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1 John 4:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is the great truth statement from the Bible—one of the most prized subjects of Christianity. It is the basis of the grand creation plan and being saved from inherited sin. It is the fundamental principle in the makeup of the Word of God. “Redemption [is based on those love], which means deliverance from some evil by payment of a price. It is more than simple deliverance. Thus prisoners of war might be released on payment of a price which was called a ‘ransom’ (Gk. lytron). The word-group based on lytron was formed specifically to convey this idea of release on payment of ransom. In this circle of ideas Christ’s death may be regarded as ‘a ransom for many’ (Mk. 10:45).’”—New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996)
The God of truth has said in His Word, so it must be true. It is the representation or expression of all other truths involved in God’s redemptive plan/ Therefore, whatever does not agree with this kind of love must be false. “God is love.” He is eternal, and his character, qualities, and values are unchangeable. All that He has carried out in his creation or will ever do in the present and the future merely expresses his infinite fullness. All of his attributes are driven and governed by love, which would include justice. “God is love.” As a result of misinformed Bible education, many feel that the God of the Old Testament hates humanity and is a God of violence and vindictiveness, but the God of the New Testament and his Son, Jesus Christ is love. Some have actually argued that Jesus, with his ransom price, purchased the Father’s love. “In this version of the ransom theory of the atonement, the Father is very angry about Adam’s sin but the human race cannot possibly do enough to avert his wrath, let alone obtain His forgiveness. In other words, the Father set a price for our forgiveness that is too high for us to pay. Unlike the Father, Jesus loves the human race and sees a lot of potential in us. He pays for our sins because we cannot. He does this by suffering the penalty on our behalf, satisfying God’s demand for righteousness, so that we can go free. The Father is satisfied and permits our salvation.” (https://www.kencollins.com/explanations/why-17.htm) This mistaken notion is immediate dismissed by God himself through Christ’s Words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, in order that whoever believes in him will not be destroyed but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Christ coming to earth to offer himself as a ransom for many was not to purchase the Father’s love, it was to manifest his love. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) The Father and the Son are one in purpose and goal.
Christ prayed to the Father, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21) It is in this way that Jesus could thus be called “Immanuel—God with us.” (Matt. 1:23) 1 Timothy 3:16 says, “And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.”
The Father gave his Son. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11-14) Yes, indeed, the Father and the Son are one in purpose and goal. The love of God could not be purchased. It was given by the Father and manifested (shown) by the Son freely. The purpose of the Son was to reveal or make known the Father, revealing not only the Father’s love but his love as well. “God is love.” Without the first coming of Christ, we could not fully appreciate the depth of God’s love.
 Or, based on grammar and context, an alternative reading could be of the great God and our Savior.
Nowhere in Scripture do we find the Father manifesting the Son, only the Son manifesting the Father. The apostle Paul tells us, “For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell, and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens. … For in him is dwelling all the fullness of the deity bodily.” (Col. 1:19-20; 2:9) Jesus is the Word, the truth, the personal manifestation of all that is good and true, and absolutely the Revelation of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and apart from him, not one thing came into being that has come into being. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only begotten one from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Paul tells us, “but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.” (John 1:1-3, 14; Phil. 2:7)
 Atonement, Reconciliation: (כָּפַר kaphar; Gr. καταλλαγή katallagē; καταλλάσσω katallassō) The sense in both the OT Hebrew and NT Greek Scriptures is that of making an amends (cleansing oneself from a sin or one’s sinful condition), i.e., falling short (be it intentional, ignorance, or negligence) and restoring a previously harmonious relationship with God. This would then allow the person to approach God and worship him in an approved condition, regardless of his human imperfection. In the Hebrew Scriptures, different types of sacrifices were offered, especially on the annual Day of Atonement. This was to bring about reconciliation with God, regardless of the sins of individuals and the whole nation. The sacrifices of the Hebrew OT pointed to the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This was the sacrifice once for all time that atoned for anyone who accepts Jesus and evidence faith in that sacrifice, which reconciles that one to God.—Lev. 5:10; 23:28; Eph. 2:16; Col 1:20, 22; Heb. 9:12.
Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “And again, when he brings the firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says, ‘And let all the angels of God bow down to him.’ But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of his kingdom.’” “But we do see him, who was made a little lower than angels, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Heb. 1:6, 8; 2:9)
 A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature says to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure, (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 882.
 Or, based on grammar, context, and Psalm 45:6-7, an alternative reading could be, God is your throne.
“God is love.” Many Bible scholars today focus on the Son. In the Gospel of John especially, the Son was focused on the Father. In the Gospel of John alone, he mentions the Father 121 times. In 1 John, he mentions the Father 12 times and the little letter of 2 John 4 times. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, in order that whoever believes in him will not be destroyed but have eternal life.” Paul tells us, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says, “And all these things are from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” Man lost his way when he thought that he could walk on his own, not needing to be under the loving sovereignty of God. God, through Christ, has made a provision to bring back the lost who are receptive to his offer. God hates sin but does not hate fallen man. The primary reason God hates sin is because of his love for man.
 Trespass: (Gr. paraptōma) This is a sin that can come in the way of some desire (lusting), some thinking (entertaining a wrongdoing) or some action (carrying out one’s desires or thoughts that he or she has been entertaining) that is beyond or overstepping God’s righteous standards, as set out in the Scriptures. It is falling or making a false step as opposed to standing or walking upright in harmony with the righteous requirements of God.–Matt. 6:14; Mark 11:25; Rom. 4:25; 5:15-20; 11:11; 2 Cor. 5:19; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 1:7; 2:1, 5; Col 2:13.
Our sinful nature destroys any possible long-term happiness that we could have and if one lives in sin, it will destroy his hope of eternal life. Man has destroyed himself, but God’s love for man has offered him help, as “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” (Titus 2:11) Grace is “God’s dealing with humans in undeserved ways; it is simply an outflow of God’s goodness and generosity.” (The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 82.) God in Christ offers salvation to all men who are receptive, so far as it concerns the recovery of what Adam lost. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “We rise by man as by man we fell: ‘As in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.’” Thus, “The statement is trustworthy and deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on a living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially faithful ones.”—1 Timothy 4:9-10.
 Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.
Titus 2:11 and 1 Timothy 4:9-10
God in Jesus has redeemed man from what Adam lost, but he has also brought salvation opportunities to all men who are receptive. Paul writes, “And having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation.” (Heb. 5:9) He also says, “This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to an accurate knowledge of truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony at the proper time.”—1 Timothy 2:3-6.
 Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.
2:3–4. The full expression of our transformed lives and faith in God is good, and pleases God our Savior. God is not silent about what pleases him and glorifies his name. Such lives are used by God who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
God’s desire is for everyone to be saved. But this is not an issue of sovereign will. It is not an edict handed down regardless of what people think, believe, or do. God’s desire may be one thing, but he has subjected it to our willful responses. The second half of God’s desire for all people is the universal availability of the truth. This shows the expansive nature of the church’s mission. God’s plan is for the evangelization of all nations and peoples.
2. By confessing who Christ is (2:5–6)
2:5. Paul then pointed to the critical claims of the gospel: there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
The great football coach Vince Lombardi stood in front of his team, the Green Bay Packers, after a horrendous loss. The players expected a strong diatribe. Instead, Lombardi went to the center of the classroom and picked up a football. He held it up and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” The coach took the players back to the basics.
Paul did the same for the Ephesians and us. The declaration of the exclusivity of God and Christ is basic to the Christian message. Yet it is a point on which many people stumble. Even those who agree that there is one God often refuse the claim of Jesus as the only way to knowing God.
