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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 4:10



In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Not that we loved God - And that he was thereby induced to give his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. No: we were enemies to God, and yet Christ died for our ungodly souls. (See Romans 5:6-11, and the notes there.) So it was God's love, not our merit, that induced him to devise means that his banished might not be expelled from him.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Herein is love - In this great gift is the highest expression of love, as if it had done all that it can do.

Not that we loved God - Not that we were in such a state that we might suppose he would make such a sacrifice for us, but just the opposite. If we had loved and obeyed him, we might have had reason to believe that he would be willing to show his love to us in a corresponding manner. But we were alienated from him. We had even no desire for his friendship and favor. In This state he showed the greatness of his love for us by giving his Son to die for his enemies. See the notes at Romans 5:7-8.

But that he loved us - Not that he approved our character, but that he desired our welfare. Hc loved us not with the love of complacency, but with the love of benevolence.

And sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins - On the meaning of the word “propitiation,” see the notes at Romans 3:25. Compare the notes at 1 John 2:2.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 John 4:10

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins

Herein is love

The infinite spring of love. Our text has two words upon which I would place an emphasis “not” and “but.” The first is “not.” “Herein is love, not”--“not that we loved God.” Very naturally many conclude that this means “not that we loved God first.” That is not exactly the truth taught here, but still it is a weighty truth, and is mentioned in 1 John 4:19 in express words--“We love Him because He first loved us.” We inscribe a negative in black capital letters upon the idea that man’s love can ever be prior to the love of God. That is quite out of the question. “Not that we loved God.” Take a second sense--that is, not that any man did love God at all by nature, whether first or second. The unregenerate heart is, as to love, a broken cistern which can hold no water. We come nearer to John’s meaning when we look at this negative as applying to those who do love God. “Not that we loved God” that is, that our love to God, even when it does exist, and even when it influences our lives, is not worthy to be mentioned as a fountain of supply for love. What poor love ours is at its very best when compared with the love wherewith God loves us! Let me use another figure. If we had to enlighten the world, a child might point us to a bright mirror reflecting the sun, and he might cry, “Herein is light!” You and I would say, “Poor child, that is but borrowed brightness; the light is not there, but yonder, in the sun: the love of saints is nothing more than the reflection of the love of God.” We have love, but God is love. Let us contrast our love to God with His love to us. We do love God, and we may well do so, since He is infinitely lovable. When the mind is once enlightened it sees everything that is lovable about God. He is so good, so gracious, so perfect that He commands our admiring affection. In us there is by nature nothing to attract the affection of a holy God, but quite the reverse; and yet He loved us. Herein, indeed, is love! When we love God it is an honour to us; it exalts a man to be allowed to love a Being so glorious. He that loves God does in the most effectual manner love himself. We are filled with riches when we abound in love to God; it is our wealth, our health, our might, and our delight. It is our duty to love God; we are bound to do it. As His creatures we ought to love our Creator; as preserved by His care we are under obligation to love Him for His goodness: we owe Him so much that our utmost love is a mere acknowledgment of our debt. But God loved us to whom He owed nothing at all; for whatever might have been the claims of a creature upon his Creator, we had forfeited them all by our rebellion. Let us turn to the “but.” “But that He loved us.” I should like you to meditate on each one of these words--“He loved us.” Three words, but what weight of meaning! “He,” who is infinitely holy and cannot endure iniquity--“He loved us”; “He,” whose glory is the astonishment of the greatest of intelligent beings--“He loved us.” Now ring that second silver bell: “He loved us.” He saw our race ruined in the fall, and He could not bear that man should be destroyed. He saw that sin had brought men into wretchedness and misery, and would destroy them forever; and He would not have it so. He loved them with the love of pity, with the love of sweet and strong benevolence. Would a man want any other heaven than to know for certain that he enjoyed the love of God? Note the third word. “He loved us”--“us”--the most insignificant of beings. Observe that the previous verse speaks of us as being dead in sin. He was wroth with us as a Judge, but yet He loved us: He was determined to punish, and yet resolved to save.

II. The marvellous outflow of that love. Consider every word: “He sent His Son.” God “sent.” Love caused that mission. Oh, the wonder of this, that God should not wait till rebellious men had sent to His throne for terms of reconciliation, but should commence negotiations himself! Moreover, God sent such a One: He “sent His Son.” Yes, “He spared not His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all.” He knew what would come of that sending of Him, and yet He sent Him. Note further, not only the grandeur of the Ambassador, but the tenderness of the relationship existing between Him and the offended God. “He sent His Son”‘ The previous verse says, “His only-begotten Son.” Christ’s death was in fact God in human form suffering for human sin; God incarnate bleeding because of our transgressions. Are we not now carried away with the streams of love? Go a step further. “God sent His Son to be a propitiation,” that is, to be not only a reconciler, but the reconciliation. His sacrifice of Himself was the atonement through which mercy is rendered possible in consistency with justice.

III. The consequent outflow of love from us. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Our love then to one another is simply God’s love to us, flowing into us, and flowing out again. If you and I desire to love our fellow Christians and to love the fallen race of man, we must be joined on to the aqueduct which conducts love from this eternal source, or else we shall soon fail in love. Observe, then, that as the love of God is the source of all true love in us, so a sense of that love stimulates us. Whenever you feel that you love God you overflow with love to all God’s people; I am sure you do. Your love will respect the same persons as God’s love does, and for the same reasons. God loves men; so will you; God loves them when there is no good in them, and you will love them in the same way. Our love ought to follow the love of God in one point, namely, in always seeking to produce reconciliation. It was to this end that God sent His Son. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The perfect love

