The Agape Imperative

Is the Holy Spirit’s signature hidden in John’s writings?

Curious, I counted the number of times the word agape appears in John’s epistles.  Here are my surprising findings:   

  • 3rd John = 7 (1 x 7) times.
  • 1 John, the 4th chapter: = 28 (4×7) times
  • John’s gospel = verb 35 (5×7) (5×7) times; noun = 7 times. Total = 42 (6×7) times
  • John’s first epistle = 49 (7×7) times.

Seven (7) stands for completeness or perfection in the Bible.  Are these numbers a coincidence or  are they  the hidden  signatures of the Spirit  who inspired   John’s writings?  What  is  the  Spirit saying to  the  churches  in  this  very  hour.

“This is my command: love each other as I have loved you!”

1 John 4: 7-9; 12-13; 16; 19-21. Beloved, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Every man who truly loves is God’s son and has some knowledge of him. But the man who does not love [others]cannot know him at all, for God is love, and the one who continues to love others does, in fact, live in God, and God does, in fact, live in him. So our love for him grows more and more.

12-13 It is true that no one has ever seen God directly.  Yet if we love one another, God does actually [abide, continues to live] within us, and his love grows in us towards perfection…

16 We  have come to know  and to believe  in the  love God  has for us.  God is love, and whoever  [abides, continues to live]  by  loving others remains  in  God and  God in him   

19-21 We love him because he first loved us. If someone says, “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if one does not love the brother right before his eyes, how can he love the One he cannot see? And in any case it is his explicit command that the one who loves God must love his brother? 

2 John 5- 6  I am not writing a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning: let us love one another…for this is the commandment you heard from the beginning in which you must walk.

 John 15: 9-10; 12-14; 17;  I  have  loved  you just as  the Father has  loved me. You must [abide, go on living] in my love. If you keep my commandments  you will live in my love just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and live in his love. This is my command: that you love each other as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this—that a man lay down his life [psyche: soul, ego] for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do. …. 17This is what I command you, love one another!

After reading the passages, please offer comments on any or all of these questions

  • Why  was  John  chosen  to pass  on  this the  revelation  that  “God  is  love?”
  • How  does  this revelation  of God’s  nature  impact  our  grasp  of the  trinity?
  • How does the old covenant command tell us how we are to love our neighbor?
  • How does  Jesus  tell us how  we are to love  one another in the family  of God?
  • Does loving a  brother  require a deeper  commitment than  loving a neighbor?

How do you respond to the following statements?

  • The more I love God, the more I will grow in my love for others.
  • An important way I show my love for God is by loving others,
  • The more I love others, the more I will grow in my love God.

2 thoughts on “The Agape Imperative

  1. First, it is God Who loves us. A revelation and embracing of this brings us to loving Him. As we know how much He loves us, we see how this love is for all. As we love Him and begin to love what He loves, we will begin to love others.

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    • Everything you say is true and we certainly agree with J. But did you know what I recently discovered? I learned the great commandment is not the Shema of the Old Covenant. Why? Because we cannot be commanded to love God. No one does or ever will. The New Covenant teaches that God so loved us, he sent his Son to die for out sins. He loved us first. All we can do is respond yes or no to accepting his love. A major evidence of whether we truly belong to him is if we love one another. It is a major theme of John and is seen often throughout the writings of the other aposltes.

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