the weblog of Alan Knox

Loving God includes loving people

Posted by on Feb 19, 2009 in love, scripture | 13 comments

I’ve grown to appreciate Eugene Peterson’s translation and interpretation in The Message. I ran across this passage yesterday, I think he captures what John wrote:

If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from God is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. (1 John 4)

Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. So, if we’re not loving people…


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  1. 2-19-2009


    Amazing! That’s what my Bible says too!

    But, we have to interpret it correctly. I mean, surely that passage cannot mean I’m to love those people who don’t agree with my doctrine, or those smelly ones who camp under the bridge?

    It can’t mean that I’m to love those enemies of our state, or those horrible people on the other side of the Arminian-Calvinist battle.

    Murderers, adulterers, homosexuals, can’t be included either. Well! Can they?

    We can only love those who fit my ideology/theology! So there!

    I’ve got a pile of stones here, help me show those unloveables what we think of them.

    My tongue is firmly in my cheek!

  2. 2-19-2009


    Isn’t the Message heresey Sir? Don’t you know you shouldn’t read that? I guess I am going to have to remove you from blog list. Oh, thats right you created it!

  3. 2-19-2009

    If we truly love God, we will abide in His love, even to the point of helping the unloveable.

    Jesus said, that He sees these acts of love as though it were actually Himself that we are serving.

    The Bible says that in so doing we may even be entertaining angels unaware.


  4. 2-19-2009

    Aussie John,

    I always thought that only Americans were better at making excuses for not loving people than they are at actually loving people. I guess Aussies are good at that too.


    Yeah, go ahead and remove my blog from your list. I’ll just add it back. 🙂


    Seems alot is riding on love, doesn’t it?


  5. 2-19-2009

    The Message is certainly not a translation by any stretch of the definition (see here), but as a COMMENTARY, Peterson offers some occasional insights that are very helpful.

  6. 2-19-2009

    Joe (JR),

    It is impossible to translate from one language to another without also making choices of interpretation and commentary. This is true of the Message, but it is also true of the Vulgate, the KJV, the NASB, etc. Are there parts of the interpretaion in the Message with which I disagree? Yes. But, again, this would be true of any translation/interpretation/commentary.


  7. 2-19-2009

    Alan, making interpretative choices is not the same as writing a commentary.

    If you take the time to read the substance of my review, you will better understand my assertion. Peterson adds a lot of content based on his theological tradition (such as water baptism being required for salvation) and while that may be his theological opinion, inserting whole cloth ones theology and publishing it as Scripture is not a good translation practice… but maybe you are okay with that approach to “translations”?

  8. 2-19-2009

    Joe (JR),

    Your assertion that Peterson inserted his theology is certainly true. Again, the same could be said of any translation/interpretation. We could talk about simple gloss choices such as propitiation/expiation or bishop/overseer or repent/penance. When we move beyond the word to the phrase and clause level, we would find many other choices that are made for theological reasons.

    Similarly, all translations/interpretations add words/phrases to aid in understanding. Again, Peterson does this, but so do other translations.

    Again, I’m not in 100% agreement with Peterson’s translation. But, it is as much as a translation as others.


  9. 2-19-2009

    Joe (JR),

    By the way, while this is an interesting discussion, it misses the point of my post. Whether we choose the Message or another translation, it does seem that John was saying that if we don’t love other people, then we don’t love God.


  10. 2-19-2009

    This has been my message to people for years.

    Where it breaks down among the brethren, is with works. People love to claim that works are not necessary. They quote Eph. 2:8-9,

    “8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast”.

    This is certainly true. However, it brings to light how many people really do not understand what salvation is. I will take the liberty to simply declare, it is the availability of having a relationship with God. Where it was once impossible for Gentiles to have the relationship made available, through our acceptance of Christ as our atonement, according to the Jewish Law and the freedom God has given all men to accept this atonement, we now are saved from the inability to keep the law.

    However, Jesus has given us a new law. James calls it the “royal law of love”. Paul urges us to let no debt remain outstanding, accept the continuing debt of love. Jesus says, “A new command I give to you, love one another. By this, all men will know you are my disciples (my students, followers of my commands, my example and my teaching).

    I feel strongly that the Greek word, entole (ἐντολὴν) translated as command loses its power as it should be translated law. Paul and James refer to it as a ‘law’. And, we see the command has already been given in Leviticus 19:18. Jesus would not be stating that this is new if it were already given. So, I say it is ” A new ‘law’ I give to you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another”.

    Now, add Ephesians 2:10. Just as you once commented in reply to me;

    10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    ephesians 2:10 tells us that once we are made new in Christ, we are to perform good works. And, it is for the cause of love for God that we love people by our works. We serve those whom we love.

    Now, I am not suggesting that we get to pick and choose who we will love. God created the human family to be His family. I think if we look to our very own family, we get the idea. Belonging to the family includes loving the family.

    Thanks for allowing me to ramble. This message is my passion. I wrote about it in seven chapters on one of my blogs, entitled Love One Another.

  11. 2-20-2009

    Brother Alan,

    I recently posted on our responsibility to love even terrorists. Based on this passage, if we do not love terrorists…

    Peace to you brother,
    From the Middle East

  12. 2-20-2009

    James (jeleasure),

    Following Jesus really does boil down to love, doesn’t it?


    I read your article and the comments. Thank you for your example of loving your enemies.


  13. 2-21-2009

    A mystery, and yet so simple!