1 John 4:7-16
SS Lesson for 03/05/2017
Devotional Scripture: Rom 12:9-21
The lesson examines a picture of the nature of God’s unfathomable love and how He is The Source of All Love. The study's aim is to recognize that the Triune God is the source of all love. The study's application is establish the habit of thanking God for His great love for us.
(Adapted from the Bible Expositor and Illuminator Commentary)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The second new idea is the epistle’s first of six explicit references to the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 John 4:2, 6, 13; 5:6, 8; cf. “the Holy One” in 2:20). The way a believer can verify that God lives (menei, “abides”) in him is by the operation of God’s Spirit in his life. John then showed that God’s Spirit is the Spirit of both faith (4:1-6) and love (4:7-16)—the two aspects of the two-part “command” given in 3:23.
4:1-3. To begin with, the Spirit of God must be distinguished from false spirits. This is particularly necessary because many false prophets have gone out into the world. The touchstone by which these spirits (false prophets) are to be tested is their attitude toward the incarnate person of Jesus Christ. The failure to acknowledge (homologei, “confess”; cf. 1:9; 2:23; 4:15) that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is precisely what exposes the spirit of the antichrist, which John had already warned his readers about (2:18-27; cf. 2 John 7).
4:4-6. Up to now, the writer assured his dear children (teknia; cf. 2:12), the readers, that they had overcome these antichrists. The readers had successfully resisted the antichrists (false prophets) by means of the One who is in them (no doubt another reference to the Spirit; cf. 3:24; 4:2). Reliance on God is the secret of all victory whether over heresy or any other snare. The indwelling One—the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer (3:24; 4:13; Rom. 8:9) and is thus “the One who is in you”—is mightier than the one who is in the world, namely, Satan (cf. 1 John 5:19). He is called “the prince of this world” (John 12:31); “the god of this Age” (2 Cor. 4:4); and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2). The antichrists are from the world and... speak from the viewpoint of the world. For this reason they get a good hearing from the world. It is always true that satanically inspired thought has a special appeal to worldly minds. But people who are from God (ek tou theou, “of God”; cf. 1 John 4:4, “from God”; v. 5, “from the world”; and 3:12, “belonged to the evil one”) listen to the apostles. The pronouns which begin verses 4-6 (You... They, and We) are emphatic in the original and evidently mark off three groups: the readers, the antichrists, and the apostles. Each one who can be described as “from God” (i.e., actuated and influenced by God) and thus knows God listens to the apostolic voice. In the history of the church, apostolic doctrine has always been the means by which the Holy Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood can be effectively distinguished. True Christianity is apostolic Christianity.
4:7-8. The writer now returned to the subject of love which, like faith in God’s Son (v. 13), is a product of the Spirit. As a confession of the incarnate person of Christ marks one off as being actuated by God (i.e., “from God”, vv. 4, 6) so does love, since love comes from God. Hence, one who loves (in the Christian sense of that term) has been born of God (cf. 2:29; 3:9; 5:1, 4, 18) and he knows God. Love stems from a regenerate nature and also from fellowship with God which issues in knowing Him (see 2:3-5). The absence of love is evidence that a person does not know God. Significantly, John did not say such a person is not born of God. In the negative statement only the last part of the positive one (in 4:7) is repeated. Since God is love, intimate acquaintance with Him will produce love. Like light (1:5), love is intrinsic to the character and nature of God, and one who is intimately acquainted with God walks in His light (1:7).
4:9-11. If one wishes to know how God has demonstrated His love, he need only look at the fact that God sent His One and only Son into the world that we might obtain eternal life thereby (“One and only” translates monogenē, “only born one,” which also is used in John 1:14, 18; 3:16.) Moreover, this love was not a response to man’s love, but an initiative on God’s part (1 John 4:10). By it the Son became an atoning Sacrifice (hilasmon, “propitiation”; see 2:2) for our sins. Nothing less than God’s love in Christ is the model for the love Christians should have toward one another. Important to John’s argument is his reference to God’s love in 4:9 as His love among us. In verses 12-16 he showed how this love, experienced among Christians, can make God visible to them.
4:12-13. In His divine nature and essence, God has never been seen by any living man (cf. John’s similar statement, John 1:18). Yet in the experience of mutual love among believers, this invisible God actually lives in us and His love is made complete in us. The term “lives” once again renders John’s characteristic word (menō) for the abiding life. As in 1 John 2:5, the idea of God’s love reaching completeness in a believer may suggest a deep and full experience of that love (cf. 4:17). The statement in verse 13 is intimately related to the ideas just expressed. We know that we live (menomen, “we abide”) in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. The mutual abiding of a believer in God and God in that believer (cf. John 15:4-7) is indicated by that believer’s experience of the Spirit. The Greek for “of His Spirit” (ek tou pneumatos) suggests participation in the Spirit of God, literally, “He has given us out of His Spirit.” The same construction occurs in 1 John 3:24. When a believer loves, he is drawing that love from God’s Spirit (cf. Rom. 5:5), who is also the Source of his confession of Christ (1 John 4:2). Thus both the faith and the love enjoined in the dual “command” of 3:23 are products of the Spirit’s operation in a believer. A believer’s Spirit-led obedience becomes the evidence that he is enjoying the mutual abiding relationship with God that John wrote about.
