A Prayer
of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

"You will LOVE!"
(No. 4 of a series on the commandments of Jesus)

By Edgar Jones

Here is my thesis: Jesus makes of agape-love the essence of all commandments of God.  I want to establish this as factual, then investigate this love's significance.  We first examine the most basic resource texts.  Others will follow, but this is where we begin, for this is where we will establish the essence of the commandments of God.

The Basic Texts

1. From the Pentateuch (Moses)

Deuteronomy 6:4 RSV: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD;
5: and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Leviticus 19:18 RSV: You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD

2. From the Gospels (Jesus)

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they were gathered together,
35 And one of them, [an] expert on the Law, testing him asked,


 36 Teacher, what sort of commandment [is] great in the Law?
 37 So he said to him:

 You will agape-love the Lord your God in all your heart and in all your psyche-life and in all your mind.
 38 This is the great and first commandment.
 39 The second is like it:

You will agape-love
your neighbor as yourself.
40 In these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Mark 12

And one of the scribes having come to [him] who heard them debating, having seen that he answered them well, asked him:
What sort of commandment [is] first of all?
  29 Jesus answered that: Here is the first: Be
hearing, Israel, [the] Lord your God is one Lord,
30 and
you will agape-love your God from all your heart, and all your psyche-life , and all your mind, and all your  strength.
This [is the] first
 31 The second [is] like [it, namely] thus:
You will agape-love your neighbor as yourself.

There is no other commandment greater than these.
Luke 10


  25 And behold [a] certain
lawyer stood up testing him saying: Having done what will I inherit eternal zoe-life?
But he said to him: What is written in the law? How do you read [it]?
 27 So answering he said:

You will agape-love
the Lord your God in your whole heart and in your whole psyche-life and in your whole strength and in your whole mind, and

your neighbor as yourself.

So he said to him: You have answered correctly. Do this and you will zoe-live.

These may or may not be parallel accounts of the same event.  All focus on the same two commandments, and report a question from a lawyer/scribe.  But notice the many differences. The question is different, and the conclusions different in each record.  But what is clearly common to them is the recitation of what Jesus characterizes as the First and Second commandments.  Matthew has them sum up all the commandments (all the law and the prophets) and Mark makes of them the greatest whereas Luke finds in them the prescription for eternal life and, distinct from Matthew and Mark, has the questioner repeat them instead of Jesus.  The two commandments are drawn from the Pentateuch as quoted above.  This is significant in that we know that Jesus did not create these commandments but drew them from Moses, and they were texts his questioners knew well. 

My first aim, to establish as factual that Jesus makes agape-love the essence of all commandments of God, has been established herewith.  It remains to investigate the significance of this love.

The Prime Idea of Agape-Love

These commandments all begin with the same phrase, which is a commandment in itself and is my title:

You will (or shall) agape-love . . . ..

As you can see without further ado, Jesus does indeed make agape-love the essence of the commandments of God.  Further, the commandment is to love God with all of every element of one's being -- heart, psyche (soul, life), and mind (Matthew) to which Mark and Luke add "strength."  It is of much interest to notice that Moses, in the original, lists "strength" but omits "mind."  Make of this what you will -- for our present purpose it is not significant.  It is "love" that interests us here.  And, of course, it is also evident from the language of the Second Commandment, "You will agape-love your neighbor as yourself," that there is an unstated premise underlying the whole, which is the love of self.  That the Lord let this stand as Moses stated it strongly indicates that self-love is not only acceptable to the Lord, but also basic to our understanding the significance of love.  This is just common sense.
Can love mean anything to a person not loving oneself?

There are two primary words in New Testament Greek that translators render by the same English word, love.  These are agape and philia.  Though the English fails to distinguish, there is a vast difference between them.  The latter speaks of brotherly, affectionate loving, the former of something altogether other.  It is this word,
agape, that is utilized in its verb from in the above utterance(s).   Only the Faithful New Testament retains the distinctions by the expression, agape-love. 

