“And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.”
The thrust of John’s argument is that Christians should be wary of their hospitality. False teachers were roaming the territory, and people committed to truth should not give hospitality to them. Before he sounds a warning about this, he challenges Christians to practice divine love.
John reasons in a circle in verses 5 and 6. Application of truth to experience results in love toward other Christians (v. 5). Love also lives according to God’s principles (v. 6). God tightly weaves together, love with living according to the principles of His Word.
With the word “now,” John turns to the main thrust of the letter – the relationship between truth and love. The church in Ephesus stood in peril of false teaching, and love without truth puts the church in danger.
I plead with you, lady,
“Plead” is more authoritative than “beseech.” It is directly personal and not an exhortation. It is a request among equals. John requests that this influential lady manifests genuine biblical love, not phony or sentimental love toward the false teachers.
not as though I wrote a new commandment to you,
The content of the “new commandment” is to “love one another.” This is not a “new” commandment in that it did not originate with the apostle John. It originated with the Lord Jesus.
Mt 22:37-40, 37 “Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 ‘This is the first and great commandment. 39 ‘And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”
Jn 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.”
Ro 13:10, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
1 Jn 2:7, “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.”
but that which we have had from the beginning:
John identifies himself with the lady and her children by “we have had.” The commandment they had was from the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
that we love one another
The words “one another” indicate reciprocity. True believers reciprocate love shown to them by fellow Christians.
1 Jn 3:11, “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…”
John exhorts his readers no less than ten times in his writings to love each other. He places great emphasis on this subject because of its importance to the integrity of Christianity.
We measure the integrity of our Christianity by our love for one another.
It appears that we are very slow to learn how to love one another. It seems that if we do disagree, then we cannot agree on the spirit in which to disagree. True love seeks a way to be constructive in a negative situation. This love does not seek to possess or control the other person.
The most difficult thing God calls upon believers to do is to love one another. We can trace most relationship problems among Christians to lack of love. Some of us do truly love, but we do not know how to show it. Some men love their wives but do not know how to declare it. It is always crucial for lovers to express their love and demonstrate their love. We violate biblical love if we take it for granted. “Well, she knows that I love her.” If that is so, then tell her how. Does she have to guess that you love her?
Jn 15:17, “These things I command you, that you love one another.”
1 Co 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”
1 Pe 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”
Love presents the patent test of the genuineness of belief. Love is hard to counterfeit. We can tell whether our belief is genuine by the nature of our love.
True love does not lie beyond the sphere of action. Love as an emotion or sentiment has no accountability. Faith applies truth to experience. It is a response to the grace of God in Christ. Love does not come from a resolve to obey God but from trust in Him and acting on that trust.