ON LOVE; PART MCCXCVII
FIRST IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
WHAT THEN IS LOVE? In a general sense love is benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. While this IS from an older definition of Charity, which IS rendered in the King James Bible from the same Greek word agape which IS generally rendered as Love, we should amend our own definition here to include the idea that in the reality of Love a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself and to say that Love IS our thoughts and attitude of the equality of ALL men regardless of their outward nature or appearance…that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God.
PLUS THE EVER IMPORTANT AND HIGH IDEAL TAUGHT TO US BY THE CHRIST: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
We ended the last essay with some thoughts on the Apostle Peter’s use of the word philadelphia along with some of the other Greek words that ARE derived from philos. Strong’s defines philos as: properly, dear, i.e. a friend; actively, fond, i.e. friendly (still as a noun, an associate, neighbor, etc.):—friend 9a while Thayer’s tells us of philos that from Homer down, friendly (cf. Liddell and Scott, under the word, I. and II.): φίλον εἶναι τίνι, to be friendly to one, wish him well. Thayer’s goes on to show us the use of philos in the New Testament as a friend, an associate, he who associates familiarly with one, a companion and as one who finds his pleasure in a thing 9. While the idea of Love IS NOT included in any of these defining terms for philos, the thread of agape should be understood in the reality of the view of a man toward his fellowman, his associates, his friends, his companions and as Strong’s adds his neighbor. Here we should apply Jesus’ own defining ideas regarding agape as He tells us “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself ” and “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them“. In these words we have the clearest understanding of agape and in philos we have those to whom this understanding should be expressed and which we should consider as ALL men. In the idea of philadelphia which IS used by Peter we have the addition of brother or brethren and here we should understand that the addition of adelphos (brother) to the ideas generated by philos ARE NOT restrictive as the doctrines of men presume but they ARE inclusive as the brother should be understood as ALL men, as one’s associates, one’s friends, one’s companions and as one’s neighbor which idea the Master defines for us in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In this we should understand that philadephia IS the expression of agape to ALL and NOT ONLY to fellow Christians as too many interpret this idea. Repeating Peter’s words we read:
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:4-8).
As we discussed in the last post the reality of these words can be seen in the rendering of philadelphia and the next word agape as “And to godliness brotherly
kindness love; and to brotherly kindness love charity love“. As Vincent shows us, the original Revised Version rendered this as “and in your godliness love of the brethren; and in your love of the brethren love” and it IS easy to see why most others, including the newer versions of the Revised, have changed the wording to avoid the apparent confusion. There IS NO confusion however when we understand the deeper ideas that the apostle IS presenting to us, ideas that ARE NOT available in single words in the English language. This Revised Version, while presenting the dual ideas of Love from both philadelphia and agape, DOES at the same time discount the former idea by the way that this IS presented….it shows us “love of the brethren” in that doctrinal sense of Love for fellow Christians. The Truest rendering here, based on the context and the intent of the New Testament as a whole as well as Peter’s, IS to read this as “and to godliness brotherly love; and to brotherly love agape“. There ARE several sayings from the Master that can lead us to a right understanding of the intent of adelphos; in His Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca” (Matthew 5:22) and in this we should see that even the doctrinal interpretations see the inclusiveness of the idea of brother as everyman. John Gill frames this for us saying: By “brother” is meant, not in a religious sense, one that is of the same faith, or in the same church state; nor, in a strict natural sense, one that is so in the bonds of consanguinity; but in a large sense, any man, of whatsoever country or nation 8. Jesus uses adelphos in a different way that can show us the same ideal as He says “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (Matthew 5:47). Here the idea of adelphos leans toward the more localized brother but the message here IS NOT intended to define the word. This message IS that it IS NOT enough to ‘salute‘ ONLY these more localized brothers….one must ‘salute‘ ALL men equally. Can we see the point here and can we see how that the idea of adelphos CAN NOT be seen as selected parts of the whole. Vincent paints this idea for us most clearly in his commentary on the use of the word neighbor from Jesus saying that “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy” (Matthew 5:43); he tells us: The Christian sense is expounded by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29 sqq.), as including the whole brotherhood of man, and as founded in love for man, as man, everywhere 4. In such ideas we should be able to understand the relationship between the neighbor and the brethren and perhaps understand that the significance of each word IS found in the conversion of the Truth that one KNOWS as a Soul: agape as total Oneness and Unity, into the expression of this Power in this world of men as philos as we see everyman as a brother, as one’s fellowman, one’s associates, one’s friends, one’s companions and as one’s neighbor.
