A More Excellent Way...
“If anyone says “I love (agapaó) God” and yet hates (miseó) his fellow brother (adelphos), he is a liar (pseustés), because the one who does not love (agapaó) his fellow brother (brethren, member of the same religious community) whom he has seen (horaó) cannot love (agapaó) God whom he has not seen (horaó).” ~1 John 4:20
The word "hate" above is the English translation of the Greek word, miseó (Strong's # G3404. - I hate, detest, love less, esteem less.) It's important to know this Greek word because I believe it is traditionally mistranslated in Luke 14:26: "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (3404 /miséō, 'love less' than the Lord) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple". As you can see here in Luke 14:26, that is a terrible translation by the King James Version translators. This brings about disdain for the word of God. As if Jesus is teaching His disciples to HATE their children and loved ones. It's just awful to think about.
In 1 John "hate" [his fellow brother] may be a mistranslation as well. But either way, John quickly remedies this by clearly stating we MUST LOVE our brother (adelphos - often translated "brethren").
John says we MUST love our brethren in deed and in truth not just in word (1 John 3:18). "I love you" means nothing if ACTIONS don't support it.
"And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister." 1 John 4:21 (NIV)
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.” ~Luke 7:47
“Love must be sincere. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.” — Romans 12:9, 10
So brethren, how are we going to "love" our brethren in the Lord?
Well, John gives us the answer in his incredible 1st Epistle.
"By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith." (1 John 5:2-4)
John is relaying the all-important teaching that if we love God, it will be extended to our brothers and sisters in Christ. It won't be a hidden love for God that we have. Or a love that is only in Word. But we will be loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength everywhere we are. Whether alone, or with brethren. How important it is to love God among each other. As this is what lifts up the body of Christ and edifies the faith of others. If we are loving God it will be extended to everyone around us. In other words, our hearts will be knit to God and Christ and that love will flow from us to everyone around us.
If a brother or sister does not have this "love" John is talking about, then they do not REALLY love God. It's really that simple.
If we could tap into the understanding of the love of God and present it to others we would make God irresistible to so many. And we could cause the love of God to grow within the hearts of each other (brethren in Christ).
Paul knew of this love. He experienced it powerfully himself. Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47
And Paul knew he was forgiven of much, and therefore he loved much. And Paul loved his brethren too, not just God. And 2000 years later we can read about this fruit of love Paul had. The love that beautifully manifested itself to the world and made God so attractive to so many.
Paul said, "Be indebted to no one, except to one another in love, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law." Romans 13:8
Again Paul says in almost the same breath, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love (agape) is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10
Paul said having this knowledge isn't good enough. Paul said all spiritual gifts, faith, working of miracles is nothing in comparison to love.
Paul finishes his incredible teaching on spiritual gifts at the end of chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians by saying, "But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way."
"more excellent" is the English translation of the Greek word "huperbolé" (Strong's # G5236). This very emphatic term means "superlatively, beyond, measure".
"Emphatic": "showing or giving emphasis; expressing something forcibly and clearly." PAUL, this great man of God, is "forcibly and clearly" telling us there is a "way" (road) that is "superlatively, beyond, measure" in comparison to these spiritual gifts.
Wow, selah! Pause and think about that...
Paul then goes into his incredible teaching on agape - love (which was broken into another chapter by a man in around the 1300s). The King James Version translators decided to switch things up for some reason and translate agape here as "charity", even when they had been translating agape as love through the rest of the beginning of the New Covenant - Testament. I find that in the least unnecessary and at worst harmful and confusing.
But Paul is speaking about LOVE here. LOVE is the emphatic, superlatively, beyond, measure virtue.
Paul said "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have [the gift of] prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I AM NOTHING." 1 Corinthians 13:1-2
Because love for God is something we do with all our heart everywhere we go. That is "abiding" (meno) in God. And if we are not doing this we have ceased from loving God with all our heart and we are disconnecting ourselves from God, who IS LOVE. And if we continue in this state, everything we had from God begins to fade away.
"This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another." 1 John 3:11
"from the beginning". What is John talking about? He is talking about God's one commandment to Adam and Eve. Keeping that one commandment was loving God AND loving each other. That is what John is saying. And this one commandment is still upon us, and that is, to cleave to God (God and His written Logos by the Spirit within us) with all our heart and love Him with all our strength and mind (our entire being).
May God the Father richly bless you all in Yeshua the Anointed One.
This is part of my keeping "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:" Hebrews 10:24
And we can only do that if we are seeking God with all our heart ourselves and allowing God to provoke ourselves to love and good works by staying in prayer and study of God's Holy Word.
This I strive to do as the Lord commands in Luke 13:24; "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
Won't you join me? If you don't, you are not loving God or your brethren. That is what John says.
The Word of God is active and alive (Heb 4). Don't say this word is in you when you sit around and don't do anything. That's called being a false witness and taking the name of the Lord in vain.
"...for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12; Deuteronomy 5:11; Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20; Psalm 139:20;)
"Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. " Leviticus 19:17
Here God calls inaction "hate" against your neighbor. But this "hate" comes from someone who doesn't love God or themselves. In other words, those who do this are His enemies. And you are your own enemy if you are inactive. "Inactive" is very closely associated with the word "lukewarm" used by Jesus in Revelation 3:16. Jesus warns, "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." That means, out of His BODY. We must be the opposite of lukewarm (zealous) and come to God in humility and a contrite heart and seek His correction EVERY. DAY.
"And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, 'If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his [own] head. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.'"
Its all about works, isn't it? Let's get busy!
Your brother in Yeshua the Messiah,
You can be saved!
God loves the people in the world so much that He came down to die for us. If God is opening your heart to His message and you feel convicted for your sins which have separated you from a holy God and you feel the need to be forgiven, then say this prayer. This is how I was powerfully converted to the Christ in 1997!
Say, "My Lord and my God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I believe Jesus the Christ died on the cross and shed His precious blood for the forgiveness of all my sins. I believe Jesus raised from the dead and ascended into heaven and is now on the right-hand side of God listening to this prayer. I open up the door of my heart and I invite You in, Lord Jesus. Thank you, God, for saving my soul and I vow to serve you with all my heart which is the first and greatest commandment. Amen."