By Clinton D. Hamilton
Question: Explain, please, 1 Corinthians 13:7, believeth all things. ” Does this mean unlimited belief? If one thinks he can stop a tornado, is that what Paul meant to teach in this verse? If someone said so-and-so was a thief, was Paul teaching that a person should believe the statement without any investigation, etc.?
Reply: Certainly one is not to believe what his conscience will not permit (cf. Rom. 14:23). All things which can be believed consistent with truth, conscience, and the available evidence are to be accepted. One should exercise a disposition without suspicion of another. If the evidence is convincing that one is lying, he should not believe that individual. If there is no real evidence presented that one is a thief, then one should not believe that the person is.
In the context of 1 Corinthians 13, the emphasis is on the conduct which love produces. If one loves or has active goodwill toward another, one will accept the person, his word, and character without suspicion. However, if evidence that is convincing is presented demonstrating that the person is otherwise, then the person could not believe that he is morally upright.
Question: What is the meaning of Matthew 5:19, “break” (KJV), “annul” (NASB) and “he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven ” in the light of such passages at Matthew 7:2-23; 2 Jn. 9; Jas 2:10; etc.?
Reply: Break in Matthew 5:19 means to loose, dismiss, or undo and is from luo. One who breaks a commandment does not bind himself by what is enjoined. Rather, he disregards it as if it did not exist. Jews circumcised a boy on the eighth day even if it was the sabbath in order not to break the commandment that enjoined the circumcision (Jn. 7:23). One who is of the disposition to break a commandment is one who views it as having no authority to which he should give heed. The spirit is a headlong one that goes about doing one’s own will and not heeding God’s will. To teach men thus to do – break the law – is to have a spirit completely alien to the kingdom of heaven.
One who is what God desires is one who properly respects and is kindly disposed toward the commandments of God, whether they be considered little or great. The spirit or disposition toward God’s law that would cause one to violate a little commandment likewise would cause one to violate great commandment.
To offend in one point is to be guilty of all (Jas. 2:10). If one pays no attention to one commandment, the same disposition would lead one to pay no attention to another. One’s will determines which command he breaks. But the spirit that causes one to break one command is the same spirit that would lead to breaking any other or all of them. At heart he is a lawbreaker.
It is obvious by the language of the passage in relation to verse 18 that God’s commandments, whether viewed as little or great, are binding and of the same force. It is not a question of whether one can set aside a little commandment. In fact, one should obey all of the commands of God. He should not neglect any part (Matt. 23:23).
In the kingdom of the Lord, that person is great who properly regards the commands of God and teaches others to regard them properly. No command of God is insignificant. The thrust of the text is toward having the right disposition toward the law of God and teaching man to have the right disposition. In the kingdom of heaven that person who is of this disposition is great. That one who would dare to break even a little command, as he might view it, is not great. He shall be least. The issue is not whether one may break a command. It is the issue about the disposition in the breaking of the command.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 16, p. 485
August 16, 1990