DAILY DEVOTIONAL, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

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Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews write,

1 John 4:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment,[13] and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

[13] The Greek word (κόλασις kolasis) literally means lopping off or cutting off. The punishment is the fear of being cut off, i.e., not remaining in God’s love on judgment day.

There is no fear in love. Love is not an affection that produces fear. In the love which we have for a parent, a child, or a friend, there is no fear. If a man had perfect love for God, he would have no fear of anything—for what would he have to dread? He would have no fear of death, for he would have nothing to dread beyond the grave. It is guilt that makes men fear what is to come, but he whose sins are pardoned, and whose heart is filled with the love of God has nothing to dread in this world or the world to come. The angels in heaven, who have always loved God and one another, have no fear, for they have nothing to dread in the future; the redeemed in heaven, rescued from all danger, and filled with the love of God, have nothing to dread; and as far as that same loves operates on earth, it delivers the soul now from all apprehension of what is to come.

How to Interpret the Bible-1

But perfect love casts out fear. That is, love that is complete or that is allowed to exert its proper influence on the soul. As far as it exists, its tendency is to deliver the mind from alarms. If it should exist in any soul in an absolutely perfect state, that soul would be entirely free from all dread in regard to the future.

because fear has to do with punishment. It is a painful and distressing emotion. Thus men suffer from the fear of poverty, losses, bereavement, sickness, death, and of future woe. From all these distressing apprehensions, that love of God which furnishes evidence of true goodness, devotion, and faithfulness delivers us.

And the one who fears is not perfected in love. He about whose mind there lingers the apprehension of future wrath, shows that love in his soul has not accomplished its full work. Perhaps it never will on any soul until we reach the heavenly world, though there are many minds so full of love to God as to be prevailingly delivered from fear.[1]

Daniel L. Akin,

4:18 John begins this verse with an affirmation. The reason that the believer need not fear is that the relationship between him and God through Christ is based on love, and in love “there is no fear.” The word “fear” begins the sentence and is thus emphatic. Literally John says, “Fear not is in love.” The believer can have full “confidence” based on this assertion. John uses the word phobos (fear), which can mean either a good fear (respect) or bad fear (dread).[2] It is this latter type of fear to which he is referring. There should be no dread in the life of the one in whom God dwells. In fact the claim here is that love and fear are mutually exclusive. This is made even more evident by the use of the strong adversative alla, “but.” There is a drastic disparity between the two entities. They cannot coexist because perfect love “drives out fear.” Robertson calls this phrase a powerful metaphor and notes that this can mean “to turn out-of-doors.”[3] The evil of fear is cast out of those in whom God’s love is being perfected. This is because fear “has to do with punishment.” John’s use of kolasin (“punishment”) in this context clearly is a reference to eternal punishment. The fear of this punishment is already being felt by the one whom John is describing. This individual is deficient in love, which would cast out the fear. This deficiency of love causes one to dread the day of judgment for fear of permanent departure from the presence of God.[4] Therefore if one fears this day, he is not being perfected in love.[5]

[1] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: James to Jude, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 334.
[2] The word δειλία also means “fear” in the sense of dread or angst. Another word for the more positive kind of fear, i.e., respect, is εὐλάβεια, which in the NT always refers to this kind of fear of God. John uses φόβος, which can mean both. The context determines the meaning to be the negative kind of fear.
[3] Robertson, WP 6:235.
[4] John chooses not to adhere to his contrastive method. In other words he does not attempt to say anything about those who fear not. “And rightly, for the absence of fear proves nothing: it may be the result of ignorance, or presumption, or indifference, or unbelief, or inveterate wickedness” (Plummer, Epistles of S. John, 106).
[5] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 186.

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