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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 4:18

 

 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

Adam Clarke Commentary

There is no fear in love - The man who feels that he loves God with all his heart can never dread him as his Judge. As he is now made a partaker of his Spirit, and carries a sense of the Divine approbation in his conscience, he has nothing of that fear that produces terror or brings torment. The perfect love - that fullness of love, which he has received, casteth out fear - removes all terror relative to this day of judgment, for it is of this that the apostle particularly speaks. And as it is inconsistent with the gracious design of God to have his followers miserable, and as he cannot be unhappy whose heart is full of the love of his God, this love must necessarily exclude this fear or terror; because that brings torment, and hence is inconsistent with that happiness which a man must have who continually enjoys the approbation of his God.

He that feareth - He who is still uncertain concerning his interest in Christ; who, although he has many heavenly drawings, and often sits with Christ some moments on a throne of love, yet feels from the evils of his heart a dread of the day of judgment; is not made perfect in love - has not yet received the abiding witness of the Spirit that he is begotten of God; nor that fullness of love to God and man which excludes the enmity of the carnal mind, and which it is his privilege to receive. But is the case of such a man desperate? No: it is neither desperate nor deplorable; he is in the way of salvation, and not far from the kingdom of heaven. Let such earnestly seek, and fervently believe on the Son of God; and he will soon give them another baptism of his Spirit, will purge out all the old leaven, and fill their whole souls with that love which is the fulfilling of the law. He who is not yet perfect in love may speedily become so, because God can say in a moment, I will, be thou clean; and immediately his leprosy will depart. Among men we find some that have neither love nor fear; others that have fear without love; others that have love and fear; and others that have love without fear.

  1. Profligates, and worldly men in general, have neither the fear nor love of God.
  • Deeply awakened and distressed penitents have the fear or terror of God without his love.
  • Babes in Christ, or young converts, have often distressing fear mixed with their love.
  • Adult Christians have love without this fear; because fear hath torment, and they are ever happy, being filled with God. See Mr. Wesley's note on this place.
  • We must not suppose that the love of God shed abroad in the heart is ever imperfect in itself; it is only so in degree. There may be a less or greater degree of what is perfect in itself; so it is with respect to the love which the followers of God have; they may have measures or degrees of perfect love without its fullness. There is nothing imperfect in the love of God, whether it be considered as existing in himself, or as communicated to his followers.
  • We are not to suppose that the love of God casts out every kind of fear from the soul; it only casts out that which has torment.
  • A filial fear is consistent with the highest degrees of love; and even necessary to the preservation of that grace. This is properly its guardian; and, without this, love would soon degenerate into listlessness, or presumptive boldness.
  • Nor does it cast out that fear which is so necessary to the preservation of life; that fear which leads a man to flee from danger lest his life should be destroyed.
  • Nor does it cast out that fear which may be engendered by sudden alarm. All these are necessary to our well-being. But it destroys,
  • The fear of want;
  • The fear of death; and
  • 3. The fear or terror of judgment. All these fears bring torment, and are inconsistent with this perfect love.


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    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-john-4.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    There is no fear in love - Love is not an affection which produces fear. In the love which we have for a parent, a child, a friend, there is no fear. If a man had perfect love to God, he would have no fear of anything - for what would he have to dread? He would have no fear of death, for he would have nothing to dread beyond the grave. It is guilt that makes people fear what is to come; but he whose sins are pardoned, and whose heart is filled with the love of God, has nothing to dread in this world or the world to come. The angels in heaven, who have always loved God and one another, have no fear, for they have nothing to dread in the future; the redeemed in heaven, rescued from all danger, and filled with the love of God, have nothing to dread; and as far as that same loves operates on earth, it delivers the soul now from all apprehension of what is to come.

    But perfect love casteth out fear - That is, love that is complete, or that is allowed to exert its proper influence on the soul. As far as it exists, its tendency is to deliver the mind from alarms. If it should exist in any soul in an absolutely perfect state, that soul would be entirely free from all dread in regard to the future.

    Because fear hath torment - It is a painful and distressing emotion. Thus men suffer from the fear of poverty, of losses, of bereavement, of sickness, of death, and of future woe. From all these distressing apprehensions, that love of God which furnishes an evidence of true piety delivers us.

