“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (I John 4:11-12)
The Apostle John continues to display the heart of a pastor. He once again refers to his readers as “beloved.” He conveys a tenderness, but also a firmness to being committed to right teaching and also right living.
In reference to what the apostle previously said in I John 4:7-10, since God has loved the church with a self-sacrificial love of the will, believers ought to show the same love towards fellow believers.
John then declares that no one has ever seen God. This must be the apostle’s reference to God the Father because John certainly saw God in the person of Jesus Christ: the God/Man or Emmanuel.
However, as believers in Christ love one another with a self-sacrificial love of the will, God divine nature is seen in their behavior. The word “perfected” means complete or genuine.
Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “In His divine nature and essence, God has never been seen by any living man (cf. John’s similar statement, John 1:18). Yet in the experience of mutual love among believers, this invisible God actually lives in us and His love is made complete in us. The term “lives” once again renders John’s characteristic word (menō) for the abiding life. As in 1 John 2:5, the idea of God’s love reaching completeness in a believer may suggest a deep and full experience of that love (cf. 4:17).”
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Love is the heart of Christian witness. Nobody can see God loving since his love is invisible. Jesus no longer is in the world to manifest the love of God. The only demonstration of God’s love in this age is the church. That testimony is critical (John 13:35; 2 Cor. 5:18–20). John’s argument in 1 John 4:7–12can be summed up as: love originated in God, was manifested in his Son, and demonstrated in his people.”
How may you self-sacrificially love someone today? By phoning them to wish them well and to pray for them during the call. By helping someone who is in need. By wishing someone you know a Happy Birthday when they might not expect hearing from you.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be seen here.
Soli deo Gloria!