Jesus and the Principle of Love

When Jesus began teaching, many Jews were very absorbed in keeping religious laws and they discussed them frequently. The idea of serving God by observing laws or rules is called legalism.

Jesus was not a legalist. In the next few posts we will look at how Jesus responded to the legalism of his day, but we begin with what Jesus taught as the guide to behavior instead of following rules.

Let you light shine

Jesus Weighs in on the Law

Matthew shares a story in chapter 22 that summarizes Jesus’ principle of behavior in one short statement:

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This principle of love is not unique to Jesus, but he made it his own. His entire approach to behavior is based on the principle of love as opposed to following rules.

Most people focus on the second statement, Love your neighbor as yourself. Indeed, this is the practical aspect of the application of love—to treat others well and seek their good just as we seek our own good. But I think there is a reason Jesus why Jesus mentions love of God first.

How Can We Really Love Other People?

How can we really love other people when we often do not even love ourselves? If we don’t love ourselves and seek what is best for us, then it is counter-productive to treat other people the same way; but here is where God comes in.

A big reason we don’t love ourselves more is because we feel that no one else loves us—or at least their love is inadequate. In addition, we often feel alienated from God perhaps because we think he is very demanding and we just don’t measure up, so we think the most important person there is hates us.

We might have low esteem and care little for ourselves, or we might feel alone and isolated, or we might decide to focus on something that matters less, like fame or money, which brings us into opposition to people we see as standing in our way.

But when we begin to understand the Father as Jesus presents him to us, we realize that he does love us; he loves us unconditionally! He is not angry at us at all but wishes to have a relationship with us. We also realize that God loves everybody else as well.

As we respond to God’s abundant love for us we can love ourselves better and seek what is best for us, then we are better prepared to love others and desire their good in the same way—especially as we begin to see them through the Father’s eyes.

Let Your Light Shine

With this being said, we now turn to the beginning of an important passage in which Jesus contrasts legalism and the principle of love. In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is teaching his disciples.

He says to them:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Among legalists, even today, there is a tendency to show off good works: ‘Look, I am observing this religious rule to the letter; I am a righteous person.’ This is not what Jesus means by letting other see our good deeds. In fact, as we will see later in this series, Jesus actually tells us NOT to do this.

I think what Jesus has in mind here is that our love for other people should be obvious simply in the way we treat them.

Jesus said in John chapter 9, While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. But here he tells his disciples, You are the light of the world. How can this be?

I believe that as we follow the light of Jesus we become the light of the world as he was when he was here, and a big part of that is to let our light shine so that our good deeds of loving others is apparent. It was certainly apparent in the way Jesus treated people.

One might object that I draw a specific conclusion from the passage that is not clearly suggested. However, this is part of a larger context. I think it would be good to examine what Jesus says immediately following this statement about light and good deeds. We will do that next time.

Image Credit: Ribhu Dey via Wikimedia
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64 Responses to Jesus and the Principle of Love

  1. michaeleeast says:

    I agree entirely that if we follow Jesus’ teachings we become the light of the world.
    And that light is all about Love.
    If we love God our love expands and includes more and more people.
    We become aware that God loves everyone, not just the winners.
    Perhaps this is why it is the first commandment.

    Like

  2. jessedooley says:

    Wonderful blog! We truly need to feel and know we are accepted and loved by God before we can adequately love others.

    Like

  3. Sandra Falagan says:

    Great blog. Looking forward to the next one!!

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  4. fiddlrts says:

    This is so true within fundamentalism. Spiritual growth, as they define it, is discovering and applying ever more commandments. The more obscure applications one can find and invent from the Bible, the more “holy” and “godly” one is.

    The result of this is natural, and seen clearly in the example of the Pharisees: “I thank God I am not like other men.”

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    • Fiddlrts, I think you are absolutely correct.

      When legalism becomes the guide to holiness and righteousness, then the more rules–the better. And when one can get through the day and check off the 100, or 500, or a thousand rules you have kept, then it is easy to feel satisfied in one’s righteousness, even if you have hurt people in the process.

      I notice among legalists that gossip and judgmentalism are usually not among the prohibited activities.

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  5. sheila0405 says:

    This series is really timely. It seems as if the “culture wars” are heating up. Everyone wants to co-opt Jesus, but I like it that you are taking what he said within context. I’m looking forward to continuing on this journey with you as you explore this topic.

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  6. labreuer says:

    On the one hand, I want to fully agree with you that Jesus was not a legalist. On the other hand, suppose that you told a driver that all he or she has to do is to “drive safely”, but that there is no need to obey any regulations other than what he/she judges as “driving safely”. What do you think would happen? Might that person run afoul of “driving safely”?

    Or let’s look at Paul’s “‘All things are lawful’, but …” in 1 Cor 6:12, 10:23. In the second instance, he says “not all things build up”. I wonder: is ‘building’ things a rule-based activity? I mean, surely you can’t just do anything you want when building, right? Some buildings will collapse if you do that!

    What I’m trying to get at is that there does seem to be a deep lawfulness or order to reality. Science is working on part of it. Those who believe in moral realism are [hopefully] working on another part. What if objective morality were just as rule-based as physical reality, but that any attempt by us to explicate those rules is merely an approximation, just like F = ma is an approximation? Would the result be legalism, or something else? I think ‘something else’, and I think the Golden Rule is a fantastic Moral Method, analogous to the Scientific Method.

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    • Labreuer you have a good point, and I think Jesus addresses that point in the passages we will consider over the next few posts.

      I like your reference to Paul–all things are lawful but not all things build up. How can we determine what things do not build up? I think it is by internalizing and committing to the principle of love. If we do something that hurts someone we should consider the principle of love. However, I don’t think I can determine for anyone other than myself how to apply the principle.

      Your example of traffic laws is a good one, but traffic laws are not moral rules but rules of convenience. In the USA, we drive on the right side of the road while much of the world drives on the left. Who is right? It doesn’t matter as long as we understand the rules wherever we are driving. I think the principle of love is different, though it is true that some things are widely recognized as wrong–such as murder and theft.

      I think we should all strive to improve our loving behavior based on our commitment to the principle of love. It is true that children must be given basic rules until they are able to think for themselves, but if they continue into adulthood relying on rules established for them by others, then they will always be lacking.

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      • labreuer says:

        However, I don’t think I can determine for anyone other than myself how to apply the principle.

        There seems to be a difference between dictating how someone else must love, vs. providing definite guidance. Remember that Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commands.” I get how ultimately, it’s all summed up with loving God and loving your neighbor; Jesus said as much. But you seem to have a reticence to ever break that ‘sum’ into possible component parts. All you ever want to say is “love others”, but this doesn’t give people an idea of what it does and does not look like. You can say ‘principle of love’ until you’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t illustrate what it is.

