1 John 4:7-21

1 John 4:7-21
Eastertide B23


Beloved,A let us loveB one another, because loveC is from God;D everyone who loves is bornE of God and knowsF God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 

Notes on verses 7-8

A “beloved” = agapetos. From agape (love, goodwill, benevolence; God’s divine love); from agapao (to love, take pleasure in, esteem; to prefer). This is Beloved or very dear one. It is a title for the Messiah, but also for Christians. Properly, this is one who personally experiences God’s love.
B “love” = agapao. Related to “beloved” in v7. See note A above.
C “love” = agape. Related to “beloved” and “love” in v7. See note A above.
D “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
E “is born” = gennao. From genna (descent, birth); from genos (family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense); from ginomai (to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another; this is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth). This is to beget, give birth to, or bring forth. Properly, it refers to procreation by the father, but was used of the mother by extension. Figuratively, this can mean to regenerate.
F “knows” = ginosko. This is to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn. It is knowledge gained through personal experience.

God’s love was revealedG among us in this way: God sentH his onlyI Son into the worldJ so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrificeK for our sins.L 

Notes on verses 9-10

G “revealed” = phaneroo. From phaneros (visible, apparent, clear, shining); from phos (light, a source of light, fire, or radiance; light with specific reference to what it reveals; luminousness whether natural or artificial, abstract or concrete, literal or figurative); from phao (to shine or make visible, especially with rays of light); from the same as phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is to make visible or clear, to make known. Properly, it is to illumine and so to make apparent or bring into open view.
H “sent” = apostello. From apo (from, away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up); {probably from histemi (to make to stand, stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is to send forth, send away, dismiss, send as a messenger. It implies one that is sent for a particular mission or purpose rather than a quick errand. This is where “apostle” comes from.
I “only” = monogenes. Related to “is born” in v7. 9x in NT. From monos (alone, single, remaining, mere, desolate); {perhaps from meno (to stay, abide, wait, endure)} + genos (family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense); {from ginomai (see note E above)}. This is only begotten, unique, sole, one of a kind.
J “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is where “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.
K “atoning sacrifice” = hilasmos. 2x in NT. From hilaskomai (to make propitiation i.e. a sacrifice of atonement, to be merciful, reconcile, forgive, show favor); from the same as hileos (forgiving, merciful, gracious, cheerful as benevolent; a way to say “far be it”); from hilaos (gracious, benevolent) or from haireomai (to take, choose, or prefer) {probably related to airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}. This is atoning sacrifice, an appeasement or propitiation.
L “sins” = hamartia. From hamartano (to miss the mark, do wrong, make a mistake, sin); {from a (not) + meros (a part or share)}. Literally, this means not having one’s share or portion – like not receiving inheritance or what was allotted to you. This word means missing the mark so it is used for guilt, fault, and acts of sin.

11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also oughtM to love one another. 12 No one has ever seenN God; if we love one another, God livesO in us, and his love is perfectedP in us.

Notes on verses 11-12

M “ought” = opheilo. Perhaps from the base of ophelos (advantage, gain, profit); from ophello (heaped together, accumulate, increase). This is to be indebted morally or legally – having an obligation one must meet. This term came from the legal world, but was then adopted in reference to morality. In the New Testament it is used for humanity’s ethical responsibility.
N “seen” = theaomai. From thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance). This is to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit like a spectator. This is the root of the word “theatre.”
O “lives” = meno. Related to “only” in v9. See note I above.
P “is perfected” = teleioo. From teleios (going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one; reaching an end and so being complete or “perfect”; also full grown or mature); from telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax).  This is finish, accomplish, bring to an end, complete, reach a goal, finish a race, to consummate. It refers to completing stages or phases to get to an ultimate conclusion. It can also mean consecrate or fulfill.

13 By this we know that we abideQ in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.R 14 And we have seen and do testifyS that the Father has sent his Son as the SaviorT of the world. 

Notes on verses 13-14

Q “abide” = meno. Same as “lives” in v12. See note O above.
R “Spirit” = Pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
S “testify” = martureo. From martus (a witness whether having heard or seen something; witness literally, judicially, or figuratively; by analogy, a martyr). This is to bear witness, testify, give evidence. It is to testify in a literal or figurative sense
T “Savior” = soter. From sozo. (to save, heal, preserve, or rescue. Properly, this is taking someone from danger to safety. It can be delivering or protecting literally or figuratively.); from sos (safe, rescued, well). This is savior, deliverer, preserver.

