Agapē: The Love of God
Before we delve into agapē I'll first point out that in over 35 years of biblical research and teaching, I have never taught on the love of God before now. Not once. Ever. Why? Simply, because in my heart I knew I didn't understand it. Oh, don't get me wrong, I've listened to hundreds of teachings on the subject, and I've pondered over it and scratched my head about it, but I've just never felt comfortable teaching it. You see 1 Corinthians 13 is set within the context of chapters 12 and 14, yet in all the hundreds of teachings on the love of God I've heard from 1 Corinthians 13, not one of them has ever set agapē, the love of God, within the context of the proper operation of the manifestations of holy spirit, which is what chapters 12 and 14 deal with. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Agapē, the love of God, often translated charity in the bible, has been defined as the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. This is a good definition, but unfortunately, as it is couched in rather scholarly language, it lends itself easily to misinterpretation. Remember, we're still just defining our terms so we understand what fear is and what love is.
First, let's look at what love isn't. Often, a good way to see what something is in the bible is to look at what it is not. Ask yourself a question. Did Peter, Stephen, Paul, and Jesus Christ manifest the love of God? Without question, of course they did. Here are a few records then, where Peter, Stephen, Paul, and Jesus Christ manifested the love of God.
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Did Peter walk with agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation here? Certainly, that is without question. Peter was walking with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation when he confronted Ananias and Sapphira and they dropped dead right there in front of him. Peter didn't kill them, but he did confront them so publicly and so directly that their own shame and guilt killed them.
To understand this record, we need to look at a few details. Ananias and Sapphira were not required to sell this property. This was a surplus property they didn't need, and they decided to sell it and use the money to help move the word. Nothing wrong so far. When it was sold, they were not required to give any of that money to Peter. The problem here had nothing whatsoever to do with the money. The problem was that they lied about the amount they sold the house for. They lied, that was the issue, not the money. Rather than simply give honestly about the amount, which would have been wonderful with God and Peter, they lied about the amount the property was sold for, kept back part of the price, and lied to Peter when they gave the rest of the money, claiming it was the total proceeds of the sale. Their giving wasn't the issue, it was their lying that was the issue. Peter didn't confront their giving, he confronted their lying. Peter told Ananias he had not lied unto men but unto God.
Peter handled the situation with the love of God. If you have a problem understanding this in the context of love, then your understanding of agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, is misconstrued. What about Stephen? Did he walk with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation when he confronted the Sanhedrin?
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
Stephen had been illegally
arrested and was on trial accused of breaking God's laws. False
witnesses, liars had been paid by the Sanhedrin to commit perjury so
they could prosecute Stephen. The council had set him up. Instead of
grovelling before them, making excuses, and compromising so he could
wriggle out of their slimy net, Stephen confronted them to their faces
with their hypocrisy and lies. Stephen told the Sanhedrin to their faces
in a court of law that they were uncircumcised in heart and ears. He
insulted them publicly in the most vehement language he possessed and
they stoned him to death for it.
Did Stephen walk with agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation here? Certainly, without question. Stephen was walking with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation when he confronted those religious bastards. If you don't understand this record in the context of the love of God, then your perceptions of agapē are faulty. What about Paul? Did he walk with the love of God?
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew [Judean], whose name was Barjesus:
Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Paul didn't mess about with Barjesus. He manifested the power of God and that religious sorcerer, that wizard became blind.
That sorcerer had been
appointed to the political leader of Cyprus. These religious sorcerers
are still around today by the way, only now we call them jesuits. You
will find jesuits behind all our political leaders and all the top
freemasons, manipulating them from behind the scenes just as in Paul's
day. There is nothing new under the sun.
Did Paul walk with agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation here? Certainly, without question. Paul was walking with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation when he confronted Barjesus. If you have a problem with this record in the context of the love of God, then your understanding of agapē needs adjusting. What about Jesus Christ? Did he walk with the love of God on the countless occasions he confronted the religious leaders and insulted them in public?
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
When Judeans touched a dead body they became unclean. Same with tombs and graves. Jesus Christ told these pharisees they were whited sepulchres, disguised graves that attracted the innocent and the unwitting, and when people approached them they approached death and were made unclean. Just as in Jesus' day, going to church in our day and time will make us unclean. Jesus Christ had a habit of talking to the church leaders in this fashion.
Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
Jesus Christ regularly offended people. When it came to the word, he had no friends. For him, it was the word, the word, and nothing but the word.
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
I'm sure these merchants and vendors thought themselves honest traders, much like many businessmen today who also charge top dollar for garbage merchandise. Jesus Christ kicked their tables over, drove their animals out, and called them thieves to their faces. Quite right too, and that's what our businessmen and women are today for the most part, thieves and robbers overcharging for second rate trash. Commerce isn't about ripping people off and selling them garbage to line your greedy pockets, it's about producing your best products and providing honest services at a fair rate. Jesus Christ confronted those thieves publicly. He made greedy people so mad they eventually had him murdered by the Romans.