God is love. But if we say that, do we not say that God is good with a fresh form of goodness, which is not justice, nor truthfulness, nor purity, bounty, nor mercy, though without them it cannot exist? And is not that fresh goodness, which we have not defined yet, the very kind of goodness which we prize most in human beings? And what is that? What--save self-sacrifice? For what is the love worth which does not show itself in action; and more, which does not show itself in passion, in the true sense of that word, namely, in suffering? On the Cross of Calvary, God the Father showed His own character and the character of His co equal and co-eternal Son, and of the Spirit which proceeds from both. For there He spared not His only-begotten Son, but freely gave Him for us. The comfortable prosperous man shrinks from the thought of Christ on His Cross. It tells him that better men than he have had to suffer; that the Son of God Himself had to suffer. And he does not like suffering; he prefers comfort. The lazy, selfish man shrinks from the sight of Christ on His Cross; for it rebukes his laziness and selfishness. Christ’s Cross says to him--Thou art ignoble and base, as long as thou art lazy and selfish. Rise up, do something, dare something, suffer something, if need be, for the sake of thy fellow creatures. He turns from it and says in his heart--Oh! Christ’s Cross is a painful subject, and Passion week and Good Friday a painful time. I will think of something more peaceful, more agreeable than sorrow, and shame, and agony, and death. Yes, so a man says too often, as long as the fine weather lasts, and all is smooth and bright. But when the tempest comes; when poverty comes, affliction, shame, sickness, bereavement, and still more, when persecution comes on a man; then, then indeed Passion week begins to mean something to a man; and just because it is the saddest of all times, it looks to him the brightest of all times. For in his misery and confusion he looks up to heaven and asks, Is there anyone in heaven who understands all this? Then does the Cross of Christ bring a message to that man such as no other thing or being on earth can bring. For it says to him--God does understand thee utterly. For Christ understands thee. Christ feels for thee. Christ feels with thee. Christ has suffered for thee, and suffered with thee. Thou canst go through nothing which Christ has not gone through. Passion week tells us, I believe, what is the law according to which the whole world of man and of things, yea, the whole universe, sun, moon, and stars, is made: and theft is, the law of self-sacrifice; that nothing lives merely for itself; that each thing is ordained by God to help the things around it, even at its own expense. On this day Christ said--ay, and His Cross says still, and will say to all eternity--Wouldest thou be good? Wouldest thou be like God? Then work, and dare, and, if need be, suffer, for thy fellow men. (C. Kingsley, M. A.)

The love of God

I. John would have us magnify the love of God by the demerit of its objects. God had thoughts of love towards us before man had existence. “We rejoice in hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie hath given us before the world began.” Then view man as created. “God made man upright, but he sought out many inventions.” Sin soon entered our “world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” The apostle, speaking of the heathen nations, says, “When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful,” etc. So when God looked down upon the children of men, to see if there were any that sought after God, He says, “They are all gone out of the way, there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Do you ask, “Were not the Jews an exception here? for to them were committed the oracles of God.” God planted them in His vineyard, and fenced it in, and gave it every kind of culture, so that He said, “What more could have been done than I have done to My vineyard?” Yet what was His testimony? “When I looked that it should bring forth grapes, wherefore brought it forth wild grapes?” We pass from the prediction, and read the history of the transgression. “He was in the world, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” What must have been the condition of man, not to love the perfection of holiness, the source of excellence, the fountain of life, the supreme good? What must have been the perversity of his mind which should induce Him to regard God as an invader, and to say, “Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways”? Now the carnal mind is enmity against God; there is no neutrality here. “He that is not with Me,” says the Saviour, “is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad.” We are alienated in our minds by wicked works.

II. The exclusiveness of the exercise. (W. Jay, M. A.)

The love of God, and the response due to it

I. In referring to the love of God, as exhibited by the apostle, there are a variety of aspects offered to our notice.

1. There is the fact that the free, unbought love of God, is the source of human redemption.

2. The matchlessness of the Divine love, as demonstrated in the mode of its expression.

3. The signal issues of the Divine love, as it achieved a propitiation for sin.

4. A propitiation has been made.

II. The response which is due on the part of man to these matchless displays of the Divine love.

1. It is by faith that we embrace the propitiation of the gospel.

2. The costly character of the propitiation of God bespeaks a corresponding dedication to its benefits.

3. Infinite love bespeaks fervent response from us. (A. Forman.)

The great benefit received by the Incarnation

I. From the excellency of the fountain and original, from which it springs that is the love of God to us.

1. The instance: “Herein is love.” A speech it is of great emphasis, spoken by the apostle with great strength of affection; and it carrieth with it a three-fold intimation.

2. The illustration of the greatness and excellency of this love. “Not that we loved Him, but that He loved us.”

II. The excellency of the benefit which flows from the fountain--that is the sending of Christ to accomplish our salvation. And here are three great and gracious fruits of love.

1. That He would send to us.

(a) The inferior should send and seek to the superior.

(b) The party offending to the party offended.

(c) The weaker should send to the stronger.

(d) They that need reconciliation should seek to him that needs it not.

(a) Not as a Messenger only but as a Gift also; that is the best kind of sending. He so sent Him as that He gave Him to us.

(b) He was a gift not only promised but actually bestowed and exhibited to us. We enjoy Him, whom the prophets promised, the patriarchs expected.

2. Here is an higher expression of His love in that He sent His Son to us.

3. The purpose and end of sending Him--that is, “to be the propitiation for our sins.”

(a) It had been much for just and good men and for their benefit.

(b) To mediate for those that have offended another is a kindness and office of love that may be found amongst men; but God is the Person wronged, our sins are all against Him, His law was broken, His will disobeyed, His name dishonoured. Yet see His love--He sends to propitiate and expiate our sins against Himself.

(c) To send to rebels in arms and to offer them pardon, hath been found amongst men; but for rebels subdued and under the power of their sovereign, nay, shut up--we lay all at His mercy--and then He sends unto us His propitiation.

(a) To propitiate is to appease God’s wrath and displeasure, justly taken against us, and to reduce us into grace and favour again. He loved us in our deformity, that He might put upon us a spiritual beauty. He loved us when we displeased Him, that He might work in us that which pleaseth Him.

(b) He did it by the means of making a full satisfaction to the justice of God for us. He hath done away our sins, not by a free dispensation, but by a full and just compensation.

(c) What is the matter of our propitiation--the price of our ransom? That is the highest improvement of love. He is our propitiation: not only our propitiator, but our propitiation. He is not only our Saviour, but He is become our salvation--as David speaks. He is not only our Redeemer, but our ransom (1 Timothy 2:6; Isaiah 53:10; Romans 3:25; Leviticus 17:11). He was not only the Priest, but the Sacrifice also. He not only acted for us, but suffered for us (Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:13).

III. What effect should this love of God work in us?

1. It should teach us to fasten our admiration on this great love of God, to work ourselves to an holy wonderment, that God should bestow such love upon us.

2. This great love of God to us calls for another effect: that is an holy retribution of love to Him again. Provoke thyself, inflame thine heart with the love of Him who hath so loved thee.

3. This love of God requires in us an holy imitation. In particular, imitate this love of God in all the characters of love expressed in my text.

