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 217; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 42. Revelation 2:4, Revelation 2:5.—Ibid., Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1926.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/revelation-2.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 2:4. Thou hast left thy first love. Not quite forsaken, but remitted and relaxed the former love and zeal; which is condemned, and for which they are dreadfully threatened; because the angel and his church, notwithstanding their zeal against the false apostles, by giving way to them at last, or from other causes, had, in a measure, forsaken their first love which they bore to the Lord Jesus. It is very plain, that these epistles, though inscribed to the governors of the churches, are directed to the churches themselves, as represented by them, just as the Jewish church was represented by Joshua their high-priest, Zechariah 3:1. But it is not improbable, that where some of the churches are blamed, there might be in their ministers some faults, correspondent to those charged upon the society; and particularly that the zeal of this minister of Ephesus might be declining.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-2.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

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

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.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-2.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

оставил первую любовь твою Быть христианином означает любить Господа Иисуса Христа (Ин. 14:21, 23; 1Кор. 16:22). Но у Ефесян страсть ко Христу была подменена холодным механическим обрядом. Чистота их доктрин и морали, их неугасшее стремление к правде и благочинная служба не смогли заменить оставленной любви.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-2.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Left thy first love; for the abatement of which no steadfastness in outward services can be a compensation, since it is the heart that Christ desires.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-2.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

3. Rebuke2:4

The Ephesians, however, were serving Jesus Christ and maintaining orthodoxy as a habit rather than out of fervent love for their Savior (cf. Ephesians 1:15-16). Many commentators, however, took the first love as a reference to the Ephesians" love for one another (cf. Acts 20:35; Ephesians 1:15). [Note: See John R. W. Stott, What Christ Thinks of the Church, p27.] Yet the emphasis in all these letters on the congregations" allegiance to Jesus Christ seems to favor the view that love for Him is in view here. Genuine believers are in view. [Note: Richard C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John"s Revelation, pp86-87.] They did what was correct but for the wrong reason. Service and orthodoxy are important, but Jesus Christ wants our love too.

"It is only as we love Christ fervently that we can serve Him faithfully." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:572.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-2.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 2:4. Commendation has been bestowed; the deserved blame that had been incurred now follows: Nevertheless I have against thee that thou didst let go thy first love. The Authorised Version is here materially injured by the insertion of the word ‘somewhat,’ to which there is nothing in the original to correspond. The declension was a serious and not a slight one,—the letting go the ‘kindness of her youth,’ the ‘love of her espousals’ (Jeremiah 2:2), the love with which the church had met her Lord ‘in the day of His espousals, and in the day of the gladness of His heart’ (Song of Solomon 3:11). Nothing but the love of the bride can satisfy the Bridegroom; all zeal for His honour, if He is to value it, must flow from love, and love must feed its flame. There is no contradiction between the state now described and that in Revelation 2:2-3. Nor is there any need to think that these latter verses apply only to the ‘angel’ as if he were a distinct personality, while this verse applies to the church at large. The history of the Christian Church has been too full of zeal without love to justify any doubt as to the verisimilitude of the picture. Let the times immediately subsequent to the successful struggle against Arianism, and again to the Reformation in Germany, testify to the fact.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-2.html. 1879-90.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Revelation 2:4. Nevertheless, I have somewhat to allege against thee — Exemplary as thou art in many respects; or, as somewhat is not in the original, the verse may be properly read, I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love — Namely, the zeal and fervour of it, which thou didst manifest to me and my cause; that love for which the church at Ephesus was so eminent when St. Paul wrote his epistle to them. Neither they nor their pastors need to have left this; they might have retained it entire to the end. And they did retain it in part, otherwise there could not have remained so much of what is commendable in them. But they had not kept, as they might have done, the first tender, affectionate love in its vigour and warmth. Reader, has the love of God, of Christ, and of his people, been shed abroad in thy heart? And hast thou retained it in all its fervour and efficacy? If not, the following exhortation is addressed to thee. “It is very plain,” says Doddridge, “that these epistles, though inscribed to the angels or pastors of the churches, are directed to the churches themselves, as represented by them. Just as the Jewish Church was represented by Joshua their high-priest, Zechariah 3:1. But it is not improbable that where some of the churches are blamed, there might be in their ministers some faults correspondent to those charged on the society; and particularly that the zeal of this minister of Ephesus might be declining. There is, I think, no reason to be anxious with regard to Timothy’s character on this account; for it can never be proved that he was a stated pastor of the church of Ephesus, though such confident things have been said concerning it on very slender foundations.”

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/revelation-2.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

hast left = didst leave.

thy, &c. Compare Deuteronomy 7:7-9. Jeremiah 2:1, Jeremiah 2:2. Ezekiel 16:6-10.

love. App-135. Only here and Revelation 2:19 in Rev.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-2.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Somewhat ... because - rather, 'I have against thee (this) that,' etc. Not a mere "somewhat:" it is everything. How characteristic of our gracious Lord, that He puts foremost all He can find to approve, and only afterward notes the shortcomings!

