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Deut. 6:4-6 presented Israel with this promise.  Although these verses are normally considered to be “commandments,” in both the Hebrew and the Greek they are in the future tense: a statement of what will at some point happen.  While many translations render these verses as a commandment, literal renderings of the text reveal that Deut. 6:4-6 actually gave Israel this beautiful promise: “You will love God.”  The Concordant Version of the Hebrew text of vs. 5 offers us, “So you will love Yahweh…”  And vs. 6 told them, “These words… will come to be in your heart.”  We can observe how there were those who did love God, from reading the OT accounts.  But the obvious fulfillment of this promise is seen in Israel’s “Federal Head” and representative, her Messiah, and through Him all those who are joined to Him.  But let us observe this promise, as recorded in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the OT.


            4.  Listen, pay attention and hear, O Israel!  [The] LORD (= Yahweh), your God, [the]

            LORD (= Yahweh) is (continually exists being) One.

            5.  And so, you [singular; = you, as a people] will keep on and progressively love (urge

            toward reunion with, and have unambiguous acceptance of) [the] LORD (= Yahweh), your

            God, out of (from the midst of) your whole thinking faculty (or: thoughts and  

            understanding that move through the mind; note: the normal LXX translation of Heb. leb),

            and out of (from the midst of) your whole soul, and out of (from the midst of) your whole

            power and ability.

            6.  And thus, these effects of the flows (these results of the sayings, speeches and things

            that are spoken) – as much as I, myself, presently continue imparting as inner

            directives to you, and implanting as instructions for the goal, the purposed aim and

            the union-centered destiny for you, today – will continue being within (in the midst of,

            centered in and in union with) your heart, and within (in the midst of, centered in and in

            union with) your soul.


In vs. 5, the verb “love” (agapaō) in not in the imperative mood, but in the indicative.  It is a statement of fact, and thus is a promise, since the verb tense is future.  This tense, in Greek, belongs to the group of verbs (along with the imperfect and the present) which are all “durative,” meaning they express continued, repeated or progressive (or, “lineal”) action.  This was God’s plan for humans, and Israel was to live out (embody) this relationship between God and humans, as instruction and enlightenment for the rest of humanity.  How would this come about?  Verse 6 gives the explanation.  By means of the instruction (Torah) given through Moses, God would, “presently continue imparting as inner directives to you, and implanting as instructions for the goal, the purposed aim and the union-centered destiny for you, today – will continue being within (in the midst of, centered in and in union with) your heart, and within (in the midst of, centered in and in union with) your soul.”  I have expanded the meaning of the verb, entellomai, in rendering this clause.  It is a combination on en (within; centered in; in union with) and the verb form of the word group of telos, (aim; purpose; goal; end; destiny).  This verb is commonly rendered, “command.”  But what happens when an authority give a subordinate a “command”?  The authority speaks or writes the desired end, or goal, of this “command,” and the subordinates internalize the directive as a goal to be accomplished.  So what the authority does is “impart,” or “implant” his words into the hearts of his subordinates so that they fulfill the purpose, aim and goal of those words.  Does this remind you of God saying He would write His laws (instructions) on/in our hearts?  Yes, it does (cf Ps. 40:8; Jer. 31:33; Ezk. 11:19; 2 Cor. 3:3).


But what was God’s goal in imparting the words that Israel (and take note that this is a corporate instruction, here, to the people as a whole: the “you” in vs. 5 is singular) would love the Lord (Yahweh, in the Heb.)?  Verses 5b explains that they would do this with their entire being and abilities, and vs. 6b explains that His goal for them would permeate their interior being.  I suggest that when this inner directive and impartation enters the heart, His Word (Logos) will create a new heart to accomplish His aim.  2 Cor. 5:17 speaks of the old having passed away, and the new having come (a new creation).  Rev. 21:5, when the word “all” is rendered as masculine, tells us, “I am periodically making all humanity new, and progressively, one after another, producing and creating every person anew, while constantly constructing all people fresh and new, i.e., continuously renewing everyone.”  But what did it mean in our Deut. text, that they will progressively love God?  What is the “love” of which He speaks, here?


