1 John 4:11-16 – Love One Another

If God so loved as John has described in 1 John 4:7-10, then the  only possible response is to love one another (4:11-12). This is a conditional sentence that assumes the premise is true, something like “since God has loved us by sending his son, then we ought to love one another.”

The only way the world will see God is through behavior of his people. When we demonstrate our love for God by loving one another, we reveal God to the world.

This is challenging since the world does not usually associate love with the organized church. Whether this is the classic cranky nun teaching in a Catholic school or an abusive priest, the puritanical Baptist pastor ranting against sin, preaching hellfire and brimstone on the street corner; the gossiping old women judging the way a younger woman is dressed in church; judging the kid with tattoos and piercings and wearing his ball cap in the church (backwards of course).

The Holy Spirit is evidence we are abiding in God (4:13). Once again John states we “abide in him” and God “abides in us.” Does this plural pronoun mean, God abides in me as an individual, or God abides in the community of believers? This is ambiguous, and it is (perhaps intentionally) unclear whether John intended the reader as an individual to imagine God’s love abiding in them personally or whether John is describing how a local church ought to function as a living community.

Gift of the Holy Spirit promised in John 15. The Holy Spirit is also called the “Spirit of Truth” in the Gospel of John 14:17 and 16:13. Here in 1 John 4:6 (cf. 5:6) John describes the role of the Spirit of God as enabling the believer to discern true teaching from false. In Second Temple Period Judaism, the “spirit of truth” has a similar use of the phrase.

How does the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit express itself in love for one another?  In the letter John has already stated Jesus is the messiah and son of God sent in the flesh, Now John expands is view of Jesus to include “savior of the world” (4:14-15).

Would the opponents deny this? It is easy enough to believe a Jewish teacher named Jesus lived in Galilee and gathered some disciples, challenged Jewish Temple aristocracy and was falsely accused as attacking the Roman government, resulting in his crucifixion. But is this knowledge of a historical Jesus enough to be “born of God”? For John, Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God revealed in the flesh, and the Savior of the world. These are not theological points people can pick one or two of and be born of God. This is a full package, all are required to “abide in God.”

It is remarkable Jesus is the savior of the world since in John’s Gospel the world is in active rebellion against God. Yet John 3:16 says God loved the world and sent his son to be an atoning sacrifice for the world. That Jesus “saved the world” is another gracious act in which God extends salvation to people who are in total rebellion against him, unable and unwilling to do anything to reconcile themselves to God.

8 thoughts on “1 John 4:11-16 – Love One Another

  1. The first thing that caught my eye in this article is that the world will only see God through our behavior of His people. Even though we don’t realize it, but a lot of people look up to individuals, whether it is believers, nonbelievers, children, etc. We are always being watched and probably judged by other people in the world but the way we respond to that is important. The article goes on to talk about how the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit express itself by loving one another. Using examples from John 4:14 says that Jesus is the “savior of the world”, that meaning He rules over everything, and no one is greater than Him. In John 3:16 it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave him one and only son that whoever believes in him will have eternal life”. God even shows his love to the world by showing love and grace to those who don’t believe in Him and won’t do anything to accept God and believe in Him. That is where we come in with our words and actions, because the world is watching us, and we need to bring others to Christ. I also don’t think there is such thing as having too many believers, so I think as Christians we need to continue to show others that we come in contact with the love that Christ Jesus has shown us no matter if you like or dislike that person.

  2. It is sad that Christians today are often viewed as judgmental and hypocrites. Or call to love others is very clear. Acts shows a beautiful picture of the church. The church was on spreading the gospel rapidly, they cared for the poor and sick and they were generous (Acts 4:32-35). This is a great example of how the church should be loving others. Not only did the church care for their community’s physical needs, but the church was also telling the people about Jesus. Acts 4:33 says, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). Besides this there was a spirit of unity as well. However, this unity does not mean Christians accept other religions but that they tell ithers about Jesus because “love doesn’t trump truth” rather they should work together (Jobes, 2011, p.429). We are called to love that is much deeper than a feeling. We are called to a love that takes action. The church can certainly take more action to love others by reflecting the fruits of the spirit such as: kindness, gentleness, self-control, peace, joy, love, generosity, and faithfulness. While also not being afraid of standing firm in the truth about who Jesus is.

    Jobes, K. H. (2011). Letters To the Church: A survey of Hebrews and the general epistles. Zondervan.

