The next claim from the opponents is that they not only claim to know God (but they do not keep his commands), they are claim to abide in him but they are not walking like Jesus walked.
In John’s Gospel, “abiding” is an important theme. The word can refer to remaining or staying (so the disciples who follow Jesus in 1:39 remain with Jesus, or Jesus remained with the Samaritans for two days, 4:40). The word has the sense of continuing to live in a particular state or place, even a permanent state (LXX Psalm 9:8, the Lord’s throne abides forever). In John 6:56 the one who eats the flesh of Jesus and drinks his blood “abides in Jesus.” In 15:4, the believer is like a branch which remains a part of the vine. In John 5:38, the one who does not believe in Jesus or the one who sent him does not abide in the word if God (and it does not abide in them).
The one who is abiding in Jesus ought to walk just as Jesus walked. In verses 7-8 John clarifies this is nothing new, but the same thing he has always taught them. It may be the case the opponents are saying John is teaching something new and different, so here he says this is the same thing he has always taught.
This is an eschatological statement, the old age is passing away and the new age is dawning. The age of the Law is ending and the age of the Kingdom is coming soon. The time in which we now live is the period between those two ages For John, we live in the “already” of the inauguration of the kingdom, but also in time when the Kingdom has not yet been established.
John can claim the opponents are not abiding in Christ because they are hating their brothers and sisters. This has significant application to modern church relationship, how do we relate to people who have left our church, and perhaps talked badly against us, or said things about the church which were not true? How do we relate to another denomination? Do we express “hate” toward them because they are not us? As Paul says in Philippians 1, if the gospel is preached praise God!
This person is not in the light at all, but they remain in the darkness. This is a self-deception, they have blinded their own eyes. The one who cannot see cannot know where they are going, not only dangerous but unlikely to reach the right goal.
The person who loves their brother remains in the light and there is “no cause for stumbling,” a common metaphor for sin. The verb “to stumble” is used fifteen times in the New Testament, “always with the meaning of causing some sort of harm to a person” (Kruse, 86). In this case, it has the sense of causing someone to sin. If you cause somebody to sin, then they will be under judgment to their harm.
If you are living a well-lit place, you see things that might make you stumble and you avoid them. Living in the dark is dangerous since you may stumble and injure yourself since you cannot see the danger right in front of you.
Imagine telling somebody that it is perfectly acceptable and healthy to eat a 6000 calorie a day diet. Objectively, this is very dangerous and if someone tries to eat that much every day they will become extremely fat and sick and die. The teaching is false, and it leads people to death (quite literally in this case). This new diet might actually be very popular, since you can eat whatever you want to do as much as you wanted to. However being popular does not make it right.
It is likely the opponents are teaching something that is very attractive: What we do it doesn’t count as sin or that God is not going to judge some behavior like as if it is sin. This is would be a very popular teaching, but it is also false and very dangerous.
What are some examples from modern church experience of “hating a brother or sister”? How does this animosity affect a community of believers? Is John right that one cannot hate a brother and really abide in Christ?
14 thoughts on “1 John 2:6-11 – The Danger of Hating a Brother or Sister”
Romans 12:5 states that we are many but one family. Jesus’s blood and sacrifice allows us to have brotherly love with fellow believers. We have all been adopted in God’s family and kingdom. John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. John challenges us to love others and so much more, to love fellow believers as family. It is a commandment to love one another just as Jesus did.
1 John 2:10 love means that sight has been restored to a blind person. We were once blind, but through Jesus we walk in the light. As a Church family, we work together in love to lead others to a deeper relationship with God. We have fellowship and love among our family. Modern churches are often accused of hating when it comes to topics homosexuality, abortion, divorce, or even biblical beliefs. This conflict causes division amongst believers. It is a conflict that does not cause hate but, unfortunately does cause division and separation. However, as brothers and sisters, and children of God we will forever abide in Him. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13).
