Love is the Fulfilling of the Law
ON GOD; Part XXXIII
“God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him“
(1 John 4:16)
We spent our time in the last post discussing the thoughts of the Christian world on our saying from the Apostle John that we repeat here above. In the end we wondered why that still today, after more than 2000 years, so much of the church chooses to look at the Master’s teachings on Love in the narrowest of ways instead of the most inclusive. In our study of the scriptures we cannot find a real source for this way of viewing His teachings except in the various commentaries as we did yesterday. If we are convinced that it is the various doctrines that have given us this history, then we must do whatsoever we can to show that the narrowness of these doctrines and the resultant separateness that they have created are misplaced and antiquated ways of seeing the True intent of the Christ. While there may be some writings in the epistles that can be interpreted to mean that a man should Love His Christian brethren, there is no place where there is any instruction to do so to the exclusion of others and this is most True with the teachings of the Master who goes far afield to get His message across to us. This we find in His teaching on Love for one’s neighbor and in His identifying just who one’s neighbor is. This we find in His teaching on the Golden Rule which is a reiteration of this same teaching on Love but from a different perspective. This we also find in the Master’s saying from Matthew that we posted for the last two days concerning the universal idea that to do good for any man is to do good for the Master Himself.
It is only in the narrowness of view and in the purposeful selection of words and definitions that one can find any True attitude of separateness in the words of the Master or of the Apostles and it is from this narrowness and in this creative interpretation that there is such a sense of separatism regarding access to the Master. There are a few things that the Master tells us that actually can be understood to reveal His True intent as regards access but which are regarded by much of the Church much more narrowly than the spirit in which they are offered. One of these we have addressed before as His saying that: “And other sheep I have , which are not of this fold: them also I must bring , and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). When we addressed this last in In the Words of Jesus part 20 where we commented that the Master added something that is not necessary to the dialogue which is His teaching on Himself being the shepherd and the people, ALL people, being His flock. Except to emphasize this understanding of ALL people, there is no purpose to His adding this to His teaching. The world however chose to see this very differently as we see in this look at some of the commentaries:
- John Gill in his Exposition of the Bible8 tells us regarding this verse: And other sheep I have Not distinct from those for whom he laid down his life, but from those who were under the Old Testament dispensation, and who heard not the thieves and robbers that were before Christ, ( John 10:8 ) ; others besides the lost sheep of the house of Israel, or the elect among the Jews, to whom Christ was sent; and by whom are meant the chosen of God among the Gentiles, who were sheep, though not called and folded, for the reasons given: (See Gill on John 10:3). These, though uncalled, belonged to Christ; he had an interest in them, they were given him by his Father; he had them in his hands, and upon his heart; his eye was upon them, and they were under his notice, inspection, and care: which are not of this fold,of the Jewish nation and church, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise; were as sheep going astray, and were scattered about in the several parts of the world; and were to be redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation:
- The authors of The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible8 skip this saying entirely going from verse 15 to verse 22.
- From The John Darby Synopsis of the New Testament8 we find this short statement: Thus He laid down His life for the sheep; and He had other sheep who were not of this fold, and His death intervened for the salvation of these poor Gentiles. He would call them. Doubtless He had given His life for the Jews also-for all the sheep in general, as such (v. 11). But He does not speak distinctly of the Gentiles until after He has spoken of His death. He would bring them also, and there should be but one flock (not “one fold,” there is no fold now) and one Shepherd.
Can we see here that in these commentaries there is that tendency to ignore the possibility that the Master could be speaking of others, of other cultures and other faiths? For us, as we observed in part 20, we can still maintain that the overall saying carries with it the intent of the Christ to be all inclusive for He does not define other folds of which there were many in that day and in this. In this we should see the idea that the Master said these words to acknowledge that there are others who do not and will not worship as Christians and as we find the deeper meanings of His words as they regard the Christ Within we should see too that this is not a strictly Christian idea. The Christ Within is the manifestation of God in us and it matters not by what name this Aspect is called. Being Christians, the idea of Christ Within is the right terminology but there is no place that the Master tells us that this should be a universal Truth. It is in the misunderstanding of His words and the words of the apostles that tell us to believe in Him for salvation and the misinterpretation of His words identifying Himself as “the way , the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). We discuss the former frequently and we understand it as not merely believing in Him in the normal Christian way but to follow Him and to keep His words; these are His instructions. The latter saying which has given rise to much of the separatist Christian attitude is addressed in some detail in In the Words of Jesus parts 78-79 and is an idea that we should address again as it is in this parabolic saying that we find His reference to our understanding of the Power and the Force of the Chrst Within but which is interpreted by most of the Church as referencing only the person of Jesus.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way , the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The first time that we addressed this saying by the Master we attested to the fact that this is, especially for those like us, one of the most difficult sayings in the entirety of the New Testament. It is the source of so much of the defense of their doctrine by the Christian World and the source also of so much of the ideas of one’s salvation being placed in the person of Jesus. We who understand that in every saying there is a depth of understanding and a parabolic presentation know to look beneath the words and to our understanding of the intimate relationship between the Master and each man’s own Christ Within. We should remember here that the Master tells His disciples some time later about the manner of His teaching to them being in parable or proverb as it is translated in our version. This saying is in the midst of a teaching by the Master regarding the Kingdom of God and much of what He tells them is obscure on the surface and definitely not understandable in the way that we read it. Let us look at some of this that leads up to this saying in Chapter Fourteen:
- Verse 1 says “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me“: Here we have three ideas; first that they should remain at peace and second that this peace should come from their relationship with God their believing in Him which we know to be that they follow Him and keep His words. We know this to be true because they ARE His disciples. The third idea is that they should look at the sayings of the Master in the same way that they see the precepts of God which they apparently do not yet fully do nor understand.
