ON LOVE; PART MCCCLXXV
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 strong words against the doctrinal precepts that block the reality of the Master’s words from the masses. Precepts into which believers ARE trained, nurtured and indoctrinated; precepts that ARE the ways of the church rather that into the ways of Truth and agape as Jesus teaches us. As we often say, the church has developed a mitzvah of their own which covers over the Truth of scripture, especially Jesus’ words, in much the same way as did the Jews who crafted theirs ‘around’ the seemingly more difficult Truths of the law. The Jews’ religious leaders concentrated upon the mundane and the carnal commandments of Moses rather than the deeper ideas that were presented to them from the beginning and represented again by the prophets through such ideas as Hosea, speaking for the Lord, tells us saying: “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). As the idea IS clarified for us by the Master and His apostles, the intended emphasis of the scriptures was ever “mercy….and the knowledge of God” and we should understand that both of these ARE covered by the words of the Apostle John who tells us first “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” and then “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 2:4, 4:8). It IS based in this diversion from the Truth that placed the Jew’s mitzvah above the deeper Truths of the law that the Master rails against the Jews’ leaders saying “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9). Jesus IS repeating the words of the Prophet Isaiah which were long ignored by those who took authority over the spiritual lives of the people and while the Christian may think that these words ARE intended ONLY for the Jew, the reality IS that they ARE timeless. These same words define most ALL of Christian doctrines and these words from the Master ARE also ignored by Christian authorities who have built for themselves ‘castles in the sky’ that may look pretty but ARE useless in every regard spiritually. The church fathers and ALL those who have taken authority that have come forth since them DO NOT see how that they too ARE guilty of “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men“. They miss the point of the Master’s teachings and replace His Truths with doctrinal precepts based in out of context, misunderstood and misapplied words from His apostles. Most DO NOT see the reality that the words of the apostles ARE intended to amplify and clarify Jesus’ words as they have used them to invent their own doctrinal approaches. And there ARE many approaches today for men to pick and choose from; most ALL however ARE as the Apostle Peter paints the Jews’ religious leaders saying that they ARE “wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever” (2 Peter 2:17). Can we see the point here? Can we see the way that the apostle IS reframing the Master’s words that teach us about “false prophets“? Jesus caution to us regarding the false teacher IS again seen ONLY in regard to the Jews; the Christian world DOES NOT see themselves in these words which ARE amplified and clarified for us by the Apostle Paul in his words regarding “another gospel: Which is not another” (Galatians 1:6, 7). For the Jew and for the Christian both these religious beliefs that defy the Master’s words ARE grounded in the vanity of Life rather than being “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17).
Jesus words on the “false prophets” should of course be understood with the broadest meaning applied to the common understanding of the idea of a prophet. The lexicons and dictionaries show us that the Greek words prophetes which IS transliterated into the English word and NOT translated means everything from: in Greek writings, an interpreter of oracles or of other hidden things to a poet. These ideas ARE offered while taking up the doctrinal interpretation that a prophetes IS: one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration 2a as their main emphasis. This interpretation IS what most ALL doctrinal authorities accept but this works poorly in Jesus words saying: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20). Thayer’s, among their also doctrinal interpretations which feed into the lexicon, tells us that the prophet IS: a man filled with the Spirit of God, who by God’s authority and command in words of weight pleads the cause of God and urges the salvation of men 9. In this we should be able to see any spiritual teacher and the Master’s caution that we KNOW the True teacher from those that ARE NOT filled with the Spirit of God. To help us here we have Jesus’ words from our trifecta which show us that this Spirit IS the possession of “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them“; it IS this man of whom Jesus tells us “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” that can be the True prophet and it IS in this abiding that we Truly can be filled with the Spirit of God. Who then ARE the “false prophets“? They ARE those who attest to having the Spirit of God but who, at the same time, ARE NOT among those that “hath my commandments, and keepeth them“, those that keep their doctrinal precepts in place of His words and who teach such precepts as Truth. It IS this that both the True Prophet Isaiah and the Master show us saying that “their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6, 7). Can we see the point here? Can we see that the Master’s caution IS NOT solely for the Jews 2000 years ago but IS a timeless one that tells men to ever “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given” (Mark 4:24). This IS yet another saying that IS NOT clearly understood. That much of the church NOT ONLY believes and teaches that the Master’s words ARE intended for the Jew under the old covenant and that the Christian has a new covenant to follow IS our prima facie example of the church’s “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men“. While there may be other examples of this disconnect, today it IS this teaching that leads men to believe that the church’s portrayal of Paul’s writings supersedes the reality of the Master’s words. It IS this disconnect from the scriptural reality of Jesus’ words that has fueled such unconscionable ideas as ARE held by so many Christians today, ideas that have NO real scriptural reference and NO foundation in Truth. Nonetheless it IS this theology that has spread over the centuries as the replacement of the equally obscure rites and rituals based in the so called sacraments that ARE still embraced by much of the church. Neither of these theological deviations from the Truth ARE the product of the teachings of the Master whose name the religion uses; yet they ARE eagerly taught through a worldwide church. Some teach their new covenant ideas of grace which eschews the reality of the works of men, their fruit if you will, while others adhere to their system of rites, rituals and sacraments; both however use the atoning quality of the Master’s death as a part of their theological justification.
