God is Love Pt I

Exegetical Study: 
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In 1 John 4:7 – 21, John encourages the believers to possess confidence, assurance and certainty that God is love. To understand John's encouragement, it is necessary to examine the historical context of 1 John. The epistle of 1 John resides in the Johannian literature. The apostle John composed the Johannian literature. These writings include the Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, and Revelation. In particular, 1 John addresses specific issues within the first-century church. The first issue addressed deals with schism. In 1 John 2:18 – 23, John reveals that antichrist who denied Christ lived among them. These individuals eventually left the church community, but their false teachings continued to infiltrate the church. 1 John 4:1 – 3 and 2 John 7 also suggest the antichrist does not acknowledge that Christ came in the flesh. This false understanding corresponds to the ideology of Gnosticism. Gnostic doctrine derives from the Greek term, gnosis or knowledge. Therefore, others attributed those who subscribed to this ideology as possessing great intelligence. Gnosticism based its theology on the duality between spirit and matter.[1] The spiritual dimension represents divine and good, while matter is created and evil. [2] Therefore, the Supreme God could not create matter more specifically Jesus as a physical Jesus equates to matter that is evil. "Consequently, a real incarnation of Christ of the Son of God was impossible." [3] On the other hand, the denial of the true humanity of Christ represents a docetic ideology."[4] Docetists denied Christ by suggesting that He only seemed to live in the flesh. Docetists viewed the earthly life of Christ, especially His sufferings on the cross as unreal.[5] On the contrary, John combats Gnostic and Docetic knowledge by challenging the believers to obtain adequate knowledge of God and Christ. This knowledge derives from faith which fosters the believers' assurance.[6] In 1 John 4:7 – 21, John identifies that God is love. In his identification, he encourages the believers to possess confidence, assurance, and certainty about God is love.

Continue Reading: God is Love Pt II

[1] I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John (New International Commentary on the New Testament), (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978), 17.

[2] Ibid. 

[3] Ibid.

[4] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: gnosticism, s.v., "Orr", (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1939),  https://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/gnosticism.html, (accessed January 29, 2018)

[5] Ibid.

[6] G.J.Wenham, J.A. Motyer, et al. New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th Edition, (Downers Grove: IVP, 1994), 1398.