This week’s portion of 1 John is again split between two different, but not unrelated, thoughts. Last week John began warning us to not believe every spirit because of the many antichrists that have gone out into the world. We continue with that line of thought now from verses 4 to 6, and so John’s inclination to write in sharp contrasts gives us a lot of “us versus them” language. His entire epistle is a study in contrasts, but verses 4-6 are literally packed with you/them, they/we, them/us. Also in verse 4 we find the familiar encouragement that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Beginning in verse 7 and continuing to 5:3, we enter into one of the most love-saturated portions in the whole of scripture. Get used to repeating the words “beloved,” “love,” “loves,” ‘loved.” By this John is driving home by repetition, and from every angle he can conceive, the importance of our love for one another because of the love which God has for us and which he displayed in sending his Son—his only, unique in all the universe, perfectly holy, equal in deity, eternal, second member of the Godhead, Son—Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. In this passage we find some familiar verses, underscoring the depth of God’s love because it is his very nature: God is love. The repetition may get confusing, and may require more effort to memorize, but it will be worth it.
On to the memory aids:
4 Little children, you are from God and have
overcome them, for he who is in you is greater
than he who is in the world.
Who have we overcome? Looking back to verse 3, carry forward the reminder from John that the antichrists have now come- this is who we have overcome even though we are little children!
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them (why?), for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 They are from the world; therefore they speak
from the world, and the world listens to them.
They (who we have overcome) are from, they speak, and are listen(ed to by) the world (3X); they, they, them (3X). Absolute and logical.
They are from the world (absolute statement); therefore (logical consequence) they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to
us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of
Contrast introduced: who listens to us and what do we therefore know? God 3X; we/us/us/we; whoever 2X
We (as opposed to them in v 5) are from God. (Therefore) Whoever knows God listens to us; (likewise) whoever is not from God does not listen to us. (Resulting assurance) By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from
God, and whoever loves has been born of God and
Switching from the topic of spirits of error to focus on those who know God and are therefore the Beloved, how do we now live with one another, and why? Forms of love 4X; God 3X.
Beloved, let us love one another (why?), for love is from God, and (therefore) whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
8 Anyone who does not love does not know God,
because God is love.
Contrasted to those who love and therefore know God, anyone who does not love does not know him. Why? Because God is, by his very nature, love. Negative statement/ positive statement.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among
us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so
that we might live through him.
Proof of God’s love in the greatest demonstration of love the universe has ever seen to accomplish a purpose unattainable by any other means.
In this (wait for it) the love of God was made manifest (real/ tangible/ actual) among us, that God sent (here it is) his only Son into the world (why?), so that we might live through him.