As we often point out, the reality here IS found in the way that the church, from the beginning, could NOT understand the reality that Jesus teaches us….that we should keep His words. Some denominations and sects go so far as to teach the impossibility of DOING so as the impute the idea of righteousness to themselves based in unrelated ideas gleaned from scripture. Doctrinal authorities take upon themselves such ideas from scripture without understanding the depth of the ideas portrayed; and, with this idea of the imputation of righteousness their error can be easily seen. Much of the Truth IS lost in the erroneous and nebulous understanding of such ideas as pitis and pisteuo which ARE rendered as faith and believing. That Jesus shows us the deeper meanings of these words by attaching the humanly impossible to them IS missed by most ALL of the church as they take such impossible ideas as moving the mountain and DOING “greater works” and dilute them to suit their doctrinal needs. Speaking of Abraham Paul tells us “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4:20-24). These words. and others like them. ARE used by much of the church to justify their imputation of righteousness to themselves but this was never the intent of the apostle’s words. There IS in these sayings yet another quid pro quo that IS missed as it IS interpreted through the nebulous ideas of the church rather than through the Master’s declared meanings; declared by His own words that define the possibilities available to the man who Truly KNOWS God, the man to whom pistis and pisteuo ARE that KNOWING. Simply believing as this word IS understood will NOT afford men the ability to DO “greater works” according to His words saying “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12). Neither IS this simplicity of believing able to impute Abraham’s sense of righteousness to others; Paul shows us the Way that this imputation becomes possible saying “it shall be imputed, if we believe on him” which, according to Jesus’ examples, requires so much more than simply affirming one’s nebulous belief. Vincent helps us here with words that more clearly explain the depth of pisteuo and while he references the phrase pisteuo eis his same ideas should be applied to most ALL references to pisteuo that ARE offered in this same context. Vincent tells us: to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is not merely to believe the facts of His historic life or of His saving energy as facts, but to accept Him as Savior, Teacher, Sympathizer, Judge; to rest the soul upon Him for present and future salvation, and to accept and adopt His precepts and example as binding upon the life 4. It IS this idea of keeping His words that affords to men the reality of KNOWING God and one’s own measure of the Truth; it IS in keeping His words that righteousness IS imputed and it IS in keeping His words that we ARE able to DO those “greater works” that He has promised. This IS the way of the disciple and the saint which ARE yet more ideas that the doctrinal thinker applies to himself in error.
The greater point in ALL this IS that everyman can have the reality of “greater works” and can even come to that point of spiritual evolution where one can move the mountain or plant the “sycamine tree…in the sea” (Luke 17:6) as Luke tells us of the Master’s words. It IS the habit of doctrinal thinkers to first deny that these ideas can be seen as literal while they see so much else that IS Truly allegorical as literal. Second, most ALL DO NOT understand the reality of the Power that IS the unction, the Soul of everyman; the same Power that was yielded by the apostles. This IS the same Power that we read of in the Book of Acts as Peter and Paul DO such “greater works“; and NOT them ONLY. We should also see this in the lives of other ‘lesser’ apostles as we read in Luke’s words regarding Stephen and Phillip. Of Stephen we read that he was “full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 6:8) and we should note here that it IS likely that he could have stopped his own demise as could the Master save for their inherent sense of meekness rightly understood. Of Philip we read that he “went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city“. IS this NOT the same as we read of Jesus which, from the perspective of the average man ARE ALL “greater works“. Philips story DOES NOT stop there however; we read that after his encounter with the eunuch that “when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea” (Acts 8:5-8, 39-40). While men can deny that such “greater works” ARE within the ken of men today or, better, since Christ and the apostles, there IS NO scriptural reference for this belief which IS contrary to the words of the Master which, unfortunately, men believe that they can interpret as they will. There IS a KEY that unlocks such abilities and that KEY IS that such men as Peter and Paul and Stephen and Philip DID Truly “Walk in the Spirit“, a walk that IS enabled by their realization of the Truth of God that flows through one’s Life when he can DO as the Master shows us in our trifecta which we repeat 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” (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).
