The Origin and Meaning of Easter & Lent

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The Word Easter in the Bible

The only place in the Bible where the word “Easter” is found is in Acts 12:4, yet it is a mistranslation of the Greek word pascha. The word pascha should properly have been translated “Passover” (Strong’s G3957, “pascha, the Passover”). It has been correctly translated Passover in most modern translations. The corresponding word in the Hebrew Old Testament is Strong’s H6453, pecach, also defined as Passover.

Acts 12:4 describes events that took place in the springtime when the Apostle Peter’s apprehension and imprisonment by King Herod coincided with the Jewish festival of Passover, after Herod had earlier arrested and killed the Apostle James, brother of the Apostle John. In respect of Jewish religious custom, Herod waited till after Passover to act on Peter’s fate, planning to kill Peter as he had James. God did not allow this, and sent an angel to free Peter. Soon after, Herod himself was struck dead of a ghastly disease (Acts 12:23).

The “four quaternions (“squads”—in the NIV) of soldiers” (Acts 12:4) refers to four groups of four soldiers each, perhaps each group of four serving in rotation through the 24 hour day, at Jerusalem. During each period four soldiers guarded one prisoner as indicated in Acts 12:6—Peter was chained to one soldier on either side, with two guarding at the doorway.

A Real Angel, A Real Deliverer

During the festive week of Passover and Unleavened Bread, God’s mighty power delivered Peter from prison and death in a miraculous manner.

“The angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. (9) And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. (10) When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him” (Acts 12:8-10).

“It is worthy of notice that the miracles performed here were only such as were beyond Peter’s natural power. Whatever he could do he was required to do, namely, putting on of his sandals and his cloak, and following the angel. He could have been transported. His own sandals or other sandals could have been fastened to his feet. A new coat might have been provided. But the lesson is a more profitable one as it was given. Similarly in the Lord’s dealings with us today, we should remember that it is ours to do everything within our power, and the Lord’s to overrule all things for our good, and to supply our deficiencies from his abundance. Thus still he gives us day by day our daily bread, in the rain and the sunshine and the seed; but he expects us to labor for it, to plow the ground, to sow the seed, to harrow it, to thrash it, grind it and bake it.

” ‘When Peter was come to himself,’ when he realized the facts in the case, that he was free, he said, ‘Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod and … of the Jews.’ St. Peter’s faith was strengthened. Willing to die, he found that the Lord was willing that he should live and labor and endure, and he was equally pleased, rejoicing, we may be sure, for the privilege of further service, even though it would mean further sacrifices and sufferings for the Lord’s sake and for the sake of his people” (Charles T. Russell, R4347).

From this account in Acts chapter 12, we are assured that “the Heavenly Father himself loves us and that all the heavenly powers are pledged to those whom he has accepted in Christ Jesus, and these unitedly guarantee blessings to all those who abide in God’s love. This means to abide in faith in the Redeemer. It means to abide loyal to our consecration, to do the Father’s will to the extent of our ability. That will is declared to be, that we shall love the Lord supremely, our neighbor as ourselves, and all the members of the household of faith, as Christ loved us” (Charles T. Russell, R4347).

Why Easter Sunday?

Dear friends, have you ever wondered WHY Easter Sunday is one of the most sacred Christian holidays?

It is because Christian churches have generally adopted Easter Sunday as the resurrection day and the proper time to celebrate the raising of Jesus Christ from the grave, which occurred on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus died on Nisan 14th  (Friday, about 3 pm, 33 AD), and was raised the following Sunday morning, Nisan 16th. This was the “third day” counting inclusively—Friday, Saturday, Sunday (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1‑2, John 20:1, Luke 24:1,24, 1 Corinthians 15:4).

Later on, it was determined in the Christian world to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus always on a Sunday, and remember the death of Christ by Good Friday, irrespective of whether Nisan 14th and 16th on the Jewish calendar actually falls on Friday or Sunday in a given year. Among brethren of the Bible Student fellowship, it is different. Jesus sat with his disciples for his “Last Supper” (Luke 22:20) on the evening that had just begun the calendar day Nisan 14th, and there instituted a memorial of his approaching death. We customarily observe our Memorial accordingly—on the night following Nisan 13th—that is, the night which technically begins the calendar day Nisan 14th. This year, in 2017, that means a Sunday night (April 9th) memorial of Jesus’ death, but the day of the week varies year by year.

Further in this post we shall explain why “Good Friday” is not celebrated by the Christian world closest to the exact day of our Lord’s commemorated day of death. But in brief, here, it is because of the decision made by the Papal Anti-Christ church (lead by Constantine as we explain later) and they were not concerned about the Jewish date of Jesus’ death. Their new rule (established in 325 A.D.) fixed it relative to the equinox rather than relative to the Jewish calendar. The truth of the matter is, that it is Nisan 14th which the Bible explains is the date when the memorial of our Lord’s death is to be annually commemorated—not the nearest Sunday to this or any other date.

