‘Hannity’ hosts questions what US enemies think of Biden’s blunders. #FoxNews #HannitySubscribe to Fox News! https://bit.ly/2vaBUvASWatch more Fox News Video…
— Read on www.youtube.com/watch
South Carolina senator says he’s concerned terrorists could blend in with migrants crossing the border on ‘Hannity.’ #FoxNews #HannitySubscribe to Fox News! …
— Read on www.youtube.com/watch
Central American migrants at the US-Mexican border crossing waiting to be allowed to apply for asylum in the US. © Global Look Press / dpa / Stringer
— Byron York (@ByronYork) March 5, 2021
In today’s episode, Todd teaches us how to read and interpret our Bibles correctly by not allowing other worldviews and opinions to shape our interpretation of the text.
“…because of her opposition to Trump and her outspokenness in confronting sexism and nationalism in the evangelical world, she has been labeled a “liberal” and “woke” and even as being a heretic giving a message during a Sunday morning church service.”
(Reformation Charlotte) Beth Moore is the Southern Baptist Convention’s top lady-preacher and prime merry-andrew of Evangelicalism. Beth Moore, like her spiritual brother, Russell Moore (no relation), has lead the charge in opposing conservative policies in the political realm, primarily railing against the evil orange man, daily.
Beth Moore, following in the footsteps of racist, anti-white heretic, Dwight McKissic–who says he’s “getting off the bus” of the Southern Baptist Convention–has decided to depart the Southern Baptist Convention as she recently announced, according to Religion News Service, that she’s parting with LifeWay. Moore departed the faith years ago when she decided she’d rebel against God and declare that she would preach and teach in contradiction to His Word. View article →
The Low-Information Evangelical Part 1 By Marsha West
WATCH OUT! Apostasy Alert — Naming names
In what can only be considered a “look at me” formality, lady preacher and theological peabrain Beth Moore has announced that she is no longer a Southern Baptist. Apparently, she has taken gullible Southern Baptist congregations for all she could and is now moving on to even more liberal and gullible pastures.
Moore retweeted an article at Religion News Service announcing her breakup with Lifeway, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention and peddler of wares from all over the spectrum of fake Christianity. She claims she no longer “identif[ies] with some of the things in our heritage that haven’t remained in the past.” We assume she means the orthodoxy of forbidding women from preaching (1 Tim. 2:12) and the orthodoxy of not engaging in rank false teaching (2 John 9). Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that her Living Proof “ministry” lost 1.9 million dollars between 2017 and 2019.
While the article links Moore’s departure to pushback by Southern Baptists over her anti-Trumpism, she has notoriously led the charge into full-blown liberalism by the SBC for over 10 years, becoming more and more egalitarian, ecumenical, and brash in her disregard for scripture. Her theological ineptitude and outright horribleness is the stuff of legends, as she has routinely claimed direct revelation from God (like her famous tale of God telling her to brush a guy’s hair instead of witnessing to him), affirming so-called woman pastors and those who affirm LGBTQ+, labeling her entire denomination racist, and claiming white supremacy is “running rampant” in the church. She has liked tweetsdissuading believers from sharing the Gospel at BLM protests, claimed the Holy Spirit inspired her to write her book When Godly People do Ungodly Things, and pals around with pathological liars like Kyle J. Howard.
She is a pathetic and embarrassing expositor of scripture and the poster child for what happens when churches and denominations fail to take the scriptural roles of men and women seriously.
Beth Moore leaving the SBC (assuming it sticks) is not a surprise to anyone paying attention. The SBC is not downgrading nearly as fast as she is, and now her lousy studies aren’t selling. She clearly left the orthodoxy of the Baptist Faith and Message long ago, and her recent inability to draw a moral distinction between Trump and the Democratic Party was just the latest peach on her massive tree of bad fruit.
The discernment ministers at Protestia/Pulpit and Pen called Beth Moore out years ago as not being one of us (you know, not a Christian). She is and has always been a charlatan, bilking gullible Christians out of time, money, and real teaching for years – aided and abetted by the Christ-less hucksters at Lifeway who shelved her pap alongside heaven tourism nonsense and moronic “relevant” teen devotionals. Now apparently SBC women’s ministries will be forced to rely on “menstruation is a parable of the crucifixion” Jen Wilkin for their monthly doses of feminism.
While I am no prophet, I predict that within one year, Beth Moore will come out as fully LGBTQ affirming and adopt the title of pastor for herself in whatever “church” she finds herself. Such is the nature of apostasy.
A number of states have refused to clean up their voter roles to eliminate those who are deceased, or moved away. Then there’s ballot harvesting, those who’ve thwarted identification requirements, election workers filling in missing information on absentee ballots that would otherwise have necessitated the spoiling of the ballots along with the receiving of ballots days after the election.
Now there’s an attempt to place into federal law the practices that many found to be abusive and that leads to fraud. Known as HR-1 (‘For the People Act’) this legislation was introduced January 4th, 2021.
Joining Jim to discuss this issue was Bob Adelmann. Bob is a former investment advisor and now is a regular contributor to The New American writing primarily on economics and politics.
HR-1 is a massive 791 page document that had 222 co-sponsors, each one a Democrat. When the vote occurred last Wednesday, all Republicans in attendance opposed it. With its passage in the House of Representatives, the next step is the U.S. Senate.
When did this start? Bob named some historic presidents and key years in American history, but in the end he prefers to go back to the Garden of Eden. So with his 50 years of experience in the fight for freedom, he believes it starts with the father of lies, the great deceiver. He’s the one propelling this effort.
As the program progressed, Bob commented concerning specifics of the legislation such as:
Bob summarized HR-1 this way: ‘It’s the primary tool by which the Democrats hope to cement forever, control of the election process in the United States, in their favor.’
This is just some of the information from the first quarter hour of the broadcast. Hear more, including what listeners had to say, when you review this edition of Crosstalk.
To contact your U.S. senators concerning HR-1, call 202-224-3121.
Prayer Is Only Lovely When the Heart Is in It
1 Kings 8:48–49; 2 Chronicles 6:37–39; Psalm 119:145; Matthew 6:5–8; Luke 8:9–14
Prayer is only lovely and weighty as the heart is in it, and no otherwise. It is not the lifting up of the voice, nor the wringing of the hands, nor the beating of the breasts, nor an affected tone, nor studied motions, nor seraphical expressions, but the stirrings of the heart that God looks at in prayer. God hears no more than the heart speaks. If the heart be dumb, God will certainly be deaf. No prayer takes with God, but that which is the travail of the heart.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Declaration of Faith from Calvin’s Will
Deuteronomy 4:31; Acts 4:12; 2 Corinthians 1:3
I testify and declare that I trust to no other security for my salvation than this, and this only, namely, that as God is the Father of mercy, he will show himself such a Father to me, who acknowledge myself to be a miserable sinner.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
1:9 love As Paul explains later, love (agapē) involves putting others before oneself (2:3–4).
knowledge The knowledge that Paul has in mind is not just intellectual but experiential, acquired through acts of love.
all discernment The Greek term used here, aisthēsis, refers to the ability to make decisions for the benefit of others.
