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On the Epistles of John, Part 8: The Discerning of Spirits
At the end of our last presentation in this commentary on the epistles of John, which was titled Dichotomies, False and True, we presented the first few verses of 1 John chapter 4 where the apostle had explained one aspect of a true and quite significant dichotomy that existed in his time, and which is still found in our world today. That is the fact that not all spirits, or people, come from God, as John was referring to embodied spirits when he wrote that passage, and not to disembodied spirits. There he had professed that the embodied spirits which did not come from God are the source of many false prophets which had already “gone out into Society”, and that collectively, they are the antichrist which is “already now in Society.” So once again here we shall repeat that passage, which is found in the first three verses of 1 John chapter 4:
IV 1 Beloved, do not have trust in every spirit, but scrutinize whether the spirits are from of Yahweh, because many false prophets have gone out into Society.
For this same reason, in Galatians chapter 2 the apostle Paul had written of “4… false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage”. Evidently, they were false brethren because they did not belong in the first place. Likewise, in his one epistle Jude had warned of “4… certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men” and we see that having been condemned even before they “crept in unawares”, neither could they have been from of Yahweh. In his second epistle, Peter issued a similar warning.
Now John continues to speak of these same spirits, or people, and in his own way he warns his readers about them:
2 By this you know the Spirit of Yahweh: each spirit which professes that Yahshua Christ has come in the flesh is from of Yahweh, 3 and each spirit which does not profess Yahshua is not from of Yahweh, and this is the Antichrist, whom you have heard that it comes, and is already now in Society.
Here John continues the discussion which he had begun in chapter 3 of this epistle, if not sooner, and which we had described as Separating the Wheat. As it is recorded in John chapter 10, Yahshua Christ had told His adversaries that “ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep”, so we would not expect them to profess that Yahshua Christ has come in the flesh. Yet even earlier, where John had first mentioned an antichrist in chapter 2 of this epistle, discussing Christ and Antichrist we sought to explain what the apostle had meant by the profession that “Yahshua Christ has come in the flesh”, as it is not merely a reference to the man called Yahshua, or Jesus. Rather, by merely uttering the words “Yahshua Christ”, one is making a specific reference to His nature rather than merely to His person, and by using the reference one is making a direct admission concerning the true nature of His person.
In the Gospel accounts, Christ was often called Yahshua, or Jesus of Nazareth. So the Jews identified Him by that name, rather than as Christ, and for that reason, in the Book of Acts the Jews are depicted as referring to Christ as a “Nazarene” where His followers are described as the “sect of the Nazarenes” in Acts chapter 24, so that they could avoid using the terms Christ and Christians. In ancient times, words had greater value than they seem to have today, where the mere utterance of a title was an acknowledgment of the authority which the title represented, so it is apparent that the enemies of Christ would not call him Christ because that alone would be an acknowledgement that he was the Messiah of Israel. Every man has “come in the flesh”, but the title Christ represents the promises made to the children of Israel of a Messiah, and according to the prophets that Messiah would be not only a particular Son of God, but also Yahweh God Himself come as the Savior and Redeemer of His people. Professing that “Yahshua Christ has come in the flesh” is a profession that Yahweh God has been manifested in the flesh, as that is the promise of the prophets.
But only Judaeans and other Hebrews, those who had the traditions of Scripture, could have known these things, so John’s warnings best fit the historical circumstances of his own time, and his label of antichrist is for the Jews who had claimed to be the people of God, but who were actually Edomites and Canaanites, the “not My sheep” of John chapter 10, those whom Paul had described as not being of his “kinsmen according to the flesh” in Romans chapter 9, whom were truly not of Israel. Furthermore, since Christ came only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:27), then the world which He came into was the same world described in the Wisdom of Solomon where he had said in chapter 18, speaking of the garment of the high priest of Israel: “24 For in the long garment was the whole world, and in the four rows of the stones was the glory of the fathers graven…”
So Yahshua Christ, having told His enemies that “ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep” had also explained the origin of His enemies as being from of the Devil, for which reason they could not have been His sheep, and that is what is found in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew chapter 13. However we are also informed that men could not tell apart the wheat from the tares merely by their appearance, and the apostles had marvelled that Christ Himself could tell them apart, as we read in the very last verse of John chapter 2 that He “had no need that anyone testify concerning a man. Indeed He knew what was in a man.”
