How can a commandment from God be both "old" and "new"? The verses above are taken from John's first epistle (letter). The apostle John is known as the apostle of love, so as we continue to read chapter two,1 we find that this is the topic of the commandment that is both old and new.
The old commandment comes from the law found in the Old Testament book of Leviticus:
'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)
So, how can the commandment to love your neighbor be new, if it was given in the book of Leviticus? The commandments of the Old Testament were given with the same intent as those of the New Testament. However, the theocracy of the time kept adding manmade rules to "clarify" and embellish the commandments. The emphasis was placed on obedience through human willpower. The problem with human willpower is that there is no power in the human will.
The "new" part of the commandment is the means by which the commandment is carried out. It is not through human willpower, but by abiding in "the light."1 This light2 is none other than Jesus Christ - the source of all power.3 If you have tried loving others through your own ability to be nice, you have probably discovered that there are certain people who are "impossible" to love. However, God loves the entire world,4 not just the ones who are "easy" to love. Only by abiding in Christ can we fulfill the perfect love of God in our own lives.
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
- The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. (1 John 2:9-10)
- When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
- For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in
bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head
over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)
- "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have
eternal life. (John 3:16)
And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)
Last Modified November 22, 2005