1:9 in … knowledge. This is from the Gr. word that describes genuine, full, or advanced knowledge. Biblical love is not an empty sentimentalism but is anchored deeply in the truth of Scripture and regulated by it (cf. Eph 5:2, 3; 1Pe 1:22). discernment. The Eng. word “aesthetic” comes from this Gr. word, which speaks of moral perception, insight, and the practical application of knowledge. Love is not blind, but perceptive, and it carefully scrutinizes to distinguish between right and wrong. See note on 1Th 5:21, 22.
1:9 I pray: Verses 9–11 give the content of his prayer for them. He is desirous that this fervent love will continue to burn hotly but within the splendor of full knowledge and spiritual discernment. Love without knowledge is like water without a channel. Water uncontrolled is disastrous but is productive when controlled. The love that Paul sought for the believers is the highest form of Christian love, based on a lasting, unconditional commitment, not on an unstable emotion. knowledge: The first of two terms on which a directed love is built, knowledge suggests an intimate understanding based on a relationship with the person. Here the focus of this knowledge is God. discernment: Found only here in the NT, the Greek word means moral or ethical understanding based on both the intellect and the senses. The word implies perception or insight into social situations.
1:9. After his prayer of thanksgiving, Paul explains that his request for the Philippians is for their sanctification. First, he specifically prays that their love would grow greatly in the areas of knowledge and discernment. True Christian love is not shallow and sentimental but is grounded in an intelligent and insightful commitment of the will to God as contained in the Word of God.
1:9 Thanksgiving now gives way to prayer. Will Paul ask wealth, comfort, or freedom from trouble for them? No, he asks that their love might constantly increase in knowledge and all discernment. The primary aim of the Christian life is to love God and to love one’s fellow man. But love is not just a matter of the emotions. In effective service for the Lord, we must use our intelligence and exercise discernment. Otherwise, our efforts are apt to be futile. So Paul is here praying not only that the Philippians will continue in the display of Christian love, but also that their love will be exercised in full knowledge and all discernment.
1:9. It was Paul’s prayer that the Philippians’ love for other believers would abound, run over as a cup or a river overflows. But that love should be more than sentimental; it should be knowledgeable and discerning. Having genuine spiritual knowledge (epignosis) of God and depth of insight into His ways enables Christians to love God and others more. (This Gr. word for “insight” [aisthēsis] occurs only here in the NT.)
9 They knew the love of God for them and in them, but Paul prays that their love may abound more and more (cf. 2 Cor. 9:8; 1 Thes. 3:12). Love, however, needs to be more than blind enthusiasm. It needs to be guided by knowledge and depth of insight (cf. Col. 1:9), ‘the gift of true discrimination’ (neb), a sensitivity to the truth of God and the needs of others, and the understanding of one’s situation.
1:9. Having expressed his love for the Philippians, Paul shares his prayer for their pursuit of Christian growth. Having described their love (v. 7), he prays for it to abound. Love is a primary characteristic of Christlikeness. Yet love is more than mere emotion. Love can increase in knowledge and depth of insight. Knowledge is spiritual wisdom found in Scripture. Insight is application of this spiritual wisdom to practical living. Christian love must be rooted in wisdom from God’s Word if we are to love both God and man in greater ways.
1:9 “your love may abound still more and more” This is PRESENT ACTIVE SUBJUNCTIVE which emphasized his prayer that their love would keep growing (cf. 1 Thess. 3:12). Love is the evidence and sign of a true believer (cf. 1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4:7–20).
|“real knowledge and all discernment”
|“knowledge and all discernment”
|“knowledge and full insight”
|“true knowledge and perfect judgment”
|“the knowledge and complete understanding”
Both of these requests involve full spiritual insight which leads to Christlikeness (cf. Col. 1:9). The first, epignōksō, is usually used in the NT for the knowledge needed for salvation (both a true message to be believed and a person to be welcomed). The second (aisthēsis) was more practically oriented and emphasized lifestyle choices (cf. 2:15). Christian maturity involves all three elements: (1) correct doctrine (cf. 1 John 4:1–6), (2) personal relationship (cf. John 1:12; 3:16), (3) godly lifestyle (cf. 1 John 1:7; 2:6). It also requires perseverance (cf. Matt. 10:22; 24:11–13; Gal. 6:9; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7).
9. Having thus reaffirmed his great love for the Philippians, Paul is able to proceed as he does; for, though the words which immediately follow imply that perfection had not yet been attained among those to whom this epistle would be read, the very tactful introduction (verses 3–8) has removed every legitimate reason for taking offense.
Verses 9–11 contain the substance of the prayer to which reference was made in verses 3 and 4. This should be compared with Paul’s recorded prayers found in the other epistles of this first Roman imprisonment: Eph. 1:17–23; 3:14–21; Col. 1:9–14. Combining them we noticed that the apostle prays that those addressed may abound in wisdom, knowledge, power, endurance, longsuffering, joy, gratitude, and love. Also, we observe that Jesus Christ is regarded as the One through whom these graces are bestowed upon the believer; and that the glory of God is recognized as the ultimate purpose. Truly, one cannot afford to ignore Paul’s lessons in prayer-life.
Accordingly, in the present section we have:
(1) Its Burden: And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more. The word love (ἀγάπη) crowds the pages of Paul’s epistles. For its use in Philippians see, besides our present passage, 1:16; 2:1; 2:2. He views this love as being entirely dependent upon and caused by God’s love which it strives to imitate (Eph. 4:32–5:2; 5:25–33). Though it is true that when the apostle speaks about the love which believers should exercise, he generally does so in a context which makes men the object of that love (Rom. 13:10; 14:15; 1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Cor. 2:4, 8; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 1:15; 4:2; etc.), yet no one who has made an earnest study of the closeness of the fellowship, which involves both God and men (see on 1:5), can long cling to the idea that for Paul God would be removed from the range of this object. (See Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 2:9; 8:3; Eph. 6:24; 2 Tim. 4:8.) And particularly when, as in the present passage and its context, there is nothing which in any way restricts this object, such rigid limitation seems unjustifiable. The love of which Paul speaks is, accordingly, intelligent and purposeful delight in the triune God, the spontaneous and grateful outgoing of the entire personality to him who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and consequently, the deep and steadfast yearning for the progress of his kingdom and for the true prosperity of all his redeemed. This yearning becomes manifest in one’s attitude (humility, tenderness, the forgiving spirit even toward “enemies”), in words (of encouragement, truthfulness, and mildness) and in deeds (of self-denial, loyalty, and kindness). The best description of love is found in 1 Cor. 13.
