What does Revelation 2:4 mean?
ESV: But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
NIV: Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
NASB: But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
CSB: But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first.
NLT: 'But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!
KJV: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
NKJV: Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Verse Commentary:
Having commended the church at Ephesus for its doctrinal integrity and perseverance in the face of adversity, Jesus reveals in verse 4 what He found lacking in the Ephesian church. It had abandoned the love that characterized its early history. What remained was devotion to the truth, but not devotion to the Lord.

What would a marriage be like if a wife performed all the duties of a wife but without genuine love for her husband? What would a marriage be like if a husband continued to work to provide an income for His family and kept on performing the usual household duties that fall to a husband, but no longer loved his wife? Wouldn't the marriage be a cold, sterile relationship? On the other hand, duties performed out of love for one's spouse gives meaning and warmth to one's marriage.

The decline of the church at Ephesus from a deep love for Jesus to a dead orthodoxy prefigures the history of the early Church from Pentecost to the mid-second century. The Ephesian church's love for Jesus had grown cold, leaving only a slavish obedience to rules and doctrines. Jesus' rebuke needs to be taken seriously today by every church. Sound doctrine and service are important, but they should be grounded in a deep love for Jesus.
Verse Context:
Revelation 2:1–7 is the first letter Jesus dictated to John, intended for the church at Ephesus. This congregation is praised for patient endurance and for rightly rejecting false apostles. Despite such an excellent beginning, however, Ephesus had abandoned its first love. They were drifting into coldness and rote religiosity. Jesus instructs the church to remember its early days, repent, and conduct itself as it had done initially. He promises a reward to the victor.
Chapter Summary:
The contents of Revelation 2 are miniature letters to four churches, dictated by Jesus to John. Ephesus and Smyrna were coastal cities, whereas Pergamum and Thyatira were inland cities. Three more such letters are in Revelation 3. Each of these messages contains a unique description of Jesus, a command, a promise. All but one—the church in Laodicea—receive some commendation. All but two of the seven letters—those to the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia—also contain a critical rebuke. Like churches today, most of the congregations addressed by Jesus had both good characteristics and at least one point which needed correction.
Chapter Context:
In chapter 1, John introduced his order from Jesus Christ: to write out a message to seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:9–11). Here in this chapter, John writes to the church in Ephesus, the church in Smyrna, the church in Pergamum, and the church in Thyatira. Chapter 3 will continue with messages to the other three churches. The rest of Revelation will explain future events connected to the ''end times.''
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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