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1 John 4:7-21: Defining Love

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love

1 John 4:7-8

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If you squeeze this passage of 1 John, love might ooze out of it. John writes the word love, or some iteration of it, twenty-nine times in these fourteen verses. Anytime a biblical writer repeats a word with this type of frequency, students of the Word do well to break out their pencils and journals and take note of what they learn about the term. So, what do we learn about love?

God is Love

The most important observation about love in this passage comes from the declaration that God is love. By stating God is love, John teaches us that God’s love for us flows from His character. In the same way God is good and God does good, God is love and God does love. We are creatures that sometimes love. God never ceases to be loving, because if He did so, He would cease to exist. His nature of love demands His outpouring of love. We can take great comfort in this truth about God because it means even when we are at our worst, God continues to love us.

Lovers Gonna Love

We all know haters gonna hate. But lovers or, more specifically, loved ones, gonna love too. John, as he often does, makes a play on words in the Greek text. He starts verse 7 with two very similar words that stem from the root word for love. He says “loved ones (αγαπητοι, a-ga-pay-toi) love (αγαπωμεν, a-ga-pohmen) one another.” He continues on his message to flesh out this truth, that those who have been loved by God must then love one another. He follows the pattern established throughout the Bible and previously in this letter: the indicative precedes the imperative. The true statement that we are loved demands then that we love others. His logic follows like so: God is love, God loved you enough to send His Son, love others, loving others evidences God’s love made perfect in you. More simply, love begets love.

Love Vanquishes Fear

Since love comes from God and since our loving others evidences God’s love for us, John can boldly proclaim that love casts out fear. After all, if you are loved by God, are you not then His daughter welcomed in His presence? The love of God fills our chests with the courage we need to look forward to the kingdom still to come knowing we have a place at the table. Daughters know their Father welcomes them with loving arms.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY When is it hardest for you to believe that God loves you? How is John’s teaching a welcomed correction to this thinking?

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Comments (1)

When I’m challenged with my past , letting go , and when something reminds of it. Sometimes it’s a thought and I’m like why did I think of that ? Or why I’m I still having a hard time letting it go? I know God loves me because I’m in a much better space and I can see it . I think what bothers me is the fact that it all happened so fast. The removal of people was quickly done or either I was so blinded and when I decided to turn from my ways of wickedness, theses things were already in motion. I praise God for it all though !!!

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