What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?

18 May
Eternal Life - 2

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It can probably be assumed from the Genesis account of Adam and Eve that mankind was intended to live forever. Only by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would death enter our race. It seems that the original ideal was all but forgotten in the traditions of men, only the Jews preserve a tradition of the promise of a resurrection, but even they are not clear (at least up to the first century AD) as far as life after the resurrection was concerned. It wasn’t until New Testament times and the advent of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, preached by Jesus, that men began to wonder about living forever once more.

As we work through the Gospel of Luke, it would appear that, although the Samaritans refused to offer their hospitality to Jesus, while he journeyed toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-53), Jesus at least journeyed toward Jerusalem close to the Samaritan territory. Otherwise, his parable about the merciful Samaritan might not have had the impact it did upon the lawyer (rabbi), who asked Jesus about who his neighbor might be (Luke 10:29). We are told that the lawyer, who questioned Jesus, tempted him. Often, we forget that Jesus’ temptations came to him throughout his public life, not merely at the beginning of his ministry, just after his baptism. No, people sought to confront Jesus often, trying to manipulate him into doing something they desired him to do, so they might triumph over him.

In Luke 10:25 Luke tells us that a lawyer (rabbi) asked Jesus what he (the lawyer) must do in order to inherit eternal life. This was done in order to tempt or test Jesus. That is, the lawyer wished to prove Jesus’ understanding of the Scriptures, but probably not in a good sense. This same Greek word (G1598) is used of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:7; Luke 4:12), and of Paul’s interpretation of what occurred in the wilderness when the Lord (Christ) brought Israel out of Egypt (1Corinthains 10:9: Exodus 17:2, 7; Numbers 21:5-6).

After being asked how the lawyer might inherit eternal life, Jesus replied by asking what the lawyer thought was written in the Law concerning his own question (Luke 10:26).The lawyer responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 (cf. Luke 10:27). In other words Jesus merely pointed to the phylacteries[1], which the lawyer wore, and asked the meaning of what he carried around with him every day as a reminder of what the Law said.

When the lawyer answered correctly, Jesus then concluded that, if he did this—i.e. how the lawyer interpreted the Law’s command about eternal life—he would inherit eternal life (Luke 10:28). On another occasion, when Jesus was asked: which was the greatest commandment in the Law (Mark 12:28-34), he seems to agree with this lawyer. If men would love God wholly and completely and his neighbor as himself, he would live and not die.

Some may believe Peter contradicted Jesus’ statement in Acts 2:36-38, or, if not contradicting, certainly offered a different way. The answer to this is that if men would love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength and love their neighbor as themselves, they would live, but men don’t do that. They won’t do that. They never have nor will they ever love so completely without the Spirit of God dwelling within them, and this is exactly Peter’s point. Repent and receive Jesus as our Savior (Messiah), and we shall be given the Holy Spirit of God to dwell within us to help us love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves, which, actually, is exactly what Jesus ends up telling the lawyer to do in Luke 10:37.


[1] A phylactery was a small box that was strapped to the hand and / or the head of the rabbi. It had four compartments, each containing a strip of parchment containing the Scriptures: Exodus 13:1-10; Exodus 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21. The rabbis took literally the command “you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:8).

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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Gospel of Luke


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