The noun that is related to the verb agapaō is agapē.  Now Paul normally quoted from the LXX, when citing the OT, so when he wrote a short essay on agapē, he no doubt was familiar with the verb’s use in our Deut. 6 text, above.  We will examine his expanded definition of “love,” below, in 1 Cor. 13 (Paul’s essay on the Love, which God is), but before we look at this, I want to share meanings of agapē extracted from the writings of the theologian, Paul Tillich, in Systematic Theology III, pp 134-137 and Perspectives on 19th and 20th Century Protestant Theology, p 200:

            1. the urge or drive toward reunion

            2. the acceptance of the other one as a person

            3. unambiguous love

            4. the power of reunion with the other person as one standing on the same ultimate ground

            5. unrestricted acceptance which overcomes existential separation, in spite of the

            estranged, profanized and demonized state of the object.


In his Daily Meditations, Richard Rohr has given an added definition of agape: “a drive to give yourself totally to something or someone.”


We should not miss the dynamic quality that these two scholars give to the term, agape.  Could this be explained by John’s definition of the essence of God?  He put it succinctly in 1 Jn. 4:16,

            “God exists continually being Love (God is Love, which is Unrestricted Acceptance,


Then in the 19th vs. of this same chapter, he instructs us that,

            “We ourselves are habitually loving (or, as a subjunctive: can and should be constantly

            loving) because He Himself first loved (or: urges to reunion with) us.”


So what does this agapē look like?  Paul explained it in 1 Cor. 13:

            4.  The Love (or: This unrestricted acceptance, etc.; [note: we should read this term as

            speaking of Christ, or God]) is habitually even-tempered, taking a long time to be in a

            heat of passion (is constantly long-enduring/suffering and patient; keeps on putting anger

            far away; continues slow to progress toward rushing emotions which cause violent

            breathing; continues passionately persevering unto the goal) – it continues being usefully


            The Love (or: This urge toward unambiguous, accepting reunion and giving of oneself) is

            not constantly boiling with jealousy and envy.  The Love is not continuously bragging

            or “showing off” – it is not habitually being puffed up; it is not conceited or arrogant.

            5.  It is not repeatedly indecent in manner or behavior (it does not continually display

            lack of [good] form, rudeness or improper demeanor); it is not habitually self-seeking (or:

            not constantly pursuing its own interests or rights); it is not continually caused to be

            sharp [in response] nor aroused to irritation or upset emotions; it is not habitually

            keeping account of the worthless thing, nor logically considering something of bad

            quality, nor counting the injury. [comment: this would be like keeping track of wrongs

            inflicted against one’s self by others]

            6.  It does not continue to rejoice upon [seeing or hearing of] the injustice, nor is it

            happy about dishonesty, inequity, or lack of the qualities of the Way pointed out, yet

            it repeatedly rejoices with the Truth (or: takes delight together in Reality).

            7.  [Love] continuously covers all mankind; it is habitually loyal to all humanity; it

            constantly has an expectation for all mankind; it is continuously remaining under

            and giving support to all people.

(or, since “all” can also be neuter: It [i.e., unambiguous acceptance] progressively puts a protecting roof over all things; it is habitually trusting in, and believing for, all things; it is continually hoping in or for all things; it keeps on patiently enduring all things.)

            8.  The Love (or: This unrestricted, self-giving drive toward reunion) never – not even once

            – fails (falls out or lapses; = becomes fruitless or ineffectual; [other MSS: falls down;



Now in Jn. 3:16, we are informed by John that God does all of this:

            “For thus God loves (agapaō: fully gives Himself to and urges toward reunion with) the

            aggregate of humanity (the universe; the ordered arrangement; the organized system [of

            life and society]; the world), so that He gives His uniquely-born [with other MSS: the only-

            begotten] Son…”

God does unto humanity what He said that Israel would do to Him (which was accomplished in the Messiah, Israel’s representative – the Second Humanity, the Last Adam, 1 Cor. 15:45, 47).


