Monday, May 02, 2011

Keep the Love

Revelation 2:4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

4 ἀλλὰ ἔχω κατὰ σοῦ ὅτι τὴν ἀγάπην σου τὴν πρώτην ἀφῆκες.

This is one of those verses where different translations communicate very different meanings. That phrase at the end is sometimes difficult. Should  τὴν ἀγάπην σου τὴν πρώτην ἀφῆκες be "the love you had at first," or should it be "your first love?" I can see a pretty compelling argument for the latter, as do the translators of the KJV and the NIV. The word σου is in the genitive, so there is definitely a sense of possession here. It links two accusatives together: τὴν ἀγάπην σου τὴν πρώτην, so they should probably be taken together as the object of what was abandoned. It probably goes with τὴν ἀγάπην, which gives more credence to the KJV. However, that leaves the other accusative just hanging there. 

I can see the reason behind this translation.  John accuses the church in Ephesus of abandoning your love, the first one. This is because both of the accusatives are tied together with the genitive. The KJV translation is perfectly valid too, but this also seems to make more sense theologically, which is important as well.

Basically, John accuses the church in Ephesus of starting out great, but then losing some of the fire while keeping up the motions. This verse hits me upside the head every time I read it now that I understand it properly. This is a microcosm of my spiritual walk. It's not that I ever abandoned my first love, which is Jesus. But it's that I lost the love that I had at first. 

Of course, the cure is the gospel. That's always the cure. We need to remain steeped in it so as to keep the fires going. If we remember who we are and from what we've been saved how can we help but be in love with the Savior? To do less is to severely cheapen grace.

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