Now Paul does not pray that the Philippians may begin to exercise this love, but that the ocean of their love may rise to its full height, overflowing its entire perimeter; in fact, that it may thus abound more and more. It is characteristic of Paul that he is never satisfied with anything short of perfection (see Phil. 2:11, 12; 3:13; 4:17; then also 1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 4:15; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:1, 9, 10; 2 Thess. 1:3; Eph. 3:14–19; 4:12, 13; Col. 1:9, 10; 3:12–17; and cf. N.T.C. on The Pastoral Epistles, p. 75).
However, fully developed love never travels alone. It is accompanied by all the other virtues. It functions in beautiful co-operation with full knowledge and keen discernment. Though knowledge apart from love leaves its possessor a spiritual zero (1 Cor. 13:2), and though “knowledge puffs up but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1), love also needs knowledge, particularly real, full, advanced spiritual knowledge (ἐπίγνωσις) in the sense in which the word is used in Rom. 10:2; and cf. also the related verb used similarly in 1 Cor. 13:12). With the blessing of God such penetrating insight into God’s wonderful, redemptive revelation will produce gratitude in an ever-increasing measure, which, in turn, will increase the supply and enhance the quality of love to God and to the brotherhood.
The apostle prays that as a further ingredient of their love the Philippians may have keen discernment, the taste and feeling for that which in any concrete situation is spiritually beautiful, the aesthetic sense in the sphere of Christian duty and doctrine (αἴσθησις is the Greek word, occurring only here in the New Testament). Love, in other words, should be judicious. This keen discernment or perception, born of experience, is the ability of mind and heart to separate not only the good from the bad, but also the important from the unimportant, in each case choosing the former and rejecting the latter. This is, indeed, necessary. A person who possesses love but lacks discernment may reveal a great deal of eagerness and enthusiasm. He may donate to all kinds of causes. His motives may be worthy and his intentions honorable, yet he may be doing more harm than good. Also, such an individual may at times be misled doctrinally. There must have been a good reason why Paul here stressed the necessity of abounding in love “with full knowledge and keen discernment” (see Phil. 3:1–3; 3:17–19).
Ver. 9. That your love abound yet more and more in all knowledge and in all judgment—
III. Its aim—“That ye may approve,” &c. (G. G. Ballard.)
Definiteness in prayer:—1. Implies a deep consciousness of an intelligently apprehended need. 2. Is becoming when an intelligent being addresses the Divine Intelligence. 3. Is essential, from the very nature of prayer. 4. Affords a fixed ground for the exercise of faith. 5. Emboldens supplication. 6. Inspires hope of a definite response. (Ibid.)
III. Abounding love. As the river, although perfect, perpetuates itself only by its ever-onward flow, as the full ocean at spring tide “aboundeth yet more and more,” so love, in abounding, gathers that true freshness, vigour, and activity, whereby it has power to abound yet more and more. (Ibid.)
Love’s spring tides:—1. Roll to us immediately from the heart of God. 2. Are in harmony with His reign of grace. 3. Bring to us the fullest manifestation of His love. 4. Thrill us with holy excitement though performing monotonous duties, and inspire a holy daring though in view of the fiery trial. 5. Overleap in their impetuous progress every landmark of stern propriety set up by cold conventionalism. 6. Know no limits save “knowledge and judgment” (Ibid.)
Love and knowledge:—Such passages as these have a peculiar value for serious Christians; for one of the great questions of Christian life is, What is it best to pray for? Here Paul gives us a regulating principle for many of our own most earnest prayers.
Love abounding through knowledge:—This climax is unexpected. We should have thought “in fervour, zeal, self-sacrifice.” Instead of that the direction is upward from the heart to the head.
Knowledge the basis of love:—
III. Their true love for God is founded on their true knowledge of God. They do not love or worship an unknown God. Knowledge not ignorance is the mother of their devotion: which will appear if we consider—1. That if Christians should love God for what is not true concerning Him, they would love a false character of God, which would not be true, but false love—the same as loving a false god, which is the essence of idolatry. 2. It is the knowledge which Christians have of the real and supreme excellency of God that lays them under moral obligation to love Him supremely. The more they know of God the more they feel themselves bound to love Him with all their heart. Improvement: If Christians have some true knowledge of God from His works and Word, then—1. They may have some true knowledge of every doctrine that God has revealed. 2. There is a propriety in preaching upon any doctrine that God has revealed. 3. Christians have no right to disbelieve any doctrine because there is something mysterious in it. If we disbelieve on this ground, we must disbelieve everything. 4. Those who have gained this certain knowledge ought to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. 5. There is no excuse for religious errors. (N. Emmons, D.D.)
The importance of Christian knowledge:—
III. Without the spirit of theological research it is impossible to make rapid advances in the divine life. Christians have much to learn of God that they may desire greater manifestations of His glory; of themselves, that they may be stimulated to greater attainments; of their obligations, that they may press after perfect holiness. There are, of course, instances in which growth in knowledge does not secure growth in grace; but that is because truth does not make its appropriate impression on the mind, and is opposed by sin. But the clearer our views of God the more fervent our love of Him; of sin, the more self-abasing our repentance; of Christ, the stronger our faith; of duty, the stronger our desires to perform it.
Knowledge and judgment:—These are the limits which define the course of love, and thus deepen it.
Love inseparable from Christian life:—Goethe says, “We hear of a particular regulation in force in the British naval service. The whole cordage, from the strongest to the weakest, has a red thread moving throughout it, which cannot be twisted out with out undoing it all. In this way even the smallest parts are recognized as the property of the Crown.” Love in the Christian character, we may say, is that which is woven into every part of it, is that which cannot be removed without destroying the whole, and is that which is enduring and indestructible evidence that the character is owned by Him who is King. (J. Hutchinson, D.D.) Love: its critical function:—Love abounding in all discernment distinguishes the wrong from the right, just as a good ear distinguishes a false and imperfect note from the true. (Webster and Wilkinson.)
The training of love:—As we train the bodily senses of sight, and touch, and hearing to discriminate accurately, and bring them by exercise, voluntary or involuntary, to exquisite precision and almost unfailing accuracy, so our love must be trained to be itself a universal spiritual sense, at once the eye and the ear and the hand of the heart, seeing and hearing and touching in things Divine, with a sure and delicate feeling that seldom needs correction. (W. B. Pope, D.D.)