  3. This section is an important one to take note of. It may have become cliche to say that sometimes we are the only Jesus people see, meaning that they might only know about Jesus from how we live and witness to them, but that is exactly what these verses are saying. Because we are loved, we should love others, and because of this, we will show the love of God to others. This reminds me of Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” I think if John were to write this phrase he would say, “Love others in such a way that your love is evidence of your love for God and the love that God has for his children.” Jobes explains that loving others is directly tied to loving God, “To love God means to keep his commandments…love for others is rooted in a love for God…What passes for love in the world is only a poor counterfeit of the riches of love in Christ” (429). Jobes’ last statement, that love in the world is a poor counterfeit of the love of Christ is not specified to one group. Christians too can do a poor job loving others. The church is often not seen as a place of love, and the world tries all the more to make it seem like the church isn’t loving. The world says we don’t love because we don’t support LGBTQ+ lifestyles. The world says we don’t love because we believe in absolute truth, not letting them have their truth and us have our truth. Loving God means being obedient to him, which means that sometimes we will have to go against the world in order to follow God. But loving God also means loving people. So it is important to understand what love is. The best explanation of love that I can think of is to selflessly seek the best interest of the other individual. Loving them does not mean we agree with everything they do. Sometimes it even means telling them they are wrong. Loving them is seeking what is best for them, and that may mean telling them they are wrong so that they can get back on track. I mean, God’s love for us is that way. He first tells us that we are sinners, and we are wrong and we have messed up, but his love doesn’t stop there. He then provides a way for us to get back on the right track, his son, Jesus.

  4. It is so humbling to think about the fact that God choose us despite of our sin and imperfections. It is crazy to think about how completely broken we are, to the point where we need to be commanded to love others and to show kindness. Even that goes against our broken and sinful nature. The fact that God has to command us to do something, shows us that we would otherwise most likely not do that thing out of natural instinct. This gives us all the more reason to thank God and praise Him. We are so undeserving of Gods love, attention, grace and mercy, yet He continually upholds us each and every day anyway. Because of what God has done for us, it gives us a motivation to show love and kindness with others. Not only does being loving and kind go against our nature, but our reason for being loving and kind is because of what God has first done for us. We need to be told to be loving, but we also need Christ as our motivation in order to be loving and have a reason to continue showing love. Thankfully God chose to be merciful to us and send His son for us, otherwise we would have no reason to be loving or to want to do good to others and for others. Our actions praise God because they are in obedience to the commands He has given to us, and our actions serve as a testimony to Him.

  5. I feel like many churches lack the sense of love within them. It almost becomes a battle or a competition to see who is more “godly” and in sight of this, people lose the real meaning of being a Christian. Jesus showed us love unconditionally. He loved everyone and set many examples for us to follow. Jesus healed the sick, the hungry, and the blind all in love. He knew no hate. It is so easy for people to judge rather than to accept and love. It is so important to remember that we are all made in the image of God and should love always. Jesus served and that was also how he loved. 1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.” (ESV) It is just that simple. Church can be a scary place to go and it can be uncomfortable. As I was saying before, some are there not with a pure heart. They may not seem welcoming and that is hard to address. It comes to no matter what you are faced with or how bad things get you have to choose love. Even if you are suffering, choose love. Jesus suffered just like the rest of us and he still chose to show people how big his heart was. How can we bring others to salvation when we are not being an example ourselves. People may think that they never want to be a Christian just because of the actions that they have seen from “believers’ ‘. The presence of the Holy Spirit shows us love. God decided to send his only Son because he loved us. That should mean enough right there to want to show others love. It is one of the most simplest things that we can do as Christians.

  6. As humans, we should be taught from birth to treat someone how to be treated, and that is with respect, and kindness shown through God telling us so. Verse 12 of John talks about just because we can’t see God doesn’t mean he is not apparent in our lives, and because we are built in the image of God, it should be in our subconscious mind to love everyone, but sadly because of Satan, we are not given this easily. Because we are plagued with sin, our minds can cause anger, irritation, and many emotions that God deems bad, because God wants to live with us to complete us, from the end of verse 12. The only way God can live through us is we understand the concept of forgiveness, which sometimes is clouded by rage when something happens to us, but what God wants is t not fight evil with evil, but evil with Love, because then God can help us be guided in the right direction of forgiveness of one another. The moment that person fights evil with evil he is lost with the devil because of the fact that God cannot be with us.

  7. The original reason I began reading this post was because the title caught my eye. “Love one another,” this is something that seems to be pushed so much in the christian community and for great reason. But how many of us actually take the time to think about the statement before we just say is like it’s second nature. In the beginning of the post it talks about how the world views the church and how many don’t accossiate it with love. I would say there many even be Christians who feel the same way about the organized church. At the end P. Long talks about how remarkable it is that Jesus is the savior of the world with the rebellion that was happening in John’s gospel. I think all of these thought combine make for some deep things to think about. How much God loves us? How can we love one another in the turmoil that is today’s society? How can we better the church and show the love we have to offer?

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