First John: 1 John 4:12-The Ninth and Tenth Reasons Why the Believer Must Obey the Command to Love One Another Lesson # 172
1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (ESV)
1 John 4:12 Absolutely no one at any time has observed God (the Father). If any of us at any time does divinely love each other, this God (the Father) is living in fellowship with us. Consequently, His love is accomplishing its purpose in us. (My translation)
John’s teaching in 1 John 4:12 is connected to 1 John 4:7-10 since like these verses, verse 12 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.
By implication verse 12 also echoes the reasons presented in verses 8 and 9.
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. 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. 10 Love is defined by means of this: By no means that we are loving God (the Father) but rather that He Himself in contrast to us loved each and every one of us. Specifically, He dispatched with authority His Son to be the propitiatory sacrifice for each and every one of our sins. (Author’s translation)
1 John 4:7-10 and 12 contains ten 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 want 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.
It 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.
The seventh 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.
The eighth reason appears in verse 10.
The believer is obligated to love their fellow-believer because God exercised His love when they were His enemy by sending His Son to the cross to be the propitiatory sacrifice for each and every sin committed by each and every believer during the course of their lifetime.
1 John 3:16 teaches this exact same thing.
In 1 John 4:12, we have the ninth and tenth reasons why the believer must obey the command to love one another.
The ninth reason is that the believer is manifesting God’s presence and attribute of love to members of the human race by manifesting His attribute of love by their obedience to His command to love one another.
The tenth reason is that the Father is living in fellowship with the believer who obeys the command to love one another.
The invisibility of God raises the question of whether or not God can be truly known.
However, John is teaching emphatically in 1 John 4:12 that God can personally be known and encountered by members of the human race, though He can never be seen by the naked eye.
He is teaching that God who is invisible is personally known and encountered by His children who are obedient to His command to love one another.
In fact, when the believer obeys the command to love one another they are manifesting to the non-believer that God is living within them.
They are giving evidence to the human race that they are children of God.
1 John 4:12 as we noted also echoes the reason presented in 1 John 4:9.
Specifically, the result clause which completes 1 John 4:12 echoes the sixth reason presented in 1 John 4:9.
The former echoes the latter since it teaches that the believer accomplishes the Father’s purpose for manifesting His attribute of love through the sacrifice of His Son the cross for them.
This corresponds with the reason in the latter which asserts that the Father’s purpose sacrificing His Son for them is that they would live through His Son.
They would do so by obeying His Son’s command to love one another.
Not only is 1 John 4:12 presenting another reason why the believer must obey the command to love one another but it is also presenting one of the reasons for the incarnation and subsequent hypostatic union of the Father’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ, namely, to propitiate the Father’s holiness.
It is presenting another reason why the Father manifested His attribute of love by the sacrifice of His Son on the cross on behalf of His children.
The Son of God became a human being and suffered a substitutionary spiritual and physical death on the cross in order to propitiate or satisfy the demands of the Father’s holiness in order that they Father would be able to live in fellowship with those who trusted in His Son Jesus Christ as their Savior.