ON LOVE; PART MCCXCVI
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).
In the last essay we continued our discussion of the ‘virtues‘ that the Apostle Peter shows us must be active in the Life of the man who IS Truly a partaker “of the divine nature” which man will have already “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust“. It IS with this foundation that we should see the apostle’s list of words which begins with pistis as that KNOWING the Truth of that nature which IS a major part of the “mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Colossians 1:26). In the combination of these ideas we should be able to understand the reality of being among “his saints” and understand that the low view of this idea by much of the church serves ONLY to confuse men and delude them. To be sure, “his saints” ARE these partakers who have escaped and overcome the world and it IS these that DO KNOW the Truth by which they ARE freed from their “bondage of corruption“, free to dwell in “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). We should see from these ideas that pistis IS much more than the nebulous ways that the idea of faith IS portrayed by doctrines and while we will NOT go into this here, Jesus Himself defines pistis and the kindred word pisteuo for us in His words on the abilities of the True partakers in this world. While the King James version shows us Peter’s list as that these ‘virtues‘ ARE added one to another, the better view IS that each should be manifest with the others in order to express the totality of the nature of the True “partakers of the divine nature“. We show again Peter’s words from the King James and then from the Weymouth New Testament so that we can see the different treatments that ARE given and how they alter the intent of the apostle’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).
“It is by means of these that He has granted us His precious and wondrous promises, in order that through them you may, one and all, become sharers in the very nature of God, having completely escaped the corruption which exists in the world through earthly cravings. But for this very reason–adding, on your part, all earnestness– along with your faith, manifest also a noble character: along with a noble character, knowledge; along with knowledge, self-control; along with self-control, power of endurance; along with power of endurance, godliness; along with godliness, brotherly affection; and along with brotherly affection, love. If these things exist in you, and continually increase, they prevent your being either idle or unfruitful in advancing towards a full knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ“. (Weymouth New Testament)
We have discussed the next words from Peter’s list in previous essays and should be able to understand that pistis, as the first ingredient, IS a natural aspect of the partaker which should work with arete in the Life of the man who IS or IS becoming a partaker. While arete IS rendered as virtue and as “noble character” in our bible versions above, the reality of this idea IS painted for us by Vincent who tells us that: Not in the sense of moral excellence, but of the energy which Christians are to exhibit, as God exerts his energy upon them. As God calls us by his own virtue (2 Peter 1:3), so Christians are to exhibit virtue or energy in the exercise of their faith, translating it into vigorous action 4. We should of course understand Vincent’s ideas spiritually and NOT carnally; we should try to see arete as the Power of the Soul flowing through the man in this world and the ensuing expression of his KNOWING through his manner of Life. Peter’s next word IS gnosis which we discussed as epignosis in the last essay; epignosis IS from a previous verse where Peter speaks of “the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2) which idea we transferred to his use of gnosis in our subject verses. In both places Peter IS speaking of the same KNOWLEDGE but from different perspectives; in the former of the God Without and in the latter of the God Within. We should remember that in those days as in these the basic Christian idea of God IS that He IS outside of His creation but, at the same time, many Christians see a God that IS within as the Holy Spirit and some even refer to Jesus in this same way….that He comes to Live in the believer. While they DO NOT realize the deeper Truth of the eternal Spirit, manifest as Soul, which IS ever One with God IS the True man and IS the Holy Spirit and the Christ Within, they DO allude to this same idea. What IS lacking IS the True gnosis and the True epignosis which IS the KNOWLEDGE of God both Within and Without and here we should try to see Jesus’ words to His own disciples near the end. They DO seem clueless regarding the mysteries which had been revealed to them with the Master’s own Presence among them. Jesus’ says “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake” (John 14:9-11). We should try to see here that while the Master IS speaking directly to Philip, the rest also DO NOT Truly understand as IS apparent in the text that the Apostle John presents to us but, to be sure, they DO come to understand once that they can release their preconceptions and see the Truth which was revealed to them but NOT yet realized. We should remember that such concepts as that “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” ARE alien to these men and while they ARE presented to us in scripture, the Christian of today DOES NOT yet understand this Truth and in many ways rejects such ideas unless they ARE in accord with their doctrinal understanding of God.