Speaking of the gifts which Yahweh God imparts to men, Paul of Tarsus had written in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, in relation to the people in the Body of Christ: “4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are diversities of services, and the same Prince; 6 and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who operates all things in all. 7 And to each is given manifestation of the Spirit towards that which is advantageous. 8 While to one through the Spirit a word of wisdom is given, then to another a word of knowledge, down through the same Spirit; 9 and to another faith, in the same Spirit, and to another gifts of the means of healing, in the same Spirit; 10 and to another operations of power, and to another interpretation of prophecy, and to another dissolution of spirits, to another sorts of languages, and to another interpretation of languages. 11 But all these things one and the same Spirit operates, dividing personally to each just as He wills.”
That word dissolution is also correctly translated in the King James Version as discerning. Here we shall explain our translation, citing our January, 2015 commentary on this portion of 1 Corinthians chapter 12:
The Greek word διάκρισις (Strong's # 1253) is dissolution here and in the King James Version it is discerning. The word is a noun from the same component word as the verb διακρίνω (Strong's # 1252), and it is defined as meaning “separation, dissolution...decision, judgment” by Liddell and Scott. This is being mentioned here to further illustrate the use of the verb at 1 Corinthians 11:31 which the King James Version very wrongly rendered as judge. Paul actually said at 1 Corinthians 11:31 that “If then we had made a distinction of ourselves [or, if Israelites had discerned themselves], perhaps we would not be judged.” [The children of Israel were commanded to be a separate people. The ancient Israelites failed to make the distinction which Yahweh had commanded, for which reason they were sent into captivity in punishment, and the result is that the wheat are infiltrated with tares.] The word dissolution may be a difficult choice here, however it was chosen because it primarily means “the resolution or separation into component parts” or “the act or process of resolving or dissolving into parts or elements.” Paul is not necessarily referring to ghostly spirits, but to embodied spirits, just as the apostle John was also in chapter 4 of his first epistle. There John warned his intended readers to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Being able to discern spirits, one must be able to perceive the component parts of their rhetoric, professions and assertions, and measure them against Scripture. From there one must be able to estimate their agendas and why they are not truthful according to the Word of God. That is why we chose the word dissolution as a translation of διάκρισις here. Of course, some Christians are better and faster at determining evil spirits than others, and that is a gift from God.
Ostensibly, Adam was a man, a White man as we know men today, but there were others present, the Nephilim or fallen ones, who evidently appeared very much as he appeared, and the fact that they were present is attested in Genesis chapter 6 as well as by Jude in his epistle. Yet the spirit of those others was not the same spirit as the Spirit of God which Yahweh God had imparted to Adam. So Paul of Tarsus explained that the discerning of spirits is a gift from God, and here John also informs us that there are spirits which are not from God, which do not profess that Yahshua is the Christ, that Yahshua is God incarnate in the flesh as His Anointed Son, the Messiah, as it is prophesied in the Psalms and in Isaiah. So this is the meaning of the phrase “discerning of spirits”: to be able to tell apart those who are born from above and those who are not of God, not by their mere appearance but by their profession.
But of course, Paul and the other apostles had also warned about false brethren, about infiltrators into the assemblies of Yahweh who would seek to corrupt them with false doctrines. This is why Paul described Esau, referring to the Edomites of Judaea, as “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” in Romans chapter 9. Therefore Christ had also said, as it is recorded in John chapter 14, “15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John will once again explain that further on in this epistle, as it is another way by which to discern spirits. And because not all men are from God, the apostle now professes to his readers in the very next verse of this epistle:
4 You are from of Yahweh, children, and you have prevailed over them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in Society.
Here the use of a plural pronoun for them refers back to the singular term for antichrist in verse three, and, in turn, that singular term is a collective noun describing “each spirit which does not profess Yahshua” which is mentioned earlier in that same verse. It is these to whom John refers where he says “you have prevailed over them”. In chapter 2 of this epistle, John had professed that these antichrists are another race of people which is different from the race of the Israelite Judaeans, but which is found among them, where he had said that “18… even now many Antichrists have been born…” and “19 They came out from us but they were not from of us….”
