You Will Love God
By Jonathan Mitchell

A friend asked me to translate the Septuagint (LXX) version of Deut. 6:4-6, so here it is:

4. Listen, pay attention and hear, O Israel! [The] LORD (= Yahweh), your God, [the] LORD (= Yahweh) is (continually exists being) One.

5. And so, you [singular; = you, as a people] will keep on and progressively love (urge toward reunion with, and have unambiguous acceptance of) [the] LORD (= Yahweh), your God, out of (from the midst of) your whole thinking faculty (or: thoughts and understanding that move through the mind; normal LXX translation of Heb. "leb"), and out of (from the midst of) your whole soul, and out of (from the midst of) your whole power and ability.

6. And thus, these effects of the flows (these results of the sayings, speeches and things that are spoken) - as much as I, myself, presently continue imparting as inner directives to you, and implanting as instructions for the goal, the purposed aim and the union-centered destiny for you, today - will continue being within (in the midst of, centered in and in union with) your heart, and within (in the midst of, centered in and in union with) your soul.

In vs. 5, the verb "love" ("agapao") in not in the imperative mood, but in the indicative. It is a statement of fact, and thus is a promise, since the verb tense is future. This tense, in Greek, belongs to the group of verbs (along with the imperfect and the present) which are all "durative," meaning they express continued, repeated or progressive (or, "lineal") action. This was God's plan for humans, and Israel was to live out (embody) this relationship between God and humans, as instruction and enlightenment for the rest of humanity.

How would this come about? Verse 6 gives the explanation. By means of the instruction (Torah) given through Moses, God would, "presently continue imparting as inner directives to you, and implanting as instructions for the goal, the purposed aim and the union-centered destiny for you, today - will continue being within (in the midst of, centered in and in union with) your heart, and within (in the midst of, centered in and in union with) your soul." I have expanded the meaning of the verb, "entellomai," in rendering this clause. It is a combination on "en" (within; centered in; in union with) and the verb form of the word group of "telos," (aim; purpose; goal; end; destiny).

This verb is commonly rendered, "command." But what happens when an authority give a subordinate a "command"? The authority speaks or writes the desired end, or goal, of this "command," and the subordinates internalize the directive as a goal to be accomplished. So what the authority does in "impart," or "implant" his words into the hearts of his subordinates so that they fulfill the purpose, aim and goal of those words. Does this remind you of God saying He would write His laws (instructions) on/in our hearts? Yes, it does.

But what was God's goal in imparting the words that Israel (note the corporate instruction, here) would love the Lord (Yahweh, in the Heb.)? Verses 5b explains that they would do this with their entire being and abilities, and vs. 6b explains that His goal for them would permeate their interior being. I suggest that when this inner directive and impartation enters the heart, His Word (Logos) will create a new heart to accomplish His aim. But what did it mean, that they will progressively love God? What is the "love" of which He speaks, here?

The noun that is related to the verb "agapao" is "agape." Now Paul normally quoted from the LXX, when citing the OT, so when he wrote a short essay on "agape," he no doubt was familiar with the verb's use in our Deut. 6 text, above. But before we look at 1 Cor. 13, I want to share meanings of "agape" extracted from the writings of the theologian, Paul Tillich, in Systematic Theology III, pp 134-137 and Perspectives on 19th and 20th Century Protestant Theology, p 200:

1. the urge or drive toward reunion
2. the acceptance of the other one as a person
3. unambiguous love
4. the power of reunion with the other person as one standing on the same ultimate ground
5. unrestricted acceptance which overcomes existential separation, in spite of the estranged, profanized and demonized state of the object.

Richard Rohr has given an added definition of agape: a drive to give yourself totally to something or someone.

We should not miss the dynamic quality that these two scholars give to the term, agape. Could this be explained by John's definition of the essence of God? He put it succinctly in 1 Jn. 4:16,

"God exists continually being Love (God is Love, which is Unrestricted Acceptance, etc.)."

Then in the 19th vs. of this same chapter, he instructs us that,

"We ourselves are habitually loving (or, as a subjunctive: can and should be constantly loving) because He Himself first loved (or: urges to reunion with) us."