This IS the Unity of the Godhead which IS reflected into the Life of everyman by such sayings as “as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17) and Jesus own words saying “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). This sense of abiding IS intimately tied to our trifecta where we see that for Him to abide in a man, that man must keep His words; and it IS in this light that we should understand His saying that “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). This IS the essential message, that one must keep His words and while doctrines use their nebulous ideas of pisteuo to define believing on Him, the reality much deeper as IS Vincent shows us in his commentary on the the use of believeth into from the Greek pisteuo eis which IS rendered as believe on and as believe in. Vincent tells us here that to pisteuo eis IS: to accept and adopt His precepts and example as binding upon the life 4 . Can we see the depth here? Can we see how that the apostles will eventually understand the fuller Truth because the DO keep His words? We should see here that Peter DOES come to gnosis and epignosis and that he IS here showing us the necessity of the True partaker to have this same KNOWLEDGE of God which comes to ALL men in the reality of pistis and pisteuo. It IS in KNOWING that one develops the ability to keep His words which Jesus shows us saying “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7) and it IS in keeping His words that one realizes ever more KNOWING. It IS unfortunate that the doctrinal teaching of men tells them that they can ask and have without such abiding which IS clearly presented to us in the third part of our trifecta which we repeat here 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).
This trifecta IS a great KEY to the Truth of salvation, a Truth that IS missed by the doctrinal thinker in two ways; first the very idea of salvation and its relationship to that Christian idea of heaven IS unfounded in the words of the New Testament. Many confuse the idea of eternal Life with heaven and then confuse the Kingdom of God or heaven with the death of the body in this world. The reality here IS that we ALL have eternal Life and the the goal of Life here IS to realize this before we leave this Earth; the unrealized man carries the very same thought, emotion and attitude set from this Life into the afterlife and we should try to see how that for some this could be hell. Realization comes in revelation which in turn comes in the trifecta; in keeping His words we KNOW the Truth and in keeping His words we have the True Presence of God in our Life here and now. It IS through both of these we can then “enter into the kingdom of heaven” and have that “knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord“. This IS the same True KNOWLEDGE that the apostles come to realize and accept as they forsake ALL else for the things of God. While the apostles had considered that they themselves had forsaken all while Jesus was with them, this according to Peter’s words saying “we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Matthew 19:27), the reality IS that they had NOT which IS evidenced by the end of Peter’s saying that asks “what shall we have therefore?“. For Peter, and likely ALL of the apostles, there IS still a glimmer of self in their thoughts and attitudes….they DO NOT yet have the fullness of realization that will come to them in the death and the resurrection of the Master….they DO NOT have the combined Power of gnosis and epignosis.
Peter tells us then that the partaker must have such KNOWLEDGE and, at the same time realize that he DOES and while we would think that this IS apparent in the first word from the apostle’s list, pistis, these ideas of gnosis and epignosis DO serve to make clear the fullness of the responsibility of ALL who DO become “partakers of the divine nature“. Peter’s next word IS egkrateia which IS rendered by most as temperance and IS generally related to carnal deviancy. While the idea of self-control IS the basic theme behind this word, it IS the spiritual view of this that should be applied to its usage here. In the last essay we related this idea of self-control to the Master’s words on mammon while considering that the idea of mammon IS much broader than the common understanding of wealth and riches. Simply put, this idea of egkrateia IS the successful way of a man’s focus upon the things of God without sliding back into the pursuit of the things of mammon….the things of the world. In the last essay we also cited Peter’s words that follow his list concerning the state of the man who DOES slide back into his former bondage and the point here IS that it IS in egkrateia that one takes his stand spiritually. Again, Peter IS speaking to those who have overcome or ARE in that process of overcoming “the corruption that is in the world through lust“. Peter’s next word IS hupomone which IS rendered in the King James Bible as patience and by others in terms of endurance, steadfastness and perseverance. ALL of these ideas ARE found in the defining of hupomone by Strong’s and Thayer’s; Vincent however gives us a broader look saying first that this word IS literally: remaining behind or staying. Mr. Vincent goes on to relate this idea to the Life of Jesus saying that hupomone IS: Not merely endurance of the inevitable, for Christ could have relieved himself of his sufferings but the heroic, brave patience with which a Christian not only bears but contends 4. This interpretation takes us to the idea of Christian persecution but DOES NOT show us the meaning of hupomone in this context of one being a partaker “of the divine nature“. This IS the same word used by James in our selection from his epistle that we used in the last post to show the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh and the need to be single-minded. In James’ words we can perhaps gain some insight into the use of this idea of hupomone and the way that it interacts with the previous word egkrateia. Rendered as patience James tells us “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing“. From the context here we should see that this idea IS more than patience as this IS commonly understood and more than endurance; this idea of hupomone IS an active response by the man who IS tempted, a spiritual effort to NOT be “drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:3-4, 14). In this context we should see how that a man may exert his measure of egkrateia in spiritual self-control. James shows us this in his words about Job saying “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11), and here again we should see the role of self-control as Job DOES NOT easily slip into purely carnal thoughts.
