December 2012


To Love and Cherish

Doing Apologetics

Christianity: The Basics

What is Wrong with Social Justice

Christianity and Secularism

Evidence for the Bible

Archive for December 8th, 2012

The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 4:4-10

Saturday, December 8th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

e. We overcome the World (4:4-6)

i. You have overcome them (4:4)

4 – Little children, you belong to God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

– John assures them of their victory. They have resisted the temptation though the power of the Holy Spirit. There is possibly a hint of persecution here. Also note the contrast between “in you” and “in the world.” While we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, non-believers are not indwelt by Satan.

ii. Belonging to World vs. Belonging to God (4:5-6)

5 – These people belong to the world. That is why they speak from the world’s perspective,[1] and the world listens to them.

– Then, as now, there was the way the world looks at things, and the way God looks at things. Those who left were of the world and they speak that way. Today we see this in the use of, and battle over, labels such as Pro-Life – Pro-choice. We must remember we are not in a popularity contest. God’s message will is not to be judged by numbers. The world judges by how big and how popular something is. But for God, what matters is truth and love.

6 – We belong to God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever does not belong to God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.

– Note the change to plural. John is speaking of all Christians. Those who know God will accept the teachings of God, while those who do not know God will not. We are not in a battle of logic and reason. That someone does not accept the Gospel is not a failure on our part. That the experts disagree is not relevant.

f. Love comes from God (4:7-10)

i. Love one another (4:7a)

7 – Dear friends, let us continually love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God.

– Having just talked about the importance of truth, John now turns to the other test: Love. Here John adds a reason: because love comes from God. He is continuing his argument that those who know God accept the truth of his message, and they reflect his actions: i.e., they love.

Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God

– This can be a difficult verse and context is important to avoid misunderstanding. Here the context is of loving others. John is not talking about the love of a parent for a child, or love of a spouse. The context is loving people.

– To really love, require that we love in truth. We are to love as God Loves. To know God is to obey God; to Obey is to Love; to Love is to know God – John closes the circle. This is a goal that few and probably none actually achieve. It is something we strive for.

ii. Loving one another = knowing God (4:7b-8)

8 – The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

– Again having stated the positive, John now emphasizes this with the negative.

because God is love

– This is one of John definitional statements, such as God is Light (1:7), God is Spirit (Jn 4:24) This statement is quite popular in the modern Church but note that it does not say God is only Love. John’s argument here is that God is Love, how can we claim to be followers of God if we do not love?

iii. God’s Love demonstrated (4:9-10)

9 – This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent his unique Son into the world so that we might live through him.

– If we are to love as God loves, then how does God love? John gives us the greatest example in a fashion very reminiscent of John 3:16. This example has both of the major components of godly love: A true compassion that works itself out in action.

10 – This is love: not that we have loved[2] God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

– John expands on his definition of love

Not that we have loved God but that he loved us

– As we seek to understand real love, we cannot look to how we love God or how we love others. True love is to be found in how God loved us.

sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin

– Rom 5:8 – But God demonstrates his love for us by the fact that the Messiah died for us while we were still sinners.

– God’s love was demonstrated while we were in rebellion against him. What does that say about our love? What does it say about how we treat others?

If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

See here for references and more background on the class.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.

Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


[1] 4:5 Lit. from the world
[2] 4:10 Other mss. read we loved