What is the love the early disciples knew as agape?

I will not distract you with references to the lexicons.  The incidents of this word in classical Greek are sparse, so that it's usage in the New Testament and more specifically, in the gospels, must define it.  There is no incident in New Testament usage that defines it more definitely than the one that is the source of our subject --  Jesus' statement of the First and Second Commandments.  I should also explain that the Old Testament Hebrew of Moses in the above sources, aheb, does not make the same distinction
between agape and philos that we find in the New Testament, or that is inferred in Jesus' use of the word.

The first thing to consider is that agape
-love is commanded.  This is obvious
, but you may have overlooked it's significance.

What kind of love can be commanded?

I can't make you love me by commanding you; that would only turn you away, but here Jesus (and our Father) is commanding us to love God and our neighbor.  The fact that he commands it indicates that he addresses the will of the individual -- whether or not the individual will choose to obey the commandment.  This fact distinguishes agape from philos because the latter is the expression of affection -- usually of natural affection.  As such, it has no need to appeal to the will.  It simply happens, based upon experience, interaction with and knowledge of the beloved.

As to our neighbors, experience and interaction with them may incite dislike, even hatred.  But our Lord is commanding us to love our neighbors without limitation.  So neither is this an expression of natural affection and, as commandment, is also an appeal to the will -- whether or not we will choose to obey it, even against all inclination of natural repulsion should that be present.

The familiar John 3:16 states that "God so loved the world . . .." This is true, even though the world consists of men who love the darkness because their deeds are evil (John 3:19).  It follows that there was little in the world to elicit God's natural affection and therefore his love for the world was and is also an act of the divine will.  He who hates evil is aware of the world's evil but chooses to love the world anyway.  He is not commanding us to do what He does not do -- choose to love as an act of will.

In the midst of our sinfulness He chooses to love us, who sees all; we are commanded to love him whom we cannot see.  It is our choice as it is his.  Such must be the love that He commands.  The view differs, but the love is the same.

This is the prime idea of love that is the basis of the commandments of Jesus.  We are to choose to love. 

Choosing to Love God

We cannot see Him.  God is Spirit, and Him we cannot see.  Therefore there is no grounds for natural affection so that, if we are to love Him, it must be as an act of the will -- whether or not we will choose to love.

Jn.6:46 FNT  Not that anyone has seen the father, except the [one] being from God, this [one] has seen the father.

But we can see Him indirectly if we believe Jesus, for we see Jesus portrayed in the gospels and it is the same Jesus who has also clearly stated:

Jn.14:7  FNT If you have known me, you will also know my father. And from now [on] you know him and have seen him. 8 Phillip says to him: Lord, show us the father, and it suffices us. 9 Jesus says to him: So much time I am with you and you have not known me, Phillip? The [one] having seen me has seen the father.

And how do we see the Father in Jesus? 

In many places and ways and words, but perhaps no view is so vivid at this one, where we see Jesus and, through him the Father, choosing to love -- exercising agape toward wicked men:

Lk.23:34 FNT Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

But this requires of us another decision of the will -- to choose to believe and have faith in Jesus -- that
the gospels truly portray him and that his Word is Truth.  So either way, whether through blind faith in God or faith in the revelation of Jesus in whom we can see God, there is an essential action of the individual will.  One must choose, even against all the natural inclinations, to believe that a man who was brutally executed by crucifixion was the revelator of God and that he displayed agape-love when he prayed to God to forgive his enemies who were in the process of killing him.  That is the essence of agape-love.

Have you considered that, in the midst of his suffering on the cross, Jesus understood clearly that it was the will and desire of his Father that he suffer
thus so as to return to Him?  He loved his Father anyway and endured this, which was the will of his Father, so as to satisfy that love by returning to his Father's house.  Would you love a father whose desire it was that you suffer thus?