Christ the great propitiation

Leave Christ as God’s salvation out of the Bible, and it is of little account to a guilty, perishing sinner.

I. We are to state the import of the term, or show you what we are to understand by propitiation, And here I would appeal to the understanding of all men, whether we have not some other idea of this word than what is contained in repentance, amendment, and mortification. The Jews well understood the meaning of it: they had their eucharistical and expiatory or atoning sacrifices. Now can it reasonably be supposed that the apostles would recede from the well known meaning of this word, especially in their writings to the Jews, and always use it in a metaphorical or figurative sense? Further, the heathens were no strangers to the sense of the word propitiation.

II. To inquire into the necessity and importance of it. By necessity, I do not mean that God was obliged to provide an atonement for the sin of man. Misery may excite but not oblige to pity, especially where guilt is the spring of it; and ruin the just consequence of apostasy. I know the Socinians suppose the goodness of God will not admit Him to demand or receive a satisfaction. Mercy is abundantly more natural and glorious without a propitiation; but the Scripture asserts the fact, and points out the necessity of it. I stay not to inquire whether God could not have fixed on any other method of recovery. Had we proper apprehensions of the holiness and justice of God when we consider this, and our circumstances as transgressors without saying what He might do, we may well adore Him for what He has done. The necessity of an atonement might be further evinced from the sanction of the law, clothed with the authority of a God who cannot lie; a God as jealous of His glory as of His faithfulness. As to the importance of the blessing of propitiation. Is there anything valuable in the favour and friendship of God?

III. To point out something of the excellence and perfection of this propitiation.

1. That God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

2. The doctrine, worship, and faith of the Old Testament saints were directed to this as the great centre of efficacy and perfection.

3. God the Father, sustaining the character of a Judge, has declared the highest satisfaction in it, by raising His Son from the dead and crowning Him with honour and glory as Mediator.

4. He will receive no confession, petition, or thanksgiving but through His hands. No man can come unto the Father but by Him. Lastly, the virtue of this sacrifice remains the same through all ages.

IV. That propitiation is the pure effect of Divine love, and the brightest display of it. By love we mean not a foolish, weak passion, but such favour, grace, or mercy as founded in infinite wisdom and in full agreement with all the perfections of God; and that the gift of His Son is the fruit of Divine love stands uncontested. Love is the noble spring of all the good the believer has in time, and all the glory he will possess in eternity; but the gift of God’s Son exceeds them all. Application:

1. Sinner, art thou deeply affected with thy guilt, and afraid of the consequences of thy transgressions? Here is a remedy exactly suited to thy ease.

2. Let believers labour, in the strength of grace, after the comfortable evidence of an interest in that which is to be their great support in death and security in judgment. Lastly, let us all take heed that we are not deceived; repentance and reformation without Christ will leave us short of heaven. (Samuel Wilson.)

The propitiation

I. The state of man required a propitiation.

1. The perfection and excellence of the law which he has broken.

2. The inability of man to expiate his offences.

3. The inflexible nature of Divine justice, which supports the honour of the law, and enforces its claims.

II. Jesus Christ is the propitiation required.

1. No creature could or would become a propitiation for man.

2. Jesus Christ is every way adapted to become our propitiation.

3. The Scriptures everywhere testify that Jesus Christ is our propitiation

(Isaiah 53:5-7; Isaiah 53:10; Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:24-25; Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 1:20; 1 Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 9:22-26; 1 John 2:2). The Father gave the Son (John 3:16). The Son gave Himself (Galatians 1:4). He offered Himself through the Eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14).

III. This propitiation is a glorious display of the love of God.

1. Unparalleled in its nature.

2. Intense in its ardour.

3. Immense in its extent.

4. Glorious in its purpose and final issue.


1. How pernicious is the doctrine of Socinianism, which completely destroys this only hope of a penitent--redemption by Christ!

2. How dangerous is the delusion of the self-righteous!

3. What abundant consolation does this subject afford penitent sinners!

4. In this love of God we are furnished with a rule and a motive for love to each other, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (Sketches of Sermons.)

The atonement for sin, by the death of Christ

I. State the case, with regard to the nature and necessity of the atonement, as represented in scripture.

II. Establish the fact that Jesus Christ has offered a true and proper atonement for sin.

1. I am well aware it does nothing towards the proof of this proposition to observe that this is precisely such a provision as the circumstances of man required, while it was perfectly consistent with all the attributes of Deity that God should grant it. There is nothing in the Scripture doctrine of the atonement by Jesus Christ repugnant to the most correct ideas of fitness and propriety, with regard either to the offending or the offended party. If man had never sinned, we should have seen the glory of the Divine power, wisdom, and benevolence in the creation of the world. If, having sinned, man had been left to perish, we should have seen the glory of the Divine justice. If he had been freely pardoned, without any satisfactory atonement, we should have seen the glory of the Divine mercy; but, having sinned, and receiving free forgiveness and eternal life by means of an adequate, because infinitely valuable, atonement, we see the glory of all the Divine attributes, and, overwhelmed with the astonishing exhibition, exclaim with the apostle, “Herein is love.”

2. The universal prevalence of sacrifices.

3. The sacrifices of the Mosaic economy.

4. The language of the prophets.

5. The testimony of the apostles, from that of Philip, in his preaching to the eunuch, to that of John, in the visions of the Apocalypse.

6. The language of Jesus Christ Himself. (T. Raffles, LL. D.)

Love descends

Love is its own perennial fount of strength. The strength of affection is a proof not of the worthiness of the object, but of the largeness of the soul which loves. Love descends, not ascends. The Saviour loved His disciples infinitely more than His disciples loved Him, because His heart was infinitely larger. Love trusts on, ever hopes and expects better things, and this a trust springing from itself and out of its own deeps alone. (F. W. Robertson.)

God seeks our love

A mother said to her pastor, “I wish some one could tell me why the Saviour died for us. I have never heard it answered to my satisfaction. You will say it was because He loved us; but why was that love? He certainly did not need us, and in our sinful state there was nothing in us to attract His love.” “I may suppose,” said her pastor, “that it would be no loss for you to lose your deformed little babe. You have a large circle of friends, you have other children, and a kind husband. You do not need the deformed child; and what use is it?” “Oh, sir,” said the mother, “I could not part with my poor child. I do need him. I need his love. I would rather die than fail of receiving it.” “Well,” said her pastor, “does God love His children less than earthly, sinful parents do?”

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 John 4:10". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation, for our sins.

Herein is love ... This carries the thought, "notice just what love actually is." John defined it, even in God's love, as being not merely a sentimental fondness for the human race, but a gracious, unselfish and unmerited act of divine giving of his "only begotten Son" to save people from eternal death. As Smith said:

The love which proves us children of God is not native to our hearts. It is inspired by the amazing love of God manifested in the Incarnation, the infinite Sacrifice of His Son's life and death.[33]

To be the propitiation ... For a discussion of this phrase, see under 1 John 2:2. The objection that "propitiation" leaves out of view the love of God is not well taken. As Denney observed:

So far from finding any kind of contrast between love and propitiation, the apostle can convey no idea of love to anyone, except by pointing to the propitiation.[34]

[33] David Smith, op. cit., p. 191.

[34] James Denney, The Death of Christ (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1894), p. 152.

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Herein is love,.... The love of God, free love, love that cannot be matched: herein it is manifested, as before; this is a clear evidence of it, an undoubted proof, and puts it out of all question:

not that we loved God: the love of God is antecedent to the love of his people; it was when theirs was not; when they were without love to him, yea, enemies in their minds, by wicked works, and even enmity itself, and therefore was not procured by theirs; but on the contrary, their love to him is caused by his love to them; hence his love, and a continuance in it, do not depend on theirs; nor does it vary according to theirs; wherefore there is good reason to believe it will continue, and never be removed; and this shows the sovereignty and freeness of the love of God, and that it is surprising and matchless:

but that he loved us; that is, God; and so the Syriac version reads, "but that God himself loved us". The Vulgate Latin version adds, first, as in 1 John 4:19; the instance of this love follows:

and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins: this is a subordinate end to the other, mentioned in 1 John 4:9; for, in order that sinful men may possess everlasting life and happiness, it is necessary that their sins be expiated, or atonement be made for them, which is meant by Christ's being a propitiation for them; that the justice of God should be satisfied; that peace and righteousness, or love and justice, should be reconciled together; and kiss each other; and that all obstructions be removed out of the way of the enjoyment of life, which are brought in by sin; and that the wrath of God, which sin deserved, be averted or appeased, according to our sense apprehension of it; for otherwise the love of God people is from everlasting, and is unchangeable, never alters, or never changes from love to wrath, or from wrath to love; nor is the love of God procured by the satisfaction and sacrifice of Christ, which are the effects of it; but hereby the way is laid open for the display of it, and the application of its effects, in a way consistent with the law and justice of God. This phrase is expressive of the great love of Christ to his people, and of his substitution in their room and stead; and so it is used among the Jews for a substitution in the room of others, לרוב אהבתו, "to express the greatness of love"F21Misn. Negaim, c. 2. sect. 1. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 1. & Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. vid. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 23. 1. & Succa, fol. 20. 1. ; See Gill on Romans 3:25 and See Gill on Romans 9:3.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Herein is lovelove in the abstract: love, in its highest ideal, is herein. The love was all on God‘s side, none on ours.

not that we loved God — though so altogether worthy of love.

he loved us — though so altogether unworthy of love. The Greek aorist expresses, Not that we did any act of love at any time to God, but that He did the act of love to us in sending Christ.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

10.] The same proof particularized in its highest and noblest point, the atonement: and at the same time this brought out, that the love manifested by it was all on God’s side, none on ours: was love to us when we were enemies, Romans 5:8, and therefore all the greater. Ch. 1 John 3:16 is very similar: except that there it is Christ’s personal love to us: here the Father’s, in sending His Son. In this is love (“in this case,” “in this matter,” “herein,” is, ‘is found,’ ‘exists,’ ἡ ἀγάπη, Love; in the abstract: “herein is Love,” as E. V. This interpretation is necessary, on account of the disjunction which follows. If ἡ ἀγάπη meant, the love of God just spoken of, then it would be irrelevant to subjoin that this love was not our love to Him but His to us. Œc.’s comment is in the main right, though inaccurately expressed: ἐν τούτῳ δείκνυται ὅτι ἀγάπη ἐστὶν ὁ θεός), not that (the ὅτι is the usual one, introducing the apodosis for which the ἐν τούτῳ prepares us: and οὐκ denies this. “In this is love, not in the fact that …, but in the fact that”.… Thus taken, there is no difficulty whatever in the sentence: cf. John 12:6, 2 Corinthians 7:9. Some Commentators have missed this, and thus found a difficulty. “ οὐχ ὅτι (non quasi) pro ὅτι οὐκ (quasi non),” says Grotius: but does not make his meaning very plain. Rosenm., who takes the transposition, explains it, “Quod, quamvis nos non amavissemus Deum, ille tamen amaret nos.” Justiniani takes ὅτι as “because” both times, and regards the apodosis as beginning at καὶ ἀπέστειλεν) we loved God (the aor., corresponding to the aor. below, marks the verb as referring to an indefinite time past—no act of love of ours to God at any time done furnishes this example of love, but an act of His towards us. It is not the nature of our love to God, as contrasted with His to us, of which the clause treats, but the non-existence of the one love as set against the historical manifestation of the other. Again that “He loved us, though we did not love Him,” is so far in the words as it is given by the context (see above), but is not the meaning of the words themselves), but that He loved us (aor., referring again to an act of Love, which is now specified), and (proved this love in that He) sent His Son a propitiation (see on ch, 1 John 2:2) for (see ibid.) our sins (His death being therein implied, by which that propitiation was wrought, Ephesians 1:7; and that, God’s giving His own Son to death for us, being the greatest and crowning act of divine Love).

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Not that (ουχ οτιouch hoti) - but that (αλλ οτιall' hoti). Sharp contrast as in John 7:22; 2 Corinthians 7:9; Philemon 4:17.

We loved (ηγαπησαμενēgapēsamen). First aorist active indicative, but B reads ηγαπηκαμενēgapēkamen (perfect active, we have loved).

He (αυτοςautos). Emphatic nominative (God).

To be the propitiation (ιλασμονhilasmon). Merely predicate accusative in apposition with υιονhuion (Son). For the word see 1 John 2:2; Romans 3:25 for ιλαστηριονhilastērion and for περιperi see also 1 John 2:2.

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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies


See on 1 John 2:2.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

10Herein is love He amplifies God’s love by another reason, that he gave us his own Son at the time when we were enemies, as Paul teaches us, in Romans 5:8; but he employs other words, that God, induced by no love of men, freely loved them. He meant by these words to teach us that God’s love towards us has been gratuitous. And though it was the Apostle’s object to set forth God as an example to be imitated by us; yet the doctrine of faith which he intermingles, ought not to be overlooked. God freely loved us, — how so? because he loved us before we were born, and also when, through depravity of nature, we had hearts turned away from him, and influenced by no right and pious feelings.

Were the prattlings of the Papists entertained, that every one is chosen by God as he foresees him to be worthy of love, this doctrine, that he first loved us, would not stand; for then our love to God would be first in order, though in time posterior. But the Apostle assumes this as an evident truth, taught in Scripture (of which these profane Sophists are ignorant,) that we are born so corrupt and depraved, that there is in us as it were an innate hatred to God, so that we desire nothing but what is displeasing to him, so that all the passions of our flesh carry on continual war with his righteousness.

And sent his Son It was then from God’s goodness alone, as from a fountain, that Christ with all his blessings has come to us. And as it is necessary to know, that we have salvation in Christ, because our heavenly Father has freely loved us; so when a real and full certainty of divine love towards us is sought for, we must look nowhere else but to Christ. Hence all who inquire, apart from Christ, what is settled respecting them in God’s secret counsel, are mad to their own ruin.

But he again points out the cause of Christ’s coming and his office, when he says that he was sent to be a propitiation for our sins And first, indeed, we are taught by these words, that we were all through sin alienated from God, and that this alienation and discord remains until Christ intervenes to reconcile us. We are taught, secondly, that it is the beginning of our life, when God, having been pacified by the death of his Son, receives us unto favor: for propitiation properly refers to the sacrifice of his death. We find, then, that this honor of expiating for the sins of the world, and of thus taking away the enmity between God and us, belongs only to Christ.

But here some appearance of inconsistency arises. For if God loved us before Christ offered himself to death for us, what need was there for another reconciliation? Thus the death of Christ may seem to be superfluous. To this I answer, that when Christ is said to have reconciled the Father to us, this is to be referred to our apprehensions; for as we are conscious of being guilty, we cannot conceive of God otherwise than as of one displeased and angry with us, until Christ absolves us from guilt. For God, wherever sin appears, would have his wrath, and the judgment of eternal death, to be apprehended. It hence follows, that we cannot be otherwise than terrified by the present prospect. as to death, until Christ by his death abolishes sin, until he delivers us by his own blood from death. Further, God’s love requires righteousness; that we may then be persuaded that we are loved, we must necessarily come to Christ, in whom alone righteousness is to be found.

We now see that the variety of expressions, which occurs in Scripture, according to different aspects of things, is most appropriate and especially useful with regard to faith. God interposed his own Son to reconcile himself to us, because he loved us; but this love was hid, because we were in the meantime enemies to God, continually provoking his wrath. Besides, the fear and terror of an evil conscience took away from us all enjoyment of life. Thence as to the apprehension of our faith, God began to love us in Christ. And though the Apostle here speaks of the first reconciliation, let us yet know that to propitiate God to us by expiating sins is a perpetual benefit proceeding from Christ.

This the Papists also in part concede; but afterwards they extenuate and almost annihilate this grace, by introducing their fictitious satisfactions. For if men redeem themselves by their works, Christ cannot be the only true propitiation, as he is called here.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes


(Greek - ἱλασμός ). (See Scofield "1 John 2:2").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 1 John 4:10". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Ver. 10. Not that we loved, &c.] Deus prior nos amavit, tantus, tantum, et gratis, tantillos et tales. God, though so great, loved us first and freely, though such and so worthless. "He loved us, because he loved us," saith Moses, Deuteronomy 7:7-8, the ground of his love being wholly in himself. He works for his own name’s sake, Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 20:22; Ezekiel 20:44, four different times, notwithstanding his word and oath, Ezekiel 20:13; Ezekiel 20:15; Ezekiel 20:23.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 John 4:10. But that he loved us, St. John's meaning is, that God loved us for it. See 1 John 4:19. Men are generally very ready to love those by whom they are first loved: now, such was the astonishing love of God to men, that, when they were sinners and enemies, he so loved the world, as to send his most beloved Son to live and die for them! The love wherewith God so loved the world, as to send his dear Son to redeem and save them, does, in some respects, differ from the love wherewith he loves all true believers, in addition to that grand primary instance of his love. The first has been called a love of pity, or benevolence, or the antecedent love of God, and with such a love God has loved the whole race of mankind. The other is called a love of complacency, or delight, or the consequent love of God; and with such a love God loves all sincere believers.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Herein is love; that is, the clearest, the fullest, the highest expression of free and undeserved love that ever the world was acquainted with.

Observe, That the wisdom and power of God did not act to the utmost of their efficacy in the work of creation; he could have framed a more glorious world had it pleased him; but the love of God in our redemption by Christ could not be expressed, or set forth, in an higher degree: When Almighty God would give the most excellent testimony of his favour to mankind, he gave them his eternal Son, the Son of his love: And verily the giving of heaven itself, with all its joys and glory, is not so full and perfect a demonstration of the love of God, as the giving of his Son to die for us: Herein is love.

Observe next, The priority of God's love to mankind; he loved us, not we him; he loved us antecedently to our loving him, and he loved us, that we might love him, when there was nothing in us either to deserve, or to engage his love.

Observe lastly, The great intent and gracious design of God in sending his Son, namely, To be a propitiation for our sins; that is to die as a sacrifice for our sins, and thereby atone divine displeasure. Herein is love: that is, the triumph, the riches, and glory of divine love, that God gave Christ to die for us. "But is there love in nothing else but this?" Yes sure, to have a being among rational creatures, therein is love; to have our life carried so many years in the hand of providence, like a burning taper, in the midst of winds and storms, and not burnt out, this is love; to have food and raiment convenient for us, relations and friends to comfort us, in all these is love, great love; but comparatively none at all to the love expressed in giving Christ to die for us: Herein was love, the flower of love.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 John 4:10. ἐν τούτῳ ἐστὶν ἀγάπη] i.e.herein consists love,” love is in its nature of this kind. Oecumenius inaccurately: ἐν τούτῳ, δείκνυται, ὅτι ἀγάπη ἐστὶν θεός; for ἐστί is not = δείκνυται; nor is τοῦ θεοῦ to be supplied with ἀγάπη (with Lücke, de Wette, Brückner, etc.), but the expression means love in general, as in 1 John 4:7 in the words: ἀγάπη ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστί (Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Braune).