    He that feareth, is not made perfect in love - He about whose mind there lingers the apprehension of future wrath, shows that love in his soul has not accomplished its full work. Perhaps it never will on any soul until we reach the heavenly world, though there are many minds so full of love to God, as to be prevailingly delivered from fear.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-4.html. 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    1 John 4:18

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment

    The place of fear in the gospel

    Some readers of the Bible, some preachers of the gospel, have thought that fear was a dangerous, was even a forbidden principle, under the dispensation of the fulness of times.
    This is a hasty inference. Our Lord says, “Fear Him which, after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell.” St. Paul says, “Work out their own salvation with fear and trembling”; and St. Peter commends a “chaste conversation coupled with fear”; and even St. John, who speaks of “perfect love casting out fear,” yet uses this, in the Revelation, as a description of the faithful--“them that fear Thy name.” Fear has a place in the gospel, may we but find it. Indeed it is an old remark, that every natural principle of our mind has an object assigned to it--is not to be crushed, only to be redirected. Fear is not the whole of religion. Some Christian people have made it so, and suffered greatly in consequence. But in these cases we may hope that there is a blessed surprise of love in store for souls which here lived too much in the darkness of mistrust and self-suspicion. As they emerge out of that thick gloom which we call life into a world where there is neither puzzle of intellect, nor oppression of the world, nor assault of the devil, they learn, as in a moment, how much better God was to them than they felt or saw. How shall it be with another class--with those who have banished fear altogether from their religion, not by that perfecting of love which St. John speaks of, but by a refusal to read anything in their gospel but that which was instantly bright, indiscriminately alluring? If now we try to grapple closely with the very question itself, What is the place of fear in the gospel? we must begin by guarding ourselves against one great confusion. The object of fear may be either a thing or a person.

    1. We fear a thing which, being possible, is also undesirable or dreadful. Our own Prayer Book, commenting in the catechism upon the Lord’s Prayer, bids us call three things evil:

    2. There is a fear also of persons. In some respects nearly allied to the other--as where we dread the arrival of a judge who is to try us, and whose sentence must certainly bring after it imprisonment or execution. There it is scarcely the person--it is simply the instrument of the thing--which is really the object of the fear. The fear of God as a Person is essentially of a higher order. To feel that there is One above me, to whom I am accountable, if it be but as my Judge, there is something elevating in the very conception. But this, if it stop here, is the religion of fallen nature; it is scarcely the religion even of law--for the law itself gave many glimpses of a Divine heart that could feel and a Divine grace that could comfort. This mere dread, though it is a higher thing than indifference, is no part of the gospel. From this kind of fear the convinced man, if he yields himself to Christ’s teaching, will pass on into a higher. And it is in reference to this step that there is the greatest need of Christian guidance. We do not speak of a spirit of bondage, making a man crouch before God as his stern taskmaster. Not of a life of toilsome, unloving labour, which hopes in the end to make God its debtor. There is no trace of gospel fear in all this. But that humble, filial reverence, which never forgets or slights the distance between the Creator and the creature which exercises itself day by day “to have always a conscience void of offence both toward God and toward man”--this is a Christian grace: if there be yet one higher, it must be sought, not in the abandonment, but in the strengthening of this. When a man has lived for long years in the pursuit of God--when he has brought his life by daily self-discipline into a condition of habitual watchfulness--then, as the fear of falling away becomes less predominant, there takes its place, by little and little, that absolute oneness of will with the will of God, of which it has been boldly yet beautifully written that then, then at length, self-indulgence itself may become a virtue. In that man fear has indeed been cast out, not by carelessness, but by love; in him, at last, as God’s free gift to a life of godly reverence, “in him verily is the love of God perfected.” (Dean Vaughan.)

    Love and fear

    I. The apostle here contemplates a universal dominion of fear, wherever there is not the presence of active love. Of course, he is speaking about the emotions which men cherish with regard to God. All men everywhere have some more or less faint or clear conviction of the existence of a God. All men everywhere have some more or less active or torpid working of conscience. Blend together these two things, and take into account that the fact of sin necessarily brings about much ignorance of the true character of Him whom the consciousness of sin arrays in awful attributes of holiness and justice; and there follows inevitably, universally, though not always with equal strength and prominence, this feeling towards God, I knew Thee that thou wert austere, and I was afraid. The truth of this representation of the universal dominion of fear is not made in the least degree doubtful by the fact that the ordinary condition of men is not one of active dread of God. There is nothing more striking than that strange power that a man has of refusing to think of a subject because he knows that to think of it would be torture and terror. Heathenism is, to a large extent, the offspring of fear. All thoughts of sacrifice as propitiating an offended God come from that dark and coiling fear which lurks in the heart. And it affects so called Christianity too. There are plenty of people who call themselves Christians whose whole religion consists in deprecating the wrath of God, whom they dimly think of as angry with them, and who, their consciences tell them, might well be so! Sometimes, again, this same fear takes the understanding into its pay, and appears as enlightened disbelief in God and immortality. The brain is often bribed by the conscience, and the wish becomes the father of the thought. Sometimes it takes the shape of vehement efforts to get rid of unwelcome thought by fierce plunging into business, or into wild riot.

