Lectionary Year B
May 21, 2000
1 John 4:7-21

Step II: Disposition


These paragraphs appear to be a dissertation on Godís love and what believers/hearers/readers might be by it enabled to do with it. These statements are thoroughly theological. They mention God in every verse, by the proper name in all but four verses where pronouns refer to the Deity unquestionably. God is the primary element here and love is the major idea/image/model of the relation God establishes and maintains, or, at least, remains involved in doing with recipients of this message. The first four verses seem to be poetry, as printed in Nestle-Aland, Ed. XXVI. Thereafter, the subject of Godís love is repeatedly addressed and re-addressed, unapologetically. Godís love is assured over and over again and a few hypothetical denials of it are mentioned and immediately and convincingly repudiated/discounted. Eight times these verses say, ďGod is loveĒ. Some of these statements are direct quotes of this theme, sometimes, a slight variation of it. Nevertheless, eight times we read in these verses that ďGod is loveĒ. It is a persuasive argument.


Reading and pondering this pericope makes me wonder, who could disagree with itís assertions? How could any receiver of this message doubt either God or Godís love? Most of the declarations of Godís love seem more quantitative than qualitative, but I suppose recipients know the word "agape" conveys qualitative meaning in the extreme. Do, can, must recipients of this message ďknowĒ what the author(s) intended? Do recipients then and now love as the message seems to say we they/we do?

Love, love, love, from the first word, phrase and clause, this passage is about Godís love. Early on, however, it hypothesizes that some might not love and explains that that might be so due to non-lovers not knowing God. Immediately thereafter, the text returns to its main theme, God and Godís love. It compliments recipients on their/our love, their/our knowing God and their/our abiding in God and God with them/us. It highlights loveís perfected-ness and maintains the primacy of Godís love. Also, equally primarily, believersí confidence, loving others and that love casts out fear.

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