What is Love?  Let's listen to Jesus to find out...


"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE (agapao) YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love (agapao) your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love (agapao) those who love (agapao) you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

(Matthew 5:43-46)

"But I say to you who hear, love (agapao) your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. "If you love (agapao) those who love (agapao) you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love (agapao) those who love (agapao) them. "If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. "If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. "But love (agapao) your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

(Luke 6:27-35)

And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE (agapao) THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE (agapao) YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'

(Matthew 22:37-39)

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE (agapao) YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."

(Matthew 19:19)

"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love (phileo) to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

(Matthew 6:5)

"They love (phileo) the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues..."

(Matthew 23:6)

"But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love (agape) of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love (agapao) the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places."

(Luke 11:42-43)

"Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love (phileo) respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets..."

(Luke 20:46

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love (agapao) the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

(Matthew 6:24)

Looking at him, Jesus felt a love (agapao) for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

(Mark 10:21)

"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love (agape) will grow cold."

(Matthew 24:12)

"When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love (agapao) him more?"

(Luke 7:42)

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved (agapao) much; but he who is forgiven little, loves (agapao) little."

(Luke 7:47)

"For God so loved (agapao) the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved (agapao) the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

(John 3:16-21)

"I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love (agape) of God in yourselves."

(John 5:41-42)

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love (agapao) Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me."

(John 8:42)

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love (agapao) one another, even as I have loved (agapao) you, that you also love (agapao) one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another."

(John 13:34-35)

"If you love (agapao) Me, you will keep My commandments. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves (agapao) Me; and he who loves (agapao) Me will be loved (agapao) by My Father, and I will love (agapao) him and will disclose Myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) *said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves (agapao) Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love (agapao) him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. "He who does not love (agapao) Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.  "These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved (agapao) Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. "Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.  I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love (agapao) the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here."

(John 14:15-31)

"Just as the Father has loved (agapao) Me, I have also loved (agapao) you; abide in My love (agape). "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love (agape); just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love (agape). "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. "This is My commandment, that you love (agapao) one another, just as I have loved (agapao) you. "Greater love (agape) has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. "You are My friends if you do what I command you. "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. "This I command you, that you love (agapao) one another. "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. "If you were of the world, the world would love (phileo) its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."

(John 15:9-20)

"I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved (agapao) them, even as You have loved (agapao) Me. "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved (agapao) Me before the foundation of the world.  "O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love (agape) with which You loved (agapao) Me may be in them, and I in them."

(John 17:25-26)


In times past, I would offer a relatively comprehensive discussion on the Greek involved with the word or words I was evaluating.  I have seen that this is foolish as it does two bad things.  First, it serves to make the Greek 'experts' my teachers instead of the One Teacher, Messiah and the Father's Spirit (Matt. 23:8; John 14:26).  Second, it seeks to set me up as a teacher as I claim to have some unique or special (or at least some intellectual understanding) insight into the original language that the reader might not, and thus the reader would tend to rely on me to understand something Jesus said.  And so I will only note the following regarding the word translated "love".  The English word "love" is translated for two different Greek words, agape (agapao is the verb) and phileo.  Agapao is stronger than phileo and mere emotion, and is more based in one's will and is manifest in doing what is right.  Phileo is weaker than agapao, is primarily emotion-based, and is often manifest through physical and relational affection.  The reader is free to consult a Greek lexicon or dictionary to verify this.

As is usually the case, the definitions are somewhat inadequate, and the full and clearest meaning of the word will be found in how it is used IN CONTEXT of the Word's utterances.

