1 John 4:7-21 | Love is the Evidence
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
- God is love, and so therefore love comes from God. Those born of God and who know God express his love, for they belong to God
- God is the very source and spring of love, and his love is cascading down through his children like living water
- God is love, not just that he has love. It is an essential and intrinsic part of his nature. Just as in 1 John 1:2, God is referred to as the ‘life’ and ‘eternal life’, not just that he has life but that he is life
- So, therefore to love is not simply to have what God has but to be like what God is, for he is love
9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
- This is now the second (and third!) time that John has explained what love is and how God showed it (see 1 John 3:16). This is a crucial theme of the letter in being assured that we belong to the truth amidst the darkness of the world.
- Love is the self-giving sacrifice of God the Father through Jesus Christ, so that we, a people who did not love God but have sinned against him, might be forgiven and have life through his name. God’s love is the kind of love which pays for and forgives the sin of his offenders to give them eternal life.
- Some may think humanity can emulate this kind of love apart from God in our highly moral societies, but can anybody really love their offenders and enemies as much as God did for us?
- atoning sacrifice – more literally a ‘propitiation’ (hilasmos), meaning to appease the anger of God. The offences of our sin have caused anger and wrath, but Jesus is the sacrifice who embraced the full brunt of God’s wrath, reserved for us
11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
- John compels us to love one another, for when we do so, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us – in that God desires that his loving nature is fully expressed and displayed through the church
- When we love, we display the very nature of God so that others can glimpse the God who can’t be seen. God’s love is made complete in us when it compels us to love others and so displays his nature to all.
13This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
- A key theme in 1 John is assurance, ‘knowing that we live in him’
- The Holy Spirit is our evidence that we belong to God, our seal and deposit which guarantees our salvation (Eph 1)
- If we acknowledge and testify that Jesus is the Son of God and that he was sent by the Father to be the Saviour of the world then we will be saved and receive the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is how God lives in us and how we live in God.
16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
- We know and rely on the love of God, as revealed through the gospel and as experienced from the Holy Spirit
- To ‘live in love’ is to live in the perfect expression of love, which we have already seen is Christ laying his life down for us – the gospel. To live with a gospel centred life which compels and drives us is to live in love, which is also to live in God.
- Love is made complete in us when it compels us to live and act as Jesus did and love one another in self-giving sacrifice
- The presence of true gospel love in our lives gives us confidence and assurance on the day of judgment
18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
- We will not need to fear punishment on the day of judgement if we live in love, as God’s perfect love drives out all fear. When we place our trust in God’s perfect love as demonstrated through the gospel, then there is no need to fear punishment
- We still fear, revere and honour the person of God (Phill 2:12) but do not fear his judgement for that was satisfied in Christ.
19We love because he first loved us. 20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
- The evidence and fruit of our love for others shows that God has first made his love known to us and that we live in that love.
- If we are truly born of God then we will love as God loves – we love because he first loved us. Our love for others is simply a fruit of the love that God has expressed to us.