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Vine on Christian Love

02.12.2

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End Notes

 

The edition that I will be using is the 1940, non-copyrighted version in PDF format.  All page references will refer to the PDF page number as displayed on Adobe Acrobat Reader.  The PDF text itself has no page numbers.  Pages 1-467 in the PDF is the OT Hebrew.  Pages 468-1602 is the NT Greek.

 

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Vine, W. E.  (1940;  PDF p. 1089-1090).

 

LOVE

A. Verbs

1. agapao (ἀγαπα̑ω, 25) and the corresponding noun agape present 'the characteristic word of Christianity, and since the Spirit of revelation has used it to express ideas previously unknown, enquiry (sic) into its use, whether in Greek literature or in the Septuagint, throws but little light upon its distinctive meaning in the N.T.'

 

'Agape and agapao are used in the N.T.  (a) to describe the attitude of God toward His Son, John 17:26;  the human race, generally, John 3:16;  Rom 5:8, and to such as believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, particularly John 14:21;  (b) to convey His will to His children concerning their attitude one toward another, John 13:34, and toward all men, 1 Thess. 3:12;  1 Cor. 16:14;  2 Pet. 1:7;  (c) to express the essential nature of God, 1 John 4:8.

 

"Love can be known only from the actions it prompts.  God's love is seen in the gift of His Son, I John 4:9, 10.  But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellence in its objects, Rom. 5:8.  It was an exercise of the Divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself, cp. Deut. 7:7,8."

 

Love had its perfect expression among men in the Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 5:14;  Eph. 2:4;  3:19;  5:2;  Christian love is the fruit of His Spirit in the Christian, Gal. 5:22.

 

"Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered.  Love seeks the welfare of all, Rom. 15:2, and works no ill to any, 13:8-10;  love seeks opportunity to do good to 'all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.'  Gal. 6:10.  See further 1 Cor. 13 and Col. 3:12-14."

 

In respect of agapao as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential love in them towards the Giver, and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver.  See BELOVED.

 

Again, to “love” (phileo) life, from an undue desire to preserve it, forgetful of the real object of living, meets with the Lord’s reproof, John 12:25.  On the contrary, to “love” life (agapao) as used in 1 Pet. 3:10, is to consult the true interests of living.  Here the word would be quite inappropriate.

 

Note:  In Mark 12:38, KJV, thelo, “to wish,” is translated “love” (RV, “desire”).

 

B. Nouns.

1. agape (ἀγάπη, 26), the significance of which has been pointed out in connection with A, No. 1, is always rendered “love” in the RV where the KJV has “charity,” a rendering nowhere used in the RV;  in Rom. 14:15, where the KJV has “charitably,” the RV, adhering to the translation of the noun, has “in love.”

 

Note:  In the two statements in 1 John 4:8 and 16, “God is love,” both are used to enjoin the exercise of “love” on the part of believers.  While the former introduces a declaration of the mode in which God’s love has been manifested (vv. 9, 10), the second introduces a statement of the identification of believers with God in character, and the issue at the Judgment Seat hereafter (v. 17), an identification represented ideally in the sentence “as He is, so are we in this world.”

 

2. philanthropia (φιλανθρωπία, 5363) denotes, lit., “love for man” (phileo and anthropos, “man”);  hence, “kindness,” Acts 28:2, in Titus 3:4, “(His) love toward man.”  Cf. the adverb philanthropos, “humanely, kindly,” Acts 27:3.

 

Note:  For philarguia, “love of money,” 1 Tim. 6:10, see MONEY (love of).  For philadelphia, see BROTHER, Note (1).

 

 

My Response to Vine - Christian Love

 

Vine's comment that Agape is the 'characteristic word of Christianity' and that it's use in other contexts is uncommon and not very helpful, tends to parallel comments made by others.  As such, paying particular attention to Agape in the New Testament would seem the appropriate thing to do.

 

Vine describes Agape as 'not drawn out by any excellency in its objects.'  I feel uncomfortable about this assertion.  The very definition of Agape is 'seeing in the object upon whom it is bestowed that which is worthy of regard.'  [Trench p. 39]  Such a denial of this essential value of the object would seem to deny the very understanding of what Agape is.  Yes, Agape can be bestowed on a variety of people that are viewed by many as abhorrent.  Still, for Agape to truly be Agape, there should still be something of value in the one so rejected.  The 2 Peter Theory will strive to describe this.

 

Vine also describes Agape  by saying:  'Self-will, that is, self-pleasing, is the negation of love to God.'  I feel I must respond by saying, 'yes, but . . .'  If we are only speaking of 'love to God', then, yes.  The First Great Commandment makes it crystal clear that we are to love God with everything that we are and all that we have.  When this is expressed as the Love of our neighbor, however, the Lord only asks that we 'love our neighbor AS ourselves.'  We should be indifferent to whether the love and support is expressed for our neighbors or for ourselves.  Self-pleasing, as he describes  it, or desires oriented toward ourselves is NOT condemned.  The self and it's desires do NOT need to be totally eliminated.  That sounds very Buddhist.  Instead, the Lord would have our self-concern be present, but balanced by our concern for others.  I guess it all depends on what one means by 'self-will' or 'self-pleasing'.  If one were to emphasize self-will as against God's will, then Vine is very correct.  Such a position would negate, or make impossible, a real love for God.  Yet, this real love for God does not mean that one must totally eliminate one's very self and it's desires.  One does not eliminate one's self, one learns to submit one's self to God.

 

Finally, Vine notes that Agape is 'not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered.'  I suspect that Vine is striving to differentiate Agape from Phileo at this point.  He wants to stress that the intensity of one's emotions may not be the only source producing Agape in one's life.  Vine's use of the terms 'always' or 'only' have built in a measure of 'wiggle-room' in his definition for the presence of emotions in Agape.  This author will strive to point out affective motivations that can, often, motivate Agape in Christian lives.

 

This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023