If you love me, keep my commandments.
~ John 14:15
Understanding the Greek
Below is a table of the words in the original Greek. This post will be reviewing the meaning of the original words.
Ἐὰν ἀγαπᾶτέ με, τὰς ἐντολὰς τὰς ἐμὰς τηρήσετε.
|25 [e]||agapate||ἀγαπᾶτέ||you love||V-PSA-2P|
|5083 [e]||tērēsete||τηρήσετε.||you will keep.||V-FIA-2P|
What did Jesus mean when He said it is possible to love Him and keep His commandments. He was not talking about the old covenant.
They were impossible to keep and it were soon to be abolished at His death on the cross. He would usher in the inauguration the fulfillment of the law according the new and better covenant:
For he is our peace, who hath made both one,
and hath broken down the middle wall
of partition between us;
having abolished in his flesh
the enmity, even the law of commandments
contained in ordinances;
for to make in himself of twain one new man,
so making peace; and that he might reconcile
both unto God in one body by the cross,
having slain the enmity thereby:
~ Ephesians 2:14-16
It would be known as the Law of Christ.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault,
ye which are spiritual,
restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
lest thou also be tempted.
Bear ye one another’s burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ.
For if a man think himself to be something,
when he is nothing,
he deceiveth himself.
~ Galatians 6:1-3
Right now, Jesus wants us to be firmly planted in the rich soil of His word, built up into a strong branch ready to bear good fruit.
. . . rooted and grounded in love,
to be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length,
and depth, and height;
and to know the love of Christ,
which passeth knowledge,
that ye might be . . .
To this end I might add, if we are rooted, grounded, and comprehending His love, we will be . . .
. . . filled with all the fulness of God.’
~ Ephesians 3:17-19
We are to be filled with the fullness of God when we truly love Him. How many of us can honestly say we comprehend the depth, breath, height, and length of the love of Christ?
We first need to know the instructions we are to follow so we can be obedient to Him. Then, we can fully comprehend the love of Christ and fullness of God.
Sentence Structural Analysis
God’s word is so deep and so intimate. Lets us look at the basic grammatical structure of the verse, If ye love me, keep my commandments.
In the midst of this verse, Jesus was telling His Apostles that He had to go away and die for our sins. He was trying to comfort their hearts.
Jesus was giving them a promise. He said that if we loved and obeyed Him then, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth”
If – (Ἐὰν) is a conjunction and a conditional particle. It connects two clauses. Here it connects (If ye love me) and (keep my commandments). The importance of this dynamic is explained below.
Ye love – ἀγαπᾶτε (agapate) is plural for you love. Here Jesus is speaking to all His Apostles and everyone who claims to be a disciple that loves the Lord.
The love we are to seek, fully develop, and gracefully retain is ‘a E
Love is patient, love is kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing (evil),
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
The Apodosis and Protasis
As mentioned above, the sentence structure is conditional and composed of two parts. The first part is called the protasis and is a conditional clause.
The second part is called apodosis, the resultant clause. There are expected responses and consequences to occur when obedience or disobedience, the conditional clause of loving Jesus is wrought (worked in us).
If the condition of obedience is met and we love Jesus there will be realities resulting from this experience bothe here on Earth and in heavenly realms.
The Apostle whom Jesus loved provides a clearer picture.
1 John 3 directly addresses the positive response of obedience, the negative response of disobedience, and the consequences of both actions.
And hereby we do know that we know him,
if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him,
and keepeth not his commandments,
is a liar,
and the truth is not in him.
But whoso keepeth his word,
in him verily is the love of God perfected:
hereby know we that we are in him.
He that saith he abideth in him
ought himself also so to walk,
even as he walked.
a new commandment I write unto you,
which thing is true in him and in you:
because the darkness is past,
and the true light now shineth.
He that saith he is in the light,
and hateth his brother,
is in darkness even until now.
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light,
and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness,
and walketh in darkness,
and knoweth not whither he goeth,
because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
~ 1 John 3:3-6, 8-11.
The Positive Response of Love
in I John 3
The first thing of note is the realization that to love Christ is to know Him. To know Him is to live and dwell in God’s pure and holy truth in all aspects of our lives.
There is no double-mindedness in the Christian soul that loves Jesus completely in obedient love because he keeps His word and the love of God is perfected in him.
He loves God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loves his neighbor as himself. There is nothing contrary in his love toward God or others. Hypocrisy is not a part of a heart made pure in Godly love.
If we know Jesus and have been perfected in His love. As obedient children, He has come into our heart to abide in us and we know and love Him. We are to walk as He walked.
The whole of our conduct: Our thoughts, dispositions, and behaviors are in His love. We willingly desire to give good will toward other and are ready to help those in need.
Our heart no longer has to be changed every time to do something good because we have to overcome that darkness of our sinful nature. We are predisposed to love and be kind to others.
We will not intentionally do anything that causes others to stumble. At least not out ill will from our hearts. That has been put in check; All we do or want is done in love, even our mistakes, misfortunes, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations.
Neither do we take offense when others seek ill will toward us. We abide in the light as Jesus was in the light. We perceive the devils’ snares and are more aware of his wiles, avoiding stumbling blocks put in our way.
God gives us more light and strengthens our new life when we love Him and keep His commandments.
we all, with open face
(through loving/knowing Him in agape)
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image
from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
~ 2 Corinthians 3:18
Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament law through agape love. He did not take away from the law or its moral constituents.
