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Love Expressed (9 of 14)
1 John 3:10-23
As the knowledge of God is tested by conduct--whether one walks in the light--so being "born of God" is tested by righteous action and love of the brethren. The command to love the brethren was first introduced in chapter 2 verses 9-11 as a test of whether one was walking in the light, i.e., had true knowledge of God. Here it is the sum of the new life in God. In the former instance it was primarily leveled as a charge against the heretics. Here it is addressed to the church both for encouragement and for admonition. The author's procedure is to present the case for love first by the negative example of Cain in verses 12-15 contrasted with the positive example of Jesus in verse 16.
Since the nature of God as light is the foundation of the gospel that was received from the beginning, so the command to "love one another" has the same origin. Love is not the application of the "message" but the goal established "from the beginning." "The whole aim of the gospel is the creation and strengthening of love...The words do not simply give the content of the message, but aim, its purpose."
To best understand what John is saying, he first sets up what love is not by showing the 3 Behaviors of those who are not the children of God.
1) Murder is the ultimate expression of hate (v. 12-14).
The mention of Cain points back to 3:8 and reminds us that hatred is also from the beginning. The choice between the children of God and the children of the devil, between hatred and love, life and death, murder and self sacrifice stems from the earliest moment of man's existence. It also probably points to John 8:34-47, where some Jewish opponents of Jesus had exhibited the same kind of hatred toward Jesus that Cain expressed toward Abel. There Jesus says to them despite their claim to be Abraham's children: "As it is, you are determined to kill me... If God were your Father, you would love me... Yo ...
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