So the children of God having “prevailed over them”, then we must ask ourselves who “them” are if we begin with the false supposition that all men have an equal opportunity to come to Christ for salvation and redemption, something which this verse alone fully disproves. The “them” here are not from God, and according to John they are given no opportunity to repent and convert to Christ, for changing their minds, for cajoling or persuading into repentance, they have no such opportunity. Accepting Christ, one does not prevail over one’s brother, even if one’s brother has not yet accepted Christ. However one does prevail over those spirits which are not from God, which have rejected Christ for that reason, because they are not from of Him. John did not expect Christians to convert “them”, but he anticipated the fact that Christians “prevail over them”. So now he writes in reference to “them” once again and says:
5 They are from of Society: for this reason from of Society they speak and Society hears them.
The antichrists are not merely of the world, as even Christians may be worldly, but the antichrists are from of the world, their origin is with the world. For the same reason, Christ had told his adversaries in John chapter 8 that “23… You are from of those below; I am from of those above. You are from of this Society; I am not from of this Society.” The phrase “from of those below” is a preposition, ἐκ, which describes source or origin, so it is from here, with a genitive plural definite article and adverb, τῶν κάτω, which is of those below, referring to a collection of individuals whose origin must have been in the world. Likewise the phrase ἐκ τῶν ἄνω, “from of those above” refers to a collection of individuals whose origin is not of the world. All of the popular translations of John 8:23 ignore those plural articles which are found in each phrase. As Christ had said, as it is recorded in John chapter 3, “3… unless a man should be born from above, he is not able to see the Kingdom of Yahweh.” Those born from of those below do not have the spirit of Yahweh God which He had imparted to the Adamic man. So for that very reason, John informs his readers:
6 We are from of Yahweh: he knowing Yahweh hears us. He who is not from of Yahweh does not hear us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception [literally “wandering”].
The Codex Alexandrinus (A) wants the clause “He who is not from of Yahweh does not hear us”, which the editors of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece plausibly attribute to a scribal error caused by the very similar ending in the last words of the clause which precedes.
Where John wrote “he knowing Yahweh hears us”, he is repeating the profession of Christ which is found in John chapter 10 where He said “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…” Ultimately all of the sheep did hear His voice, or that of His apostles, and all of Europe became Christian. That fact alone proves the identity of the sheep, in addition to the historical proofs of the migrations of ancient Israel which are also described in the books of the prophets. For that same reason, the Word of Yahweh says in Jeremiah chapter 31, in relation to the promise of the New Covenant, “34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
However today we live under different circumstances, and while all of the European peoples had once accepted Christianity, having known Yahweh God in Yahshua Christ, and while we still live under mostly, or at least, apparently Christian laws, in chapter 3 of his second epistle the apostle Peter had warned that “3 knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers with scoffing going according to their own desires 4 and saying ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers have fallen asleep, all things continue thusly from the beginning of creation!’”
Likewise, in his Revelation, in chapter 12, this same apostle John had a vision of a woman who fled into the wilderness from the face of the dragon, which represents the same collective entity as his antichrist here, and the woman represents the children of Israel, the sheep who would hear His voice. So there is a description of the woman being nourished for a period of time, and ostensibly, that is the receiving of the Word of God, the Bread of Life in the Gospel of Christ. However later, in Revelation chapter 17, the apostle had another vision where he is brought back to the wilderness to see the woman a second time, and he writes, in part: “3… And I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast filled with names of blasphemy… 4 And… clothed in purple and scarlet and gilt in gold and precious stones and pearls, having a gold cup in her hand full of abominations and the unclean things of her fornication…” That is the same woman, and describes the condition and circumstances of the sheep today.
Ultimately, as we read in Revelation chapter 20, “10… the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” That word for deceived in Revelation 20:10 is the Greek verb πλανάω, which is literally to cause to wander, but also to lead astray, mislead, deceive. So in Scripture, it is sometimes used in relation to sin and sinners, as sheep having gone astray (1 Peter 2:25).