We should understand that ALL “spiritual gifts“, ALL spiritual abilities ARE the product of keeping His words. We should remember as well that the singular Way to DO this, the Way that has gone unseen for 2000 years, IS in our embrace of agape and our expression of Love to ALL. Paul shows us this as he instructs us on how to “walk in the Spirit“, how to refrain from the “works of the flesh“, using the same terms as DOES Peter as he shows us to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Paul tells us “ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:19, 13-17). At the heart of these sayings IS the singular Way of Truth, a Way that bypasses the need to attend to each and every commandment; a way that IS founded in agape and its expression. The lust of the flesh IS ever toward oneself and the things of the self, the desires of men for the things of this world. The lust of the Spirit IS contrary to this and IS the desire of the Soul, the Inner Man, to express his very nature, the divine nature that IS God, which IS agape. In our expression of agape we can “overcome the world” (John 16:33) as the Master tells us that He had DONE; this however IS NOT understood by the doctrinal thinker who CAN NOT fathom the Truth behind Jesus’ words saying “take no thought for your life” (Matthew 6:25). We should note that it IS the “partakers of the divine nature” that have access to those “greater works” and understand that such works MUST be spiritually based. This brings us back again to our selection from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians where the apostle IS speaking on those presumed “spiritual gifts” that much of the church ‘treasures‘. What we should try to see here IS that the gifts spoken of ARE spiritual and NOT carnal and we should try to understand that the spiritual and the carnal ARE at odds with one another or, as Paul frames this above, that “these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would“. The idea here IS NOT ONLY that men refrain from the gross behaviors that can be seen in his words but rather that ALL carnal desires should be staunched as we strive to “Walk in the Spirit“. In understanding Paul’s list which he shows us in some detail in chapter twelve, we should try to see that as he continues to discuss these the inference IS that men presume to have these based upon their doctrinal views. Paul’s list from this chapter IS extensive and the gifts included ARE much desired by men in parts of the church and we should note here that many profess to have these as teachers continually encourage men to seek after them. Paul includes in his list “the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge“; “faith and the gifts of healing“; “the working of miracles and prophecy“; the discerning of spirits and divers kinds of tongues; and finally “the interpretation of tongues“. While men presume to have such gifts the apostle’s tone IS one of equanimity so that one DOES NOT value his gift or his ability above that of other men. This however IS NOT the final point; the final point IS found in our selection which begins with Paul’s closing words from this twelfth chapter. We read the apostle’s words saying:
“covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not
charityagape, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charityagape, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charityagape, it profiteth me nothing. CharityAgape suffereth long, and is kind; charityagape envieth not; charityagape vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. CharityAgape never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1Corinthians 12:31, 13:1-13).
Paul himself IS encouraging men to desire these gifts as he sets about to show us that when these ARE merely presumed based in doctrinal ideas men ARE deluded and DO NOT see that “more excellent way“. Perhaps the disconnect IS found in the way that this idea of a “more excellent way” IS separated from his words that show this Way to us….the Way of agape. We should take ALL of these ideas, the gifts as well as Paul’s words that show us how that such ARE worthless in the absence of agape, and put them under the opening statement where Paul says “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1). Here we should see that his intent IS to educate, to show his reader the deeper Truth regarding things spiritual and we should note that there IS NO word to be rendered as gifts in this saying….it IS added by the translators. Some translations make the word gifts parenthetical while others render the idea to reflect “the things of the spirit” without mentioning the word gifts. While Paul goes on to speak specifically about his list of gifts, this idea need not be seen as what it IS that he “would not have you ignorant” of; this IS better understood simply as “the things of the spirit“. These he later shows us ARE centered around the singular idea of agape. While this IS missed by most, the church has taken full advantage of Paul’s words on the nature of agape albeit they apply this nature to the carnal experiences of men and their carnal understanding of the concept of Love. This IS despite Paul’s efforts to show us agape as the singular spiritual force that IS that “more excellent way“.
