Do They Know Us By Our Love?   Leave a comment

1 Peter 1:22-24

You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love.  So love one another earnestly from a pure heart. You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass; the grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever. 

I am not a Greek scholar, but I do know a couple and I have some good Greek references on my book shelf, because when they want to upgrade their books, I’m always willing to provide a home to dog-eared volumes.

Phileo: brotherly love, mutal consent

In context, Peter is talking about false teachers in the church and how the church is meant to deal with disagreements that arise from heretical teaching within the church. Basically, in the Greek, this passage says that “you’ve let the Holy Spirit totally transform your body-mind-will by obeying the undeniable truth (alethios – of God’s action in the world – in context), in order to show sincere brotherly love (phileo). (So, when dealing with those you disagree with, inferred from context) intensely love (agape – God motivated unconditional love) one another from an uncorrupted spirit. You have been reborn not of physical seed, but incorruptible seed by the action of the Holy Spirit.

All flesh is like grass and its glory is like the flower of the grass. Grass withers and the flower falls off, but God’s inspired word (rhema) brings good news forever.”

Agape – God’s love — unconditional love

It’s important to understand that Scripture was not written in English and the words we read are interpretations of what was actually written in Greek. Koinine Greek is an extremely complex language. What is often rendered in English does not do the actual message justice. This is one of those places. Reading the passage in English really isn’t enough because there are two words rendered “love” here and two words rendered “knowledge” and the Greek gives them very nuanced, but vitally different meanings.

Alethios (same root as logos) – head knowledge that grows from faith

All Christians have head knowledge (alethios) about God and salvation through Jesus Christ. We KNOW what is expected of us. And, we love the saints. We seek to have harmony (phileo) in the churches with our fellow believers. But ….

Human beings are messy and corrupted and we too frequently  fail to understand what God expects of us. We act like flesh and blood when God wants us to act like those who have been transformed by the Holy Spirit. When we encounter disagreement, whether because of sin, because of misunderstood spiritual principles, because of out-and-out heresy, we struggle to maintain phileo (brotherly love). We err when we try to do it in our own strength. Here, Peter said we need to make that head knowledge into a rhema, a deep-seated heart-based understanding of what God wants. The issues of the flesh are temporary and they will one day fade away, but God and our salvation go on forever.

Rhema – heart knowledge that comes from intimacy with God

Recognizing that, we need to be willing to love (agape) one another even when our hearts don’t want to. That’s a hard biscuit to swallow. We want reconciliation, we want agreement, we want to be right. God says, through Peter, that sometimes it is more important to love and to love as God loves. If God acted upon what we deserve, there’d be no human race. He’d have fried us to ash a long time ago. Instead, He has held back His judgment and allowed us to act like the weak beings that we are. He says here we should do the same with each other. Ignore our petty differences and let God take care of it.

This is a message not only concerning our interactions within and between our churches, but concerning the Church’s interaction with the world.

Posted September 19, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

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