Let us do that now using the Eternal Standard of the Word Jesus of Nazareth (NOT the bible!):

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE (agapao) YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love (agapao) your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love (agapao) those who love (agapao) you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

(Matthew 5:43-46)

"But I say to you who hear, love (agapao) your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. "If you love (agapao) those who love (agapao) you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love (agapao) those who love (agapao) them. "If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. "If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. "But love (agapao) your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

(Luke 6:27-35)

Comments:

Here, the Word of God is correcting the unfulfilled, imperfect, and incomplete teachings of Moses.  He says those who follow him are to agapao our enemies (which is the opposite of what Moses taught - see Follow Jesus, Not Moses).  This agapao for those who choose to make themselves our enemies will manifest itself by "doing good" to them, "blessing" them, and "praying" for them.  He even gives us examples of other "DOING GOOD" things like offer the other side of your face after they have hit you already.  Offer our shirt after they tear our coat from us.  Give material things to "everyone who asks" us.  When someone robs or steals from us, do not seek justice but let them have it.  If someone borrows something from us, we are NOT TO EXPECT to get it back.  To agapao clearly means selfless actions, but those actions are to come from a heart gripped by the agape of God. 

Jesus says don't just love your neighbor, for that is relatively easy and even people you consider sleazy (tax collectors at that time...whomever we would label a bad person today) can do that.  Jesus says that we are to be sons of our Father and his example is to be kind and to bless even the evil and unrighteous.  The Word says that we will have no reward if we only love those who love us...in other words, for loving those from whom we receive love.  This should greatly concern us.  He says that even Klu Klux Klan members love each other, and Arian nation brethren love each other, and 'terrorists' love each other.  Isn't it true that the world loves each other?  If this is so, then how will those who follow Jesus appear any different than the world?  By loving even our enemies!  And by having our love for others be based in God's righteousness and compassion instead of what we can receive for giving it.


And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE (agapao) THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE (agapao) YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'

(Matthew 22:37-39)

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE (agapao) YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."

(Matthew 19:19)

Comments:

Here are the two greatest commandments that Jesus clearly identifies.  To agapao our Father with all that is in us, and to agapao our neighbor even as we agapao ourselves.  Jesus elsewhere says that these two commands sum up all the law and the prophets of the old covenant - and he means it!  See Follow Jesus, Not the Law.  This is a serious matter.  How seriously are we taking it?

Two important points.  First, this command demonstrates that agapao is FIRST internal, or of the heart, soul, mind and strength.  The love of God does in fact start with our metaphysical elements, particularly our hearts.  The balance of Jesus' teachings on the subject, as we shall see, also demonstrate that God's love must have an external outworking of action and doing.

Second, that our standard of how to love our neighbor is to the same extent that we love ourselves.  This is a hard command, for we usually do a very good job at taking care of ourselves and providing for ourselves and giving to ourselves the things not only that we need, but also the things that we want.  Do we really do that for our neighbors?  Are we willing to try?

We should not be like the lawyer who sought to avoid this all important teaching of Messiah by asking the question, 'who is my neighbor'?  Jesus defines our neighbor in that story now known as the good Samaritan, as any person we encounter in our journeys on this earth.

Finally, Jesus does affirm the command to honor our dad and mom.  There is nothing more grossly perverted than the practice of placing our dads and moms in nursing homes.  Truly, this is not only dis-honoring our parents, but actually hatred for our parents and one of the most obvious form of selfishness and love for our lives in the world.  If our dads or moms have believed the lies of the world and actually encourage you to "have your own life" and thus place them in the hands of health-care prostitutes, then you have failed to be the light that Jesus wants you to be to them.  First, insist on caring for them.  Second, seek the Real Jesus yourself.  Third, repent quickly and be the light and salt Jesus calls you to be and reach out to your parents with compassionate zeal so that they may see the Real Jesus and his Kingdom and Family.


"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love (phileo) to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

(Matthew 6:5)

"They love (phileo) the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues..."

(Matthew 23:6)

"But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love (agape) of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love (agapao) the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places."

(Luke 11:42-43)

"Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love (phileo) respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets..."

(Luke 20:46)

Comments:

In these teachings of Jesus, we see both words used.  Here Jesus is rebuking the religious leaders of his day for their hypocrisy and lack of love.  He warns us to not be like the hypocrites, particularly the religious ones, who phileo to do their outward religion behavior in order to get glory from men.  Jesus plainly tells us elsewhere to NOT do outward God-things so that we will avoid hypocrisy - like praying or fasting or giving to help others (Matt. 6:1-8).  Yes, Jesus does tell his followers to NOT PRAY so that other people can see or hear us when we pray.  Yes, Jesus does tell his followers to not tell, and to try to not let anyone know, that we are giving to others.