Regulated love:—The chariot in ancient warfare had its two occupants, the warrior and the charioteer: the one could not engage the enemy unless the other held the reins and guided the course. So love, the true, the only commissioned soldier in that warfare whose every triumph is peace, can fight towards victory only when knowledge directs and controls every movement that is made. (J. Hutchinson, D.D.)
Advancement in knowledge must be constant:—Spain once held both sides of the Mediterranean at the Straits of Gibraltar. So highly did she value her possessions, that she stamped on her coin the two Pillars of Hercules (as the promontories of rock were called); and on a scroll thrown over these were the words, ne plus ultra, “no more beyond.” But one day a bold spirit sailed far beyond these pillars, and found a new world of beauty. Then Spain, wisely convinced of ignorance, struck the word ne from the coin, and left plus ultra, “more beyond.” How many a man, whose conceit is great, thinks he has reached the limits of knowledge, when further investigation would open to him a continent of truth before unknown. (Bp. Simpson)
The excellence of love:—We have many servants who regard their work as drudgery, and though they do their duties, they do them with no regard for our interests: but the old-fashioned servants were of another kind. If you have any such, you will prize one of such above a thousand others. They love their master, and they identify themselves with his interests. Old John did not want orders, he was a law to himself, he served from love. When his master one day spoke about their parting, he wanted to know where his master was going, for he had no idea of going himself: he was part and parcel of the household, and was worth his weight in diamonds. You may well say, “I would give my eyes to get such a servant as that.” I dare say you would. Our Lord Jesus gave Himself that He might make such servants out of us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Love rich in purse:—A poor widow contributed to the Dorpatian Branch of the Russian Bible Society a rouble; and, to the question whether that sum was not rather too much for one in her circumstances, she answered, “Love is not afraid of giving too much.”
Intelligent love:—Blind love fails in any sphere of action. A true-hearted boy, who finds his mother suddenly made a widow, and his young sisters and himself fatherless, and sees want coming on with fierce visage and rapid steps like an armed man, is impelled by his love to the dear ones around him to rush at once into the midst of the struggle of life; and in the place, and with the weapons, of a full-grown man, give the enemy battle. The love and the zeal are most beautiful and admirable, yet those among the onlookers who have experience of the world’s difficulty cannot but fear that the young hero may soon be brought home from the battle-field wounded and bleeding and despondent. He needs training. His love must have the knowledge of men and things along with it, before it is likely to reach its aim. So with Christian love generally, going forth to do work for God and man in the world. Having talents entrusted to us by God to lay out for Him, we must strive—by the study of our powers and opportunities, temptations and dangers; by the consideration of present circumstances, and by cautious forecast; by carefully looking in and out, and at all things in the light of God’s Word—to become wise and successful spiritual traffickers. (R. Johnstone, LL.B.)
The love of God without knowledge:—The affections of the human soul are certainly not devoid of heavenly aspirations; but what if they do not clearly know God? Then, like the vine stretching up its tendril fingers and finding no support, and so falling back again to creep upon the earth from which it sprung, the heart that fails to find God, only loves the world the more desperately and hopelessly. Blessed be God, therefore, for the Cross of Christ, that trellis for the heart’s affection. It is this by which the soul learns to know the love of God; and upon it the renewed affections climb higher and higher; beneath it they strike their roots deeper and deeper; upon its arms they reach out farther and farther; evermore increasing in love by increasing in knowledge. (A. J. Gordon.)
The knowledge of Christ the mainstay of brotherly love:—Two burnished reflectors can radiate the brightness from one to the other if there be a light between them. But, if each only reflects from the other, there can be no illumination: because neither furnishes any supply of light. So two Christians, reciprocating each other’s affections, will make but a poor exhibit of brotherly love, unless they have Christ between them as the centre and source of their life. And there is just as little to admire in mutual fellowship among Christians, unless Christ be in the midst of them as the centre of that fellowship. To exhort one another, to comfort one another, and to love one another, are all most solemn duties. But where will be the profit in them unless Christ be the central theme, and His grace and glory be the central objects of our admiration and praise? The cherubim stood with “their faces one toward another;” but the mercy-seat was between. And it was upon faces bending in eager gaze upon those “things which the angels desire to look into,” that the glory of God was reflected. If we get cheer and brightness from looking into each other’s faces, and communing with each other in the services of God’s house, it will be because Christ stands in the midst of us, the object of all our meditations and the fountain of all our joys. “This is eternal life, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent.” “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Ibid.)
9. Such heartfelt desire to see the Christians at Philippi cannot be immediately fulfilled in view of the apostle’s circumstances; and the only outlet of his feelings is in the form of a prayer, which ranks as one of the outstanding prayers of the apostle for his churches. Almost every word must be carefully weighed if the greatness and range of the petition are to yield their richness.
It is a prayer that love for fellow-believers may develop in the qualities of knowledge and depth of insight. The first word generally conveys the idea of a mental grasp of spiritual truth, but the biblical sense of knowing God in an intimacy made possible through his self-disclosure and received by faith is the main thought here. A better knowledge of God and his ways will promote greater harmony within the fellowship, and give the Philippians a clearer understanding of their mutual relationships as fellow-believers. Aisthēsis, translated in niv as depth of insight, can be understood also as ‘perception’, ‘discrimination’, or even ‘tact’; it is the employment of the faculty which makes a person able to make a moral decision. (Cf. the cognate word in Heb. 5:14, ‘moral faculties’.) It is used in the lxx to translate ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ (especially in Proverbs e.g. 1:4, 7, 22; 3:20; 5:2), but is found only once in the New Testament.
These two Christian qualities were necessary in a community where a tendency to disunity and fault-finding was present (see on 4:1ff.), and needed to be put right. So Paul makes this his earnest prayer before proceeding to admonition and correction. Christians, it seems, are slow to learn this valuable lesson: the most effective way to influence another is to pray for that person, and if a word of rebuke or correction has to be spoken let it be prayed over first, and then spoken in love.
9. This I pray that your love. He returns to the prayer, which he had simply touched upon in one word in passing. He states, accordingly, the sum of those things which he asked from God in their behalf, that they also may learn to pray after his example, and may aspire at proficiency in those gifts. The view taken by some, as though the love of the Philippians denoted the Philippians themselves, as illiterate persons are accustomed very commonly to say, “Your reverence,”—“Your paternity,” is absurd. For no instance of such an expression occurs in the writings of Paul, nor had such fooleries come into use. Besides, the statement would be less complete, and, independently of this, the simple and natural meaning of the words suits admirably well. For the true attainments of Christians are when they make progress in knowledge, and understanding, and afterwards in love. Accordingly the particle in, according to the idiom of the Hebrew tongue, is taken here to mean with, as I have also rendered it, unless perhaps one should prefer to explain it as meaning by, so as to denote the instrument or formal cause. For, the greater proficiency we make in knowledge, so much the more ought our love to increase. The meaning in that case would be, “That your love may increase according to the measure of knowledge.” All knowledge, means what is full and complete—not a knowledge of all things.