        It doesn’t matter as long as we understand the rules wherever we are driving. I think the principle of love is different, though it is true that some things are widely recognized as wrong–such as murder and theft.

        I’m guessing you have read The 5 Love Languages; if not you ought to. I would posit that understanding how others naturally feel loved and how they naturally show love is pretty close to a command. That is, one ought not love naively. True love leads to increased understanding of the other person, of how he/she ticks. It’s almost as if each person has his/her own set of rules, rules which are partially chosen by them, and partially chosen by their genetics/environment. If you don’t love him/her according to his/her rules, it can be hard for him/her to even understand that you are being loving!

        Let’s consider another thing. In Mt 5:23-24, Jesus says that reconciling with your brother is more important than offering sacrifices; Rom 12:1-2 gives us an idea of what ‘sacrifice’ means to us, in an age without physical temple or altar. Where does the command Jesus gives in Mt 5:23-24 fit under your understanding of ‘the principle of love’, which you don’t want to explicate in terms like Mt 5:23-24? I would claim that following Jesus’ command in Mt 5:23-24 is utterly crucial for the unity of the body of believers, no matter what rationalization one constructs to justify not doing it. I’m not sure you’d feel comfortable making such a claim.

        I think we should all strive to improve our loving behavior based on our commitment to the principle of love.

        Does one discover knowledge in the process of doing this? If so, can you provide some examples of knowledge you’ve gained? I should think one would understand something of the mechanics of how to love other people. And yet you seem unwilling to talk about these things. I don’t believe that ‘love’ is ultimately fuzzy. I believe it is infinitely complex, and we’ll understand it better and better throughout eternity, but I also believe one can actually discover things about it.

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        • Labreuer, you are right that I should be able to provide specific guidance to others, and I am willing to do so but only under two conditions:

          1. That the person asks for my opinion
          2. That we discuss their issue(s) in the context of a relationship together

          The relationship can be minimal and I am willing to talk to anyone who asks, but I would need to talk with them in private conversation. Are you asking me for guidance? I doubt that you are, but if so email me from my contact page and we can talk.

          Another way that I can clarify specifics of what it means to others is to describe how I understand it to apply in my life. I have done this in various blog posts, and I seem to recall that I suggested elsewhere that you read ‘Schadenfreude’ in response to your similar question there: https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/schadenfreude/.

          I also shared a LOT of personal specifics in https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/do-what-to-my-enemies-no-way/ and the two posts that follow it.

          You might also read https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/growing-as-a-follower-of-jesus/, in which I give a guidance to new believers.

          After you have read these, I would be interested in your response to them.

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          • labreuer says:

            I think I’m starting to understand your position a bit more. Let me try an analogy. Suppose that you are a general contractor who happens to run a blog. You love talking about how to construct various kinds of buildings. Some people—those with legalist-type personalities—try and get you to specify rules that always hold. You have a tough time doing so, given that there are so many ways to build a safe structure. So, how do you talk to these people without giving them false ideas of “This is the only way to design a building safely.”, ideas which are patently false?

            While I appreciate your insistence that your two conditions are held, I worry that they force you to be extremely vague a lot of the time. From the blog posts you list as well as a few others I’ve read, you seem much more willing to talk about things not to do, than specific loving things to do. This, it seems to me, greatly weakens your ability to communicate what love looks like.

            Let’s return to the general contractor analogy. There wouldn’t seem to be a problem with you posting pictures of beautiful buildings or talking about how they’re built. You could talk about various ways to renovate old buildings, without saying “It must be done my way and no other!” Indeed, perhaps one of the most fulfilling results of your blog might be someone else taking all that you’ve said and synthesizing a new way to build even more fantastic buildings.

            What I’m suggesting to you is that your reticence to talk about what love is, using specifics (often through story), makes it harder to build upon what you say. The stakes go way up when you consider that different people experience and show love differently. If you aren’t willing to delve into this territory (consider The 5 Love Languages as an example), I think you shield your knowledge from people who would greatly benefit from it. You wouldn’t have to say, “This is precisely what love looks like.”; you can say “This is one way I’ve seen love shown.”

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          • sheila0405 says:

            I think Tim has often posted about what love looks like. Have you been reading this blog for any length of time? His posts are a springboard for further discussion by the readers. He is not a counselor or life coach. Just my own observation.

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          • labreuer says:

            I think Tim has often posted about what love looks like. Have you been reading this blog for any length of time? His posts are a springboard for further discussion by the readers. He is not a counselor or life coach. Just my own observation.

            Nope, I’ve only really just started reading it. I’m a pretty analytical person, and when I read it much if it seems awfully fuzzy. Consider the word ‘grace’. What does it mean? For a long time, I struggled with ‘Christianese’, where the words were often used but rarely sketched out in a way that really let me grasp them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ‘cheap’ vs. ‘costly’ grace helped a lot with the word ‘grace’. Sometimes I wonder whether people understand what the Christianese really means, or whether it’s something akin to The Emperor’s New Clothes. This was validated when listening to a sermon by one of Timothy Keller’s protégés:

            The most common problem in pastoral counseling is relating Christian doctrine to our lives.

            At least for people of my analytical personality type, the less concreteness there is, the less I can grasp what is even being talked about. As to your “not a counselor or life coach” comment, I’m not sure what that means. Am I asking him to be that? If so, you’ll need to explain how, because I don’t understand.

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          • sheila0405 says:

            You asked me what I meant by counselor of life coach. I’m not going to answer that because you seem to take issue with Catholicism, and I doubt any of what I say will have a positive impact on you. Your rhetoric is coming across to me as provocative, not encouraging or adding to the discussion as a whole. You seem to want debate more than discussion. Just how I am perceiving it. This is not my blog, it is Tim’s, and he is willing to engage you. My stomach goes into knots when I read your posts, and that’s a red flag for me. Sorry, Tim, if this is too harsh, you can delete it.

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          • Labreuer, I appreciate your suggestions, but I am not willing to suggest too much in terms of specifics because people in general, especially those coming from a legalistic background, tend to relate to such suggestions legalistically.

            The tough work in living by the principle of love is growing in one’s understanding of what that means in daily life, and as a person grows their grasp of the practical applications also grows. I cannot do the growing for someone else. I cannot even use my own growth as a template for them.

            However, I like your statement about sharing what we should do instead of what we shouldn’t do as we attempt to live by the principle of love. Here is my response:

            * Treat others as you want to be treated (assuming you have a healthy self-love)

            * Genuinely consider the good and wellbeing of others on a personal basis

            * Consider whether your actions will involve hurting someone else in any way

            * Think of others from a position of support rather than judgment

            * Continue to read the stories of Jesus’ words and actions for guidance

            How would you describe your approach to sharing with others on how to live by Jesus’ principle of love?