Pagan Influences Came in Later

Today, in our memorial supper, we recognize the influence of the Hebrew traditions by observing it according to the days of the Jewish calendar. The celebration is not of the Jewish Passover, however, but of the sacrificial death of our redeemer, Jesus, the antitypical Passover Lamb. Subsequently, however, pagan influences also blended with popular Christian observances.

(a) The name “Easter” is from Ishtar—who was the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility. The Phoenicians called her Astarte (a sister and consort of Baal,) a god worshipped in many parts of the eastern world. Some of the ancient Hebrews also worshipped Baal.

(b) In Europe, Eostre (with variations in spelling) became the Anglo‑Saxon goddess of spring, emphasizing fertility and the rising sun. The month of April was dedicated to her, and the Old English word for Easter was “Eastre” which refers to Eostre. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when day and night receive an equal share of light and darkness.

(c) During the early Middle Ages, Christian missionaries seeking to convert the barbaric tribes of northern Europe realized that the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection also coincided with the Teutonic springtime celebrations. The Teutonic goddess of fertility, Ostare, derives her name from the ancient word for spring. As the days of approaching spring grew longer, celebrations coinciding with the spring equinox emphasized the end of winter and a rebirth of nature, triumphing life over death. The Christian missionaries taught that this time also pointed to the resurrection of Jesus.

Easter Eggs and Bunnies

Eggs symbolize birth, fertility, and new life in many cultures. The ancient Egyptians and Persians would hand out coloured eggs as gifts during their springtime festivals.

Europeans during the Middle Ages, collected eggs of different colours from the nests of various birds, using them as charms to avert evil and bring good fortune.

The Easter egg hunt custom was gradually phased out by the more popular egg painting custom where colourful eggs were hidden and children as well as others would search for them. Eggs were painted in bright colours to resemble the sun, the arrival of spring, and fertility, while Easter baskets, holding the collected eggs, were intended to resemble bird’s nests. Polish people today still decorate their eggs with many traditional symbols for Easter, many of them with religious representations.

Rabbits have also served as fertility symbols in some ancient cultures. Legends from ancient Egypt connected the rabbit with the moon because of their nocturnal feeding habits. This association with the moon is also thought to have originated with those who watched the cycles of the moon to determine the precise date of the approaching change of season, and the accompanying celebration. This event took place on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

The first documented use of hares for the Easter festival was in Germany during the 1500’s. Later, edible Easter bunnies were prepared with pastry and sugar. These traditions made their way to America during the 1700’s by the Pennsylvania Dutch who had emigrated from Germany. During the years following the American Civil War, handcrafted chocolate Easter eggs and rabbits became increasingly popular.

Hot Cross Buns

Australians also celebrate Easter with hot cross buns, a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top. The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” was around 1733. They are traditionally eaten on “Good Friday” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and India. The cross on the bun represents the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside are meant to remind Christians “of the spices put on the body of Jesus” (See Mark 16:1, Luke 23:54‑56, Luke 24:1).

John 19:39 says that Nicodemus also brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, “about an hundred pound weight,” for the burial of Jesus. The number 100 is used for Jesus in the Tabernacle, as the square measure of the gate, door, and vail, representing that Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life” for those who follow him (John 14:6). Also, there were 100 sockets of silver as a foundation for the Tabernacle, coming from the Ransom money of the Israelites, representing Jesus as the Ransom and foundation for God’s Plan of Atonement (Exodus 38:25-27).

Myrrh, a bitter herb, represents suffering, and aloes is used for healing. Thus these two elements represent the suffering of Jesus, from which comes the healing from sin and death from Jesus’ death. When Jesus is depicted as a king in glory, his “garments smell of myrrh, and aloes”these very two fragrances (Psalm 45:8). For Christ in his resurrection glory has achieved a death of suffering that brings healing for the world.

Lent

Does the Bible teach us to celebrate or commemorate Lent?

The following is an extract from a website by the Uniting Methodist Church explaining what “Lent” is about—a practice not observed within the Bible Student Movement:

“Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means ‘spring.’ The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

“Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self‑examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.

“Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a ‘mini‑Easter’ and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.”

There is no direct reference of this practice, of Lent, in the Scriptures. However, this pleasant custom probably has benefited various ones who applied themselves to it through the centuries, if it focused their minds and hearts on proper spiritual values. However, if afterward its observers supposed they were free at other times to practice worldly principles, then they would have missed the true value. A consecrated believer should remember that their life of service here first of all involves purity of heart and mind, always (James 3:17).

The Catholic Church believes that “Lent” is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self‑examination and reflection. This may have useful benefits. However, for the true Christian, their entire consecrated life should be one of devotion.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).

Fasting can be a good practice at any time of the year, both for our physical benefit, and for mortifying the things of the flesh, to focus on things of the Spirit. Sometimes eating less can cause the mind to sharpen. We are to be continuously humble and lowly of heart, as was Jesus (Matthew 11:29, Luke 2:37). Weaning away from earthly attractions, it can help us also to be satisfied with whatever God permits us to have in other temporal commodities also—food, housing, car, or job. God gives us what we need. If we experience some discomfort for the flesh, it can augment our hope for and appreciation of the spiritual values, and spiritual promises, that exceed anything Earth can provide.