1:9 / This is my prayer: which catches up “I pray” in verse 4 (although a different Greek word is now used), may mean “I am praying at this moment” (which was no doubt true in any case) or (more probably) “I pray for you regularly, and this is what I pray for,” that your love may abound more and more. For Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love” before all else in the lives of which he takes possession (Gal. 5:22); “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5). If such love increases among the Philippian Christians, it will remove those threats to their unity of heart and purpose that arise from occasional clashes of personality and temperament. Paul returns to the subject in 2:2, where he urges his readers to make his “joy complete by … ‘having the same love.’ ”
This love, he trusts, will be accompanied by knowledge and depth of insight. Paul was not blind to the dangers of emotion uncontrolled by intelligence. He was resolved, by his own account, to pray and sing “with my spirit, but … also … with my mind” (1 Cor. 14:15), and he was equally concerned that he and his converts should love in spirit and mind alike.
It is love that fosters the growth of true knowledge and discernment or spiritual perception. “Knowledge,” divorced from love, “puffs up,” whereas “love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). But if love is indispensable, knowledge and depth of insight are necessary. The truth of the gospel is liable to be subverted where ignorance and faulty judgment provide a foothold for the unsound teaching against which the Philippians are put on their guard in chapter 3.
This may seem to us to be a very strange request in the light of what we have already noted, that is, that the Philippian church was already characterized by love. We can be sure that Paul is not now denying what he has already stated. He is rather affirming that love is a grace in which we can always advance. No matter how much we love, we can love more.
He is also praying for them to abound in a certain type of love, that is, love with knowledge and discernment. He will soon find it necessary to warn them about the ever-present danger of false teachers (3:2, 18–19). The Philippians would make themselves easy prey for such teachers if, in the interest of being loving, they were uncritically to accept everything that these teachers were presenting.
We should be keenly aware of this danger. How often the church today has refused to stand against doctrinal error because someone argued that we must be loving! And, of course, love was understood to mean being agreeable and tolerant.
No one believed more firmly in love than Paul, and yet he did not hesitate to rebuke a fellow apostle for compromising the truth (Gal. 2:11–21). Paul did this because he understood that love and truth are not enemies. The most loving thing we can do is stand for the truth in a loving way.
1:9 Having expressed his gratitude to God for the Philippians in 1:3–8, Paul now turns to the content of his prayer for the Philippians in one long sentence that encompasses 1:9–11. Cutting through the complicated structure of this sentence, the central request is that their love would abound in knowledge and all discernment (1:9). The purpose of praying this is so that they would be able to approve what is excellent/essential (1:10a). As a result they will become progressively more Christ-like in anticipation of the day of Christ (1:10b–11a). On that day the fruitful holiness of God’s people will result in God receiving praise and glory (1:11b).
He begins simply by stating and it is my prayer. Paul has already mentioned thanking God and praying for the Philippians (1:3–4), but now he indicates the content of those prayers. The central request is that your love may abound more and more. He does not specify whether the love he speaks of is their love for God or others, because he means his readers to include both.87 Elsewhere Paul extols the love that God has shown for His people in the death of His Son (e.g., Rom. 5:5–8; 8:35–39) as well as love for others (e.g., 1 Cor. 13:1–13). Love has the pride of place when indicating the defining marks of a Christian. It is greater than either faith or hope (1 Cor. 13:13) and stands at the head of the list of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Jesus told His disciples that people will recognize them as His followers by their love for each other (John 13:35). Of course, we are only able to love others because God has first loved us, and our failure to love others calls into question our claim to love God (1 John 4:7–21).
Paul prays that their love would abound more and more. The verb translated abound (perisseuō) is a Pauline favorite. Despite human rebellion in Adam, God’s grace abounds for many through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:15; cf. Eph. 1:7–8). Believers are to abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). As Christ’s followers we share abundantly in both His suffering and His comfort (2 Cor. 1:5). In 1:26 this same verb refers to how the Philippians’ grounds for boasting will abound when Paul visits them. Even more significantly, he uses the verb in 4:12 and 4:18 to speak of experiencing abundance in light of the Philippians’ gift. But the closest parallel to Philippians 1:9 is 1 Thessalonians 3:12, where Paul prays that God would ‘make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.’ Far from being a static reality, biblical love is something that grows over time and overflows into our thoughts, words and actions more and more.
The kind of love in view here abounds with knowledge and all discernment. In mentioning knowledge Paul likely anticipates 3:8–11, where he testifies to the ‘surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus’ (3:8) and his desire ‘that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death’ (3:10). This particular word for knowledge (epignōsis) may stress ‘a degree of thoroughness or competence.’ But here it likely speaks of knowing Christ to such a degree that one’s thoughts, attitudes, actions and words are transformed into greater conformity to God’s will.
Biblical love also abounds with all discernment. Other English versions translate this word ‘insight’ (niv), ‘understanding’ (nlt) or ‘judgment’ (kjv). Part of the difficulty is that this Greek word (aisthēsis) appears nowhere else in the New Testament. It does occur frequently in Proverbs, where it most often has the sense of insight or knowledge (e.g., Prov. 1:22; 2:10; 3:20). If it refers to discernment, the idea is of making necessary distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, wise and foolish, etc. (cf. Heb. 5:14). But if it speaks of insights, the emphasis rests on a level of understanding that penetrates beneath the surface to the complexity of something along with its implications. The fact that the very next verse indicates the purpose of this growth of love is for the purpose of enabling the Philippians to approve the essential things may slightly tip the scales towards seeing a reference to discernment. By adding the word all Paul stresses the totality of the discernment.
Paul’s desire for the Philippians’ love to increasingly abound in knowledge and discernment/insight indicates at least three important truths. First, although love must have some basis in basic knowledge, its depth, consistency and endurance in some sense depend on growing intimacy with the person or object loved. This point is worth emphasis in a day where mysticism often beckons away from biblical reality. Knowledge is not the enemy of love for God, but a necessary condition for its existence. In a healthy marriage, a husband’s love for his wife (and vice versa) deepens as he grows in his knowledge of her. The same is true of our relationship with God; as we grow in our understanding of Him and His ways, our love for Him, His gospel, His people and the world will deepen as well.
