In 1 John 4:7-21, the Holy Spirit made the Apostle John write this:
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us: hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him. Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.”
John addresses this passage to those who he refers to as “beloved.” They are beloved because John loves them. He then commands them to love one another. In 1 John 3, John defines this love as laying down one’s life for others, and as love that is not in word and speech, but that is in deed and truth. In other words, it is a love that acts. He also illustrates it by asking this question: “if someone has worldly goods, sees his brother or sister in Christ in need of them, and closes his heart against that person, how does the love of God abide in him?” The answer: it doesn’t.
In the next part of verse 7, John gives us reasons to obey the command that he has just given us. The first reason is that love is from God. Since those who are beloved are from God, then it follows that they have God’s love. The second reason to love one another is that everyone that loves is born of God. This means that they have been given spiritual life from God, that they have become new creatures. This assumes that those who are beloved are born of God. The final reason for us to love one another is that those who love know God. Again, this assumes that those who are beloved know God. And this is not knowledge about God, but personal, experiential, and intimate knowledge of Him.
In the first part of verse 8, John gives us the reason that people do not love the beloved, who are born of God, know God, and love people: they do not know God. Now, why does it follow that those who do not know God do not love? Because God is love. Okay, let’s think clearly, rationally, and logically here. John is not saying that God is literally love. God is a Person. Is love a person? No. Then, logically, God cannot literally be love. What he is saying is that God is so loving that it is almost as if He is love itself. His love is so much a part of who He is and what He does that when you think about God, then love is not a foreign concept in that thinking, but is at least very near to it. God is the most loving Person who exists. Back to the reason that people do not love, John is saying that, people who do not know the God who is love do not love because if they knew God, they would know love, and they would love as a consequence of knowing the God who is love. If you know God, you know love, and that makes you love.
In verse 9, John explains how God manifested His love in the beloved: by sending His only begotten Son into the world so that the beloved might live through Him. When John uses the phrase, “His only begotten Son,” he is emphasizing that the Son is the only One who shares God’s nature. The reason that God sent His only begotten Son into this world is so that the beloved might live through Him. And those who are beloved of God do live through Him.
In verse 10, John explains how God demonstrated His love for the beloved. First, He did so with no regard for their lack of love for Him. Second, He did so by merely performing the act in itself. Third, He did so by sending His Son to be the propitiation for their sins. What is the propitiation? The propitiation is Christ’s death for the beloved’s sins, which propitiated, or satisfied, God’s wrath and justice that the beloved deserve for their sins.
In verse 11, John gives the beloved an application of God’s love for them. He says that, if God loved them in that way, then they have a moral obligation to love one another. He is saying that, since God loved every one of the beloved, then every one of the beloved ought to love those who have been loved by God.
In verses 12 and 13, John gives the results of applying God’s love for the beloved by loving those who have been loved by God. The first result is that God abides, or makes His abode in them. In other words, He actively lives in them, as if they are His homes. The second result of loving the beloved is that God’s love is perfected, or fulfills its intended purpose, in the beloved. In other words, the love that God has manifested in the beloved, and demonstrated for the beloved achieves its end result in their love for the beloved. The third result of loving the beloved is that those who are loving know that they abide in God. To put it another way, they come to know that they are making their homes in God, and living in Him, when they love the beloved. The fourth result of loving the beloved is that those loving know that God abides in them. Not only do they know that they make their homes in God when loving the beloved, but they also know that God is making His home in them.
In verses 14 to the first part of verse 16, John gives more ways that the beloved may know that the Spirit of God is in them. The first way is that they have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. How is He the Savior of the world? By being the propitiation for our sins. The second way that the beloved may know that the Spirit is in them is by confessing, or acknowledging, that Jesus is the Son of God. What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of God? Mainly, that He possesses the same nature as God, being the Son of God, but also that He died for our sins, came back to life, and is the Supreme Authority of heaven and earth. If one acknowledges these facts, then God makes His abode in him, and he makes his abode in God. The third way that the beloved may know that the Spirit is in them is by knowing and believing God’s love for them. In other words, if one truly knows that God loves them, and believes it, then they can know that the Spirit is in them.
In the second part of verse 16, John explains how those who make their abode in loving can know that God makes His abode in them. He answers it this way: God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In other words, if someone is making their home in the act of loving people, then they are making their home in God, and those who are doing that have God making His home in them.
In the first part of verse 17, John gives the beloved an implication of abiding in love and in God, and of God abiding in those who love: love is perfected with them. Again, this means that love achieves its intended goal: the beloved loving the beloved. The purpose for this perfecting of love is so that the beloved may have confidence in the day of judgment. What confidence is this? Confidence that the day of judgment will not result in their eternal damnation, but in their entrance into the kingdom of God. Why is it true that the beloved can have confidence in the day of judgment? Because as God is, so also are they. What is God? Loving. What are the beloved? Loving. Second, this confidence is attainable because there is no fear in love, but perfect love, or perfected love, casts out fear because fear involves punishment, and those who fear are not perfected in love. What kind of fear is this? Fear of punishment resulting from the day of judgment. People who fear that punishment are not loving the beloved.
In verse 19, John gives the beloved the reason why love is perfected with them, or why they love: because God first loved them. In other words, the reason that the beloved love is because God loved them before they loved. God’s love for them is the cause of their love for others.
In verse 20, John explains the relationship between claiming to love God and loving His children. He says that, if someone claims to love God, but hates a brother or sister in Christ, he is a liar. Why? First, because the one who does not love his brother or sister in Christ, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has seen. Notice something here: how does John define hatred for brothers and sisters in Christ? First, he says that those who claim to love God, but hate Christians are liars. Then, he says that those who do not love Christians cannot love God. It’s like he’s saying, “the one claiming to love God, but hating Christians, is a liar because if someone does not love Christians, then he cannot love God.” Simply put, John is equating hatred for Christians with simply not loving them. And part of his argument is that, if someone can’t even love people who they can see to love, then they certainly aren’t going to love someone they they can’t see. Finally, John says that loving God necessarily involves loving Christians because those who love God are commanded to love other Christians.
If you’re a believer in the gospel, then love your brothers and sisters in Christ, and consider how you can spur them on to love and good works. Love them more, and help them to love more as well.
Do you understand the gospel? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.” – Romans 1:18-32
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13