“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
John now demonstrates how to experience love.
If someone says, “I love God,”
In chapters one and two, we saw a number of false claims to spirituality (1:6, 8, 10; 2:4, 6, 9, 22; 5:10). Here in our verse is a false claim to love. This person professes to love God; however, it is completely inconsistent to claim to love God and simultaneously hate Christians.
John’s problem with the false teachers was their disconnection of application of truth from the principles of God’s Word. They were great on talk but short on walk. They claimed to love God, but they hated God’s people.
and hates his brother, he is a liar;
It makes little difference what a person claims about loving God; he lies about loving God if he does not love Christians. This is irresistible logic. The greater implies, the lesser. Conversely, default in the lesser denotes the impossibility of the greater. One side of the coin cannot be true, and the other side false. We do not love God if we do not love Christians.
The word “liar” occurs five times in 1 John (more than any other book). A “liar” is someone who attempts to deceive by conveying misinformation. This is strong language intended to get attention. To claim to fellowship with God and walk in darkness is a lie (1:6; 2:4). They claim to believe in the Father and yet deny the Son is a lie (2:22,23). They claim to love God and not love Christians is a lie as well. These three lies constitute a spiritual lie, a doctrinal lie, and a relational lie.
Notice that John uses “brother” twice in this verse. His reference is to loving fellow Christians. He uses “brother” twelve times in this epistle. Both “brother” and “brethren” occur a total of seventeen times in 1 John.
for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
Here is a hard question. How can we love God whom we have not seen if we do not love Christians who we can see? Love for the unseen God always finds manifestation in concrete love for Christians. One must always accompany the other.
There is an inviolable relation between God’s love and our love.
It is easier to love an observable human being than an invisible God. If we cannot deliver on the easier task, we will not do the harder task.
The profession of love for God does not mean that we truly possess a love for Him. We need to guard against profession without reality. The profession of love without the reality of love shows that we do not truly understand nor experience God’s love. We presume that we love, but in fact, we do not.
It is possible to claim to love God and not manifest that love toward Christians. Such pseudo-spirituality falls short of true fellowship with God. Love for Christians is not optional but obligatory in God’s economy. The practice of love originates in God Himself, so if we are at odds with men, we are at odds with God.
When we profess love for God, we also profess to love as He loves. Any other claim is a lie. We test our love for God by our love for Christians. It does not matter what we claim; if we do not love fellow believers, we are liars!
John 13:34-35, 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Thanks, you have answered my question for the day which was love is much bigger than false claims that come from our mouth. The lies we live is much bigger that trying to cover up stuff even though a lie is a lie but we need to watch how we live and walk the talk.
Simply striking thanks!
This article talks about Christians loving Christians – but how do we then define loving our “neighbor”? What about loving our enemies, which is also a commandment?
Rebecca, I am in India right now and will answer you when I get back.
Rebecca, Love for non-Christians has to do with doing what is best for them. That may mean that we may not make them happy in some cases.
The answer for love for non-Christians is weak. The same that you said for those not of our faith holds true for Believers as well. In the end – God IS love…and if we are of God, we will love – Christian or not. Enemy or friend. Bottom line.
Raija-Liisa, there is nothing in sinners that compels God’s love for them. He does not love them because they are lovable. He does not offer His mercy to them because they deserve mercy. There is no intrinsic worth in people that causes God to love them. Neither does God love us for what we are; He loves us in spite of who we are. God loves us because of His love intrinsic to Himself. He finds no value in us to love but He loves out of compassion. He expresses that love by His unadulterated grace to the sinner. This is unilateral love extended universally offered for everyone. Therefore, there is nothing reciprocal in God’s love. He loves on the basis on His character and His character alone.
My argument in response to Rebecca has to do with the nature of God’s unilateral love (αγαπη) verses reciprocal love (φιλια). Thus, God’s love for the lost has nothing to do with His ongoing relationship with them; it is independent of them. Unilateral love does what his best for the individual that may imply a break in reciprocal relationship.
I don’t hate a particular Christian I know, but I certainly do not love him. I resent him for judging me to be an addict. I stopped drinking 6 months ago by praying to God for help, but he still called me an addict. Do I lose my salvation because I don’t love him?
Matt, there are a number of perspectives here, First, there is a difference between objective and subjective anger. God has objective against what is wrong. It is right for you to be objectively angry about this mistreatment but not subjectively angry. Secondly, to “resent” this person is sinful (He 12:15). Resentment causes a “root of bitterness” to spring up in the soul. It is not necessary to love this person for what he is doing but it is necessary to love him as a brother in Christ. The Greek word for “love” in this verse is not the Greek word for relationship love but for love that is free from the soul kinks of the person. It is not necessary to “like” a person, but it is necessary to treat the other person as a child of God. Thirdly, these issues have nothing to do with the salvation of your soul but the state of your soul.
Very clear explanation, based on Bible. Thank you so much.
I kind of understand…but what if we don’t love non Christians and say we hate them because we’re so frustrated by they we they are, unsaved? I feel guilty for saying that because then I think am I of God, not loving unbelievers like i should, even unto saying hateful things about them?
Missy, there is nothing wrong with hating the sin of what people do. Hating the sinner is a separate issue. God loves us although He hates our sin.
I have a query since many years about loving a brother .
What should I do to love him?
He is my eldest brother, aged 46. He is unemployed since 3-4 years. Don’t know why he is not interested in finding a job.
His wife ( my sister in-law) works at a school.
What should I do ? Should I help him monetarily or how do I love him?
I am married and have a 6-month old baby n stay with my parents.
Johnson, there is not enough information on my part to understanding your brother. If, for example, has gone through some kind of trauma then that is one thing. If, on the other hand, he is lazy or does not want to conquer what is out there, then that is another. Neither do I know your financial situation. If you have surplus finances that would not place a burden on your immediate family, maybe it would be a good idea to help your brother. In any case, it is not a good idea to operate out of a sense of guilt but rather make your decision/s based on what is right for him and your family.
Thanks Grant for the quick reply.
He is not undergone any trauma.
Not sure if he is lazy, but if a man stops working for at least 3-6 months, he will start getting lazy ….
My sister in-law’s parents n also my sister’s brother helped quite a times financially; this may have helped him then, but in effect this would have helped him stay at home as he gets money easily…
They stopped giving 1 or 2 times in fact.
So basically these verses say we have to love ouroboros in sisters in Christ. But jesus said to love even our enemy. And also the good samaritan……. boy its hard. Just yesterday driving home home church and a geek cut me off n I got angry. Then my Wife was saying how unchristian I am
Thanks for your acknowledgement about the true love and false love,i basically learn new from your clear answer