First John: 1 John 4:7-9-The Reasons for Obedience to the Command to Love One Another and the Incarnation and Hypostatic Union Lesson # 165
First 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. 8 The one who at any time does not practice divine-love never enters into knowing God (the Father) experientially because God (the Father) is divine-love. 9 By means of this, God’s (the Father’s) love entered into the state of being revealed because of each one of us: namely that, God (the Father) dispatched into the world with authority His one and only Son in order that each one of us would conduct our lives through Him. (My translation)
John’s teaching in 1 John 4:9 is connected to 1 John 4:7-8 because like verses 7-8, verse 9 presents another reason why the recipients of First John must continue to make it their habit of obeying the command to love one another and which command he issues in 1 John 4:7.
As we noted, in 1 John 4:7, the apostle John implicitly issues the recipients of First John the command to love one another.
He then states the reason for obeying the command is that this love is a characteristic originating from God the Father.
Based upon this assertion, he presents the result of love originating from the character and nature of the Father.
He asserts that the one who at any time does divinely love has been fathered by God and as a result they know God experientially, i.e. they are experiencing fellowship with Him.
Then, in verse 8, John asserts that the one who at any time does not practice divine-love never enters into knowing God the Father experientially.
He then gives the reason for this assertion by stating that God the Father is divine-love.
John uses this as the reason for this previous assertion because he wants the recipients of First John to reflect the character and nature of their heavenly Father.
If, as to His nature, He is love, then God’s children must be characterized by love.
John is actually teaching in 1 John 4:8 what he teaches in 1 John 4:7 but from the perspective of disobeying the command to love one another.
Both passages teach that the child of God must be characterized by love because this love characterizes their heavenly Father.
Thus, they will be characterized by this love by their continued obedience to this command to love one another.
By implication, John is also teaching that obedience to this command demonstrates that they are children of God.
Now, in 1 John 4:9, the apostle John asserts that God the Father’s love entered into the state of having been revealed because of John and the recipients of First John and in fact, because of the entire human race.
He then asserts that the Father did this by means of dispatching into the human race with authority His one and only Son.
John then employs a purpose-result clause that emphasizes that the Father’s eternal purpose for the incarnation and subsequent hypostatic union of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ has been accomplished and is being accomplished through John and the recipients of First John and all of God’s children.
It is accomplished because they were experiencing fellowship with Him through obedience to His Word and in particular by obeying the command to love one another.
Therefore, by obeying the command to love one another, the child of God would be imitating God who exercised His attribute of love on behalf of the child of God when He dispatched His one and only Son into the human race in order that they live through His Son and thus imitate both Father and Son.
Therefore, we can see from our study of 1 John 4:7-9 contains seven reasons why John and the recipients of First John and all God’s children for that matter must obey the command to love one another.
The first appears in verse 7 and asserts that this love originates from God the Father’s character and nature.
In other words, obedience to this command is consistent with the character of their heavenly Father.
The second also appears in verse 7 and asserts that obedience to the command to love one another demonstrates that a person is a child of God.
The third reason is that by obeying this command they will know the Father experientially or in other words, they will experience fellowship with Him.
The fourth reason appears in verse 8 and asserts that if they don’t obey this command, they won’t know the Father experientially or won’t experience fellowship with Him.
The fifth reason also appears in verse 8 and asserts that God as to His nature, is this love.
Thus, if they won’t to reflect the fact that they are children of God, they must obey this command to love.
The sixth reason is found in verse 9 and teaches that the child of God must obey the command to love one another because this fulfills the Father’s eternal purpose for sending His one and only Son into the human race and which eternal purpose is that they would conduct their lives through His Son.
By obeying this command, they would be experiencing fellowship with the Father.
Consequently, they would be conducting their lives through Jesus Christ, which refers to experiencing fellowship with God.
Jesus taught in John 17 that eternal life is defined by knowing the Father experientially.
This refers to personal encountering the Father through learning and obeying His Word and being affected by this encounter.
This in turn results in practical spiritual wisdom and more of the character of Jesus Christ and thus more of the Father’s character since Jesus Christ is equal to the Father in that they both have inherently the same attributes in equal measure.
Lastly, the seventh and final reason also is found in verse 9 in that it teaches that obedience to the command to love one another will enable them to reflect God’s attribute of love.
Obedience to this command is equivalent to conducting one’s life through Jesus Christ who issued this command to the church, His body.
This command originates with the character and nature of God since He as to His nature is love.
Thus, obedience to this command reflects the Father’s love which was first demonstrated to the human race through the incarnation, hypostatic union, death and resurrection of the Father’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
Not only is 1 John 4:9 presenting another reason why the believer must obey the command to love one another but it is also presenting one of the purposes of the incarnation and subsequent hypostatic union of the Father’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
The Son of God became a human being and suffered a substitutionary spiritual and physical death on the cross for every human being-past, present and future in order that they might live their lives through Him.
The second purpose is presented in 1 John 4:9 and teaches that the Son became a human being in order to propitiate the Father’s holiness which demanded that sin and sinners experience His righteous indignation.
John is also teaching in 1 John 4:9 that the incarnation, subsequent hypostatic union, earthly life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of God’s attribute of love because they manifest this attribute perfectly.
Thus, those who exercise faith in Him as their Savior will experience the love of God and are beneficiaries of this love.
On the other hand, those who reject Him will not experience this love.
Furthermore, the children of God who obey the command to love one another are experiencing this love and exercising it towards their fellow-children of God.
Those who are disobedient are not experiencing this love and are of course not exercising towards others.
The love John is speaking of throughout First John and in particular here in 1 John 4:7-9 is not an emotion but rather an eternal attribute of God which can only find expression in the children of God.
It can only find expression in them since it can only find expression in those sinners who have experienced this love and have benefited from this love as a result of being declared justified by the Father through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, God’s attribute love is only expressed in the children of God, who after being declared justified, obey the command to love one another.