The ‘Love’ Chapter = 1 John 4:7-21
Bible Background: Themes in 1st John echo themes in the Gospel of John, especially Jesus’ new commandment to “love one another as I have loved you,” and just how much “God loved the world!” The writer of 1st John combines those two themes in this passage.
Digging Deeper: 1. The writer writes in a ‘circular’ fashion, saying the same things over again: God sent his Son into the world; we ought to love one another! Let’s pick out a few key words and phrases:
Love=We’ll remember that New Testament Greek uses 3 different words for ‘love’ (all translated by the same English word.) The word used throughout 1 John is agape, a word for ‘self-giving, Christ-like love’. This is the highest form of love!
His love is perfected in us=When we hear ‘perfect’, we think of flawless. Are we able to love others as perfectly as God does? Probably not! The word ‘perfect’ can be read more like ‘complete’, as in-God’s love comes full-circle when it takes root in our hearts and lives. The writer is also suggesting that God’s love reaches its goal when we actually do show love for fellow believers.
Abides=This word is borrowed from the Gospel of John where Jesus invites disciples to abide (or remain) with him, and he uses the image of the branches ‘abiding’ with the vine. Here the writer reassures Christians that God is with them, and that when we know love and show love, our connection with God is secure.
Perfect love casts out fear=Verse 17-18 centers on “the day of judgement”, which early Christians expected to occur soon. The writer equates trust in God’s love with having no fear on the day of judgement. Beyond that one scenario, however, think about how “love casts out fear!” Isn’t that true in most situations?
We love because he first loved us=is just a very concise point in v. 19. 1 John uses the word “love” more often than any other book of the Bible, except for Song of Solomon (where “love” is often the noun used to address the lover) and the Book of Psalms. Here, it is almost always a verb!
Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another! That says it all!
Next week we’ll start a 4-week series in the Book of Ruth. Read Ruth 1.