Here in this verse, in the phrase “spirit of deception”, the word for deception is πλάνη, which is literally wandering or roaming and metaphorically a going astray in error. When Cain was ejected from the presence of God, as it is described in Genesis 4:16, he went off into the land of Nod, and Nod is from a Hebrew word bearing that same meaning of wandering (Strong’s # 5113). The same word, in the plural, is wanderings in the 56th Psalm where David referred to his own sins and said “8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”
Here in this verse, the apostle is still writing within the context of what he had said in chapter 2 of this epistle where he said “26 I have written these things to you in reference to those leading you astray.” There once again we see the verb πλανάω, where the King James Version translated the word as seduce. The land of Nod was called that for good reason, as everything which is outside of God is wandering, and even then the Nephilim, the fallen ones, had corrupted the world of that time. The apostle Jude was speaking of these same antichrists where he wrote: “12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” The fallen angels are described as stars in Revelation chapter 12, and it is not a coincidence that in his epistle Jude described the angels who left their first estate as “wandering stars”. They are not of Yahweh, but instead, they are “from of those below” because they are the products of that wandering, having been conceived in the corruption of the creation of God. Therefore it is in this manner that we should understand the origin of the “spirit of deception”.
So once again, John informs his readers as to how they can overcome “them”, the antichrists of the world:
7 Beloved, we should love one another, because love is from of Yahweh, and each who loves [A inserts “God”, for which we would write “Yahweh”] has been born from of Yahweh and knows Yahweh.
But this love of which John speaks is not love as it is defined by the world. Love, as it is defined by the world, is very often only lustful idolatry. Rather, John explains in the final chapter of this epistle that love is a keeping of the commandments of God, and that keeping of the commandments is how Christians should express their love for their brethren. So in that chapter we read: “2 By this we know that we should love the children of Yahweh, when we would love Yahweh and we would keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of Yahweh, that we should keep His commandments: and His commandments are not burdensome!” It is not hard not to commit adultery, or fornication, or sodomy or any other sin.
For that same reason, in Romans chapter 13 Paul of Tarsus had written urging his readers that “8 You owe to no one anything, except to love one another: for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” So immediately thereafter he began to recount some of the commandments of the law, because where he said that “he who loves another has fulfilled the law”, he also meant that the keeping of the commandments was the proper expression of love for one’s brethren. So for that same reason, Paul wrote in Romans chapter 12 and exhorted his readers to “9 Love without acting; abhorring wickedness, cleaving to goodness.” Where we translated the verb ἀποστυγέω as abhorring in that passage, we may have written hating. Oddly, there are Bible dictionaries which omit the word hate from the definition of that term. Yet Liddell & Scott define ἀποστυγέω as “to hate violently, abhor, loathe…” There is nothing wrong with hate, so long as men love God, and men hate what God hates.
Likewise, Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 5 of the liberty which Christians have in Christ, by which he refers to liberty from the rituals of the law, and he said: “13 For you have been called on to freedom, brethren, only not that freedom for occasion in the flesh; but through love you serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one statement, to wit: ‘You shall love him near to you as yourself.’” That commandment also defines what a neighbor is, as one of the children of one’s own people.
This we read in Leviticus chapter 19: “17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” That last commandment was called by Christ the second great commandment, and He likened it to the first, which is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Then, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 22, Christ also said that “40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” For that reason Paul has said that “all the law is fulfilled in one statement, to wit: ‘You shall love him near to you as yourself.’” Loving one’s brother, one strives to keep the commandments of Yahweh.
But on the contrary, now John tells us once again how to discern the spirits of the antichrists:
8 He not loving does not know Yahweh, because Yahweh is love.
As Christ had told His adversaries, as it is recorded in John chapter 8: “42 Yahshua said to them: “If Yahweh was your father you would have loved Me, for I have come from of Yahweh and am here. I have not come by Myself, but He has sent Me. 43 For what reason do you not perceive My speech? Because you are not able to hear My Word!” So His adversaries had proven by their own insolence that they were not of His sheep, and for that reason they did not believe Him, as He had told them in John chapter 10, because as he had also said in that same discourse in John chapter 8, they were not of God, that God was not their father. They were from of those below. They did not have a choice but to be antichrists, and as John wrote here in chapter 2 of this epistle, they are born as antichrists.
