GOD IS LOVE – HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY – 1 John 4

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us: hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

1 John 4:7‭-‬13 ASV

And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38 ASV

Here, of course, is another test, the love of “one another,” such love being of God himself. One stands in amazement at a comment on this like the following:

God’s infinite love includes ALL the human beings in whose nature love is or ever has been, whether they ever heard of God or Christ or not.

Such a comment is typical of much of the nonsense that has been written on this section of John’s letter.

“Love one another” is neither sexual love ([EROS]) nor animal affection ([FILEO]), but Christian love ([AGAPE]).

This is a love known only “in Christ,” being the gift of God himself, having no connection whatever with mere humanism.

John’s repeated stress of such Christian love in this epistle might have been due to the fact, that some of the Jewish converts, retaining their ancient prejudices, still considered it their duty to hate the heathen, even those who had accepted Christianity.

GOD IS LOVE … This profoundly beautiful and encouraging statement about the Father must rank, along with others, as one of the grandest in all Scripture.

Love is God’s reigning attribute that sheds an amiable glory upon all of his other perfections.

This is probably the single greatest statement about God in the whole Bible … It is amazing how many doors that single statement unlocks and how many questions it answers.

God’s nature is not exhausted by the quality of love.

God is light (1 John 1:5), and spirit (John 4:24), and (considering the oneness of the Father with the Son) he is life, and truth (John 14:6). Moreover, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).

It is a failure to recognize that no single word is capable of describing the ineffable God which leads to a gross perversion of this marvelous text in the popular mind.

Some hail this verse, as if it said, “Love is God; and here is a God we can all handle; bring on the love!”

Many who read these precious words of John do not seem to be aware of the holy and self-sacrificing love about which John wrote.

God’s love for mankind and his glorious attribute of love do not in any manner alter or negate the revelation that “the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18), nor the revelation concerning God that he “will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31).

Furthermore, there is no conflict between John and Paul on this point.

John’s description of the final judgment in Revelation 6:15-17 is as soul-shaking a view of the wrath of God in judgment as any in the whole Bible.

The proper view of God’s love must be big enough to understand that his final judgment and overthrow of wickedness will be, in itself, a mark of eternal love.

And yet such thoughts should not detract from the unique glory of this text.

No one in the whole world ever knew that God is love until it was revealed from heaven and written in the New Testament.

It is here, and nowhere else; it is not found in all the literature of mankind.

The marginal reading “in our case” instead of “in us” appears as the true meaning, since it is God’s sending his Son to die for the sins of the whole world, which is the manifestation spoken of, that not being something “in us” but “in our case,” or on our behalf.

His only begotten Son … This is a better rendition than that of making it read merely “only Son,” because it is admitted by all scholars that “uniqueness” is an essential quality of meaning in this word.

“Only Son” would therefore mean that God has no other sons; yet all Christians are “sons of God.” “Only begotten” conveys that essential meaning of “uniqueness,” exactly in the sense of the word ([MONOGENES]) as translated in Hebrews 11:17 where Isaac is called Abraham’s “only begotten son,” there being a uniqueness in Isaac’s sonship not found in Abraham’s many other sons.

It is therefore a most happy and appropriate translation which reads “only begotten Son.”

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Marshall’s rendition of the Nestle Greek Text, the translation in the Emphatic Diaglott, Frances E. Siewert in The Amplified New Testament, the New Catholic Bible, to say nothing of that great galaxy of New Testament scholars who produced the American Standard Version – all translate the word as meaning “only begotten.”

The present day meaning of “only begotten” exactly fits the legitimate meaning.

“Only begotten” carries the meaning of “uniqueness” without denying the sonship of Christians, making it superior to the RSV, etc.

The same word ([MONOGENES]) was used of a man’s son (Luke 9:38), of Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:42), and of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12).

It could hardly mean only begotten in that case (Luke 7:12), since begetting is a function of the male rather khan the female, apparently overlooking the fact that nothing is said about the widow’s having done the begetting!

Her son was the “only begotten” of whoever begot him, just as Jesus was Mary’s son, despite his having been the “only begotten of the Father.”

Admittedly, this is a disputed translation; and the purpose here is to affirm appreciation and preference for the one that has come down through the ages.

We simply do not believe that the modern scholars have any more information regarding this than did the translators of KJV and ASV, nor that the recent ones are any more competent.