In this is the spiritual reality of a great Truth, of the Great Commandments which frame agape for us in the way that this IS intended to be understood; a way that remains alien to the majority of men in this world. This alien sense IS facilitated by the vanity in which men live; the illusion and the glamour that tells men that they ARE individually self important as ARE their desires; few Truly see the greater whole. Fewer still Truly see the Unity and the Oneness that the Master teaches us in the foundational idea that “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” and the explanatory idea added by the Master and understood by sages throughout the world: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). Both of these ideas ARE addressed to the man yet caught in the vanity of Life which IS “the corruption that is in the world through lust” which must be escaped. It IS in these ideas that we should understand Peter’s words saying “if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ“. Peter continues then to show us the state of the man who IS NOT expressive of the totality of these ‘virtues‘ which flow from the Soul in that KNOWING that IS the reality of pistis….the True “knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ“. He tells us from this saying that this man IS barren and unfruitful in that knowledge and continues to show us that “he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off“. We should understand here that like most ALL of the apostles’ writings they ARE speaking directly to the man who has some understanding of the Truth of Christianity, the man who KNOWS something of Christ, as he continues saying that this man who “lacketh these things….hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9). Peter IS here showing us the fate of the man who has come to KNOW some measure of the Truth but who fails to manifest the ‘virtues‘ and here especially that of hupomone as his active response of egkrateia which allows his focus to NOT be swayed from that which he found in his escape from “the corruption that is in the world through lust“. Peter finds this part of his teaching idea to be of great importance as he goes on to further show us the fate of such a man who reverts to his double-mindedness; the man who reverts to the ways of the world. Peter’s view on this idea of falling back IS quite evident as he continues to speak of it as he sees his reminding us to be a part of his duty; Peter tells us later that “if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:9). It IS unclear how that the apostle’s ideas affected the doctrinal Christian down the ages as there ARE few who have Truly escaped from “the corruption that is in the world through lust” and this despite the way that the doctrines of men have portrayed their followers as having DONE so. Few there ARE that have recused their carnal ways in favor of the ‘virtues‘ that Peter expounds, Paul’s “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) and James “wisdom that is from above” (James 3:17).
There ARE many who claim that they have accomplished those things of which the apostles write but there IS a reality here that revolves around True Christian values and NOT the pseudo values that ARE the result of the doctrines of men combined with such political and moral issues as we have yet today. Far too many doctrinal thinkers and teachers have chosen the divisive ideas that ARE their own misinterpreted views based upon little and sometimes NO True emphasis from the words of the Master, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Strong’s defines the Greek word archegos which IS rendered as author as: a chief leader 9a while Thayer’s tells us that this adjective should be understood as: leading, furnishing the first cause or occasion before going on to cite definitions according to the usage of archegos including the chief leader, prince; one that takes the lead in anything and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter and finally the author 9. We should see here the inadequacy of the idea of author against the reality of the leader and in this we should see the inadequacy of the renderings of many other bible versions which range from the pioneer to the guide, initiator and founder; ALL of these adjectives dilute the basic reality that Jesus IS the chief leader who IS leading and furnishing the first cause which IS ever agape. ALL of this has taken a back seat however to the doctrinal ideas that ARE based almost solely in the words of Paul, words that ARE manipulated, misunderstood and misapplied to the detriment of the Truth of salvation. We should consider here also the Greek word teleiotes which IS rendered as finished but which both Thayer’s and Vincent tells us should be seen as the perfecter 4, 9; Thayer’s also offers us a commentary on this word which IS ONLY used once here in the New Testament; they say: one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith 9. Our point here IS that there ARE NO divisive ideas in Paul’s “fruit of the Spirit” and James “wisdom that is from above” nor in Peter’s list of the ‘virtues‘ expressed by the man who IS Truly a partaker “of the divine nature“, save in the ofttimes carnal interpretations of selected Greek words in each. It IS the carnal interpretations that appeal to the hearts of men as it IS in such that they DO NOT have to lose sight of their own humanity as would happen in a True quest toward discipleship. In such carnal interpretations of spiritual ideas men can continue to live as men while convincing themselves of their spirituality through their nebulous ideas of faith and believing. And we should understand here that over the centuries the leaders and teachers of the doctrines of men have staked out their own authoritative positions which have NO more True spiritual authority than did the positions of the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ day. They DO however have carnal authority which they exercise over the carnal natures of men along with their many adopted cause célèbre ideas to which many give more emphasis than they DO to the essential Truths.
