20 January 2017

1 John 4:17-21

‘We love because he first loved us.’ (v. 19)

Psalm: Psalm 89:19-32


The writer of 1 John takes for granted the widespread expectation in the New Testament that in the future there will be a moment of reckoning with God for the way we have lived, whether this is thought of as occurring at the end of the world or at the end of an individual's life. But it is envisaged here, not as it has often been - the opening of an account book with good and bad deeds listed in opposing columns -  but as turning on the single question, do we love God? If we do, then we need not be afraid of the future. If we do not, we may well be afraid of what the future may hold.

But the claim to love God must be justified by reality. If we do not love the person we can see and touch, our claim to love God who is invisible is an empty one. The language is different, but the point is the same as the one Jesus made in Mark 12:30-31: "You shall love the Lord your God … [and] your neighbour as yourself".

To Ponder

  • How easy is it to love others as God has loved us? What difficulties would you identify?
  • Does the thought of Judgement Day make you anxious? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Can we ever reach "perfection in love" (v. 18)? Why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..