First John 3:11-18
Love One Another

Authored by Rev. Shigeru Matsubara, Assistant Pastor, Osaka Nozomi Church, Osaka, Japan

1.  John says "Love one another."* Who are these "one another?" In verse 13 it says, "Therefore, o brothers, even if the world hates you." Therefore John is giving this exortation to the ones who are set as those to be hated by this world. So the exhortation can be paraphrased like "O, you who are hated by this world, love one another!"  It seems natural to love each other reciprocally, but why is John emphasizing again in this passage to "Love one another?"  When we read John's epistle, we notice a lot of very dangerous words flying about.  For example, [it has] "the one who hates the brethren" (2:9), "the antichrist" (2:18), "the one who commits sin" and "the devil" (3:8), "the one who does not love the brethren" (3:15) etc.

2.  "Because this, loving one another, is a teaching that you have heard from the beginning."  A person who became a disciple of Christ has heard and practiced the teaching of "loving one another" from the beginning.  However, "The devil has sinned from the beginning," (3:8).

3.  It's regrettable to talk about an evil one, but Cain's name is brought up as an example.  "Do not become like Cain. He belonged to the evil one and killed his brother.  Why did he kill him?  Because his actions were evil and the actions of his brother were righteous," (3:12).  Cain (Genesis 4:8) was a person who acted according to his own standard of thinking.  He didn't love God and did not love his brother.

4.  The reason Cain killed his younger brother was not because his brother was evil, but because "his own actions were evil."  An evil person does not love a righteous person.  There was jealousy and hatred in his heart.  It was for the same reason that the priests and the scribes had punished Jesus (John 3:19-20, 7:7).

5.  In verse ten it has, "The distinction between the children of God and the children of the devil is clear."  A person is either a child of God or a child of the devil.  A person belongs to either one or the other and there is no in between kind of person.

6.  when the Lord Jesus comes again, "As a shepherd separates the sheep and the goats, he will sort them out and put the sheep on the right and the goats on the left," (Matthew 25:31-32).  The sheep and the goats are mixed together now.  The Bible doesn't have any kind of halfway sort of creature that is neither sheep nor goat.  In the sight of God what a sheep is and what a goat is are clearly [defined].

7.  Even in the parable of the good seed and the tares sown in a single field (Matthew 13:24-30), or in the parable of the net that collects the fish in the lake (Matthew 13:47-50), in the eyes of the judge there is no gray area, there is nothing between a sheep and a goat, the wheat and the tares, a good fish or a bad fish.  John speaks on this truth in chapter three and verse ten.

8.  "Therefore, o brothers, do not be surprised if the world hates you," (3:13).  Jesus said, "Remember that if those who belong to the world hate you, they have hated me before they hated you," (John 15:18).  Jesus prayed to the heavenly Father in the following way:  "I have told them your word, but the world has hated them; for, I do not belong to this world," (John 17:14).  John is saying "Don't be surprised," that is, "Don't think it strange, which is, be surprised."  "Everyone united to Christ who tries to live faithfully undergoes persecution," (Second Timothy 3:12), (First Peter 4:12-19).  Hatred works against people born of God and can't help but act against them, it belongs to the true nature of this world.

9.  "We know that we have moved from death to life because we love the brethren.  Whoever does not love is as if he has abided in death," (3:14).  In chapter two and verse ten it has, "The one who loves the brethren is in the light and has never stumbled."  Whoever loves his [or her] brother hears the words of Jesus.  He or she knows that after believing in the one who sent Jesus, he or she has a part in the promise of eternal life and remains in the light and has been moved from death to life, and he or she will rejoice over this.

10.  The deep seated reason for the hatred of this world lies in the fact that even though the children of the world are still in the controlling sphere of death (whoever does not love is as if they have abided in death", those in Christ have shifted their walk from the land of death to the land of life.

11.  "Everyone who hates the brethren is a murderer.  Eternal life does not abide on any murderer," (3:15).  Whoever keeps hating his [or her] brother is "a murderer" in principle.  The true nature of murder is hate.  Whoever hates his [or her] brother is committing a most dreadful sin.  That is to say, because hating is the same sin as homicide.  A person who does not practice love is a murderer.  "He is a murderer and there is not even one person that has had eternal life continue in him."  John is wanting to express only that "A murderer has never once had eternal life."  "But, I say to you.  Whoever is angry with his brother will undergo judgment.  Whoever says "Fool" to his brother will be delivered to the highest court and whoever says "Stupid" will be thrown into hell's flames," (Matthew 5:22).

12.  "You come from your father the devil and you want to satisfy the desires of your father.  The devil has been a murderer from the beginning and does not consider the truth an authority.  Because there is no truth in him.  When the devil tells a lie he tells it from his true nature because he is a liar and the father of them," (John 8:44-45).  The devil is the ringleader of the first murder when Cain killed Abel (Genesis 4:8).  It is natural that those who are the children of the devil have not been obedient to the truth which Jesus spoke who was sent from God.

13.  In Galatians 5:19-21 and Revelation 21:8, those who do the deeds of the flesh do not inherit the kingdom of God.  Also those who hate his brother are all murderers.  The text says whoever has hate in his heart has latently the potential to commit murder.  And it is written that "Cowards, unbelievers, those who hate, those who kill, those who worship idols, will be in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.  This is the second death."  That is, whoever hates another, a murderer does not have eternal live abiding on him.