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          • labreuer says:

            Labreuer, I appreciate your suggestions, but I am not willing to suggest too much in terms of specifics because people in general, especially those coming from a legalistic background, tend to relate to such suggestions legalistically.

            I worry that this is tantamount to saying that you don’t want to give people sharp knives because they might hurt themselves. Obviously this is ultimately your choice; I’m just trying to get you to consider alternative ways of blogging, ways that may reach [certain] people more effectively than you are currently doing. 🙂 If Christians cannot help each other get better at what they do, that’s pretty sad. We have among the most reason to believe that no matter how well we’re doing, there is always a more glorious way to live. 2 Cor 3:18 and 1 Thess 4:9-10 are simply awesome.

            The tough work in living by the principle of love is growing in one’s understanding of what that means in daily life, and as a person grows their grasp of the practical applications also grows. I cannot do the growing for someone else. I cannot even use my own growth as a template for them.

            Did not Paul use himself as a template for others? By this I don’t mean exact template—Paul wrote Romans 14 after all—but that doesn’t mean his own experiences were useless for the edification of others, either. Much of my growth in learning how to love others has come from hearing how others do it. Discovering completely new things on one’s own is actually very hard.

            However, I like your statement about sharing what we should do instead of what we shouldn’t do as we attempt to live by the principle of love. Here is my response:

            What you list are good general principles, but it can still be very hard to see how to apply them. The reason is the following principle which I have adopted: “No matter how different you think other people are from you, they may be even more different.” So this sometimes means that the other person receives love differently from how I do. This means I cannot naively love them precisely as I myself like being loved. Instead, I must understand what makes them feel loved. This lesson, in and of itself, would probably transform the world. Other people are not like you! And yet, how can I understand how other people are not like me, except for seeing specific, concrete examples?

            How would you describe your approach to sharing with others on how to live by Jesus’ principle of love?

            When I think of ‘love’, I think of that which builds up people, communities, and the church catholic (not Catholic church) as a whole. Putting together Mt 5:43-48, Jn 13:34-35, and Jn 17:20-24, one finds that this kind of love is what would convince the world that Jesus is God and that following Jesus is not like anything else. My wife recently talked about how a charismatic church made her feel like a lesser Christian because she did not speak in tongues; I viscerally responded that this is evil, and that anything which promotes true (vs. by-appearance) unity is of the Spirit and can be counted as a spiritual gift. Ephesians 4:1-16 is critical, here.

            One of the extremely stressful applications of love I’ve experienced is when I helped two Christians reconcile. One of them is… not your typical, ‘seemly’ Christian, who looks like it by all the indicators that e.g. the Pharisees would have praised. The other, who was definitely a ‘seemly’, gentle, easygoing Christian, wanted the ‘unseemly’ one to no longer attend the usual meeting—or at least, to not say hard things which would make others uncomfortable. I was able to help them reconcile, and made it clear to the ‘seemly’ one that everyone is called to ‘bend’ when interacting with people who are different from oneself. Love does not insist on its own way. Love seeks unity. Unity is not always easy—at least when it doesn’t get to exclude those who don’t ‘fit’.

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          • sheila0405 says:

            “When I think of ‘love’, I think of that which builds up people, communities, and the church catholic (not Catholic church) as a whole. ”

            You lost me with that sentence. I didn’t even finish reading your comment. I am a former Protestant who converted to Catholicism. Catholics strive to live according to the way that Jesus showed us. By your slap at the Catholic Church, you offended me and violated the law of love. I don’t say that Protestants aren’t part of the Church, the Body of Christ. Maybe this isn’t the best place for you. I’m sure there are anti-Catholic sites you can join for discussions. This should be a safe place for believers of all kinds, including other religions, or even nonbelievers who want to have productive discussions. I am tired of my Catholicism being bashed by non Catholics.

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          • labreuer says:

            You lost me with that sentence. I didn’t even finish reading your comment. I am a former Protestant who converted to Catholicism. Catholics strive to live according to the way that Jesus showed us. By your slap at the Catholic Church, you offended me and violated the law of love. I don’t say that Protestants aren’t part of the Church, the Body of Christ. Maybe this isn’t the best place for you. I’m sure there are anti-Catholic sites you can join for discussions. This should be a safe place for believers of all kinds, including other religions, or even nonbelievers who want to have productive discussions. I am tired of my Catholicism being bashed by non Catholics.

            What I said was in no way intended as a “slap at the Catholic Church”. Please see the Apostle’s Creed, and in particular:

            I believe in the Holy Spirit,
            the holy catholic Church,
            the communion of saints,
            the forgiveness of sins,
            the resurrection of the body,
            and life everlasting. Amen.

            The purpose in saying lower-case ‘c’ is that the complete, body of Christians is not restricted to the Roman Catholic Church. Had I not clarified, a Protestant could have come along and said he/she was offended that I was only calling Catholics ‘Christians’.

            You jumped very quickly to the conclusion that I’m anti-Roman Catholic. Why?

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          • sheila0405 says:

            Because I’m used to getting slammed. Sorry.

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          • labreuer says:

            It is unfortunate that you are so often slammed. Having been slammed aplenty in my life, I have something that has worked for me, and might work for you. Just ask people what they mean and ask them to state it plainly instead of possibly insinuate. Quite a lot of people won’t actually want to speak plainly if they are insinuating something.

            Other than the above, part of being a Christian is absorbing hatred. 😐 People sometimes need to get it out of their system a bit before seeing what they are doing, and I’ve found that somehow—and here I cannot be very concrete—we can draw on the power of Christ to strategically “take it”, such that the other person is allowed to escape the self-defensiveness or tendency to blame others for his/her own failings. It requires a lot of safety for someone to feel comfortable examining these aspects, and sometimes a bit of poison has to come out first. There is something profound to “forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

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          • He is not a counselor or life coach. Just my own observation.

            Sheila, I think this is an excellent observation. Thanks!

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          • Sorry, Tim, if this is too harsh, you can delete it.

            No apology necessary, Sheila.

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  7. Pingback: Jesus and Legalism | Jesus Without Baggage

  8. I worry that this is tantamount to saying that you don’t want to give people sharp knives because they might hurt themselves.

    Labreuer, I have already expressed my thoughts to you on the subject. As I said a few moments ago on the other post, it is apparent that we have different approaches and I don’t think it is helpful to continue discussing this particular topic, but you are more than welcome to comment on other topics.

