Fruit of the Spirit · Remnant · Theology

Word Study – Love

FotS 1

What is love?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as ‘strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties’, which is accurate, but that’s not what we usually use love as. Love is more likely to be a verb than a noun – for instance, I love you rather than Love is what I have for you.

The term ‘love’ first appears in the Bible (at least in the ESV) in Genesis 22:2: ‘He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”‘

In this context, as in many other contexts throughout the Bible, love refers to what we think of now as paternal love. An oft-used – but still applicable – metaphor is that of a mother bear protecting her cubs.

But not all love in the Bible is paternal. The four most common words in original Biblical manuscripts are phileo, agape, storgē, and eros.

 

I. Phileo: Love of Friendship

Phileowhich is used most noticeably in contrast to agape in John 21, is a Greek term referring to a companionable love: one between friends. To use the term ‘love’ for one’s friends nowadays would be considered rather strange, so certain translators may choose to render this as a less amorous term; nevertheless, it is still a form of love.

Companionable love is an important but lacking aspect in society in modern times. Love is a term that has become increasingly polarised in recent times, hence the taboo nature of love among friends. This definition is virtually unknown nowadays, the word typically meaning either relational (among family members) or amorous (between lovers) love.

 

II. Agape: Love of Esteem

Agape refers to a love born of esteem for that which is loved. This, too, is an obsolete usage in modern English, typically replaced by ‘respect’ or ‘awe’. Though used rarely outside of the Bible, it appears 320 times in the New Testament.

An agape love wants only the best for that which is loved. It is unselfish and is best exemplified by 1 Corinthians 13, which serves well as a general description of the term. In other words, this is a platonic love.

 

III. Storgē: Love of Relation

Storgē is a love for one’s relation. Purely platonic, it is rare in the Bible, usually appearing only in the sense of negation (e.g., ‘unloving’ in Romans 1:31).

At its most basic form, however, storgē refers to a love for one’s family member – for one’s spouse, child, parent, relation, or even pet.

 

IV. Eros: Earthly Love

Eros is a curious case. Referring to a love existent for the lover’s benefit, it does not appear in the Bible, despite being a common Greek term. Why?

Well, eros represents all that the Bible opposes. It embodies egocentrism, lust, and self-satisfaction all in one. Eros is an earthly love, one which desires more for itself. It has the implication of sexual love, but by itself, sexual love is not morally inclined. Indeed, it is encouraged in the Bible, and it is the way God’s relationship to us is portrayed (translated typically as a form of the word know).

But nevertheless, eros is absent from the Bible for two reasons: firstly, it carries with it the baggage of its Roman origins: Eros (whose Roman counterpart was the more famous Cupid) was the Greek god of lust (though not always explicitly; he is also sometimes portrayed as the god of ‘sexual attraction’). And secondly (and more to the point), it is clearly not a part of the Bible’s vision. Marriage is, indeed, a temporary, earthly thing, and its facets should be enjoyed (as God directs), but eternally, our love and complete allegiance is to God, not to one another. It is a brotherly love that we are commanded to share eternally, not a sexual one.

 

In conclusion, the term love may be misleading. It can refer to friendship, honour, family, or lust. At any rate, it is a mistake merely to read passages containing this term without context or understanding. Properly interpreting love is not something to be taken lightly.

But it is supposed to be more common than it is. We are to have brotherly love for each other (see Hebrews 13:1, which puts it succinctly). So do so.

 

Love one another.

 


Sources

McLean Bible

Bible Gateway

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Theology

Fide

fide

Where does our faith come from?

From God! is the cry of any good Christian. And God alone!

After all, you’re not like those disbelieving Gentiles in the Old Testament. Some trust in chariots, but not you!

…right?

Well, if you’re reading this, more likely than not you drive to and from school or work each day. Clearly, that requires a bit of trust. So are you breaking the rules of the five solae?

Of course not. But then what, exactly, does sola fide mean?

In the nineteenth century, when the five solae (sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria) were first solidified, the term faith meant something rather different than what it does today. And fide, in its original Latin, meant something even more removed from the modern interpretation. Specifically, it referred to a complete and total trust in something – the placing of your life in its hands.

Oh, thank goodness. The only things I trust in that sense are God and the Bible.

Really? Well, that’s quite fascinating. In fact, the Bible goes beyond even your earthly life – it refers to the entrustment of your heavenly life. The eternal one. Into the hands of God.

Isn’t that a bit of a big commitment?

What did you expect? It’s only your eternal salvation – or your eternal punishment, whichever route you choose. There are quite a few people who would deny they even have an eternal life to give.

At least it’s nice and abstract – I don’t actually have to do anything.

Well, that’s not the whole story. If you are prepared to hand your eternal fate, your earthly life, and the whole of your existence over to the One who can bring you joy, you’ve got to be prepared for a bit of payment – not a necessary payment, but an expected one. It is not an unparalleled exchange – and yet it is. Recall, on the one hand, the sinner on the cross, who needed only to believe and repent to be saved; recall, on the other hand, the life of Paul, who did all he could after his conversion to glorify the work of God.