While Job’s story IS used as a Christian example of patience, we should try to see much more than his merely waiting out his agony or enduring it. Job IS at first pitting his plight against that which he KNOWS of the Truth; it IS this KNOWING that IS portrayed as his faith. And while Job IS somewhat worn down eventually, it IS in his hupomone as an active response of egkrateia that allows his focus to NOT be swayed by the words of his friends. These ‘virtues‘, coupled with pistis which IS the source of his KNOWING and arete which IS the flow of this KNOWING and of ALL things spiritual, allow Job to stand firm and it IS this same idea that Peter IS showing us should be the expressive nature of ALL who ARE True “partakers of the divine nature“. Vincent cites Barrow in his words on hupomone where, referring to Jesus, he writes that this sense of patience IS: from a perfect submission to the divine will, and entire command over his passions, an excessive charity toward mankind, this patient and meek behavior did spring 4. In this we should see both hupomone and egkrateia and while Barrow takes this from the perspective of God, taking this from the perspective of the Soul shows us the working of pistis and arete in one’s Life. The divine will expressed by the Soul IS but a personal version of the divine will of the Godhead which IS both the expression of the Master in this world and the intended expression of everyman who can become a partaker “of the divine nature“. We should remember here that ALL of these ideas of ‘virtue‘ ARE the expression of the man who IS Truly a partaker and that these DO NOT work out individually in the Life of such a man. This IS the same criteria that must be seen in the Apostle Paul’s list of “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) and the Apostle James’ list of what IS that “wisdom that is from above” (James 3:17). In ALL of these we should see a view of the complete expression of the man who has such fruit, such Wisdom and understand that this man IS the partaker through his acceptance of the realized Truth which releases him from his bondage to the carnal affairs of this world. As we move on to Peter’s next words, we should note that there IS NO discernible background to the story of Job; there is NO identifiable historic person, an unknown author who many believe to be an Israelite, and a writing style that ‘is difficult to translate because of its many unusual words and its style‘ according to the NIV introduction. In addition none seem to KNOW when Job was written although some place this into that time between Solomon as King and the captivity by Babylon; the Lifetime of Job is equally uncertain with some believing that he probably lived in the second millennium b.c. (2000-1000). While some believe that Job IS a True story, there IS no foundation for this save a doctrinal belief in the infallibility and inerrancy of the whole bible. From James use the idea of patience from Job, we can be sure that this proverbial story was rather well KNOWN in those days; while we DO NOT KNOW how it was received, we can presume that it told some of the reality of hupomone and egkrateia over the more simple ideas of patience and endurance. Today the story of Job IS presented according the the various doctrinal views and it IS likely that few see the activity of hupomone against the carnal temptations which afflict men as this world’s order offers ALL the happenstance that IS embedded in the vanity. For the man who IS or IS becoming a partaker “of the divine nature” it IS in the combination of hupomone and egkrateia that he finds the ability to stand firm based in his sense of KNOWING the Truth of God and of his own relationship to God.
Peter’s next word IS eusebeia which IS rendered as godliness by most and in terms of service to or fear of God by others; a few, including Young’s Literal Translation, render eusebeia as piety. Strong’s offers us piety 9a as the defining idea while Thayer’s tells us that eusebeia means reverence, respect9. Vincent gives us a more lengthy view of the word saying that the idea IS: to worship, so that the radical idea is worship rightly directed. Worship, however, is to be understood in its etymological sense, worth-ship, or reverence paid to worth, whether in God or man 4. Through these ideas it IS easy to see why the rendering as godliness IS become the most used idea; piety IS seen by most in the terms presented by today’s dictionary, as: having or showing a dutiful spirit of reverence for God or an earnest wish to fulfill religious obligations*. It IS the relationship of this idea to religion that removes it from the reality that Peter IS showing us in eusebeia. Godliness on the other hand IS a word that tells us that one IS ‘like God’ in his expression here in this world; it IS unfortunately misused by the doctrinal view which paints men godly in terms of their doctrinal adherence which DOES NOT generally reflect the True idea. We should understand here that the Soul of man, of everyman, IS ‘like God’ and this because the Soul IS part and parcel of the Godhead….the Soul CAN NOT be separated and CAN NOT act in any way other than Godliness. This IS the very nature of the spiritual man and his manifestation as the Soul, the unction by which “ye know all things” (1 John 2:20). In the reality of eusebeia it IS this KNOWING that flows into the Life of a man in arete, revealing the reality of pistis and its expression through hupomone and egkrateia. While this IS a simple way of looking at Peter’s words, it IS at the same time the inclusive reality of eusebeia and it IS this that the apostle shows us 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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off” (2 Peter 1:8, 9). Perhaps an easy way to understand eusebeia IS that in this ‘virtue‘ that flows from the Soul in the totality of ALL of Peter’s listed ‘virtues‘, a man comes to realize that he IS that unction and through this that he IS Godly. Again we must remember that these words from Peter’s list ARE those things that ARE included in one’s pistis, in one’s KNOWING which IS his possession as a partaker “of the divine nature” and that Peter’s point IS that the partaker should express these ‘virtues‘ as the man in this world….that “these things be in you, and abound“. Here we should see that “if these things be in you, and abound” that the result IS ever a godliness that IS apparent to the world.