In our three apostolic lists from Paul, James and Peter we have the reality of the expression of these essential Truths which, ALL of them, ARE aspects of the singular spiritual idea of agape. Agape IS the first item in Paul’s list of
“the fruit of the Spirit” and it IS the last item in Peter’s list of those virtues that ARE the expression of the True partaker “of the divine nature“. While James DOES NOT mention agape in his list of those things that comprise the “wisdom that is from above“, we should understand that each of the components of Wisdom IS at the same time a component of agape. Agape and Sophia ARE forever bound together and while James speaks of Wisdom in instructional terms, he speaks of Love but three times; twice to show rewards that “the Lord hath promised to them that love him” and once to repeat the Truth of Love from the first of the Great Commandments. Much of James’ writing IS the practical application of the teachings of the Master which teachings ARE the embodiment of the fullness of agape which IS perhaps why the idea IS little used directly by the apostle. Indirectly however James defines agape in its Truest sense as he also defines how that ALL who believe that they DO Love fail to see this True definition and ARE counted among the sinners, among those yet caught in the vanity of Life in this world. In James idea of rewards we should see the Master’s words from our trifecta which tie Love for the Lord with keeping His words as the ONLY True sign of that Love. Here as the apostle speaks of those rewards as “crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” and “the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” (James 2:, 1:12), we should try to understand that these ideas and the rewards ARE largely synonymous. We should see here as well that in saying this as he DOES James IS telling us that these promises ARE for the man who will keep His words as we read again in our trifecta:
- “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
- “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
- “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:21-24).
It IS ever important to note that from the Master’s perspective ALL things become possible through agape and through that sense of pistis, of KNOWING, that comes through keeping His words. The nebulous ideas of faith and believing that ARE taught through the doctrines of men ARE of NO avail in securing those things “which the Lord hath promised to them that love him“, and there IS NO Way to Love him except as we read above in the simplicity of His saying that “If a man love me, he will keep my words“. What IS most important here IS the defining idea of agape and NOT the ordinary human conception of Love. At the beginning of every essay we cite our original ideas on agape as Love and we should understand here that these ideas ARE still human ideas; albeit divorced from the common understanding of Love as that emotional and mental attraction and attachment to others and to things….an understanding that many try to adapt to one’s Love for the Lord. Since these original ideas on Love which define it in terms of GoodWill toward ALL men from an understanding that that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God, and the practical application of this Love in the way that a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself, our understanding of agape has grown into the ideas, the thoughts and the attitudes that we expound through this blog. The Apostle Paul gives us a view of the reality of agape and of the way that without its expression most ALL things that ARE presumed to be spiritual or religious ARE for naught. The Apostle John gives us the idea of agape in equally spiritual terms as he equates our Love for our fellowman with our Love for God telling us that without the former the latter IS NOT possible. Peter speaks on Love and it IS through the way that his words ARE framed that the idea that he IS preaching Love for fellow Christians IS seen by many; the reality however IS NOT so and IS more clearly seen in the apostle’s saying to “see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22). While Peter IS writing to the Christian community and admonishing them to Love one another, his ideas ARE intended to be understood across religious lines….across ALL lines. It IS this generality of agape that we should read in the way that ALL of the ‘virtues‘ in our text above end with agape; that there IS the expression of Love as brotherly Love and then there IS Love which IS rendered in the King James as charity.
