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On the Epistles of John, Part 9: Love is in the Law
In the last presentation of our commentary on this first epistle of John, we discussed The Discerning of Spirits in relation to the opening half of chapter 4 of this epistle. The chapter begins with the admonishment from the apostle that his readers “1… not have trust in every spirit, but scrutinize whether the spirits are from of Yahweh…” and he proceeds to inform them that those spirits, referring to embodied spirits, who are from of God would acknowledge that Yahshua, or Jesus of Nazareth, was the Christ, or Messiah, that for that reason they would be despised by the world, but that they would also love both God and one another, and in return they would be loved by God. When we read chapter 5 of the epistle, John professes that the love of God is expressed by keeping His commandments, and that is also the manner by which Christians should express their love for their brethren.
In relation to earlier chapters of this epistle, among other things we have discussed Christ and Antichrist, Separating the Wheat and Dichotomies, False and True. However none of these subjects have yet been exhausted, and throughout the balance of the letter John continues to inform us how to distinguish the wheat from the tares, although he does not use those terms, and that also explains how to unmask an antichrist, which is also how to discern spirits which are not from of God, people who were not born from of God. This is the true dichotomy governing our present existence, although it is ignored within the greater society. Instead, the world is full of false dichotomies and artificial, faulty or even wicked social and political constructs which snare us in ditches and which keep the children of God at odds with one another, rather than loving one another.
So we embrace the enemies of Christ because they are Republicans or Freemasons or even may claim to be Catholics, or whatever other cause or organization we attach ourselves to in the world, and we despise our own brethren when they are not Republicans or Freemasons or Catholics like ourselves. We become separated from our brethren for worldly ideologies that will themselves soon cease to exist, while our spirits are eternal and we will have to answer for our actions as we face our Creator. So most modern Christians are no different than pagans, caring more for parties and labels than for Christ.
It is also apparent that most denominational Christians think of Christian love as mere charity, and they throw money away to the dogs while in their own self-righteousness they regard themselves justified. So in the modern world Christian love is often confused with Communism, under the less offensive label of Socialism. Paul of Tarsus refuted Communism when he wrote, in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, and said “10 Also when we were with you, this we instructed you, that if anyone wishes not to work, neither must he eat. 11 For we hear that some among you are conducting themselves in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but rather meddling with others’ affairs. [This also describes Antifa, the SPLC, the ADL and many other Jewish agencies.] 12 Now to such we instruct and we exhort by Prince Yahshua Christ, that working with silence, their own bread they should eat.” Yahshua Christ refuted Communism where in Matthew chapter 10 He attested that “the workman is worthy of his provisions.” He refuted Communism again in the parable of the three servants found in Matthew chapter 25, and speaking of the servant who did nothing with his talent He said: “28 So take the talent from him and give it to him having the ten talents! 29 For to each having it shall be given and he shall have abundance, but to he not having even that which he has shall be taken from him! 30 And the useless servant shall be cast out into the outer darkness. There shall there be weeping and gnashing of teeth!”
While even working men often have times of need, repeatedly giving someone charity without expecting work in return accomplishes nothing. The welfare programs of today are an example of the failure of Communism, as they are a disguised form of Communism. But ensuring that a man may work results in his developing his own self-sufficiency and that helps the entire community. There are even ways to give charity which compel the poor to get it for themselves, and those ways are also found in the law. For this we read, in Deuteronomy chapter 24: “19 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. 20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.” While charity may often be an expression of love, love is not mere charity, and it is not Communism. Love is keeping the law and the poor are given ways to provide for themselves if no one will provide for them. If this seems hard, it is only because as a society, we have become soft in our luxury. The law also provides for the protection of property, refuting Communism, and is organized to protect the interests of the common workman. Now today we have had a generation or two of youth who do not want to work, who spend all of their time in leisure, and for that reason Communism has become appealing to them.
Speaking about Communism we digress, however the wrong ideas regarding Christian love must also be addressed as we see how the apostle John has explained the true substance of Christian love. So to paraphrase verses 10 through 13 of this chapter: “10 In this is love: not that we loved Yahweh but that He has loved us and has sent His Son, a propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if Yahweh has loved us thusly, we also are obliged to love one another. 12 No one has at any time seen Yahweh. If we should love one another, Yahweh abides in us and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He gave to us from of His Spirit.”