Then in contrast to His adversaries, Christ had said to His disciples, in John chapter 16: “27 For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and you have believed that I came out from Yahweh.” In that same discourse, in John chapter 15, Christ spoke of those who hated Him and said “23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.” As we have said earlier in this commentary on this epistle, here John is teaching the practical application of things which he himself had learned from the events of his Gospel account. Therefore, evoking those words of Christ which we have just cited from John chapter 16, he now writes:
9 By this the love of Yahweh is manifest in us, because Yahweh sent His best-loved Son into Society in order that we may live through Him.
The Greek word μονογενής may literally mean only-begotten, as the King James Version translated it here. This is the fifth time in John’s writing that he had used this word, as it appears twice in each of chapters 1 and 3 of his Gospel. However as we discussed in our recent commentary on John 3:16, and earlier where the term also appeared in John chapter 1:
Paul quotes Genesis 21:12, where Isaac is distinguished from Ishmael and it says: “12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.”
We wrote this in relation to where Paul had written in chapter 11 of his epistle to the Hebrews that: “17 By faith Abraham, being tried, had offered up Isaak, and the best-beloved being offered up took upon himself the promises, 18 in reference to whom it was said: ‘That in Isaak shall your offspring be called.’” So we had also translated the term μονογενής as best-beloved there, rather than as only-begotten, as Abraham had another and older son. Therefore in our commentaries where the same word appears in the Gospel of John we also said, in part, that:
The use of the term μονογενής (Strong’s # 3439) here [referring to Hebrews 11:17], which is a Greek word that literally means only-begotten, where there are clearly other sons [namely Ishmael], informs us that the term must represent a Hebrew idiom and therefore it should not necessarily be literally translated as “only-begotten”. The translators of the Septuagint must have understood this idiom, where they wrote “thy son, the beloved one” in reference to Isaac in Genesis 22:2, where in the King James Version the corresponding Hebrew was literally translated as “thy son, thine only son”.
The translators of the King James Version obviously had no understanding of the idiom. As John had already attested in chapter 3 of this Gospel, “now are we the sons of God”, and in chapter 11 that the children of God had been scattered abroad, and since Adam is also the son of God (Luke 3:38), and since according to Paul of Tarsus the Japhethite men of Athens were children of God, being children of Adam, and in Hebrews chapter 2 Christ had taken upon Himself the seed of Abraham for reason that “He was obliged in all respects to become like the brethren”, like Israelites who were already brethren, and because as Paul had attested in Romans chapter 8, Christ being God, He was also “firstborn among many brethren”, then John could not have meant that Christ was the “only-begotten” son wherever he had used the term μονογενής to describe Him, or he contradicts himself. Rather, John did not contradict himself, and he was using the term according to the Hebrew idiom which is apparent in Genesis 22:2 and in Hebrews 11:17, where it means best-loved. We cannot interpret John or any other writer in a manner which forces him to contradict himself, when there are other viable translations that are possible and which do not cause such a contradiction.
So now John explains the love of God:
10 In this is love [א has “In this is the love of Yahweh”]: not that we loved Yahweh but that He has loved us and has sent His Son, a propitiation for our errors.
As Paul had said in Romans chapter 5, “Christ died for the ungodly”, for the Israelites sent off in captivity for their punishment. Of course, at least most of the children of Israel had been alienated from God before receiving the Gospel of Christ, and certainly did not love Him during that time.
Yahshua Christ Himself had also explained this love, in John chapter 10 where John recorded Him as having said, in part: “11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep…. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep…. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.”
Where Christ had said in that passage that He is “known of mine”, we have already seen John attest likewise, above in verse 7 of this chapter where he wrote “… each who loves has been born from of Yahweh and knows Yahweh.” If a man loves God, loves his brethren and keeps the commandments, he exhibits the fact that he is “born from above” and can anticipate a future in the kingdom of Heaven. That is the separating of the wheat, and that is the discerning of the spirits which are from of God.
