Original sin: Adam as our representative

Illuminated parchment, Spain, circa AD 950-955...
Illuminated parchment, Spain, circa AD 950-955, depicting the Fall of Man, cause of original sin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About a month ago, I was listening to an episode of William Lane Craig’s Podcast “Defenders” (Or it could have been “Reasonable Faith” – I don’t remember.) and the topic of original sin came up. If you have been reading this blog, you know that I lack an understanding of the doctrine of original sin beyond “We are all sinners and Adam had something to do with it”. In that episode, Craig seemed to espouse a view of original sin that goes something like this:

Adam was our representative before God. He was a man who stood in our place and acted on our behalf in the issue of our submission to God. He acted he same way we would have acted had we been present. Adam’s sin in disobeying God was therefore our sin in the same way a representative’s actions are the actions of the one being represented.

He didn’t actually speak the last sentence. It is my conclusion from the previous two. It is very likely that my understanding does not truly represent his view so be sure to confirm it if you’re going to quote that. This view of original sin does explain a few things.

  1. It answers my question: “How in creation does Adam’s action in disobeying God make us sinners?” The answer is that when Adam sinned, we sinned too.
  2. It explains (somewhat) those verses in Romans 5 that always give me a headache.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— […]

 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. – Romans 5: 12, 15 – 19

3. It makes clearer the connection between Adam and Jesus. Adam was our representative, the one who was unable to keep God’s law and condemned us all. Jesus is our new representative, the second Adam, who has perfectly kept God’s law making us righteous in the process.

However, this hypothesis does not explain one piece of the puzzle:

 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. – Romans 5: 13, 14

The verse says that sin is not charged to anyone’s account if they have no law (basically, they will not be tried and condemned for their sin if they do not have the law that forbids it) but that even those who have not broken a command die because of Adam. That’s the key point. If we sinned in Adam, then we are guilty of exactly what Adam is guilty of. Since Adam broke a command, we have broken a command.  Yet this verse says that some people did not break a command (presumably because they did not have the law) yet they sinned.

This explanation also has the implication that we are all born sinners and rebels against God but it does not explain our innate tendency to choose the wrong thing over the right one. It does not explain our rebellious attitude towards God either.

The Justice of the Approach

A possible objection to this hypothesis is that it is not our fault that Adam sinned and it is unfair to charge us with his crime. Craig’s response in the podcast was that it is only unfair if Adam was not an accurate representative. That is, if Adam did not act the exact way we would have acted, then it is unjust to suggest that he represents us. But Adam was a perfect representative.

Another objection could be that it just isn’t fair to charge us with a crime we didn’t commit (even though we would have committed it). I have already responded to that. We did commit it. That is the point of a representative. He/she acts in place of the represented. As long as the representative acts as the represented would, his/her actions can be billed as those of the represented.

I’ve heard several people make a distinction between being a sinner and being guilty of the sin – the same distinction made in Romans 5: 13 where some people have sinned but are not charged with sin because they have no law. This has implications for all of us because it would determine whether babies (who are born with original sin) are deserving of hell if this hypothesis is correct. It obviously needs some work. It doesn’t address a lot of things including the important passage that I quoted from Romans 5. But it’s a place to start.

Please feel free to point out any criticisms I missed or any other strengths the hypothesis possesses.

What the Bible Teaches about Hell, Part 4: Commentary on the Book of Revelation

This is the fourth part of a series on hell. You can find the index here.

The Book of Revelation (film)
The Book of Revelation (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would like to start by making a point about the Revelation to John. It is most clearly illustrated in the first chapter of the book.

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

If you cannot see it, the problem I have with the book is its blatant symbolism. This is just the beginning. If you continue, you see the four horsemen, bowls of wrath and the woman and dragon. In fact, the whole book is one torrent of apocalyptic imagery. There’s nothing wrong with imagery per se, but I think it is obvious that we ought not to read a book that is so flagrantly symbolic literally. When we read it, we can either find the main point of the narrative or say “this is what I think all these pictures mean”. What I am saying, in plain English, is that the statement “the damned will spend eternity in a lake of fire because the book of revelation says so” is a careless one. The book says a lot of things, the vast majority of which are not meant to be taken literally. If you wish to argue that the book’s description of hell should be taken literally, do so. But don’t say it as if it’s obviously true.

Moving on:

“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.” Revelation 19: 19 – 21

This refers to the judgment of the beast and his false prophet. They are both defeated and thrown into the ‘fiery lake of burning sulfur’ while their followers are killed. I have no idea who the beast and prophet are supposed to be, so I’ll leave them alone and just think about the lake of fire which I’ll come back to later.