Left thy first love - to Christ. Compare 1 Timothy 5:12. See their first love, Ephesians 1:15. This letter was written under Domitian, thirty years since Paul had written to them. Their warmth had given place to lifeless orthodoxy. Compare Paul's view of faith so-called without love, 1 Corinthians 13:2.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-2.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee.—Better, I have against thee that thou didst let go. This is the fault, and it is no trifle which is blamed, as the word “somewhat” (which is not to be found in the original) might be taken to imply; for the decay of love is the decay of that without which all other graces are as nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), since “all religion is summed up in one word, Love. God asks this; we cannot give more; He cannot take less” (Norman Macleod, Life, i., p. 324). Great as the fault is, it is the fault which Love alone would have detected. “Can any one more touchingly rebuke than by commencing, ‘Thou no longer lovest me enough?’” It is the regretful cry of the heavenly Bridegroom, recalling the early days of His Bride’s love, the kindness of her youth, the love of her espousals (Jeremiah 2:2. Comp. Hosea 2:15). It is impossible not to see some reference in this to the language of St. Paul (which must have been familiar to the Ephesian Christians) in Ephesians 5:23-33, where human love is made a type of the divine.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
I have
14,20
because
3:14-17; Jeremiah 2:2-5; Matthew 24:12,13; Philippians 1:9; 3:13-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:9,10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 6:10,11
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 11:2 - Solomon;  Psalm 85:8 - but;  Haggai 1:9 - Because;  Matthew 25:7 - GeneralMark 10:21 - One thing;  Romans 12:11 - fervent;  Philippians 3:16 - whereto;  1 Timothy 5:12 - their;  Hebrews 13:1 - General1 Peter 1:22 - see;  Revelation 2:19 - the last;  Revelation 3:2 - strengthen;  Revelation 3:15 - that

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-2.html.

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

BLAMED.

Revelation 2:4. — "But I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love." Here is disclosed the root of Church and individual failure: heart departure from Christ. The fine gold had become dim. The flower was fading. The first-named fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22), and that was but faintly seen, yet in Paul's day the Church in Ephesus was noted for its "love unto all the saints," a love begotten by love. When love, the very kernel of Christianity (1 Corinthians 13:1-13), its crown too, and distinguishing glory is wanting, the moral power of Church and individual life is gone. Things may appear outwardly fair and promising, and none but an Omniscient eye may see the lack inwardly, coldness of heart to Christ. "Thou hast left thy first love" was the first step in the Church's downward career (compare with Matthew 24:48). The loss of virgin love is a serious matter, and not to be regarded as a mere "somewhat," as in the Authorised Version. "But I have against thee" — first love given up. "But I have a few things against thee" (v. 14) — persons allowed in the midst holding the doctrine of Balaam, and others holding the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. "But I have against thee" (v. 20) — Jezebel permitted to corrupt with her loathsome doctrines. Observe that in each instance the "But I have against thee" is in marked contrast with approval ungrudgingly bestowed.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sor/revelation-2.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Nevertheless. This single word conveys a very important truth, namely, while the Lord does not fail to see all the good a disciple does, yet that will not cause Him to accept the service unless it is correct as a whole. Left thy first love. This phrase may he illustrated by the warmth of feeling that exists in the first part of the relation of husband and wife. The word love is from .AGAPE and its chief meaning is to have that regard for another that will cause one to be interested in his welfare and happiness. Such a love will prompt one even to "go out of his way" to do things to please the other. Likewise a Christian should have such a feeling for his brother and for Christ who is the bridegroom of the church. This going "out of his way" does not mean to go beyond the lawful regulations, for that would not be pleasing to a bridegroom regardless of its motive. But there are countless instances where a Christian can make a special exertion to show his love for the Lord. The church at Ephesus had fallen into the frame of mind where it performed its services from the legal standpoint only, and it had ceased to be a "labor of love" as Paul mentions in 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-2.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 2:4

Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

"Nevertheless"

or not withstanding all these good things in which Christ found and approved in this Church, yet all was not well, something was blame-worthy, for which Christ did gently reprove her, and call her to repent and to reform.

"thou has left thy first love"