    II. The fearlessness of love--how “perfect love” casts out fear. Love is no weak thing, no mere sentiment. It is the harvest of all human emotions. It makes heroes as its natural work. The love of God is declared in this text to be the victorious antagonist of that fear of sin which has torment in it. In general we can see, I think, without difficulty, how the two, love and fear, do exclude one another. Fear is entirely based on a consideration of some possible personal evil consequence coming down upon me from that clear sky above me. Love is based upon the forgetfulness of self altogether. The very essence of love is, that it looks away from itself, and to another. Fill the heart with love, and there is an end to the dominion of fear!

    1. But, more specifically, the love of God entering into a man’s heart destroys all fear of Him of which we have been speaking. All the attributes of God come to be on our side. He that loves has the whole Godhead for him. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” There is no foundation for my love to God except only the old one, “God loves me.” There is no way of building on that foundation except only the old one, We believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Saviour of the world! The love which casts out fear is not a vague emotion setting towards an unknown God; nor is it the result of a man’s willing that he will put away from himself his hatred and his indifference, and will set himself in a new position towards God and His mercy; but it rises in the heart as a consequence of knowing and believing the love which God hath to us. Hence, again, it is the conqueror of fear. Whatever betide, nothing can separate us from the love of God. We are bound to Him by that everlasting loving kindness with which He has drawn us. There is lifted off the heart the whole burden of “fearful looking for of judgment,” the whole burden arising from the dark thought, God is mighty, God must be righteous, God may strike!--because we know “He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”

    2. The love of God casts out all other fear! Every affection makes him who cherishes it, in some degree, braver than he would have been without it. It is not degrading to this subject to remind you of what we see away far down in the scale of living beings. Look at that strange maternal instinct that in the lowest animals--out of weakness makes them strong, and causes them to forget all terror of the most terrible at the bidding of the mighty and conquering affection. Look at the same thing on the higher level of our own human life. It is not self-reliance that makes the hero. It is having the heart filled with passionate enthusiasm born of love for some person or for some thing. Love is gentle, but it is omnipotent, victor over all. And when we rise to the highest form of it, namely, the love which is fixed upon God--oh! how that should, and if it be right, will, strengthen and brace, and make every man in whom it dwells, frank, fearless, careless of personal consequences! Cowardice and anxiety, perplexity about life, trembling about the future, the bowed head and the burdened heart--these are not the “fruits of the Spirit.” “Perfect love casteth out fear,” sets our faces as flints, if need be, before human opposition, lifts us up above being at the mercy of events and circumstances, rises coping with and mastering the fear of death, soars on lofty wing high above the darkness of the grave, and, as the apostle in the context tells us, is made perfect herein, that we have the boldness in the day of judgment.

    III. Love, which destroys fear, heightens reverence, and deepens self-distrust.

    1. A man who is trembling about personal consequences has no eye to appreciate the thing of which he is afraid. There is no reverence where there is desperate fear. He that is trembling lest the lightning should strike him, has no heart to feel the grandeur and to be moved by the solemn awfulness of the storm above his head. And a man to whom the whole thought, or the predominant thought, when God rises before him, is, How awful will be the incidence of His perfections on my head! does not and durst not think about them, and reverence Him. Perfect love takes out of the heart all that bitter sense of possible evil coming on me and leaves me at liberty, with thankful, humble heart, and clear eye, to look into the centre of the brightness and see there the light of His infinite mercy.

    2. Love destroys fear, and perfects self-distrust. “Work out your own salvation,” is the apostle’s teaching, “with fear and trembling.” If you call Him “Father” (the name that breathes from the loving heart), “pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.” What sort of fear? The fear that is timid about self, because it is, and in order that it may be, confident of God; fear which means, I know I shall fall, unless Thou hold me up, and which then changes, by quick transition, into, I shall not fall, for the Lord is able to make me stand. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

