Who is my neighbor?
“A NEW commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Context, context, context is the key to understanding. Since words mean things, to properly understand the words of scripture, we must always consider the context they are presented in, the context of the Hebrew perspective they are presented from and the audience they are presented to. In this case we have to ask the latter question first – just who is Yahusha talking to in John 13 above? Is it to or about all the people in the world?
Grammatically, that can’t be His audience because He uses the people of the world in the second sentence as the reason for His instruction in the first. Are His Words directed to or about the crowds of people that followed Him around? That can’t be His audience because scripture tells us that to those people He “only spoke in parables” so that hearing they would not turn to be saved and this clearly is not a parable (Mark 4:11-12 – Christian “evangelistic” theology might need some re-examination). If His audience is not the world and not the crowds who followed Him – then who was this message directed to? He was speaking to those He had intimately lived with for three and a half years, those of His Family – His brothers.
To become love as Yahusha was is to be selfless and do the Father’s will – which in so doing you automatically would be keeping the 10 commandments.” There is another distinction about this verse from John 13 that most are uninformed about when reading it – Yahusha did not speak these words in Greek, Latin or English. The Hebrew word He would have used for “new” among His Hebrew brethren is chadash. This is the same Hebrew word found underneath His comments on what it means to be “born again” while speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:3-10.
“יהושע answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he is unable to see the reign of Elohim.” Naḵdimon said to Him, “How is a man able to be born when he is old? Is he able to enter into his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” יהושע answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he is unable to enter into the reign of Elohim. “That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You have to be born from above.’ ” The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.” Naḵdimon answered and said to Him, “How is it possible for this to take place?” יהושע answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Yisra’ĕl, and do not know this?”Yoḥanan (John) 3:3-10
In that instance, the reason Yahusha chastened Nicodemus for being a rabbi and not understanding what He was talking about is because the same words He was using to explain what it means to be born again are to be found in Ezekiel 36:25-27 – a passage from the Tanakh (OT) that, as a rabbi, Nicodemus should have been as well acquainted with as Yahusha was.
“And I shall sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean – from all your filthiness and from all your idols I cleanse you. “And I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. And I shall take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I shall give you a heart of flesh, and put My Spirit within you. And I shall cause you to walk in My laws and guard My right-rulings and shall do them.” Yehezqĕl (Ezekiel) 36:25-27
And here, in Ezekiel, we also find the use of chadash. Notice that the end result of the Ezekiel passage Yahusha was quoting is the ability “…to walk in My (YaHuWaH’s) statutes and be careful to obey My (YaHuWaH’s) rules”. To belong in the Kingdom of YaHuWaH ‘s Family is to receive YaHuWaH for Who He says He Is – not who we want Him to be and that means keeping His 10 Words (with emphasis on verse one). “Doing His Will” does not mean one is “automatically” keeping His Words, it is the other way around – by keeping His Words, we find ourselves doing what YaHuWaH would have us to do (see what it means to be in the Father’s Will). What this means is that Yahusha’s “new” commandment, (just like the “new” covenant) isn’t new at all. In both Ezekiel 36:25-27 and Jeremiah 31:31, the same adjective that is translated as the English word “new” has as its origin this Hebrew verb, chadash, which means “RE-newed”. It is restored instruction, recentered definition, revalued Torah. Yahusha’s use of “love one another” is simply His extension of the command given in Leviticus 19:18:
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am YaHuWaH.” Leviticus 19:17-18
Here, in Leviticus, it is clearly stated who is to be considered your neighbor – the “sons of your own people”. This same contextual Hebraic examination holds true for Yahusha’s parable concerning the Good Samaritan when asked “who is my neighbor” in Luke 10:29-37.
“But he, wishing to declare himself righteous, said to יהושע, “And who is my neighbour?” And replying, יהושע said, “A certain man was going down from Yerushalayim to Yericho, and fell among robbers, who, both stripping and beating him, went away, leaving him half dead. “And by a coincidence a certain priest was going down that way. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. “And likewise a Lĕwite also, when he came to the place, and seeing, passed by on the other side. But a certain Shomeroni, journeying, came upon him. And when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. And having placed him on his own beast, he brought him to an inn, and looked after him. “And going out on the next day, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Look after him, and whatever more you spend I shall repay you when I return.’ “Who, then, of these three, do you think, was neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?” And he said, “He who showed compassion on him.” Then יהושע said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luqas (Luke) 10:29-37
In spite of Christianity’s attempt to center this parable and Yahusha’s words from John around an elevated sense of emotional concern for everyone on the planet, from Yahusha’s non-religious Hebraic perspective the primary subject of His parable was addressing just who were to be considered members of YaHuWaH ‘s family – who were the “neighbors” of Leviticus 19:18. Yahusha was illustrating that whoever keeps the Words of the Father through their actions is a member of His Family. Thus, to love your “neighbor” as you would yourself is to not let factious, religious strife keep one from aiding a family member in need. With this parable, Yahusha was upholding what He had already previously affirmed to the lawyer was the way to find Life – that to keep YaHuWaH ‘s Words was more than proclamation and ritual. To keep His Words is to become obedient to the Essence of YaHuWaH ‘s Nature in those Words by not allowing another member of His Family to be neglected (Galatians 6:10).
