|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:14-21 The Father sent the Son, he willed his coming into this world. The apostle attests this. And whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. This confession includes faith in the heart as the foundation; makes acknowledgment with the mouth to the glory of God and Christ, and profession in the life and conduct, against the flatteries and frowns of the world. There must be a day of universal judgment. Happy those who shall have holy boldness before the Judge at that day; knowing he is their Friend and Advocate! Happy those who have holy boldness in the prospect of that day, who look and wait for it, and for the Judge's appearance! True love to God assures believers of God's love to them. Love teaches us to suffer for him and with him; therefore we may trust that we shall also be glorified with him, 2Ti 2:12. We must distinguish between the fear of God and being afraid of him; the fear of God imports high regard and veneration for God. Obedience and good works, done from the principle of love, are not like the servile toil of one who unwillingly labours from dread of a master's anger. They are like that of a dutiful child, who does services to a beloved father, which benefit his brethren, and are done willingly. It is a sign that our love is far from perfect, when our doubts, fears, and apprehensions of God, are many. Let heaven and earth stand amazed at his love. He sent his word to invite sinners to partake of this great salvation. Let them take the comfort of the happy change wrought in them, while they give him the glory. The love of God in Christ, in the hearts of Christians from the Spirit of adoption, is the great proof of conversion. This must be tried by its effects on their temper, and their conduct to their brethren. If a man professes to love God, and yet indulges anger or revenge, or shows a selfish disposition, he gives his profession the lie. But if it is plain that our natural enmity is changed into affection and gratitude, let us bless the name of our God for this seal and earnest of eternal happiness. Then we differ from the false professors, who pretend to love God, whom they have not seen, yet hate their brethren, whom they have seen.
Verse 19. - We love. The αὐτόν is spurious, and is not to be understood: the love is again quite general. "We have this principle of love." To take ἀγαπῶμεν as subjunctive in the sense "let us love" is less forcible. St. John states as a fact what ought to be a fact. "We Christians do not fear, but love. Yet this is no credit to us. After God's love in giving his Son for us it would be monstrous not to love."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
We love him, because he first loved us. Lest love to God, and so to one another, should be thought to be of ourselves, and too much be ascribed unto it, the apostle observes, that God's love to us is prior to our love to him; his love is from everlasting, as well as to everlasting; for he loves his people as he does his Son, and he loved him before the foundation of the world; his choosing them in Christ as early, and blessing them then with all spiritual blessings, the covenant of grace made with Christ from all eternity, the gift of grace to them in him before the world began, and the promise of eternal life to them so soon, show the antiquity and priority of his love: his love shown in the mission and gift of his Son was before theirs, and when they had none to him; and his love in regeneration and conversion is previous to theirs, and is the cause of it; his grace in regeneration brings faith and love with it, and produces them in the heart; and his love shed abroad there is the moving cause of it, or what draws it first into act and exercise; and the larger the discoveries and applications of the love of God be, the more does love to him increase and abound; and nothing more animates and inflames our love to God, than the consideration of the earliness of his love to us, of its being before ours; which shows that it is free, sovereign, distinguishing, and unmerited. Some read the words as an exhortation, "let us love him"; and others as in the subjunctive mood, "we should love him", because, &c. some copies read, "we love God", and so the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and the Alexandrian copy, read, "because God first loved us": and so some others.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. him—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Translate, We (emphatical: WE on our part) love (in general: love alike Him, and the brethren, and our fellow men), because He (emphatical: answering to "we"; because it was He who) first loved us in sending His Son (Greek aorist of a definite act at a point of time). He was the first to love us: this thought ought to create in us love casting out fear (1Jo 4:18).
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