It isn't natural!  Such a love can exist only as an act of the will, of the responsive will of Jesus to the will of his Father.  Such is agape-love, that it prevails over the natural inclination that would be common to men in such a situation, to hate a parent who would have one suffer.  From this perspective, the cross of Jesus stands as the enduring witness to his agape-love for the Father, which no amount of abuse could shake, even as it testifies to his agape-love for humans.

The Meaning of Loving God

on the cross, displayed what it means for one to love God because that was his means of going to the Father.  If we love the Father, we are drawn to the Father by that love.  Similarly, if the Father loves us, he is drawn to us by the same agape-love.  It follows that, if one loves the Father now, in this very moment, one is thus drawn to the Father now, in this very moment; it follows also that such a one wants to go to the Father now, in this very moment.  It likewise follows that such a one does not want to remain in the world now, in this very moment.

So one needs to exercise some care in speaking of loving God because, if such a one does not want to go to the Father now, such a one does not love God now.  That is the ultimate significance of the Great Principle according to which Jesus lived in the world and died on the cross.  The words of Jesus in John 14 continually revolve around this principle and focus on this love.  And it works both ways - it draws one to the Father, and it draws the Father to the one who thus loves Him.  Here is what I mean:

John 14:28 FNT You heard what I said to you: I go, and come [back] to you. If you were agape-loving me, you would have rejoiced that I go to the father, because the father is greater than I. 29 And now have I told you before it comes to pass, in order that when it comes to pass, you believe. 30 No longer will I speak many [things] with you, for the ruler of the world comes and he has nothing in me, 31
but in order that the world know that I agape-love the father, and just as the father commanded me, thus I do.

He said,
thus I do -- and why?  That the world know that he agape-love  the Father!  The world knows it, you know it and I know it by this one thing -- he had a choice to remain and live in the world or to go to the Father, and he chose to go to the Father.  That is agape-love of God in it's essence -- choosing to go to the Father rather than to remain in the world.  And he was so young a man -- not old as I am, with little life in the world remaining in any case!

There is a word that we find only twice in the Greek New Testament.  It is mone,  and both are in John 14.  It means "dwelling place."

John 14:2 FNT
In my father's house[hold] are many dwelling-places . If [it were] not [so], I would have told you, 3 because I go to prepare [a] place for you. And if I go and prepare [a] place for you, again do I come and will take you to myself, in order that where I am you may be also.

John 14:23 FNT Jesus answered and said to him: If anyone agape-loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will agape-love him, and we will come to him, and we will make our dwelling-place with him.

How about that?  Jesus showed the world that he agape-loves the Father by going to Him, and he has gone to prepare dwelling places for all who manifest their love for the Father by going to Him when their hour has come, as Jesus went to Him when his hour had come.  In the meantime, now, for us who remain in the world, the Father manifests his love for us by coming to us and making His dwelling place with us! 

Read it (John 14:23, above)!  There is but one condition required to qualify for the divine presence within: agape-loving Jesus by keeping his word.

I shudder with concern for the multitudes of Christians who, following Paul and his gospel or the Catholic and Orthodox gospels, do not know how to love God, or how to love Jesus his Son by keeping his Word.

Jesus showed us -- and he told us -- what it means to love God.

Choosing to Love a Neighbor

One must also choose to love one's neighbor without regard to attraction or repulsion if one obeys the Second Commandment of Jesus.  When Moses delivered the Second Commandment, it carried this limitation:

You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

The limitation is unmistakable.  The neighbor is one of the "sons of your own people," the people of Israel.  It is relatively easy to love a person of one's own kind, and the closer the relation the more apt one is to love.  But what if the other person is not one of "the sons of your own people?"  What if you are a Jew in First Century Judea and the neighbor is a Samaritan, a member of a despised clan?  Or suppose you are the Samaritan, and the neighbor is the Jew?  The tribal consensus was the same in either case.  Moses does not command you to love such a person, for his version of the Second Commandment applies only to those of one's own people.  Of course, one can more aptly illustrate this situation by reverence to the modern conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

But Jesus removed all limitations!  When he had delivered the Second Commandment, he was asked "And who is my neighbor?"  His replied with the Parable of the Good Samaritan in which a Samaritan crossed over the national distinction and performed a loving action for a Jew.  In Jesus' version of the Second Commandment, there are no limitations and therefore it is again agape-love, or an act of the will.  

