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1 John 4:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as he is, so also are we in this world.
 The Greek word (παρρησία parrēsia) literally means freedom of speech or outspokenness. The sense is boldness in being willing to undertake activities that involve risk or danger, primarily being honest and straightforward in attitude and speech.
Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews write,
By this, love is perfected with us. The margin accords with the Greek—μεθʼ ἡμῶν. The meaning is, ‘the love that is within us, or in us, is made perfect.’ The expression is unusual, but the general idea is that love is rendered complete or entire in the manner in which the apostle specifies. In this way, love becomes what it should be and will prepare us to appear with confidence before the judgment seat. Comp. 1 John 4:12.
That we may have confidence in the day of judgment. By the influence of love in delivering us from the fear of the wrath to come, 1 John 4:18. The idea is, that he who has true love to God will have nothing to fear in the day of judgment and may even approach the awful tribunal where he is to receive the sentence which shall determine his everlasting destiny without alarm.
because as he is, so also are we in this world. That is, we have the same character traits that the Savior had, and, resembling him, we need not be alarmed at the prospect of meeting him.
Daniel L. Akin,
4:17 John now expands his discussion by incorporating the theme of judgment. He also refers to what he has just written. The clear message is that the love one has for God has an effect on the future. The confession of Jesus as Lord and the mutual abiding between God and the believer allow for God’s love to have its full expression. It is in his close union with God (referring to the mutual relationship) that a believer’s love is made complete or perfected in order that he will have no fear in the day of judgment. The “function of love in the believer’s life is the impartation of a bold confidence that will enable him to stand before the judgment seat of Christ without fear or shame.” On that day the believer need not fear because Christ has atoned for his sins. The atonement also has a present effect since “in this world we are like him” (lit., “just as that one is, we also are in this world”). This does not mean that we have attained his perfection, but we stand in relation to God the same way that Christ does, and in this way we are like him. Those who are indwelt by God have a relationship with their Judge that is characterized by love. It is this love that allows the believer to have confidence when looking toward that day of judgment.
Brooke Foss Westcott writes,
17. Ἐν τούτῳ …] In this … The reference has been variously explained. Some have connected in this with what follows, others with what precedes. In the former case two views have been held. The words have been taken closely with the second of the following clauses, ἐν τούτῳ … ὅτι … in this … because …, and again with the first, ἐν τούτῳ … ἵνα … in this … that … The former construction may be at once set aside. The intervening clause, ἵνα … κρίσεως, makes the connection of ἐν τούτῳ with ὅτι most unnatural. The connexion of ἐν τούτῳ with ἵνα gives a true sense and is not foreign to St John’s style, though the exact combination does not occur (not John 15:8) in his writings; for it would not be strange that he should use a final particle (ἵνα) in place of a demonstrative particle (ὅτι), in order to bring out the idea of effort involved to the last in the realization of confidence (comp. John 17:3; c. 3:11 note). But the context and his general usage (comp. 2:3 note) favor the conclusion that the reference is to that which precedes. The argument requires the affirmation of a fact from which a consequence is drawn, rather than a further explanation of how love is perfected. The fellowship of man with God and of God with man carries with it the consummation of love. In this—in this double communion—love hath been perfected already on the divine side, and it is God’s will that men should make its blessings their own in view of the close of earthly life.
Jerome has a strange inversion of the sense of the passage: In hoc perfecta est … caritas, si fiduciam habeamus … ut quomodo ille eat sic et nos simus … (c. Jovin. 1. c. 40).
τετελ. μεθʼ ἡμῶν] perfecta est nobiscum V., is (hath been) perfected with us. There can beno doubt that μεθʼ ἡμῶν is to be joined with the verb. The structure of the sentence is decisive against taking ἡ ἀγ. μεθʼ ἡμῶν together in the sense ‘the love which is realized between Christians,’ or ‘the love of God shown among us.’ The unique form of expression appears to have been chosen in place of the simple ‘hath been perfected in us’ in order to place the perfection clearly in the realized fellowship of God and man. Love is not simply perfected in man (ἐν ἡμῖν) by an act of divine power, but in fulfilling this issue, God works with man (μεθʼ ἡμῶν). Something of the same thought of cooperation is seen in Acts 15:4, ὅσα ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς μετʼ αὐτῶν. Comp. 2 John 3 ἔσται μεθʼ ἡμῶν χάρις.…
Philo calls attention to a use of the preposition not unlike in Gen. 3:12 (LXX. ἡ γυνὴ ἣν ἔδωκας μετʼ ἐμοῦ): εὖ τὸ μὴ φάναι ἡ γυνὴ ἣν ἔδωκας ἐμοὶ ἀλλὰ μετʼ ἐμοῦ. οὐ γὰρ ἐμοὶ ὡς κτῆμα … ἔδωκας ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὴν ἀφῆκας ἄνετον καὶ ἐλευθέραν … (Leg. Alleg. 3. § 18; 1. 98 m).
τετελείωται] v. 12; c. 2:5 note. The tense presents the perfection as dependent on a continuous fellowship between God and the Christian body. Contrast Clem. ad Cor. 1:50 οἱ ἐν ἀγάπῃ τελειωθέντες.
ἵνα παρρ. ἔχ.] ut fiduciam babesmus V. The fullness of love is given with a view to an end. The feeling which is active now will have its fullest effect in the supreme trial of existence. St John, who habitually regards the eternal aspect of things, regards the boldness as something which is possessed absolutely (τετελείωται … ἵνα ἔχωμεν …). In an earlier passage (2:28), he enjoined abiding in God in Christ as the source of confidence at Christ’s Presence. He now points out how the confidence is established. To abide in God is to share the character of Christ under the conditions of earth. The sense of spiritual harmony with Him which this abiding brings necessarily inspires boldness in the believer; and it is the purpose of God that it should do so. So God fulfills His counsel of love. Thus the whole train of thought is brought to a natural conclusion. “God is love: he that abides in love abides in God … In this communion love finds consummation, in order that ‘by conscious conformity with Christ’ the last trial of life may be overcome, when ‘the last fear is banished.’”