Notice that Jesus uses phileo to refer to the proud peoples main form of love, and their love is for the purpose of having other people esteem them.  He does this because he says that they disregard the agape of God.  Indeed, God's agape can only be fully known by having to come to know God Himself.

So, Jesus says that phileo can often be used for selfish gain and love for this world.  Whereas, agapao is a higher form of love that ought to be known and expressed through knowing his Father.

So, if we say, "oh, I love pizza"; or, "I love hiking"; or, "I love my girlfriend"; or, "I love the bible"; we would normally be saying that we phileo these things.  If, however, we agapao those things, then we are in a very sad place of idolatry.  Such was the case of those people referred to in Matt. 23:6.  The only things we are to agape are God, Jesus and other people.  We should never agapao anything other than people.  If we do, then we are breaking God's greatest commandment which is to love Him, His Son and all other people.  It is good to phileo other people, but that love falls short of the greatest command, which is to agapao God and all people.


"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love (agapao) the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

(Matthew 6:24)

Looking at him, Jesus felt a love (agapao) for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

(Mark 10:21)

Comments:

With his Words in Matt. 6:24, Jesus makes a clear division and illuminates what was meant by "idolatry" in the old covenant.  Any person can only serve one master.  The two possible masters in his illustration are God and material things represented by wealth.  Jesus plainly says that a person cannot serve two masters, and that a person will agapao their one true master, and hate the other competing master(s).  If our master is anything other than the true and living God - Jesus' Father - then we are idolaters.  The essence of idolatry is agapao for something other than God.  This truth is evident in the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-39.  In regard to serving wealth, please see He Who Loses His Life... 

Jesus then has an encounter with a person who is making the mistake he warns about in Matt. 6:24.  The primary thing of note I would like to highlight is that agapao in this encounter was only of the heart, and so agapao is again demonstrated to be FIRST, in internal thing.  The other point that should not be missed is Jesus saying that his followers cannot serve God and wealth.  We ought to look at our lives and evaluate this, for surely this is extremely common today in the United States particularly.  See He Who Loses His Life...  It is only too easy to spend the majority of our time earning money while denying that we are serving it.


"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love (agape) will grow cold."

(Matthew 24:12)

This verse is in the context of the state of the world after Jesus ascends back to the Father, and before he comes again.  He warns, in the verses just prior, about being deceived and misled.  And then he utters this sad truth.  He says that people's agape will grow cold "because lawlessness is increased".  When lawlessness increases, people are more filled with fear and they cling harder to their life in this world.  As they cling harder to try and preserve their life in this world, they are less willing to give of themselves or selflessly, which is the essence of agape.

If the reader of this lives in the United States and is a follower of Jesus, then the reader will be able to see clearly how this saying of Jesus has come to pass.  Truly, most people's agape has grown cold, for being selfless to one's neighbor has become a foreign concept, especially in the larger cites where lawlessness is increasing.  In many situations in big cities, it would not be uncommon for people - who are in a hurry to serve their lives in this world - to walk past bloodied, dying people on the sidewalk.  Or worse yet, to trample the slow or weak person who is impeding their progress.  The concept of opening and gladly sharing your material things with your neighbor has also become a foreign concept judged as foolish by the increasingly cold people of the world.  But perhaps the essence of the expression of agape, the willingness to know - to try and develop a close relationship with - the person to whom you are trying to show compassion and selflessness, is what is lacking most in the fear of the lawlessness of no-truth-relativism.  This is especially so for the follower of the Truth, for as soon as we bring the Truth - acknowledge and confess the Truth - to those people who walk in the darkness of no-truth, they run from the Light and reject us.


"When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love (agapao) him more?"

(Luke 7:42)

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved (agapao) much; but he who is forgiven little, loves (agapao) little."