Put yourself in the place of that Samaritan.  You are traveling, not without misgivings, on your donkey from Jerusalem to Jericho.  Why the misgivings?  Because you are in Judea, on a road heavily traveled by Jews whom you have been taught to hate and whom you have every reason to believe hate you.  Everyone is rushing along on his own business, intent on making progress and arriving at his destination in a timely manner.  So are you, and your urgency is further stimulated by the hostile environment, which not only includes many Jews but also is notorious as a route infested with robbers.

Looking far ahead, you see something strange by the way.  Drawing near, you notice others pressing to the opposite side of the path as they pass by the strange object.  Is it?  Yes, as you draw near there is no mistaking the human form.  Furthermore, you can hear groans. 

Questions come to mind.  Is it one of those hateful Jews?  Is it perhaps a robber decoy, set to lure me to assist him so as to make myself vulnerable?  Not likely to be one of my own people in this neighborhood. Besides, I have no time to lose . . .. 

You know the story.  The Samaritan assisted a robber victim
at what might have been considerable risk to himself while others passed him by.  There was nothing about the situation to attract the Samaritan to this prostrate form by the wayside, but he agape-loved that person anyway.  By an act of the will he chose to aid him, and that not just momentarily.  He "set him on his own beast" so that he was himself, now a pedestrian, heavily encumbered with the care of a person who surely would have passed him by in a similar situation. 

Our Lord did not take the Law as delivered by Moses and apply it as Moses and the Israelites applied it.  He took it as a point of reference, a law that all Jews knew well, and radically changed it by removing its limitations.  That is the essence of agape-love for a neighbor: it constitutes the Second Commandment of Jesus.  Jesus was himself the prime example of conformity to his own commandment, for that is what he was doing in the utterance quoted above:

Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

This was not just one example of agape-love for a neighbor, but it was the ultimate
example in that they were his bitter enemies.  This explains again that it is agape-love that prevails in this commandment:

Lk.6:27 FNT But I say to those who hear: Be agape-loving your enemies, be doing good to those hating you. 28 Be speaking well of those cursing you, Be praying concerning those mistreating you.

Now consider how perfectly it is that Jesus' prayer for his tormentors conformed to the dictates of these commandments, all subsidiary to the Second.

Be praying concerning those mistreating you.

The Meaning of Loving the Neighbor

Jesus further explained the utterance of Luke 6:27,28 just quoted:

Lk.6:29 FNT To the [one] striking you on the cheek offer the other, and from the [one] taking your garment also do not withhold your tunic. 30 To all asking [of you] be giving, and from the [one] taking your [things] do not ask it back. 31 And just as you are wanting that men be doing to you, be doing likewise to them.

We see that agape-love transcends every form of abuse from a neighbor and results in the summation stated by Jesus in vs. 31:

And just as you are wanting that men be doing to you, be doing likewise to them.

Here is the Lord's statement of what we know as The Golden Rule.  It springs directly from self-love, otherwise how would what we want others to do to us make sense in this context?  So, as I have already stated, self love must be the datum from which we express agape-love in all such situations.

This is what the Lord means when he commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It is to do to them, in all circumstances, what we would have them do to us were the circumstances reversed.  This is what the Parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates.  The Samaritan would seem to have had no motive for assisting him who had fallen other than this, so he chose to agape-love his neighbor. 

Furthermore, the definition of "neighbor" has absolutely no limitation except that it applies only to a person(s) who is physically nearby, consistent with the primary definition of the word:

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English nEahgebur (akin to Old High German nAhgibur); akin to Old English nEah near and Old English gebur dweller -- more at NIGH, BOOR
1 : one living or located near another

The same dictionary defines "Fellowman" thusly:

Main Entry: fel·low·man
Pronunciation: "fe-lO-'man,"
Function: noun
: a kindred human being

"A kindred human being" must be understood according to the definition of "kindred" from the same dictionary:

Main Entry: kindred
Function: adjective
1 : of a similar nature or character : LIKE
2 : of the same ancestry

Jesus does not address today's never ending flood of solicitations for aid to persons in distant places.  He directs his agape-love commandments only to individuals and to situations where a single individual can obey them without the assistance of others, as illustrated by the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Do not make this mean more than it says.  The Lord does not teach withholding assistance from foreigners, but if we are moved to assist, it must be on some basis other than the Second Commandment.
We are left to decide the matter on other terms.  Such giving is, in principle, consistent with the Second Commandment.

For confirmation, we should briefly visit another statement of the Lord in the Light of the Second Commandment:

Mt.5:38 FNT You have heard that it was said: Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 39 But I say to you not to oppose wickedness, but whoever strikes the right [side] of your cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And to the [one] wanting to sue [you] and take your shirt, give up to him your coat also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to whoever requests of you, and from the [one] wanting to borrow from you do not turn away.

Obviously, these are commandments that apply to reactions to a neighbor -- one nearby, very close, close enough to strike one on the cheek, to sue you or to compel you to accompany him.  Vs. 42 we understand in the same way:

Give to whoever requests of you, and from the [one] wanting to borrow from you do not turn away.

In every case, the Second Commandment applies exclusively to one nearby.

The New Commandment

There was one category of persons not mentioned in the commandments of Jesus up to a point because it was a new category.  He would not let these go unspecified.  This is the category of his disciples.  So we have this, the New Commandment of Jesus:

Jn.13:34 FNT [A] new commandment I give to you, that you be agape-loving one another; just as I agape-loved you, be agape-loving one another. 35 By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have agape-love for one another.

The Second Commandment does not cover this category, being applied only to a  "neighbor."  This New Commandment, not being
otherwise constrained, applies to all disciples far or near.  Its universal outreach is implicit,  being the standard test of discipleship according to which all (men far or near) will know a thing -- i.e., that certain individuals in the world are his disciples.

This is more than a commandment -- it is a mark of discipleship.  Let all men far and near, including disciples far and near, know by this who is and who is not a disciple.  This is not esoteric -- one need not know anything whatever about Jesus to apply this test.  One need not know that there was
ever a person named Jesus.  But of course, a disciple  -- a genuine disciple -- will be most conscious of this commandment and of its double edged significance.  This, as both commandment and marker, is the Word, and as Word it is the standard of judgment for all men, far or near, including the disciples also.  It is the Word that is the Judge, both now and on that day:

Jn.12:48 FNT
The [one] setting me aside and not receiving my words has [one] judging him: the word that I spoke - that will judge him in the last day.

The very same marker finds its statement by the Lord in other words, not as commandment, but as the condition of unity, of oneness:

Jn.17:20 FNT
But not concerning these [ones] only do I ask, but also concerning those believing in me through their word, 21 in order that they all be one [thing], just as you, father, [are] in me and I in you, in order that they also be in us, in order that the world believe that you sent me. 22 And the glory that you have given to me I have given to them, in order that they be one [thing] just as we are one [thing], 23 I in them and you in me, in order that they be completed into one [thing], in order that the world know you sent me and [that] you agape-loved them just as you agape-loved me.

Agape is the binder that draws all disciples into one as they obey the New Commandment, whereby we know that this oneness is the very same marker as obedience to the New Commandment.  It is therefore a marker both to the disciples and to the world -- to all persons both near and far, whatever their loyalty or identification.  It is a universal marker; that is, it is a marker of all persons to all persons for all persons.

All such "marker" judgments are both pro and con.  If one is not thereby judged as a disciple, that one is not a disciple.  We should therefore have this in mind when we examine the history of Christendom and become aware of the internecine vitriol and blood letting by which the Christian citizens of Christian states have conducted their affairs.  It works both ways because all men, near and far, of the world and of the Lord, know that they -- the Christian citizens who do such things to one another -- are not his disciples.

This explains why the New Commandment seldom gets equal billing with the others within Christendom.  It is self condemnatory, not only for the individual but also for the body politic that is at once the citizenry and the church.  In Truth, however, it has equal billing with the other commandments of the Lord.

The Deficiency of Moses

Moses writes:

Deut.11:1 RSV You shall therefore love the LORD your God, and keep his charge, his statutes, his ordinances, and his commandments always.

Moses, and the Old Testament in general, makes the love of God equal to keeping His commandments.  Here is a link to other texts in the RSV, and you can visit them to confirm this fact.  One of them is in the New Testament, in I John, where we are specifically informed of a precise definition of the love of God:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. 

This deserves special comment, but later.  For the present, if we focus on the OT references, we can conclude that the love of God consists in keeping the commandments of God, i.e., the commandments as delivered by Moses.  If that is the sum of it, then the Second Command as stated by Moses applies only to "one of the sons of your own people." 

Now, we have just seen that Jesus is not satisfied with that interpretation, but gives to it an entirely different meaning.  As Moses interpreted it, it was legal to hate one's enemy, as we glean from his instructions:

Deut.7[1] "When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Gir'gashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Per'izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites, seven nations greater and mightier than yourselves,
[2] and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them.

In the same vein, we have already seen that Moses understands the love of God to be expressed by keeping the commandments as he had delivered them, whereas Jesus has given to it a radically different and new and unique interpretation -- the love of God is the desire to go to him, where he is, in heaven!  The First Commandment of Jesus does not require that we keep the commandments as delivered by Moses, nor does the Second Commandment of Jesus!  In the case of both commandments that Jesus teaches to be the sum of all the commandments, he has radically redefined and restated them.

Not too many years ago I understood Jesus to be referring to the Law of Moses when he taught me that all the Law and the Prophets were summed up in two.  I was mistaken; he intends us to understand, by all such utterances, his own Law
that began with that of Moses but was radically changed.  This is what he did in the Sermon on the Mount in those passages where he says,

You have heard that it was said . . . but I say unto you.

So also, in the parallel passage that I set forth above, he does not mean the Law of Moses, but his own commandments that proceeded from the Law of Moses.  We can be sure of that because he teaches us elsewhere that no one lives by the "bread of Moses."

Jn.6:30 FNT So they said to him: So, what sign do you work, in order that we may see and believe in you? What do you work? 31 Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, just as it is written,
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 So Jesus said to them: Truly truly I say to you, Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but my father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the [one] coming down from heaven and giving zoe-life to the world. 34 So they said to him: Lord, always give us this bread. 35 Jesus said to them: I am the bread of zoe-life; the [one] coming to me will not hunger, and the [one] believing in me will not thirst ever.

Our Lord definitely was not telling the "certain lawyer" of Luke 10:25 that he would receive eternal life by keeping the two commandments as delivered by Moses.  That will not do the job!  Moses is deficient.  We are looking here to one of the more interesting contradictions between Jesus and Moses.  

Nevertheless, through the centuries Christians have tended to equate the love of God with keeping the Law as delivered by Moses, usually understanding the Decalogue to be the heart and soul of it.  Such is the consequence when one does not listen to the voice of our One Good Shepherd.

We briefly visited this verse from I John above, with a promise to come back to it.  Like the Old Testament texts, it seems to equate the love of God with the keeping of the commandments of Moses.  I mean this:

I Jn.5:3 FNT For this is the agape-love of God, that we be keeping his commandments.

But in this case, the writer of this epistle has already defined "his commandments" here:

I Jn.3:23 FNT And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ and be agape-loving one another, just as he gave [the] commandment to us.

He refers, of course, to this commandment delivered to us by the Lord Jesus:

Jn.13:34 FNT [A] new commandment I give to you, that you be agape-loving one another; just as I agape-loved you, be agape-loving one another. 35 By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have agape-love for one another.

This early disciple, while not comprehending the salvation wrought by Jesus, clearly understands that the love of God is manifest in us by keeping the commandments of Jesus -- and in this case, he is concerned about the New Commandment that Our Lord delivered.

My conclusion is that the Commandments of Moses are deficient and do not bring eternal life, for as Jesus teaches us, it was himself and not Moses that brings us the true bread from heaven, the Living Bread, such that one can eat thereof and not die.

Important Omissions

Jesus does not command that his disciples love him.  He expects that his disciples love him because he stated the conditional markers of our love for him.  He did not command it  because, as I have already stated, one cannot command love for oneself -- not even agape-love.   Only God can do that.

Jesus does not command that his disciples love foreigners.  A little reflection explains this also.  Such a love, at a distance, cannot be effected apart from the agency of others as intermediaries.  Even the existence of the foreigner cannot be known except through the agency of intermediaries. 

To illustrate, take an hypothetical individual in Indonesia who was in great need due to the tsunami of 2005.  I cannot philia-love that individual because I do not know him or her.  It is therefore impossible that I philia-love that person, having had no basis for establishing a bond of natural affection. 

I do not even know of him or her except as a statistic, and I cannot know the statistic except through the agency of intermediaries.  I cannot respond to the need of that individual except through the agency of intermediaries such as the United Nations or the International Red Cross.

Here is the point: this necessarily involves a whole host of individuals serving various functions and agencies and standing between me and our hypothetical, foreign individual.  The commandments of Jesus are specifically directed to me individually, and it is only by an act of my individual will that I choose to agape-love anyone.  His commandment to me does not apply to any other individual as to me, therefore it is impossible that I agape-love our hypothetical individual in Indonesia. 

Lo!  Observe once more the Lord's Good Samaritan parable to exemplify this simple explanation.  It was possible for the Samaritan to agape-love the roadside victim because there were absolutely no intermediaries.  It was as an individual the Samaritan saw and touched the fallen one directly and without intermediaries; as an individual he chose to supply his need, directly and without intermediaries; as an individual he placed the unfortunate on his own beast, directly and without intermediaries, and as an individual, directly and without intermediaries, he transported him to a place of shelter.  As an individual, directly and without intermediaries, he paid the innkeeper and as an individual, directly and without intermediaries, he promised to make up any lack
, should there be any, on his next visit.  There was absolutely no dependence on an intermediate agency, personal or corporate.  The volition of none else was involved in any way whatsoever.  Therefore, in that it depended on the will of only one individual, it was possible for that individual, the Samaritan, to agape-love the fallen one. 

Summary and Conclusion

It is sufficient in summary to list the most basic commandments of Jesus. 

You will agape-love the Lord your God.

You will agape-love your neighbor.

a. Be agape-loving your enemies.

3. Be agape-loving one another.

As indicated, 2a is subsidiary to the Second Commandment in that it applies to an enemy that is also a neighbor.  No. 3 stands on its own and is independent  of the Second Commandment (No. 2), else the Lord would not have designated it a "New Commandment."  The fellow disciple being loved according to No. 3 need not be a neighbor, as in the case of the enemy of No. 2a.  This follows from the fact that all disciples are bound into the same Little Flock worldwide by the action of the indwelling Word and Holy Spirit.  And, yes, if a anyone beholds one of us reaching out to a fellow disciple in a foreign land by whatever means, medium or intermediary, that one will conclude that they love one another.

And for a conclusion, what more than this need one say?

Jn.14:15 FNT If you agape-love me, you will keep my commandments.

Jn.14:21 FNT The [one] having my commandments and keeping them, that is the [one] agape-loving me; and the [one] agape-loving me will be agape-loved by my father, and I will agape-love him and reveal myself to him.

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