Fifth Sunday after Easter (Apr 29th)

Pastor's Summary of I John 4:7-21

In earier chapters, the author has stressed two signs of fellowship with God: faith in Christ and love of fellow Christians. In vv. 1-6, he contrasts the work of the Holy Spirit with that of other supernatural powers (working through false teachers): the Holy Spirit inspires confession of who Christ really is: he has come from God, to be truly human. The author has told his Christian readers: you "are from God" (v. 4).

Our passage can be summed up in three words: "God is love" (vv. 8, 16). This love originates in God; this is the kind of love we have for each other. Being lovers, we are God's children and we love him (v. 7). If we don't actively love, we don't know God--because the very nature of God "is love" (v. 8). God's greatest expression of love for us, the Church, was sending "his only Son" (v. 9) into the far-from-perfect "world", thereby giving us a path to godly living ("atoning sacrifice", v. 10) God took this initiative, this action restoring us to unity with him. So we have a duty to love "one another" (v. 11). It is only through Christ that we can see the Father (v. 12a). The flip side is: if we love our fellows, God (love) is "in us": fraternal love completes ("is perfected", v. 12) God's.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is proof that we and God are inter-related (v. 13). Part of this is witnessing and believing who Christ is (v. 14). Being thus in love has a consequence: we need not fear judgement at the end of the era; fear and "punishment" (v. 18) are incompatible: God's "love casts out fear". We are called to love both God and are fellows; it is impossible to love our fellows and not God, or God and not our fellows (vv. 20-21).