Regarding the practice of baptism at Lent season—perhaps this custom also had some beneficial results. However, it is not something mentioned in the New Testament, and baptism is appropriate at any time of year, when the believer determines to proceed in full commitment to God, with a personal consecration of themselves and their life to Him. Thus it is not reserved for a particular month of the year. See the post titled: What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ? and What Does Being Consecrated To The Lord Mean?

Pastor Charles Russell’s Comments about Lent

The following is an extract from Reprint 3170.

“Our best wish for all the people of New York and of the whole world would be that all or at least some of them, may observe Lent and join in such petitions heartily: if but one in a hundred of those who will observe the Lenten season will do so, it will surely mean a great revival in their own hearts.

“To us who observe the Memorial Supper on its anniversary only, the occasion is one of the greater solemnity, and may well be approached with the greater reverence. We commend to all of ‘this way’ (Acts 9:2) that the interim between now and the Memorial (April 10th) be specially a season of prayer and fasting—drawing near to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:5). True, the Lord’s consecrated people are continually to live as separate from sin and from the mind of the flesh as possible, and are to “pray without ceasing”; but, as the Apostle intimates, there may profitably be special seasons of this kind; and surely none more appropriate than this Memorial season. The fasting which we urge may or may not affect the food and drink, according to the judgment of each, respecting what diet will best enable him to glorify God and to keep his “body under.” We refer specially to abstention from all “fleshly lusts which war against the soul”; these appetites always under restraint with the saints, may well be specially mortified at this time.”

However as the Apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 7:29‑31, our “fasting” or “mortification” should be a daily act moment by moment to those who have fully enlisted in the Priesthood of complete consecration in the “School of Christ” as far as it be reasonably possible and all depends on one’s level of maturity in Christ:

” (29) This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, (30) and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, (31) and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29‑31).

Hebrew Customs

Concerning our opening text (Acts 12:4), let us consider the relationship between the Easter festival and the Hebrew Passover.

Passover is the oldest and most revered festival in Judaism. It is observed in the spring, in the month Nisan, the first month of the Jewish religious new year (Exodus 12:2). As Jewish months began with a new moon, the timing of Passover about halfway through the month puts it about the time of full moon. The afternoon that Jesus died was the time a full moon, and this represented that Israel’s favor was full—but because of their rejection of Christ, their favor would wane and diminish.

The Jewish Passover, under the administration of Moses, commemorated Israel’s deliverance from centuries of Egyptian bondage. The firstborn among the Israelites where passed over by the angel of death during the final plague suffered by Egypt. That tenth plague forced Pharaoh to release the Israelites from a life of compulsory servitude.

The Passover is celebrated on an annual basis in accordance with the instructions that were given by God to Moses:

“The Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover” (Numbers 9:1‑4).

Our Lord Jesus became the antitypical Passover Lamb (John 1:29) when he gave his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, during the time of the Jewish Passover.

Christian Traditions

Though the Easter festival became well‑established and accepted by Christians by the second century after Jesus’ death, there had been considerable debate between the Eastern and Western divisions of the Church over the exact date the event should be celebrated.

The Eastern Church preferred to not hold it as an annual Sunday event, but rather to observe it on whatever day Nisan 14 fell. These early Christians wanted to time the observance according to the timing of the Hebrew type. The Western Church, on the other hand, wanted to remember the resurrection of Jesus always on a Sunday—Easter Sunday—regardless of the day of the week indicated by the Jewish calendar (Exodus 12).

Emperor Constantine wished to resolve this issue at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. The question of the Easter date was one of the main issues of concern. After lengthy dispute, the council was unanimous in its decision that Easter should always fall on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. After further discussion, it was decided that March 21st was to be the date for the spring equinox. This dating process has been the general guideline for most of Christendom ever since.

In Remembrance of Me

Students of the Bible stand free from many of the long‑standing traditions that have been passed down to us from the past. Their faith is based on the meaning and partaking of the symbolic emblems that represent our Lord Jesus’ sacrificial death. Jesus’ request given to his disciples that night in the upper room were, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Every consecrated child of God joyfully accepts the privilege of partaking of the bread, representing Jesus’ flesh, and drinking of the cup, representing Jesus’ shed blood. This is the true meaning and purpose of observing this most important occasion each year on the 14th day of the first month Nisan.

Church of the Firstborn

In his letter to the Hebrew brethren, the Apostle Paul speaks of the “church of the firstborn” whose names are “written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23). Elsewhere, he explains that they are walking with our Lord in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). They also remember his death, and solemnly renew their consecration to God annually by partaking of the meaningful symbols, bread and wine.

In keeping the type of Exodus 12, the blood of each lamb that was slain in Egypt that night was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the houses of Israel.