For some people the chief virtue of the day is tolerance, and the great hope is pluralism. They discard truth for sincerity. Certainly we honor the freedom to believe whatever one wishes, as long as it does not hurt another person. That is fundamental to democratic self-rule and civility. But it is quite another matter to say that everyone is right simply because they “believe” something. That makes faith instead of objective truth the test for validity. We must go back to the basics.
The revealed, divine word through Paul is that there is only one way to forming a relationship with God, and this is through the man Christ Jesus. This underscores the universality of the gospel—all people come the same way to God. Not only must they come the same way, through Jesus, but salvation is available to all, Jew and Gentile alike.
Salvation comes through the man Christ Jesus. He is fully God and fully man. “The Word was God.… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
Jesus is not one among many. He is the one and only.
He is the answer to Job’s ancient cry about God: “He is not a man like me that I might answer him, / that we might confront each other in court./ If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, / to lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:32–33).
Jesus bridges the gap between sinful humanity and the righteous God. He settles the legal demand for justice.
2:6. In Job’s lament, he longed for “someone to remove God’s rod from me.… Then I would speak up without fear of him” (Job 9:34–35). Again, Jesus is the answer to Job’s cry.
Paul, having announced Christ as the mediator/arbitrator, then told how this Anointed One (the Christ) removed the rod, allowing those who trust in him to approach God in confidence: He gave himself as a ransom for all men.
Christ’s gift to the world was a self-giving sacrifice. He explained to his disciples, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).
The word for ransom is antilutron. The root word signifies a loosing or freeing. It was often used in reference to buying a slave’s freedom. Paul’s attachment of a prefix to this word added to it the significance of the vicarious nature of Christ’s payment. He is the substitute, the “instead of” payment for sin.
In his perfection and sacrificial death Jesus satisfied the holy laws of God which stated, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). Over and over the scene is replayed through the histories of the Old Testament and throughout the life of Christ—people choosing a spotless lamb to be sacrificed on the altar of the temple in order that their sins might be forgiven. But then Jesus became that substitute sacrifice for all. We can hear John the Baptist shout with joy as he saw Jesus walking along the banks of the Jordan River: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
This coming of Christ and his death for all humanity, according to Paul, is the testimony given in its proper time. Christ is the witness of the Father’s love, the pursuing desire of God to bring his creation back to himself. Christ came “when the time had fully come” (Gal. 4:4)—when the timing was perfect for his revealing and the salvation of all people. – Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 165–167.
Thus, Jesus is “The true light, who gives light to every man, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9) “What does it mean to say that Jesus gives light to every man … coming into the world? The intended contrast between the Master and the messenger strikes us dramatically: John was a man, Jesus is God; John was a witness, Jesus is the Word; John was a servant, Jesus is the Son. The last phrase of verse 9 surely refers to the incarnation of Jesus, though some have interpreted it to mean the conscience God provides every human being, or even the natural revelation everyone can see. The structure of the verse, however, favors a reference to Christ’s birth even though the past tense seems awkward in this context. A major theme of this section is regeneration, and these first four verses provide its announcement.”—Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 12.
Luke 2:10 says, “And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring good news to you of great joy which will be for all the people.’” Trent C. Butler wrote, “As with Zechariah (1:12–13) and Mary (1:29–30), gazing at God’s glorious angel terrified the shepherds and brought quick reassurance: Do not be afraid. Gospel is coming, good news. Gospel elicits joy, not fear. Joy is the inward feeling of happiness and contentment that bursts forth in rejoicing and praise. Joy comes not just to lowly shepherds or isolated parents far from home. Joy comes to all people. In the most unlikely place amid the most unlikely spectators, God brushed aside the world’s fears and provided the world reason for joy (cf. Isa. 9:3). Joy centers not in something you earn or possess. Joy comes from God’s gift, a tiny baby in a feed trough. But what a baby! Born in David’s town, the child clasps heaven’s greatest titles in his small fist. Savior, God’s title (1:47), becomes the baby’s (cf. 1:69). He will follow in the biblical tradition of deliverers (Judges. 3:9, 15; Neh. 9:27; Isa. 19:20; cf. Acts 5:31; 13:23). A troubled, powerless people will find a hero able to overcome the enemy. Christ or Messiah, the promised Anointed One, the king who would sit on David’s throne and deliver oppressed Israel.”—Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 29–30.
