11 March, 2018

Romans 13:10—“… Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law …”

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:10).

“Romans 13:10 states, ‘Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.’ Christ ‘did no ill’ to any of His neighbours who were reprobate. But how can we say that Christ did not ‘love’ those (reprobate) neighbours whom He did no ill, when the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that ‘working no ill’ toward our neighbour IS ‘love’? If it’s not love, did Christ then do them no ill out of hatred toward them?”



[Source: Anonymous. Private Correspondence, March 11, 2018]

What does “ill” according to the original Greek mean? The word means “evil.” Christ did not commit any evil or sin towards others because He is holy and righteous.

You ask:  “… If it’s not love, did Christ then do them no ill (i.e. evil) out of hatred toward them?” We could ask a similar question: If the law requires “love your neighbor,” and Christ hated reprobate neighbors in His earthly life, then did not He violate the second table of the law so that there is unrighteousness and disobedience with Him? 

First, we know that there is no unrighteousness with Him, even in His hatred of the reprobate.

Second, we know that He could not love every one of His neighbors because of His knowledge of the Triune God’s election and reprobation.

Third, we also know that He did obey authority, did not murder neighbors, did not commit fornication, did not steal, did not lie, did not covet any of His neighbors things, but obeyed wicked Caiphas under oath, honored Caesar with tax money, fed the 5,000, remained chaste for His bride, the church, was always filled with a zeal for the glory of God and stole from none, was honest and truthful, and was entirely content with the Father, His Word, His Will, and His provision of daily bread.
Fourth, all of Christ’s obedience was done in submission to His Father’s will. He did the will of His Father. The will of His Father meant that some of His obedience to the second table of the law meant the destruction and condemnation of the reprobate, while His obedience to the second table of the law is the perfection and righteousness earned for the elect and imputed to them by faith alone in our justification.
Fifth, let us remember that although Christ has two wills—an earthly will and a divine will—at no time where they contrary to one another. Instead, we believe that His will was one. For example, in the case of wicked Caiphas, Christ obeyed Caiphas according to the fifth commandment in love to the Father but out of the knowledge of His eternal purpose with Caiphas and according to His eternal good pleasure, according to which Christ hated whom the Father hated from eternity. He obeyed Caiphas out of His eternal hatred for Caiphas, because Christ knew the mind of the Father, as His Counsellor, with regard to Caiphas. According to the Father’s will, Christ obeyed Caiphas and told the truth under oath, but did so in hatred for Caiphas for His condemnation and eternal ruin. Christ willed not to love any of the reprobate. If Jesus of Nazareth had loved any of Satan and any of his reprobate seed, Jesus of Nazareth would have violated and would have rejected the eternal will and sovereign good pleasure of His Father. That violation of the Father’s will would have revealed that Jesus of Nazareth was not God. But, as the Scriptures state, Jesus of Nazareth is in the flesh the I AM, and the I AM THAT I AM is the eternal and unchangeable God, His covenant in Christ with His elect seed.
Finally, in distinction from Christ, our love is vastly different. We obey the wicked, but we cannot judge as God does or make the same conclusions Christ did regarding His neighbors. We cannot judge or conclude that any particular wicked neighbor is indeed reprobate. We can judge their works and their confession as wicked, warn them that they walk the path of the reprobate to destruction, but we cannot judge that they are indeed reprobate. Our love to them is the call to repent and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our desire is that the wicked repent from their sin and turn to Christ for deliverance and salvation. We might even pray for their conversion simply because we don’t know if they are reprobate or not. Only God knows that. Even our desire and prayers we submit to the will of the Father because ultimately His will of double predestination ordains and determines whether one believes or does not believe the call of the Gospel.
Further, our love towards the wicked neighbor in our daily life is used by the Father to teach us a little in this life the profound magnitude of Christ’s unconditional, undeserved, unmerited, and wondrous love and grace for His elect. The kind of people that Christ loves are just as wicked and unworthy as those who fill up the jail cells in the federal prisons and those who live a wicked life to the fullest. That is the kind of people that Christ loves: totally depraved, worthless, despicable, God-hating sinners. That’s the kind of people we are. And, yet, Christ loved us according to and in fulfilment of the Father’s eternal good pleasure.
As a result, I am opposed to a statement that Christ loved His reprobate neighbors in any sense. The Scriptures do not teach that the Immanuel, God with us, loved reprobate people that He dealt with in His earthly ministry. John 13:1 states that “when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” This text implies that Christ loved His own but hated the world. Christ knew His sheep by name, and thus also knew who were not His elect sheep. He loved His sheep only, and hated those not His sheep. With regard to those who were not His sheep, we do not read later in John 13 (even with respect to Judas Iscariot) that Christ may have had some kind of love (or mercy or grace or goodness or intention to desire their salvation) for those who were not His own (i.e. reprobate).

That, I believe, is in harmony with the Scriptures and our Reformed confessions, especially the Canons of Dordtrecht.



More to come! (DV)

For more on the topic of Christ’s obedience to the Law’s requirements as our Substitute, check out the dialogue on the following page:


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