What does 1 John 4:19 mean?
ESV: We love because he first loved us.
NIV: We love because he first loved us.
NASB: We love, because He first loved us.
CSB: We love because he first loved us.
NLT: We love each other because he loved us first.
KJV: We love him, because he first loved us.
NKJV: We love Him because He first loved us.
Verse Commentary:
This short verse offers profound words. People do not wake up one day and decide to love (Romans 3:10). God is love, created love, and loved us first. John's summary of verses 17 and 18 also serves as a reminder. We are not to take credit for the love we have and show to others. God loved us, before we were capable of loving Him, and we can only love others because of what He has done in our lives.

As verses 20 and 21 will add, this love is not merely a mutual affection between us and God. It must also include love for others. Acting out of love is not exclusive to God in this context, but consists of loving both God and other people. This is the Great Commandment which involves loving God fully and loving neighbor as yourself. This teaching is also based upon the ancient Shema, or the Saying, from Deuteronomy 6:4–5: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." The same is seen in Leviticus 19:18: "you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."
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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