“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4
Hello friend! Again, I apologize for the temporary lag in posting in this series. Time in the day is limited, and sometimes other things have to take priority.
As readers may recall, we have been in verse 4 of the letter to the church at Ephesus, and have been discussing what it might mean that they had lost, or abandoned, their first love. In the first post on that, we discussed the loss of this love as sort of a fading of fervor such as married couples sometimes experience in the later years of their relationship. Next, we discussed how perhaps our love for doctrine, while important, might actually have taken the place of love for one another and for the love of Jesus and our personal relationship with Him.
I want to lead with a comment from ourladyofblahblahblah, on a previous post in this series. Incidentally, I think that wins the prize for blog name of the century. Anyway she had this to say:
“Im not entirely sure i would agree that the first love that they lost was their love for the Lord. Out of curiosity, I checked a Greek interlinear for the word we render as “love” in the english translation – it is *agapen*, which suggests charitable love, service towards one another, and that suggests to me that it refers to the brotherly love they once had for each other (which Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians mentions they are well known for). This fits – they’ve got their doctrine down, they work tirelessly, they do all the things that would seem to indicate that their love for the Lord is alive and well…but perhaps they are not loving each other particularly well. (As a member of a church body known for its concern for purity of doctrine, i can tell you i have seen how concern for doctrine, when put above love for neighbour, can tear a church apart. When doctrine is being used like a hammer to crush those beneath it…well, something has gone terribly wrong.)”
I have no problem with the above statement at all. We certainly can’t say dogmatically what the “first love,” really was; that is precisely why we are poking around in various possibilities. It could be one of them, some of them, or all of them. I agree with what my dear friend said, and want to expand on it a bit.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” 1 Corinthians 13:4
I include that because follows next is an excerpt from a series I wrote on 1 Corinthians 13. It’s actually most of the entire post:
“I am going to stir up a spot of trouble right away today. I am a King James Bible guy. After you all throw things at me, please hear me out. I also like lots of other translations and find them useful. I have numerous translations as well as numerous Study Bibles by different Bible teachers. It’s all good. I, however, do all of my reading from the King James Bible and that is what I use in this Blog. The main reason I do that is simple: those King James translators knew how to use some English! King James English is often difficult, but it is also often very accurately descriptive as well. We have a great case of that descriptiveness in the verses above.
1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4 are the two biggest descriptions of love found in the Bible and a verse from each is included in this article. See anything that arouses your interest? Of course, you do! In 1 John the translators consistently used the word “love” to describe love; it is used some 27 times. In 1 Corinthians, the translators used the word “charity” to describe love; there it is used 9 times. What we have to understand is that the original word in all cases is some form of “agape”
Sometimes when we read 1 Corinthians 13, we tend to dismiss the word used by simply saying, “Oh, that just means love there.” Is it possible that there is more meaning there? Let’s look at that quickly. The King James translators were not stupid, they surely knew they could have just used our word “love” in each case; they didn’t just become confused. Additionally, language translation is sometimes both art and science and word for word translations do not always work. Translators sometimes have to look at the original intent of meaning they see in the original language and put the same meaning in the new language.
Let’s look briefly at the English language usage of the words, “Love” and “Charity.” I think in most of our minds a difference would come to mind immediately; it does in mine. The use of the word “Charity” seems to imply an action; it seems to apply that something is happening versus something simply being felt. Does that sound familiar?”
So, this church was busy; this church nailed doctrine. Had they forgotten another reason our Lord formed the church as a local, called out assembly? Friends, love is far more than just a mushy feeling; I would maintain that in some ways, feelings don’t even matter. Putting actions behind our profession of love is what really matters. I can’t will myself to love the unloveable, but I can will myself to put my supposed impression in action and take care of the unloveable. That action, propelled by the power of the Holy Spirit to change me, will result in real love, every time.
Are we so wrapped up in “doing,” and doctrine that we forget that we are a body composed of real people, with real issues and real needs? If we have, then we may have abandoned our first love.