    Regarding the catholic church, I understood your original comment as clarifying the meaning of catholic (universal) church rather than excluding bodies that use that name, but I understand how someone might read it differently.

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    • labreuer says:

      Message received. In all this, my purpose was to better understand your position; I’ve achieved less than I wanted, but it wasn’t zero. People who are able to think intuitively and what I would call ‘fuzzily’ are largely an enigma to me. 😐 I would never say that they cannot do things that glorify Jesus; I’m well aware that vastly different ways of thinking about things can work equally well for vastly different people. Perhaps such different ways of thinking are permanently beyond my ken, or perhaps I’ll have to find someone in real life who is more like you than me. 🙂

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      • Labreuer, I used to require specifics in any theological discussion. I used to debate everything I believed, but I have come to embrace ambiguity (I suppose that is equivalent to fuzzy), because we don’t know the answer to everything.

        However, there are some things I am passionate about:

        * Jesus is the clearest light we have on understanding and relating to God
        * The Father loves us and we need not fear him
        * The Father’s desire is peace and reconciliation with him, ourselves, and others
        * We should love everyone as we love ourselves
        * The Father will not punish us even though we are broken and imperfect

        In proper behavior, I think principles are more important than rules, and everyone has to learn how that relates to them as they better grasp the principles.

        I certainly don’t want you to leave this little community. I respect your comments here and elsewhere and value your contribution.

        However, though we interact with each other with deep questions, we are here for dialog rather than debate. This does not mean debate is unimportant but there are other blogs that thrive on debate, and I am more willing to debate in those–but still only to a limited extent because I don’t think all issues are important enough to debate.

        I hope you continue to interact with us.

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        • labreuer says:

          I actually do have appreciation of ambiguity; many nascent ideas start out as ambiguous, and if one tries to be analytical and logical on them too soon, they can actually be killed off. I’m also aware that the spirit of the law is inherently ambiguous, but I think that’s because it is more complicated than any letter of the law could ever be. What I look forward to doing is something like the psalmist in Psalm 119, who A) recognizes that the laws and statutes are good; B) knows he’ll always need to learn more of them and better. Lest this be seen in a legalistic way, think of the scientists who want to discover more and more equations to tell them how reality works in a more and more detailed fashion.

          * The Father will not punish us even though we are broken and imperfect

          I agree with this, but I wonder what you think of God disciplining us, as Hebrews 12 discusses. Punishment doesn’t seem to have a redemptive value, while disciplining, in the sense that military troops are disciplined so that they can fight better, seems quite important.

          However, though we interact with each other with deep questions, we are here for dialog rather than debate.

          You’re going to have to let me know a few times if I’m coming off as debating instead of dialogging; I’m not sure I’ll be able to see the difference. I am so used to people debating me that the difference between the two is awfully muddled and vague in my mind!

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          • The spirit of the law is inherently ambiguous, but I think that’s because it is more complicated than any letter of the law could ever be.

            I think you are absolutely correct on that! It is more complicated, and it is more personal too.

            Consequences that result from our hurtful behavior are, in my opinion, natural consequences; but some believe that God is involved in disciplining us, and they might be right. What I know is that I don’t have the authority to discipline anyone other than myself, or my children when they were young.

            It sounds as though you plan to continue participating in our discussions, and I am so pleased! Debate and dialog are points on a continuum and it IS sometimes unclear what the difference is. I certainly don’t want to shut you down, but I will indicate gently if it seems we are getting into inappropriate debate for this blog.

            This might help a little; it is a guideline I use for my own judgment in discussions. In dialog people can share respective views and ask tough questions, but when it becomes clear that participants disagree and they begin trying to convince each other that they are wrong then the dialog is over–especially if the debate goes on-and-on with no progress.

            However, the line between asking tough questions and trying to prove someone mistaken is still unclear. Don’t worry too much about it. I will let you know if that happens–with no hard feelings.

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          • labreuer says:

            This might help a little; it is a guideline I use for my own judgment in discussions. In dialog people can share respective views and ask tough questions, but when it becomes clear that participants disagree and they begin trying to convince each other that they are wrong then the dialog is over–especially if the debate goes on-and-on with no progress.

            I understand the “on-and-on with no progress” phenomenon; I call that “infinite looping”, since I’m a software developer. But trying to convince the other person that something is wrong with how he/she is thinking about things seems like a sharp knife: it can be used for good or for ill. I have greatly appreciated atheists and skeptics forcing me to think more clearly about my faith, and much of that happened in pretty hard-hitting debates. Hebrews contains the following verse:

            But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:14)

            This means being able to analyze arguments and ideas critically, isolating the good parts and the bad parts. Most ideas are actually alloys of good and bad (just like we humans!), and being able to tease out those parts is quite important for maturing and deeper understanding. It’s very easy to add slightly rotten beams to a structure we’re building, such that the rot isn’t visible until it causes quite a bit of damage. Satan masquerades as a beautiful, good, righteous person.

            To give a concrete example of Heb 5:14, let me tell you of a conversation I had with an atheist which exemplified this. A friend invited me to meet with one of his friends, who had just gotten her PhD from a prestigious university. She had been emotionally abused by her labmates and faculty, and was made to feel like the person she was needed to change, to ‘fit’ science. While she was able to get the research done, she didn’t think about problems in the ‘right’ way—according to the prevailing dogma. I had the privilege of acting out 2 Cor 10:3-6, in the sense of destroying (yes, that word) terrible ideas that she was expressing—ideas that her experience at university had tempted to accept and internalize.

            I don’t say the above to self-aggrandize; I don’t think of myself as a very good interpersonal guy; I didn’t even have someone I could call a ‘best friend’ until my twenties. But, because of my own struggles in this area and my practicing my ability to distinguish good from evil (what builds up vs. what tears down), I was able to say pointed, precise, strongly worded things to an atheist and help her fight off terrible ideas that, if internalized, would have made her life much worse. I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit had a lot to do with my success, as well. My friend, who introduced us, said that I likely shaved off several months from her recovery time. I had never done this before, and furthermore, this is the first time I met his friend, who is now my friend as well.

            My point here is that I very much was being precise, critical, and concrete, and that it helped. So I know that the route I’m pursuing can bear fruit. Furthermore, I do think some of my newfound skill (I had never done something remotely like this before) was shaped in the furnace of online debate.

            Like

          • Labreuer, you say:

            I have greatly appreciated atheists and skeptics forcing me to think more clearly about my faith, and much of that happened in pretty hard-hitting debates.

            I agree with you completely. Well informed skeptics and atheists help keep me honest. In fact, I visit hard-hitting debate sites regularly and participate. What I am saying is that this is not that sort of site. Questions and dissenting opinions are welcome, but this is not the place for extended debate.