“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth —Gog and Magog —and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20: 7 – 10

Considerable time has passed since the judgment of the beast – a thousand years. Now, Satan is judged and thrown into the same lake of fire. This passage goes on to say that Satan, the beast and the false prophet would be tormented forever.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20: 11 – 14

Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. Death and Hades aren’t people, so this probably just means that death and hades will be abolished; that is, there will be no more death. Then the people are judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. Finally, everyone whose name is not written in the book of life is thrown into the lake of fire.

Note 1: People are thrown into the lake of fire, not based on what is written in the other books, but based on whether their names are in the book of life. What then is the point of looking at the other books?

Note 2: The lake of fire is called ‘the second death’, which could mean a number of things.

“He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars —they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”  – Revelation 21: 6 – 8

Once again, the lake of fire is called the second death.

I’ll look at more Bible verses in a second, but so far I want to point out the things I think are important to understanding the doctrine of hell.

1. The ‘second death’

On its face, this word could mean annihilation (the damned cease to exist). It could also mean that the judgment they face is some kind of death in the tradition of Jesus and Paul where ‘death’ is used as a symbol for certain things e.g. we died in Christ. I don’t know what it means and I am loathe to consult a commentary because of their usual biases.

2. The fiery lake of burning sulfur

Like I pointed out in the beginning, I doubt that this is an actual lake of sulfur. At the very least, I don’t think one should assume that it is. Satan, the beast and the false prophet are thrown into it and tormented forever, but Death and Hades are thrown into it and this can only mean annihilation for them. So, the lake seems to be different things for different entities. Those whose names are not written in the book of life are also thrown into it.

3. The word ‘torment’

A quick glance at several translations reveals that a small minority translate that word as ‘torture’, which is a synonym according to blueletterbible.org (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G929&t=KJV) Torment/Torture is obviously a very strong word. There is more about it here for those interested in reading about it: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/torture/

Now, on to the last passage

‘A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”  This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.’ Revelation 14: 9 – 12

  1. This specifically refers to those who worship the beast and its image. Since the lake of fire does different things to different people (as it seems), it is perfectly possible that they will have this punishment and everyone else will have another. That would be supported by the passages that describe some people as being punished more than others although it is not said in this passage
  2. It says that they will be tormented/tortured in the presence of the Holy Angels and the Lamb. That seems to mean “in the throne room”. If it said “in God’s presence”, then that could be anywhere. But it would be odd to describe any place but the throne room as the presence of the angels… maybe. Maybe it means that the angels and the Lamb will be able to see it. Torment there is the same word I referred to above.
  3. The smoke of their torment will rise forever. They will have no rest day or night. Normally, I would interpret those statements in a certain way, but I came across another verse that brought some confusion.

For the Lord has a day of vengeance,
a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.
Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch,
her dust into burning sulfur;
her land will become blazing pitch!
It will not be quenched night or day;
its smoke will rise forever.
From generation to generation it will lie desolate;
no one will ever pass through it again.
The desert owl and screech owl will possess it;
the great owl and the raven will nest there.
God will stretch out over Edom
the measuring line of chaos
and the plumb line of desolation.

Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom,
all her princes will vanish away.
Thorns will overrun her citadels,
nettles and brambles her strongholds.
She will become a haunt for jackals,
a home for owls.
Desert creatures will meet with hyenas,
and wild goats will bleat to each other;
there the night creatures will also lie down
and find for themselves places of rest.
The owl will nest there and lay eggs,
she will hatch them, and care for her young
under the shadow of her wings;
there also the falcons will gather,
each with its mate.

Look in the scroll of the Lord and read:

None of these will be missing,
not one will lack her mate.
For it is his mouth that has given the order,
and his Spirit will gather them together.
He allots their portions;
his hand distributes them by measure.
They will possess it forever
and dwell there from generation to generation. – Isaiah 34: 8 – 17

Edom was supposed to burn forever, and never be quenched and a host of animals was supposed to possess it forever too. Edom clearly isn’t burning now and if it was, the animals couldn’t live there – obviously. I suspect it was all just hyperbole. While that cannot be used to interpret the book of revelation – different writers, different times, but the same genre – it did alert me to the fact that a book of prophecy might as well be hyperbolic. In fact, it probably is. The issue here is stripping away the literary devices and determining how serious the actual thing is.

And that’s what worries me. In writing this, I have worried over the fact that I might be reading the book too literally or not literally enough, or that I might be interpreting it wrongly or trying to make it fit my biases. In the end, all I came up with was some more information on specific things, but more confusion on the whole topic of hell altogether. In the end, what I believe about hell will be determined by the theory that most fits the Biblical evidence. Or that’s what I hope. But I’ll steer clear of trying to make up any kind of doctrine of hell from the book of revelation. It’s just too vague and confusing.