  • Each Jewish household represents the Household of faith, that is, all believers in Christ. This includes both spirit begotten and non‑spirit begotten, both fully consecrated and not yet consecrated, both the baptized into Christ and not‑yet baptized into Christ, who believe in the blood of Christ as the redemptive value that saves us from the curse of Adamic death. On that night, however, only the firstborn were under jeopardy, as only the firstborn has a spiritual life that could be lost.
  • That all believers benefit from the Passover sacrifice is reflected in the deliverance of all the Israelites through the Red Sea, subsequent to the Passover night. (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Here are some lovely words by Br. Charles Russell on the Household of Faith, from Reprint 5457. “These words “Household of Faith”—are broad enough to include not only those who are fully in the way, but also those who have made more or less of an approach unto the Lord and the Truth. The very fact that any one is drawing near to the antitypical Tabernacle is a strong reason why we should wish to encourage him to press on. He has come a part of the way, even if he has not made a consecration.

In a strict sense, the Household of Faith, of course, includes only those who are consecrated. But the words of the Apostle justify us in believing that those who are considering the matter, counting the cost, would in a broad sense be counted as of the Household of Faith. And we are to give these special assistance—all in whom we see any prospect of consecration. Our constant desire and effort should be to point men directly or indirectly to the Lord. Thus we shall be showing ‘forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ ”

  • Each slain lamb—represents the antitypical Lamb of God: Christ Jesus.
  • The firstborn Israelites in each familyillustrate the Christ, head and body, the “church of the firstborn.”
  • The bitter herbs that were eaten with the lamb (Exodus 12:8)—illustrate the trials and afflictions that are experienced by the Lord’s people during the present Gospel Age.
  • The unleavened bread eaten with the lamb (Exodus 12:8)—represents our wish to be purged from the leaven of sin, as we feast upon the merits of our Lord’s sacrifice for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).
  • The household joining eating the Passover lambrepresents our common participation, our sharing together, of the merits of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16,17).

Those who are faithful to their High Calling will be privileged to share in the deliverance of the poor groaning creation during Christ’s future kingdom, as proclaimed by the Apostle Paul (Romans 8:22, 23).

Christ our Passover Lamb

The Apostle Paul directs our attention to the significance of the Passover type and our need to purge out all unrighteousness and sin (pictured by leaven). He wrote to the Corinthians brethren,

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7,8).

The Jewish people were to slay their Passover lambs on the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) of the Jewish New Year. This was the exact time many centuries later when our Lord Jesus, as the antitypical Passover Lamb, died for the sins of the whole world of mankind.

All who recognize Jesus as the true Passover Lamb and have accepted the merit of his shed blood on their behalf, may appropriate the merit of that blood by purifying their hearts from a consciousness of evil. Because of their faith in the blood of Jesus, they are privileged to enjoy a new relationship and standing before God.

The Lamb of God

When John saw Jesus coming toward him, he proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Later, the Apostle Peter, when comparing earthly riches with the true value of our redemption (1 Peter 1:18), speaks of the exceeding value of Jesus’ blood of sacrifice, as “The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (verse 19).

God’s wonderful plan of reconciliation for the sins of the whole world will become manifest to all during the Millennial Kingdom soon to be established. The meaning of “Christ our Passover” takes on a deeper significance when we look forward to the time when the entire human family will praise God for the gift of his beloved Son, the “Lamb of God,” that takes away the sins of the world.

 

Acknowledgment:

The Dawn Bible Students’ Magazine—Article from the Highlights of Dawn, April 2006. “Easter—It’s Pagan Origins and True Meaning,” used to present this post.

Br. Charles T. Russell, The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Br. David Rice—editing assistance.

The Uniting Methodist Church website—for references cited from “What Is Lent and why does it last 40 days?”

 

The URL of this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/04/07/the-origin-and-meaning-of-easter-lent/

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What is Love?

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Love is …

perfection of character.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).

The love that our heavenly Father seeks to have us develop is a love which is in full harmony and in total surrender to God’s will. When we please our Divine Father of Life, He will bless with eternal life.

“To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor an immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:7).

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

One element of Love is MEEKNESS.

Meekness does not mean weakness.

Consider Moses. He was a meek man and did he have a weak character? Not at all. He was humble-minded, not boastful, not proud or haughty.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

So the New Creatures in Christ, must develop and maintain this quality of meekness, from the divine standpoint.

Another element of love is GENTLENESS.

Does this signify weakness or fear? No.

Gentleness is part of a character of love.

Jesus said, “take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

In Galatians 5:22, 23, the Apostle Paul writes, that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

To the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes, ” (1) I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

“Let your moderation be known unto all men” (Philippians 4:5).

“Moderation”reasonableness, gentleness—the spirit of a sound mind, of gentleness, meekness.

This attitude of mind comes in large measure as a result of knowledge of God and his plans (R5840). Surely there never was a time when this counsel was so much needed as now!

Let the fact that we know only in part and understand only in part keep us humble and moderate in word and deed and thought (R5249).

Temperance, self-control—let men see by our thoughtful (not rash and hasty), careful and considerate demeanor in every affair of life, that we honor our profession (R4809, R2460).

Here is a practical example:

If we feel the leader of a meeting is not following the best Scriptural course, we must show moderation in our approach—approving what we can, objecting in kindness, meekness, and brotherly love (R3866). The Greek seems to carry the thought of reasonableness, of not exacting our rights too rigorouslymercy and leniency (R3128:2). Keep yourselves well in hand, subject and obedient to the will of God.