Second, the fact that Paul prays for this growth in knowledge and insight/discernment implies that it is God who must grant these realities. While it is our responsibility as believers to pursue growth in knowledge and discernment/insight through the available means such as the preaching of God’s Word, reading/studying the Bible and helpful Christian literature, these activities are insufficient in and of themselves to produce the kind of knowledge and discernment/insight Paul speaks of here. Apart from the supernatural work of God’s Spirit to use those efforts, the only kind of knowledge gained from those activities is the kind that makes a person arrogant (cf. 1 Cor. 8:1). Bockmuehl summarizes the thought well here: ‘Christ, it seems, has no place for love that is selfish, indulgent, and lacking in discrimination—nor indeed for knowledge that does not express itself in love.’ How essential it is then to pray that God will grant us knowledge and discernment/insight that works itself out in tangible acts of love for God and others.
Third, for Paul, love is not a synonym for naïveté. Popular depictions of Christian love as gullible credulity, easily taken in by false teachers, parasites, and hucksters, find no basis in the teaching of the apostles. Paul knew that a loving congregation could be a very vulnerable congregation, unless their love were tempered by a vigorously Biblical sense of knowledge and discernment such as is offered in Proverbs and the rest of the apostles’ writings. The apostle shows this in his stinging rebuke of the sloppy notions of grace shown in Corinth (1 Cor. 5:1–2, 6, and context), and in his lament about their willingness to embrace teachers who were both false (2 Cor. 11:4) and abusive (v. 20). If knowledge is not the enemy of love, neither is wise discernment.
9 At the beginning of his thanksgiving (v. 4), Paul told the Philippians that he prayed for them on a regular basis, and that he made those prayers with joy. Now, flowing directly out of his own longing for them “with the affection of Christ Jesus” (v. 8), he tells them what that prayer consists of.
First, he prays (item 1) that “your love may abound more and more.” Many years earlier, where an existing love also needed some further prodding, Paul prayed similarly for the Thessalonians that their “love [might] increase and overflow” (1 Thess 3:12). In that case he specified the direction of the love for which he prayed: “for each other and for everyone else.” The linguistic and contextual similarities between these two prayers suggest a similar direction to the love for which he now prays—that their love for one another abound all the more, a concern that is expressly picked up in 2:2 (“that you have the same love [for one another]”).
“Love” is such a common word to us that it is easy to miss Paul’s concern. As used by Paul, and following the lead of the Septuagint, “love” first of all points to the character of God, and to God’s actions toward his people based on that character. God’s love is demonstrated especially in his “forbearance” and “kindness” (1 Cor 13:4), manifested ultimately in the death of Christ for his enemies (Rom 5:6–8). Thus its primary connotation is not “affection,” as in the preceding phrase about Christ (v. 8), but rather “a sober kind of love—love in the sense of placing high value on a person or thing,” which expresses itself in actively seeking the benefit of the one so loved. And this is what Paul now prays will “abound13 yet more and more” among the Philippian believers. The rest of the prayer, after all, emphasizes “love” not as “affection” but as behavior, behavior that is both “pure” (stemming from right motives) and “blameless” (lacking offense).
On the other hand, both the present tense of the verb and the qualifier “yet more and more”15 indicate that Paul is not by this prayer “getting on their case,” as it were, for something they lacked. Quite the opposite. His concern is that they not let behavior motivated by “selfish ambition or vain conceit” (2:3) undermine the very thing that has long characterized them, to which 2 Cor 8:1–6 bears eloquent testimony. The problem is similar to that occasionally experienced by families, where love is sometimes more easily shown toward those on the outside, who are known very little and with whom one does not have constant association. But actively to love on the inside, those with whom one is in constant relationship and where one’s own place in the sun is constantly being threatened, that can be another matter. Thus he prays that the love that has long characterized them will continue “still more and more” toward one and all.
Second (item 2), he prays for a similar increase “in knowledge and depth of insight.” The single preposition controlling both nouns suggests a very close relationship between them. The first word (epignōsis) is probably the key. Its primary sense is not so much “knowledge about” something, but rather the kind of “full,” or “innate,” knowing that comes from experience or personal relationship. The second word (aisthēsis), which occurs only here in the NT, is more difficult to pin down. In secular Greek it denotes moral understanding based on experience, hence something close to “moral insight.” This is the sense which the translators of the LXX picked up, for whom it becomes a near synonym for “wisdom” (sophia) or “insight/understanding” (sunesis). Very likely, therefore, this phrase is something of an abbreviated equivalent of the similar phrase in the (roughly contemporary) prayer in Col 1:9 (“that by means of all of the Spirit’s wisdom [sophia] and insight [sunesis] you might be filled with the knowledge [epignōsis] of God’s will”).
Thus, even though the phrase grammatically modifies “that your love may abound more and more,” and may indicate the “manner” in which he hopes that love will abound, more likely the grammatical link is with the verb (“I pray”) alone, so that conceptually Paul has moved in a new direction with the prayer. This seems to be verified by the clause that follows, which again grammatically should modify the whole of the preceding clause, but in fact seems to be related singularly to the prepositional phrase (“in knowledge and depth of insight”). If this be the case, then Paul is now praying a second thing, that along with an ever-increasing love they may also experience an ever-increasing knowledge (of God and his will) and moral insight. An increased knowledge of God is what is needed in order for them to “walk worthy of the gospel” and in the one Spirit to contend for that gospel as one person (1:27).
9 Paul’s twofold thanksgiving for their partnership is balanced by a twofold petition for their continued spiritual growth (cf. Col 1:9–11): that their love abound more and more “in knowledge and depth of insight.” He acknowledges the love of the Colossians, Thessalonians, and Philemon in the thanksgiving sections of his letters to them (Col 1:8; 1 Th 1:3; 2 Th 1:3; Phm 5), but his prayer for the Philippians’ love to increase is unique (cf. 1 Th 3:12; 4:9–10). His passionate appeal for love to permeate their communal life (2:1–2; see also 1:16) suggests that he regards a lack of love to be behind the friction at work between Euodia and Syntyche (4:2–3) that could rip apart the church’s fellowship.
It may seem unusual to pray that love increase in “knowledge” (epignōsis, GK 2106) and “depth of insight” (aisthēsis, GK 151). Insight (or feeling) without knowledge is nothing. Knowledge without love also is nothing (1 Co 13:2), but love without knowledge and insight is dangerous. Christian love is not blind or mindless, and Paul prays for them to abound in love that is instructed and morally discerning.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, (1:9)
Anyone who is in the least familiar with the New Testament knows that love—of God for men and of men for God and for each other—is at the very heart of biblical Christianity. The God of Scripture not only loves but is love (1 John 4:8, 16). “Love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God … and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:7, 16). God loves fallen humanity so much that “He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Love is an absolute and pervasive attribute of God’s essential nature and a critical reality in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
No one understood the importance of love better than the apostle Paul. Because he loved the Philippian believers, he continually prayed for them. As with all those under his care, the apostle’s constant concern for these saints was for their spiritual growth, for which growth in love was essential. He expressed that same concern for growth to the Galatians: “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). The responsibility of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers is
the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.… [And] speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:12–13, 15).