    Love and fear

    Love is pure; love is kind and tender; love is bold and confident. There is no fear in perfect love. Much of the would be unbelief of the day springs from terror. No doubt there is real honest unbelief--a failing to believe--inability to find truth. These deserve our tenderest pity. You should pity and pray for those out in the godless, hopeless gloom, as you pity and pray for the sailors at sea when the wind howls round your house, and you hear the loud boom of the storm driven waves on the shore. Much of the feverishness with which men plunge into business, and whirl in the eddies of pleasure, arises from their dread of God. But, worse still, many so called religious people never get beyond this state of dread. They only know God as the Terrible One. James Mill taught his son John Stuart to think of God as “the Almighty Author of Hell,” and to hate the idea of Him therefore. Of all that the New Testament says of God, James Mill chose to seize only on that. He said nothing of heaven, nor of God’s efforts to keep men from hell. And many people follow his example; they seem to know nothing of God’s love; they spend their lives deprecating God’s wrath. Now, if you live in this state, your religion is of the poorest, lowest possible description. Fear paralyses all the powers of the soul, and must be got rid of before progress can take place. The bird newly caught is afraid of everything and everybody--of the hand that feeds and caresses it: and you get no song while that fear lasts. A fresh boy in school, on the first day, is afraid of everything, and while that fear lasts he learns nothing. He cannot read or write, he can neither draw nor reckon, till the fear is gone. Now so has it ever been with men. As long as men dreaded nature they made no progress in knowledge or power. As long as men throughout the length and breadth of Europe believed that God the Father, and even Christ the Saviour, were so awful and implacable to men, that Mary, the gentle Virgin, must intercede with them for the sinful and the needy, so long could the priests make them believe whatever they chose to tell them, and make them do whatever they pleased to bid them. For fear is credulous. Everything startles it. Now those times, though called the ages of faith, were very barren of religion. Fear demoralised men. There was no joy in religion and no love. Now what is true of others is true of us. If you dread God, then you do not love Him--you cannot. In time, you are bound to hate what you dread. This fear must be got rid of it is the work of perfect love to cast it out of the soul. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” You must not be afraid to accept the broad statement that “God is love.” (J. M. Gibbon.)

    The spirit of fear

    (with 2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15; John 14:27):--I have brought together several passages to show that the spirit of the gospel is not a spirit of fear, and that Jesus came to deliver us from all fear. There are some objections to be first considered. If life is full of danger and evil, ought we not to be afraid? it may be asked. And if the Bible Contains passages which teach us not to fear, does it not contain other passages which teach that we ought to fear? (Matthew 10:28; Philippians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:17; Proverbs 3:7). How are these facts and statements to be reconciled with the assertion that it is the duty of Christians not to fear? First, we may say that a distinction can be taken between fear as a subordinate motive and fear as a ruling motive of human action. Fear as the ruling motive of conduct is degrading, because it is essentially selfish. But fear, when controlled by reason, subordinate to hope, joined with courage, becomes caution, watchfulness, modesty. The Christian fears, but is never governed by his fears. But, again, how much we need to fear and ought to fear depends upon the progress of our inward life and Christian experience. The work of Christ is to deliver us from all excessive fear, and to leave in its place calmness and sober watchfulness and a profound peace. But this work is not done suddenly; it is a progressive work. And how this is let us now consider. First, consider fear of sin and of its consequences. The main purpose of Christianity is to save us from sin, and thereby to save us from its consequences, which are moral and spiritual death. And it saves us, not by inspiring fear, but by inspiring faith and courage. It assures us that “sin shall not have dominion” over us. The law of God shows us what our duty is, but gives us no power to do it. The purer and higher the standard, the less ability we feel to reach it. And discouragement is moral death. What we need is the spirit of adoption, whereby we may cry, “Abba, Father!” Then there will be no more fear, neither fear of man nor fear of God, nor fear of sin, nor fear of death, nor fear of what follows death. But in order to be freed from fear, it is not enough to be told not to fear. In the midst of a battle tell the coward not to be afraid; in the midst of a thunderstorm tell the person who shrinks from the vivid flash arid the astounding peal that he need not fear. What good will it do? The source of fear is within, and that must be removed. So preach as much as we may the mercy of God, I tell you that men will still fear, will fear death, will fear hell, as long as unreconciled, unrepented sin is in their hearts. To cure our souls of fear, to fill them with hope and trust, there is but one way, and that is to look our sins in the face, to look God’s law in the face, to see the eternal connection between right and good, death and evil; and then, when we have had an experience of duty, of responsibility, of sin, of danger, we are ready to enter into the deeper experience of pardon, of hope, of entire, present joyous salvation. Thus delivered from the fear of sin by the power of the gospel, we are also delivered from the fear of God. This statement also requires some consideration. There is a fear of God which is always right, and which we shall always need to cherish. Heathenism is a religion of fear; Judaism is the religion of conscience; Christianity is the religion of grateful affection. Where God is regarded essentially as an Almighty Ruler, the chief duty of man is implicit, unquestioning obedience. Where God is regarded chiefly as a judge, the principal duty of man is righteous conduct. Where He is regarded as a father, the chief duty of man is childlike trust and love. So that there is a gradual progress in the conception which men have had of the Deity. Beginning with power, they ascend to justice, and terminate in love. And when perfect love is attained, it casts out all fear. (James Freeman Clarke.)