She had not left the object of her love, the LORD Jesus, whom she loved, { Revelation 2:2-3} but she had cooled in her spiritual affections to Christ and to his saints, which she had manifested in the day of her first espousals; which Christ well remembered and here minds of, as God did his Israel of old { Jeremiah 2:2-3} They were not so kind to Christ and his saints formerly. Christ takes it unkindly, when his churches, ministers, or saints cool their spiritual affections towards himself, or any of his.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-2.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 2:4. But I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love. Bengel: "I have against thee. This is thrice said in the way of exception against those, who along with their good were chargeable with shortcoming, Revelation 2:14; Revelation 2:20. We have a similar form of speech in Matthew 5:23. If we must make it up with a brother, how much more with the Lord, and that without delay." That in the place of the first love we must not put the earlier, appears from Revelation 2:19, where the last works are set over against the first; also from 1 Timothy 5:12, and especially the original passage Jeremiah 2:2, "I remember the holiness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, thy walking after me in the wilderness, in a land not sown." That first love we see still flourishing so long as Paul's connection with the Ephesians lasts. Nothing in the context leads to a limitation of the love, as for example in Ephesians 1:15, Colossians 1:4, where the subject discoursed of is love to all the saints; so that we must take it in its largest compass, as at Matthew 24:12, and the more so with John, as it is one of his characteristics to combine together the love of God, the love of our neighbour, and brotherly love; comp. 1 John 4:16. That the love here is not the mere love of feeling, but active love, is clear not only from Revelation 2:5, where the first works are spoken of, but also from Revelation 2:19, where those of Thyatira are commended for that in which the Ephesians here are blamed. There the most unwearied application to active service is mentioned as the great proof of love. Still these are but the particular manifestations, and the grand point always is, that the living source actually exists within; for where this fails, the works that are done are only outwardly and seemingly good.

The misunderstanding of Revelation 2:2 could not fail to give rise to false views also of the verse before us. Thus Vitringa supposes, that in Revelation 2:2-3 the earlier state of the church was described, and here the present one. But against this is the, "Thou canst not" in Revelation 2:2, and the "Thou hast," in Revelation 2:3; and so also in Revelation 2:6. Others, after the example of Grotius, would restrict the love to deeds of kindness toward the poor, a view that is opposed by what has been already advanced, by the fundamental passage in Jeremiah, and by a comparison of the Epistle to the Ephesians, comp. Ephesians 3:18. Also according to Revelation 2:5, the shortcoming is not of a special nature; it concerns the ground-work of Christianity. The root itself was dying away.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-2.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.Nevertheless—The turning point from commendation to reproof.

Somewhat—Not in the Greek, which would read, I have against thee that thou hast left, etc.

First love—The glow of holy life at their first conversion (Acts 19,) and so beautifully recognised in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. Hengstenberg remarks, “That first love we see still flourishing so long as Paul’s connexion with the Ephesians lasts.”

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-2.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 2:4. Brotherly love, an early and authentic proof of the faith; as in Revelation 2:19, 2 John 1:5-6, 3 John 1:6, and the striking parallel of Matthew 24:12 (see 10) where, as at Corinth (see also Did. xvi. 3) party-spirit and immorality threatened its existence. Jealous regard for moral or doctrinal purity, and unwavering loyalty in trial, so far from necessarily sustaining the spirit of charity, may exist side by side, as here, with censoriousness, suspicion, and quarrelling. Hence the neglect of brotherly love, which formed a cardinal fault in contemporary gnosticism (i.e., 1 John 2:9; 1 Timothy 1:5 f.), may penetrate the very opposition to such error. During any prolonged strain put upon human nature, especially in a small society driven jealously to maintain its purity, temper is prone to make inroads on affection and forbearance; it was inevitable also that opportunities for this should be given in early Christianity, where party-leaders tended to exaggerate either the liberal or the puritan element in the gospel. When Apollonius of Tyana visited Ephesus, one of the first topics he raised was the duty of unselfish charity (Vit. Apoll. iv. 3). The historical reference here is probably to the temporary decline of the Ephesian çhurch after Paul’s departure (see Acts 20:29 f., etc.) Its revival took place under the ministry of the Johannine circle, who—carrying on the spirit of Paulinism with independent vigour—made it the most prominent centre of Christianity in the East. With Revelation 2:2-4, compare Pliny, H. N. ii. 18: “deus est mortali iuuare mortalem, et haec ad aeter-nam gloriam uia”; also Pirke Aboth, ii. 15, where R. Jehoshua, a contemporary Jewish sage, says: “an evil eye [i.e., envy, niggardliness], and the evil nature, and hatred of mankind put a man out of the world” (cf.1 John 3:15). This emphasis upon brotherly love as the dominant characteristic of the church and the supreme test of genuine faith, is early Christian, however, rather than specifically Johannine (see the account ol the young aristocratic martyr Vettius Epagathus, Ep. Lugd.). The purity which is not peaceable cannot be adequate to the demands of Jesus, and nowhere did this need reinforcement more than in the townships of Asia Minor, where factiousness and division constantly spoiled their guilds and mutual relations.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-2.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

4. You do not love me. A very serious charge! Paul had planted the church here about 52 A.D. (Acts 18:19-21). This church was more than forty years old as Christ dictates the letter to John. A second generation has grown up who do not have the intense enthusiasm, spirit, and love which the first generation church had. Christ was not “real” to them. (Compare Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7; Judges 2:10.)They were fiercely zealous for truth, yet they did not love Christ! [This lack of love characterized the Pharisees. They were fanatics for truth (as they understood it) but despised everybody else (Luke 18:9-12). One who despises others, will come to despise God as well!]

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-2.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.