So what does this look like? Paul explained it in 1 Cor. 13:

4. The Love (or: This unrestricted acceptance, etc.) is habitually even-tempered, taking a long time to be in a heat of passion (is constantly long-enduring/suffering and patient; keeps on putting anger far away; continues slow to progress toward rushing emotions which cause violent breathing; continues passionately persevering unto the goal) - it continues being usefully kind.
The Love (or: This urge toward unambiguous, accepting reunion and giving of oneself) is not constantly boiling with jealousy and envy. The Love is not continuously bragging or "showing off" - it is not habitually being puffed up; it is not conceited or arrogant.

5. It is not repeatedly indecent in manner or behavior (it does not continually display lack of [good] form, rudeness or improper demeanor); it is not habitually self-seeking (or: not constantly pursuing its own interests or rights); it is not continually caused to be sharp [in response] nor aroused to irritation or upset emotions; it is not habitually keeping account of the worthless thing, nor logically considering something of bad quality, nor counting the injury.

6. It does not continue to rejoice upon [seeing or hearing of] the injustice, nor is it happy about dishonesty, inequity, or lack of the qualities of the Way pointed out, yet it repeatedly rejoices with the Truth (or: takes delight together in Reality).

7. [Love] continuously covers all mankind; it is habitually loyal to all humanity; it constantly has an expectation for all mankind; it is continuously remaining under and giving support to all people. (or, since "all" can also be neuter: It [i.e., unambiguous acceptance] progressively puts a protecting roof over all things; it is habitually trusting in, and believing for, all things; it is continually hoping in or for all things; it keeps on patiently enduring all things.)

8. The Love (or: This unrestricted, self-giving drive toward reunion) never - not even once - fails (falls out or lapses; = becomes fruitless or ineffectual; [other MSS: falls down; collapses]).

Now in Jn. 3:16, we are informed by John that God does all of this:

"For thus God loves (agapao: fully gives Himself to and urges toward reunion with) the aggregate of humanity (the universe; the ordered arrangement; the organized system [of life and society]; the world), so that He gives His uniquely-born [with other MSS: the only-begotten] Son..."

God does unto humanity what He said that Israel would do to Him (which was accomplished in the Messiah, Israel's representative - the Second Humanity, the Last Adam, 1 Cor. 15:45, 47).

When we think of speak of "love," we tend to default into thinking in terms of "eros," or of the affection of "philia," in regard to that promise in Deut. 6 (or, even in John's or Paul's writings). We who have known God as our Father have had developed in us a filial love for Him,

"because God's love (the urge toward reunion and the unambiguous, uniting acceptance from God; God's giving of Himself to [us]) has been poured out in a gush and shed forth so that it now floods within our hearts, permeating the core of our being, through the Set-apart Breath-effect (or: Holy Spirit; Sacred Attitude) being given to us (in us; for us)"

(Rom. 5:5b; -- thank you Art White, for tying this in here).

But this filial love for our Father (wonderful as it is) is not what seems really to be behind the idea of "agape." If we adopt Tillich's understanding of agape (and keep in mind that the verb form was used in the Deut. text), then God was saying that Israel will increasingly "accept Him," and will have an "urge toward union with Him," even to the point of having a recognized "standing on the same ground" (as per Tillich) as Him. This goes way beyond our "heart feelings for Him" (as important as those are!), which we later see w/David, in the psalms, and in the prophets. We will then be enabled to "love the aggregate of humanity (the world)" as He does, and do all that His "agape" does, for "God is Agape!" With our hearts "joined to the Lord" (1 Cor. 6:17), and our whole being "dwelling/abiding in the Vine" (Jn. 15:1ff), we will be able to have, "unrestricted acceptance of people which overcomes existential separation, in spite of their estranged, profanized and demonized state." In fact, by His indwelling Spirit, we will have, "the urge, drive and power of reunion with other people, as one standing on the same ultimate ground with them."

And then, the risen Christ will say,

"I am truly now saying to you folks, upon such an amount (or: To the extent) that you did (or: do) and perform(ed) [it] to (or: for) one of these belonging to the least of My brothers (used collectively: = the members of My family), you did and perform [it] to and for Me!"

The lived-out expressions of agape (e.g., 1 Cor. 13:7, above; also 1 Jn. 5:3) are "loving" God.

Also see this related article by John Gavazzoni titled Because


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