“For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…”
John sets forth a test of whether a believer is in fellowship in verses 7-11. In verses 11-24, he views the Christian life as divine sonship. He employs love again as a test of a person who is a genuine son.
John continues his stark contrast between the family of God and the family of Satan in verses 11 and 12. Cain is representative of the family of Satan and Christ is representative of the family of God.
“For” explains the basis on which the statement of the previous verse leans. John offers evidence substantiating the declaration of 3:10b, “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” God’s people love God’s people. The aim of this epistle is to help John’s readers understand the nature of God’s love.
this is the message
The only other occurrence of the noun “message” in the New Testament occurs in 1:5. That message has to do with “fellowship” with God. The message here is that we “should love one another” which is a manifestation of fellowship. This is a message to saints who wish to have fellowship with God on an ongoing basis.
that you heard from the beginning,
“Heard from the beginning” is the beginning of the proclamation of salvation to John’s readers. John makes it abundantly clear that his audience is Christian by this statement. This also draws attention to the divine nature of verse 9. The principle of love goes back to a family issue, the family of God. Love is a reflection of the divine nature. Love proves life. The test of fellowship lies in love, not in religion, church attendance or breast-beating.
that we should love one another
The words “love one another” occur 5 times in this epistle. The word “love” in its various forms occurs 46 times. Believers should love their own kind. The words “one another” mean another of the same kind. Spiritual birth and the divine nature came in the same package; therefore, love is no option for the believer. If God generated Christians into one family, it is reasonable that they would love people of their own kind.
The manifestation of love is the outcome of being a member of the family of God.
The origin of life is the conversion of a Christian. The gospel puts believers into one family. It unites them in Christ as members of His family. This should generate family love, Christ’s love within one another.
Fellowship with God [righteousness] is inseparable from love. The God of light is also the God of love. Knowing this God of love enables us to love beyond a human love.
Loving some member of the family of God is not easy but God wants us to love unloving Christians. You may have heard the following jingle that reveals the true state of love among some believers today,
“To dwell above with the saints we love,
Oh, that will be grace and glory.
But to live below the saints we know,
Well, that’s another story.”
Someone has said, “I love mankind, it is just people I can’t stand.” No, loving fellow Christians in the face of irritation is a true test of love from the divine nature. Christians should love one another because they have a common origin – the family of God.
As Nelson drew his ship to battle against the Dutch fleet, two of his English officers were quarrelling. He flung himself between them and pointing to the ships of Holland said, “Gentlemen, there are your enemies!” Our enemies are not fellow Christians.