In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, the Apostle Paul warns against those “in the last days” (today) who he describes as “(2) lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— (5) having a form of godliness but denying its power.” The Apostle Paul then states, “have nothing to do with such people.”

Even in discussing the time of trouble, emphasis should be laid upon the glorious Kingdom which will be inaugurated (R5716:4). We should be using the knowledge we possess, doing with our might what our hands find to do (R5249). Let us be specially on guard that the influence of every word and act should be in accord with law, order and peace—“live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18).

Our gentleness toward all men would begin at home—more particularly in the Church—but should be manifested toward all with whom we have dealings (R5840).
Messiah’s Kingdom is shortly to be established—this should help the Lord’s people in living an exemplary life (R5840). This clause implies the exhortation belongs specially to the closing of this Gospel age—thus, to this time period we are currently living in.

We are expecting great changes soon and can well afford to be generous and liberal in our sentiments toward others (R3128:3).

PATIENCE is another element of love and a part of the true Christian character.

“With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Patience is an element of character. We read in Revelation 3:10,

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

When examining the word “patience” we find that two quite distinct words in the Greek are translated by our English word patience in the New Testament:

  • hupomoneethis is used in the Revelation text quoted above which has a much deeper and fuller significance than attaches to our English word patience. It signifies rather constancy,—the thought being an endurance of evil in a cheerful, willing, patient manner. It represents, therefore, an element of character, and not merely a temporary condition or restraint of feeling or action.

For instance, a worldly man might have a great deal of patience in connection with the running of his business;—he might be very attentive to his customers, very obliging, very painstaking, and show no dissatisfaction in connection with the inconsiderateness of his customers; and “patience,” in its ordinary sense, might be ascribed to his conduct.

But the word in the Revelation text rendered patience” signifies such a development of heart and character as manifests itself in an endurance of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the divine wisdom and love.

In Luke 8:15, in the parable of the sower, we read:

“That [sown] on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience [with cheerful endurance, constancy].”

The thought here is that in order to be of the fruit-bearing class which the Lord will approve and accept to his Kingdom, it is necessary to do more than to receive the word of his testimony, even thou we receive it with joy—for that class in the parable is represented by the stony ground, which at first gave evidence of great fruitfulness and vigor, but which, when the sun of persecution arose, withered, because of lack of depth of soil. That stony, shallow soil represents, the Lord explains, a class of hearers who rejoice greatly in the truth, but do not endure, such as cannot withstand persecution or opposition, but wither under it, become discouraged. Such cannot be of the Kingdom class, all of whom must be overcomers.

In this parable our Lord shows us that patient endurance, constancy, is the final test, following after the readiness of preparation to receive the seed; following after the seed has been received and has sprouted; following after love and hope and joy and faith have caused it to spring forth and to give fruitage (R2791).

Patient endurance, then, is necessary, in order that the grain may be developed and thoroughly ripened, and made fit for the garner.

Ah! how important patient endurance seems to be, in the light of this our Lord’s word—cheerful endurance; for we cannot suppose that he who judges the thoughts and intents of the heart would be pleased with his children, even if he saw them enduring much for his sake, if they endured in an impatient or dissatisfied or unhappy frame of mind. They would not, in that event, be copies of God’s dear Son, our Lord, whose sentiment is expressed in the words,

“I delight to do thy will, O God!” (Psalm 40:8)

All of the Royal Priesthood are sacrificers, as was the Chief Priest, our Redeemer and example, who offered up himself: we, as the under priests, have also presented our bodies living sacrifices, and are to lay down our lives for the brethren—in the service of the truth. And God, who accepts these sacrifices through the merit of Christ, informs us that he appreciates or loves the cheerful giver, those who perform their sacrifices of a willing heart, cheerfully.

The other instance in which our Lord used the word “patience” during his ministry is recorded in Luke 21:19. He had just been telling his followers what they must expect as the result of being his disciples during the present time, when sin abounds, and when Satan is the prince of this world—they must expect tribulation, opposition from various quarters; but he assures them that they would nevertheless be fully and completely under divine care and protection, even tho the persecutions would be permitted to reach and to affect them. Then follow the words,

“In your patience [patient endurance, cheerful constancy] possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).

BROTHERLY KINDNESS is another element of love.

“(5) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

The Greek word “Philadelpia” signifies brotherly love. “Phileo”—is duty love, a love which has a cause or demand upon it (R2807).

Phileo love is evidenced in the natural family relationship, and also in the spiritual family, the Church. We may not love our brethren’s peculiarities, their features, but we love them as brethren, whether black or white, bond or free, because they are brethren, comrades in the same race (Q449).

Phileo love means to make due allowance for inherited weaknesses and circumstantial misfortunes of others—to deal patiently and helpfully so far as wisdom may dictate, with a view to the correction of those faults, even at the expense of self-interest, if necessary and prudent (R4809, R1114).

Phileo love means to meekly bear reproof, determining to overcome deformities of character, and prove a help rather than a hindrance to others; no longer fostering old dispositions (R4809).