Peter’s next word IS philadelphia which IS rendered as “brotherly kindness” in the King James Bible and in terms of “brotherly affection” by most others. In most ALL New Testament usage, this word in interpreted in terms of this kindness and affection toward fellow Christians and this idea IS offered straightforwardly by some as they render philadelphia as “Christian affection“. Few take the idea of philadelphia to Love and this likely because the last of Peter’s words IS agape which most see in terms of Love. The idea that philadelphia IS intended for fellow Christians IS a invention of doctrines based in interpretations of others’ sayings from the epistles; Strong’s tells us philadelphia means fraternal affection:—brotherly love (kindness), love of the brethren 9a while Thayer’s says that this IS: the love of brothers (or sisters), brotherly love, before they go on to say that in the New Testament philadelphia IS the love which Christians cherish for each other as ‘brethren’ 9. The root words here ARE philos which IS rendered as friend in the King James Bible and adelphos which IS rendered in terms of brethren. It IS the philos portion here that instructs on one’s relationship to his brethren and we should try to see this through the idea that ALL ARE brothers which IS perhaps a more localized idea of the neighbor; hence the underlying idea here IS Love. This concept IS used in the doctrinal sense as the localized idea has become fellow Christians but there IS NO real foundation for this. Vincent discusses this in his commentary on the next word which IS agape; this IS rendered as charity by the King James translators perhaps to prevent what Vincent says: seems at first an infelicity in the rendering of the Rev., in your love of the brethren love. But this is only apparent. In the former word Peter contemplates Christian fellow-believers as naturally and properly holding the first place in our affections (compare Galatians 6:10, “Especially unto them which are of the household of faith ”)4. It IS easy to see the translation obstacles here as well as the licence found in Paul’s words to interpret this as doctrines DO. There IS NO clear way to interpret the ideas intended in Peter’s use of the noun philadelphia and we should understand that the common understanding of ALL words that come from philos IS some form of Love; but NOT, we should add, under the common understanding of Love as the mental and emotional attraction and attachment to others or things. This idea IS the Love as this IS understood by the common man and while the ideas of agape and philos may be included in his view of this English idea, agape and philos ARE NOT this idea of Love.
In our discussions on the idea of mercy from the Greek word eleos we have tried to define this idea in terms of agape rather than the common understanding of one’s care toward the downtrodden as this IS generally understood. From God and from man mercy IS seen in terms of some form of favor offered to one who IS in need but if we look deeper at the way that this idea IS used, we can then see that mercy IS the effective expression of agape, NOT to the downtrodden or to those in need, but the general expression of the Truth of agape to ALL men. We should see philos and its derivatives in much the same way, through their relationship to one’s expression of agape. Agape IS founded in the universal idea of Unity and of Oneness and the effect that this idea has on the relationships of man to man and of man to God. In God ALL ARE equal, ALL are the same as Souls living for a time in a body in this Earth, and it IS this view that must overcome the sense of self that comes to ALL in the vanity of Life in this world. In True agape we see this Unity and it IS our expressions of this reality that ARE eleos or mercy and philos and its derivative philadelphia as brotherly Love. The Apostle John shows us the symmetry of these ideas in Jesus’ words at the end of his gospel where he uses agape in Jesus’ question, phileo in Peter’s answer and finally phileo in Jesus’ third repetition of the question; we read this as:
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter,Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17)
Understanding that Jesus and Peter ARE speaking in the same language and ARE using both agape and phileo as they DO here should give us a view that these two ideas of Love ARE intertwined. If we look yet deeper, we can also see the activity of eleos in the Master’s refrain of “feed my sheep“. Perhaps the best view of these ideas IS that agape IS the flow of Love from the Soul where agape IS a real energy that sees ALL things equal while philos IS a human interpretation of agape expressed on a human level and perhaps without the full understanding of exactly what agape IS. We should note that these words ARE used to define ALL forms of personal relationships in the New Testament while the Greek word that IS defined in terms of attraction and attachment, eros, IS NOT used at all. In this we should try to see that eros IS NOT a subject that IS addressed in the New Testament while at the same time the ideas of agape and phileo ARE presumed by most ALL to be this same mental and emotional attraction and attachment to others or to things.
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 1 Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1828 and 1913 from https://1828.mshaffer.com/
- 2 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
- 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible on blueletterbible.org
- 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
- * Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- ** A Treatise on Cosmic Fire by Alice A Bailey © 1951 by Lucis Trust
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher