NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson CI) 06/21/22
4:16 We know how much God loves us because we feel His love and believe Him when He tells us that He loves us dearly. God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God, and God with them.
John Howe (1630-1705) notes that since the One we love makes our love the summation of His law and principles, we should make it the sum of all our requests, for it is our privilege and duty. What we are to do and what we are to enjoy are thus summed up in love. And if we make this the foundation of our desires, how much skill would there be when we come to the Lord and say, “Lord, if I cast all my desires into one request, it is love! Love is the only thing. I beg only a heart to love You.” How much resourcefulness is there in praying that way! And how great the necessity of it! For we can as soon pluck down a star or create a new sun to plant in our souls the seed of this principle of love to God without His aid. Every good and perfect gift is from Him; indeed, this is good, and a matter of the highest excellence, to have the heart possessed with His agápē. Nevertheless, we can never understand God’s agápē to us until our souls are transformed into loving Him. God is love, and those who dwell in love abide in God and God in them. 
William Jones of Nayland (1726-1805) says that the belief in a Supreme Being is equivalent to the human identification process. The attributes and names ascribed to Him are very different, but almost all agree on His existence. But what and who is God? There are various answers to this question. To some, He is unintelligent and irresistible Fate. For others. Nature. Some assign it to the beautiful order and spectacular forces of nature. To others, “the something outside ourselves, which affords living right.” For many it is, “an infinite and eternal energy from which all things proceed.” For believers, the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign of the universe. But what does the Supreme Being say about Himself? “God is Light;” “God is Love.” A complete infilling of what God makes it impossible for humans to understand. The finite cannot comprehend the Infinite.
Now, says Jones, let’s combine the two statements: “God is Infinite Love.” Such a statement goes way over our heads. The highest and mightiest of created beings cannot comprehend infinite love. The knowledge our sanctified spirits have of God will increase forever, but at no period in the everlasting future will anyone be able to know Him fully. Yet as to His being and character, we may each attain such knowledge to enable us to confide in Him and enter upon the blessed and endless transformation of being more like Him. Though we cannot comprehend Him who is Infinite Love, we may yield to Him through the Anointed One, trust Him, love Him, commune with him, and become one with him. “God is Love.”
Adam Clarke (1772-1832) says that the Bible shows us that God is Love: that He hates nothing that He has made; that He is loving to everyone and is not willing that any should perish, but that all will come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. As the Apostle John says, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His agápē. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 
While reading this poem by Robert Southey (1774-1843), many scholars wonder if Southey read verse sixteen as the inspiration for these beautiful lines
They lie who tell us Love can die.
With life, all other passions fly,
In heaven, ambition cannot dwell,
Nor Avarice in the vaults of Hell;
Earthly, these passions of the Earth,
They perish where they have their birth
Its holy flame forever burneth,
From Heaven it came, to Heaven returneth;
Too oft on Earth a troubled guest,
At times deceived, at times oppressed,
Then hath in Heaven its perfect rest:
It soweth here with toil and care,
But the harvest time of Love is there.
Richard Rothe (1799-1867) feels it is only proper that the Apostle John should begin the sentence with “God is love.” In these words, the Apostle’s line of thought takes a fresh start. He returns to the assertion in verse eight that God is love to derive from it a new way, an appeal to brotherly love. If God is love, then to abide in love is substantially an abiding of God’s Love in them. That is, staying in union with God. This fellowship with God is the perfecting of love in us and love being free from all fear. It is a condition no one can arrive at any other way.
William Lincoln (1825-1888) says that in the Apostle John’s Gospel, we fully see that the Anointed One is in the Father and the Father in the Anointed One. Then in John’s epistle, an advance is made; and that is this – that the Anointed One is in the believer, and the believer is in God. Lincoln then tells us that once, when he was preaching, he remarked that “a believer was brought so close to God, that there was not a shade of distance between them.” A person wrote him a letter the next day, suggesting that he had exceeded the truth – for he thought by leaving out any mention of the Anointed One, “it seemed that he belittled the Son of God.” Lincoln wrote back that there was not the shadow of a shade of any space between the believer and God; he was close to Him. Now, Lincoln maintains that this individual simply missed the main point. Through our being in the Anointed One who is also in God, it is not merely that people are brought to God; but the language is – “they dwell in God,” and that is more than just being brought to God.
William Lincoln (1825-1888) says that in the Apostle John’s Gospel, we fully see that the Anointed One is in the Father, and the Father is in the Anointed One. Then in John’s epistle, an advance is made; and that is this – that the Anointed One is in the believer, and the believer is in God. Lincoln then tells us that once, when he was preaching, he remarked that “a believer is brought so close to God, that there is not the shadow of distance between them.” A person wrote him a letter the next day, suggesting that he had exceeded the truth – for he thought by leaving out any mention of the Anointed One, “it seemed that he belittled the Son of God.” Lincoln wrote back that there was no space between the believer and God; they were so close to Him. Now, Lincoln maintains that this individual simply missed the main point. Through our being in the Anointed One who is also in God, it is not merely that people are drawn to God; but the language is – “they dwell in God,” and that is more than just being brought to God.
Augustus Neander (1789-1850) says that the Apostle John now returns to that which serves as the foundation for the Christian life and salvation. It is the ground of the entire church and all its divine inward experiences, depending on all, and with this is given all. It concerns the testimony respecting God’s Son, whom the Father sent as the world’s Savior. Of this, John has the confident assurance of an eye-witness. But with those who had long been acquainted with Christianity, John did not need to appeal merely to his sight and experience. They were not to depend upon his testimony, to which he bore witness. The fact must have been fully attested to by their conscious experience of fellowship with God. But the apostle would repeatedly impress upon their hearts that firm adherence to this fact must always be the ground of all true unity with God.
Albert Barnes (1798-1870) says it is not uncommon for John to repeat an important truth. He delights to dwell on such a truth as expressed here, and who should not? What truth is there on which the mind can stay with more pleasure; what is there that is better fitted to win the heart to holiness; what that will do more to sustain the soul in the sorrows and trials of this life? In our tests; in the darkness which is around us; in the perplexities which meet and embarrass us regarding the Divine administration; in all that seems to us incomprehensible in this world, and in the prospect of the next, let us learn to repeat this declaration of the favored disciple, “God is love.” What trials may we not bear if we feel assured of that! What dark cloud that seems to hang over our way, and covers everything with gloom, will not hinder us if we can always say from the depths of our souls, “God is love!”
Robert Smith Candlish (1806-1873) looks at the Apostle John’s statement in verse thirteen, “With this know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us because He has given us of His Spirit,” and says it carries us back to a previous statement, “Now we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us.” Again, we are reminded of the scope and design of the whole passage. The question is about the mutual indwelling of God in us and of us in God, particularly about His abiding in us. How are we to know this? By the Spirit which He gave us is the answer.
 James 1:17
 1 John 4:16
 Howe, John, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 1954-1962)
 Cf. “But one truth must grow ever clearer—the truth that there is an Inscrutable Existence everywhere manifested, to which he [the man of science] can neither find nor conceive either beginning or end. Amid the mysteries which become the more mysterious the more they are thought about, there will remain the one absolute certainty, that he is ever in presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy, from which all things proceed.” Mr. Donald Murray asks in NATURE of February 24 is in Herbert Spencer’s “Principles of Sociology”, Part 6—Ecclesiastical Institutions, Chap. 16—Religious Retrospect and Prospect.
 Jones, William: First Epistle of John, Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, op. cit., Homiletics, p. 122
 1 John 4:16; See Psalm 145:9
 Clarke, Adam: Clavis Biblica, op. cit., The Apocalypse, or Book of the Revelation, p. 52
 Southey, Robert, The Poetical Works, published by A. and W. Galignani, Paris, 1829, “The Curse of Kehama,” Ch. X, Mount Mebu, p. 322
 Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., June 1894, p. 421
 1 John 4:16
 Lincoln, William: Lectures on 1 John, op. cit., Lecture V, pp. 58-59
 1 John 4:16
 Lincoln, William: Lectures on 1 John, op. cit., Lecture V, pp. 58-59
 See 1 John 4:14
 Neander, Augustus, First Epistle of John, op. cit., Chapters IV, V, pl 266
 Barnes, Albert: Notes on the N. T., op. cit., p. 4868
 1 John 3:24