Phileo love allows one to exercise and manifest the principles of the divine character toward our fellow-men (R3090, R1628:2).

Phileo is a love for all who are brethren and yoke fellows in the cause of righteousness and truth, the cause of God (R2037).

Instead of disdaining those who are ignoble, instead of putting them away, treat them kindly (R448). This of necessity grows out of godliness. As god-likeness presupposes the other graces mentioned, so its development implies an enlargement of our hearts to all who are of the household of faith (R2155).

There is also “AGAPE” LOVE…

This is known as charity (R5693, R5208).

Greek, agape, is the higher grade of disinterested love; the broader, more comprehensive, or divine love (R3949; Q449).

Love as a general expression covers all the elements of character which are really parts of love (F186).

We might divide the race-course into four quarters:

(1) duty-love;

(2) love for the Lord because we see something of the glorious majesty of his character;

(3) love for the brethren;

(4) perfect love—for all, even our enemies (F187-189).

As we get agape love it means that we love all (Q449) We must reach this climax of love before we can be counted worthy of a place in the new creation (F190).

Agape Love:

  • Is deep, pure and true.
  • Thinketh no evil.
  • Does not puff itself up.
  • Is not easily offended;
  • Rejoiceth always in the truth and never in iniquity;
  • Is the climax of Christian attainment in the present life, the grace of all graces, which never fades, and which will be perfected when we receive the new resurrection body (R2037, R2155).
  • Is sincere love for the unrighteous and unlovely, as well as for the good and beautiful (R4809, R1114).
  • Is a love which is ever ready to manifest itself in wise and helpful activity for saint and sinner; and which pities, helps, comforts, cheers and blesses all within its reach—manifesting and cultivating the disposition which must be found in every member of the Christ company (R4809, R1114).
  • Is a broad, generous love, taking in the whole world, even our enemies (R5678, R5757, R5460).

We do not attain to the perfection of love at the beginning of our course, but it is the mark or standard which indicates the end of the course

(F186).

Love is the chief of all graces.

Acts of kindness will gradually lead to an attitude of love, even where the subject does not seem to deserve it (R1628).

Love is an experience, and includes in it an earnest desire for the well-being of the object loved (R78:5).

Love excels all the other virtues, because it is the most enduring (R4732).

True love on our part will manifest itself in obediencedisobedience is an evidence of the loss of love as viewed from the Lord’s standpoint

(R2466).

“WITHOUT LOVE I AM NOTHING”

If we could speak all the languages known amongst men and even the angelic tongue as well, and if we were to use these talents in preaching, if we were to preach without being inspired by love, it would be completely unprofitable.

God would esteem it no more than the sound proceeding from cymbals or any brass instrument. Does God want to give cymbals and brass horns glory, honor and immortality? Of course not!

If man were to preach the whole Truth in all its grandeur, and have the ability to comprehend it even through the holy Spirit yet if there be a weakness in character development of love towards the brethren, then we could not be fit enough for divine favor and a share in the Kingdom, just like that brass horn would not be.

What a glorious lesson as we attempt to sound forth the praises of Him who has called us from darkness to light! How necessary it is that we speak the Truth in the love of it, with hearts full of devotion and appreciation!

By quieting the mind… and heading to the voice of our Heavenly Father through the inspired words of God in Bible and through prayer, we may learn to absorb and appreciate each lesson step by step as God unfolds it to us. God is the ultimate example of patience, waiting perhaps billions of years before finally confronting the pain of watching His own firstborn Son being sacrificed on Calvary and be the ransom for all mankind.

And Jesus… has been waiting for the completion of His BrideHis Body members of 144,000 since AD 33!

JAMES 5, 7-8.jpg

There is a saying “take time to smell the roses.”

And in the same way let’s remember to take time to hear God-Jehovah speak…
digest it…
absorb it…
and grow from it…

The Apostle suggests that if he had mountain-moving faith, if his knowledge of Divine mysteries were very great, superior to those of all other men, and even if in his zeal for man or for God he should become a martyr and permit his body to be burned, yet, notwithstanding all this, if the primary influence in these matters were not love, all the sacrifice, all the self-denials, all the labors, even the burning, would profit nothing.

Dear friends,

When we come to get the Divine standpoint of things we find indeed that we have a very high standard to achieve; and yet our judgment assures us that it is right, that it is just, that it is proper, that God should thus set the standard of love as the only standard by which we shall ultimately be measured. But whoever thinks to have this perfect love for God and for man and make no manifestations of it is equally mistaken.

Wherever love is in the heart … words, works, thoughts and looks will testify to it, so that he who loves much will serve much.

If we love the Lord we shall delight in His service regardless of failures, regardless of fame, regardless of any earthly consideration; yea, even though the service of the Lord should cause us the loss of human approbation, fellowship, etc…

Hence every true Christian may link the two words love and service, and be sure that his love will manifest itself in zeal. Similarly, love of the brethren will mean a desire to serve the brethren; love of the home and family will mean a desire to do good to them; love of our neighbor will signify a desire to do for his interests according to our knowledge and limitations.