    Perfect love

    I. Its properties.

    1. Supreme. Love to God cannot exist as a subordinate principle.

    2. Pure. Before love can reign sole monarch in the soul, the “old man” must be destroyed.

    3. Entire. It will not only admit of no rival, allowing neither the allurements of the world nor the charms of the creature to alienate it from the object that has engrossed it; but it admits of no comparison.

    4. Constant. It is not a spark emitted from the blaze of worldly prosperity and fanned by the softness of worldly pleasure, but a flame enkindled by the Sun of Righteousness, and like the fire on the altar it never goes out.

    5. Practical.

    6. Progressive. For though perfect, it does not preclude the possibility of increase or enlargement.

    II. Its operation--“casteth out fear.”

    1. What kind of fear?

    (a) A reverential fear of God.

    (b) A cautionary fear of the holiness, justice, and power of God.

    (c) Natural fear, which is necessary to the preservation of life.

    (a) Servile fear.

    (b) Fear of meeting the necessaries of life.

    (c) The fear of man, which bringeth a snare.

    (d) The fear of the last enemy.

    (e) The fear of the judgment.

    (f) The fear of hell.

    2. How does it do this?

    Faith is perfected by love. Distrust is the offspring of suspicion, and want of confidence is want of love. Where there is perfect love there is true tranquillity, the sweetest harmony: all is peace--perfect, perpetual, eternal peace. (Samuel Dunn.)

    Love and fear

    John has been speaking of boldness, and that naturally suggests its opposite--fear. He has been saying that perfect love produces courage in the day of judgment, because it produces likeness to Christ, who is the judge. In my text he explains and enlarges that statement. For there is another way in which love produces boldness, and that is by its casting out fear. These two are mutually exclusive.

    I. The empire of fear. Fear is a shrinking apprehension of evil as befalling us, from the person or thing which we dread. God is righteous; God righteously administers His universe. God enters into relations of approval or disapproval with His responsible creature. Therefore there lies, dormant for the most part, but present in every heart, and active in the measure in which that heart is informed as to itself, the slumbering cold dread that between it and God things are not as they ought to be. I believe, for my part, that such a dumb, dim consciousness of discord attaches to all men, though it is often smothered, often ignored, and often denied. But there it is; the snake hybernates, but it is coiled in the heart all the same, and warmth will awake it. Arising from that discomforting consciousness of discord there come, likewise, other forms and objects of dread. For if I am out of harmony with Him, what will be my fate in the midst of a universe administered by Him, and in which all are His servants? Whilst all things serve the soul that serves Him, all are embattled against the man that is against, or not for, God and His will. Then there rises up another object of dread, which, in like manner, derives all its power to terrify and to hurt from the fact of our discordance with God, and that is, the “shadow feared of man,” that stands shrouded by the path, and waits for each of us. God; God’s universe; God’s messenger, Death--these are facts with which we stand in relation, and if our relations with Him are out of gear, then He and all of these are legitimate objects of dread to us. But now there is something else that casts out fear than perfect love, and that is--perfect levity. For it is the explanation of the fact that so many of us know nothing about what I am talking about, and fancy that I am exaggerating or putting forward false views.

    II. That brings me to the second point--viz., the mission of fear. John uses a rare word in my text when he says, “fear hath torment.” “Torment” does not convey the whole idea of the word. It means suffering, but suffering for a purpose; suffering which is correction; suffering which is disciplinary; suffering which is intended to lead to something beyond itself. Fear, the apprehension of personal evil, has the same function in the moral world as pain has in the physical, It is a symptom of disease, and is intended to bid us look for the remedy and the Physician. What is an alarm bell for, but to rouse the sleepers and to hurry them to the refuge! And so this wholesome, manly dread of the certain issue of discord with God is meant to do for us what the angels did for Lot--lay a mercifully violent hand on the shoulder of the sleeper, and shake him into aroused wakefulness, and hasten him out of Sodom. The intention of fear is to lead to that which shall annihilate it, and take away its cause. There is nothing more ridiculous, nothing more likely to betray a man, than the indulgence in an idle fear which does nothing to prevent its own fulfilment. Horses in a burning stable are so paralysed by dread that they cannot stir, and get burnt to death. I fear; then what do I do? Nothing! And that is true about hosts of us. What ought I to do? Let the dread direct me to its source--my own sinfulness. Let the discovery of my own sinfulness direct me to its remedy--the righteousness and the Cross of Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, can deal with the disturbing element in my relation to God. So my fear should proclaim to me the merciful “name that is above every name,” and drive me as well as draw me to Christ, the Conqueror of sin and the Antagonist of all dread. I think we shall scarcely understand the religion of love unless we recognise that dread is a legitimate part of an unforgiven man’s attitude towards God. My fear should be to me like the misshapen guide that may lead me to the fortress where I shall be safe. Oh! do not tamper with the wholesome sense of dread. Do not let it lie, generally sleeping, and now and then awaking in your hearts and bringing about nothing.