(Luke 7:47)

Comments:

Here Jesus ties agapao with forgiveness and compassion.  Jesus told a story about two debtors, how one owed the lender $50 and the other $500.  The verse then picks up the rest of the story.  The question is which debtor will agapao the lender more.  The right answer was the debtor who was forgiven more.  Again, this emphasizes the internal aspect of agape.  The reason Jesus told this story was to illustrate the point with a woman who he was about to forgive in front of a self-righteous religious leader.  He then presses the principle home by forgiving the woman who came to him seeking forgiveness.  The woman, whose sins were many, has been forgiven because she agapao-ed Jesus much - for she was willing to humble herself and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God in front of others.  But the self-righteous person, who does not seek God's forgiveness because they don't think they need it much, also agapaos little, because they don't have the great agape of God in their heart that comes with receiving forgiveness from God.

We again see the picture of the internal aspect of agape manifesting itself in an outward fashion.  In this case, the woman humbling herself publicly in order to receive the forgiveness of God.  The agape she had for Jesus and his Father led her to a rather dramatic action - the public humbling of herself and glorifying of Jesus in front of the very people who hated him.  This also demonstrates the courage that is associated with true love for God.  Those who love God and thus love and follow His Son, will be hated, mistreated and persecuted by the world, and it takes courage to repeat and do Jesus teachings which we know will bring this treatment from those who dwell in the darkness.


"For God so loved (agapao) the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved (agapao) the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

(John 3:16-21)

Comments:

This very popular verse does indeed convey much important truth about Jesus and his Father.  First, it says that the agapao of God caused a very important action - the sending of His only begotten Son to the earth so that men might be saved through faith in him.  God so agapao-ed the men of the earth - the very men who reject him and revile his Person - that He sent His most beloved Son knowing what men would do to him.  God "gave" (action manifesting the agape in His heart) His beloved Son so that others of the world might become His beloved children.  What a beautiful and eternally priceless truth, praise the Most High God!!!

Unfortunately, the christians truncate the truth and leave out the following verse 18 which says, "...he who does not believe has been judged (or condemned) already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God".  This is the mark of contemporary christians...that they truncate, cut out, deny and nullify significant and essential teachings of Jesus and thus create their 'christ' which will bless their life in the world.  And why do they do this?  The Real Jesus gives us the answer, that "men loved (agapao) the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil."  In as much as we claim to be Jesus' followers, and yet ignore him and explain away his teachings, those very deeds (and the deeds we are justifying by nullifying his words) are evil.  Jesus tells us this is the basic state of mankind, that mankind agapaos the darkness rather than the light.  Men love, above all else, their evil deeds which are all about their love for the world and thus their self-pleasure and self-glory.  Men agapao the darkness for they believe it will hide and conceal their evil deeds.  They do this due to unbelief against Jesus' Father, pride (denying their deeds are evil), and fear (of giving up their love of this world).

So here, we have a great contrast between God's object of agape and men's object of agape.  God's object is all mankind which he seeks to forgive and bless.  Mankind's object is themselves and their unbelief which is darkness as it denies the Light, who is Jesus of Nazareth.

In this case, agapao has both sides showing...the heart and the action resulting from the heart.  God gave (action) His Son.  Men agapao darkness which is manifest by their evil deeds.  The love of God for mankind is so great it lead to the action of His sending His Son knowing he would be rejected, tortured and murdered.  The love of mankind for this world is so great it leads to the action of their rejecting and reviling the precious and beloved Son of the Most High God - which action is manifest by their persecuting the followers of the Son.


"I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love (agape) of God in yourselves."

(John 5:41-42)

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love (agapao) Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me."

(John 8:42)

Comments:

Jesus looks into the hearts of men and makes these solemn judgments.  First, in John 5, he says of the religious leaders and their followers that they have not the agape of God in themselves.  In fact, he specifically says that those who possess, read, study and claim to know the scriptures, and yet will not come to Jesus in order to partake of his Life, are the very one's who "do not have the love (agape) of God in yourselves".  In fact, their unwillingness to come to Messiah Yahshua is the evil deed which proves that they do not have the agape of God in themselves.  How tragic that this marks the religious leaders of all time, including today's christian religious leaders. [see Is the Bible Inerrant?]

