Love: The Indelible Mark of a Christian
1 John 3:11-18
Love in word and deed is central to the Gospel
Published June 21st, 2021; Updated June 21st, 2021
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Main point summary
Main point summary
Love is central to the gospel; therefore, the presence of love or hate shown in one's actions reveals whether they belong to the family of God or the family of Satan.
1 John 3:11-18
For v this is the message
So now, this is the message
that you have heard from the beginning,
the same message that you have heard from the beginning:
w that we should love one another.
we as Christians should love one another.
We should not be like x Cain,
Therefore , We should not emulate Cain,
who was of the evil one and murdered his brother.
who was in the Devil's family and brutally murdered his own brother.
And why did he murder him?
And why did he brutally murder him?
y Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
Because his actions toward God were evil, but his brothers were righteous.
Do not be surprised, brothers, 1 z that the world hates you.
So, do not be shocked to find out that the world hates you.
We know that a we have passed out of death into life,
The way that we know that we have moved from the realm of eternal death (darkness) into the realm of life (light)
because we love the brothers.
is grounded in the fact that we love the brothers and sisters in Christ.
Whoever does not love abides in death.
Every single person who does not love abides in the death.
b Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
What is more, everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
and you know that c no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
therefore, and you already know this, that not one murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
By this we know love,
This is how we know what love is:
that d he laid down his life for us,
Jesus voluntarily laid down his life for us,
and e we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
therefore, we also ought to voluntarily lay down our lives for our fellow brothers and sisters.
But f if anyone has the world’s goods
However, if anyone has the world's goods
and sees his brother in need,
and then sees his brother in need,
yet g closes his heart against him,
and selfishly chokes off his compassion against him,
h how does God’s love abide in him?
how can the love that comes from God possibly be in that person?
Little children, let us not i love in word or talk
Little children, let us not just say we love with word or speech,
but in deed and j in truth.
but with actions that are produced by the truth.
Love for the brothers is central to the gospel message (v11) v11 The gospel message is further explained from 1:5; 2:7 John is looking a the gospel from another angle or highlighting another aspect of it, namely, that God is light (holy) and in Him is no darkness (evil). God is love and his people should show love also. The presence of persistent hatred proves one abides in death/darkness/ the family of Satan (v12-15) v12 Cain: the prime example of hatred to not emulate Cain is often used in both Scripture and non-biblical literature as the epitome of moral corruption (Jude 10-11) John argues that Cain's brutal actions identify to whose family he belongs, namely, Satan's John does not use the normal word for murder, instead, he uses a stronger word that has the sense of brutal butchery that gives us an indication that what Cain did was particularly heinous. Not to mention that he did it to his own brother As one who was of the family of evil, the fact that Abel's deeds were righteous and his were evil provided Cain with motivation to murder. Jealousy is certainly the wrong response when God blesses a brother in Christ v13 The world hates those who do righteousness It should not surprise us when the world hates us...the Bible is full of examples of faithful people who were hated by the world...Noah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus, Paul If Cain can lash out in such a brutal way because he was jealous of his brother's righteousness, then we should not be surprised when we experience persecution v14-15 Actions reveal to whose family you belong Death is the natural origin for every man; it is the place where we all start and the place out of which we need to pass But we don't have to remain in death! Eternal life is possible! Love is the indelible mark of a believer John 13:35 Hate: "to detest" or "to have a strong aversion to". It a gnomic present - anyone who persists in hating his brother is a murderer John uses a unique word for "murderer" that is not typical of the rest of the NT. It literally reads "man killer". The devil is described in John 8:44 as being murderer from the beginning. The Devil is the original assassin that brought death to Adam and Eve and subsequently to the rest of humanity. Satan didn't physically murder them, but brought death on them by teaching them heresy and telling them lies. Then Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount equates hatred with murder (Matt 5:21-22). So when John says that those who hate their brothers are man killers and demonstrate through their actions that their father is the Devil. This logic follows Jesus' logic in John 8:44 : the false teachers that are spiritually assassinating the brothers are engaging in the same activity as the Pharisees. No one who does this is a genuine believer. Implication/Application: we must know sound doctrine because wrong doctrine draws people away from God, who is the truth, and leads them to death. "and you know" - here John inserts another pastoral encouragement to show that while he is explaining heavy material that should cause introspection, he is still confident that the church understands the gospel and how it works out in real life. The presence of love proves one abides in life/light/ the family of God (v16-18) v16 Jesus is the prime example of love to emulate "By this" points forward "Ought to" is not a suggestion; rather, it carries the idea of moral obligation The idea is that those who follow Jesus, the one who gave up his life on their behalf, should be willing to sacrifice to serve their fellow believers, indeed, they have an obligation to serve their brothers. Jesus connects sacrifice with love in John 15:12-17 v17 Genuine love is compassionate There is a disqualifying inconsistency in the person who says he is a follower of Christ, yet shuts off compassion to a brother in need when he has the resources to meet that need. "Sees" - the person has looked intently at a situation such that they have an understanding of the circumstances. This implies that they are aware of the things going on among the brothers and there is an engagement with them. Failing to engage the church does not let you off the hook on this...rather, it is a failure to obey the first command to love "The world's goods" - does not mean that someone is rich but they do have the resources to meet the need. In this case, John questions the genuineness of someone's faith who is not willing to share any of their resources to help their brother in need "Closes his heart" means to stop having compassion. The purposefully have no compassion for those in need and refuse to help in real tangible ways (cf. James 2:16) This kind of compassion toward the needy expects nothing in return v18 Genuine love is more than words Love is not just words. It is not that John is downplaying verbal expressions fo love; rather, he is warning against the hypocrisy of expressions of love that are only words. Genuine expressions of love have deeds that accompany them. However, actions must be rooted in the truth in order for them to be genuine acts of love. Love does not enable a brother or sister struggling with same-sex attraction by telling them it is the way God made them and that it is okay to be gay. Love doesn’t ostracize them either; rather, it walks with them through their fight for faith and righteousness. This idea should cause us to consider if our acts of love are properly rooted
Brent Karding
I'm not sure about Neg-Pos in 12-15 and 16-18. It's possible, but 17 is a significant negative element within 16-18, so I'm not sure it's best to see all of 16-18 as Positive in contrast with 12-15.
Brent Karding
and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
I like your relationship choices throughout the passage, from 11-15 - until I saw Inference in 15b. :) That's the first place I disagree, because I wouldn't say that 15 is saying, "Everyone who hates is a murder; therefore, you know that murderers don't have eternal life." Since 15 is explaining 14c, Paul is explaining what he means about unloving people living in death: hateful people, after all, are murderers, who don't have eternal life - therefore, hateful people don't have eternal life. 15b is an Explanation of 15a.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.