    III. Lastly, the expulsion of fear. My text points out the natural antagonism and mutual exclusiveness of these two emotions. If I go to Jesus Christ as a sinful man, and get His love bestowed upon me, then, as the next verse to my text says, my love springs in response to His to me, and in the measure in which that love rises in my heart will it frustrate its antagonistic dread. As I said, you cannot love and fear the same person, unless the love is of a very rudimentary and imperfect character. But just as when you pour pure water into a bladder, the poisonous gases that it may have contained will be driven out before it, so when love comes in dread goes out. But remember that it is “perfect love” which “casts out fear.” Inconsistent as the two emotions are in themselves, in practice, they may be united by reason of the imperfection of the nobler. And in the Christian life they are united with terrible frequency. There are many professing Christian people who live all their days with a burden of shivering dread upon their shoulders and an icy cold fear in their hearts, just because they have not got close enough to Jesus Christ, and kept their hearts with sufficient steadfastness under the quickening influences of His love, to have shaken off their dread as a sick man’s distempered fancies. A little love has not mass enough in it to drive out thick, clustering fears. See that you resort only to the sane, sound way of getting rid of the wholesome, rational dread of which I have been speaking. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

    A soul-tormenting fear and a fear-expelling love

    I. A soul-tormenting fear.

    1. This slavish fear is co extensive with the unregenerate race. A slavish fear of--

    2. This slavish fear is ever associated with mental suffering. It makes the present miserable by its horrid forebodings of the future.

    II. A fear-expelling love. This includes--

    1. A consciousness that God loves us.

    2. A settled confidence in God’s fatherly regard for us.

    3. The influential dwelling of God within us.

    4. The extinction by God of all selfishness within us.

    Conclusion: This subject--

    1. Supplies the test of true religion.

    2. Indicates the criterion of true preaching.

    3. Shows the philosophy of the gospel. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

    Fear and love

    The words of St. John as to fear and love would probably startle us if they were less familiar. What they say is, in effect, that “fear” and “love” are, as such, in antagonism; that in proportion as “love” gains strength, it tends to oust “fear”; that to be, in a religious sense, under the influence of “fear,” is to be in an imperfect condition with regard to “love.” And yet Scripture assigns to fear a considerable place in the apparatus, so to speak, of religious motives and forces (Luke 12:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Peter 1:17). In such passages the underlying purport is obvious: “Do this, avoid that, or it will be the worse for you: obey, on peril of the consequences of disobedience.” How, then, will the text stand when confronted with a line of address at once so authoritative, so luminous, and so stern? The answer is, that our Lord and St. Peter and St. Paul are urging men to fear the penal consequence of sin, considered in their whole length and breadth, and concentrated into that one supremely terrible, consequence--perpetual exclusion from the presence of God; whereas St. John is looking at “fear” of penal suffering considered in itself--the dread of hell, pure and simple. This is the fear which, he says, “hath torment,” or rather “punishment”; it carries punishment in its bosom. It regards God not as the all holy and all-good Father, who has every right to filial obedience, but as an irresistible Power, not to be trifled with or escaped from, who can and will inflict tremendous penalties on those who venture to defy His authority. Fear of punishment, either as imminent or as distant, is not a false or bad principle of action in its own place and for its own time. It is appropriate for the earlier stage of spiritual training; it marks a stage in the moral progress through which the Supreme Educator, Divinely equitable and patient, conducts His children by slow steps, in consideration of hearts not fully softened and consciences not thoroughly enlightened, which, as yet, are unfit for a high religious standard. Is not this “fear” worth something? Bishop Andrewes, alluding to it, observes that it is “as the base court to the temple,” and adds that a man must do his duty “for fear of punishment, if he cannot get himself to do it for love of righteousness.” As St. Augustine says, this is not the fear that “is clean”--it arises not out of love of God, but out of the terror of suffering; yet it may make the whole difference to a person’s moral future whether, at a particular critical time, he has it, or has it not. If he has it, he resists the temptation, he does not commit the sin; and that is to gain much. The perilous hour is got through safely; the conscience escapes a defilement and a burden; the ground so far, is clear for the further operations of grace. And these will, by degrees, absorb the fear of punishment, simply as such--into what? Into such a love for God as excludes all fear whatsoever? No, rather into a fear which is so absolutely compatible with love that it may even be said to grow out of love, to be contained in love’s very heart. For what is the love here intended, but a closer and closer adhesion to the will of God as the supreme good, an ever growing desire to please Him and to be right with Him, because He is what He is to us? But as long as we live, failure is possible; there must be the possibility of ultimate failure, even on the part of the gray-haired saint, as Bunyan in his “dream” saw that “there was a way to hell from the gates of heaven as well as from the city of destruction”; as, before now, men have fallen from God at their very “lust hour.” And that possibility involves a fear which dwells not on the mere pain of future punishment, but on that which is the essential and misery of hell--the forfeiture of the life giving love of God. This fear may be called filial, and not servile; for in proportion as a child loves heartily a good parent, the more solicitous will he be not to grieve, displease, disappoint that parent by an exhibition of thankless perversity. (W. Bright, D. D.)

