"They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me." (John 16:2-3)

"They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me." (John 16:2-3)

Is Jesus referring to religious fanaticism?

Jesus is explaining some of the fundamental reasons for fanatical intolerance and sometimes brutal activities by some institutions. The phrase, "They will do such things" relates to the action Jesus states:
"a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God."
Jesus is speaking of religious intolerance that includes so many fanatical institutions over the centuries.

This includes what the Romans did to Judeans and early Christians (as foretold in Revelations). They slaughtered and ransacked the entire region, and the Book of Revelations documents how the "beast" of the Roman Empire will be brought down - which it was.

This fanatical institution, the Roman Catholic Church, became the tool for Roman Emperors. The institution oversaw the burning of people at the stake who did not follow the Church. As they sailed the world as missionaries, they oversaw the slaughter of countless "heathens" ( local people of other parts of the world that believed differently). They also burnt down entire villages. 

They also enforced a deadly fanaticism in the form of the Spanish Inquisition, when countless people were burned at the stake or imprisoned for their beliefs.

Fanaticism was also involved in Jesus' persecution at the hands of the Temple High Priest Caiaphus. And what would later happen to James and Peter and other followers of Jesus, at the hands of the Romans.

Today we find fanaticism continues around the world, including some claiming to follow Mohammed that have murdered others because they aren't members of their sects. We find even killing and wars between two different sects of these, simply because of an interpretation issue regarding Mohammed's successor.

We find fanaticism among many of the world's faiths, as sectarian institutions struggle for power and authority.

In all of these cases, we find instances where, as Jesus puts it, "anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God."

To kill someone who believes something different while thinking this is offering a service to God is to deny the fundamental feature of service to God: That is, love for God and love for others.

To love God's children also means to care about them. The reality is that each of us has been given the freedom to love and serve God or not. Those who choose to worship differently or not at all should not be harmed by those who think they are serving God.

If God allowed us the freedom to worship Him or not, who are they to try to enforce their worship upon anyone else?

Trying to force others to worship God is denying God's omnipresence. Couldn't God force Himself upon us if He wanted to? Couldn't God force us to worship Him if He wanted to?

Surely He could. But He doesn't, because love requires the freedom not to love.

Why don't they know 'the Father' or Jesus?

The simple fact that they try to force their type of worship onto others means they do not know God according to Jesus.

Here the word "known" is the operator of Jesus' statement. "Known" is being translated from the Greek word γινώσκω (ginōskō), which means, according to Thayer's lexicon, "to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of, perceive, feel" and "to understand."

In other words, the kind of knowing Jesus is talking about here is not superficial knowledge. It is not the kind of knowledge one might have, say, about a state or country. It is not knowing a few facts about God or Jesus.

For example, we might have read a full biography of the president of a country. We might know who their father and mother were, what school they went to and their military service. But knowing them in the way Jesus is speaking of with the word γινώσκω (ginōskō) means to know them from a personal perspective. It means to understand what drives them, what motivates them, what excites them and most importantly, what pleases them.

Those who commit terror upon others in the name of religion - whether it is by excommunicating someone, molesting someone or committing physical violence upon someone - quite simply do not know the Supreme Being or Jesus - God's confidential loving servant.

Furthermore, the use of the word οὐδέ (oude) - here translated to "or" - is a conjunction of separation literally meaning "neither" or "nor" according to the lexicon. This indicates Jesus really said something to the effect of "they have known neither the Father nor me."

This indicates two things: First, that Jesus is identifying himself as distinct from God; and secondly, knowing God is related to knowing Jesus.

Jesus' statement illustrates that really knowing Jesus leads to coming to know God, because Jesus' mission, motives and purpose are directed towards pleasing the Supreme Being. His purpose and mission are inseparable from the Supreme Being's because Jesus' whole life was centered around pleasing God.

This is why Jesus said:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
The key statement here is "only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Doing God's will means knowing what God's will is. It means knowing God.

Why is Jesus teaching about fanatics?

Jesus' purpose was to introduce his students to God. He taught them that God is merciful. And forgiving. And lovable.

He also taught them how to please God - in an effort to establish a loving relationship with God.

