First John: 1 John 4:19-The Child of God Loves God Because God First Loved Them Lesson # 184
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. (ESV)
1 John 4:19 Each one of us does practice divine-love because He Himself in contrast to us loved each one of us. (My translation)
The apostle John solemnly asserts in 1 John 4:19 that he and each one of the recipients of First John did practice divine-love because God the Father in contrast to them first loved each one of them.
It is emphasizing with the recipients of First John that God the Father took the initiative in that He loved them before they loved Him.
In fact, the Father loved them when they were His enemies because they were enslaved to sin and Satan as Paul so eloquently states in Romans 5:6-8.
“We love” speaks of the child of God’s love for the Father since John is presenting a contrast with the Father’s love for His children.
This love for God is the result of the child of God responding by faith to the Spirit’s revelation in the gospel that God the Father sent His Son to the cross when they were His enemies in order that they might possess an eternal relationship and fellowship with Him for all of eternity.
This love for God is the result of the child of God responding by faith to the Father’s love for them which was demonstrated by sending His one and only Son to the cross to suffer a substitutionary spiritual and physical death on the cross.
This self-sacrificial act of love on the cross redeemed them out of the slave market of sin, reconciled them to God and propitiated the Father.
This love for God, which is the result of responding in faith to His love for them, is demonstrated by the child of God obeying the command love one another which originated with the Father.
This command was communicated by His Son through the Spirit to His apostles who in turn then communicated by the Spirit to the church.
God’s attribute of love is reproduced and manifested in the life of the child of God by God the Holy Spirit when the former responds to God’s love for them by accepting by faith this love for them.
This faith is demonstrated by their obedience to the Son’s Spirit inspired command in John 13:34 to love one another as He loves and which command originates with the Father.
Obedience to this command manifests the believer’s love for God according to John 14:15 and 1 John 4:21.
Therefore, when the child of God obeys the command love their fellow child of God, it is a love which is divine in quality and character because it resides in the character and nature of God and is reproduced in the Christian by the Spirit when they obey this command.
This reproduction of the love of God in the life of the child is called “the fruit of the Spirit” by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22.
Therefore, when John speaks of the child of God loving God, he is speaking of them obeying the Father’s command to love one another which demonstrates their love for Him.
“He loved us” refers to the exercise of the Father’s attribute of love in relation to the child of God.
Specifically, it refers to the Father’s self-sacrificial act in dispatching His one and only Son Jesus Christ to the cross in order to be the propitiatory sacrifice for each and every sin committed by the child of God during the course of their lifetime (cf. 1 John 4:10, 14).
This declarative statement in 1 John 4:19 echoes and builds upon John’s teaching in 1 John 4:10.
1 John 4:10 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)
Now, here in 1 John 4:19, the apostle John asserts that he and each one of the recipients of First John did loved the Father because He first loved them.
In other words, they were loving the Father as a result of obeying His command to love each other which demonstrated their love for Him.
This obedience demonstrated their faith in Him and was the direct response to the Father’s love for them when He sent His one and only Son to the cross to suffer a substitutionary spiritual and physical death on the cross on their behalf.
This great demonstration of God’s attribute of love redeemed them out of the slave market of sin, reconciled them to a holy God and propitiated the Father’s holiness.
This assertion in 1 John 4:19 echoes the assertions in 1 John 4:10 in that both verses assert that the Father loved the believer first before the believer loved Him or each other for that matter.
1 John 4:19 builds on 1 John 4:10 in that it presents the reason why the believer can practice love toward God and each other whereas in 1 John 4:10 he doesn’t identify the reason why the believer can love God and their fellow-believer.
In 1 John 4:10, John simply asserts that love is defined by God’s love for the believer and not vice versa.
The human race would have no knowledge or personal contact with God’s love unless He revealed it to the human race.
Remember, John taught that in his gospel and in First John that no person has ever seen God at any time (cf. John 1:18; 1 John 4:12), but Jesus Christ, His one and only Son explained Him to the human race (John 1:14-18).
Therefore, every word and action of Jesus Christ manifested the character and nature of the invisible God.
Thus, Jesus Christ’s substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross manifested that which was invisible to the human race, namely God’s love and specifically the depth of this love.
This sacrificial act thus serves to define for the human race the nature and character or essence of God’s love.
In other words, this love was manifested by this self-sacrificial act of both the Father and the Son.
Consequently, the love of God is not defined by the believer loving the Father.
But rather, this love is defined by the Father loving the believer and everyone in the human race through the act of sending His one and only Son to the cross to suffer His wrath in the place of every sinner in history-past, present and future.
The believer loves the Father because the Father first loved the believer as demonstrated by sending His Son to the cross to be the propitiation for each and every one of the sins they committed against Him (cf. 1 John 4:19).
Therefore, John is teaching in 1 John 4:10 that the substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, which propitiated the demands of God’s holiness, is the ultimate expression of God’s attribute of love because they manifest this attribute perfectly.
Thus, when John speaks of God’s love for the believer in 1 John 4:19, He is referring to the Father sending His Son to the cross to experience His wrath as a substitute for the believer and to propitiate the holiness of God.
Therefore, a comparison of 1 John 4:10 and 19 teaches that the children of God have the capacity or ability to love God and each other because the Father first loved each one of them when He sent His Son to the cross to be the propitiation for each and every one of their sins.
Thus, in both verses, John is teaching that love originates with God since He took the initiative to restore sinners to a relationship and fellowship with Himself when He dispatched His Son into the human race in order to resolve the problem of sin which prevented the human race from entering into this relationship and fellowship with Himself.
These two verses are also teaching that God’s love is superior to human love in that God sacrificed His Son for the human race when they were repulsive to Him and in rebellion against Him whereas believers love God in response to His love for them.
In other words, God’s love is superior because it does not need an attractive object or someone to do something for Himself.
On the other hand, human beings love those who are attractive to them whether a wife, husband, children, parents, or friends or they love in response to what someone has done for them.
John is also teaching in 1 John 4:10 and 19 that the Father sending His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the entire human race, both believers and non-believers, is an expression of the character and nature of God.
In other words, it is an expression of this love.