What does 1 John 4:16 mean?
ESV: So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
NIV: And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
NASB: We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
CSB: And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
NLT: We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
KJV: And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
John includes both himself and his readers as believers in the beginning of this verse. His words clearly state that both knowing and believing are important. In many modern churches, believing has been emphasized apart from knowing God. This can lead to people who accept Jesus yet do not live for Him. These people may be "born of God," but they show no signs of "abiding" in Him. Other church movements greatly emphasize knowing God, whether through worship experiences or service to others, yet fail to emphasize salvation. Such people may not have any real relationship with Christ at all, since their concept of God is based on fickle human feelings.
Both "to know and to believe" are essential in the life of a Christian believer. We must believe in who Christ really is, for salvation. We must "know" Him through obedience and fellowship, to be accepted in our actions, and to be blessed by Him.
John adds in the second part of this verse his refrain from verse 8. Namely, that "God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." The person who continues in love is also continuing in God. In other words, love for God and others is the way to remain growing in the Lord. Those who do so have God abiding or living in them. Great, godly love is a powerful sign that a person is a genuine believer in Christ.
First John 4:11–19 is the backbone of John's letter. The primary way Christians are to be recognized is by love. This is not merely what we feel, but what we do for others. True, godly love is the most powerful evidence of being ''born again'' as a child of God. This love comes from God, who loved us before we loved Him. When we live in obedience to God, according to love, we can be confident in our relationship with Him, and have no need to fear His judgment.
Chapter 4 warns Christians not to accept every claim they hear. Instead, believers are to compare what they hear to the basic truths of the gospel. John then returns to the theme of love, explaining how believers ought to live out the presence of God's love in their lives. In addition, living according to God's love takes away our fear of judgment. In no uncertain terms, those who claim to love God, but hate others, are liars.
First John chapter 4 emphasizes the way God's love removes the natural human fear of rejection. Fear is a punishment of its own, and those who do not believe have reason to fear judgment. Believers, on the other hand, have confidence. Not only has Christ forgiven our sins, but He gives us God's love. Following in this love leads to acceptance, which leads to confidence, driving out fear. This passage is the key section of John's letter, explaining how confidence in the life of a believer ought to be accomplished.
First John seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the gospel. Rather than re-state these facts, John is concerned with building confidence in Christian believers. At the same time, his words encourage believers to examine their own lives for signs of their relationship with Christ. This letter also challenges false teachers and their incorrect claims about Jesus. Many themes are shared with the Gospel of John.
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