The Epistles of John Bible Study 1 John Chapter 4 Part 2

We end off this week by completing chapter 4 of 1 John: 1 John 4:10-21

G-d loved us while we were still sinners. If we are going to be like Him, we need to love not only those who have experienced salvation but also those who are not in the faith. We need to be an influence on sinners, so that they can accept the gospel, repent, and begin to walk in the will of G-d. 

v10: In this is love: This is speaking about true love. John is teaching us about what G-dly love, Biblical love, truly is. 

  • Not that we loved G-d: The fact of the matter is this: left to ourselves we do not know how to love G-d. The only way that we can understand the love of G-d is through what the Bible reveals to us concerning the gospel. We cannot understand love through some other religion or doctrine. 
  • He loved us: This is where the definition and the demonstration of love begins. If we want to understand love completely then this is our example – not that we have loved G-d, but that He has loved us. 
  • Propitiation: Propitiation (related to redemption) is completely different to atonement. Atonement is simply a covering. It conceals sin. Atonement delays G-d’s judgement. If a person’s sin is not taken care of and completely removed, then G-d’s judgement will come upon that person. Atonement does have benefits, but they are limited. Propitiation, like redemption, is a payment that is paid so that sin is completely and fully dealt with. Sin is not just covered up, but is removed and is no longer a part of the equation (Ps 103:12). G-d has demonstrated perfect love for us by dealing completely with the problem of our sin – sending His Son to be the only propitiation concerning it. Messiah’s blood is sufficient for all the sins of the world. However, those who benefit from His work are only those who receive the truth and believe in Him (Roms 10:9-10). 

v11: Beloved: John continues to emphasise that he is speaking to believers.

  • We ought one another to love: This is the literal Greek word order. This word order places the emphasis on one another. Our love should be broad and inclusive. It should not only be for those who are kind to us, not even just for fellow believers, but for all humanity. 

v12: Note: In the Greek text, to emphasize the significance of what John is revealing, the word “G-d” comes first. This is problematic in English translation. What John is doing is emphasising that no one, at any time, has ever seen G-d. 

  • No one has seen: This is not the normal word for seeing or looking at something with our eyes. It is a word that has to do with understanding – having a proper (complete and full) comprehension of. John is telling us that no one has ever fully comprehended or understood who G-d is.
  • If we love…G-d abides in us: This verse is not speaking about G-d coming and going in our lives dependant on our behaviour (Heb 13:5). Once we enter into a covenant with Him the Holy Spirit will not depart from us. What John is talking about here can best be understood through the concept of anointing. When we choose unwisely (rebel by turning away from truth, G-d’s instructions) we hinder the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. He will not leave us, but He also will not function effectively in our lives. By making wrong choices we are hindering or quenching Him, causing His work to become stagnant in our lives. 
  • His love has been perfected in us: G-d’s love is perfect. It does not change and nor does it need to be perfected. The question, however, is this: Is His perfect love going to work in our lives in accordance with what He wants it to bring about? This love will only work more and more perfectly in our lives when we are loving one another. His love is perfect, but the work of His perfect love will come to its desired results in us.

v13: By/In this: In this manifestation of G-d’s perfect love flowing through us – being used by Him to love others. 

  • Abide/Remain: This term ‘abiding’ or ‘remaining’ has to do with the benefits of this relationship. We can be in relationships that have absolutely no benefit to us (due to something in that relationship being violated). It is only when we submit to the terms of this relationship that the benefits are going to be released – allowing us to have access to all the privileges of this relationship.
  • He has given us of His Spirit: The living G-d, G-d Almighty, has given us His Spirit – not a portion or a part of it! His Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of G-d, dwells in every believer. 

Note: Although every believer has been given the Holy Spirit we can behave in a way that will adversely affect the anointing of the Spirit. 

v14: Seen: Understood, arrived at a proper understanding of. 

  • Saviour: The only One who can save us (Acts 4:12). 
  • Saviour of the world: The doctrine about limited atonement is a false one. Messiah did not secure atonement for us on the cross – He secured eternal redemption for us. Although His payment is sufficient, powerful, and broad it does not mean that everyone in the world is going to experience His salvation. Salvation is conditional. It is conditional on the gospel message – understanding it, agreeing with it, and accepting Yeshua into our lives. 

v15: Whomever confesses: John begins to lay out the condition for salvation.

  • Son of G-d: This speaks of Yeshua’s divinity. We need to confess that Yeshua is divine, that He is G-d. 
  • Abides: Remains. This means that this one will enjoy the privileges or benefits of a covenantal relationship with G-d.
  • Him: This one who confesses.

v16: Known and believed: We have known/believed this in the past, we know/believe it right now and we will continue to know/believe it. Nothing is going to change our perspective.

  • Love that G-d has for us: G-d does not simply love us from a distance. He has put His love in us. If we want the benefits of being in a covenant relationship with G-d it is dependent upon us walking in love. We are taught love by studying the commandments of G-d.

v17: Perfected: It arrives at its proper condition/state – the end that G-d intended. 

  • We have boldness/confidence: G-d’s love, working in, and being released through, us confirms that He is in us, and we are in Him. This fact gives us confidence for the day of judgment.
  • He: Messiah.
  • As He is, so are we: This is our objective. This is how G-d wants us to be – just like His Son – obedient to His will in our words and in our deeds. 

v18: There is no fear in love: When we are operating in love there is going to be no fear in our lives.

  • Perfect love: Love in its completed/end form – what it was always called to be. 
  • Love casts out fear: Fear and love are inconsistent with one another. When we are in fear we are absent of love. When we are in love we will be absent of fear.
  • He who fears has not been made perfect in love: This one is not experiencing the perfection of love in his life – the outcome that the love of G-d is supposed to bring into his life.

v19: He first loved us: Perfect love in our lives (with the absence of fear) does not come about because we love Him, but it comes about because He first loved us. 

v20: ‘I love G-d’ and hates his brother: This is a hypothetical situation. 

  • G-d, whom he has not seen: We have not been able to completely comprehend G-d. If we say that we love G-d, but we hate our brother (who we can see) we are not walking in the truth of Scripture.

v21: Commandment: This takes us back to the foundation of the Torah – which holds all of this together. 

  • Him: G-d
  • Must love: This is not a suggestion. A condition (“terms and conditions”) to loving G-d is loving others. 
  • Love his brother: This is the foundation of Torah truth. We are able to love others because we have received the love of G-d. G-d’s perfect love (complete love, love as it was meant to be) enters into our lives and it works in our lives to produce an outcome – the fruit of this perfect love is manifest in love for others. Loving others is a dynamic testimony to the world that the perfect love of G-d is working in us. As we begin to love others, taking hold of the covenantal benefits/privileges of being in a relationship with G-d, we are going to grow, mature and be empowered. 

Note: The love of G-d is this: that He sent His only begotten Son into this world to be the propitiation for the sins of the world. He invites us all to receive this redemption. When we accept what Yeshua has done He begins to work in our lives through His Holy Spirit – destroying the works of the evil one in our lives (i.e. sin). As sin is destroyed nothing hinders us from receiving the love of G-d and being used by G-d. There are great benefits to experiencing the love of G-d – both in this world and in the age to come – one of which is the ability to demonstrate His love to others. 

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