THE RESTRAINTS OF LOVE

The Apostle points out some of the restraints of love.

It cannot be quick, irascible; for “love suffers long and is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

  • He who is loving cannot be envious of others, nor covetous of the blessings and favors they are enjoying; for “love envieth not.”
  • He who is loving cannot be boastful and proud; for “love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”
  • He who is controlled by the spirit of love will not be ungracious, unkind, rude; for “love doth not behave itself unseemly.”
  • He who is full of the spirit of love will not be selfish, grasping, neglectful of the interests of others; for “love does not seeks its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
  • The truly loving one will not be quickly angered, will not be easily offended; for “love is not easily provoked.”

“The one controlled by the spirit of love will not be imagining unkindness and rudeness nor seeking to interpret the words or conduct of others unkindly; for ‘love thinketh no evil’ “

(Pastor Russell’s Sermons, pages SM272-SM285).

What a beautiful example we see in our Master’s words to Simon:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).

Let us not neglect to pray for our fellow brethren in Christ, always while we are in this carnal abode.

“LOVE NEVER FAILS.”

(1 Corinthians 13:8)


The following is from “What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book”

QUESTION (1910) 1 At what point of character development can we say, the crown is ours, and that we are overcomers?

“ANSWER. — I think, dear friends, that the proper point at which we could say that, would be when we reach the mark of perfect love. For instance, you came to the Lord and made your consecration, you entered the School of Christ and began to learn of him. That was about the time you found out how short you were of the proper measure. Will the Lord ever be able to make anything out of me? Now the Lord is going to measure you according to your mind and is waiting for you to get to the mark of perfect love, which is the standard of a perfect character, for none will be worthy of a place in the kingdom or eternal life except those that reach this mark, either now or in the Millennial Age. God has nothing for anyone except those that reach that standard in his mind and heart. He may have weaknesses, etc., and you may speak things that you are sorry for, and must apologize for, but your heart is at the mark–perfect love—and that is the reason you want to apologize, because you have reached the mark of perfect love. You love God, and all mankind, and wish to do good to all, as you have an opportunity. After a person gets where he can love his enemies, he is at the mark of perfect love. He will not be perfect in flesh, for that will not be possible in this age. Many still have to put a bridle upon their tongues, etc., you must hold in the old nature. This I have often illustrated by a bad dog which would represent our old nature, and for which the new creature is responsible. We must hold him in. Our intentions are good, as is shown by the fact that when the heat or excitement of the moment is passed, then the heart goes back to the principles of righteousness, and asks for forgiveness from the Father. He will ask for forgiveness for anything he has done. You might say, it will be harder to rectify this, than not to have done it in the first place. Surely. But that is what you must do, if you want [Q51] to prove to the Lord that your heart is for righteousness, and whenever you find you have made a mistake, you must rectify it. Now, then, if you get to that place, you have gotten to the place where, to my understanding, you are at the mark of perfect love, toward God, men, etc. You desire good for all and injury toward none. From that moment, I understand, the Lord counts you as one having a crown apportioned to you. That is one thing, but seeing that no man take your crown is another thing. After granted to you it still remains that if you are moved from the mark, pressed aside by difficulties, you are not standing this test, and you will not be worthy of being an overcomer. So you see there is a mark of character, without which none will be acceptable in the kingdom, spiritual or earthly. Now we must demonstrate our love and devotion, that is what we live for today and tomorrow, and in all your Christian experience, from the time you enter the school of Christ, for you are to learn of him as quickly as possible and get to the mark of perfect love toward all.


The words below are from Reprint No. 4470 from “ZWT” (www.htdb.one).

STANDING AT THE MARK

WE HAVE heretofore suggested what we now wish to further, if possible, emphasize; namely, the fact that there is a Divine standard of holiness, of righteousness, which, if it be not attained, will mean our non-acceptance by the Lord as members of his Elect Church; and, more than this, our unfitness for eternal life upon any plane. This standard of character, or mark of perfection, as we have pointed out, is not a standard or mark of fleshly perfection, because the Lord accepts amongst his consecrated disciples those of various degrees of mental, moral and physical degeneracy. The justification which he provides makes up for the blemishes of each, for the more blemished as well as for the less blemished. The robe of his righteousness imputed is as necessary to the noblest as to the most degraded, and renders the latter as acceptable as the former.

From this standpoint it is recognized that the heart, the renewed mind, the renewed will, is the spirit-begotten New Creature which is on trial before God. It has professed a thorough consecration to righteousness and opposition to sin, a complete deadness to it, and a determination to mortify, to deaden, the will of the flesh to the extent of its ability. From the very start this condition is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. Nevertheless, it is Scripturally represented at first as being merely a “babe” condition, according to one illustration, and according to another merely a “begotten” condition. Progress must be made, character must be developed, and then, further, it must be tested. “Not every one who saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom.” Not every one who professes consecration, and newness of life, and self-sacrifice in the interests of truth and righteousness, can be accepted as a joint-heir with Christ. Time must be given for development and for proving.

