Thursday, May 15, 2008

A New Commandment???

This Sunday we will be beginning a new sermon series on the "one anothers" of the New Testament, looking at the truth that the Christian Faith was designed to be lived in community. Our first message will be in John 13:34-35 where Jesus gives His disciples a "new commandment." However, I have struggled with what exactly the newness of the commandment is. The command to love the neighbor as yourself was originally given in Leviticus 19:18. So the command to love someone other than yourself is certainly not new. I thought that the newness was the new specific target, the new community of faith.

However, this week as I have prepared for this message I have come to a new conclusion, that the newness of the command is to be found in the new standard. Previously we were commanded to love as we loved ourselves. Jesus in this new command has raised the stakes considerably, now we are to love the way that He has loved us. This means cross-like love. We are called to love sacrificially for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Many commentators disagreed with me though. John Calvin, usually a trustworthy commentator said that the newness is not in the command in itself, he says that this truth is not new in and of itself, Jesus calls it new only because of the way that it had been forgotten. Others disagreed as well, so I was wondering what you believe to be the newness of the new commandment, and please share why.

Thanks, In Christ

1 comment:

Joshua Owen said...

Jamie, you have raised a question that touches on the heart of New Testament theology as a whole. The whole NT is eschatological (please, see your pastor for definition). Look at all of John's uses of the terms new, first/last/second, and again/above. Be sure to include Revelation in this search. I think you'll find that the newness of the command is related to the inaugurated eschatology of the NT.

This is not to disagree with your observation. I think you are on the right track.

To appreciate Calvin's remark we need to understand his conviction regarding the continuity of the covenant of grace in OT and NT. His exposition of the ten commandments offers important insight into his understanding of the spiritual nature of OT law.