What God has done for us is the context for our understanding of what love actually is.
John introduced the fact that we know God is with us because he gives us in the Spirit at the end of chapter 3, which opens the conversation about the spiritual world. He confirms that there are spirits that are not from God, those who would claim to be from God or would influence people to speak falsely as if it is on God’s behalf. They can be made known by whether they confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Unfortunately, this keeps us from being able to label any ol’ person who we disagree with theologically as having an evil Spirit because most folk actually still claim Jesus as the Messiah who came in the flesh; it’s why we can work with folk if we can agree on Jesus.
We get a drop on the antichrist again, which retains the context of being a person or spirit who opposes the Messiah (in this case by telling lies). That said, it’s a worldly issue, and because the Spirit who is in us is greater than any other spirits that are in the world, we don’t worry about those spirits.
John then hops back to loving one another. Love is from God, it shows we love and serve God, and God is indeed love. That phrase doesn’t negate everything else John has said (meaning, yes God is love, but you still can’t be a liar who claims to love God but doesn’t obey his commands). God’s love is demonstrated through sending Jesus, the ultimate example and act of love in sacrifice. And because God loved us, we are to love one another.
Ooh, don’t miss this. “No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” John understands that we will have difficulty knowing what is is like to “love” God given that we’ve not actually seen him and our interactions with him aren’t quite the same as with our brothers. Don’t worry, God is aware of that. Love your brothers, obey God, love will show.
Now back to who has the Spirit and who does not and how to know.
Now back to loving again. We love because He showed us how to love. What God has done for us is the context for our understanding of what love actually is. (Let that sink in. Mercy.)
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
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