World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
4. God's Love and Ours
1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3and every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it cometh; and now it is in the world already. 4Ye are of God, my little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. 5They are of the world: therefore speak they as of the world, and the world heareth them. 6We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he who is not of God heareth us not. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. 8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9Herein 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. 10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us: 13hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. 16And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him. 17Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, even so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19We love, because he first loved us. 20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. 21And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.
7 Beloved He returns to that exhortation which he enforces almost throughout the Epistle. We have, indeed, said, that it is filled with the doctrine of faith and exhortation to love. On these two points he so dwells, that he continually passes from the one to the other.
When he commands mutual love, he does not mean that we discharge this duty when we love our friends, because they love us; but as he addresses in common the faithful, he could not have spoken otherwise than that they were to exercise mutual love. He confirms this sentence by a reason often adduced before, even because no one can prove himself to be the son of God, except he loves his neighbors, and because the true knowledge of God necessarily produces love in us.
He also sets in opposition to this, according to his usual manner, the contrary clause, that there is no knowledge of God where there is no love. And he takes as granted a general principle or truth, that God is love, that is, that his nature is to love men. I know that many reason more refinedly, and that the ancients especially have perverted this passage in order to prove the divinity of the Spirit. But the meaning of the Apostle is simply this, — that as God is the fountain of love, this effect flows from him, and is diffused wherever the knowledge of him comes, as he had at the beginning called him light, because there is nothing dark in him, but on the contrary he illuminates all things by his own brightness. Here then he does not speak of the essence of God, but only shews what he is found to be by us.
But two things in the Apostle’s words ought to be noticed, — that the true knowledge of God is that which regenerates and renews us, so that we become new creatures; and that hence it cannot be but that it must conform us to the image of God. Away, then, with that foolish gloss respecting unformed faith. For when any one separates faith from love, it is the same as though he attempted to take away heat from the sun.