Lectionary Year B
May 21, 2000
1 John 4:7-21
Step V: Distillation/Hermeneutical Bridge


The theological center of gravity in this text is Godís love. Godís maintaining this love by remaining in relationship with believers it establishes is certainly one of the most enduring topics in this passage. The major concerns include how God generates that love, how it gets expressed in Jesus Christ and how we might live through Him due to it. Furthermore, our knowing God and Divine love and our loving others with it are also significant images here. So is our abiding in God and Godís abiding in us. The lesser significant data, though not by much are they less than ultimately significant, include our confessing Godís having sent Christ, Godís Son as is loveís perfected-ness. If there are any really, truly, minor concerns in this excerpt, they could include confidence on the Day of Judgement, fearlessness in love, the gift of Godís Spirit, punishment, lying and failure to love siblings seen.


7 Beloved, let us love one another,
for love comes from God,
and all who love are born of God,
and they/we know God.
8 Anyone not loving (evidently) does not know God,
for God is love.
9 In this manner was Godís love revealed to us,
God sent His only (begotten) Son
into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 In this (way) we find love,
not that we loved God (first)
but that He has loved us
and He sent His Son
to provide the forgiveness for our sinfulness.
11 Beloved, since God loves us in such a way, we also ought to love one another.
      12 No one has ever seen God. However, if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is fulfilled in us. 13In this (regard) we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us His Spirit. 14 And, furthermore, we have seen and hereby do testify that the Father has (indeed) sent His Son as Savior of the (whole, entire) world. 15 All who would confess that Jesus is the Son of God, have God abiding in them and they in Him (do remain). 16 And have we ever known and do we ever believe the love God has for us.?.
      (Again,) God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and also God abides in them as well. 17 In this (manner) love has been perfected in us, so that we might have confidence in the Day of Judgement, that accordingly is He and also are we in this world. Fear cannot exist in (this) love 18 but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment, but whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If we say we love God while hating others, we lie; because those not loving others whom they can see, cannot love God whom they cannot see. 21 And this is the commandment we have from on high, loving God includes loving others.


This passage reminds me, in two or three ways, what I read in the newspaper several days ago about Donna Shalalaís assessment of the TV show, "The West Wing". She is U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and says the TV show gets to decisions a lot more quickly than they do in the real life White House. She explains that in real job, issues get discussed over and over again before decisions are reached. Somehow, the repetitious-ness we find in I John seems like the recipients, readers, editors of these texts have re-opened and re-discussed these topics repeatedly. Shalala also likes the morality the TV show portrays the White House Staff having. She admires the characters on the show especially when they ďstruggle with ethical questions, trying to do the right thing.Ē 1 John 4 seems to be addressing ethics almost as much as the Good News that would stimulate such a response.

| Return to gospel listings | Return to epistle listings |
| Return to Old Testament listings | Return to Psalm listings |
| User response form |