Aloha Friday Message – May 4, 2018 – Now Hear This!

1818AFC050418 – Now Hear This

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John 15:12 12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This is a familiar passage, one of several that contain Jesus’ command to love, and it is a passage we have cited often in these writings. Today we will look at a few of those similar passages and take a deeper look into how they are connected by looking at the Greek in which they were written. I will use just a couple of examples so that it doesn’t get too technical. We can start with a passage from the First Letter of John. I’m going to show it to you in English and Greek just so you can see the connections.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.Whoever does not does not know God, for God is Love.

Ἀγαπητοί, ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους, ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστιν, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ γεγέννηται καὶ γινώσκει τὸν Θεόν. ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν οὐκ ἔγνω τὸν Θεόν, ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν.

Now, I also want to show you this same passage in another translation because some readers make it a point to remind me that “Jesus didn’t speak Greek; he spoke Aramaic.” This comes from an excellent resource for studying the New Testament: The Aramaic Bible in Plain English 7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God, 8 Because God is Love, and everyone who does not love does not know God.

As you can see, there is not much difference between those passages. If you use the first link (1 John 4:7), you can see what this looks like in the Authorized King James and the New English Translation as well. Why look at it several different ways? We can see that the key words are in every translation, and by looking at the key words, we can understand the impact of Jesus command. We’ll add one other reference to tie all of this together:

John 13:34-35 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

I’m going to emphasize the English words we’ll be studying in Greek:

I give you a new [καινὴν] commandment [ἐντολὴν], that you love one another. Just as I have [καθὼς] loved you, you also should love one another.

First up – new. The Greek word here is καινὴν [kainós] (kahee-nos) – absolutely and uniquely new and without precedent. It is something that is completely different from anything anywhere anytime because this instant is the first time it ever existed and it is incomparably first-and-only. It is original, unused, and innovative.

Next – commandment. That Greek word is ἐντολὴν [entolé] (en-tol-ay) – a fixed rule unchangeable and inviolable which stipulates how something is to be done to achieve a specific outcome. The rule is abundantly clear in the sense that the command is so obvious that it sounds self-evident. It is so obvious that it is a “natural rule,” a rule anyone can understand because it is a rule anyone could perceive as being valid. The purpose of this rule focuses on the end result. The objective of this command is an expected outcome which comes into being through obedience to the command. The instructions in the command contain all the requirements for obedience.

Finally, just as or in the same way as καθὼς [kathos] (kath-oce) – in exactly the same manner, to precisely the same degree, to the complete extent, and in a way that is identical to. We could go back to the identity expression we have used in the past when we said

LIGHT ≡ GOD ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ FOREVER

We can therefore say

YOUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER ≡ MY LOVE FOR YOU

Now the question arises, “How is this new? Didn’t Jesus say that “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself?” are the greatest of all the commandments?” Yes, he said that. In today’s passage he is saying something bigger, something more intense, something mind-shattering. He is saying, “Love your neighbor (each other, one another) as I do.” When we say, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we assume that we love and care about our own well-being and that we will treat our neighbor with the same healthy respect we have for our own lives. It’s the basis for the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself (or as you would have them do unto you).” Treat others the way you want to be treated. Jesus isn’t saying that. He’s saying something new. He’s saying to love your neighbor exactly, precisely, and completely in the same way Jesus loves you and your neighbor – Love without selfishness, possessiveness, jealousy, pride, without holding anything back, completely abandoning any claim to be loved in return, sacrificing all for the good of another rather than your own good. And that is a commandment, not an aphorism, not a proverb, not a suggestion, not an optional behavior. It is a commandment – a directive, a mandate, a decree, a law. That is why we so often talk about “Christ’s Law of Love.”

That is a lot to ask! It was, and is, Jesus who asks that of us now – right now.

How? How do we do this? 1 John 4:16 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Jesus commanded us to love one another. We must obey his command. “Whoever loves me will keep my word.” (John 14:23) If we love Jesus, we will want to love each other. Sometimes it seems too simple. Just love Jesus, and we will be empowered to keep his commandment to love each other. The reverse of this also seems simple. Just love others the way Jesus loves them and we will be loving Jesus. Thus, the word “Love” can be a word of obedience, too. It is not as simple, though, as “feeling love” for one another. Love is not a feeling. “Like” is a feeling. Love is an action. We must act on our love, not merely express it or feel it. While it is true that loving Jesus and loving others are inseparable, they are inseparable acts, not feelings. If we believe love is a feeling, then we can be afraid of losing love, or even using love. We must not be afraid.

There is a hymn I learned in our Youth Group around 1960. It was written Ellis Govan 1897-1983, born in Biggar, Strathdyde, Scotland. He served in World War I, and then worked in Kenya for several years. He later joined Faith Mission, the evangelistic agency his father founded in 1886 in Scotland and Ireland. Ellis wrote the hymn, “I Will Not Be Afraid.” (↔ Music Link) This hymn was born among the persecuted missionaries and believers in China during the war with Japan, 1931-1939. They boldly sang it together daily as they were surrounded by constant danger. Music: “Duntroon,” usually listed as Anonymous. As we listen to this simple tune and read the words, we can think about the love in our hearts and examine that love to see if there is any fear within it (remember, Brendan Case taught us FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real). If there is fear, we must “look upward, and travel onward, and not be afraid.” True Love does not evoke fear. We are repeatedly commanded to Love, and repeatedly reminded “Do not be afraid. (e.g., Psalm 56:11) Fear not. (e.g., Luke 12:32)” Love, instead, delivers us from all fear if we will just love one another in the same way that Jesus willing and completely, without pretense or demand, Loves us they same way his Father loves him.

Jesus loves us because he does what his Father commands. We love Jesus because he loved us first, best, last, and always. It is ἀγάπη (agápē) {ag-ah’-pay}. That is love that is centered in and expressed as a moral preference. It typically refers to Divine Love as that is the Love that God prefers. It is preferential love that grows out of reverence toward God that is manifested by reverence toward each other. We prefer to Love rather than not to love because God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Stick with God. You will recall that prophecy begins with the words “Thus says the Lord.” Hear ye the word of the Lord (i.e., NOW HEAR THIS): Love Jesus just like he loves you and you will love each other as he does. Why make it more complicated? It’s a one-word command.

LOVE

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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