The Greek word agapē (love) is used so uniquely in the New Testament that ancient Greek literature, even the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), sheds little light on its meaning in the New Testament. In both Testaments, however, love is the virtue that surpasses all others; indeed, it is the prerequisite for all the others. When a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” He replied by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:36–40).
Paul also speaks of love in the opening sections of several other letters. Writing to the churches at Ephesus, Colossae, and Thessalonica, he commends believers for their love for each other and for fellow believers everywhere (Eph. 1:15; Col. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Thess. 1:3). Later in Colossians he speaks of love as “the perfect bond of unity” (3:14). In 1 Corinthians, he elevates love above hope and even faith (1 Cor. 13:13). A few verses earlier he declares that love actually encompasses the other two, because love “believes all things [and] hopes all things” (v. 7). In fact, apart from genuine godly love, every other virtue and activity, no matter how seemingly biblical and sincere, amounts to nothing (vv. 1–3).
In the present verse, Paul mentions or implies at least five distinct but interrelated characteristics of Christian agapē love. This love is divine, de facto, decisive, dynamic, and discerning.
First, as the statement And this I pray implies, the love Paul wrote about is divine in its nature and in its origin. Paul petitioned God to provide the Philippians with more of the love that comes only from Him. He clearly agreed with his fellow apostle John that “love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.… In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.… We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:7–8, 10, 19).
Godly love is produced only by the working of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who belong to Him. “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). It is the first and foremost of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23). Believers are taught by God Himself to love. “Now as to the love of the brethren,” Paul explained, “you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more” (1 Thess. 4:9–10).
Like God’s general love for mankind (John 3:16–17) and His electing love for believers (John 17:23; 1 John 4:16), biblical love is a choice. It is based solely on the intent of the one who loves, not on any merit of those who receive it. The only exception, of course, is the believer’s love for God, who is uniquely and supremely deserving.
Illustrating biblical love in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus declared,
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Matt. 5:43–46)
It is therefore clear that agapē love is not based on emotional or sentimental, much less physical, attraction. That is not to say that Christian love is without feeling or sentiment. It is inevitable that believers’ love for others, even those who do not love in return, will produce an emotional attachment (cf. Rom. 9:1–4; 10:1). Paul’s love for fellow believers, especially those like the Philippians, who loved and cared for him so much, was profoundly emotional. But that emotional attraction was not the basis of his love for them. On a volitional level, he also loved the immature, bickering, and ungrateful believers in Corinth.
Second, this love is what might be called de facto. The Philippians were already showing love for Paul and each other. That is why the apostle could say he wanted their love to abound still more. Scripture reveals that all genuine Christians possess godly love, because the Holy Spirit places it in their hearts (cf. Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22; 1 Thess. 4:9–10; 1 John 4:7–8).
Love of fellow Christians is a sure mark of saving faith. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples,” Jesus said, “if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Expanding on that truth, John later wrote: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.… If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 3:14; 4:20).
Third, genuine love is decisive. As mentioned above, it is a love not based on feelings, but is rather a conscious, intentional choice to show kindness and generosity. In obedience to the Lord’s command, believers willingly choose to express the love He has placed within them. They do so whether others are lovable or not, and whether they respond or not. Believers unselfishly love others because that is the way God loves and because that is how He commands them to love. By obeying the Lord’s command to “love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34), believers become “imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1).
Jesus gave that command in the Upper Room, not long after He had washed the disciples’ feet, a menial and unpleasant task normally performed only by servants. The Lord went on to explain:
You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:13–16)
Jesus also illustrated this volitional, decisive, and sacrificial love in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–35). The Samaritan helped the stranger who was beaten and robbed because the man needed help, not for his own self-satisfaction, self-fulfillment, or feeling of enhanced self-worth. To love our neighbor as ourselves is to do all we can to meet our neighbor’s needs in the same way and to the same extent that we would want our own needs to be met under similar circumstances. It is to apply the Golden Rule: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
Again Jesus is the supreme example of sacrificial love. In John 15:12–13 He declared: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children,” Paul wrote; “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:1–2). Husbands are specifically commanded to “love [their] wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (v. 25).
Paul gives perhaps the richest summary of godly love later in Philippians:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (2:1–8)
That kind of willful, humble, self-giving love is much needed in the church today, which is all too often influenced by the world’s corrupted concept of love. People care little about beneficent, selfless love (not to mention godly love); the world’s concept of love is one that plays on self-interest, even when promoting causes that are meant to help others. Tragically, even in the church people are sometimes asked to give to the Lord’s work because doing so will make them feel good about themselves.
Fourth, godly love is dynamic. It has the capability to abound. Love is not mere emotion or feeling, and as it grows it always finds increasing expression in a righteous character and humble service. Abound is from perisseuō, which has the basic idea of overflowing in great abundance. In this verse, the present tense indicates a continual progress. Love is to grow and abound throughout the life of a believer. Jesus used the verb in the parable of the sower, explaining that “to you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him” (Matt. 13:11–12).
Because of its divine nature, this dynamic love energizes the fulfilling of divine law. Jesus declared that fulfilling the two supreme commandments to love God and men is the foundation of the whole Law and the Prophets (Matt. 22:37–40). In similar words, Paul said, “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:8–10).
The second law of thermodynamics states that all matter and energy in the universe are in a constant state of entropy, a process of continual degradation and deterioration. That law of physics has a counterpart in the Christian life. There is a residual and destructive principle of spiritual entropy that pressures God’s people to slip backwards. To avoid doing so, believers must diligently study and obey His Word, come before Him in prayer, and trust in His continuing grace and power to make them grow and abound in love.
Paul described his own struggle with that residual principle in Romans 7:21–25:
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
In Ephesians he called this continuing propensity to sin “the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Eph. 4:22; cf. Col. 3:9). For that reason the apostle reminded the church at Corinth that only “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor. 9:8). It is also for that reason that he prayed for the Thessalonians that “the Lord [may] cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you” (1 Thess. 3:12; cf. 1 John 3:11).