    Fear has many eyes. Fear hath punishment

    (R.V.):--This is true in two ways--

    Fear

    by anticipating punishment has it even now. (Dean Alford.)

    Perfect Love

    Love is like honey, but perfect love is like the honey with all the comb and wax strained out. Love is like fire, but pure love is like the same fire free from all smoke and soot. Love is like water, but unmixed love is like the same water freed from all earthy matter. Love is like light, but simple and perfect love is like the same light freed from all cloud, and fog, and smoke. (G. D. Watson.)


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    Bibliography
    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 John 4:18". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-john-4.html. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    The apostle John here presents one after another "all but impossible levels of Christian attainment";[44] (1) the love of all people with a self-sacrificing love like that of Christ; (2) the living of a life free from every sin; (3) confidence in the hour of the final judgment when people are pleading for the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them; and (4) the banishment of all fear; and notice that last phrase made perfect in love. Is this anything less than the total God-like perfection enjoined by Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:48? Indeed, it is the same thing, exhibited, even as it was by the author of James, as God's basic requirement of all who would be saved! Impossible for people? Certainly, except in the manner revealed in Christ. To those who are "in Christ" and who abide in him, loving him, following him, obeying him to the fullest extent of human ability - to all such persons shall be given and certified the very blessings in view here; and thus "in Christ" they may attain the unattainable!

    ENDNOTE:

    [44] Amos N. Wilder, op. cit., p. 286.


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    Bibliography
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-john-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    There is no fear in love,.... In the love of the brethren; where that is, there is no fear: so far as that prevails and gains ground, fear removes; not the filial fear of God, the new covenant grace of fear, which is the beginning of wisdom, and is consistent with faith, hope, love, and spiritual joy; but either the fear of men, which brings a snare: those that truly love Christ, his Gospel, and his people, they are not afraid of men; the spirit of power, love, and of a sound mind, is opposite to a spirit of fear, nor can they stand together; and such strength there is sometimes in brotherly love, that the saints are not afraid of death itself, but freely lay down their lives for one another; see 1 John 3:16; or it may be rather, that they are not afraid of the day of judgment, and of hell and damnation; where hatred of the brethren has place, there is a fear and dread of these things, as were in Cain; but those that love the brethren, they know they are passed from death to life, and shall not enter into condemnation, and therefore are in no fear of any of these things:

    but perfect love casteth out fear; when love to the brethren appears to be perfect, that is, genuine and sincere, and a man knows that from the bottom of his heart he sincerely loves the saints, he concludes from hence, as he may, the truth of his faith, which works in this way; and this frees him from the fears of men and devils, and of the future judgment and wrath to come. The Jews have a sayingF23Zohar in Exod. fol. 87. 1. ,

    "worthy is his portion that rules over the place of fear, for lo, there is nothing that rules over the degree of "fear" but "love".'

    Because fear hath torment: it distresses a man, fills him with anguish, and makes him restless and uneasy, and keeps him in servitude; through the fear of men, of the devil, death, judgment, and hell, he is all his lifetime, or as long as this fear lasts, subject to bondage: or "fear has punishment", as it may be rendered, and is by the Vulgate Latin version; it is a punishment itself to a man; and its being criminal deserves punishment, and is punishable; see Revelation 21:8;

    he that feareth is not made perfect in love; or "by love"; that is, he that is possessed, and under the power of a servile fear of punishment, is one who is not, by the love to the brethren, made to appear to himself to be a sincere lover of God, and true believer in Christ; for was he, he would not be in fear of destruction and death, since whoever truly loves God, and believes in Christ, shall certainly be saved; though such persons, at times, may not be without their doubts and fears.


