posted on Aug, 18 2017 @ 05:03 PM
When John writes his first epistle, he is not, like Paul, addressing himself to a specific church under particular circumstances.
He writes, on behalf of himself and his fellow teachers, to anyone in the Christian body who will take his advice. Though his first readers were
probably in Ephesus and that region of Asia Minor.
His purpose is to teach these Christians, or remind them, that they are dwelling in God, through Christ, and to show them how this knowledge should be
affecting their conduct.
In the first two chapters, John was establishing the importance of this relationship, warning his readers about the factors which might disrupt our
fellowship with God.
This then raised the question; how can we know that we are abiding in God?
One of the answers provided in the third chapter is that those who love their brothers in Christ show themselves to be abiding in God, manifesting the
love which God provides.
Then John begins an exhortation based on this conclusion.
“Beloved, let us love one another” (ch4 v7).
Why should we love? Because God is love and love is “of God”.
Therefor it follows that one who loves knows God and has been born of God.
Conversely, of course, one who does not love shows that he does not know God (v8).
God’s love has been made manifest towards us, and also through us (“EN HEMIN” can be taken either way).
It has been made manifest “by this”; namely, that he has sent his Son into the world that we might live through his agency (v9).
The next verse is the same thought rephrased. Love is defined by the fact that he sent his Son “to be the expiation for our sins”.
The word “expiation” simply means “something is done to deal with the fault of sin” (as discussed in a previous thread). This translation for
HILASMOS has replaced the old word “propitiation”, which has picked up the wrong overtones in popular usage.
Taking the two verses together, we find that we live through the Son because he has succeeded in dealing with sin.
Our own ability to love follows on from God’s love.
The moral consequence is that if God loves us to this degree, we should love one another in the same way (v11).
This brings us back to the question of how we may know that we know God. We cannot know God by direct sight, because no man has ever seen him, or is
capable of seeing him in any real sense.
But we know, from the previous arguments, that God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us, if we love one another.
Thus we return to the point which concluded the previous chapter; another way of describing the indicator of “love” is that “He has given us of
his own Spirit”. So the presence of his love in our own hearts is also the sign of the presence of his holy Spirit (vv12-13).
Then John begins to recap and sum up the course of the argument in this epistle.
The Father sent the Son as the saviour of the world. This is what “we” (the Apostles) have seen and are able to testify.
If anyone confesses to this belief, that Jesus is the Son of God, then God abides in him and he in God.
If we know and believe that God sent the Son (to deal with our sin), then we know and believe the kind of love which God has for us.
Which leads to another restatement of the conclusion which has already been declared; since God is love, anyone who abides in love is also abiding in
God, and God abides in him (vv14-16).
Apart from our love towards one another, another practical effect of knowing God’s love is confidence.
If God’s love is perfected in us, then we know that God loves us; we know (as already mentioned) that God sent his Son to remove the obstacle of Sin
which stood between us.
Therefore we may know that we have nothing to fear on the day of judgement.
We know that “we are as he is”; that is, we have been detached from “this world” in the same way that he is detached, and we are therefore not
subject to the judgement which the world must face.
Fear is the expectation of judgement and the punishment which comes with it.
Therefore anyone who fears this judgement is not yet perfected in love.
For anyone who is perfected in love knows that God has taken away the cause of this fear.
“Perfect love casts out fear”; that is, very specifically, the fear of judgement.
All this is possible because God first loved us (vv17-19).
Returning to the theme of loving the brethren; anyone who says God and hates his brother is also lacking in truth, the other major characteristic of
Anyone who loves God should be able to love his brethren, because loving the visible and obvious brother is in fact the easier task.
And apart from that, it is also a specific command given to everyone who loves God (vv20-21).
For all these reasons, loving the brethren is re-affirmed as an essential condition for knowing that we dwell in God.