Perfected love is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is the God-kind of love.
1 John 4:7 tells us we need to love each other with the kind of love that comes to us from God.
This love is not perfected in the life of a Christian on this side of eternity. Though it may not be perfected, it must be present – and it should be growing.
1 John 4:7, John returns to his favorite theme, love, the keynote of the First Epistle of John. John is very insistent that being saved by the grace of Christ does not release us from the necessity of obeying Christ’s commandments. And Christ’s chief commandment is love. 1
Scripture frequently testifies to the love of God. The Bible speaks of Him as the “God of love” (2 Corinthians 13:11) and declares Him to be love (1 John 4:8, 16).
John often speaks of God’s love:
- God initiates love (1 John 4:10).
- The Father loves the Son (Matthew 3:17) and the Son loves the Father (John 14:31).
- God loves the world, (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4), His ancient people Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6-8, 13; Jeremiah 31:3), and His true children (John 14:31), He loves righteousness (Psalm 11:7) and justice (Isaiah 61:8).
- The assurance of God’s love is a source of comfort to the believer (Romans 8:35-39). A loving God is not unfeeling toward His own. 1
The ancient Greek sentence in 1 John 4 verse 7 begins strikingly – agapetoi agapomen, “those who are loved, let us love.” We are not commanded to love one another to earn or become worthy of God’s love. We love one another because we are loved by God, and we have received that love, and live in light of it.
John insists that there is something that is given to the believer when they are born of God; a love is imparted to their life that they did not have before. Christians are not just forgiven – they are born anew by God’s Spirit.
John’s emphasis on love among the people of God (also shown in 1 John 2:9-11 and 3:10-18) is powerful. Here, in 1 John 4:7, John shows why it is so important. If love is of God, then those who claim to be born of God, and claim to know God, must be able to love one another in the body of Christ.
John explains how true godly love in a person’s life is a sign of being born again. Those who truly love God will act on that love, towards other people.
Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of him.
There are several different words in the ancient Greek language translated “know” into English.
This specific word, in 1 John 4:7, for “knows” (ginosko) is the word for a knowledge by experience. John is saying when we really experience God it will show by our love for one another.
The love John speaks of comes from the ancient Greek word agape; it is the concept of a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment – it is the God-kind of love.
We need to love each other with the kind of love that comes to us from God.How Does “Love One Another” Affect How We Give and Receive Love?
John’s message to followers of Christ is a message echoed throughout the Bible. A significant area where this is shown occurs when Jesus is questioned by a Pharisee about the greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:34-40)
Jesus lets us know that the second greatest act we can do daily as Christians is to love other people, while the greatest commandment is to love God. If we are abiding in God, as John admonishes us to do, then we will not only seek to love God as Himself but will see loving others as an extension of that.
Interestingly, the Bible does not tell us to love ourselves, possibly because that action comes so naturally for believers and nonbelievers alike.
It is only natural that unbelievers will listen to and accept the teachings of unbelievers.
We can use this awareness of God’s perfected love to change how we view other people. Instead of maintaining a mindset of “me versus you” or “them versus us,” we can acknowledge the fact that we are all image-bearers of God (Psalm 139:13).
No matter our differences in faith, behavior, or physical appearance, we are God’s children. We should treat each other accordingly.3 Ways to Love Others by Knowing that God Is Of Love
- Encourage: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
The words we speak carry weight, for better or for worse. When we choose to speak in a godly fashion, we can use words to encourage those around us: family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. Pleasant words include gratitude, compliments, and any other type of speech that benefits the person hearing.
As we know that God is love, our love is not by any means limited to words. We can also show love through actions that bring about health to the body of the person receiving.
2. Pray for and Pray With: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” (James 5:16)
A lot of people say expressions like, “I’ll pray for you.” How many of them will stop and pray in that moment? Scripture informs us that prayer has power. If the words we speak to one another can bring health to the body, surely the words we say in prayer are even stronger.
When we love like God, we pray for those we love, and those we don’t feel as fondly toward because the Lord watches over us all. If God is omnipresent, then the Lord is present in all of our lives, whether we feel or even acknowledge His presence.
3. Draw closer to God: since this is God’s kind of love, it comes into our life through our relationship with Him. If we want to love one another more, we need to draw closer to God.
Acquiring this disposition of love will push us to serve and love others even when we may feel like their faith is not where we prefer, and we may even bring others closer to God.
Once we perfect loving people, we will have perfected and fulfilled the second greatest commandment. This will prove that not only God is love, but God is in us.
Every human relationship should be like a triangle. The two people in the relationship are at the base of the triangle, and God is at the top. As the two people draw closer to the top of the triangle, closer to God, they will also draw closer to one another. Weak relationships are made strong when both people draw close to the Lord!
At the end of verse 8 and verse 16, John says God IS love.
“Everyone who loves is born of God” does not mean that every display of love in the world can only come from a Christian. Those who are not Christians still can display acts of love.Howard Marshall wrote:
1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (NASB)
The love of God, with which we should love one another, is not perfected in the life of a Christian on this side of eternity. Though it may not be perfected, it must be present – and it should be growing.
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- Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992)
Note: Rev. Dr. Henry H. Halley (1874-1965) was an American Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister. He served as a Baptist pastor for ten years.)
2. Henry C. Thiessen (revised by Vernon D. Doerksen), Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981), pg. 86
Note: Rev. Dr. Henry C. Thiessen (1934 -2015) was a Southern Baptist minister with orthodox, congregational, pre-tribulation, pre-millennial views.
3. Marshall, I. Howard, The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids, MI, Erdmans, 1978)
Note: Dr. Howard Marshall (1934–2015) was professor emeritus of New Testament exegesis and honorary research professor at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. DR. Marshall had an Arminian theology.