1 John 4:7–16 (NKJV)

John has discussed in the last passage the need to avoid sin and to live in righteousness, striving to never sin again. In this passage, John addresses the true mark of Godliness, the love of God.

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:7-11

John begins the discussion with a command to love one another among the beloved. Love is of God, so those who exhibit the true love of God is born of God, and knows Him deeply. This is not just an emotion, but a commitment of care and compassion lived out under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. If one does not love, then they do not have the commensurate knowledge of God to walk in the powerful agape love of God. God showed us a powerful example of the love of God, in that He sent His only begotten Son that we might live through Him. The great example of love is found in God’s love for mankind, not in our love for Him. His love led to the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the propitiation, or payment, for our sins. Then, if God loves us so much as to offer His Son as the payment for our sins, then we must respond with a truly deep love for one another. His love should inspire our love for Him and for others.

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:12-16

John unexpectedly announces that “no one has seen God at any time.” Whatever significance this may have for the discussion, it seems slightly out of place here. However, it may relate to the fact that love induces the presence of God. We abide in Him and He in us because He has given us of His Spirit. This is one of the sources of love: the Holy Spirit. This passage also points to the Son of God being sent as the Savior of the world. Salvation should also encourage believers to love others in response to the exorbitant love of God for us. In general, the love of God for us and His desire to abide in us and for us to abide in Him is a third motivation for humanity to express and feel love for one another. God in three persons is the example of relationship within the trinity and the source of relationship with God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit exemplify perfect love and relationship, and–as John expresses here–all three members of the Godhead provide motivation for love, not only for God, but for one another. So, love like God loves, and take His love in your heart and love one another. This is the will of God for all men and women.

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