What Does 1 John 4:21 Mean?

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

1 John 4:21(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Love is a theme that threads its way through all the writing of John, but it is in the later chapters of his first epistle that he brings the important theme of divine ‘love’ to the very forefront of our attention. ‘God IS love’ John reminds us, and He manifested that love towards us in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was love that caused God to send His only begotten Son into the world, to be the propitiation for our sins – so that we might be born of the Spirit and empowered to live a life of godly love through Him. And it is this same divine love, which is the preeminent fruit of the Spirit and is displayed in the life of a spiritual man or woman.

Yes!! the love of God is indeed patient and kind, as Paul pointed out in first Corinthians – nor is it jealous, boastful, arrogant or self-seeking. Christlike love does not act unbecomingly or selfishly and isn’t easily provoked. Love doesn’t take into account wrongs that have been suffered, nor does it celebrate unrighteousness. Rather, it rejoices in the truth and bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and never ever fails.

John makes it increasingly clear that all Christians are commanded to love others, as God loves us because we are His children – and that the one who loves God should love his brother also. However, he points out a serious truth – that if a professing believer says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar.

While Paul lists the amazing qualities of godly love, both he and the apostle John insists that only those who are born of God are enabled, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to manifest His supernatural love… so that they are enabled to love others in the same way that Christ loved us – indeed, this is the commandment we have from Him – that the one who loves God should also love his brother.

Love comes from God; is given to us by the Holy Spirit of God; is manifested in the Person and work of the Son of God… and as His blood-bought children we are to love our brother also. John’s argument is that IF God so loved us – should we not also love one another? But this is impossible in our own human capacity.

Loving others as Christ loved us, is not something that we can do in our own fallen, fleshly strength. However, as John clearly explains, God indwells and abides in the heart of those that are saved.. and abide in Him. He abides in all who are walking in spirit and truth. He works in the lives of those who are living by faith and not by sight – and His love is perfected in the lives of those that are growing in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John is calling all born-again believers to live their lives by faith in Christ and not through works of the flesh – for in so doing we will remain in fellowship with God, Who will provide the sufficient grace and power to love others as Christ loved us. Only when we are growing in grace, maturing in the faith, and walking in spirit and truth, will we be empowered to carry out this command that we have received from Him –that those who love God will love his brother also. 

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, I long to walk in spirit and truth and to keep my old sin nature nailed to the cross. I pray that in the power of Your Spirit I would die to self and so live for Christ that I am able to say with Paul – “it is not I that live, but Christ that lives in me”, so that I may obey Your command to love my brothers and sisters, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. This I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.

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