14.  "Jesus gave up his life for us.  By this we knew love.  Thus, we too ought to give up our life for the brethren," (3:16).  "To give up one's life for a friend, there is no greater love than this," (John 15:13).  Jesus is the good shepherd.  He gave up his life for the sheep.  (Check John 10:11).

15.  Paul, who knew the tremendous love of Jesus, said, "The Lord Jesus appeared in the form of man, humbled himself and was obedient to God until reaching death on the cross."  And he himself said the following words on behalf of those he loved, "Moreover, when you offer sacrifices based on faith and practice worship even though my blood is spilled, I rejoice.  I rejoice with all of you," (Philippians 2:17).

16.  Furthermore, Paul said the following words on behalf of those he loved.  He said, "Because I was thinking of you affectionately, I did not only pass on the gospel of God, but went so far as having hoped to joyfully give you even my life," (First Thessalonians 2:8).  Hatred sticks up for a wicked person and kills a righteous brother.  However, love gives up life even for an unrighteous person.  The epistle of John shows us what an awful hatred is in Cain and on the other hand what a wonderful love is in Christ.

17.  "If a person has the wealth of this world, but sees a brother lacking in necessary things and feels no compassion, how will the love of God abide within such a person as that?" (3:17).  In spite of the fact that you have the necessary every day essentials and various dry goods used for each day to maintain your lives, when some of your brothers and sisters do not have clothes and seem to be lacking in food for each day, some of you say to them "Go ahead and take it easy.  Be warm, eat sufficiently," (James 2:15-16) and if you don't give anything necessary for their bodies and you don't have compassion on them, what purpose will those worldly riches which you have serve you?

18.  "In the land which your God the Lord gives you, if there is a poor person among your fellow countryman in any of your towns, do not harden your heart against that poor countryman, do not close your hand, but open your hand wide to him and lend him enough of what he needs," (Deuteronomy 15:7-8).

19.  Our many elder brothers and sisters have followed the example of him who offered up his life joyfully in order to make the lives of many persons abundant and they have continued in their blessed walk of faith.  But, loving the brethren with an attitude with a tender affection is such a difficulty [as] Jesus told in a parable of "The Good Samaritan."

20.  Because of human selfishness, it squelches what causes a compassionate heart.  Heartless behaviors that do not give any kind of charity to another person are proof that the love of God is not dwelling within the heart of that person.  John is not talking here about a general love like the kind Jesus required of his disciples (Check Luke 10:30-37).  Because in this epistle John is mainly writing about and only taking up Christian groups.

21.  "If there is a person who hates his brother while saying 'I love God,' he is a liar.  A person who does not love the brother that is visible to the eye cannot love God who is invisible to the eye," (4:20).

22.  "O children, let's not love only with words and lips, but love sincerely by our actions," (3:18).  Christ loved our entire personality.  Because we have been allowed to enter into a relationship with God the Father by the love and grace of the son Christ, we too should give up our lives for our brother.  We ought to love each other not in words and lips only, but sincerely with our actions.  If we love our brother with a sincere love, we are proof that we are sons of God, born of God.

23.  John never said that we are made children of God by loving our brother.  It is only in the one sided grace in Christ by God.

24.  Today we studied "Love one another" through John's epistle.  Each Lord's day we have studied The Epistle To The Roman Disciples.  Paul wrote the following about love.


"There should be no lies in love.  Hate evil, do not separate [yourselves] from good.  Love one another with brotherly love and think of the other with respect as better than you.  Try hard, burn in the Spirit and serve the Lord.  Rejoice with hope and endure hardships and pray untiringly.  Help the saints in their poverty as if they were your own and be diligent to entertain travelers.  Pray for the blessing of those who persecute you.  Pray for blessing and don't curse them.  Rejoice with the person who is rejoicing and weep with the one who weeps.  Bring your thoughts for one another together, don't be high minded, but associate as persons humble in stature," (Romans 12:9-16).

26.  I would like to digest Paul's wonderful message.  Love is not mere affection or words.  It is always sincere and takes practical action.  Loving should not be in showy words.  That kind of love is empty and without substance.  John said that we must have a love like the love Christ that turns into deeds and works.  John was probably speaking with thoughts on his mind about watching out for heretical teachers who are lacking in works of love.

27.  "Jesus gave his life up for us.  By this we have known love.  Therefore, we ought to give up our lives for the brethren," (3:16).  In this passage we find the conclusion to today's message.

28.  In today's message there is something we had to pay attention to.  It is that when we love the brethren that is the basis for claiming we have been born of God.  But, we are not to say that by our loving the brethren we are born of God and made children of God.  Because of the merits of Christ, God let [us] enter into fellowship with him in Christ and made [us] children of God by the unilateral grace of God.  Christians wrongly claim as if it is our salvation that putting brotherly love into practice is the gospel.  We need to watch out.

29.  Our salvation depends on the unilateral priceless grace of God through Christ Jesus.

30.  How far away is our lives from the Word of God [we heard] for today?  I fully realize it is impossible to love one's brother.  Our loving our brother is nothing but the leading of the Holy Spirit.  "O children, let's not only love in words and lips, but sincerely with our actions," (3:18).

End Note

*This first sentence is paraphrased due to some grammatical problems in the original.

Home | Translations | Both J-E | Chapel | Email