We know from Jesus' other teachings that knowing and then coming to love God was his primary directive:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
Love cannot be forced. No one can be forced to love someone else. The freedom to love God or not, in fact, is granted by God Himself. God does not force us to love Him or even worship Him.

Therefore, those who try to force others to practice their religious rituals, or to wear a certain type of clothing, or to join their institution - whether it be forced through the threat of excommunication or actual violence - do not represent the will of the Supreme Being. These fanatics are not providing a service to God because quite simply, as Jesus says above, they "have not known the Father or me."

Will Jesus' followers be excommunicated?

Here Jesus explains how and why the institutional temple leaders and their followers will be treating Jesus' disciples following the coming murder of Jesus' physical body.

"They will put you out of the synagogue" clearly explains that the leaders of the institutional temples will excommunicate Jesus' students who were to carry on his teachings.

This excommunication from the institutional temple is being taken from the Greek word ἀποσυνάγωγος (aposynagōgo), which means to be kicked out or excommunicated from the synagogue.*

Just the very fact that there was a specific word for this - just as the word "ex-communicate" is used in sectarian institutions - tells us that the institutional temple teachers of Jesus' day wielded excommunication as a weapon against those whom they wanted to isolate and brandish as heretics. And this excommunication often came with brutal consequences.

Excommunication is a technique that is the flip side of the politically oriented appointment of teachers, typical of sectarian institutions around the world. This is similar to how a cult will shun someone who decides they no longer want to be in the cult.

To excommunicate a person through a politically-oriented process using either committees or specific announcements by those elected to their posts is solely based upon the political expediency of these institutions. It has nothing to do with whether the person being excommunicated is indeed representing God or not.

And the flip side: The appointment of a teacher through an organizational process dependent either upon the election by committees or other bodies of men; or the appointment as successor; specifically abandons the process the Supreme Being ordains as identifying who truly represents the Supreme Being - that of becoming a student of a bonafide teacher and then simply and humbly passing those teachings on to others.

Why do some institutions use excommunication?

Jesus is confirming this here, as he states that once his students are ex-communicated from institutional temples they will face violence committed by followers who - by virtue of the excommunication - will see themselves as serving God.

This indicates the purpose of their excommunication: to brandish them as heretics so they would not threaten the followings of those politically appointed institutional temple leaders.

You see, fanatical cults and those who lead them seek large followings in order to retain their power over their members. When someone threatens that power, cults - and some religious sects - will react by going on the offensive. They will find some means to discredit the person in order to maintain their authority over their followers.

In ages past, this was often much easier to accomplish because these institutions often had some governmental leverage over the population in addition to their followers' attendance of their temples. The notion of 'separation of church and state' was rare in many societies, including the era of Jesus and his disciples.

As a result, in the century following Jesus' departure, countless early Christians and their teachers - Jesus' students and students of his students - were tortured and slaughtered at the hands of the Romans, often after being excommunicated and accused by institutional temple leaders and their followers.

And in the centuries following, the Romans and their Roman Catholic Church became the standard-bearer of intolerance as they excommunicated many teachers and followers that did not comply with the rituals and philosophies of the Roman Catholic Church and its Nicene Creed.

And like those institutional temple leaders of Jesus' day, the Roman Catholic Church - partnering with the Roman government - was responsible for the excommunication and eventual slaughter of many innocent people just because they believed or taught a different philosophy.

Today, sectarian religions utilize their political clout within their assemblies and through media. Some modern religious sects will even threaten former "rogue" teachers with litigation and sometimes - but more rarely - even physical violence.

While physical violence may be rare in western societies amongst religious institutions, there are still some parts of the world where some institutions will commit brutal violence against those who teach or believe philosophies different from their own.

As a result, we find fanatical groups attacking those who believe differently. This is sectarianism turning into fanaticism.

Yet we can easily understand from the life of Jesus and his teachings that these are not acts of service to God. They are perverted activities spawned by the teachings of sectarian religious leaders who seek to retain their power and followings through their institutions. They seek to secure those institutions that provide a basis for their authority and professional compensation.

And through their indoctrination process, the teachers within these institutions convince their followers that maintaining the institution's political power at all costs is somehow a service to God.

*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"They will make you outcasts from the synagogue. But the time will come when those who kill you think they are offering service to God. Yet the things they will do to you are because they do not know the Creator, nor me.” (John 16:2-3)