15 God abides in those who confessU that JesusV, W is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believeX the love that God has for us.

Notes on verses 15-16a

U “confess” = homologeo. From homologos (of one mind); {from homos (the same) + lego (to say, speak, tell)}. This is to agree, speak the same, declare, promise, praise, celebrate. It can mean to align with, express the same conclusion, endorse.
V “Jesus” = Iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
W {untranslated} = Christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.
X “believe” = pisteuo. From pistis (faith, faithfulness, belief, trust, confidence; to be persuaded or come to trust); from peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is to believe, entrust, have faith it, affirm, have confidence in. This is less to do with a series of beliefs or doctrines that one believes and more to do with faithfulness, loyalty, and fidelity. It is trusting and then acting based on that trust.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldnessY on the day of judgment,Z because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fearAA in love, but perfectBB love castsCC out fear; for fear has to do with punishment,DD and whoever fearsEE has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 

Notes on verses 16b-19

Y “boldness” = parresia. From pas (all, every, each) + rhesis (speech); {from rheo (say, speak of, command)}. This is confidence, openness, boldness, outspokenness. It can imply assurance – free speech.
Z “judgment” = krisis. From krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging). This is a judging or a sentence. It is often used of God’s judgment, but can also be any accusation or condemnation. This is where the word “crisis” comes from.
AA “fear” = phobos. From phebomai (to flee, withdraw, be put to flight). This is panic flight, fear, fear being caused, terror, alarm, that which causes fear, reverence, respect.
BB “perfect” = teleios. Related to “is perfected” in v12. 19x in NT. See note P above.
CC “casts” = ballo. This is to throw, cast, rush, place, or drop. It is throwing, but it could be with more or less velocity and with more or less force/violence.
DD “punishment” = kolasis. 2x in NT – also in Matthew 25:46 of the judgment of sheep and goats. From kolazo (to punish, particularly to punish slaves so that they are restricted or chastised); from kolos (docked, dwarf). This is punishment, correction, torment. It may include a sense of deprivation – a punishment that corresponds individually.
EE “fears” = phobeo. Related to “fear” in v18. From phobos (see note AA above). This is also to put to flight, terrify, frighten, dread, reverence, to withdraw or avoid. It is sometimes used in a positive sense to mean the fear of the Lord, echoing Old Testament language. More commonly, it is fear of following God’s path. This is where the word phobia comes from.

20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hateFF their brothersGG or sisters, are liars;HH for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen,II cannot love God whom they have not seen.JJ 21 The commandmentKK we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Notes on verses 20-21

FF “hate” = miseo. From misos (hatred). This word is used in two ways in the New Testament. One has to do with how we prioritize. In order to prioritize something the highest, it means we have to rank other things lower. We cannot have 10 number one priorities. So, the nine that are not number 1, we love less or we value them lower. We make a moral choice the springs from our values about where we put our time, efforts, energy, etc. The other way is detesting or hatred as we normally think of it. This sense has a particular affinity with persecuting the one we hate.
GG “brothers” = adelphos. From a (with, community, fellowship) + delphus (womb). This is a brother in a literal or figurative sense. It is also used of another member of the Church.
HH “liars” = pseustes. 10x in NT. From the same as pseudomai (to lie, deceive, falsify). This is liar, one who deceives or distorts.
II “seen” = horao. To see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience. Properly, to stare at and so implying clear discernment. This, by extension, would indicate attending to what was seen and learned. This is to see, often with a metaphorical sense. Can include inward spiritual seeing.
JJ “seen” = horao. Same as “seen” in v20. See note II above.
KK “commandment” = entole. Related to “is perfected” in v12 & “perfect” in v18. From entellomai (to charge, command, give orders or instructions); {from en (in, on, at, by, with) + tellomai (to accomplish); {from telos (see note P above)}}. This is an order, command, ordinance, or law. It focuses on the purpose of the command and its end result.

Image credit: “Love is…” by Chris Jones, 2012.

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