Did Jesus Christ walk with agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation? Certainly, without question. If you have a problem understanding these records in the context of the love of God, then your perceptions of agapē are simply wrong.
Now yes, it isn't always about annoying people, there are plenty of records where these men healed folks and brought deliverance, and they were walking with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation in those situations as well. Multitudes of people often followed Jesus Christ to hear him teach and you don't attract large followings of people like that if you're an asshole.
So what's the answer? It all comes down to understanding the difference between the word God and the word people. Huh? Yes, that's right. Agapē is defined as the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, it is not defined as the love of people in the renewed mind in manifestation. What's the difference?
There is another love mentioned in the bible, which is phileō. Phileō is human love. Phileō is the love a woman has for her newborn baby. Phileō is the love a married couple share. Phileō is the love people can have for each other. However, it is human love, and it is not agapē love, the love of God. It is by confusing these two very different forms of love that the devil destroys energised ministries and mutates them into nasty little churches. If the devil can trick folks into thinking that learning to love each other with human love is walking with the love of God, they become just another dead church.
The bible has much to say about both phileō love and agapē love. Strong's compares the two thus:
Phileō; to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while agapē is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.
This is a pretty decent comparison. Human love is very much a human thing, an emotional thing, while the love of God very much embodies making deliberate decisions and judgements based on God's word as a matter of principle and duty. There are some similarities, which is why the devil is so adept at confusing them. However, agapē love supersedes phileō love, and on no account must agapē love ever be compromised by preference for phileō love.
Additionally, agapē love is only available to those who have a knowledge of God's word and who manifest the gift of holy spirit. This is important to our understanding of 1 Corinthians 13, which deals with agapē within the context of the operation of the gift of holy spirit. Agapē is a spiritual quality, not a human quality. If you've not heard about the gift of holy spirit or the manifestations of holy spirit before, don't worry about it, we will be getting there shortly. For now just hold the thought that agapē is a spiritual quality and not part of human nature.
You cannot take 1 Corinthians 13 out of the context of chapters 12 and 14 or your bible simply falls to pieces. Chapter 13 is a parenthesis sandwiched between chapters 12 and 14 which give instruction on spiritual matters including the proper operation of the manifestations of holy spirit. As a parenthesis, chapter 13 is a figure of speech giving it emphasis, but only within the context of spiritual matters and the correct and proper operation of the manifestations of holy spirit. You cannot take chapter 13 out of the context of the proper operation of the gift of holy spirit and rightly divide God's word.
Let's take this a step further. Only those who properly operate the gift of holy spirit, those who energise manifestations of holy spirit accurately and properly have any potential to walk with agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. That is the context of 1 Corinthians 13. If you take 1 Corinthians 13 out of that context, what you have is private interpretation. Agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, cannot be lived by anyone who does not first walk by the spirit. This is precisely the opposite of what most people think when they read this chapter.
1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [agapē], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Does this verse say that speaking in tongues is just making a noise like brass instruments and cymbals? No, it does not. It says those who do not walk with agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, are just making noise when they speak in tongues. Those who put phileō love before agapē love can speak in tongues all they want, but it is of no profit to them, they are just making religious noise. They would be as well joining a monastery and sitting in a dark room chanting all day. If you don't speak in tongues yet, that's okay, don't worry about it, we'll get there in the class. At this stage, we're only looking to understand the antidote to fear. If we're to live without fear, we are to walk with the love of God.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love [agapē]; but perfect love [agapē] casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love [agapē].
In other words, we're not going to cast out fear with any of our human abilities or talent or brains, it's going to take something spiritual, the love of God to get the job done. In this class we're going to find out how we can live with the love of God.
In the records we've seen, Peter, Stephen, Paul, and Jesus Christ all put God and his word first before their love of people. In other words, they spoke up when God wanted them to speak up. They refused to put their love for people before their love for God. They walked by the spirit, and they didn't care how many folks they offended in the process. If folks do not speak God's word because they are afraid of hurting people's feelings, or because they don't want to upset anyone, or because they feel it is unloving to confront people and annoy them when God is working in their hearts to speak up (and that's the key to this whole thing), then the truths of 1 Corinthians 13 apply to them. We are to help people, and if we don't help people, then speaking in tongues profits us nothing.
If we don't listen to God when he is working within us to speak up or deal with something, and we compromise because we feel our phileō love for people is more important, or we're simply afraid, then we are not walking with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, we still have fear in our life. Manifestations of holy spirit are only profitable to those who walk by the spirit, to those who love God more than they love people, to those who love God more than they love temples made with hands otherwise known as their local church or ministry, to those who want to help others.
