This is my favourite portion of the letters by John, the Apostle of Love. Largely because of v.18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”.
What is the opposite of love? Normally one might say hate, but John argues it is fear. And fear usually leads to hate – we hate what we fear. The point of John’s assertion about fear and love is that God’s love means we receive God’s grace that takes away the fear of punishment once and for all. In v.10 we are told Christ is the propitiation for our sins – in the better translations anyway! Propitiation means God’s wrath is turned away. Some versions use “expiation”, which means God cleanses us – that’s better expressed in 1 John 1:9. Because we are recipients of God’s love, his wrath has gone, fear has gone and we know God’s love! Oh how we need to know more of God’s perfecting love! It takes away the fear of punishment for our sin. We are forgiven!
The passage starts and ends with John’s command to love one another. His argument is that the depth of God’s love for us, in sending Jesus, means that we are filled with His love. If we don’t love others, we are showing we don’t know God.
So let’s be loving one another, drawing on the Father’s perfect love!