            However, after you have shared your dissenting opinion and it is apparent that we cannot agree, you may email me at the address on my contact page, rather than in comments, if you want to pursue more hard-hitting interaction with me.

            Like

    • labreuer says:

      Regarding the catholic church, I understood your original comment as clarifying the meaning of catholic (universal) church rather than excluding bodies that use that name, but I understand how someone might read it differently.

      Oh, I understand this. I am actually very well-acquainted with people taking something I said and getting very offended at me, without checking to see whether I meant to be offensive. For much of my life, I simply expressed things differently from the common protocol, and got hated on routinely because of it. Fortunately, someone came along—a non-Christian, in fact—and explained to me that different people see things differently. This perhaps explains some of the passion I’ve displayed in my comments.

      Enter another concrete way to show love. When someone else says something that could be construed badly, check first before reacting harshly. Not doing this makes an implicit assumption that other people are like you, and this is the antithesis to a Matthew 5:43-48 kind of love. I believe that Christianity offers the way to reach unity among people who differ from each other in deep ways. I think God created us differently on purpose (see Eph 2:10); I think he created us to need each other. Human history makes it clear that we’re often terrible at seeing this need. History is filled with “I have no need of you” and “You must become like me”. It’s like many people think that 1 Corinthians 12 is filled with lies. No, we are to become like Jesus, and only like you to the extent that you’re like Jesus.

      A counter to the above, of course, is to be careful to not provoke people with poorly chosen language. As with everything, one must maintain a tension—everyone ought to bend to become more like Christ, as he is the only standard. I don’t think I was being insensitive above, but it is hard for me to judge. I’m very used to having 100% of the blame for infractions be placed on me, with the other person being in the right. This makes it hard to properly judge, where by ‘judge’ I mean evaluate, in the sense that Christians are called to evaluate.

      Like

      • Well said Labreuer. I am also misunderstood due to my faulty composition or someone else’s assumptions; I think all of us are.

        I sometimes want to quit communicating at all because of misunderstandings, but interaction and dialog is too important for us to shut down because of communication issues.

        Like

  9. Pingback: Murder! | Jesus Without Baggage

  10. Pingback: Adultery! | Jesus Without Baggage

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  14. BOSS PAUL THE PHARISEE
    [sing it to the tune of “Rapture” by Blondie]

    I’m Boss Paul, the Pharisee
    My hypocrisy’s plain for the world to see
    I travel the land and travel the sea
    to make a convert who is just like ME

    “All have sinned” – we know that’s true
    but it never means ME – it only means YOU
    My sins are all theoretical
    “I’m the worst of sinners”- but don’t ask where

    To be more like Jesus is what some strive
    except for me – I’ve already arrived
    I’m the perfect model since the road to Damascus
    What were Paul’s sins? Don’t ask us!

    I justify everything I do
    If I testify about myself it MUST be true
    I’m the only man in all history
    whose testimony doesn’t need two or three

    If I did something it MUST be right
    Don’t use the Scripture to shed any light
    Don’t do as I say, do as I do
    and then you can be a Pharisee too.

    Like

  15. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    #1
    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    #2
    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

    Like

    • Matthew, I think I understand somewhat where you are coming from. There are many believers who seem to follow Paul instead of Jesus. But I think Paul would be tremendously alarmed to know this.

      Paul, himself, followed Jesus. He was, however, a very reflective person and elaborated on who Jesus was and how he impacted our lives. Many people today mistake Paul’s illustrations as revealed information on how God works.

      In regard to Paul summing up the commandments as loving others, I believe he was writing to believers who already loved God and perhaps needed reminding of the second half of the greatest commandment–not the first half.

      Like

      • With all due respect, your last paragraph here illustrates you have the baggage of the “Cult of Paul,” like most Western Evangelical Christians.

        In my post directly below this, I laid this out. I am comparing the words in the text of the Bible. Not people’s opinions about “what Paul really meant,” who they “believe” Paul was writing.to, who “perhaps” needed reminding. I’m not trying to be argumentative. But I am, in love facing you with the truth of what you are really doing.

        You are ignoring the clear written words of Jesus in the Bible text, and instead you give priority to your own opinions, based on human tradition, about what you think Paul really meant, which are not written down.

        Like

  16. According to Jesus, which Commandment is the Most Important?

    This is a question of fact about the content of the text in the 66 Books of our Bible. It is comparing the words of Jesus with the words of Paul (and other men) regarding which one is the Most Important Commandment and which one is the Second commandment, which together fulfill the Law and the Prophets. (Not The Law the Prophets & the Writings, not “All Scripture,” not “The whole Bible”)

    It isn’t a question of men’s opinions about “what Paul really meant” or “what Paul must have known” or “what Paul was actually referring to here” or “what Paul was clearly implying” or “what we must conclude that Paul was assuming”, etc. etc.

    These lines of reasoning all go back to the false idea that “Paul must have been right and Paul couldn’t possibly be wrong, so whatever Paul was thinking at the time must have been correct, and we just have to figure out what Paul’s intended meaning was and what Paul was really thinking when he wrote these words.” That would mean that your opinion about the unknowable unwritten “mind of Paul” becomes the “Word of God.” No. Wrong.

    Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. The words spoken by Jesus, recorded in our Bible by Matthew Mark Luke & John, should be above all other words. This has literally been the Orthodox position for almost 2000 years. Paul is inferior, Jesus is superior. The words of Jesus are superior to the words of everyone else in the Bible and to everyone else in the world. Jesus is in agreement with the Law and the Prophets and came “to fulfill them.” [Matthew 5:17-20]

    What Jesus clearly and specifically said is also superior and more important than your opinions about what you think Jesus meant or implied, but didn’t say elsewhere. For example, when Jesus was speaking about “a new command I give you,” Jesus didn’t say THE new commandment, or the FIRST commandment, or the MOST IMPORTANT commandment, or the ONE commandment, or the GREATEST commandment, or ONE RULE.

    The false teaching about “one rule” is the false teaching of the Pharisees of Paul’s day, and Paul the Pharisee was pushing this false teaching. This contradicts the clear specific teaching of Jesus about the first and greatest commandment and the second. Jesus warned us about the Pharisees in Matthew chapters 15 & 16, and quoted the Prophet Isaiah regarding them:
    “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
    [Isaiah 29:13]

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    • Matthew,

      I know that Paul was only human, and some of the things he said are not applicable to every situation because he was a person of his time and was affected by the perspectives of his time. But I will say again what I said earlier: I think you have mischaracterized Paul.