I thought the power of hatred was summed up well when P.Long (2020)said, “If you are living in a well-lit place, you see things that might make you stumble and you avoid them. Living in the dark is dangerous since you may stumble and injure yourself since you cannot see the danger right in front of you”. Sometimes our feelings for people are hidden so deep in our hearts or buried in our memories that we cannot see them, yet they subconsciously influence our interactions with that person. If we are not aware of the potential for harm do we then we have no way to prevent it? 1 John 2:9-10 equates love with light, and hate with darkness; the previous chapter spent a great time describing what it means to love, yet besides verses 9-11 there is no other mention of what it means to hate someone. It is powerful to think that since God is light and there is no darkness in him (1 John 1:5), that if we hate our brother we become in darkness (1 John 2:9) then we can’t be with God. This is a pretty bold statement to remind believers of the reality of our behaviors while still remembering we are under God’s grace.
I agree that the matter of stumbling blocks in a Christian’s life are present, but often times Christians try to validate them or claim that they are not having an effect of their life, when in fact they are dangerous to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Sadly, sometimes the stumbling blocks that need to be rid of in a believer’s life can be someone that they are close to. This may mean that their impact on the believers life can be strongly unhealthy without the believer even realizing it and therefore makes the separation even more difficult. The New Testament multiple uses this metaphor of a “stumbling block” is not a coincidence, but essential to take notice to. This was clearly a problem in the early church, as it is also an issue today. In today’s society “Christian role models” or individuals who claim to be Christians can be very toxic for both believers and non-believers. For instance, if someone is claiming to be a Christians, but lives a very different lifestyle than the type of Christ exemplified, then that Christian (as well as all Christians) are seen as hypocrites. This can create stumbling blocks because they are claiming to be something that they are not. Those “Christian role models” could be twisting the truth of the gospel and lead those who look up to them down a dark and dangerous road, perhaps even into the darkness that John speaks about (1 John 2:9). Christians need to be on guard of these stumbling block individuals and turn to the gospel for the truth.
What are some examples from modern church experience of “hating a brother or sister”? How does this animosity affect a community of believers? Is John right that one cannot hate a brother and really abide in Christ?
I think about these particular questions almost daily since I have read the sermon on the mount. When Jesus says “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek turn to him the other also.” (ESV Matt. 5:38-39). The reason why I think about this is because we use the term “pushover”. Meaning that No one likes to be walked over their whole life. but this passage makes it seem like thats how it should be. let them do what they feel is necessary to show them love. I know a family who hates another family because they feel like they cheated the husband out of his job. I believe it causes their kids to also hold grudges and have stress. it affects a lot of people because then it starts rumors and causes a lot of believers to also stumble if they struggle with that. To answer that last question I believe it is very hard to abide in Christ and hate a brother or sister. If God made us in his image and every single one of us are his children then we are hating also the one who created each one of us. If we hate the one we are trying to abide in how can that be? it cannot. That is why I believe that forgiving one another is so important. Loving one another even when it is hard. Because love is a choice
In my opinion, John is right that a person cannot hate a brother and really abide in Christ. I think that you can still be saved and hate a brother, but I don’t think you’re truly following and abiding in Christ. Leviticus 19:17 says, “you shall not hate your brother in your heart…” (ESV). Scripture speaks about hate a lot and how it is not of Christ and it is not of God. I think that a person who hates is someone that is lost or misguided by that temptation of sin and even if that is the case, they can still be saved yet not following Christ and not allowing their full heart to be guided by Him. In some cases, there are modern ways of church hating their brothers and sisters. Like the photo along with the article, people hold up signs that say, “God hates you.” & that if you struggle with a certain type of sin that calls for hatred and Christ does not stand for that. While I was in Ireland, it was seen around Dublin people yelling into a mic and having a sign around their neck, telling people they’d be going to Hell and that God hated them for sinning and it was truly heartbreaking seeing someone speak like that and how that might have been someone’s first time hearing about Christ and it was kinda ruined by someone not abiding in Christ, telling them God hated them and already damning them to Hell. So, it still happens by Christians and the church today. This does not automatically mean that someone is not saved, it simply means they’re misguided and allowing themselves to be hateful and not allowing Christ to fully abide in their hearts.