οὐχ ὅτι ἡμεῖς ἠγαπήσαμεν τὸν θεόν, ἀλλʼ ὅτι κ. τ. λ.] Grotius and Lange arbitrarily render οὐχ ὅτι here = ὅτι οὐχ. Several commentators take the first part as, according to its sense, a subordinate clause = ἡμῶν μὴ ἀγαπησάντων; Meyer: “Herein consists love, in that, although we had not previously loved God, He nevertheless loved us;”(265) this, however, is incorrect; as John in 1 John 4:7 has said that love is ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, so here also he would emphasize the fact that love has its origin not in man, but in God; it is originally in God, and not first called forth in Him by the love of men; the latter is rather first the outcome of the divine love;(266) the words οὐχ ὅτι therefore serve to specify love as something divine, not, however, as Düsterdieck (who otherwise interprets correctly) thinks, to emphasize the fact that “the love of God to us is entirely undeserved;” this is a thought which is only to be derived from the statement of the apostle (Braune).

ἡ΄εῖς and αὐτός are emphatically contrasted with one another.

καὶ ἀπέστειλε τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ κ. τ. λ.] states the actual proof of αὐτὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡ΄ᾶς; here also the special emphasis rests, not on ἀπέστειλε, but on ἱλασ΄ὸν κ. τ. λ., which corresponds to the ἵνα ζήσω΄εν of 1 John 4:9, inasmuch as it states the basis of the ζωή; with ἱλασ΄όν, comp. chap. 1 John 2:2. The aorists ἠγαπήσα΄εν, ἠγάπεσε, ἀπέστειλεν, are to be retained as historical tenses (de Wette); by the perfect ἀπέσταλκεν, 1 John 4:9, the sending of Christ is merely stated, whereas the aorist employed here narratively depicts the loving act of God in the sending of His Son (Lücke).

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 John 4:10. ἔστιν, is) This denotes something prior to His manifestation.— τὸν θεὸν, God) who is most worthy to he loved.— ἡμᾶς, us) who are most unworthy.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

In comparison of this wonderful love of his, in sending his Son to be a sacrifice for sins, our love to him is not worthy the name of love.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

1 John


1 John 4:10.

This is the second of a pair of twin verses which deal with substantially the same subject under two slightly different aspects. The thought common to both is that Christ’s mission is the great revelation of God’s love. But in the preceding verse the point on which stress is laid is the manifestation of that love, and in our text the point mainly brought out is its essential nature. In the former we read, ‘In this was manifested the love of God,’ and in the present verse we read, ‘Herein is love.’ In the former verse John fixes on three things as setting forth the greatness of that manifestation--viz., that the Christ is the only begotten Son, that the manifestation is for the world, and that its end is the bestowment of everlasting love. In my text the points which are fixed on are that that Love in its nature is self-kindled--’not that we loved God, but that He loved us’--and that it lays hold of, and casts out of the way that which, unremoved, would be a barrier between God and us--viz., our sin: ‘He hath sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’

Now it is interesting to notice that these twin verses, like a double star which reflects the light of a central sun, draw their brightness from the great word of the Master, ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Do you not hear the echo of His voice in the three expressions in the verse before the text--’only begotten’ ‘world’ ‘live’? Here is one more of the innumerable links which bind together in indissoluble union the Gospel and the Epistle. So, then, the great thought suggested by the words before us is just this, that in the Incarnation and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ we have the great revelation of the love of God.

I. Now there are three questions that suggest themselves to me, and the first is this, What, then, does Christ’s mission say about God’s love?

I do not need to dwell on the previous question whether, apart from that mission, there is any solid revelation of the fact that there is love in Heaven, or whether we are left, apart from it, to gropings and probabilities. I need not refer you to the ambiguous oracles of nature or to the equally ambiguous oracles of life. I need not, I suppose, do more than just remind you that even the men whose faith grasps the thought of the love of God most intensely, know what it is to be brought to a stand before some of the dreadful problems which the facts of humanity and the facts of nature press upon us, nor need I remind you how, as we see around us to-day, in the drift of our English literature and that of other nations, when men turn their backs upon the Cross, they look upon a landscape all swathed in mists, and on which darkness is steadily settling. The reason why the men of this generation, some of them very superficially, and for the sake of being ‘in the swim’ and some of them despairingly and with bleeding hearts, are turning themselves to a reasoned pessimism, is because they will not see what shines out from the Cross, that God is love.

Nor need I do more than remind you, in a word, of the fact that, go where we will through this world, and consult all the conceptions that men have made to themselves of gods many and lords many, whilst we find the deification of power, and of vice, and of fragmentary goodnesses, of hopes and fears, of longings, of regrets, we find nowhere a god of whom the characteristic is love. And amidst that Pantheon of deities, some of them savage, some of them lustful, some of them embodiments of all vices, some of them indifferent and neutral, some of them radiant and fair, none reveals this secret, that the centre of the universe is a heart. So we have to turn away from hopes, from probability dashed with many a doubt, and find something that has more solid substance in it, if it is to be enough to bear up the man that grasps it and to yield before no tempests. For all that Bishop Butler says, probabilities are not the guide of life, in its deepest and noblest aspects. They may be the guide of practice, but for the anchorage of the soul we want no shifting sand-bank, but that to which we may make fast and be sure that, whatever shifts, it remains immovable. You can no more clothe the soul in ‘perhapses’ than a man can make garments out of a spider’s web. Religion consists of the things of which we are sure, and not of the things which are probable. ‘Peradventure’ is not the word on which a man can rest the weight of a crushed, or an agonising, or a sinking soul; he must have ‘Verily! verily!’ and then he is at rest.

How do we know what a man is? By seeing what a man does. How do we know what God is? By knowing what God does. So John does not argue with logic, either frosty or fiery, but he simply opens his mouth, and in calm, pellucid utterances sets forth the truths and leaves them to work. He says to us, ‘I do not relegate you to your intuitions; I do not argue with you; I simply say, Look at Him; look, and see that God is love.’