      Like

  17. Dear JesusWithoutBaggage,
    Can you be specific about how exactly you think I mischaracterized Paul?
    What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? Here are 5 to get the discussion started:

    .1) Paul’s boastful conflicting false testimonies, exaggerating and making things up about his conversion experience in Acts 22 & 26, compared to what actually happened (recorded by Luke in Acts 9).

    .2) Paul lying to the Ephesian elders saying he was “compelled by the Spirit” going to Jerusalem, when in truth he was clearly disobeying God. [Acts 19:21 – 22:21]
    .
    3) Paul exaggerating his ministry in Ephesus claiming it was “3 years night and day with tears” when really it was 3 months in the synagogue and 2 years daily in a lecture hall.
    [Acts 20:31 vs Acts 19:8-10]

    .4) Paul abandoning the Church in Corinth after a year and a half for no obvious reason, and going off on another long trip, mostly on his own, without appointing anyone else in Corinth as overseer, or giving anyone else any specific authority in the Church in Corinth.
    [Acts 18]

    .5) Paul acting as an abusive absentee overseer / pastor to the Church in Corinth years after he abandoned them, and clinging to all power and claim to control of money and all aspects of the church ministry, while he was hundreds of miles away teaching full-time in his own school in Ephesus. [1 & 2 Corinthians.]

    Paul is the “model pastor” for many modern “Pauls” like;

    a)
    Bob Coy, who still owns all the assets and controls all the money at his cult known as Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, in spite of his recent resignation as “Senior Pastor” there due to adultery with multiple woman and other major sins that he still has never specifically admitted to personally.

    b)
    Greg Laurie, the Boss of a wide-ranging personal cult empire that generally goes by the name of “Harvest.” Greg lives in Newport Beach, commutes by helicopter, and exploits the very large church he founded in Riverside from a distance, while he does his own thing in Orange County and travels around wherever he feels like, building a personal business empire with himself as the center, not Jesus.

    Like

    • Matthew, you seem to have a strong antipathy to Paul. Paul was only human, but he was a dedicated follower of Jesus. If some people have taken to an extreme his private writings to his churches, it is not Paul’s fault.

      While I admire Paul for much of his work and thought, I do not follow him in everything he says–quite the contrary; I think he is mistaken in places. I certainly am not part of a ‘Paul Cult’.

      Like

      • Dear Jesuswithoutbaggage
        Where SPECIFICALLY do you not follow Paul in something he says?
        Where SPECIFICALLY do you think Paul is mistaken?

        I’ve given 5 examples here with Scripture references – How about those places?

        Let’s not do
        The Evangelical “Mexican Hat Dance”

        Sin is always specific, not general.
        The “Hat” is, “What were Paul’s sins?”

        The music starts, with a cheery blast of trumpets in a melody that is familiar to most North Americans- the “Mexican Hat Dance.” (The national dance of Mexico, taught in Mexican public schools since 1921, and officially named “El Jarabe Tapatio.”)

        A couple in rather elaborate traditional costumes begins the dance. The man throws his huge sombrero hat on the floor, and the couple dances around it, but never steps on the hat. (The “Hat” is, “what were Paul’s sins?”) Here are the basic steps- (there may be one or two other basic steps, but they are very similar to these.)

        What were Paul’s sins?

        STEP 1) Paul said; “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” [1 Timothy 1:13]
        (Response- Those were Saul’s sins, before Jesus called him. What were Paul’s sins as a Christian? )

        STEP 2) Paul said; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” [1 Timothy 1:15]
        (Response- Sin is alwasy specific. What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

        STEP 3) Paul said; “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]
        (Response- Again the same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

        STEP 4) Paul said; “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” [Philippians 3:12-13]
        (Response- They say third time’s a charm. Same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

        STEP 5) Paul said; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” [Romans 7:15-19]
        (Response- One more time! This is getting boring. Same question; Specifically, what were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian based on specific verses of the Bible? )

        STEP 6) LOOP- REPEAT steps 1 through 5, until your dance partner gives up, the audience gets bored, or the music stops. The rule is- never step on the “Hat,” just keep dancing around it.

        Like

  18. “What is an Apostle?”
    Here is the answer based on the original sources:
    The words and actions of Jesus and the Original Apostles in the text of the New Testament.

    .1) Gospel of Mark – time lag between being appointed and being sent
    “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him…” [Mark 3:13-14]

    Three chapters later,
    “Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.” [Mark 6:6-7]

    .2) Gospel of Luke – time lag between being appointed and being sent
    “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon…..” [Luke 6:12-14]

    Again three chapters later,
    “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” [Luke 9:1-2]

    .3) Gospel of Matthew – which is organized by theme, not necessarily in chronological order.
    “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon…” [Matthew 10:1]

    Without any clear time reference, continuing on the theme of the Apostles, Matthew does record “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions…” [Matthew 10:5] Matthew never said that the Apostles were “sent out” immediately after being appointed. If we didn’t also have the clear records in Mark and Luke, it would be a fairly logical assumption that Jesus sent them out right away, but it would still be just an assumption. In this case, that assumption would clearly be wrong. The Twelve Apostles were absolutely NOT sent out right away after being appointed Apostles, according to Mark chapters 3 through 6, and Luke chapters 6 through 9.

    So being an Apostle of Jesus involves being sent by Jesus, yes. But that isn’t the only meaning, or even the first and primary meaning. The first thing was “that they might be with Him” personally, together, for His entire earthly ministry, from the time of John the Baptist until Jesus rose to heaven. Jesus poured his life into the 12 Apostles for 3 ½ years very personally training them to be the leaders of the church, and Jesus chose Peter as first among equals.

    The NIV translation inserts the heading “Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas” for the passage Luke wrote in Acts 1:12-26]. The NIV headings were not part of the original text, and sometimes they can be misleading, but in this case I believe the heading is right on.

    Jesus and the Original Apostles knew what an Apostle is better than anyone else in the world. Why is this a strange idea? Why do so many people frequently attack and tear down and dismiss the Original Apostles, particularly Peter, as if they were all incompetent, stupid, and wrong in so many ways, and they didn’t even know what an “Apostle” was? The answer to that question is, they have been listening to the voice of Paul, rather than the voices of Jesus and the Original Apostles.

    As we consider the question “what is an Apostle”, we should carefully listen to the words of the leader that Jesus personally appointed as first among the Apostles, and trained personally for 3 ½ years, Peter.

    “It is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” [Acts 1:21-22]

    Neither Paul, nor James, nor Luke were with Jesus and the Apostles the whole time, so they were not qualified to be a “witness with the Apostles of Jesus’ resurrection”, which is what it means to be an Apostle. Matthias was qualified, appointed, and later recognized as part of The Twelve. No one except Judas ever lost his apostleship.