4:14. The apostle now reached a climactic point in his argument. He had just written that “if we love each other,” then the God whom no one has seen abides “in us and His love is made complete in us.” The result of this experience is that we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. Since the first person plural in verses 7-13 is clearly meant to include the readers, the “we” of this verse includes them as well. The indwelling God, whose presence is manifested in the midst of a loving Christian community, thus becomes in a sense truly visible to the eye of faith. Though no one “has seen” (tetheatai, “beheld”) God (v. 12), believers who abide in Him (v. 13) “have seen” (tetheametha, “behold”) the Son as He is manifested among loving Christians. Christians who behold this manifestation have in fact “seen” and can “testify” to the fundamental truth that “the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” This great truth can be put on display through the instrumentality of Christian love. With these words, John reached the goal he had announced in the prologue (1:1-4), namely, that his readers might share the apostles’ experience. The apostles had “seen” (heōrakamen) the “life which was with the Father and... appeared to us” (1:2). In a loving Christian community, the believers can see that too. The term “Life” in 1:2, though it refers to Christ incarnate, nevertheless was carefully chosen by the writer. What his readers could witness is the renewed manifestation of that Life in their fellow Christians. But, as he had argued ever since 2:29, the “life” which Christians possess by new birth is inherently sinless and can only be manifested through righteousness and Christlike love. But when that occurs, Christ whom the apostles saw in the flesh is, in a real but spiritual sense, “seen” again (4:14).
4:15-16. Under the circumstances just described, confession (cf. 1:9; 2:23; 4:3) that Jesus is the Son of God is a sign that the confessor enjoys a mutual abiding relationship with God. The section is rounded off by the assertion, We know and rely on (lit., “have come to believe”) the love God has for us. Living in the atmosphere of mutual Christian love produces a personal knowledge of God’s love and fresh experience of faith in that love. Since God is love (cf. v. 8), one who lives in love lives (menei, “abides”) in God and has God abiding with him. The last part of verse 16 ought to be taken as the conclusion of the paragraph, rather than the start of a new one. John again affirmed the reality of the abiding experience enjoyed by all Christians who love.
"When you want to know something, go to the source." Have you ever heard someone say that? How about this one: "I got it straight from the horse's mouth"? Another one is "Get to the heart of the matter." All of these expressions point to one common theme. It is this: In order to really know the nature of something, you need to go to where it begins. It does not matter if that something is a river, a rumor, or something else. You will find the truth of it only by tracking it back to its source. People today struggle with what true love looks like. If you leaf through any magazine ad or happen to glance at the television, it is not hard to discern how culture defines love. But is this emotional high that they are promoting really what it is all about? I think not. The reality of love is that it is not merely an emotion. True love is, in fact, so much deeper and greater than that. Real love can be found only in God. I know you have probably heard a thousand times before that God is love. Believers say that constantly. Do we really believe it, though? And do we truly understand what we are saying? If a nonbeliever were to ask you to explain that statement, could you do it? Would you flounder? How do we know that God is the source of love? How do we convey this to a world full of skeptical unbelievers? For starters, God shows His love in His creation. He created and preserves every being who is living and has ever lived (Neh. 9:6). God did not need us. He was already complete. He chose to create us in order to have a relationship with us. That He preserves us each day demonstrates compassion. He also chooses to provide for our needs (Phil. 4:19). God is not sitting indifferently on His throne, watching us struggle through life. He promises provision to His children out of His own wealth. His greatest act of love, however, was when He sent His Son. Try to imagine how God felt. He watched His precious only Son go into a cruel, filthy, sinful world. He had to watch as that Son suffered hatred, ridicule, and scorn. Then God had to bear every parent's worst nightmare—witnessing their child die an agonizing death. Why? He loves us. Despite our sinful nature, our imperfections, and however many times we may disappoint Him, He still loves us. He loves us so much that He purposefully sent His Son to die, knowing it was the only way to draw us eternally to Him (cf. I John 4:9-10). He knew there was no other option. He was willing to give us everything, right down to His beloved Son. That is how we know what true love is. God would not hold anything back from us. We can only know true love when we know God, for He is love (vs. 8). How do you respond to this? If you are a believer, it should bring you joy. We are able to practice love toward those around us because we have a relationship with Christ. Every day He shows us what love is. We can demonstrate it because we have Christ as our example, and His Spirit empowers us. The next time you need to know what love is, do not turn to our culture. Go to the source. He is eagerly waiting to teach you what real love is.
