“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ~ 1 John 4:8
Explanation of the Text: And so it is, after several months of study we come to the conclusion of the fourth chapter of 1 John. It is very much a chapter of love. We learn a number of points from the text, but I think that I want to summarize the past three months of our journey here in three primary points.
The Preaching of Love (verses 1-6)
I want to see first the preaching of love. Verse 9 tells us that the ultimate display of love comes from the most decisive event in history . . . the life, death, and life again of Jesus Christ. The first six verses of John’s writing assures us that those who know God, those who are truly committed to Him will be ones that confess and teach Christ. Thus, they preach the manifestation of God’s love. In this way, we can test teachers determining if they are indeed false or true.
This is the context of the those verses. John is writing to his readers assuring them that they must not be lead astray and so they must test those teachers. How do you test? By simply asking, “Who do they confess as Lord?”
The Presentation of Love (verses 7-15)
Just as love is manifested through the teachings of those who adhere to the true teaching, so also will love be exemplified in the lives of those who adhere to the truth. John compels us to love one another on the basis that God has loved us (verse 12). If we know God, if we know Christ, and are truly living for the Triune God, then love will be manifested in our lives.
As God loved us, we love others. Others will see God’s love through the love that we show them. Thus, we love not merely to place the attention on ourselves, but to place the attention on our Lord. The standard for the love we show others is defined by the love that God showed us.
The Perfection of Love (verses 16-21)
Verse 12 indicates that God’s love is perfected in us when we love others. As we love others, the God who has been unseen by us and our fellow man is made visible through the love we shows others. Verse 19 goes further to say that we love because God first loved us. Taking these two verses together we see the perfection of love.
First we see God’s love for us is perfected when we love others. This is because it shows God’s love to others through us. Furthermore though, our love for God is perfected because when we love in a genuine, true way, the circle is made complete.
As these verses extol the virtue of love, we find ourselves compelled to love more because of Love. Because of God’s work through us, we find ourselves desiring more of His love and desire to show more of His love. Love is a gift of God to be enjoyed for His glory and our good.