“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
He who does not love
John does not state here the object of love but the mere fact of love. The issue is simply whether a Christian loves or not.
does not know [aorist–point action] God,
Lack of love shows that this believer does not have intimate fellowship with God. This is the point where the believer does not connect with God. This person may be a Christian but he is not connecting with the nature of God’s love. He is not filled with the Spirit. God assumes that anyone who knows Him will love.
for God is love
The phrase “God is love” only occurs here and verse 16 in the Bible. This phrase affirms a condition about the nature of God, all that God does is love. If He provides, He provides in love; if He judges, He judges in love. Love is inherent in the nature of God; it is at the heart of all God is.
It is not possible to reverse “God is love” to “love is God”. Love is of God but love and God are not the same thing. God is more than love but the essence of His character revolves around love. Additional to love and among other things, God is also truth, justice, righteousness and longsuffering.
True love comes from capturing an understanding of the nature of God’s unilateral and unconditional love.
The idea that “God is love” is one of the most weighty but at the same time one of the most widely misused phrases in Scripture. People use it in a sense that strips God of righteousness and justice. This is an extremely dangerous idea and people believe it at their own peril.
God will not say to those who do not believe in Christ, “Oh, I will let you into my heaven because I have a soft and tender heart.” God cannot compromise with sin because He cannot compromise His own absolute righteousness.
God is love but love is not God. The thought that love is God is a lie of the Devil. The Devil would love to distort the very nature of God. God is more than love; He is truth, justice, longsuffering, and has many other attributes. God’s love does not revoke His truth. God will never fellowship with anyone who has not been forgiven through the blood of Christ. His perfect righteousness makes fellowship with any other kind of righteousness mutually exclusive.
God’s love is an attribute of His essence; it is more than a characteristic of God. Men possess love characteristically but only God is love essentially. God’s love is more than an expression of love toward us; it is His character and nature to extend unconditional love. Love is more than a quality of God’s being but an essence of who He is. God is more than loving activities; love is at His very essence.
God’s love is not conditional, it does not depend on the worthiness of the object of His love. We can never earn or deserve His love. God loves us unconditionally because that is His very nature. Love is not merely an aspect of God’s character floating out on the edge of His being.
God’s love does not depend on any worth in us because there is nothing worthy in us for God to love. God’s love rests on God’s character. God unilaterally loves us when we are loveable and He loves us when we are not loveable.
The only way we can share God’s love is to be a part of the family of God. We receive God’s love by accepting God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. His death paid fully and sufficiently for our sins.