What does 1 John 4:17 mean?
ESV: By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
NIV: This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
NASB: By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world.
CSB: In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world.
NLT: And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
KJV: Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
NKJV: Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
Verse Commentary:
Verses 17–19 offer insight regarding the source and impact of love. First, a growing love for God leads to confident anticipation of the future day of judgment. Believers who grow and mature in their faith need not fear how God will evaluate them in the future. They have been forgiven by God and are obeying His commands.

The second phrase is more difficult to understand: "because as he is so also are we in this world." The "he" in this case refers to Jesus. Just as Jesus is in this world, so the believer is. What does this mean? By loving others we become like Jesus. We need not fear (1 John 4:18), but enjoy God's love and live it out in serving others, just like Jesus did. Jesus lived among those He served, taught them, prayed for them, served them, and ultimately gave His life for others, leaving a powerful example for our own lives.
Verse Context:
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 Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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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