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1 John 4:712 comment (0)

June 5, 2014

By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh, Ph.D.

Related Scripture: 1 John John 4:712


Bible Studies for Life 
Chair and Armstrong Professor of Religion, Samford University

God is Loving

1 John 4:7–12

People in the Scottish Highlands imagine that the way in which to measure the height of a mountain is to plumb the depth of the loch that lies at the foot of the mountain, because the two measurements are thought to be identical. So with the mystery of God’s love — its length, breadth, height and depth are beyond our human comprehension — we cannot master them. As Martin Luther once remarked, “It is God who handles us, and not we who handle God;” yet the God who “handles” us is a God of matchless mercy and glorious love.

God is Love (7–8)

The purpose of this section is to encourage Christians to love each other. Love has its origin in God and belongs to the essence of God’s being and character. The Christian confession of God is distinctively Trinitarian and to say that God is love is a summary description of the witness of Scripture to God’s unfathomable love incarnate in Jesus Christ and experienced and celebrated in the community of the Spirit, bringing us to know God as Father. 

Through faith, we experience the relationships of love that existed in eternity between the members of the Trinity and in that love we rejoice and live out our lives of discipleship. To say that we know God and do not live a life of love is to betray our spiritual identity.

God’s Love is Revealed in Jesus Christ (9–10)

The dimensions of God’s love for us are discovered by plumbing the depths of the love that He showed for us at Calvary when He “sent His only Son into the world ... to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” This is what we like to refer to as agape love, but let us not drive too deep a wedge between agape and the other words, especially eros. The agape love of God is utterly gracious but agape does not mean love without commitment or love without passion. God’s love at Calvary’s cross is an earnest love, a love that goes to the very depth of suffering for sin, stands in solidarity with us and comes to give His life for us so that we will never be outside, never be abandoned, never be forsaken. 

His love is a holy love that does not tolerate sin but takes the suffering for sin into His own experience as Jesus Christ dies on the cross.

“Amazing love, how can it be? That Thou my God should die for me.”

God Calls Us to Love One Another (11–12)

The recipients of such love have no other option but to respond in adoring wonder and seek to exemplify this kind of love within our own attitudes and actions. In verse 12, John speaks of how as we live a life of loving others, the love of God finds a certain fulfillment through our lives of love. When we love others the love of God is shown to have accomplished its full effect on our lives. 

It also is true that this love of God is now demonstrated through our example and through the actions of love that we demonstrate toward others. In and through our lives of love, the world sees the love of God in action. New creation comes about when we are in Christ, when the love of Christ controls us.

We know that humans err, lust, fight and betray each other, but to be redeemed by God, is to be selfless, open to the vulnerability of others, loving, kind, patient and forgiving. These are the fruits of the Spirit, of love and of God. 

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