The dynamic of godly love also abounds in real knowledge, namely, the true and infallible knowledge expressed in God’s Word. Any love that is not grounded and growing in the truth and standards of Scripture falls short of genuine biblical love. Real knowledge is much more than mere factual information about God’s Word, or even the acknowledgment of it as true and infallible. Real knowledge produces holiness through sincere devotion and obedience to the infallible Scriptures. It was because the faithful believers in Rome lived righteously that Paul could say to them: “And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another” (Rom. 15:14). Virtue is inseparably linked to the real (true) knowledge of God’s truth. “For the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth [knowledge]” (Eph. 5:9). Likewise, Peter declares: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). “Fervently” is from ektenōs, which carries the basic idea of stretching, straining, or going to the limit, and figuratively speaks of great sincerity, earnestness, and fervor. Obedience to God’s Word, the only source of real knowledge, purifies the soul and enables one to love to the limit.
Biblical love involves obedience to the Word. “If you love Me,” Jesus said, “you will keep My commandments.… He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.… If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10; cf. 1 John 3:24).
No impulse or feeling that leads one to disobey Scripture can be approved and blessed by God. Such “love” not only does not reflect godly love but also is the antithesis and enemy of it. For example, people who try to justify an immoral affair by claiming the Lord led them to fall in love with the other person repudiate God’s Word. Scripture clearly condemns all sexual immorality without exception, including that of romantic attraction.
Fifth, godly love is discerning. It not only abounds in the life of one who has a true and accurate knowledge of God’s Word but also does so in all discernment. Aisthēsis (discernment) is the source of the English word “aesthetic.” But the meaning of aisthēsis is almost the opposite of “aesthetic,” which largely has to do with personal taste and preference. Paul calls believers to put aside personal tastes and preferences and to focus rather on achieving mature insight and understanding. Aisthēsis appears only here in the New Testament and refers to a high level of biblical, theological, moral, and spiritual perception. It also implies the right application of that knowledge. In other words, discernment is the understanding and appreciation of the real knowledge of God’s revelation that produces holy living. Unlike the way that worldly love is often characterized, biblical love is far from blind. On the contrary, it is wise and judicious. It understands “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), has knowledge, and makes wise assessments, which provide clear directives for holy living. It is a biblically knowledgeable and discriminating love that is under the control of a Spirit-controlled mind and heart. It is the kind of love that can fulfill Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians: “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21–22).
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 Utley, R. J. (1997). Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, then later, Philippians) (Vol. Volume 8, pp. 166–167). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (p. 31). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
Following Dateline’s airing of our latest cold-case (“The Wire”), I received a number of concerned emails from viewers who felt there simply wasn’t enough evidence to be certain Douglas Bradford killed Lynne Knight. I think I can see their point. Dateline has done an excellent job chronicling four of our investigations, but our cases are nearly impossible to adequately represent in the limited time Dateline has to tell the stories. Why? Because our cases are complex, layered, cumulative, circumstantial cases. While I’ve written often about the nature of circumstantial evidence, one of the most important evidential concepts related to our cold-cases is the role of cumulative arguments. When a large quantity of evidence points to the same suspect, the cumulative impact of this evidence can be powerful. Many of the individual facts and evidences may seem unimportant or trivial on their own, but when assembled as a set, their collective weight becomes unbearable. All my cold-cases are built in this way. We assemble dozens of facts, details, inferential statements and evidences and show the jury how the collective set of evidence implicates our suspect. I’ve often referred to this process sarcastically as “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts”.
Defense attorneys typically respond to cumulative cases by focusing on those few pieces of evidence they believe to be the most damaging for their client. They then try to show how any number of other, unrelated causes might also explain these specific items of evidence. They want jurors to focus on the individual pieces rather than the collective set. In essence, they hope jurors will see the “trees” rather than the “forest” (and hopefully only a few of the trees, at that!) In the end, defense attorneys explain the evidences by way of many unrelated causes rather than by the simpler explanation: their client is the one causal factor who can account for all the evidence in the case. In many ways, it’s an “Ockham’s Razor” exercise. When one causal factor explains all the evidence in the case, that cause is the simplest (and most reasonable) explanation.
If you want to be a good Christian Case Maker (or you simply want to examine the case for Christianity for the first time), you’ll need to understand the power of cumulative cases. The Christian worldview is established in a collective manner: the reliability of the eyewitness Gospel accounts is built on more than one line of evidence. In fact, eyewitnesses are established based on four separate categories of evidence, expressed with four important questions: Where the eyewitnesses really present to see what they said they saw? Can their statements be corroborated or verified in some way? Have the eyewitnesses been honest and accurate over time? Do the eyewitnesses possess a bias or ulterior motive disqualifying them? These questions must be considered collectively. In addition to this, the case for each category is also made cumulatively. The issue of corroboration, for example is established on the basis of several unrelated lines of evidence including archaeology, ancient Jewish writings, ancient non-Christian Greek writings, geographic internal evidence, linguistic internal evidence, correct use of proper nouns, and the unintentional eyewitness support I describe in Cold-Case Christianity.
None of these individual elements corroborates the Biblical account on its own. They must be considered collectively. When a skeptic tries to attack the insufficiency of any single line of evidence for the Christian worldview, they are (like defense attorneys) asking the jury to ignore the implications of the collective case. They hope people will focus on a “tree” rather than the “forest”. They typically do their best to argue for an alternative explanation (or several alternative explanations) for each of these evidential facts. But the more reasonable explanation is much simpler: Christianity, if true, can explain all the evidence as the only causal factor. I’ve tried to illustrate the depth of the cumulative case for Christianity with a simple illustration (available as a free, downloadable Bible Insert on the homepage at http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com):
When our cases are covered by Dateline, only a few evidences ever make the final edit. As a result, I often get notes from viewers who can’t understand how the jury convicted our suspect (even when some of these men later confessed to the crime!) But our juries never seem to struggle with their decision. Instead, they typically convict rather quickly. When jurors come to understand the power of a collective case, the decision is easy. The Christian worldview is also established cumulatively. If we can learn to communicate the strength of collective cases such as these, we’ll become better Christian Case Makers. If you’re examining the case for Christianity for the first time, don’t stop at the “tree-line”. Go deep. Look at everything. Assemble and assess the cumulative case.
For more information about the nature of Biblical faith and a strategy for communicating the truth of Christianity, please read Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith. This book teaches readers four reasonable, evidential characteristics of Christianity and provides a strategy for sharing Christianity with others. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Forensic Faith DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
“Jesus Is Our Divinest Symbol”
Jesus is our divinest symbol. Higher has the human thought not yet reached. A symbol of quite perennial, infinite character: whose significance will ever demand to be anew inquired into and anew made manifest.
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Partaking in God’s Glory
Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:4
Although He Himself is sufficient unto Himself in an infinity of glory, yet He seeks glory also in His saints, not that His own may be increased, but that He may partake it with them.
BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.