And the Bible is supposedly Anti-Semitic

Jews for Jesus logotype
Jews for Jesus logotype (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading the Bible is a very interesting exercise. But even more interesting is watching other people read the Bible. Where you see one thing, they might see something completely different. Here is a case in point. Robert contends that the Bible teaches anti-Semitism. I know what you’re thinking: “But Jesus, Paul and most of the new testament writers were Jews. In fact, the first Christians were Jews. How then could they hate Jews?” Well, it beats me too and Robert admits that it puzzles him. What he does not do, however, is see that as undermining his point.

His first example is 1 Thesalonians 2: 14 – 16

 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.”

Robert quotes only the last two words in verse 14 and has huge problems with this passage. According to him, “There is no ambiguity here.  The Jews (not just some of them, all of them) have killed Jesus. God is angry with them and they will be punished. They are contrary to all men. Here, in the supposed message of love, we find the seeds of hatred and Anti-Semitism that led to centuries of terrible consequences.”

Paul was writing to the Thessalonians and reminding them that they had suffered at the hands of their own people, what the early Jewish Christians had suffered from the Jews. Evidently, he is referring to some Jews, not all of them. It is hard to imagine the Jewish Christians persecuting themselves. Paul then continues that those Jews (the Christian ones again not included) were displeasing God by being so hostile and trying to prevent evangelism of the Gentiles, that they are heaping up their sins and being punished by God.

It is easy to see that this does not amount to a condemnation of Jews as a people (Paul was a Jew himself) but a condemnation of the actions of certain Jews, actions which were certainly worthy of condemnation. The only way you can find anti-semitism there is if you’re actively looking for it. Next, Robert goes on to Peter. You know, Jewish Saint Peter, first head of the Christian church. Apparently, Peter made this anti-Semitic statement in Acts 2: 22, 23

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

I find the statement unremarkable. Jesus had been crucified a few weeks before, after Pilate succumbed to the crowd screaming “crucify him!” Peter stands up to a crowd in that same city, probably containing some of the same people, and informs them that the Jesus they killed is alive again. He does not stop there. He tells them that God offers forgiveness of sins for everyone who accepts Jesus. If Peter hated them, he would not be offering them salvation. That is what love does, not hatred. Peter’s accusation does not constitute anti-semitism either. Not just because he was a Jew himself, but because accusing someone of something they did is not hatred. In fact, accusing someone of something they did not do is not hatred either. It can be motivated by hatred, but it is not hatred necessarily.

He also uses Paul’s letter to Titus. Paul says in Titus 1: 10, 11 “For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.”

Paul is here talking about some circumcised and uncircumcised people and denouncing their wrongdoing. He even picks on Cretans specifically, saying “One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith”. He is not asking Titus to hate Cretans and circumcised people. He is asking Titus to warn and counsel them to lead better lives.

Robert’s final quotes are from Jesus. In John 8:44, Jesus claims that children of God believe in him, with the implication that those who hear his words and reject it are children of the devil. Robert bills this as a claim that all Jesus (including Jesus, apparently) are children of the devil despite Jesus’ statement that it is true only of those who reject him. The other is from Matthew 23: 31 – 35. Read it for yourself. It is the same basic principle. Jesus denounces the Pharisees and teachers of the law, a subset of Jews who opposed him, and Robert calls it an attack on Jews.

It is hard to decide what to say in circumstances like this. It seems obvious that Robert, if he has read the Bible with care, should see the problem with him claims. Yet, he does not and I am unable to see why. I have heard talk of the Bible’s antiseitism before. Then, I read Romans 9: 1 – 5

“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

In that short lament, Paul comes across as significantly less than anti-semitic. I must have fallen in love with him after that. He had his shortcomings, but anti-semitism was not one of them.

On Original Sin

English: Genesis : Adam and Eve, the original ...
English: Genesis : Adam and Eve, the original sin; marble relief on the left pier of the façade of the cathedral; Orvieto, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read a blog post in which an atheist was asking about Christianity and he said this “If it was only original sin that was removed, why did God give it to us in the first place? It’s not my fault Adam and Eve ate that apple, why would God punish the innocent?”

I realized then that I haven’t taken on original sin yet. It is one of those questions I shoved in a corner of my brain and planned to deal with later. As with most (if not all) questions, reading helps.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned —

To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5: 12 – 21

Let me say this first. Paul has got to be the most confusing Biblical writer there is. Reading his work makes my head ache. That said, when I first read this, I merely read enough to confirm that God does not punish us for the sins of someone else. That charge definitely needed to be settled. Once I had done that, I was in no rush to continue studying it. Here is what Paul does say, if you read carefully: Sin entered the world through Adam and everybody dies because everybody sinned (5: 12).