Jesus says this plainly in John 8:42.  If the true and living God is a man's Father, then that man will love Jesus of Nazareth.  This is true of all mankind.  For those who hear about Jesus of Nazareth and have the ability to hear or read his Words, that person's heart will manifest this truth.  If a person loves the true and living God, then that person will be drawn to the Light and love the Light.  If that person loves the darkness rather than the light, then that person will not agapao Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus says elsewhere, "If you love (agapao) Me, you will keep My commandments".  So, the person who does not agapao Jesus, will not have a serious interest in keeping Jesus' commandments and teachings.  Here, agapao is defined by Jesus as including keeping his commandments - concrete outward action and behavior.

One final observation.  Jesus says here that "I have not even come on My own initiative".  So all the christian's songs and beliefs about Jesus initiating his coming to earth are error.  In fact, Jesus was sent by his Father.  It is the Father who so loved the world that HE sent his Son.  The Son confesses that he did not come by his own initiative.


"If you love (agapao) Me, you will keep My commandments. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves (agapao) Me; and he who loves (agapao) Me will be loved (agapao) by My Father, and I will love (agapao) him and will disclose Myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) *said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves (agapao) Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love (agapao) him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. "He who does not love (agapao) Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.  "These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved (agapao) Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. "Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.  I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love (agapao) the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here."

(John 14:15-31)

Comments:

In this very important passage, Jesus is talking to his followers before he goes Home to be with his Father.  The first thing he concerns himself with is defining agapao.  He says that the essence of the truth of agapao is that it will lead to a DOING of what Jesus teaches.  He says this THREE times in both the positive and the negative so there is absolutely no opportunity for intellectual confusion on the issue!  "If you love (agapao) Me, you will keep My commandments"; and "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves (agapao) Me"; and "He who does not love (agapao) Me does not keep My words".  He could not be any more direct and to the point.  He says here that the proper love for his Father and himself will lead to an obeying of Jesus' teachings - Jesus' teachings, not any one else's (see Are Paul's Writings Flawless?).  There is only one Jesus of Nazareth, or Yahshua of Nazareth, and the true and living God has preserved his Words in the four gospels.  Now, let me pause a moment to ask the reader a few questions in light of these truths:

Jesus then makes some beautiful promises.  First he predicts his resurrection, saying he will not leave his followers are orphans - that is children who have no parents.  He says, because he lives, we will live!  He says that those who love him will be loved by his Father, who he says is the true and living Most High God.  He says that he will only reveal himself to those obey him out of their love for him.  This is why the vast majority of people taking some christian label don't know Jesus, because they don't obey him because they don't truly love him.

Jesus also says that his Words are the Father's words - when he speaks he says exactly what the Father wants him to say.  Who else makes such a direct claim?  Who else is sinless and could thus assure us of this?  Who else did the miracles to validate their words?  If no one, then why would we listen to others after Jesus came as if they were speaking the words of God???  We should not.  And yet Paul's words fill the hearts of the vast majority of christians instead of Jesus' Words (see Are Paul's Writings Flawless?).

Jesus then promises to send his followers the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in Jesus' name.  Jesus explicitly says, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."  This promise has two aspects.  First it is a direct promise to those who lived with Jesus, that they would remember "all that I said to you", and thus we have assurance that what they originally wrote down in the gospels is an accurate accounting of what Jesus said.  Second, it reveals the extremely important role of the Holy Spirit to all disciples as the enabling-teacher.  Jesus is our source-Teacher, and his Father's Spirit is the one who enables us to receive what Messiah, the Teacher, has said.

Jesus then says, "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved (agapao) Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."  He is trying to teach us something very important.  That it is truly better to be with the Father than in this world.  For all of the wonder and glory of the Son, the Father is greater than the Son.  Our heart's desire as children of the Father should be to be Home with Him, now, not later.  If we have faith as great as a mustard seed, our love for our Father ought to make us want to be with Him, period.  Our love for the world - which world is against our Father - should grieve us and drive us to change our hearts so that we properly love our Father and want to be with Him just like we want to be with another person that we love dearly.  No, this is not justification for suicide, but rather a real state of our heart which should grow as we grow in our knowing of our Father and His Son.  In this case, the internal aspect of agapao is shown, as Jesus teaches us that when some one we agapao is blessed by our Father, we ought to rejoice with gladness for them.

