V77Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.. After the warning teaching with regard to evil spirits in the previous verses, John again focuses on the nature of God, which you have received as a child of God. He again starts with addressing you with ‘beloved’. In that way John wants to make you feel that he loves you, for you also have, like he does, the Lord Jesus as your life. By that he also means to say that you are a ‘beloved’ of God. It is God Who loves you.
The fact that you have the nature of God has to become visible, for love in itself is not to be seen. The love you have for the other person “is from God”. That love is from God does not mean that each form of love comes from God. From the context it appears that it is about a Divine love. In God’s Word you also read about the love of man, which he received from his Creator. That’s actually called ‘natural love’ and that indicates for instance the love of parents for their children and the other way around. That love is also given by God, but that love can cool down. It goes without saying that by natural love God has never intended a wrong love, such as homosexual love. That is against natural love (see Rom 1:26-2726For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.).
The Divine love can never cool down. That love is not dependent on the response of the person to whom it is expressed. That love is in you and is a proof that you are born of God and that you know God. You see how love is related to its origin and the knowledge of it. To live (through birth of God) and to know (the One Whom you are born of) belong together. Through the new birth you have a relationship with Him. You know to Whom you belong, you know Him.
V88The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.. A person with whom the Divine love is missing, has no relationship with God. Such a person has never even known God; there has never been a relationship with Him ever. However wonderfully a person might speak about Him, he is a fraud and a deceiver. Not knowing God means that there is no fellowship with God. The verb ‘to know’ in the Bible has the meaning of ‘having fellowship with’. The meaning of ‘knowing’ is beautifully expressed in Genesis 4:1 where you read: “And Adam knew Eve his wife” (NKJV). Fellowship is a matter of the deepest intimacy. Therefore it speaks volumes when John relates ‘love’ with ‘knowing’ God, because God is love.
The real love comes from God “for God is love”. Only when there is Divine love there will be love for one another, a love that comes forth from the fellowship with God. When we talk about God as love and that His love is in us and through that love we therefore are able to love, you can compare it with a sea. When it says here: ‘God is love’, then you, as it were, stand at the seashore. That He lives in you as love, you can compare it with a bucket that is filled with water from the sea. When you let a bucket sink in the sea you can say that the sea is in the bucket. That’s how it is with your heart which is sunk in the love of God. You should ponder on it for a moment and you will be overwhelmed.
V99By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.. God has given a great proof of the fact that He is love. Love is invisible and must be revealed. God dwells in an inaccessible light (1Tim 6:1616who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him [be] honor and eternal dominion! Amen.). We would have never known anything of Him had He not revealed Himself. But He made His love visible by giving “His only begotten Son”, or better said, as it is written, by sending “His only begotten Son into the world”.
We would have never known God if He had not done this. We would have never known anything of the mystery in God regarding the mutual love between the Father and the Son. John speaks about the ‘only begotten Son’. That does not mean that He only became Son by His birth. He has always been the only begotten Son. ‘Only begotten’ means unique, the only one of His kind. As such the Father has sent Him and as such He came.
You read that that love “was manifested toward us” (NKJV). That implies that the proof of God’s love lies completely outside you. False teachers also speak about love, but then as a mystical experience in order to learn to know God in that way. In order to succeed you must turn into yourself and follow your own feelings. That’s of course not the way. ‘Toward’ you means that it surely lies outside you, but it also means that you were allowed to observe, acknowledge and accept that manifestation. That’s how you received life.
V1010In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.. You had no life, for you were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:11And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,). Because you were dead it was impossible to love God. Besides that you were dead you were also guilty because you did not love God. That’s why you needed reconciliation. God also provided with that. A propitiation was needed to meet the holiness and righteousness of God.
There was no love for God to be found with you and me. Everything in God’s love came forth from Him. His heart went out to you, because He also wanted you to take part in a company of people whom He loves to bring into His presence, to His heart. He took everything away that stood in the way by sending His Son as “a propitiation for our sins” (which includes also yours). Herein you see the great price He was willing to pay for.
That God is love ought not to be lowered to the level of ‘God can love’, as if there are moments that He does not love. God’s love became evident on the cross of Calvary. That’s the way for you to know what love is. The measure is that love has given Himself for sins He Himself did not commit.
V1111Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.. John concludes now that if God has loved us in such a lofty and impressive way, it cannot be otherwise than that we love one another too. In that way we make visible that God is love.
V1212No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.. Nobody has ever seen God, but God’s love has become visible by His Son Whom He sent into the world (Jn 1:1818No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [Him].). However, His Son is not on earth anymore, but the family of God is. This family has the Son as their life. What the Son first did when He was on earth, ought to be done now by the family of God. And how can the family of God make possible that God is seen? By loving one another!
The public testimony of Whom God is, is given when there is love among the believers, among those who have the nature of God. From your love toward your brother and sister it becomes apparent that God abides in you and that His love in you is perfect. That means that His love in you is fully expressed if you love your brother and sister. All your actions toward your brother and sister are then in fact God’s actions. The love toward the other person is being displayed to its full advantage.
When God, Who is the source of love, abides in you (and it does!), then love doesn’t work differently in you than it does in Him, Who is the source of it. Wherever the love of God is being expressed from that source, it can only happen in the perfection which is typical to that source.
You may know it in the meantime, but I still want to remind you of the fact that John presents the things in accordance to their essence and not in accordance to the poor practice we sometimes show. That must not cause you to become blind to the wrong things, but that is not the point here. You are seen here in relation to the propitiation due to which your sins have been taken away. God sees you without sins and that’s the way you should look at yourself and others too.
V1313By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.. In case you may wonder how you could know that God abides in you and that you abide in Him, John gives another security. You actually can know that by the fact that God “has given us of His Spirit”. Due to the fact that He has given you of His Spirit you now already have part in the same sphere of fellowship that you soon will enjoy in the house of the Father. ”Of His Spirit” implies that the fullness of the enjoyment is still to come in the house of the Father. The Spirit has been given to you because only the Spirit knows what is in God (1Cor 2:1111For who among men knows the [thoughts] of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the [thoughts] of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.). You have the knowledge of the truth – that you are in God and He is in you – not from yourself or another person, but from God’s Spirit. Through the Spirit you share with God what is His.
V1414We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son [to be] the Savior of the world.. The Spirit therefore gives you the inner security that you abide in God and that God abides in you. But something more is added that is external, which means what is outside you, but what you actually see and what you testify of. You have not seen the Spirit nor do you testify of all kinds of spiritual gifts that you yourself or others would have. What the Spirit has shown you and the power He has given you to testify of it, refers to the Son, Who was sent by the Father “[to be] the Savior of the world”.
‘Seeing’ these things and ‘testifying’ of these things are also wonderful expressions of the new life that you have received. In that way those who are not yet partakers of it, are able to hear about it and if they convert they are also able to partake of it.
Now read 1 John 4:7-14 again.
Reflection: How did you get to know the love of God and how does that love work in you?