    Responding to a question from Peter,
    “Jesus said to them:
    …you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Matthew 19:28]

    We cannot prove that Judas was present at that time, and we cannot prove that Matthias was absent at that time when Jesus spoke those words. Even if Judas was physically present, as we all realize now, he was not a true follower of Jesus. And even if Matthias was physically absent at that particular occasion, Jesus is still establishing the basic qualification for having one of the twelve thrones as being “you who have followed me,” not someone who will follow Jesus in the future, like Paul, James, Luke or anyone else in the world.

    At the Last Supper, Jesus said to His Apostles:
    “You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred on one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Luke 22:28-30]

    Was Judas present when Jesus spoke those words? Even if someone wants to be argumentative and say we can’t prove that Judas wasn’t there at the time, we certainly can’t prove that Judas WAS there. Judas obviously didn’t stand by Jesus in his trial, as the whole world knows. But that was the requirement Jesus gave to “sit on thrones:” “You are those who have stood by me in my trials.” “You”, speaking to His 11 Apostles who had been walking with Him faithfully for 3 ½ years. Not others in the future who will follow the risen Jesus Christ. Notice that at the Last Supper, when Judas lost his throne and Matthias was definitely absent, Jesus chose to speak of “thrones” rather than “twelve thrones” as he had previously.

    The Apostle John recorded about the New Jerusalem,
    “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” [Revelation 21:14]

    The Apostles are 12 faithful eyewitnesses who walked with Jesus during His entire earthly ministry, and Matthias is the 12th. That’s the short version of my definition of “what is an Apostle.”

    Like

  19. Dear Jesuswithoutbaggage,
    According to Jesus and the Original Apostles, an apostle is NOT “someone sent out with a message.” I’ve typed out numerous relevant Scriptures to show that here.

    The Voices of Jesus and the Original Apostles are the best source for the definition of what is an Apostle.

    Not Paul
    Not Luke’s passaging editorial comments out of context in Acts 14
    Not a dictionary
    Not the prevailing tradition
    Not how some other person today sees it.

    Would you agree?

    Like

    • Sorry Matthew, I do not agree. And it is not based on Paul, Luke, the dictionary, tradition, or how some person sees it today. I learned what apostle meant in my first year of New Testament Greek; it means someone sent with a message, just as you mentioned in several places–such as: ‘he SENT THEM OUT TO PREACH the kingdom of God.’

      Jesus and the original apostles did not invent the word apostle.

      Like

  20. You are putting your New Testament Greek class above the words and actions of Jesus and the Original Apostles in the text of the New Testament. You are begging the question again, with all due respect, saying “it means someone sent with a message,”

    No, that is NOT the only meaning, or even the primary meaning, according to Jesus and the Original Apostles. It is a secondary meaning yes. But you are not facing the texts I’ve quoted from Jesus and the Original Apostles.

    It would be accurate to say that Jesus DID invent the word Apostle as it applies to HIS Apostles, and they also affirmed Jesus’ meaning. They all agree unanimously. There are only 12 Apostles, and the 12 appointed Apostle is Matthias.

    Jesus knows better than your Greek Professor what an Apostle is.

    Like

  21. We may agree to disagree on certain issues – but we should be able to state clearly WHY we disagree. As a Christian Brother, according to the command of Jesus in Matthew 18, if you are telling me that I’m wrong, you should be able to explain specifically WHY I am wrong. If you can’t or don’t want to do that, then you should not tell me that I’m wrong.

    I am listening to the voice of Jesus in the Bible text regarding which one is “the first and greatest commandment. And the Second.”
    and
    regarding What is an Apostle,
    my authority is the words and actions of Jesus and the Original Apostles in the Bible text.

    I understand that you are looking to Paul as your authority summing up all the law in “One Rule”, and
    You are looking to Paul and your New Testament Greek teacher and course materials as the authorities to determine “What is an Apostle.”

    We are relying on different sources, therefore we don’t agree. Have I understood you correctly?

    Like

    • Matthew, It does not seem to me that you are looking for dialog but argument, and I am not interested in arguing. I have no need to try to change your mind.

      Why do you wish to continue discussing this issue?

      Like

  22. Jesus spoke of “the first and greatest commandment. And the second ”
    (Matthew 22 & Mark 12 – I typed out the text above.)

    Which one is the first and greatest commandment according to Jesus?
    (If you want “Jesus without Baggage), it seems this would be most important to you also.)

    I am following Jesus, and if Jesus identifies one commandment as the first and greatest, most important commandment, I should know what it is, and seek to obey it. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Like

  23. jesuswithoutbaggage says:

    Hi Matthew. We don’t see this issue the same way, and I think we have discussed it sufficiently. I will not respond to you further on this topic.

    Like

  24. Pingback: What Does it Mean to Love Others as Ourselves? | Jesus Without Baggage

  25. If we really want “Jesus without baggage” we can listen to HIS voice…..

    Poem – What is love?

    Two men came to Jesus
    With different motivations.
    They asked Him the same question
    Relevant to all the nations:

    Which is the Most Important?
    The answer was the same.
    Jesus did not manipulate
    He was not there to play a game.

    “Love the Lord your God” said Jesus
    as He quoted from The Law –
    to fulfill and not abolish
    was His purpose, full of awe.

    Jesus did not make all Scripture
    Into one new great commandment.
    He summarized The Law and Prophets
    “First and Greatest” and “The Second.”

    The Love of God is higher
    Than the love of any man.
    Receive from God, give back to God-
    Then to others, that’s His plan.

    The Love of God involves much more
    Than simply “love your fellow man.”
    Worship, trust, and pray to God,
    and obey Him – that’s His plan

    To worship and pray to neighbors,
    Whoever they may be,
    Or trust and obey our enemies
    Would be idolatry.

    The love of God is first and greatest,
    And the love of man is second.
    “All we need is love” are words
    of dead Beetles on the pavement.

    “The entire law is summed up in a single command”
    are not the words of Jesus our Salvation.
    It’s false teaching of Paul the Pharisee
    “an accuser of our brethren.”

    “Love” without God is Satan’s word through Paul
    in his chapter to the Corinthians.
    “I will show you the most excellent way”
    is the road to eternal perdition.

    Where is God in Paul’s chapter on love?
    Nowhere in view of the eye.
    Paul sings about himself like a Mexican Mariachi
    “I, I, I, I.”

    Jesus is The Most Excellent Way
    Not the words of a Pharisee.
    The words of Jesus are very clear.
    Jesus said, “You must follow ME.”

    Many self-professed “Bible-believing Evangelicals” won’t listen to the words of Jesus, because they are brainwashed through reciting their “mantra” – “all scripture is God-breathed.”