So what’s the point of all this hullaballoo? Do I need works to be saved or not?

Need works? Of course not. This is the folly of Catholicism, and it leads down the road that has left them as a ‘many-ways-to-heaven’ religion. But to not share God’s word, to hide your light on a hill – that is wrong. Not only scripturally but morally. For if you hide your light for the sake of keeping up appearances on earth, you will have no one to keep up appearances with in heaven.

But by no means consider this a deal-breaker. The short mist of life, that rises for a short time and passes away, may be thrown away, spent away from those who disbelieve – or better yet, spent witnessing to those who disbelieve, but if you have faith – if you have fide, the faith for which the reformers died – you will exchange it for an eternity of rejoicing in heaven.

Theology

You Will Be With Me

‘And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”’

Luke 23:43

 

AMERICAN FLAG FLIES AS WORLD TRADE CENTER SMOKE AND DUST LINGERS IN
AIR.

 

Two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six.

That’s the number of people who died in the terrorist attacks on this day in 2001. It’s a painful number to imagine, especially for someone (like myself) who never saw it happen.

But there is a bright side, even if it doesn’t come from our world.

Luke 24 is about the death of Christ on the cross. It carries suitably dark themes, and by the forty-third verse, it feels like hope has vanished. We know, of course, that Jesus rose again, and that hope would return with the day, but Luke 23:43 is a strange verse, in light of the chapter’s immediate context.

One of the two thieves who is being crucified alongside Jesus mocks Him and laughs at Him, considering Him delusional. The other thief worships Him, to which Jesus replies ‘today you will be with Me in paradise.’

Isn’t that strange? The sky is darkened, the sun is blackened, and the Creator of the universe is at death’s door, and yet He is still declaring this man forgiven of his sins.

What does this verse have to do with 9/11? Well, of 2996 people, there may have – and probably was – one, at least, who accepted Christ that day. And Luke 23:43 gives us the assurance of their salvation – and should give us hope, too. If a thief dying on a cross can be saved, if a victim of terrorism can be saved, there is no power that may stop us from salvation, should we repent and place our trust in God. Death is a topic that churches and pastors tend to shy away from, which is a pity. It’s the most powerful tool at our disposal – the reality that either we will perish and suffer forever, or repent and be forever joyful. And the death of thousands should be no enemy of the gospel – on the contrary, it should be a tragedy that makes people cry out why?

And we can give an answer.


Sources

Terrorism in History

9/11 Death Statistics

Theology

Casting Lots in the Bible

What does it mean, to cast lots? Is it a Biblical mandate, or does the Bible condemn it? What should we make of this practice, used by Roman soldiers and Christian apostles alike?

 

An Introduction: The Division of the Land of Israel

Throughout the book of Joshua, God gives instruction to the eponymous character on the division of Israel among the twelve tribes. The casting of lots is used often in this section and seems to refer to some kind of random selection, like flipping a coin or rolling dice.

The casting of lots occurs 77 times throughout the Bible, with 70 of them found in the Old Testament. There are three examples that allow us to properly understand how we should understand this Jewish practice.

 

A Tool of Evil: The Casting of Lots for Jesus’ Garments

In Matthew 27:35, Roman soldiers are seen to gamble for Jesus’ clothing by casting lots. This is in fulfilment of Psalm 22:18, wherein David laments the theft and division of Jesus’ garments in the first person. So, if the soldiers who crucified Jesus are using them, lots must be evil, right?

 

A Tool of Good: The Casting of Lots for the Twelfth Disciple

In Acts 1, shortly before the coming of the Holy Spirit and the first sermon, the casting of lots appears for the seventy-seventh and final time in the Bible – and it’s for the purpose of replacing Judas. The disciples choose Bartholemew after casting lots to determine the replacement. Is the Bible advocating lots now?

 

A Tool of All Trades: The Casting of Lots for Jonah

In Jonah 1:7, Jonah is on the run from God. (That doesn’t work out too well, as you’ll find if you read it.) He’s awoken during the night as a storm rampages over his boat, bound for Tarshish. The sailors, recognising that the storm is no ill fate, cast lots to determine who is being punished by the God or gods. It turns out to be Jonah, and he’s duly cast overboard. So what do all these passages say about the casting of lots?

 

A Conclusion: The Coming of the Holy Spirit

It’s intentional that casting lots last appear just before the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Bible treats them as a pre-Spirit method of determining God’s will – or the gods’. It’s a tool that can be used by anyone – but it’s not in use today. The Holy Spirit changed that, as did the completion of the Bible.

So don’t cast lots, but don’t look down upon the disciples when they do it, or on Joshua when he does it. It’s not evil or good, it’s simply a thing that appears in the Bible.