Bible Study Tools / Relationships


by Dennis O'Neill

Recently a friend of mine posted on his Facebook page a photo showing his whole family at his father’s 91st birthday. I loved the picture when I saw it. Ten days after the 91st birthday, my friend emailed me to say his father had died and we would not be able to meet as planned. 

My friend, Mark, and his parents are Japanese. He has honoured his parents. Their relationship was special, since Mark was adopted. So the relationship was not based on blood, but on love.

“Happiness is: something to do,  someone to love, and something to hope for.” So said Immanuel Kent.  ‘Someone to love’ points to a relationship.

Now I want to ask you a fundamental question: What was there before there were relationships?

God’s plan is totally about relationships. God has created the principles that ensure healthy loving relationships and he clearly reveals them to us.

1. Before there were relationships

The first four words of Genesis answer what came before relationships. Genesis 1:1: “in the beginning, God…” The Hebrew word used for God is Elohim (plural as in Genesis 1:26 Let us make man in our image.).

Before there were relationships, there was one relationship: Elohim! This is before Creation which doesn’t come until the fifth word “created.” So before Creation: “In the beginning, Elohim.” Elohim refers to the two persons in the Godhead, God the Father, and God the Son as we know them. So before there were relationships, there was one relationship. . . Elohim. Just the two persons in the Godhead.

2. The first relationship

Malachi 3:6 says “For I am the Lord, I change not.”  That relationship is permanent/unchanging. In John 10:30 we find “I and my Father are one.” It’s a relationship of unity.

The terms Father and Son indicate it’s a family relationship…the God family. We also know that relationship is based on love. I John 4:8, “for God is love” (Greek agape or God-love).

3. The basis of relationships is LOVE

The first relationship then was based on love, for God is love. We will see shortly that God designed all valid relationships and all are based on love. Relationships are the only medium of expression of love. Love can only be expressed or experienced in a relationship.

The sole way for God to expand His love, was to create new relationships. So God designed His plan to have a family. In that family would be many relationships. That way love could be multiplied. In Genesis 1:26 God summarizes his plan “Let us make man in our image.” That plan for family, is God’s way to create many new relationships.

The purpose of family is to have many loving relationships. The only way to express love and to increase love and experience love is in a relationship. After God decided to create His family, He then presented the next step.

4. God developed the principles of loving relationships

Christ simplifies the relationship principles for us in Matthew 22:36-40. He offers two great relationship principles on which the Ten Commandments hang.

The first principle is found in verse 37, “You shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The second principle is in verse 39, “Thou shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

So we have two basic relationships that summarize the Ten Commandments.

The third principle is the Family of God relationship. For the establishment of the Church God outlined an additional area of relationship.

The night before His crucifixion, Christ instructed the disciples in the New Testament Passover. Christ said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another:  Not just love, but as Christ continues-as I have loved you that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another” (John 13:34- 35).

5. Relationship principles/commandments designed before Creation

God offered the principles (the Ten Commandments) to ensure beautiful relationships. They were in force from Creation, as guides to proper relationships. We know this because the first humans, Adam and Eve, sinned and “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). Therefore the Commandments were in force from the Garden of Eden.

Also, “He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sinned from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). Satan didn’t lovc God with all his heart, and soul and mind. He wanted to replace God. The commandments (rules to relationships) were in effect from before the creation of the angels.

6. Love is reciprocal

I John 4:19 tells us, “We love Him because he first loved us.” Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies.” Why? In time love can turn them; it’s reciprocal.

7. The marriage relationship principle

In Ephesians 5:21-31 we find that the husband is given the responsibility of leadership and making the final decision in the context of “submit yourselves one to another.” God gives much instruction on the marriage relationship.

8. The family unit relationship

One commandment specifies the relationship within the family unit, God’s building block for society. Exodus 20:12 tells us “Honour your father and your mother.” The family relationship is based on that principle. This is reiterated in Ephesians 6:1-2.

9. Man given dominion over the creatures

Man was to have dominion (rule responsibly) over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth (Genesis 1:28).

10. The angelic realm

Revelation 5:8-14 shows myriads of angels singing and worshipping God.

Ephesians 4:13-16  “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ultimately, the perfect man is able to function lovingly in perfect relationships as God intended with the help of the Holy Spirit.
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