παρρ. ἔχωμεν] c. 2:28 note.
ἐν τῇ ἡμ. τῆς κρ.] in die judicii V., in the day of judgment, when Christ shall come to execute judgment on the world (c. 2:28). The definite phrase is found here only. The indefinite phrase, ‘a day of judgment’ (ἡμ. κρ.), occurs in Matt. 10:15; 11:22, 11:24; 12:36; 2 Pet. 2:9; 3:7. Compare also Apoc. 6:17 ἡ ἡμ. ἡ μεγάλη τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτῶν; Rom. 2:5 ἡμ. ὀργῆς καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως τῆς δικαιοκρισίας τοῦ θεοῦ; 1 Pet. 2:12 ἡμ. ἐπισκοπῆς. In the Gospel St John speaks of ‘the last day’ (ἡ ἐσχάτη ἡμ.); 6:39, 6:40, 6:44, 6:54; 11:24; 12:48; which is elsewhere styled simply ‘that day’ (ἐκείνἠ ἡ ἡμ., ἡ ἡμ. ἐκ.), Matt. 7:22; Luke 6:23; 10:12; 21:34; 2 Thess. 1:10; 2 Tim. 1:12, 1:18; 4:8. The phrase ‘the judgment’ (ἡ κρίσις) is found Matt. 12:41 f.; Luke 10:14; 11:31 f.
It is interesting to notice that the privilege attributed to love is, under another aspect, attributed also to faith; John 3:18; 5:24. The two cannot be separated.
ὅτι καθὼς ἐκεῖνος …] because even as He [Christ, c. 2:6 note] is … The ground of boldness is present likeness to Christ. He has ‘passed out of this world’ (John 13:1), but His disciples are still ‘in the world’ (John 17:11), and have a work to do there (John 17:18). In fulfilling this work He is their ideal (c. 2:6): conformity to Him is the rule of their judgment (John 15:18 ff.). And the likeness of Christians to Christ is to His character as it is at present and eternally (καθὼς ἐκ. ἐστιν, comp. 3:2, 3:7) and not to the particular form in which it was historically manifested (κ. ἐκ. ἦν).
The reference is not to any one attribute, as love or righteousness, but to the whole character of Christ as it is made known; and His highpriestly prayer serves as a commentary on the view which St John suggests of the position of Christians in the world.
Following Augustine (see 3:7 note) Bede says forcibly: Non semper ad æqualitatem dicitur sicut, sed dicitur ad quandam similitudinem … Si ergo facti sumus ad imaginem Dei, quare non sicut Deus sumus? non ad æqualitatem sed pro mode nostro. Inde ergo nobis datur fiducia in die judicii, quia sicut ille est et nos sumus in hoc mundo, imitando videlicet perfectionem dilectionis in mundo cujus ille exemplum nobis quotidie præbet do cæ. [It is not always said to be equal, but it is said to have a certain likeness… If, then, we are made in the image of God, why are we not like God? not for equality, but for our manner. From this, then, we are given confidence in the day of judgment because just as he is and we are in this world, imitating the perfection of love in the world of which he gives us an example every day.]
καθὼς … καὶ ἡμεῖς …] The οὕτως in the second member of the comparison is sometimes replaced by καὶ: c. 2:6, 2:18; John 17:18; 20:21 (15:9 is doubtful); sometimes it is omitted: c. 2:27; and especially when the order of the clauses is inverted: John 5:23; Rom. 15:7.
καὶ ἡμ. ἐ. ἐ̓ν τῷ κ. τ.] The likeness is conditioned by the circumstances of the present state. ‘This world’ (ὁ κ. οὗτος), as distinguished from ‘the world,’ emphasizes the idea of transitoriness. The phrase is not found elsewhere in the Epistles of John.
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 Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: James to Jude, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 334.
 There are basically three ways to understand the phrase ἐν τούτῳ (“in this way”): (1) it can refer to the preceding statements regarding the mutual abiding between God and the Christian (see Plummer, Epistles of S. John, 151), (2) it can refer to the clause immediately following, i.e., confidence in judgment is an indicator of God’s perfect love (see Lenski, Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude, 510), or (3) it can refer to the ὅτι clause and give a reason for the exhibition of perfected love (see Brown, Epistles of John, 526–27). We follow Brown, though it is obvious John builds on what he has just written.
 Hiebert, “An Exposition of 1 John 4:7–21,” 84.
 Burdick, Epistles of John, 78.
 Thomas refers to this as “one of the most perplexing issues of the Epistle” (“Exegetical Digest of 1 John,” 390). The reason for this is that the likeness between Christ and the believer is not qualified, i.e., in righteousness, in suffering, etc. In other places believers are encouraged to walk as he walked (1 John 2:6), to lay down one’s life as he did (1 John 3:16), or to be pure like he is (1 John 3:3). Here it appears to mean the very existence and nature of the believer is the same as Christ’s. Likeness in character is certainly affirmed. Likeness in love may best fit the context (Hiebert, “An Exposition of 1 John 4:7–21,” 85).
 Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 185–186.
 Brooke Foss Westcott, ed., The Epistles of St. John: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays, 4th ed., Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: Macmillan, 1902), 157–159.
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