Presenting those verses, we explained that the spirit to which John referred must be the Adamic spirit with which all of the children of Yahweh are born, as Paul of Tarsus explained in his epistles to the Romans and the Corinthians, and as Christ Himself had professed in John chapter 14, where He said “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.”
While the King James and other versions have that last verse, John 14:17, ending with the words “it shall be in you”, our translation follows the early 3rd century papyrus identified as P66 and the Codices Vaticanus, Bezae and Washingtonensis which are all of the 4th and 5th centuries. The papyrus P66, in which only fragments of the Gospel of John survive, is generally dated by scholars to circa 200 AD, according to the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. Evidently, while the witnesses for the traditional reading are not mentioned in the Novum Testamentum Graece, the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus does have the future tense of the verb. But we must not let Church tradition prevail over Truth. In that statement, as John had recorded it, Christ had used a present tense verb for “you know”, so in that context we should also expect a present tense verb for “is in you”, which is the reading found in many of the oldest manuscripts.
Now John has already attested in this chapter that Yahweh had sent His Son into the world as an expression of love for those who had needed a propitiation for their sins, and since sin is only imputed to those who were under the law, as Paul of Tarsus had explained in Romans chapters 4 and 5, then the expression of love is only for the same ancient children of Israel, the “children of God that were scattered abroad” who had been under the law. Yet the children of Israel were to inherit the world, as Paul had also explained in Romans chapter 4 where he said “13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” A few verses later Paul attested that Abraham had “become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” In their captivity, the children of Israel did indeed become many nations and inherit the world, the old Adamic world which was described in Genesis chapter 10.
In chapter 6 of his second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul of Tarsus cited Isaiah chapter 49 in reference to this same purpose of Christ, and here we shall read a larger portion of that passage: “7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. 8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.” This was written concerning the children of Israel in captivity, who were therefore called prisoners on more than one occasion in Isaiah. They showed themselves when the apostles of Christ brought them the Gospel which they ultimately accepted.
Earlier in Isaiah, in chapter 27, Yahweh God had announced His intention for Israel, in spite of their sin and imminent captivity: “6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. 7 Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? 8 In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind. 9 By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.” When the nations of Israel in captivity had accepted Christ, as the apostles brought the Gospel to Anatolia and to Europe, to the places where they had been scattered, then the pagan altars were destroyed and the iniquity of Jacob was purged. So the children of Israel were the world that needed the salvation of Christ, to fulfill the Word of Yahweh God in the Old Testament, and to keep the promises made to the fathers.
The children of Israel are the “world” which Christ came to save, and John and the other apostles certainly understood that, so it is in that context that we should understand this epistle. So continuing with 1 John chapter 4, he now makes an assertion concerning his own evangelism:
14 And we witnessed and we testify that the Father sent the Son, Savior of Society.
In the opening verses of this epistle we read: “1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we have observed, and our hands have touched concerning the Word of Life: 2 that the life was made manifest, and we have seen and we bear witness and we announce to you the eternal life which was with the Father and has been made manifest to us.” So here in this fourth chapter, we have a second attestation that this John is the John who bore the Gospel by that name, in spite of the modern-day critics who insist that this is some different John. To the contrary, by saying “witnessed” here in the past tense, while “testify” is in the present, the apostle speaks of what he had seen in the past, as the verb θεάομαι is literally to behold, and therefore this is not a reference to some evangelical witness, as the term witness is used in churches today, but rather, it is a reference to what he had actually seen with his own eyes.
Once again we must reiterate the fact that the promise of salvation is a specific matter of prophecy made exclusively to the children of Israel in captivity, as we read in Isaiah chapter 45: “17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” Then in Isaiah chapter 46, it is explicitly stated once again that salvation is for Israel: “13 I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.” Then in Isaiah chapter 49, the purpose of salvation is explained: “6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the [Nations], that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” The children of Israel were prophesied to become many nations and scattered to the ends of the earth, as we see for example in the blessings for Ephraim and Manasseh in Genesis chapter 48 and for Joseph in Deuteronomy chapter 33 where we read: “17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
In several other passages in Isaiah, Yahweh God had announced that He alone is the Savior of the children of Israel, for example where we read in Isaiah chapter 63: “7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. 8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.” No other people could ever claim to be the people of Yahweh, and therefore no other people can justly claim to have been saved in the blood of Christ. It cannot be taken for granted that John is disregarding the context of Scripture as he wrote these epistles. He is teaching his readers how to divide the wheat from the tares, to distinguish those spirits which are from of God from spirits which are not from of God, as not all people are from God, which is another truth that the denominational churches seem to ignore. So now John continues in that same manner:
15 He who shall profess that Yahshua [B inserts “Christ”] is the Son of Yahweh, Yahweh abides in him and he in Yahweh [P9 has “he is in Him”].
