What does 1 John 4:8 mean?
ESV: Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
NIV: Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
NASB: The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
CSB: The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
NLT: But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
KJV: He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
NKJV: He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Verse Commentary:
In the second sentence of this section, John adds the comment that those who don't love have no fellowship with God. The phrase "know God" uses the Greek root word ginosko. This is the same term used in verse 7, and many other places in the New Testament (John 17:3). To "know" God requires a person to have a relationship with Him, something John stresses often in this letter to Christian believers.

Love comes from God, so those who demonstrate love show they have fellowship with Him. The inverse is also true. The person who does not demonstrate love does not know God. John has already highlighted this message in previous chapters. However, the emphasis in this section is that God is love. Love is essential to Christian living because it is an essential part of God's identity.

This love includes God's creation of all things (Genesis 1—2), sustaining all things (Colossians 1:16–17), and redeeming believers through His Son Jesus (1 John 4:9). God is love, and He serves as the creator and sustainer of love in our world. Empowered by Jesus, we can experience God's love and share it with others through our lives.
Verse Context:
First John 4:7–10 returns to the theme of love. Here, John explains how true, godly love in a person's life is a sign of being born again. Those who truly love God will act on that love, towards other people. Those who don’t demonstrate love have no fellowship with God, at minimum. Love is something God showed us first, by sending Christ. Our love for Him is ultimately rooted in His original love for us. We are again reminded that true love involves acting, not just feeling.
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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