Thursday, November 6, 2014


Love is the distinguishing mark of a follower of Jesus. Jesus said, "By this, all will recognize that my disciples you are" (John 13:35). The "my" (εμοι) is emphatic indicating that His name is at stake in our behavior.  The clause "by this" (εν τουτω) refers to what follows not precedes the statement. The condition that follows identifies the mark of His followers. Jesus' followers are identifiable "if you have love among yourselves."

The clause is a third class condition sometimes called a "future more probable condition" (Dana & Mantey, Grammar, p.290). There is an element of future uncertainty but the uncertainty is outweighed by the expectation. This condition (εαν αγαπην εχητε) indicates action that is expected or impending (Blass/Debrunner, Grammar, pp. 188-190). The same conditional structure is used in John 16:7 where Jesus says, "If I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go,  I will send Him to you." Obviously, Jesus' going is impending or expected. His going is only uncertain because it is yet future but His going is expected. So is the love which marks us as Jesus' followers. Real followers of Jesus will love one another, not perfectly but actually.  Jesus expected us to love one another and, we might say, is sadly "surprised" when we don't.

The "marking" love is a love we have among ourselves (εν αλληλοις). Jesus is not thinking here of our love for those who are not followers of Jesus. Jesus says that the distinguishing mark is our love which is exercised within the community of believers (Hanna, Grammatical Aid, p.175). This is the love that He makes possible by changing our hearts by His grace.  We should certainly love those in the world but the real mark of a Christian is how we love other Christians. Sadly, we often do better at loving those outside the church than we do those inside the church. We reserve our harshest attacks for others who follow Jesus but deviate slightly from our expectations of orthodoxy or, more often orthopraxy - our own personal practices! Our petty squabbles within the church turn vicious grieving the heart of Jesus as we fail His expectations by dragging His name through the mud.

No comments:

Post a Comment