That we might live through him … The great purpose of that visitation from the Dayspring from on High was that, through obedience to the Son of God, people might have the blessing of eternal life.

Herein is love … This carries the thought, “notice just what love actually is.” John defined it, even in God’s love, as being not merely a sentimental fondness for the human race, but a gracious, unselfish and unmerited act of divine giving of his “only begotten Son” to save people from eternal death.

The love which proves us children of God is not native to our hearts. It is inspired by the amazing love of God manifested in the Incarnation, the infinite Sacrifice of His Son’s life and death.

To be the propitiation … For a more regarding of this phrase, see 1 John 2:2.

The objection that “propitiation” leaves out of view the love of God is not well taken.

So far from finding any kind of contrast between love and propitiation, the apostle can convey no idea of love to anyone, except by pointing to the propitiation.

In this chapter, John repeated over and over again many of the closely related topics he had already mentioned, each time going a little further, giving a slightly different antithesis, stressing a little different aspect, or urging a closer attention, – all in such a marvelous way that, at last, his meaning becomes incontrovertible.

In these verses, Christians’ loving each other is motivated by the overwhelming majesty of the love of God himself.

One another … is incapable of meaning “everybody on earth,” although of course, the love of every Christian reaches out to the ends of the world, but not in the intensity commanded here.

No man hath seen God at any time …

This is most likely a warning to Christians against trying to know God in any other way than the one he is describing.

Some have sought, outside of Christianity, to know more about God, hoping for a clearer perception; but this apostolic warning declares all such attempts to be futile.

However, John is not here discounting the visions of God reported in the Old Testament, but meaning that those visions were partial and incomplete. It is in Christ that we see God (John 14:9).

If we love one another … Love of the brethren is the primary meaning of this.

The humanistic philosophy that reads this “love of all mankind” is an inadequate conception.

Our love toward God is perfected and brought to maturity by the exercise of love towards our brethren in him (Christ).

The warning in this verse to the effect that the revelation of God is available to people only in Christ is widely needed.

All such things as astrology, spiritism, witchcraft and Satanism are basically ways of finding a so-called “reality” apart from Biblical revelation.

This apostolic injunction states unequivocally that there is nothing out there which might enlighten or bless people.

The true revelation has already been given through people who is “the way, the truth, and the life.”

Despite this basic truth, the spectacle of a high ranking ecclesiastic losing his life in a desert while trying to communicate with spirits, only recently, was spread on the pages of the newspapers.

God abideth in us … Why make excursions into deserts or dark rooms, or explore the mysteries of esoteric cults, or plunge into the abyss through drugs or alcohol?

When all the while God himself will take up residence in the very soul of one who will through loving open up room for HIM WHO IS LOVE.

In this paragraph (1 John 4:12-16), the indwelling God is mentioned three times, and the reciprocal nature of it (he in us, we in him) is stressed twice.

The evidence of God’s indwelling is differently stated as follows:

1 John 4:13, He hath given us his Spirit.

1 John 4:15, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 4:16, He that dwelleth in love.

Because he hath given us of his Spirit … It should be carefully noted that the Christian’s possession of the Spirit of God is an “evidence of,” not an “antecedent cause” of God’s indwelling our hearts.

Furthermore, it is a mistake to suppose that there is even any microscopic difference between God’s indwelling and the Spirit’s indwelling.

There are no less than eight different New Testament designations of that inner presence which differentiates Christians from the world, as set forth in Paul’s writings; and John in this letter added to that list the fact that God’s love abides in Christians, and Christians abide in God’s love.

This verse (1 John 4:13) is virtually a repetition of 1 John 3:24.

With regard to the question of prior conditions to be fulfilled by the believer before the indwelling of God, the reception of the Spirit, the indwelling Christ, etc…

Peter’s summary of this on the Day of Pentecost stands as the eternal answer, binding both on earth and in heaven.

To believers who desire the forgiveness of their sins and the indwelling Spirit, the commandment of God is:

“REPENT and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins, and YOU SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT” (Acts 2:38f).

In the introduction to this letter, it was pointed out that John follows no classical outline.

John’s thought pattern continues to retrace ideas and to pick them up like an orchestra does the strains of a melody in order to develop them more fully.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.
John 3:16‭-‬17 ASV
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