This is also a teaching that clearly contradicts the trinity doctrine.  God the Most High has no one greater than Himself in ANY respect, and the Son plainly confesses that he is less than his Father (see Some thoughts on the trinity).

In closing this portion of statements, Jesus reminds us that the ruler of the world is coming and that he has nothing in Jesus.  In other words, Satan is the ruler of the world, and he is going to try to destroy the Son of God, but the Son will prevail over him for Satan has no authority or power over the Son.  Please note who Jesus says is the ruler of the world.  So, as christians align with the world's political and religious rulers and kingdoms, who are they aligning with?

Finally, Jesus says that the proof that he offers that he loves the Father is that he does exactly what the Father tells him to do...back to obedience as the outward proof of the inward agapao.  Please notice how carefully Jesus is concerned with obeying his Father, as he does "exactly" what the Father tells him.  Oh that we would be as concerned with loving our Father by honoring and obeying the one the Father has sent as our Master and Shepherd - His Son.


"Just as the Father has loved (agapao) Me, I have also loved (agapao) you; abide in My love (agape). "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love (agape); just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love (agape). "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. "This is My commandment, that you love (agapao) one another, just as I have loved (agapao) you. "Greater love (agape) has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. "You are My friends if you do what I command you. "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. "This I command you, that you love (agapao) one another. "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. "If you were of the world, the world would love (phileo) its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."

(John 15:9-20)

Comments:

Jesus ties his followers, himself and his Father together by love, and he tells us to abide in Jesus' agape.  We needn't wonder how to abide in Jesus' agape, for he tells us plainly - by keeping HIS commandments, that is obeying and living out his teachings.  Once again, the context plainly teaches us that agape is manifest by action - the obeying of the Son's teachings.  This is how Jesus himself abided in his Father's love, by keeping his Father's commandments.  This really is not a complicated principle, except for the fact that the lawlessness of the world is growing so, and thus it is getting difficult to see this in practice with people. 

More and more, foolish parents are letting their children do what their selfish natures desire, and thus the parents are denying the authority God wants them to have.  But if you have eyes to see the truth as Jesus' paints it, it is very easy to know as a parent that your own child is abiding in your love IF they keep your commandments.  In fact, this training is essential practice and conditioning for the children to some day abide in the Father and Son's love by obeying their authority and commandments.  How tragic that the world's children (including those of most christians) are being conditioned away from God's love as their parents choose to reject the Father and the Son and thus put themselves under the influences of the ruler of the world.

In these words, "Greater love (agape) has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends", Jesus defines agapao in perhaps the clearest manner.  The greater love of agape manifests itself in a person laying down their very life in this world for their friends.  This is the greatest expression of agape - selfless and sacrificial actions to benefit our friends.  To lay down one's life could range from literally dying to help a friend, to putting away one's own desires to serve our friends and everything in between.  This teaching should be of great concern to we who are trying to follow Jesus.  Surely the disciples of Jesus should be the strongest and most natural friends to one another since we have Jesus as our Way, Truth and Life - the strongest common ground of friendship.  And this is especially so in the dark, deceitful and loveless world we find ourselves in. 

If we are not even willing to give up material things for each other, what makes us think we would be (or are) willing to lay down our lives for each other?  If we are not willing to help each other daily to serve our Master and please our Father, then how can we claim to be agape-ing each other as Jesus defines it here?  If we can't overcome the things of the world which make our life in this world convenient, what does that say?  Perhaps our unwillingness to even try reveals much about our love?  We say, "oh, buy you live way over there, so I can't help you".  Perhaps what we are really saying is, 'I am not willing to let go of my house or job or whatever thing of the world I am hanging onto, in order to agape you'.  As we will see, in so doing, we are not able to be to the world what our Father wants us to be - models or imitators of His Son expressing his love.  And sadly this means we are essentially useless to the Father in terms of being available to be used by Him to produce other children.