The 3rd century papyrus P9 has the last phrase of this verse to read “and he is in Him.” In this papyrus, only fragments of verses 11 and 12, and 14 through 17 of this chapter are preserved, and this is the only noteworthy departure from the text of the other manuscripts which it contains.
Seemingly it is not difficult for any man to profess that any other man is a son of God, or of a god. The Romans declared their emperors to be the sons of god, as they had deified their dead emperors. But Luke informs us, in chapter 3 of his Gospel, that Adam was the son of God (3:38), and John had already professed here several times that the children of God would be manifest in the Gospel of Christ. The Word of God in the Old Testament, for example in Deuteronomy chapter 14, informs the children of Israel that they are the children of Yahweh their God. So in Isaiah chapters 43, 49 and 60 there are explicit references to the Israelites scattered abroad as the sons and daughters of Yahweh, even in the time of their captivity and punishment. Then in that same manner Paul had also written, in Romans chapter 8, “16 That same Spirit bears witness with our Spirit, that we are children of Yahweh.” So if there are many children of God, as John also attested in chapter 11 of his Gospel where he mentioned “the children of God that were scattered abroad” (11:52), then John must mean to describe some greater distinction where he attests that Christ is the Son of God here in this epistle, and suggests that Christians should acknowledge Him in that manner.
Therefore, where John wrote that “15 He who shall profess that Yahshua is the Son of Yahweh, Yahweh abides in him…” by saying The Son must have been referring to a specific son of Yahweh. For this, we see in the 2nd Psalm, in the words of David: “6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the [nations] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Here we may also perceive that obedience to this Son is the way that we serve God.
Of course, as it is in all of his psalms, when David wrote those words he was writing of himself and his having become king of Israel. But Christ, being Yahweh God Incarnate, is the true King of Israel, while the life of David served as a type for Christ, and therefore his Psalms are replete with prophecies of the Messiah which are fulfilled in the Gospel of Christ, because David’s life was in many aspects a prophecy of the Messiah. In this regard, in Acts chapter 2 the apostle Peter had acknowledged David to have been a prophet. In Isaiah chapter 55, Ezekiel chapters 34 and 37 and in Hosea chapter 3 the promised Messiah is called or referred to as David for that same reason, long after David himself was dead. So the Son of John’s statement here is the prophesied Son of the 2nd Psalm, the Son who would inherit the nations, dash them in pieces, and rule forever. So in chapter 1 of the Gospel of John we read in words attributed to Nathaniel, where he was addressing Christ: “49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” That is the expectation which the pious men of Judaea had in the promised Messiah, and it is that to which John refers when he speaks of those who accept Yahshua as the Christ, and as the Son of God. That is the Son of the 2nd Psalm.
Therefore Christ is not merely a son of God, but The Son of God, a particular Son who was promised beforetime. Paul of Tarsus, addressing the men of Pisidian Antioch in Acts chapter 13, is recorded as having cited this same 2nd Psalm where he said in part: “32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” Many years later, in the opening verses of his epistle to the Hebrews, Paul wrote likewise and said: “1 On many occasions and in many ways in past times Yahweh had spoken to the fathers by the prophets. 2 At the end of these days He speaks to us by a Son, whom He has appointed heir of all, through whom He also made the ages….” That Son, as Paul explained in subsequent verses, is the substance of the person of Yahweh, and therefore Yahweh God incarnate.