John elaborates on the love of God:
11 Beloved, if Yahweh has loved us thusly, we also are obliged to love one another.
In order to find out who it is that Yahweh loves, we must turn to His Word in the Old Testament, and in Jeremiah chapter 31, in the very passage where the promise of the New Testament is announced, we read: “1 At the same time, saith the LORD [after the scattering of Israel was discussed in Jeremiah chapter 30], will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus saith the LORD, [Now informing us whom Israel is:] The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness [those of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities]; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. 3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. 4 Again I will build thee [the ancient children of Israel], and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.”
While he expressed it differently, Paul of Tarsus spoke of that same love which Yahweh God has for the children of Israel, and the unity which Christians should have on account of that love, in Ephesians chapter 2: “4 But Yahweh, being rich in compassion, because of that great love of His with which He has loved us, 5 and we being dead in transgressions [in their sins], are made alive with the Anointed (in favor are you being preserved), 6 and are raised together and are seated together in the heavenly places with Christ Yahshua, 7 in order that He would exhibit in the coming ages the surpassing riches of His favor in kindness to us among the number of Christ Yahshua.”
Speaking once again of the sin of Israel, the transgressions to which Paul had referred, we read in the final chapter of Hosea, chapter 14: “4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him [meaning Israel]. 5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.” The love of God for the children of Israel is the love which was expressed in Christ, who healed their backsliding in the forgiveness of their sins.
This we read in John chapter 15, in the words which John attributes to Christ: “9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you. You abide in My love. 10 If you will keep My commandments you shall abide in My love, just as I have kept the commandments of My Father and I abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you in order that My joy would be in you and your joy would be fulfilled. 12 This is My commandment: that you love one another just as I have loved you. 13 A greater love than this no one has: that one would lay down his life on behalf of his friends. 14 You are My friends if you would do the things which I command you.” So Yahweh God Himself obligates the children of Israel to love one another, as He also had done in the Law in Leviticus chapter 19. The importance of the commandment is evident where Christ repeats it a few verses later and says: “17 These things I command you, that you love one another.”
Once again, Paul taught this example of the love of Christ as a reason why Christians should love one another, in Philippians chapter 2 where he wrote: “1 If then there is any encouragement among the Anointed, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affections and compassions, 2 you would fulfill my joy: that you would be like-minded, having the same love, in unity having one understanding, 3 nothing according to contention, nothing according to empty pride, but with humility esteeming one another above yourselves. 4 Each not considering the things of yourselves, but each also the things of each of the others. 5 You must understand that this is in you which is also in Christ Yahshua, 6 who being in the form of Yahweh, regarded it not robbery, that to be equal to Yahweh 7 yet He made Himself of no account, taking a bondman’s form, coming in the likeness of men. And in figure being found as a man, 8 He humbled Himself, being obedient even to death, and the death of the cross.” Christ, being God incarnate, the image of the person of God, nevertheless He esteemed the children of Israel above Himself by dying on their behalf, and in that same manner Christians should esteem their brethren.
Now John makes an assertion by which he endeavors to encourage men to love their brethren, because it is the only way that they may come close to God, where he declares that:
12 No one has at any time seen Yahweh.
While we may never understand why it is so, we read in Exodus chapter 33, where Yahweh addresses Moses, that “20… Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” While in verse 23 of that same chapter, we read “thou shalt see my back parts”, we cannot take it for granted that John or the other apostles had interpreted that passage in that same manner, as he bluntly states here that “No one has at any time seen Yahweh.”
Likewise Paul described Yahweh God as being invisible, for example in 1 Timothy chapter 1 where he wrote: “17 Now to the king of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only God, dignity and honor for eternity. Truly.” In Hebrews chapter 11, Paul recounted the faith of Moses in the face of Pharaoh, whose wrath he could see, and described him as having “endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Paul was commending Moses for fearing the God whom he could not see, and not fearing the wrath of Pharaoh who m he could see. Then Paul described Christ as being the image, or the “the likeness of the invisible God, first born of all the creation”, in Colossians chapter 1.