Jesus tells us who his friends are, "You are My friends if you do what I command you".  Here, Jesus says that friendship is closely related to love, and that we are only his friends if we do what he says.  A few questions are in order here:

Jesus then explains that he has lifted us above being his slaves by making us his friends as well.  He did this - made us his friends - by telling us all that his Father told him...he did not hold anything back.  He told us "all things" that the Father told him.  Would not the Father tell Jesus everything that is important to Him?  Of course.  So, should we not be comforted to know that Jesus told us everything that is important for us to know?  Yes, praise God forever!

Jesus then explains that we did not choose him, but he choose us.  In other words, Peter and James and the rest were not actively looking for a master.  Rather, Jesus, the Master, choose them to follow him.  And what did he choose them for?  To go and bear fruit.  What fruit was he looking for?  For us to love (agapao) each other!  That the disciples would so love each other that the world would know what God's love looks like when it is manifest!  Oh that we would start to take this command seriously and give up our comforts in the world in order to love one another.

Right after Jesus gives his followers the comforting news of God's love and how they are supposed to love one another, he gives them the truth of the world - that is the people of the world who reject him and do not practice his teachings.  The contrast could not be clearer, and yet so few (including christians) are willing to receive these Words of Jesus because it interferes with their love of the world.  Jesus says plainly that since he has chosen his followers OUT of the people that make up the world, the people of the world will hate them.  Jesus says, "but I chose you out of the world", and thus we have been separated from the people of the world by virtue of following a new Master.  Obedience to our new Master makes us very different from the people around us IF we are truly his.  This is why the people of the world hate us, because as we follow the one who says he is the truth, they are offended because their deeds are illuminated as bad.  Jesus talked about this before in John 3.  The world should not hate us because of religious practices, self-righteousness  or obnoxious, aggressive pushing and selling of our belief system.  No, the world hates us because of our faithfulness to our Master, and the words and behavior that produces in us which communicates to the world, 'you are wrong to believe or do that'.  This is where the offense and accompanying hatred come from.

Jesus set us a great contrast in these words of his, between the love of God and the hate of the world.  God and his Kingdom is at the opposite pole from Satan and his kingdoms in the world.  God wants his children to so manifest his love that the world will know that the words that Jesus speaks are true and real.  Notice that the world can only muster phileo in their relationships, as Jesus says, "the world would phileo you as its own".  The relationships in the world are bound by phileo only, and thus the world easily forsakes one another if you have some sort of a falling out with that group.  In contrast, the children of God are supposed to have agape as the basis of relationship, and thus the bond is supposed to be much stronger.  How tragic that this is not true in the United States to any great degree, because we have all our comforts and don't really see our need for one another.  We have been trained to value our comforts and conveniences more than one another.  As we fail at agapao-ing one another, we fail greatly, and are displeasing to our Father.  This should concern us greatly and motivate us to do something about it.


"I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved (agapao) them, even as You have loved (agapao) Me. "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved (agapao) Me before the foundation of the world.  "O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love (agape) with which You loved (agapao) Me may be in them, and I in them."

(John 17:25-26)

Comments:

In this precious passage, Messiah was talking to his Father while allowing his followers to hear what he was saying.  His first concern in this passage is the unity of the disciples.  We learn that one of the ways the world will know that God sent Jesus, and that God loves the followers of Jesus, will be by their unity.  This should again be a large motivation for the disciples of Jesus to be united in their relationships.  What does the world see when it looks at christianity?  It sees division, not unity.  It sees thousands of sects which disagree with one another, many of which label each other with nasty labels and will have nothing to do with each other because the other sect doesn't believe everything the same way.  Truly, christianity cannot provide unity as proof of Jesus being sent by God, because christianity is not made up of the followers of Jesus.  Unfortunately, christianity's sects are trying to overcome their obvious lack of meaningful unity by putting Jesus' Words further away from their hearts.  And in his place they are instead joining together on a social good works basis, founded on a 'gospel' which the Real Jesus does not teach.

But what about the disciples of Jesus?  How are they doing in keeping this teaching?  It is one thing for those who are not his to not keep this teaching, for they can't keep it.  But what about those who are truly following Jesus?  How are we doing being unified in belief, relationship and life?  Are we letting pride, or fear, or disobedience prevent love and unity from manifesting themselves among us?  We shall see the answer more clearly when we look at Jesus' command in John 13:34-35 in the next section.

