1 John 4:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 John 4:20, NIV: Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

1 John 4:20, ESV: If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

1 John 4:20, KJV: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

1 John 4:20, NASB: If someone says, 'I love God,' and yet he hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother and sister whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

1 John 4:20, NLT: If someone says, 'I love God,' but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?

1 John 4:20, CSB: If anyone says, "I love God," and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

What does 1 John 4:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse is the fourth of five times John mentions liars in this letter (1 John 1:10; 2:4, 22; 4:20; 5:10). Love for others, especially fellow Christians, is a primary commandment from Christ. So, a person who exhibits hate for others, but claims to know God, is lying. A liar says he knows God but does not keep His commands (1 John 2:4). A liar denies Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22). Here, we are told that a liar says he loves God but hates other people.

The second part of the verse adds an explanation, moving from the "seen" to the "unseen." It is more difficult to love someone you cannot see than someone you can see. If a person cannot love those they see, they cannot reasonably claim to love those they cannot see. This verse explicitly declares that a person cannot truly love God while hating other people. The person who claims to love God must also show love for others.

This also ties into the idea that, since we cannot see God in all of His divine essence, love is meant to be the way God is seen. Both in ourselves, and in the world, God's love is meant to be the way humanity "sees" Him.