For verily I say unto you,
Till heaven and earth pass,
one jot or one tittle
shall in no wise pass from the law,
till all be fulfilled.
~ Matthew 5:18
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour:
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
~ Romans 13:10
that the righteousness of the law
might be fulfilled in us,
who walk not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit.
~ Romans 8:4
For all the law is fulfilled in one word,
even in this;
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
~ Galatians 5:14
This is the love that we are to have. It is the sum total of all human virtues in a life submitted to love and obedience in Christ.
The Negative Response of Love
in I John 3
The person that believes, thinks, or tells others that he knows or loves Jesus but does not keep His commandments is called a liar. A liar is worse than a lie because lying has become part of his nature, a part of his way of life.
It is in this sinful nature that he dwells within us silently, persistently. It is a numbing comfort almost unnoticed as we grow accustomed to it. It is darkness that does not lead to light.
It gives us more darkness, strengthening its ways unto increasing disobedience as we continue to disregard His commandments leading unto death and separation.
The Liar does not have the truth in him. He does not love his brother with agape love, and this predisposition toward darkness blinds him further, enticing and keeping him deeper in sin.
What does it Mean to ‘Keep’
שָׁמַר – shaw-mar, In the Hebrew keep means to be very careful as a gate keeper would prevent or allow entrance, or a watchman who would watch at all hours keenly observing for any and all threats that may bring harm.
We cannot preserve God’s word if we do not have the love He calls us to have. Those who would corrupt it or take away from its purity do so because of this.
Shaw-mar also means to persevere to wait, secure, and perform that which is commanded. It is persevering in God’s truth and holding to that truth in love and obedience to God’s command.
When we keep Jesus’ commandments we are enlightening those around us and spreading the truth and holiness of God’s ways. We are ambassadors within the church building each other up.
This also has the effect of reproof: convicting, teaching men the true meaning of sin, righteousness, judgment. (John 16:8)
τηρήσετε (tērēsete) is unique in scripture as it is only used once. It is action meaning, you will keep indicating current and future actions. We have already seen the meaning of keep in Hebrew.
Its meaning is consistent in the Greek as noted by its root tēros.
tēréō (from tēros, “a guard”) in the Greek – means to properly, maintain (preserve); (figuratively) spiritually guard (watch), keep intact.
We are the custodians of God’s word but can only be true to this command when we have His agape love to help us in this solemn and honorable duty.
Remember there are serious warnings for those who are disobedient to the word of God and keep not His commandments or know of His love.
If any man shall add unto these things,
God shall add unto him the plagues
that are written in this book:
and if any man shall take away
from the words of the book of this prophecy,
God shall take away his part
out of the book of life
~ Revelation 22:18b-19a
The last word we are going to look at here is commandments.
ἐντολὰς entolas is plural for ἐντολή entolé: meaning that Jesus was referring to His injunctions, orders, commands, ordinances, or laws.
Entolas intensifies télos highlighting the intention of Jesus. We are to keep all His commandments until they reach the end of their intended goals, consummating His will for our lives.
Jesus has very specific objectives for each of us. These objectives begin with the building up of love with the expected end-result of complete obedience to His ways.
The nature of the condition to love Jesus means that keeping His commandments is a requirement or end-product of our love. This is not an option, it is a necessity that results from God’s love shed abroad in our hearts.
The commandments go deeper than Jesus’ words. They are heavenly, from the root of Almighty God, the Father. Jesus is showing us the obedience we should have by His complete obedience to the Father.
For I have not spoken of myself;
but the Father which sent me,
he gave me a commandment,
what I should say, and what I should speak.
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting:
whatsoever I speak therefore,
even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
~ John 12:49-50
Here is an example pulled from the obedient words of Jesus of a person who kept all the commandments of his father. This is one of the most important stories in the Bible to me, The Prodigal Son.
Every time I read it, it brings tears to my eyes and warms my heart powerfully. This is what God’s word should do to us when we are His obedient children.
His word tuggs at our heart, pulling us closer and closer as He draws close unto us. Don’t resist this calling. It is holy, precious, and without end as noted by the abrupt closing of the story given by Jesus
And he answering said to his father, Lo,
these many years do I serve thee,
neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment:
and yet thou never gavest me a kid,
that I might make merry with my friends:
but as soon as this thy son was come,
which hath devoured thy living with harlots,
thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
And he said unto him,
Son, thou art ever with me,
and all that I have is thine.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad:
for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again;
and was lost, and is found.
~ Luke 15:29-32
We are to be obedient and love Jesus so we can help Him find that which is lost. This is one of the beautiful fruits of obedience to God’s commandments, live everlasting.
The Apostle John reinforces the need for us to walk in obedience to the dictates of God’s love, even after all of His commandments.
And this is love,
that we walk after his commandments.
This is the commandment,
That, as ye have heard from the beginning,
ye should walk in it.
2 John 2:6
We can only walk in the commandments of Jesus if we are walking in His love. There is no hypocrisy, no sin, no selfishness, for love is the antithesis (opposite) of sin.
If I were to rephrase John 14:15, it might read something like this,
If anyone loves me as I have loved you,
they will walk in my ways,
according to my will;
persevering, honoring, and protecting
all of my commandments.