Summary: Love is never a true love unless it is expressed in action.
The letter of the apostle John had two purposes in writing this letter: (1) to expose and reject the doctrinal ethical errors of the false teachers, and (2) to exhort the Christians to pursue a life of fellowship with God characterized by truth. His main concern is for the believers to KNOW (repeated 43 times) the real “truth” about some claims the false teachers were propagating. In this book, there are nine “This is how we know…” phrases talking about the truths we should know and one of these is “love” (3:16).
Our Christianity is somehow stained by a love that is shallow and far from the biblical love or from the love portrays by the Bible. In our text, John has told us what true Christian love is. He is actually saying that love is never a true love unless it is expressed in action, thus prompted me to give the title to this study as “Love Is True In Action.” In this month of February, the love month, may we be challenged to pattern our love to the true Christian love. Know this truth for the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
1. Love is the basis for life in the believing community (1Jo_3:11; 1Jo_3:14; cf. Joh_5:24).
1.1 It is the gospel directed to Christians (v. 11).
± Note that it says “message.” (Gk., aggelia ang-el-ee’-ah); an announcement, i.e. (by implication) with force of precept; the same term used for gospel.
± The message echoes John 13:34.
± The Gospel message of Him who loved us, announced by His servants, is, that we love the brethren; not here all mankind, but those who are our brethren in Christ, children of the same family of God, of whom we have been born anew.
1.2 It is not like Cain’s attitude toward his brother Abel (v. 12).
± Before telling us what precisely love is, the Apostle John told us what it is not
± In both Jewish and early Christian writings, Cain appears as a model for those who failed to “love the brothers” (cf. 1 John 3:17).
± “Why did he murder him?” Cain murdered his brother Abel because of his jealous resentment of his brother’s superior righteousness (Gen. 4:2-7), and in that action, he was of the evil one.
± The author has tended to portray the issues before the readers in antithetical (‘either/or’) terms before, so here the contrast between the evil deeds of Cain and the righteous deeds of his brother Abel is portrayed in the same fashion.
± There is no middle ground between evil and righteousness or between light and darkness in the author’s portrayal; one must choose one side or the other.
1.3 Hatred is the way of the world (v. 13).
± Non-believers hate Christians and this is expressed in many ways: ignore, disbelief, laugh at us, unfavorable of us, etc. But John says, do not be surprised because this is expected of them! Hatred is the way of the world!
± It is the existence of “hatred” in the Christian community that is surprising – and this is the problem John is trying to point out. The apostle is actually saying, “There is hatred in you and this is surprising!”
1.4 Love should be our basis for life (1 Jo_3:6, 14).