19 January 2017

1 John 4:11-16

“Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.” (v. 11)

Psalm: Psalm 89:1-18


Our passage follows on directly from yesterday, which ended with an affirmation of the love of God, as demonstrated in the gift of Jesus as an "atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). The corollary is that we should love one another.

Reading between the lines of today's passage and the rest of 1 John it becomes clear that it was written to a group of Christians deeply (and perhaps acrimoniously) divided. Some apparently do not regard Jesus as the Son of God. To do so however, as today's passage implies, casts doubt on the love of God (or at least on the lengths God's love will go for us). Two tests are therefore put forward for those who claim to be in union with, or "abide in" (vv. 13, 15, 16), God. One is to recognise Jesus as the Son of God. The other is to exhibit such love towards others.

But such love for one another, the writer argues, is not just a matter of copying God's love. In our loving others God loves through us (verse 16). There is thus a very clear test of any claim to be at one with God: do we love one another?

To Ponder

  • How would you explain to someone what is meant by calling Jesus God's Son?
  • What is the difference, if any, between 'loving one another' and loving everyone?

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..