Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 4:16—5:3, the last message on the virtues of the divine birth to practice the divine love.
In 4:16 John says, “And we have known and have believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Here John says that we have known and believed the love which God has in us. This love is God’s love in sending the Son to be our Savior (4:14).
It is significant that in 4:16 John puts the word “known” before “believed.” As we pointed out in the foregoing message, this knowing involves experience and enjoyment. The fact that according to 4:16 we know and then believe indicates that first we experience and enjoy, and then we believe. However, our concept may be that first we believe, and then experience. However, if we do not have much experience and enjoyment of God’s love, we shall not be able to believe this love very much. But after we enjoy it and experience it, we surely believe the love which God has in us.
The words “in us” mean in our case, or in regard to us. Therefore, we have known and believed the love which God has in regard to us.
In 4:16 John again says, “God is love.” That God is love has been manifested in His sending His Son to be our Savior and life (4:9-10, 14).
In 4:16 John says that he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. To abide in love is to live a life that loves others habitually with the love which is God Himself so that He may be expressed in us. To abide in God is to live a life which is God Himself as our inward content and outward expression so that we may be absolutely one with Him. God abides in us to be our life inwardly and our living outwardly. Thus, He may be one with us in a practical way.
In 4:16 we see that there is an organic union between us and God. This organic union is indicated by the word “in.” It is interesting that John does not say that God is love and that he who abides in God abides in love. Instead, he says that he who abides in love abides in God. To us, the former may seem more logical. But the latter is more practical and real. To say that we abide in God when we abide in love means that the very love in which we abide is God Himself. This indicates that the love that we have toward others should be God Himself. If we abide in the love which is God Himself, we then abide in God, and God abides in us.
In verse 17 John continues, “In this has love been perfected with us, that we may have boldness in the day of the judgment, because even as that One is, so also are we in this world.” In our abiding in the love which is God Himself (v. 16) the love of God is perfected in us, that is, perfectly manifested in us, that we may have boldness without fear (v. 18) in the day of judgment.
In verse 17 John speaks of the love of God being perfected with us. The word “perfected” is a translation of the Greek word teleioo, to complete, to accomplish, to finish. The love of God itself is perfect and complete in Himself, but it still needs to be perfected in us. In order for God’s love to be perfected in us, we need to experience this love. In our experience the love of God is perfected.
John says that if the love of God is perfected in us, we may have boldness in the day of judgment. The Greek word for “boldness” is parresia, meaning boldness of speech, confidence. In 3:21 boldness is for us to contact God in fellowship with Him. In 4:17 the boldness is for us to face the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10) at His coming back (1 Cor. 3:13; 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:8). The judgment at the judgment seat of Christ will not be for eternal perdition or eternal salvation, but rather will be for reward or punishment. If we love the brothers with God as love, we shall have boldness in the day when Christ judges His believers at His judgment seat.
In 4:17 John indicates that “as that One is, so also are we in this world.” As in 3:3 and 7, “that One” refers to Christ. He lived in this world a life of God as love, and now He is our life so that we may live the same life of love in this world and be the same as He is now.
As in 4:1, “world” does not refer to the universe or the earth, but to human society on the earth, to the people, who are the components of the satanic world system.
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