First John: 1 John 4:7a-The Child of God Must Obey the Command to Love One Another Because This Love Originates with God Lesson # 158
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (ESV)
“Beloved, let us love one another” is composed of the following: (1) vocative masculine singular form of the adjective agapētos (ἀγαπητός), “beloved” (2) first person plural present active subjunctive form of the verb agapaō (ἀγαπάω), “we love” (3) accusative masculine plural form of the reciprocal pronoun allēlōn (ἀλλήλων), “one another.”
The apostle John is employing the familiar figure of asyndeton in order to mark a transition to the ninth major section of First John.
The adjective agapētos employed here as a substantive and means “beloved” indicating the close personal relationship that existed between the recipients of this epistle who were believers residing in the Roman province of Asia and the apostle John.
This adjective agapētos also speaks of the relationship the recipients of this epistle possessed with the Trinity and also expresses the fact that they were the recipients and beneficiary of God’s love.
The verb agapaō means “to divinely love” since the word pertains to the function of God’s love in the life of the apostle John and the recipients of First John since John is speaking of the love which is reproduced in the child of God by God the Holy Spirit when they obey the Lord Jesus Christ’s Spirit inspired command in John 13:34 and 15:12 to love one another as He loves them.
The first person plural form of this verb means “we” referring to John and each of the recipients of First John.
Thus, this is an “inclusive” we referring to both John who is the author of First John and the recipients of this epistle.
The subjunctive mood of this verb agapaō is a hortatory subjunctive which is used to exhort or command oneself and one’s associates.
It is used to urge someone to unite with the speaker in a course of action upon which he has already decided and is an exhortation in the first person plural.
The present tense of this verb agapaō is a customary or stative present which is used to signal an ongoing state expressing the idea of John and the recipients of First John continue to exist in the state of loving one another.
The reciprocal pronoun allēlōn is used with reference to the relationship between believers with each other.
Specifically, it is used with reference to the relationship between John and the recipients of First John and the recipients of First John with each other.
The word denotes that there was to be a mutual exchange between all of them in that they were to love each other as the Lord loved them.
“For love is from God” is composed of the following: (1) conjunction hoti (ὅτι), “for” (2) articular nominative feminine singular form of the noun agapē (ἀγάπη), “love” (3) preposition ek (ἐκ), “from” (4) articular genitive masculine singular form of the noun theos (θεός), “God” (5) third person singular present active indicative form of the verb eimi (εἰμί), “is.”
The conjunction hoti is employed with the indicative mood of the verb eimi, “is” in order to form a causal clause which presents the reason for the previous command which required that John and the recipients of First John continue to exist in the state of loving one another.
The noun agapē means “divine-love” since it does not refer to the function of human love but rather the exercise of divine-love that is produced by the Spirit through the child of God who is obedient to the Spirit inspired command of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 13:34 and 15:12 to love one another as He loves them.
The verb eimi means “to exist in a particular state or condition of being a characteristic.”
This would then indicate that this love is performing the action of existing in the state or condition of being a characteristic which originates from God the Father.
As we have noted many times in our study of First John, the articular construction of the noun theos in the New Testament commonly signifies the first member of the Trinity unless otherwise indicated by the context.
However, here it could be interpreted as anaphoric which means that the article is pointing back to the use of this word in 1 John 4:6 indicating that it retains the same referent and meaning here in verse 7 as it did in verse 6 where the Holy Spirit was the word’s referent.
But, the context indicates that the article is signifying that the referent is the Father which is indicated by several factors.
First, the word appears in a causal clause which is closely connected to the result clause which follows it.
The connection is that both clauses speak of divine-love.
The causal clause asserts that the child of God must continue to divinely love their fellow-believer because this love originates from God.
The result clause asserts that the one who practices this love has been fathered by God.
The noun theos in relation to the concept of being fathered by God was used of the Father in 1 John 2:29 and 3:9.
In fact, it is always used in First John in relation to the Father and not the Son or the Spirit (cf. 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 5:1, 4, 18).
Now, the causal clause emphasizes this love’s origin and the result clause emphasizes the origin of the person who practices this love with others in the body of Christ.
Therefore, the articular construction of the noun theos indicates that the referent is the Father since the causal and result clauses express a close connection between the child of God who practices this love and being fathered by God from whom this love originates.
The noun theos is the object of the preposition ek which means “from” since the word functions as a marker of source.
Therefore, this prepositional phrase is expressing the idea that this love, which John and the recipients of First John were to manifest in their lives when interacting with each other, “originates from” God the Father since the one who practices this love is fathered by Him.
In other words, this love originates with the character and nature of the Father.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let each one of us continue to divinely love one another because this love is a characteristic originating from God (the Father). Consequently, the one who at any time does divinely love has been fathered by God (the Father) and as a result they know God (the Father) experientially. (Author’s translation)
1 John 4:7 begins the ninth major section of First John and which section ends in 1 John 5:3.
Now, 1 John 4:7 is composed of an implicit command followed by a causal clause and then two result clauses.
The command required that John and the recipients of First John must “continue” to love one another.
This implies that the recipients of First John and the apostle John were already loving one another.
In 1 John 2:12-14, the apostle John affirmed and commended the recipients of First John for remaining faithful to his Spirit inspired apostolic teaching which protected them from the antichrists mentioned by him in 1 John 2:18-19.
Now, this is the third time in First John that the apostle John explicitly mentions the Lord Jesus Christ’s command in John 13:34 and 15:12 to love one another.
However, this is the first time he is mentioned explicitly the source of this love.
The first time he mentions this command explicitly is 1 John 3:11 and then he mentions it again in 1 John 3:23.
It is important to understand that the command to love one another in 1 John 4:7 is not merely a repetition of what has been said before in the epistle, but rather there is a progression of thought taking place here in this verse.
In 1 John 2:7 and 3:11, the command is said to be familiar to the recipients of First John in the sense that they have been taught this command from the beginning of their Christian instruction.
In 1 John 3:23, John asserts that the fulfillment of one’s prayer requests to the Father are based upon obedience to this command.
Now, here in 1 John 4:7 he identifies the source of this love which the recipients of First John must continue to manifest in their lives in relation to each other.
This command to love one another, which is mentioned explicitly here in 1 John 3:11, 23 and 4:7 and implicitly in 1 John 2:7, is recorded in John 13:34 and 15:12.
The command to love one another in John 13:34, 15:12 and in 1 John 3:11 and 4:7 are several of many “one another” commands in Scripture.
In fact, the command to love one another summarizes these “one another” commands.