Is there such a thing as mutual “love at first sight”? Psychologists debate the idea. Fans of romance endorse it. Filmmakers often employ the possibility as a plot device. Some happily married couples affirm it was true for them. But relationships don’t usually work this way. Far more common is for one person to be attracted to another and thereby begin a courtship to convince the other. One person loves first; the other person comes to love later. In today’s lesson, John uses this sequencing of love, but he is not writing about the romantic love that men and women have for each other. Rather, he is explaining our relationship with our loving God. He expresses this with one of the Bible’s classic verses, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We do not need to attract God’s attention and convince him to love us. He has loved us from the start. God knows us before we are born (Psalm 139:13-16). That fact is more astonishing than even “love at first sight”!
The three letters we call 1, 2, and 3 John name no author, but tradition attributes them to the apostle John. As he wrote those letters sometime after AD 90, he likely was the last of Jesus’ original 12 disciples still living.
At some point, John relocated from the setting of his account of Jesus (the Gospel of John), which was mainly Judea and Jerusalem. Tradition tells us that he went to Ephesus, a large, prosperous city in the western part of what is now Turkey. John became involved in the daily lives of the Christians in the area. We might say he “ministered in the trenches” where people struggled to live. Rivals in this arena contradicted the teachings of John despite his credentials. Experienced ministers know there will be factions within a church, and some will oppose them for various reasons. The reasons for such opposition may be valid or concocted, but the opposition is real. It can sometimes grow into outright animosity and divisiveness. John’s letters give evidence of such antagonism (3 John 9). Some of this was surely caused by false teachers whom John denounced (2 John 10), but there seems to have been other reasons too. Perhaps the aged apostle was seen as out of touch by other leaders who wanted to take the churches in new directions (note that the six churches of Revelation 2:8-3:22 are all within 120 miles of Ephesus and its church that is addressed in 2:1-7). Responding to such impatience is an underlying tone in 1 John, for the author repeatedly returns to the unchanging, ever loving, and always faithful God as the model for relationships within the church. One caution: John likes to use absolute statements that may seem at odds at first glance. He can say both “God is light” (1 John 1:5) and “God is love” (4:8, 16) without logical contradiction. This is a technique of his writing, and we should realize that his absolute statements about people will sometimes present us with polar opposites for effect. John, being very experienced at ministry, knew that there are shades of gray when it comes to people—their mixed motives, inconsistencies, etc. We will see John’s use of the absolute style in today’s lesson.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
11 Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
John says, “God is love,” not “Love is God.” Our world, with its shallow and selfish view of love, has turned these words around and contaminated our understanding of love. The world thinks that love is what makes a person feel good and that it is all right to sacrifice moral principles and others’ rights in order to obtain such “love.” But that isn’t real love; it is the exact opposite—selfishness. And God is not that kind of “love.” Real love is like God, who is holy, just, and perfect. If we truly know God, we will love as he does.
The Spirit of God is the Spirit of love. He that does not love the image of God in his people, has no saving knowledge of God. For it is God’s nature to be kind, and to give happiness. The law of God is love; and all would have been perfectly happy, had all obeyed it. The provision of the gospel, for the forgiveness of sin, and the salvation of sinners, consistently with God’s glory and justice, shows that God is love.
Older and more literal versions of the Bible use the word propitiation instead of atoning sacrifice. That idea is vital for understanding how God’s forgiveness works. God provided Jesus to be the sacrifice for sin. When Jesus gave his life, God accepted Jesus’ suffering as payment for sin’s penalty. This payment turned God’s wrath away from us. We could never have turned away God’s wrath on our own (see also Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2). God does not just ignore our sins and pretend that they do not exist. His own holiness and justice do not allow this. Holiness and justice require than sin be punished. Yet in his great love for us, God took the necessary steps to deal with our sins. He sent Jesus, who was both infinite God and sinless man, to give his one great life in our place.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.
20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 " Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 "So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me." 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
(Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-19-why-we-must-love-1-john-47-11
Some people are hard to love. A woman in a church where I ministered (I’ll call her Diane) was consistently mean to my family and me. I do not know why. She said unnecessarily critical things about my wife. She spread rumors about me that were not true. She never had a good word to say about my sermons, only condescending complaints. Whenever I offered a kindness to her, Diane responded with suspicion. Any soft words said to her were rejected. She was hard to love. I wish I could say that eventually I wore down Diane with my love and we became friends, but that never happened. Yet I can say that I never returned her meanness with meanness of my own. While I tired of her behavior, I did not fear or hate her. I think that God must feel that way toward us sometimes. We are hard to love. We are selfish. We are unfaithful. We act out of fear. Yet he still loves us. His love is never failing, perfect, and inexhaustible. May we not resist God’s love, and instead, may we follow his example.
1. We should love unselfishly because we serve the source of true love (1 John 4:7-8)
2. God has shown us how to love through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus (vss. 9-10)
3. Mankind was created to receive God's love and to express that love to Him and to others (vss. 11 -12)
4. The Holy Spirit within us proves we belong to Him and empowers us to live as God intends (vss. 13-16)
5. Through God's love, we are free from fear of judgment (vs. 17)
6. Focusing on God's love for us gives us confidence in trials and also enables us to encourage others (vss. 18-19)