“So then, as we have occasion, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of the belief.” Galatiyim (Galatians) 6:10
Yahusha’s comment in John 13:34-35 was a further endorsement among the twelve that what they had witnessed in His Life was the restored behavior of the Kingdom they were to exhibit toward one another – which would distinguish them from the rest of the world and be a proclamation that the promised redemption of the Kingdom YaHuWaH had occurred. YaHuWaH ‘s family of Israel are not a people of definers of religion but a people of witnesses to His love for His Family. Scripture shows us the Hebrew has always had the ability to keep the Words of the Father. YaHuWaH ‘s Presence was manifested to Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel immediately after their separation from the Garden. Keeping His Words brings those of His Family into His Presence – but, until Yahusha restored the Kingdom, they had only been able to come into His Presence externally.
While the Hebrew scribe of Genesis knew that other men and women existed outside of Eden, they did not matter to him or factor into his account. He was concerned with Adam and Eve and their progeny (their descendants) – not those outside of this group. Thus, Genesis 2 focuses upon a particular place upon the already created earth – the Garden of Eden (v.8 – the Hebrew phrase gan ‘eden meaning “garden of delight”). Here we are even given specific directions about where this Garden was located in the earth (v.10-14) and told of a particular man YaHuWaH had formed (not created) and placed there – the Hebrew, Adam. It was into this particular person He breathed the Breath of LIFE – Himself (v.7). Leviticus 17:11 tells us the Life is in the Blood and it is the Blood that makes atonement (brings us into at-one-ment with the Father) by the Life contained therein. The Life YaHuWaH breathed into Adam was His very Essence – now contained in Adam’s Blood. In the same way as my son looks and acts just like me because of my DNA coursing in his blood (in spite of how much he would wish it otherwise), in like manner Adam was formed into the image of YaHuWaH because He carried within Him the vital components of the Father’s DNA – the Essence of His Presence. There was a necessary separation from that Essence, from that echad (Hebrew for “one”), caused by the first son’s disobedience to YaHuWaH ‘s Word which corrupted his blood – setting in motion events that, if not addressed, would cause the sap of the Tree of Life to become permanently tainted. That echad was restored through the second son’s obedience – the pouring out of His Pure Blood for the sin of His Family that was passed from generation to generation (also part of His Essence). What is called the “Old Testament” is a testimony of the faithfulness of the Father of the Family, YaHuWaH, to restore what had been lost and a chronology of the passage of the Signet from the first son, Adam, to validate the last son, Yahusha, as having the authority to accomplish that restoration. Genesis 5:1 begins with “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” So, when these words are read from the Hebraic perspective the scriptures are written in, we see there are only two types of people described therein – Hebrews and “others”. These others are what are known as Gentiles – those who worship gods other than the One True Elohim of Israel. As we have just seen, all of the participants in the parable of the Good Samaritan are Hebrews.
By Yahusha’s own confession, the purpose He was sent for was the restoration of the Kingdom to YaHuWaH ‘s family, Israel. Scripturally, the “story of redemption” is the good news of the gospel – that through the shed blood of Yahusha, the Kingdom of YaHuWaH has been restored in the earth right now, today, as it was originally in the Garden, giving you and I the opportunity to become partakers of His Divine Nature by having the fullness of Spirit dwell within us. We can be echad with YaHuWaH, the Creator of the universe, just as Yahusha is. The testimony, the Word we keep, is His Life lived in and through us – today, in the here and now.
YaHuWaH ‘s Ten Words and the Torah are inseparable. Why? Because His ways are not our ways, so YaHuWaH has to spell out to us what His ways ARE. For example, one of the Ten Commandments tells us that adultery is wrong. That’s all it says: “Don’t commit adultery.” BUT, in addition to that general principle, YaHuWaH also gave His people specific instructions. The portion of Torah pertaining to adultery defines adultery, tells us why adultery is offensive to Him and how to deal with adultery according to YaHuWaH’s standards of justice and mercy. So, if Yahusha claimed that Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 are the most fundamental underpinnings of the Torah (everything hangs on these two – they do not replace anything), then how likely is it that a bearer of the Words of His Father would overturn them by invoking an additional commandment and, in so doing, violate the words of Deuteronomy 4:2? In order to teach anything different from what the Original Covenant taught, Yahusha would have had to dismiss the Torah. If Yahusha is sinless, then He does not negate any of the Words of Torah – and that means His “new” commandment can’t be new from scratch. It must be a clarification, embellishment or enlightenment of something already found in Torah. That is the Hebrew way and the way of the Hebrew Son of Man. The apostles understood this Hebraic perspective, also – after all, they, too, were all Hebrew. Consider John’s assertion in 1 John 2:7-11: “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard…” And he also goes on to clearly make the distinction about who to love – your “brother”. A brother is someone who upholds the Words of YaHuWaH – the religious world does not. The Essence of Spirit is selflessness, to consider those things of my brother as more essential than the things of my own, and is the commonality found running through all of the ordinances contained in Torah. The challenge for us is to press into the Spirit of the Father to find out how these statutes apply to us today. The lone exception to this thought would be the Sabbath. because it was not instituted at Sinai, but at creation – the only one of the Ten Words spoken by YaHuWaH at Sinai that says “to remember” to do.
“It is written in the Prophets, And they will all be taught by YaHuWaH. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me…” John 6:45