The Apostle James however frames agape in its most defining way. a way that combines the full spiritual nature with the practical application of Love in this world. James defines Love in two ways; first he tells us that “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8). Here the apostle calls this “the royal law” and here again we should understand that while these particular words ARE NOT a part of the Ten Commandments, they ARE found along with the first of the Great Commandments among the ancillary laws given the Jews by Moses; they ARE understood in their ‘religious’ importance by the Jews. In this we should try to understand a view of the plight of man from the beginning: that while these ARE “the royal law” which Jesus calls for us the Great Commandments, they ARE NOT the central point of men’s doctrines, except perhaps in conversation; they ARE become but trite sayings which hold little practical meaning in most ALL of the church. In James’ idea of “the royal law” we should see more than the idea of kingly. Vincent shows us that this idea that one “fulfil the royal law” has a deeper meaning; he tells us that: The phrase occurs only here and Romans 2:27. Τελεῖν , fulfil, is stronger than the more common word τηρεῖν , observe or keep, which appears in James 2:10….James here speaks of a single commandment, the proper word for which is ἐντολή , while νόμος is the body of commandments. It is appropriate here, however, since this special commandment sums up the entire law. See Romans 13:10; Galatians 5:14. It is the royal law; the king of all laws 4. Vincent goes on to show us the use of this idea of royal as the Romans saw it and the bottom line here IS that this law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself ” IS one ordained by the King which here must be understood as the Lord. In both these ideas, fulfil and royal from the Greek words teleo and basilikos we should try to see the completeness and the importance which these words apply to the law of Love the law that most clearly says “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself “. We should also see the added criteria that James put upon this “royal law“; NOT that he IS changing the idea but rather that he IS expounding the hidden idea of agape in its expression here in this world. He shows us a hidden idea that he sees as always being inherent in the words but missed by the doctrinal approach of men and this even in regard to its becoming but a trite saying. What he adds is the reality of the neighbor, a reality that we see in the Life and the example of the Master and one which IS rather clearly marked out for us in the Parable of the Good Samaritan but missed in the carnal ideas taken from Jesus’ words.
James tells us that if “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture“; if one by the letter of the law DOES Love his neighbor, he merely DOES well and while Thayer’s 9 shows us this in terms of excellence, Strong’s tells us that this idea IS just well 9a. Here, based in the way that the following ideas ARE presented we should NOT see excellence from a spiritual perspective but rather follow the apostle’s lead which says that following the letter of the law IS NOT sufficient, that more IS required. That more IS in one’s understanding of the reality of the idea of neighbor, a reality that we see in the Samaritan’s NOT caring about who the injured man IS. The Samaritan sees ONLY a man in need and the idea of enemy or friend DOES NOT enter into his expression of compassion which IS a carnal interpretation of agape. The Samaritan sees ONLY a brother and a neighbor, he sees ONLY another Soul on the same journey through Life who has fallen to the happenstance of Life in this world….he sees with NO “respect to persons“. Here, in the normal reading of “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself “, in the carnal view of the letter of the law, one may see the Samaritan’s act as agape; in the deeper view however we should see the totality of agape and NOT just the rote following as we find practiced in the world by men great and small. We should see that having NO “respect to persons” IS a state of mind which flows from the conditioned sense of Love in one’s heart. In the reality of agape we DO NOT help ONLY because one IS in need, we help because he IS the neighbor, the brother and a fellow traveler in this world as the Samaritan DOES for the injured man even though he IS a Jew whose people ARE at odds with the Samaritans. True agape sees NO enemies and it sees NO friends, True agape sees ONLY his fellowman and this with NO “respect to persons“. This IS the lesson that the apostle Peter learns from Cornelius, the centurion from Joppa, who has a shared vision with the apostle; while the centurion sends men to get Peter, Peter IS shown the greater Truth of agape which causes him to later remark that “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). Peter’s lesson here, a lesson that came in a vision, a revelation from his own spiritual self, IS that ALL men ARE equal; that the Jew and the gentile can and must walk together in contradiction to the Jews’ customs into which Peter was indoctrinated and firmly established. While doctrines look at this as their own invitation to the Kingdom of God, the reality IS that ALL had always been welcome and if we could see openmindedly into Jesus 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), we would undoubtedly see this reality. It IS the church and its doctrines that have created the ‘us ONLY’ ideas based in the personality of Jesus rather than the universality of the Christ and here we can see that this philosophy IS at odds with the very idea that “God is no respecter of persons“.
