Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 John 4:8-21

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God is love - 1 John 4:8

God is love. See WCF 2.1. Whoever does not love other people cannot possibly know God (see note on 4:20). Because God is love, those who truly know and love him will also love his image-bearers, human beings. John is not saying, Love is God, rather he is defining love by God's character. John's letter is shaped by two fundamental messages about God in 1:5 and 4:8, which informs 3:11 (see notes). 'God is light' and 'God is love' are messages that he unpacks through his testimony about Jesus. God's light and love are rooted in his goodness, that is, his restorative justice. The Father reveals his love for the world by sending the Son as an atoning sacrifice for sins, the just for the unjust, and as an example of loyal, obedient and sacrificial love (see notes on 3:16; cf. Jn. 15:12-15).

God sent his one and only Son - 1 John 4:9-10

God sent his one and only Son… the propitiation. God reveals himself by sending his unique, dearly loved son (see notes Rom 8:32; cf. Gen 22:12). By living in accord with God's will, laying down his life, and being raised in vindication, Christ is qualified to give life to God's people. To live in the fullest sense, according to John and the rest of the Scriptures, is to love God and other people fully, that is, in the same way that Jesus loved. On propitiation or atoning sacrifice see note on 2:2.

No one has ever seen God - 1 John 4:12

no one has ever seen God. John makes this point repeatedly in the Fourth Gospel (see notes on Jn. 1:18; 5:37; 6:46). Though God is a spirit, God's presence and fellowship is experienced when his love comes to Christ-like maturity in the congregation of his people, in both their worship and their witness.

The Spirit in God's Children Acknowledges the Incarnation - 1 John 4:13-16

The Spirit in God's Children Acknowledges the Incarnation. John gathers several aspects of his testimony in summary for his readers: He is an eyewitness of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Like his readers, he has also received the Holy Spirit, who empowers their love for Christ and each other. These are intertwined and interdependent. True Discipleship is rooted in the apostle's witness about Christ; the Spirit's testimony and power; and the loving fellowship and service of God's people

We have seen and testify - 1 John 4:13-14

Spirit… borne witness. See BC 9; WCF 18.3; WLC 80; HC 76. The Holy Spirit binds together the eyewitness testimony of the apostle, John, with the fellowship his readers experience as together, they rely on God's love expresses through Jesus

Whoever acknowledges; remains in him - 1 John 4:15-16

whoever acknowledges… remains in him. Up to this point, John has used the word remain (menō) twenty times in the epistle (2:6, 10, 14, 17, 19, 24, 27-28; 3:6, 9, 14, 15, 17, 24, 4:12-13), and now twice more here. Jesus' true disciples are marked by their confession that he is God's Son, and then by how fully they rely on his love. This means they remain or abide in his teaching, they keep his commands (see notes on Jn. 8:31; 15:9-15) in the power of God's Spirit

Whoever Lives in God's Love - 1 John 4:16-21

Whoever Lives in God's Love Need not Fear Punishment. The experience of God's Spirit and glory transforms his people into his image (see notes on Exod. 34:29-35). By making their home in his covenant of loyal love, they can rest in peace, instead of fearing punishment.

Remains in this love - 1 John 4:16

remains in this love. See WCF 2.1; WLC 80. To dwell in God's love is also to practice love for one's fellow believers. On God is love, see note above on 4:8

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