As for the customs of the period, the Roman emperors, regardless of how many sons they had, would adopt a successor as a son even if he was not a son, so that the successor may inherit the empire. So it is with Christ, as He is the Son whom Yahweh had “appointed heir of all”, as Paul attested in that passage of Hebrews. So that does not negate the fact that the children of Israel and their legitimate descendants are also sons and daughters of God, as the Scriptures often refer to them. Therefore Paul had written in chapter 8 of his epistle to the Romans, speaking of Christ and those same children of Israel: “29 Because those whom He has known beforehand, He has also appointed beforehand, conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be first born among many brethren. 30 Moreover, those whom He has appointed beforehand, these He also calls; and those whom He calls, these He also deems worthy; while those whom He deems worthy, these He also honors.”
Then in Hebrews chapter 2 Paul wrote likewise and said that “11 For both He sanctifying and those being sanctified are all sprung from one [meaning Jacob], for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: ‘I will announce Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.’ 13 And again: ‘I will be confident in Him.’ And again [Paul tying these brethren to the Israelites of the Old Testament]: ‘Behold, I and the children which Yahweh has given me.’ [A quotation from Isaiah 8:18 concerning the children of Israel.] 14 Therefore, since the children have taken part in flesh and blood, He also in like manner took part in the same, that through death He would annul him having the power of death, that is, the False Accuser, 15 and He would release them, as many as whom in fear of death, throughout all of their lives were subject as slaves. 16 For surely not that of messengers has He taken upon Himself, but He has taken upon Himself of the offspring of Abraham, 17 from which He was obliged in all respects to become like the brethren [so the children of Israel were already brethren before Christ came and He became like them], that He would be a compassionate and faithful high priest of the things pertaining to Yahweh to make a propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 In what He Himself has suffered being tested, He is able to help those being tested.”
Earlier, in verse 10 of this chapter, John said that “10 In this is love: not that we loved Yahweh but that He has loved us and has sent His Son, a propitiation for our sins.” Now in regard to that love he says:
16 And we know and we believe the love which Yahweh has for us. Yahweh is love, and he abiding in love abides in Yahweh and Yahweh abides [A wants “abides” here] in him.
This love of which John speaks is in the law. In Deuteronomy chapter 7, the Word of Yahweh addresses the children of Israel and we read: “ 6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. 7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. 12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: 13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.”
Love is in the law, but it is also in the prophets. The ancient children of Israel had failed to keep the commandments, and they were ultimately put into captivity for their punishment. The Sinai covenant was conditional, and the children of Israel were punished for breaking it. But many of the promises to the fathers were unconditional, and Yahweh God has obligated Himself to keep them in spite of the actions of the children of Israel. So it is evident in Isaiah chapter 43 that Yahweh continued to love the children of Israel even in their captivity, where it says: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee [in spite of their sins]: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” There it is also evident that Yahweh loves the children of Israel at the expense of the other nations, in this case Egypt, Ethiopia and Sheba, which were all overrun by beasts only a short time before Isaiah had written those words.
So Yahweh continued to love the children of Israel in captivity, and after the destruction of Jerusalem, when a new covenant was promised in Jeremiah chapter 31, Yahweh once again affirmed His love for them in that same place, where the chapter opens: “1 At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. [A reference to the Israelites taken in the captivities.] 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, 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…. 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth… 9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” After a few more verses of both encouragement and admonition, the new covenant is explicitly promised to those same people, and no one else can justly claim to be a party to that new covenant, as Paul also acknowledged in Romans chapter 9, Galatians chapter 3 and Hebrews chapter 8.
We have seen in Isaiah 43:4 where Yahweh told the children of Israel that “I have loved thee”, and to that passage Revelation 3:9 should be cross-referenced where it says in the message to the church at Philadelphia, a name which means brotherly love: “9 Behold, I shall give those from of the congregation of the Adversary saying for themselves to be Judaeans, and they are not but they are liars, behold: I shall make them that they shall come and they shall worship before your feet and they may know that I have loved you.” Those who claimed to be Judaeans but were lying are today’s Jews, who are actually descended from the ancient Edomites. Of these, John had said earlier in this epistle, in chapter 2, that “19 They came out from us but they were not from of us….” now, speaking of that love which is in the law, John relates it to judgment and says:
17 By this the love is perfected among us, that we would have freespokenness in the day [א has ἀγάπη or “love” rather than ἡμέρα or “day” (!)] of judgment, because just as He is, we also are [א has “shall be”] in this Society.