While the doctrines of men apply the views of men regarding the reality of Christ and the way that He interacts with ALL men, they ignore the greater idea that “God is no respecter of persons“, an idea that IS used several times in the New Testament to show the singular reality of True agape as this IS framed in the Apostle Johns words saying “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son“. Here instead of accepting this statement of Truth the doctrinal thinker has applied his own nebulous ideas to the remainder of the saying which continues as “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) Here again we have the compound idea of pisteuo eis which, when seen in the idea of KNOWING, changes the Christian dynamic completely. In the idea of KNOWING we then have the True Way to one’s realization of his own inherent eternal Life….that this IS the reward for KNOWING the Lord and here we should remember the source of this KNOWING which Jesus makes clear saying “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free“. And while the idea of KNOWING into may NOT make literal sense, it DOES fit into the overall teaching of the Master; here we ARE again reminded of Vincent’s commentary on this idea of pisteuo eis, that this IS: to accept and adopt His precepts and example as binding upon the life 4 . The Apostle Paul shows us this same universality in such sayings as “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all“. The context here IS in the view of the repentant man, the man who has “put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:11, 9, 10); it IS in this KNOWLEDGE that ALL men are seen the same. Regardless of the meaning applied to the idea of barbaros and Skythēs which are rendered into barbarian and Scythian, the idea here IS that ALL men have Christ and it IS in this same epistle that the apostle teaches us of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). It IS also in this epistle that Paul encourages the repentant man and shows him the degrees to which the “new man” must go as he tells us that even in familial relationships it IS the “new man” that must shine as he reminds us that whether we keep on the “new man” or revert to the “old man” the view of the Lord IS fixed upon what it IS that we DO and NOT who we ARE. Paul tells us “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Colossians 3:23-25).
There IS a real but unspoken relationship between the idea that “God so loved the world” and the reality that “there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11). This relationship IS lost however through the ofttimes convoluted declarations of the doctrines of men, especially in those doctrinal ideas of predestination. Predestination in its various forms dates back to the early church and much IS based upon the theological ideas of the church fathers as they gleaned their view of Life from the words of the apostles and some sayings from the Old Testament. The most basic problem in the various forms of this philosophy IS that it IS the Life of the man in this world that IS deemed predestined by an ALL seeing, ALL KNOWING God, in accord with the opposite idea of free will, who in some way directs the course of individual lives according to His desires; of course, this view totally discounts the reality that “there is no respect of persons with God“. In the reality that “God is no respecter of persons” we should try to see that division between the Spirit and the flesh and try to understand the idea of the Spirit as God and the idea of the flesh as the person. This IS admittedly a most difficult concept to grasp and here we should understand that the whole of the Truth here IS the reality of that “mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations“, a mystery that IS made KNOWN to those who have True revelation KNOWLEDGE as men in this world, those who through such revelation have come to a realization of the Truth that “is made manifest to his saints” (Colossians 1:26).
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
- 8 Bible commentaries on BibleStudyTools.com
- 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible on blueletterbible.org
- 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher