I want to do one more post on the epistle of John before moving on. It is widely believed that this epistle was written by the Apostle John who also wrote the Gospel text of that name.
1 John 2:3-6
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
Many say that Christianity demands nothing of it’s believers but their faith. They take the message that Jesus died for our sins as being the total message of the Bible. They think that all that is required of a Christian is to lay back and let God’s grace flow over them as long as they have the “faith”. The words above go counter to these beliefs.
John used the word command several other times in this section of his epistle. He flatly says that if you don’t do what Jesus commands then you do not really know him and you are a liar! These are pretty harsh words from one who sat at Jesus’ feet. Any of you who have frequented this blog before know that I have identified several other areas in the New Testament where the writer uses the word “command” in relation to Jesus’ words. This definitely seems to fly in the face of those who adhere to a strict interpretation of the concept of Sola Fida (by faith alone). Martin Luther skirted this issue by saying “Faith alone but not by faith that is alone”. In other words you want to do what Jesus says because you have faith. That is a valid concept but still does not ameliorate the word “command” used so often in talking about the words of Jesus. The gospel written by John is widely thought of as the most revealing of the four gospels. John just seems to have a way with words that the others didn’t. And two of his stronger words are “command” and “liar”.
4 thoughts on “Jesus Commands…. (again)”
Nothing in John’s Gospel “flies in the face” of Luther and sola fide. Have you never read 12:50, “I know that his command is eternal life”?
I usually don’t post anonymous comments, that is those without a backup email address but I will do so here in trust. Ok, let’s use my entire words ” to fly in the face of those who adhere to a strict interpretation of the concept of Sola Fida (by faith alone).” The strict interpretation is by faith alone and that works have nothing to do with salvation. Even Martin Luther made a strong connection between faith and works. I will be posting his words about that right after Christmas. So, at least in my mind the “strict interpretation” of Sola Fida even goes into the face of what Martin Luther himself said about this issue.
Now let’s look again at John’s words again:
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
I look at those words and they say to me that you do not know your savior if you don’t do what he commands. How can you have faith in someone who you do not even know? I don’t understand your reference in John 12:50 to this conversation. Are you saying that God “commands” that we have eternal life? Let’s look at the surrounding verses around your reference:
“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Jesus does say he did not come to judge people. I have a previous few posts that show that I believe that Jesus did not come to judge. But, he then goes on to say (at least in my understanding) that someone will be doing the judging in the final days. The final judgement is also stated many other places in the Bible. Are you insinuating that the 1John epistle words that I quoted are somehow negated by the Gospel words that you quoted? I would be interested in hearing your response.
If you would like to see what I believe Jesus commands us to do please read the next four posts coming in the days ahead on this blog.
My apologies for appearing to be a troll. I hit the “submit comment” button without thinking, and when everything simply disappeared, I assumed the post had been rejected.
I need to be honest. I know enough Greek to have become convinced that the major English versions are horribly misleading when it comes to the subject of “obedience.” For example, I render 1 John 2:3-6 as follows:
We recognize that we have recognized him in this way: if we maintain his commands. The one who says, “I have recognized him,” and does not maintain his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. The love of God has truly been completed in whoever maintains his word. In this way we recognize that we are in him. The one who says he remains in him should walk in this way, just as he walked.
There’s no “obey” or “must” in this sentence, just as there is no “leads to” in John 12:50. This does not make doing the Lord’s will optional, but it does radically change why we do it. “Obedience” calls forth images of a military boot camp, but Jesus’ commands are set in the context of enjoyable and beneficial events like wedding feasts and harvests. “Let’s have dinner!” is a command, but a very different sort of one than the type I hear from most denominations these days. I believe that all biblical commands work like the ones the Lord gave at His climatic Supper (“take,” “eat,” “drink,” etc.).
Thanks Michael for your followup and comments. I think you are fimiliar with my blog so you know I am not a Biblical scholar or conversant in Greek (Its all Greek to me… sorry 😉 ). But I am somewhat familiar with how the various bibles were put together and I must say I am impressed with the diligence that was put into the translations. The NIV had over 100 Biblical scholars most conversant in Greek spend years going over the text. A similar process was done with the ESV. Since there were representative from almost all Protestant denomination there was no one view that took precedence over another. And then of course there is the Catholic translation. Although is was only one denomination it was paneled by many people. All three of these versions use the word “command” or “commandments”.
Please forgive me if I go with those translations instead of yours. I just can’t say that you are right and all the other 200 or more scholars got is wrong. But even you say they are Jesus’ commands but I guess you are saying it doesn’t say we must obey them. In my childhood if my earthly father said this I would certainly think that I must “obey”. So from a non scholarly standpoint I would come to the same conclusion even with your re-translation. But, even you must agree that these are pretty strong words telling us that Jesus wants us to do what he says.
Thanks for contributing your comments. I value them even if I sometimes don’t agree.