Then, as Paul also explained in Hebrews, in chapter 1, Yahshua Christ is the brightness of the glory of God, and the express image of His person. Thus we read the words of Christ in the Gospel as it is recorded in John chapter 14: “8 Philippos says to Him ‘Prince, show us the Father, and it shall satisfy us.’ 9 Yahshua says to him: ‘For so long a time I am with you and you do not know Me, Philippos? He who has seen Me has seen the Father! How do you say show us the Father’?” God the Father is indeed invisible, but Yahweh God incarnate as the Son is the image of the person of God. He is not His own person, but rather, He is God in person.
Continuing with verse 12, now John gives us the reason for the declaration that no man has seen God:
If we should love one another, Yahweh abides in us and His love is perfected in us.
Once again, here John is teaching what Christ had taught as it is recorded in his Gospel, in John chapter 14 where Christ spoke of the Comforter, or Holy Spirit: “15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 And I shall ask the Father and He will give to you another advocate, that it would be with you forever, 17 the Spirit of Truth, which Society is not able to receive, because it does not see nor does it know it. You know it, because it abides with you and it is in you.” Then Christ indirectly professed that He Himself is both the Father and the Holy Spirit: “18 I shall not leave you fatherless: I come to you.” Then where He continues, He Himself describes the discerning of spirits and He says: “19 Shortly yet and Society shall no longer see Me, but you shall see Me, because I live and you shall live. 20 On that day you shall know that I am in My Father and you in Me and I in you. 21 He having My commandments and keeping them is he who loves Me. Then he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and make Myself manifest to him.”
In the closing verse of chapter 3 of this epistle, John had explained in other words the discerning of spirits and he said “24 And he keeping His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, from of the Spirit which He has given to us.”
Therefore John makes that same conclusion here:
13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He gave to us from of His Spirit.
Some of the things which Christ had done in the presence of the apostles must have been done for examples, and it may be more appropriate to interpret some of them symbolically, rather than literally. One such instance is in John chapter 20, where Christ had appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, and we read: “21 Then Yahshua said to them again: ‘Peace to you! Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ 22 And saying this He inhaled and says to them ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 The errors of any you should forgive, they are forgiven them; of any you should maintain, they are maintained.’”
With this we may also understand the “binding and loosing” of Matthew chapters 16 and 18. Christ had already given that authority to his disciples, as He attested in His words as they were recorded by Matthew. Then the same apostles had received the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit as it is recorded in Acts chapter 2, of the first Christian Pentecost which was nearly seven weeks after the resurrection, and after the events of John chapter 20.
However here in this passage which we have just cited from John chapter 14, speaking of the same Holy Spirit, Christ had said “You know it, because it abides with you and it is in you.” Yet this is before either of the aforementioned events, that of John chapter 20 or that of Acts chapter 2, where the apostles are described as having received the Spirit. Therefore in this passage of John chapter 14 Christ must be referring to the Adamic spirit which Yahweh God had imparted to man upon his creation. Of that spirit, Paul of Tarsus also wrote in Romans chapter 8 where he said: “16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Of that same spirit, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes and speaking of death, he said: “7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” David also spoke of that spirit where he pleaded to God in the 31st Psalm and said “5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.”
So in our commentary on that passage in chapter 20 of the Gospel of John, we wrote in part:
The action of Christ here evokes the description of the creation of Adam as it is in Genesis chapter 2: “7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” But here Christ is not breathing into the nostrils of the disciples. Rather, this is only symbolic of the Holy Spirit which they would receive at the first Christian Pentecost, which happened nearly seven weeks later [Pentecost being the fiftieth day from Passover counting inclusively].
Therefore, where John wrote “because He gave to us from of His Spirit”, he is likely speaking of the Adamic spirit with which all of the children of God are born. That is the spiritual body of which Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where he said “if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual”, and that is the image of God in which man was made, and which Solomon had mentioned in Wisdom chapter 2 where he said that “23… God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.” That is the spirit which was in the apostles before the Passion of the Christ had facilitated the sending of the Holy Spirit. Christ Himself had professed, in John chapter 16, that the Holy Spirit could not come unless He first went to the Father, so the spirit which He said “is in you” in John chapter 14 must be a reference to the Adamic spirit within man.
As we approach the concluding chapter of this first epistle of John, the apostle will continue to teach his readers how to separate the wheat, how the true dichotomies in the world are divided, and how to discern the spirits of men.