What, then, does the mission of Christ say to us about the love of God? It says, first, that it is a love independent of, and earlier than, ours. We love, as a rule, because we recognise in the object to which our heart goes out something that draws it, something that is loveable. But He whose name is ‘I am that I am’ has all the reasons of His actions within Himself, and just as He

‘Sits on no precarious throne,

Nor borrows leave to be,’

nor is dependent on any creature for existence, so He is His own motive, He is His own reason. Within that sacred circle of the Infinite Nature lie all the energies which bring that Infinite Nature into action; and like some clear fountain, more sparkling than crystal, there wells up for ever, from the depths of the Divine Nature, the love which is Himself. He loves, not because we love Him, but because He is God. The very sun itself, as some astronomers believe, owes its radiant brightness and ever-communicated warmth to the impact on, and reception into, it of myriads of meteors and of matter drawn from the surrounding system. So when the fuel fails, that fire will go out, and the sun will shrivel into a black ball. But this central Sun of the universe has all His light within Himself, and the rays that pour out from Him owe their being and their motion to nothing but the force of that central fire, from which they rush with healing on their wings.

If, then, God’s love is not evoked by anything in His creatures, then it is universal, and we do not need anxiously to question ourselves whether we deserve that it shall fall upon us, and no conscious unworthiness need ever make us falter in the least in the firmness with which we grasp that great central thought. The sun, inferior emblem as it is of that Light of all that is, pours down its beams indiscriminately on dunghill and on jewel, though it be true that in the one its rays breed corruption and in the other draw out beauty. That great love wraps us all, is older than our sins, and is not deflected by them. So that is the first thing that Christ’s mission tells us about God’s love.

The second is--it speaks to us of a love which gives its best. John says, ‘God sent His Son,’ and that word reposes, like the rest of the passage, on many words of Christ’s--such as, for instance, when He speaks of Himself as ‘sanctified and sent into the world,’ and many another saying. But remember how, in the foundation passage to which I have already referred, and of which we have some reflection in the words before us, there is a tenderer expression--not merely ‘sent,’ but ‘gave.’ Paul strengthens the word when he says, ‘gave up for us all.’ It is not for us to speculate about these deep things, but I would remind you of what I dare say I have had occasion often to point out, that Paul seems to intend to suggest to us a mysterious parallel, when he further says, ‘He that spared not His own Son, but freely gave Him up to death for us all.’ For that emphatic word ‘spared’ is a distinct allusion to, and quotation of, the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac: ‘Seeing thou hast not withheld from Me thine only son.’ And so, mysterious as it is, we may venture to say that He not only sent, but He gave, and not only gave, but gave up. His love, like ours, delights to lavish its most precious gifts on its objects.

Now there arises from this consideration a thought which I only mention, and it is this. Christian teaching about Christ’s work has often, both by its friends and its foes, been so presented as to lead to the conception that it was the work of Christ which made God love men. The enemies of evangelical truth are never tired of talking in that sense; and some of its unwise friends have given reason for the caricature. But the true Christian teaching is, ‘God so loved ... that He gave.’ The love is the cause of the mission, and not the mission that which evokes the love. So let us be sure that, not because Christ died does God love us sinful creatures, but that, because God loves us, Christ died for us.

The third thing which the mission of Christ teaches us about the love of God is that it is a love which takes note of and overcomes man’s sin. I have said, as plainly as I can, that I reject the travesty of Christianity which implies that it was Christ’s mission which originated God’s love to men. But a love that does not in the slightest degree care whether its object is good or bad--what sort of a love do you call that? What do you name it when a father shows it to his children? Moral indifference; culpable and weak and fatal. And is it anything nobler, if you transfer it to God, and say that it is all the same to Him whether a man is living the life of a hog, and forgetting all that is high and noble, or whether he is pressing with all his strength towards light and truth and goodness? Surely, surely they who, in the name of their reverence for the supreme love of God, cover over the fact of His righteousness, are mutilating and killing the very attribute that they are trying to exalt. A love that cares nothing for the moral character of its object is not love, but hate; it is not kindness, but cruelty. Take away the background because it is so black, and you lower the brilliancy of whiteness of that which stands in front of it. There is such a property in God as is fittingly described by that tremendous word ‘wrath.’ God cannot, being what He is, treat sin as if it were no sin; and therefore we read, ‘He sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.’ The black dam, which we build up between ourselves and the river of the water of life, is to be swept away; and it is the death of Jesus Christ which makes it possible for the highest gift of God’s love to pour over the ruined and partially removed barrier and to flood a man’s soul. Brethren, no God that is worthy the name can give Himself to a sinful soul. No sinful soul that has not the habit, the guilt, the penalty of its sins swept away, is capable of receiving the life, which is the highest gift of the love. So our twin texts divide what I may call the process of redemption between them; and whilst the one says, ‘He sent His Son that we should have life through Him,’ the other tells us of how the sins which bar the entrance of that life into our hearts, as our own consciences tell us they do, can be removed. There must first be the propitiation for our sins, and then that mighty love reaches its purpose and attains its end, and can give us the life of God to be the life of our souls. So much for my first and principle question.

II. Now I have to ask, secondly, how comes it that Christ’s mission says anything about God’s love?

That question is a very plain one, and I should like to press the answer to it very emphatically. Take any other of the great names of the world’s history of poet, thinker, philosopher, moralist, practical benefactor; is it possible to apply such a thought as this to them--except with a hundred explanations and limitations--that they, however radiant, however wise, however beneficent, however fruitful their influence, make men sure that God loves them? The thing is ridiculous, unless you are using language in a very fantastic and artificial fashion.

Christ’s mission reveals God’s love, because Christ is the Son of God. If it is true, as Jesus said, that ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,’ then I can say, ‘In Thy tenderness, in Thy patience, in Thy attracting of the publican and the harlot, in Thy sympathy with all the erring and the sorrowful, and, most of all, in Thy agony and passion, in Thy cross and death, I see the glory of God which is the love of God.’ Brother, if you break that link, which binds the man Christ Jesus with the ever-living and the ever-loving God, I know not how you can draw from the record of His life and death a confidence, which nothing can shake, in the love of the Father.

Then there is another point. Christ’s mission speaks to us about God’s love, if--and I was going to say only if--we regard it as His mission to be the propitiation for our sins. Strike out the death as the sacrifice for the world’s sin, and what you have left is a maimed something, which may be, and I thankfully recognise often is, very strengthening, very helpful, very calming, very ennobling, even to men who do not sympathise with the view of that work which I am now setting forth, but which is all that to them, very largely, because of the unconscious influence of the truths which they have cast away. It seems to me that those who, in the name of the highest paternal love of God, reject the thought of Christ’s sacrificial death, are kicking away the ladder by which they have climbed, and are better than their creeds, and happily illogical. It is the Cross that reveals the love, and it is the Cross as the means of propitiation that pours the light of that blessed conviction into men’s hearts.