Jesus continues and tells us that his Father agapao-ed him before the foundation of the world.  Jesus tells us that the world does not know his Father, but he does, and that he has made known to his followers that the Most High God has sent him.  Jesus will continue to reveal his Father to us, so that his Father's love, with which the Father loves his beloved and only begotten Son, will be in us.  How amazing and important a teaching is this?  Jesus speaks so much about love, and says so often that it is the main thing he wants us to manifest - how can we neglect it?


"A new commandment I give to you, that you love (agapao) one another, even as I have loved (agapao) you, that you also love (agapao) one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another."

(John 13:34-35)

Comments:

I have saved this teaching of Jesus for last for two reasons.  First, because it ties it all together in a very practical way.  Second, because of the dire need of the followers of Jesus to obey this teaching.

It is VERY significant that Jesus says here, "A NEW commandment I give you".  How is it new, you might ask?  Doesn't Jesus teach love all throughout his teachings?  Yes he does, but he never before this time, gave this specific command.  If you look at his teachings in chronological order, he has not given this command before.  He has clearly given the greatest commandment, which is to agapao God with all one's heart, soul, mind and strength.  He has also given the command that we are to agapao our neighbor as ourselves.  He has also given the command to agapao one's enemies.  But, he has not given this command before...that we are to "agapao one another, even as I have agapao-ed you".  Notice the qualifier in this command, "even as I have loved you".  We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  We are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  We are to love our enemies, being kind to them and returning good for evil.  But among, the disciples, we are to love one another as Jesus loved his first disciples.  We don't have to wonder what that means since we have the account of Jesus' love lived out with his disciples.

By saying this is a new command, Jesus is setting this up in a very high priority.  This author believes it right behind what Jesus identifies as the second command, which is to love our neighbor's as ourselves.  What is more important is what Jesus says is the importance of this command.  He says plainly, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another."  Let us ponder this for a moment.

We have seen thus far that to agapao another person means to help them, care for them, and serve them with selfless actions - to lay down our lives for them.  This love is to come from a right motivation of showing the Father's love to them even as He shows His love to us, and even as His Son demonstrated what it is to love the Father back.  Jesus says that only IF we have this agapao for each other, can he and his Father use us to show all men what it is to be a follower of Jesus.  He said essentially the same thing in John 17:25-26.  Only IF we live out agape for one another, will men know that we are Jesus' disciples.  And it follows that they can only know how to follow Jesus by seeing our example.  So, if they don't see agape lived out amongst the disciples, they can't know that we are his disciples, and thus all the words we say will be largely powerless to bring them to our Master.

Let's consider a few questions which might help us evaluate if we his disciple are loving one another as Jesus' commanded and demonstrated:

Tragically, those who persevere and are more faithful in following the Real Jesus too often don't break out of the patterns of our old christian religious life, and as a result, agapao is not manifest towards other disciples.  It is time for this to change.  Each person who counts themselves as a true disciple of Jesus needs to ask themselves IN WHAT CONCRETE, TANGIBLE WAYS ARE THEY LOVING OTHER DISCIPLES SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW THAT WE ARE HIS DISCIPLES.  Do those ways line up with what Jesus teaches about how agapao manifests itself? 

If we can come to the place of humble confession and see that we are NOT agapao-ing other disciples as Jesus agapao-ed his first disciples, then we need to ask God for the strength to DO something about it.  Grow relationships with other disciples that you know, and PLAN on DOING what is necessary to COME TOGETHER somewhere in order that we can PRACTICE the outworking of agape.  If we fail at DOING this, then the world will consider us just another strange christian sect whose lives don't LOOK substantially different than any other christian or christian group they have met.  Oh, we can be very clear and exhortive about the truth that we know, but it will only be more empty words if it is not backed up by the action-agapao that we have seen Jesus teach us in his Words above.


Please feel free to contact us and start talking about or even planning how and where we can come together to manifest the love we say we should have towards one another.


Send comments to: Tim  tim spiess

Share

Go To New Web Site