When we think or speak of “love,” we often tend to default into thinking either in terms of eros (desire), or of the friendliness and affection of philia, in regard to that promise in Deut. 6 (or, even in John’s or Paul’s writings).  We who have known God as our Father have had developed in us a filial love for Him (such as in Rom. 8:15b, “within which (or: in union with Whom) we are habitually crying out, "Abba (Dad), O Father!”),

            “because God’s love (the urge toward reunion and the unambiguous, uniting acceptance

            from God; God’s giving of Himself to [us]) has been poured out in a gush and shed forth

            so that it now floods within our hearts, permeating the core of our being, through the

            Set-apart Breath-effect (or: Holy Spirit; Sacred Attitude) being given to us (in us; for

            us)” (Rom. 5:5b; -- thank you, Art White, for tying this in here).

But this filial love for our Father (wonderful as it is) is not what seems really to be behind the idea of agapē.  If we adopt Tillich's understanding of agape (and keep in mind that the verb form was used in the Deut. text), then God was saying that Israel will increasingly "accept Him," and will have an "urge toward union with Him," even to the point of having a recognized "standing on the same ground" (as per Tillich) as Him.  This goes way beyond our "heart feelings for Him" (as important as those are!), which we later see w/David, in the psalms, and in the prophets.  This, again, is His plan for humans and for Israel, in that we will then be enabled to "love the aggregate of humanity (the world)" as He does (Jn. 3:16), and do all that His “agape” does, for “God is Agape!”  With our hearts “joined to the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:17), and our whole being “dwelling/abiding in the Vine” (Jn. 15:1ff), we will be able to have, “unrestricted acceptance of people which overcomes existential separation, in spite of their estranged, profanized and demonized state.”  In fact, by His indwelling Spirit, we will have, “the urge, drive and power of reunion with other people, as one standing on the same ultimate ground with them.”


And then, the risen Christ will say,

            “I am truly now saying to you folks, upon such an amount (or: To the extent) that you

            did (or: do) and perform(ed) [it] to (or: for) one of these belonging to the least of My

            brothers (used collectively: = the members of My family), you did and perform [it] to and

            for Me” Mat. 25:40).

The lived-out expressions of agapē (e.g., 1 Cor. 13:7, above; also 1 Jn. 5:3) are “loving” God.  The imparted, or implanted, ability for us to love God and to love others is the result of Christ continuously and progressively making all things, and all people, new (Rev. 21:5).  He makes our hearts new by coming into union with us, transforming us to be the very Love that He is – and this is the reality of being “born back up again to a higher place (or: can be brought to birth again; or: would be given birth from above)” (Jn. 3:3).  By being “bornfrom out of the midst of God” (Jn. 1:13), we become His children, and we love because of His Love that gave birth to us.  Thus it is our destiny to progressively love God as He “unveils” Himself to us in and by His Spirit, in and by His creation, as well as in and by other people.

            “We have seen and thus know that God's Son has arrived and is continuously here,

            and He has given thorough understanding (input throughout the mind) to the end that

            we would constantly know by experience the True One, and we constantly exist

            within and in union with the True One (or: in the real [situation]; in the midst of Reality):

            within His Son, Jesus Christ.  This One is the True (Real; Genuine) God, and Life

            pertaining to and having the qualities of the Age (or: life having its source in the Age [of

            Messiah]; eonian life; Life of, for and on through, the ages)” (1 Jn. 5:20).

This statement in 1 Jn. 5 was another Unveiling that was given to John, concerning Jesus Christ.  Yes, we WILL progressively and continuously love God.


May God's goodness overwhelm you,


Jonathan Mitchell




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