The Greek word translated as freespokenness here is παρρησία, which according to Liddell & Scott is primarily “outspokenness, frankness, freedom of speech, claimed by the Athenians as their privilege.” While we do not favor democracy, the democracy of Athens granted greater liberties to its people than most of the so-called democracies of today, which are actually tyrannical plutocracies. The word παρρησία appears several times in the Septuagint, in Levitcus chapter 26 and in several passages from Proverbs and the books of Maccabees, in the sense of something which was done boldly or openly. In one passage of Proverbs, as well as one in Job, it is translated as confidence in similar contexts. Further on in their definition of the word Liddell & Scott state that Greek writers had also used the word to describe freedom of action as well as of speech. It is used in both senses in the New Testament, where it appears mostly in the writings of John and Paul.
Here John asserts that Christian liberty is realized once love is perfected in the Christian, and love is in the law, so John relates it to the day of the judgment of God. The Wisdom of Solomon also relates such liberty to judgment, where in the King James Apocrypha the same word, παρρησία, is translated as boldness in Wisdom chapter 5. So where Solomon is contrasting the judgment of the righteous to the fate of the wicked, we read: “1 Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. 2 When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for. ”
We read of the connection between liberty and obedience to the law in the 119th Psalm where David professed: “44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. 45 And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” In that same Psalm we read a little further on that “63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.” That verse evokes the words of Christ found in John chapter 15, where He said to His disciples: “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.”
Paul of Tarsus mentioned this same Christian liberty on several occasions in his epistles. Using a different word, ἐλευθερία, he wrote in Galatians chapter 5: “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.” Then, in his next statement, we may once again perceive the love which is in the law, where he wrote: “14 For all the law is fulfilled in one statement, to wit: ‘You shall love him near to you as yourself.’” As we have often explained, the word neighbor, or more literally “him near to you”, is defined where brotherly love is first found in the law, in Leviticus chapter 19, as one of “the children of thy people”. So a neighbor is one of your own people, and not merely anyone who happens to be within geographic proximity.
Elsewhere, using this word παρρησία Paul spoke of the liberty which Christians may expect in judgment in Hebrews chapter 10, and once again mentions the need for brotherly love in regard to that liberty: “19 Therefore brethren, having liberty into the entrance of the holy places in the blood of Yahshua 20 by a new and living way through the veil which He has consecrated for us, that is, of His flesh, 21 and a great priest over the household of Yahweh, 22 we should approach with a true heart, in certainty of faith having purified the hearts from a wicked conscience, and having washed the body in pure water 23 we should hold fast the profession of the expectation without wavering; for He making the promise is trustworthy. 24 And we should consider one another, in regard to stimulation of love and of good deeds, 25 not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as is a habit with some, but encouraging, and by so much more as you see the day approaching.” Where the messages in their epistles discuss similar subjects, Paul consistently taught the same doctrines which John had taught.
Now we may learn that the opposite emotion to love is not hate, but fear:
18 There is not fear in love, but love perfected casts out the fear. Because fear involves punishment, he being fearful has not been perfected in love.
Here fear is mentioned in reference to having freespokenness before God, so fear is what results when men have not lived justly before God, when they have not abided in love, and therefore fear is contrasted to love and it is set in opposition to love. But what the world today calls “hate” is not set in opposition to love. Rather, hate is a necessary emotion by which one defends what things he loves.
In the Old Testament, it was necessary for the children of Israel to fear the judgment of God, so that they would be compelled to keep His commandments. Therefore we read in Deuteronomy chapter 5: “29 O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” Then later in chapter 6: “2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.” But if one loves God, as john explains here, there is no need for fear, so we read in Deuteronomy chapter 10: “12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13 To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? ” Therefore Paul of Tarsus wrote in his second epistle to Timothy, in the opening chapter: “7 For Yahweh has not given to us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of discretion.” Likewise, and close in meaning to what John had written here, Paul wrote in Romans chapter 8 that “15 Therefore you have not taken on a spirit of bondage anew to fear, but you have taken on a spirit of the position of sons, in which we cry: Father, Father.” Of course, Paul was speaking to Romans, who were Israelites, as he said a few verses later, in chapter 9, speaking of Judaeans who had not yet accepted the Gospel: “3 for I have prayed that I myself would be accursed from the Anointed for the brethren, my kinsmen in regards to the flesh; 4 those who are Israelites, whose is the position of sons, and the honor, and the covenants, and the legislation, and the service, and the promises…” So we see in the words of Paul that the “position of sons” is only for those who are sons in the first place, the children of Israel, his “kinsmen in regards to the flesh”.