Evidently, the blame for bringing sin into the world is on Adam (not Eve, interestingly enough). But the reason that everyone dies is not just that Adam sinned, but because all have sinned. This verse obviously says nothing about our inheriting Adam’s sin. It just says that each and every one of us has sinned. That’s simple enough to understand.

There is another way in which the doctrine of original sin is presented. Not that we inherited Adam’s guilt or sin, but that somehow, when Adam sinned, we sinned too. I am no theologian, but I find that position quite unreasonable. I do not think I could have sinned when I did not exist. Another way it is said is that Adam was our representative before God and so, his sin somehow condemns us.

One issue that affects how one interprets the passage is whether you think the statement “all sinned” is applicable to babies as well. If what Paul is saying here is that Adam brought sin into the world and that we all at some point in our lives choose to commit sin, thereby becoming sinners, it would follow that there was a point in our lives at which we had committed no sin, and therefore, were not sinners. Obviously. But this would mean that if such a person were to die before they committed one sin, they would be an exception to the claim that all sinned.

However, if one starts with the assumption that by “all sinned”, Paul means even babies, then they must have sinned at some point before birth, perhaps at conception. The consequences of that view can be imagined. Babies would need to be saved somehow.

I am not as saturated in the issue as I would like to be. Just from reading the passage, all I can say is that Adam was somehow responsible for our sin, not vice versa. He brought it into the world. We all sin because of what he did. But we all sin. That means that this passage cannot be brought up against the Christian doctrine that we are deserving of God’s wrath and in need of God’s grace to be saved as it often is. “How can God punish me for the sins of Adam and Eve? It isn’t my fault”. We are responsible for our own sins. We see the right path and we see the wrong one, and we choose the wrong one. That’s sin. End of Story.

Now, I must plead. What do you think of the fact that Adam is held responsible for bringing sin into the world and not Eve? I have often heard it repeated that Christianity is anti-woman because Eve is blamed for eating the forbidden fruit and Adam is not.

Reflections on the Crucifixion – John 18

  • Jesus looked out for his disciples during his arrest. He asked that they be let go. He was not seeking to have them suffer with him.
  • Jesus rebuked Peter very strongly when he tried to defend him. He instead stated that he must drink the cup his father had given him, even though it was so terrible a cup (18:11). He was doing his father’s will at any cost.
  • Jesus was treated like a dangerous criminal. He was arrested at night, with soldiers and weapons and then bound and taken from one place to another.
  • The disciple that went to the high priests’ house with Jesus (John?) was known by (or to) the high priest (18:15).
  • Jesus was beaten, spit upon, mocked and insulted, while being blindfolded, of course.

Reflections on the Crucifixion – John 16

  • The disciples were a very confused bunch of people during Jesus’ last talk with them (16: 17, 18). They did not understand what he meant when he said they would soon not see him and then later they would see him. They did not understand what he meant when he said that he was going to the father. Those are things whose meaning seem very clear to me. I doubt that it is simply hindsight.
  • Jesus promised his disciples that someday he would speak to them plainly about his father and not in figures of speech (16:25). Why did he not just speak plainly then?
  • Jesus said the Father loved his disciples because they had loved him and believed him (16: 27). What kind of love did the father have for them that he did not have for those who had not loved and believed Jesus?
  • Jesus emphasized the fact that the Holy Spirit would not speak on his own, but would speak what he had heard (16: 13). Just like he said that he himself only spoke what the father told him to.
  • Jesus wanted the disciples to have peace in him, but told them that they would have trouble in the world.

Reflections on the Crucifixion – John 15

  • Jesus tells us how his disciples could be clean even though he had not yet died (John 13: 10, 11). He said that they were clean because of the word he had spoken to them (15: 3). What word, I wonder?
  • Jesus keeps telling his disciples to remain in him in this chapter. What does this say about people losing their salvation?
  • Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing (15:4 – 6).
  • We show ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples by bearing fruit (15:8).
  • When Jesus said ‘As the father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love’ (15: 9), I thought about the crucifixion. The father loves the son and yet he was willing to condemn him to such a fate for us. In the same way, Jesus’ love for us might not preclude the possibility that he could sent us to places that hurt, not merely for our own good, but for others’.
  • Jesus cared about his disciples’ Joy. He wanted their joy to be full (15:11). Perhaps doing God’s commands should not be a chore, but a joy.
  • This whole chapter (and even the previous one) places emphasis on obeying Jesus’ commandments.

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, it is he that loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my father, and I too will love him and will show myself to him” John 14:21

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him” John 14:23

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love – John 15: 10

You are my friends of you do what I command – John 15:14, etc.

It makes obeying Jesus’ commands synonymous with loving him and being his disciple.