III. My last question is this: what does Christ’s mission say about God’s love to me?

We know what it ought to say. It ought to carry, as on the crest of a great wave, the conviction of that divine love into our hearts, to be fruitful there. It ought to sweep out, as on the crest of a great wave, our sins and evils. It ought to do this; does it? On some of us I fear it produces no effect at all. Some of you, dear friends, look at that light with lack-lustre eyes, or, rather, with blind eyes, that are dark as midnight in the blaze of noonday. The voice comes from the Cross, sweet as that of harpers harping with their harps, and mighty as the voice of many waters, and you hear nothing. Some of us it slightly moves now and then, and there an end.

Brethren, you have to turn the world-wide generality into a personal possession. You have to say, ‘He loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ It is of no use to believe in a universal Saviour; do you trust in your particular Saviour? It is of no use to have the most orthodox and clear conceptions of the relation between the Cross of Christ and the revelation to men of the love of God; have you made that revelation the means of bringing into your own personal life the conviction that Jesus Christ is your Saviour, the propitiation for your sins, the Giver to you of life eternal? It is faith that does that. Note that, in the great foundation passage to which I have made frequent reference, there are two conditions put in between the beginning and the end. Some of us are disposed to say, ‘God so loved the world that every man might have eternal life.’ That is not what Christ said, ‘God so loved the world that’--and here follows the first condition--’He gave His Son that’--and here follows the second--’he that believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ God has done what it is needful for Him to do. His part of the conditions has been fulfilled. Fulfil yours--’He that believeth on Him.’ And if you can say, not He is the propitiation for our sin, but for my sin, then you will live and move and have your being in a heaven of love, and will love Him back again with an echo and reflection of His own, and nothing shall be able to separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

10. ἐν τούτῳ. This again refers to what follows: Love in its full perfection is seen, not in man’s love to God, but in His to man, which reached a climax in His sending His Son to save us from our sins. The superiority of God’s love does not lie merely in the fact of its being Divine. It is first in order of time and therefore necessarily spontaneous: ours is at best only love in return for love. His love is absolutely disinterested; ours cannot easily be so. Comp. Titus 3:4. For ἱλασμός and περὶ τῶν ἁμ. see on 1 John 2:2; ἱλασμὸς περὶ τ. ἀμ. is parallel to ἵνα ζήσωμεν διʼ αὐτοῦ in the previous verse, but an advance on it. It is by being a propitiation for our sins that He wins life for us. Bede tells us that some MSS. had the reading ‘Et misit Filium suum litatorem pro peccatis nostris, adding Litator autem sacrificator est. But litator is more than sacrificator, it is ‘one who sacrifices with favourable results’. Augustine has litator, Lucifer expiator, the Vulgate propitiatio.

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"Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

10. Herein—In this that follows.

Is loveLove essential and original, showing what real love is.

We loved God—This was not original, but secondary and consequent; though for us an infinitely important consequence.

He loved us—The propitiation was not needed from want of love for us in God the Father; in fact it sprang from, and was the expression of, his love. The wrath that needed to be propitiated was simply pure justice in its serenest, divinest form, which must be sustained as the basis of a moral realm.

Propitiation—See notes on 1 John 2:1; Romans 3:25.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’

This is the final definition and revelation of love. It is not found in any love that we have, but in God’s great love in which He sent His own beloved Son to be the propitiation for our sins. It is a love that has provided a way back to Him. It is a love that provided a means of doing all that was necessary to remove the effects of sin from those who respond to Him. Propitiation might be too strong a word, because it might suggest unrighteous anger, and God’s ‘anger’ is holy and pure, and never unrighteous, but expiation is too weak a word because it does not take into account God’s positive aversion to sin. What this propitiation achieves is that what Jesus has done through His sacrifice of Himself can make a man as though he had never sinned, because all the consequences of God’s aversion to sin, and to man in his sin, were borne by Jesus Christ through His death on the cross. Through it He has redeemed man from sin, delivering him by the payment of a price, being made a ‘ransom in the place of many’ (Mark 10:45). He Who knew no sin was, as it were, made sin for us, suffering in our place, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). There can be no greater love than this. It is the love which expressed itself when God Himself humbled Himself and in Jesus Christ became man in order to bear in Himself the sin of the world (Philippians 2:5-11).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

This was not a response to man"s love for God. God took the initiative in reaching out to us ( 1 John 4:10). Jesus Christ became "an atoning sacrifice" (NIV) for our sins.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 John 4:10. The love which proves us children of God is not native to our hearts. It is inspired by the amazing love of God manifested in the Incarnation—the infinite Sacrifice of His Son’s life and death. Aug.: “Non illum dileximus prius: nam ad hoc nos dilexit, ut diligamus eum.” ἀπέστειλεν: the aor. is used here because the Incarnation is regarded as a distinct event, a historic landmark.

Having inculcated love, the Apostle indicates two incentives thereto: (1) God’s love for us imposes on us a moral obligation to love one another (1 John 4:11-16 a); (2) If we have love in our hearts, fear is cast out (1 John 4:16-18).

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Herein = In (App-104.) this.

propitiation. Greek. hilasmos. Only here and 1 John 2:2. Compare Romans 3:25.

for = concerning. App-104.

sins. App-128.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Herein is love - love in the abstract, in its highest ideal, is herein. The love was all on God's side, none on ours.

Not that we loved God - though so altogether worthy of love.

He loved us - though so altogether unworthy of love. [ Eegapeesamen (Greek #25), the aorist, Not that we did any act of love at any time to God, but that He did the act of love to us in sending Christ.]

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
8,9; 3:1
19; Deuteronomy 7:7,8; John 15:16; Romans 5:8-10; 8:29,30; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:4,5; Titus 3:3-5
and sent
2:2; Daniel 9:24; Romans 3:25,26; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

The Bible Study New Testament

This is what love is. "This is the example for us to follow. God did not wait for us to love him first (1 John 4:19), but while we were still sinners ( Romans 5:8) God sent his Son to be the means (1 John 2:2) by which our sins are forgiven."

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The example of love was set by the Father and not by man. That is why we have the-brief but comprehensive statement in 1 John 4:19.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

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