    This “Evangelical Mantra” has been accepted by the collective subconscious mind of “The Evangelical Church” without thought, question, reflection, or even 2 witnesses from the Scripture itself. It’s based on a misinterpretation, out of context, of one verse in one letter written by one man, Paul the Pharisee, who was unfamiliar with the personal ministry and teaching of Jesus.

    But, “Once an idea has been accepted by your subconscious, it remains there and it governs your behavior until it is replaced or changed.” [ as a pastor named Bishop Dale C. Bronner observed in one of his sermons]

    (Definition from the American Heritage Dictionary.) Mantra (noun) (Hinduism.) A sacred formula believed to embody the divinity invoked and to possess magical power, used in prayer and incantation.

    When cult members repeat their mantra, it makes them deaf to the voice of God, unable to hear God. Instead, it puts their focus on their one “special man” above all others – his personality, words and teachings, character, life example, feelings, experience, intentions, mind, will, emotions, etc. Their cult leader is their hero – he is always right, could never be wrong about anything specific, and he must be obeyed in all things and never questioned. He will give himself a special title, write at least one special book, and claim special authority, with no need for a second witness to back him up.
    Here are 3 examples.

    .1) Fuhrer. The title of Adolf Hitler as the leader of the German Nazis, author of “Mein Kamph”. Mantra: “Heil Hitler.”

    .2) The self-appointed Prophet Muhammad, author of The Koran. Mantra: …..”and Muhammad is his prophet.”

    .3) Paul the Pharisee, the self-appointed Apostle to the Gentiles, whose 13 letters comprise one third of what, today, we call the “New Testament.” (The first, original “New Testament” was composed by the second century heretic Marcion, and he coined the term “New Testament.” His new “book” contained nothing except 10 of Paul’s letters and an abbreviated Gospel of Luke. There were no other “New Testament” books, and the Hebrew Scriptures were the “Old Testament” which was irrelevant, according to the heretic Marcion.) Mantra: “All Scripture is God-breathed….”

    I got my Masters Degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. I was attracted to the school because they put Paul’s mantra of “All Scripture is God-breathed” above everything else, and I wanted to heed Paul’s command and “Preach the Word” like Paul….

    This mantra is a misinterpretation out of context of 2 Timothy 3:16. It ignores the previous verse, 2 Timothy 3:15, which clearly indicates that Paul was NOT referring to his own letters when he wrote the words “All Scripture.”

    Paul was probably making reference to some of the Hebrew Scriptures, quite likely including the Law and the Prophets. We cannot be completely certain exactly which “Scriptures” Paul meant in “All Scripture”, and what Paul meant by “God-breathed.” Why can’t we be certain?

    Because we must establish a matter by the testimony of two or three witnesses, especially something as important as “What is the Word of God.” No one else in the pages of the Bible besides Paul ever said anything like “All Scripture is God-breathed”. And Paul only said it here, one time, in the middle of a personal letter.

    The Apostle Peter made reference to “Prophecy of Scripture,” not “All Scripture,” and no it’s not the same thing at all. Jesus never said anything like that. And no one, not even Paul, ever said that all Scripture was equal.

    I remember the general approach to the Bible at Dallas being that “every word in the 66 Books is the Word of God”….. and we should interpret it based on “the intended meaning of the author in the historical grammatical context.”

    That is the basic idea of the heavy-duty seminary language we were being trained in. It sounds so right, so intelligent, so professional, so “godly”….. but it is fundamentally flawed.

    When we look at Paul’s teachings and testimony about himself, (in his letters that make up 1/3 of the New Testament,) we should NOT immediately ask ourselves; “what did Paul say, what did Paul mean, and how does this apply to my life?” The fundamental question is NOT “what was in the mind of Paul?”

    Before any of that, the FIRST question to ask is; “does Paul agree with Jesus, who came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets?”

    Paul contradicted himself, and his teachings and testimony about himself don’t harmonize with the teachings of Jesus (or with Luke’s record of his life.) Let’s not waste our time with endless debates about “what Paul really meant” with his wacky teachings about “baptizing the dead” or “there is neither male nor female.” Paul was wrong. Jesus reminds us from The Law “at the beginning, the Creator made them male and female.” [Matthew 19:4, Genesis 1:27]

    As to the question of “whether the Bible is ALL truly Gods WORDS”…

    The underlying unspoken assumption is that “The Bible” (66 Books) was given to us by God as “one book” and it’s all “equal” in level of authority, priority, and importance. This comes from unconsciously believing Paul’s mantra, the “Evangelical Mantra”, that “All Scripture is God-breathed”, and falsely assuming Paul was referring to every word in the 66 Books of the Bible. Yet even here, not even Paul, not even once, ever said that “All Scripture is EQUAL” in authority, priority, and importance.

    No one in the pages of the Bible ever said or wrote that “all Scripture,” or “the Bible,” is “all truly God’s words”. Jesus never said anything like that, and Jesus did not see it that way. Jesus did not see even the Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the “Old Testament”, as a whole unit or book that was all equal or “all truly God’s words.” Jesus spoke of The Law, or The Law and the Prophets, holding these 2 sections of the Old Testament above the third, least important sections the “Writings.” And Jesus held the Psalms, the first book of the “Writings” section, above the other books in the “Writings” section in importance, since some parts of some Psalms are prophetic.

    Obviously, the New Testament Scriptures were not written when Jesus was walking the earth. But if we want to get closest to The Source, Jesus himself, it makes sense that we should look first to the eyewitness testimony of two of His appointed Apostles who walked with Him faithfully for over 3 years, Matthew & John. (Also to other eyewitness testimony, recorded by Mark and Luke.) This is more accurate, important, and authoritative than personal letters written by Paul the Pharisee, who never knew Jesus personally, had no part in His ministry, and had no eyewitness testimony.

    We should follow the Jesus of the Gospel writers. We should not follow the “jesus” of Paul the Pharisee or Muhammad or any other man, who had their own ideas of who “jesus” was and what He did.

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    • sheila0405 says:

      Well, Paul didn’t write I or II Timothy, or Titus. Peter didn’t write the books attributed to him. Of Paul’s epistles to Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philiipians, Paul only wrote two. (Galatians was penned by Paul, not sure which of the other two). The Gospels are anonymous. Mark is the oldest, and Matthew & Luke merely interpolated their views into Mark. The Gospel of John probably had multiple authors. So, how can anyone really know anything about what Jesus said or did? I was a lifelong Christian until I left it all after decades of questions. I saw so many disagreements among Christians over how to interpret a flawed collection that I realized no one had the truth.

      Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Welcome back, Matthew. We discussed this extensively two years ago. I am not taking it up again.

      Like

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