Sure, they take scriptures like 1 Corinthians 10:32 and 2 Corinthians 6:3 out of context to justify their religious weakness, but their lives will not defeat the devil in any spiritual category. They are whited sepulchres full of dead men's bones and if you go to them you will be made unclean. God refuses to have anything to do with temples made by men and so should you. If you go to church, God won't be there.
If you want your life to be spiritually meaningful, to have spiritual value, you will have to love God first before people, which means you speak up when he wants you to speak up, and you act when he is working within you to will and to do of his good pleasure. This is the walk of anyone who wants to be a disciple, and it is axiomatic that we must first learn to operate the gift of holy spirit properly and accurately for that is the immediate context of this chapter.
1 Corinthians 13:2
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
Listen, I know you're wonderful and you have a heart for God and want to know his word and do something for him, but really, anyone can run away from confrontation. That takes no ability or courage at all. If we're going to walk with the love of God we will have to deal with situations when God is working in our hearts to do so. That is walking with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation and that takes courage. This isn't about being nice to everyone and smiling inanely at them. Jesus Christ wasn't nice to everyone. Do you see how this fits within the context of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14? Unless we're walking by the spirit, properly operating the manifestations of holy spirit, chapter 13 is a world away from where we are, and all our talk about love is just noise.
The love of God is not an alternative way to walking by the spirit, it isn't an excuse to not walk by the spirit. The truth is, the only way to learn to walk with the love of God is to first learn to properly operate the manifestations and learn to walk by the spirit. That's the context here. One builds upon the other. This is further corroborated in Galatians, where agapē is listed as a fruit of the spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love [agapē], joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Fruit of the spirit is not fruit of the good works of man. You can't produce spiritual fruit by doing anything in the senses realm, which includes manifesting human phileō love. You can manifest phileō all you want, you can be the most phileō loving person on earth, but it will never produce fruit of the spirit. You can only produce spiritual fruit by manifesting the gift of holy spirit. This fits perfectly within the context of 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14. Agapē is only attainable by first manifesting the gift of holy spirit accurately and faithfully according to the instructions given in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14.
If we lose this truth and attempt to manifest human love to everyone, we are walking by the senses and not by the spirit. We are attempting to perfect the flesh. Once these truths are lost regarding walking by the spirit, we have lost the meaning of the resurrection and the whole point of the Grace Administration.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Now yes, once we're walking by the spirit, and we recognise God's still, small voice and we decide to be courageous, get involved and deal with situations when God works within us, it doesn't mean losing our temper and shouting at everyone. Sure, God wants us to deal with situations kindly, with love. Walking with the love of God isn't being horrible to everyone all the time, it's being courageous by doing God's will. Every situation is different and that is why we must first be walking by the spirit before we can be effectual ministers walking with the love of God.
1 Corinthians 13:4,5
Charity [agapē] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Was Jesus Christ long suffering and kind? Sure he was. He was long suffering and kind even when he was pissing off the religious leaders by calling them whited sepulchres and vipers. That's what the religious leaders were in Jesus Christ's day and they're no different today for the most part.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Jesus Christ took the religious leaders on so he could be kind and long suffering to God's people. Is that so hard to figure out? Are fathers loving and kind when they fight to protect their wives and children? Sure, they are. Love is not weak. Not even human love is that weak. Not even animal love is that weak! It takes strength, courage, and a sense of duty to live with this kind of love. Religious love isn't love at all, it's a disease.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity [agapē - the love of God].
Was I walking with the love of God putting this teaching together? Is it loving of me to confront those who wrongly interpret God's word and teach their nonsense on this most important subject? If you have a problem understanding this teaching in the context of the love of God, then your perceptions of agapē are still clouded by religious nonsense. I love people with the love of God, I love people enough to confront them with God's word to give them a chance to change. It's the only way to help people.
I mentioned in the previous chapter that love is more powerful than fear. This is true, but it's not talking about human love, it's talking about the love of God. Agapē love is more powerful than fear, but phileō love is not, and that is why perfect agapē love can cast out, or displace fear. Perfect love must necessarily be more powerful than fear otherwise it wouldn't be able to cast it out. God didn't give us a spirit of fear, he gave us a spirit of power, agapē love, and a sound mind.
This love God gave us isn't phileō love, human love - we were born with that - it is agapē love, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. If you think smiling nicely at your fears with a religious phileō plastic smile is going to back off the challenges of life, you have no concept of the spiritual realities around you. If you want to confront and defeat fear it is going to take the strength, courage, and determination that comes only from knowing God's word, walking by the spirit, and living with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation.
That will do for now, but we will be back to the love of God later in the class.
Chapter 8 - The Parting of the Red Sea