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Read Introduction to 1 John


“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”


And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren

Christians live under a divine imperative; they are under an obligation from God.  The word “ought” means to owe, be under obligation or debt.  It is a financial term for an obligation to a debt (Mt 18:32).  The Greek world used it for inner moral obligation. 

The word “ought” carries the idea of moral obligation as over against logical necessity.  Love becomes complete when we put it into action.  The English word is a contraction of two words: owes it.  We owe it to the Lord to love as He loved.  Children of the Devil care only about themselves, but Jesus laid down His life for others.  Christians ought to lay down their lives for others. 

The words “lay down” come from a Greek word meaning to divest oneself of something such as clothes.  Love divests itself of self and gives to others. 

Jn 15:12-14, 12This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”


The Christian is under obligation to love as the Lord loved. 


There is a moral obligation on us to love as Jesus loved.  There is a moral “ought.”  We “ought,” but why don’t we?  God may never call on us to give our lives physically for others, but He clearly calls us to sacrifice for others.  That may come in the form of aid or the form of money.  We owe something to Christians because we owe something to Christ.

Ro 13:8, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

2 Th 1:3, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other…”

Spiritual Christians follow the example of their Lord in divesting themselves of self.  They put the needs of others above their own needs.  They seek the highest good in others.  It may be inconvenient for them to do this, but convenience is not their core value.  This love involves itself with the problems of people. 

As hatred is a precursor to murder, so love leads to life.  True love gives one’s life for another; it is the capacity to deny self for the interests of others.  Jesus laid out this imperative in His farewell address to the disciples (Jn 13:34-35; 15:12,13). 

Paul sensed an obligation to the Greeks and barbarians (Ro 15:27).  He owed the gospel due them, so he bound himself to give them the good news.