God’s Love And Ours- 1 John 4:7-12

In this passage, John gives us the Bible’s most complete explanation and description of agape, of love for those who do not love you. He begins the passage by addressing it to his “dear friends”, literally to the “beloved”, which is the term John uses to refer to believers, to those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He then admonishes all believers to love, using the Greek agape here, the love which is from God and was demonstrated by Jesus, who died on a cross for those who did not love Him. This agape love comes only from God, and is the primary evidence of the new birth. Verse seven tells us that “everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God”. Through the usage of the phrase “has been born of God and knows God”, John is telling us that the primary evidence of an increasingly more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is the increasing presence of agape in the life of the believer, an increasing demonstration of love for those who do not love them. In verse 8, John then tells us that the absence of agape is the primary evidence of one who does not know God, of one who has no relationship with God which comes through faith in Jesus Christ. John here follows up on Jesus admonition to examine the fruit in the lives of those who profess to know Him, and John tells us here that those who knows Jesus will demonstrate agape love in their lives, and those who do not demonstrate agape love do not know Jesus, no matter what their own proclamation may be. John tells us that “God is love”, God is agape, God loves those who do not love Him, and He does what is in their best interest. The primary evidence of this agape is seen in the fact that God “sent His one and only Son” to die on a cross for the sins of the world, God acted in our best interest by sending His Son to deal with our biggest problem (sin) and provide for our greatest need (reconciliation with God and eternal life). God acted in our own best interest by coming as a man and dying on a cross for us in the ultimate demonstration of what agape looks like, and John tells us here that all who truly know God will demonstrate this same agape for those who do not love them. John also tells us here that God not only acted in our best interest by dealing with the sin which would prevent us from dwelling with Him for all eternity, but also that we “might live through Him”. The Greek word “live” here is the aorist active subjunctive of zao, a Greek word for life which the New Testament uses only in reference to believers. Only believers possess zoe (the noun form of the verb zao), and zoe is used to refer to life as God intends it to be, life lived in union with the Father through faith in the Son and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus here is referred to as God’s one and only Son due to the fact that He is the only one who always loves like the Father, and John here calls us to be sons and daughters of God also, and we will be so more and more as we learn to agape, as we learn to love as God loves. In verse 10, John then “defines” what agape is, and He does so by pointing to its ultimate demonstration. It is seen and defined in the fact that, while we did not love God, God loved us. He loved those who did not love Him by sending His Son as “an atoning sacrifice for our sins”. The ultimate demonstration of agape is seen in the cross, where Jesus died for His enemies, for those who did not love Him. He died for those who had been alienated and separated from God, in order that they might “live”, live life on earth as God intends it to be, and live in heaven eternally with the Father. It is ultimately in the best interest of every human being that they receive and live out the zoe, the life as God intends, which brings true joy, peace and contentment. Having shown us what agape is and what it looks like, John then exhorts us to love as God loves, that living out a life characterized by agape is an “obligation” (literal translation of the word “ought” here). In verse 12, then, John tells us that it is in living this life of agape, life as God intends for all those created in His image, that God’s love is “made complete”. The Greek word “complete” here is teleioo, again that which does what it is intended to do. God desires that the entire world would know that He is agape, and that this agape extends to the entire world (John 3:16). We must conclude by addressing the statement which John makes at the beginning of verse 12, that “no one has ever seen God”. John here is not making a blanket theological statement about history, and we must keep the context in mind here if we are to understand what John is saying. Remember that the context is agape, and that no one ever saw agape demonstrated until Jesus showed it to us. So what John is saying here is that Jesus has ascended to heaven, and that the all the world will only “see” God through believers. God is agape, and we are created to be His image and likeness, to be his reflection to the world. The only way the world will truly see God is through His followers, and they will see who He is most clearly and accurately only when we live out lives characterized by agape.

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