In 1 John 2:6-11 we get a clear picture of what it means if we do not abide in Jesus. Abide here means remain or stay. When we walk the way we ought to walk we are walking in the way Jesus walked. This means we have similar desires and desirable outcomes as Jesus did. This is easier said than done. It is easier to say you love someone and in the same breath you say grumble about those who left the church. This is not the way we ought to walk. When we walk the way we ought to encourage and build-up one another. 1 John also looks at the idea that individuals can cause one another to stumble. I’ve used this jokingly at times, as I do not want to do something like playing a card game, so I tell them they are making me stumble. This is not the correct way Paul probably envisioned this being used. The notion here is about causing others harm in a real way. The problem with these stumbling blocks is when you are already living in the dark. I believe that this darkness is often from the people we surround ourselves with and are influenced by. Some modern applications to hating a brother or sister could be talking behind their back or bringing alcohol to a party you know your friend has a problem with. We ought to surround ourselves with positive influences that build one another up.
I can share some few examples of modern church experience of hating a brother or sister, is forcing a couple who had pre-marital sex, to get married in order to get blessed and be part of the church without proper marriage or couple counseling. I have seen this happen plenty of times, and guess what, that couple ended in divorced because of unsettling problems not being properly taken care of and these problems ended the “good marriage,” based on the discernment of the pastors. Rushing people to get marry without proper time to heal of the previous marriage. I don’t understand this, how pastors are to so quick to marrying people without proper counseling and sessions. Another example, is forcing a gay person, who is struggling and asking for help from the church, one the church doesn’t know how to interact with transgender or gays, so they assume calling them by their biological gender is right, which it is violating the transgender free-will, all because the Bible speaks of homosexuality of being a abomination to God, and forget to love others, this cause many of gay people to resent God and the church. The lack of knowledge and communication the church have on the issue of homosexuality, forces a lot of them not to trust the church or the Bible, ending in causing hatred in their hearts. Why? We use the Bible Scriptures like a hammer, destroying people, rather than trusting the Holy Spirit, which his job is transforming people’s hearts, not ours. So, we used scriptures like ammo, destroying people’s lives, rather than leading them to Christ. The church, has made a lot of mistakes in how to handle or deal with issues of the world, but the worst is not accepting the mistakes. Not accepting the wrongdoing towards people in the world, and thinking the churches are doing a justly cause, which in reality we are causing morse harm.
I think a common way of hating a brother or sister is having judgement towards someone because they live their life different or have made different choices than you. judgement from Christians is something that has turned many people away from the church or the religion, so it is not uncommon. While other people may make different decisions, or sin in ways that are different from the ways we sin, we are all still broken and helpless without God. God views all sin the same way and all of it is worthy of death in Gods eyes. I think that when we judge others or look down on them because of the ways they are different from us, we are choosing our pride and arrogance over love for that person. We are choosing to think about how great we are rather than think about how to share Jesus with that other person. This is selfish and unloving. If we are unloving towards someone, then we are being hateful towards them. This is not treating others with respect or treating them like they are made in the image of God. We are essentially saying that they don’t deserve to hear the good news or that they arn’t good enough for us to speak to. We are letting them continue to live in darkness and hide the tools we have to rescue them from that darkness. This is not how Christ instructs us to live and goes against what John is telling us in this passage.
I have always wondered and maybe pushed against the idea that if we commit hate toward our brother and sister in Christ, that we could not abide in Christ. In the world around us, I see people, churches even, committing numerous hateful acts. It comes down to the fact that within our human nature we do not fully love what God loves and hate what he hates. If we did we would not be obsessed with division, casting one another down in judgement, and riddled with gossip. Is it that I, maybe we, have not experienced the true meaning of hate?
The word abide refers to a resting, a remaining within the presence of God as well as his will for us. This is both a mental effort as well as a spiritual and physical discipline. Hatred would take us out of the mindset that we need to choose to abide. Hate is a choice to give in to evil emotions and thoughts toward another. So then the idea becomes clear, we must choose, give in to hate, evil that seems to cecum to the world. Or choose to abide, to pursue God with all our hearts and therefore to become like Jesus and therefore expel hate from our lives.
I can only speak for myself, but I believe that abiding in God is the best and safest place to be. Therefore, the idea of hate and it’s consequences personally puts fear within me. when we do not abide within the Lord we take ourselves away from safety, away from rest, away from grace. Not in the long run no. But when we choose to distance ourselves from God we experience shame that’s makes it harder to embrace both grace and forgiveness.