Now John explains why Christians should love God, and at the same time he once again qualifies the recipients of the love of God:
19 [A inserts “Therefore”] We love [א and 048 insert “God”, or “Yahweh”; the MT inserts “Him”; the text follows B] because He [A has “God”] has loved us first.
So we see that those whom should love God are those whom God had loved first. Yet in the law and the prophets only the children of Israel were loved by God, at the expense of all others. The love which Yahweh has for his people Israel is described as the love which a man would have for a woman, in Ezekiel chapter 16 where I we read: “8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.” Many similar allegories are found in the other books of the prophets, namely Jeremiah and Hosea.
The prophet Zephaniah wrote long after the children of Israel were taken into the captivities of the Assyrians and Babylonians, where Yahweh affirms the love which He has for Israel in Zephaniah chapter 3, ostensibly expressed in the salvation which is in Christ: “14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. 16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
Now John once again associates the need for Christians to love their brethren to the love of God:
20 If one should say that “I love Yahweh” and hates his brother, he is a liar! For he not loving his brother whom he has seen, he is not able to love Yahweh whom he has not seen.
The Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus Graecus 2061 (048), and the Majority Text, have the final clause as a question to read “For he not loving his brother whom he has seen, how is he able to love Yahweh whom he has not seen?” Our text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B).
In John chapter 13 we read, in words attributed to Christ: “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Evidently the commandment to love one another was not new, as love is in the law, but it seems as though under the Pharisees and Sadducees it had not been taught to the people, so perhaps Christ had meant that it was new to His disciples, as they had not heard it in their synagogues. In Leviticus chapter 19 we read: “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.”
Yet even this passage from Leviticus associates that brotherly love with a need to keep the law, as in the verse which precedes it the Word of Yahweh says: “17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” The New American Standard Bible captures the sense of the second half of that verse somewhat more appropriately, where it reads “you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.” Accepting a sinner, one becomes guilty of the sin, so sinful brethren must be reproved, as Paul had also often taught. Then the verse which follows that commandment to love one’s neighbor says: “19 Ye shall keep my statutes….”
In Romans chapter 13 Paul wrote likewise, citing the same passage from Leviticus chapter 19 where he said: “8 You owe to no one anything, except to love one another: for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 Indeed you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not lust, and any other commandment is summarized in this saying, to wit: ‘You shall love him near to you as yourself.’ 10 Love for him near to you who does not practice evil: therefore fulfilling of the law is love.” And Paul did not mean that love by itself suffices to fulfill the law, but that love is the keeping of the commandments of the law. As it is recorded in John chapter 14, Yahshua Christ had said “15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.” There is no Christian requirement to love the wicked, even wicked brethren, as Paul wrote in Romans chapter 1 in reference to sinners that “32 such as these who knowing the judgments of Yahweh, that they practicing such things are worthy of death, not only they who cause them, but also they approving of those committing them.” To accept a sinner is to approve of his sins.
So love is certainly in the law, and keeping the law is the only way to love.
Now John refers to that same passage we have cited from chapter 13 of his Gospel, and says in conclusion:
21 And we have this commandment from Him [A and 048 have “from God”], that he loving Yahweh also loves his brother.
As Paul of Tarsus wrote in Galatians chapter 5: “14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, and if you love your neighbor you will keep the commandments. The apostle James also wrote in chapter 2 of his lone epistle that “8 If, however, you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture: ‘You shall love him near to you as yourself’, you do well. 9 But if you respect the stature of persons, you commit an error, being convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For he who should keep the whole law but would fail in one thing, has become liable for all. 11 For He having said ‘you should not commit adultery’ also said ‘you should not commit murder’, and if you do not commit adultery but you commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 Thusly you speak and thusly you do as if going to be judged by a law of liberty.” Love is in the law, if you keep the law you love your brethren, you may expect Christian liberty, but without the law we cannot have true love.