- Verse 2 tells us that “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you“. This is an obscure saying that has done much to feed the ‘prosperity’ teachers by the use of the word mansion. We know that this idea is unfounded as the reality of the Greek word mone is clearly just a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode; to make an (one’s) abode; metaph. of the God the Holy Spirit indwelling believers; according to the lexicon while Strong’s tells us simply that it means room; dwelling place, abode. Vincent has much to say on this idea of mansions:
- Mansions (monai<). Only here and ver. 23. From me>nw to stay or abide. Originally a staying or abiding or delay. Thus Thucydides, of Pausanias: “He settled at Colonae in Troas, and was reported to the Ephors to be negotiating with the Barbarians, and to be staying there (th<n monh<npoiou>menov, Literally, making a stay) for no good purpose” (1:131). Thence, a staying or abiding-place; an abode. The word mansion has a similar etymology and follows the same course of development, being derived from manere, to remain. Mansio is thus, first, a staying, and then a dwelling-place. A later meaning of both mansio and monh> is a halting-place or station on a journey. Some expositors, as Trench and Westcott, explain the word here according to this later meaning, as indicating the combination of the contrasted notions of progress and repose in the vision of the 47 This is quite untenable. The word means here abodes…..Godet remarks: “The image is derived from those vast oriental palaces, in which there is an abode not only for the sovereign and the heir to the throne, but also for all the sons of the king, however numerous they may be.”4
- The foot note here says that: W. Aldis Wright (“Bible Word-Book”) is wrong in calling this “the primary meaning” of the word. No authorities for the use of mansio in this sense are quoted earlier than Pliny and Suetonius, and none for this use of monh> earlier than Pausanias (A.D. 180). Canon Westcott’s interpretation is effectively demolished (usually no easy thing to do) by J. Sterling Berry, in The Expositor, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 3974.
- Verse 3 says that: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am , there ye may be also” and this goes with the ending part of the previous verse regarding preparing a place. So many of us think that this is a physical place, the place where the mansions are, and do not see the parabolic and metaphorical value to it. It is indeed a hard saying to understand though this is likely due more to language that to any other factor. The Master is leaving them physically and they do not understand this at all; continuing in the tone of the dialogue of the first verse where He is trying to keep them at peace, He is here keeping them in that comfort saying He will come back again and that they will be with Him. The Truest way to be with Him is to Live in the Light of the Soul, the Christ Within for it is here that we have communion with the Master, the Christ. It is hard to understand how one’s Soul can be at one with the Christ but this is the reality in the same way that we are as Spirit one with the Father. There are several verses that attest to this oneness including “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21). We should see also that this should be no more difficult to understand than the basic Christian idea that Jesus comes to Live inside of a man when he becomes a believer.
- The forth verse tells us that: “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” which is the Master telling them that although they may not realize it, they do know what is happening, where the Master is going and the way as well. Vincent tells us on this that: I go (uJpa>gw). Withdraw from you. See on 8:21. Ye know, and the way ye know (oi]date, kai< th<n oJdo<n oi]date). The best texts omit the second ye know, and the and before the way; reading, whither I go ye know the way4. Looking at this in the understanding of withdraw from you gives a bit less of a finality to the tone of the remark and the rest of Vincent’s observation confirms that even after the corrections the verse says the same, that they know the way. Why then do they ask in the next verse?
- Verse 5 says that “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?“. They ask why because they are looking at this as men and not as the disciples of the Master. For them as well as for us this is an obscure teaching regarding the Kingdom of God and one that they can only understand when they are in the Light. That the Master tells them that they know must be seen as a fact yet they ask as though they know not and we should see in this the understanding that is clearly painted; they know but they do not see, they do not realize.
This brings us then to our subject verse, verse 6, and we will address this further in the next post.
Note on the Quote of the Day
This daily blog also has a Quote of the Day which may not be in any way related to the essay. Many of these will be from the Bible and some just prayers or meditations that may have an influence on you and are in line with the subject matter of this blog. As the quote will change daily and will not store with the post, it is repeated in this section with the book reference and comment.
We have spent many days on this Quote of the Day, more than a week, and we should recognize that this is a very important part of what is believed by so many. Together with the saying above from John’s Gospel, these form much of the backbone of the various Christian doctrines still today. We have seen this in a different Light over these past days; we have seen it in the Light of Love and GoodWill and Brotherhood as we tend to see most all of what the Master says. If we believe that our understanding of this all is clear and cogent or at least as clear and cogent as the mainstream of Christianity, then we should embrace what it is that we are writing and reading and move forward in our believing on the Master; that is that we renew our efforts daily to follow Him and keep His words. The last line here is the culmination of all of our efforts and the reaching of our goal if we apply ourselves and strive toward this highest of ideals; “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest , that they are wrought in God“
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest , that they are wrought in God (John 3:15-21).
Today’s Quote of the Day contains several points that we have covered in our essays and contains some of the more difficult sayings of the Master as regards our perspective on spiritual Life. John 3:16 is much spoken of in the Christian Church and upon it much of church doctrines are established and built. Over the next several days we will continue to post this as our Quote and we will take in parts daily as to try to ascertain the Truth of the Master’s teaching. We should remember that this is spoken to Nicodemus as part of the Masters dissertation on being born again.
- 2 New Testament Greek Lexicon on BibleStudyTools.com
- 3 Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – 2001
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition, 1888
- 8 Bible commentaries on BibleStudyTools.com