Several posts back we discussed the idea of prophecy from our selection and noted that this idea can be seen as the summation of the lesser ideas that follow. It IS under “the gift of prophecy” that we find an ability to “understand all mysteries“, to have “all knowledge” and to “have all faith, so that I could remove mountains“. It IS in this “gift of prophecy” that we should see that KNOWING which can then be offered to others as that Truth that IS one’s revelation according to the lexiconic definition of prophetes as: one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration 2a. If we can remove from this defining idea the doctrinal understanding that one IS God’s organ or spokesman and understand that it IS the God Within that reveals the Truth to the heretofore carnal mind, we can then better understand the Master’s words concerning the “false prophets“. We should try to see as well that Paul IS telling us that without a True expression of agape that the man who professes to be a prophet and to have access to the Truth IS but another of those “false prophets“. It IS the man that IS Truly moved by the Spirit of God as evidenced by his expression of agape, his fruits if you will, that IS able to DO those “greater works” that the Master promises. And, we should KNOW here that these “greater works” DO include an ability to “understand all mysteries“, to have “all knowledge” and to “have all faith, so that I could remove mountains“. Paul tells us about these ‘gifts‘ in many ways in his epistles but his words ARE NOT understood as men choose to take the doctrinal message of “free gift” over the reality of such ideas as “as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). It IS interesting to note that the idea of “free gift” come from the fifth chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans where the idea IS rendered to us three times. The Greek word rendered as gift IS charisma when it IS preceded by free and IS dorea when it IS NOT and we should remember here that charisma IS a derivative of charis which should always be understood as grace. To this we should add the fact that the word free IS NOT in the Greek text but IS added by the translators yet this whole idea of the “free gift” takes a major role in much of Christianity and IS found in most every bible translation. While the idea of free IS the emphasis of much of Christianity, Paul himself often shows us the cost of grace, of ALL that Truly comes from God. We should see this in the saying above where the cost IS clearly stated as that such grace IS “for them that love him“. This idea should then be conflated with Jesus’ words from our trifecta where it IS clear that “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me“. The point here IS that ALL of the words of the Master and the amplifying and clarifying words of His apostles ARE designed to tell us the singular Truth of keeping His words which IS accomplished through our expression of agape. This IS the depth that we should place into Paul’s words from our selection that tell us that ALL “spiritual gifts” and ALL spiritual fruit ARE ONLY True for the man who DOES express agape and that in the absence of this expression one’s gifts ARE but carnal shadows.
Paul goes on to show us that even carnal virtues ARE subject to this same measure which IS agape. He tells us that “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor” which shows that sense of forsaking that IS required for True spiritual revelation according to the Master’s words. He goes on to speak about giving his “body to be burned” which seems also to be a virtuous act but one which IS ill defined. Some see this in terms of martyrdom as Vincent 4 writes while others, as John Gill 8, see this more in terms of ‘heathen’ practices. Regardless of the implication the idea here should be that to offer oneself as a martyr or to self-immolate for religious reasoning IS a worthless act in the absence of agape. Paul tells us that DOING so “profiteth me nothing” which can show us that in either view, martyrdom or self-immolation, there IS a view toward a reward for DOING so, a reward that will NOT be received unless such act IS DONE in Love. This ends Paul’s words on the negative impact of things that ARE perceived as spiritual when they ARE DONE in the absence of Love. The apostle’s words should give us enough guidance as to understand that whatsoever one may believe himself to be spiritually is but his personal chimera when one’s thoughts, attitudes and actions ARE NOT colored by agape as this word IS rightly understood. Having given us a view of the Life of the religious man, his ideas of himself and his ability to teach, prophecy if you will, and be seen as ‘holy’, the apostle goes on to define agape for us in terms that CAN NOT be equally applied to carnal ideas of Love. Having understanding that without agape one’s spiritual Life IS actually a carnal one, we should be able to apply the next section of his words according to the standard of agape that IS set for us by Jesus and by the reality of the Great Commandments and the Golden Rule. DOING so IS in line with the general tenor of the apostles’ words and while the idea that the apostles ARE amplifying and clarifying Jesus’ teachings IS NOT seen by much of the church, there IS a reality in this view which in the end must be understood. When we allow for the apostles to speak over the words of the Christ, the teacher of both angels and men, we lay the One church open tp the possibilities that today beset Christianity as a True religion. We allow for the separatist and emulative interpretations of scripture and the establishment of multiple doctrines that may ONLY intersect on minor points and here today that point IS found in the nearly universal idea that His death on the cross IS the payment, according to Jewish ideas regarding sacrifice, for the sins of men. As we go forward the Truth should become clearer; as we define agape according to Paul’s words while measuring them against Jesus’ teaching, we can then perhaps better understand the True responsibility of every Christian and see more clearly that this IS NOT the same as men present in their doctrines.
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 2a New Testament Greek lexicon on biblestudytools.com
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
- 8 Bible commentaries on BibleStudyTools.com
- 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
- 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible 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