Luke 2:14 says, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Butler wrote, “An angelic chorus burst on the scene, confirming the original angel’s message and singing heavenly praise to God. God revealed his glory in brilliance that shepherds could recognize. Angels recognize the worth and weight of God’s presence and praise him for it. God gains glory. People get peace. God is in heaven; people, on earth. All this happens because God’s favor, his good will, his choice rests on people.” (p. 30)
Again, 1 John 4:8 “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
The one who does not love does not know God. Has no true acquaintance with God; has no just views of him, and no right feelings towards him. The reason for this is implied in what is immediately stated, that ‘God is love,’ and of course, if they have no love reigning in their hearts, they cannot pretend to be like him.
Because God is love. He is not merely compassionate, warm, generous, gracious; he is these characteristics and more themselves. Compare 2 Cor. 13:11. Never was a more important declaration made than this; never was more meaning crowded into a few words than in this short sentence—God is love. In the darkness of this world of sin—in all the sorrows that come now upon humanity, and that will come upon the wicked hereafter—we have the assurance that a God of infinite benevolence rules over all, and though we may not be able to reconcile all that occurs with this declaration, or see how the things which he has permitted to take place are consistent with it, yet in the exercise of faith on his own declarations we may find consolation in believing that it is so, and may look forward to a period when all his universe shall see it to be so. Despite all that occurs on the earth of sadness, sin, and sorrow, there is abundant evidence that God is love. In the original structure of things before sin entered, when all was pronounced ‘good;’ in the things designed to promote happiness, where the only thing contemplated is happiness, and where it would have been as easy to have caused pain; in the preservation of a guilty race, and in granting that race the opportunity of another trial; in the ceaseless provision which God is making in his providence for the wants of unnumbered millions of his creatures; in the arrangements made to alleviate sorrow, and to put an end to it; in the gift of a Savior more than all, and in the offer of eternal life on terms simple and easy to be complied with—in all these things, which are the mere expressions of love, not one of which would have been found under the government of a malignant being, we see illustrations of the sublime and glorious sentiment before us, that ‘God is love.’ Even in this world of confusion, disorder, and darkness, we have evidence sufficient to prove that he is benevolent, but the full glory and meaning of that truth will be seen only in heaven. Meantime, let us hold on to the truth that he is love. Let us believe that he sincerely desires our good and that what seems dark to us may be designed for our welfare; amidst all the sorrows and disappointments of the present life, let us feel that our interests and destiny are in the hands of the God of love.—Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: James to Jude, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 331. Edward D. Andrews edited Barnes.
John 13:34 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
A new commandment—This command he gave them as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. It is called new, not because there was no command before which required people to love their fellow man, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbor as themselves Lev. 19:18. Still, it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished. The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians, they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other.
This was to surmount all distinctions of country, color, station in life, and office. Here they were to feel that they were on the same level, had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and possessed the same hope of eternal life. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other’s feelings and reputation; deny themselves to promote each other’s welfare. See 1John 3:23; 1Th_4:9; 1Pet. 1:22; 2Thess. 1:3; Gal. 6:2; 2Pet. 1:7. In all these places, the command of Jesus is repeated or referred to, and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ. Moreover, this command or law was new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried, for he immediately adds, “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. John 15:13; “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So in 1 John 3:16, it is said that “we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This was a new expression of love, and it showed the strength of attachment that we ought to have for Christians and how ready we should be to endure hardships, encounter dangers, and practice self-denial to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.—Albert Barnes.