Love for God they have, from the very outset. But it is not love of the highest type. As already shown, it is largely, if not entirely, duty love. The “babe” in Christ must feed upon the sincere milk of the Word, that he may grow strong. As the spiritual food is appropriated, and spiritual exercise is taken, strength of character comes in, the eyes of our understanding open more widely, and lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the Divine character are discerned which were not visible at the first. This brings us to a higher type of love for God—a love for his glorious character.

Meantime, also, a sympathetic love for the world is gradually developing in the spiritual “babe.” As the principles of the Divine character are seen and appreciated, the New Creature begins to apply these to everything in life, and hence increases in sympathetic love toward man and beast, friend and foe. Another element of love is gradually attained also: At first the “babe” in Christ loves some of the brethren—the nobler, the gentler, the better educated ones, etc.; but gradually, as the Divine character is discerned, and the Divine love becomes shed abroad in the heart, this love broadens out so that it includes every member of the family of God and every member of the fallen race—yea, even enemies. With this development comes spiritual activity, called in the Scriptures quickening—”You hath he quickened.” This quickening implies activity in the service of God, and the service of the brethren, and if outside opportunity beyond this permit, it would mean an activity in the service of all needing assistance such as we could give.

The Christian life here illustrated, which began as a “babe in Christ,” has by this time reached the standard of manhood in Christ, and is at the Mark of Perfect Love—for God, for the brethren, for the neighbor and for the enemies. Not until this point shall have been reached could such a person be considered fit for heaven, or for eternal life on any plane.

We are to bear in mind that there is no development in heaven, and hence perfection of character must be attained by the saints before they die. And, similarly, the world during the Millennium must attain this perfect development before the close of the age in order to be fit for eternal life according to the Divine promise and standards.

Is it asked to what extent will this standard of perfect love in the heart manifest itself in the flesh? We answer, that during the Millennial Age it will manifest itself perfectly in the flesh, for the world then will be judged according to the actual attainments in their flesh, and perfection by restitution will be not only possible, but required. But as for us of the Gospel Age, we who are being judged not according to the flesh but according to the spirit, to what extent will the new mind, the new nature, when at the Mark of Perfect Love, be able to govern and control the flesh? Our answer is, that the degrees of control will vary much, according to the degrees of imperfection with which the mortal body is afflicted.

The only standard which we can set forth is that the new nature, new mind, new will, would be very regretful, very sorrowful, in respect to any laches, or errors, of its mortal body. The Lord would know (and perhaps the brethren also to some extent) of the New Creature’s endeavor to control the mortal body by the degree of its grief in connection with every error, and its continually renewed effort to bring every power of the body, and even every thought, into complete subjection to the will of God in Christ. Any sympathy with sin is an evidence that the New Creature is not at the Mark. And no sympathy with sin, but constant endeavor for righteousness, is evidence that it is at the Mark.

Some may be at this Mark for a longer and some for a shorter period. Our Lord was surely at it from the beginning of his ministry. He was tested there, while at the Mark of perfect love. All the besetments of the Adversary and of the world failed to move him from that position of perfect love. He laid down his life at this Mark. St. Paul was surely at this Mark for many years before his actual death. He was continually laying down his life for the brethren, continually serving his enemies and praying for them; and surely he was continually loving and serving the Lord with his every power and talent.

No Christian should be satisfied with a long delay in reaching the Mark. The milk of the Word should be received, its strength should be appropriated, spiritual sight and spiritual energy should quickly follow, and strong meat of Divine Truth should speedily bring to full maturity the Christian character. And once attained, it should be held at any cost through all the trials and difficulties which the Adversary, and the world, and the flesh, might be permitted to bring against us. The severest temptations come after we have reached the Mark—temptations to slackness in service of God; temptations to withhold parts of our sacrifice; temptations to deal unkindly, uncharitably, unlovingly with the brethren, or unjustly with our neighbor, or ungenerously with our enemies. All of these must be resisted as we prize our eternal life, as we prize the promise of joint-heirship and fellowship with our Redeemer in His Kingdom.

Whoever sees this subject clearly must realize that as a Christian he has to do with a great proposition which will thoroughly test his loyalty, his courage, his zeal, [R4470, page 271] his love. He will need to remember the Lord’s comforting assurances of grace to help in every time of need if he would come off a victor and not be dismayed, nor have his courage beaten down by the Adversary’s attacks.

 

References:

Br. Charles Russell. “Pastor Russell’s Sermons,” and “What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book.”

The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. These Reprints can be accessed here: http://www.htdbv8.com

Suggested Further Reading

“Lovest Thou Me More Than These?”JOHN 21:15-22. Reprint 2806. The Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.htdbv8.com/1901/r2806.htm

A Practical Self-Examination On Love

A Practical Self-Examination on Love

Agape by Br. Mark Grillo
http://www.heraldmag.org/2012/12nd_11.htm

Brotherly Kindness by Br. Ed Byrd
http://www.heraldmag.org/2012/12nd_10.htm

Words for Love in the Bible, In the Hebrew, by Br. W.A. Eliason, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Set/Oct. 1986.
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1986_5.htm#_Toc36907449

 

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