Some modern church examples of “hating a brother or sister” would be just that – not loving those that are different than us. Paul says that there is one Body made up of many members, as the members of the physical body do not say to one another “I do not need you,” and that there may be no division of the body, but each member have the same care for one another (1 Cor 12:21-26). To hate a brother or sister would be to bring division and to do the opposite of loving would not be abiding in Christ because God is Love, as it says later on in 1 John. God is love, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God, and because God loved us, we ought to love one another, and by loving one another, God abides in us and us in him (4:7-12).
In the recent years, we have seen more “hate” and problems among people. That includes believers in churches. Personally, in my church we have dealt with many problems amongst brother and sisters. One of our more common problems arise from our church finances. Some members argue that others should be contributing more financially to support of the church. But they are not going about it with grace and compassion which leads to conflict. 1 John 3:15 states, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murdered, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” I believe that this is not how God wants us to treat each other. There are many verses in Scripture emphasizing the important of loving one another. Jobe states, “Love for others is evidence that one has crossed from darkness into light, from death into life, for anyone who does not love remains in death (p.427).”
Knowing God means to keep His commands and abiding in God means to be walking alongside Jesus in your life. Reading through John’s books, it is evident that abiding is a key theme throughout the books. Often, it is said to abide in God and in His Word, which is referring to being consistent in continually living out life for God. Abiding in Jesus results in walking just as Jesus had walked, truly living life in a Christ-like manner.
John’s claim on how these people he is writing to are not abiding in God can be made because they are hating their brothers and sisters. This is a factor in many churches and believers that is evident today. For example, people will often speak poorly of another brother or sister in Christ due to the way they might present themselves, like wearing not as fancy clothes to church. Another common factor in which people of the church hate on other brothers and sisters of the church is through the various number of different denominations that exist today and how the different denominations do not get along based on their different beliefs within Christianity—it is crazy. Paul mentions in Philippians that as long as the Gospel is being preached, praise God for the new believers! However, sadly it is common for people to get caught up in the world or get caught up in the “rules” where they forget this concept of all praise going to God when the word is spread, which is our purpose for being on this earth in the first place. God wants unity among His chosen people and hating our brothers and sisters for shallow reasons takes away this unity that God desires. I do believe that John is right about not being able to abide in God while hating a brother or sister and this is a very hard concept to accept. I have been raised to hate the sin, not the sinner. Meaning, if someone sins, remind yourself that we all fall short and in order to continue making disciples, we must show no judgment, because that is the Lord’s job.
Those who hate their brothers and sisters are not actively living for God and are not reflecting His light. Later in John’s letter he says that God is love and that we are called to love God by loving others. Therefore, we cannot love God and hate our brother. Someone else mentioned in the comments that sometimes our feelings towards other people are hidden even to us. We may have hatred towards someone in our hearts and be walking dangerously in the darkness and not even realize it. I know that I have experienced this. I grew up in a big family and did not get along with one particular sibling. We fought all of the time growing up and those minor disagreements and fights turned into resentment hatred. I was so busy blaming everything on the other person that I didn’t realize that I was holding hatred in my heart towards them. It took me years to realize this and ask God to help me change. Sometimes we don’t know what we are holding in our hearts and are blind to a sinful habit that needs to change. In Psalm 139:3-24 David says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” No one know our heart better than God; He knows and understands us completely. We need to ask Him to search our hearts and reveal our hearts to us. We may be stumbling in the darkness and not even know it which is why we need to come to the light. We need Him to show us what we have been stumbling on and to help us walk in the light.
I think this passage is a challenge for genuine believers. The words that the apostle John writes here are direct and can truly cut to the quick like a sword by “discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). It is often said that actions speak louder than words. In this case, our actions towards our fellow believers and even non-believers shows to the rest of the world whether we walk in light or darkness. Christians are to be known for love, as the disciple whom Jesus loved, writes throughout his epistles. However, Christians are the ones that can be the most unloving and unwelcoming to the outcasts and sinners. How many churches turn away pregnant teenagers, LGTBQ people, or people struggling with addictions? Instead of loving them like Jesus did, we rather rain down hate. The apostle John argues that because of these actions that come from the darkness of our heart and originate in sin, are not from God, and therefore, we are not from God. This is a harsh wakeup call.