1 John 4:21
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.And this commandment have we from him - That is, the command to love a brother is as obligatory as that to love God. If one is obeyed, the other ought to be also; if a man feels that one is binding on him, he should feel that the other is also; and he can never have evidence that he is a true Christian, unless he manifests love to his brethren as well as love to God. See the notes at James 2:10.

That he who loveth God love his brother also - See the notes at John 13:34-35. Compare John 15:12, John 15:17.

21. Besides the argument (1Jo 4:20) from the common feeling of men, he here adds a stronger one from God's express commandment (Mt 22:39). He who loves, will do what the object of his love wishes.

he who loveth God—he who wishes to be regarded by God as loving Him.

Both ought to be conjoined, being required both by the same authority. And this commandment have we from him,.... Either "from God", as the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read; and that to love the brethren is a commandment of God, is clear from 1 John 3:23; or from Christ, for it is also a command of his, even his new commandment, which he has given, and his people have received from him:

that he who loveth God, love his brother also; see John 13:34; which is an argument persuading to attend to the one as well as to the other; for the same command that requires the one, requires the other: and he that transgresses it in one case, is a transgressor of it, as well as in the other.

{17} And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

(17) A second reason, why God cannot be hated and our neighbour loved, because this same lawmaker commanded us both to love him and our neighbour.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 John 4:21. Alterum argumentum cur amare proximum (or, more correctly: fratrem) debeamus: quia Deus id praecepit (Grotius).

καί] not = and yet (Paulus); for this verse does not contain an antithesis, but an expansion of the preceding thought.

ταύτην τὴν ἐντολὴν κ.τ.λ.] Lange interprets ἐντολή here by: “teaching;” and Grotius paraphrases ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν Θεόν by: qui a Deo pro amante ipsius haberi vult; both false and unnecessary; for although brotherly love is the natural fruit and activity of love to God, yet at the same time the practice of it is the habitual task which he who loves God has to perform, as one appointed him by God. It is doubtful whether we are to understand by αὐτοῦ God (Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Düsterdieck, etc.) or Christ; that in the latter case ἐκείνου must be read is unfounded; because τὸν Θεόν follows, the second view seems to be the more correct; but as in the context there is no reference here at all to Christ, it might be safer to understand by αὐτοῦ God.

By ἵνα referring back to ταύτην, it is here, as frequently after verbs of wishing and commanding, not so much the purpose as the purport of the commandment (the realization of which is certainly the aim and object of the commandment) that is stated, which Braune here also incorrectly disputes.1 John 4:21. The Old Commandment. Cf. 1 John 2:7-11.21. And this commandment have we] The Apostle drives home his arguments for the practice of brotherly love by the fact that God has commanded all who love Him to love their brethren. Some take ‘Him’ to mean Christ. But this is unlikely, as Christ has not been mentioned for several verses: although it must be admitted that S. John is so full of the truth that ‘I and My Father are one’, that he makes the transition from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father almost unconsciously. Where has God given this commandment? In the whole Law, which is summed up in loving God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbour as oneself (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Luke 10:27). The Apostle thus anticipates a possible objection. A man may say ‘I can love God without loving my brother, and I can prove my love by keeping His commandments’ (John 14:15). ‘Nay’, says S. John, ‘your own argument shews your error: you cannot keep His commandments without loving your brother’. Thus then we have two revelations of God: our brother, who is His image; and His commandment, which is His will. Not to love our brother is a flagrant violation of both. As Pascal puts it, we must know men in order to love them, but we must love God in order to know Him.

that he who loveth God love his brother also] “The final particle (ἵνα) gives more than the simple contents of the commandment. It marks the injunction as directed to an aim” (Westcott). See on 1 John 1:9.1 John 4:21. Τὴν ἐντολὴν, the precept) which must be kept by those who love God: Matthew 22:39. [He who loves not his brother, does not keep the commandment as to φιλαδελφία, and therefore does not love GOD.—V. g.]Verse 21. - That he who loveth God love his brother also. This is the great commandment, on which hang all the Law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37, 39; Luke 10:27; John 13:34), and, whatever we may think of the relation between seeing and loving, there is the Divine command to love, not only the invisible God, but the visible brother in whom the invisible God dwells. Sight may hinder as well as help; it is hard to love what is squalid and hideous. In such cases let us remember the Divine command; let us remember the Divinity which even the most debased humanity contains.



That (ἵνα)

Not defining the contents of the commandment, but expressing intent. Compare John 13:34, and see on John 15:13.

His brother

"To the persecutor Saul, Christ said, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? I have ascended into heaven, yet still I lie upon earth. Here I sit at the right hand of the Father; there I still hunger, thirst, and am a stranger'" (Augustine).

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