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    Bibliography
    Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-john-4.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    There is no k fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    (k) If we understand by love, that we are in God, and God in us, that we are sons, and that we know God, and that everlasting life is in us: he concludes correctly, that we may well gather peace and quietness by this.

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    Bibliography
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-john-4.html. 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    Fear has no place in love. Bold confidence (1 John 4:17), based on love, cannot coexist with fear. Love, which, when perfected, gives bold confidence, casts out fear (compare Hebrews 2:14, Hebrews 2:15). The design of Christ‘s propitiatory death was to deliver from this bondage of fear.

    but — “nay” [Alford].

    fear hath tormentGreek, “punishment.” Fear is always revolving in the mind the punishment deserved [Estius]. Fear, by anticipating punishment (through consciousness of deserving it), has it even now, that is, the foretaste of it. Perfect love is incompatible with such a self-punishing fear. Godly fear of offending God is quite distinct from slavish fear of consciously deserved punishment. The latter fear is natural to us all until love casts it out. “Men‘s states vary: one is without fear and love; another, with fear without love; another, with fear and love; another, without fear with love” [Bengel].


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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.

    Bibliography
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-john-4.html. 1871-8.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    Fear (ποβοςphobos). Like a bond-slave (Romans 8:15), not the reverence of a son (ευλαβειαeulabeia Hebrews 5:7.) or the obedience to a father (εν ποβωιen phobōi 1 Peter 1:17). This kind of dread is the opposite of παρρησιαparrēsia (boldness).

    Perfect love (η τελεια αγαπηhē teleia agapē). There is such a thing, perfect because it has been perfected (1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:17). Cf. James 1:4.

    Casteth out fear (εχω βαλλει τον ποβονexō ballei ton phobon). “Drives fear out” so that it does not exist in real love. See εκβαλλω εχωekballō exō in John 6:37; John 9:34.; John 12:31; John 15:6 to turn out-of-doors, a powerful metaphor. Perfect love harbours no suspicion and no dread (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).

    Hath punishment (κολασιν εχειkolasin echei). Old word, in N.T. only here and Matthew 25:46. ΤιμωριαTimōria has only the idea of penalty, κολασιςkolasis has also that of discipline, while παιδειαpaideia has that of chastisement (Hebrews 12:7). The one who still dreads (ποβουμενοςphoboumenos) has not been made perfect in love (ου τετελειωταιou teteleiōtai). Bengel graphically describes different types of men: “sine timore et amore; cum timore sine amore; cum timore et amore; sine timore cum amore


    Copyright Statement
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    Bibliography
    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-john-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    There is no fear in love ( φόβος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ )

    Lit., fear is not. It has no existence. The fear is that spoken of in 1 Peter 1:17; Hebrews 12:28; godly fear; filial reverence; not slavish fear, as Romans 8:15. In love, lit., the love, that perfected love of which John has been speaking.

    Perfect ( τελεία )

    Not perfected, as 1 John 4:17but perfect as the result of having been perfected. Compare Hebrews 5:14; James 1:4; James 3:2.

    Casteth out ( ἔξω βάλλει )

    A strong expression: turneth out of doors. Fear is cast out of the sphere of the fellowship of love. See the phrase in John 6:37; John 9:34, John 9:35; John 12:31; John 15:6.

    Hath torment ( κόλασιν ἔχει )

    Torment is a faulty translation. The word means punishment, penalty. It occurs in the New Testament only here and Matthew 25:46. The kindred verb, κολάζομαι topunish, is found Acts 4:21; 2 Peter 2:9. Note the present tense, hath. The punishment is present. Fear by anticipating punishment has it even now. The phrase hath punishment (see on John 16:22) indicates that the punishment is inherent in the fear. Fear carries its own punishment. Augustine, commenting on the expulsion of fear by love, says: “As in sewing, we see the thread passed through by the needle. The needle is first pushed in, but the thread cannot be introduced until the needle is brought out. So fear first occupies the mind, but does not remain permanently, because it entered for the purpose of introducing love.” The words because fear hath punishment are parenthetical.

    He that feareth

    The A.V. omits and ( δὲ ), which is important as closely connecting this clause with there is no fear in love, etc. That is an abstract statement; this is personal; two modes of stating the same truth. Rev. “and he that feareth.”

    Is not made perfect

    “Men's condition is varied; without fear and love; with fear without love; with fear and love; without fear with love” (Bengel).


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    Bibliography
    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-john-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    There is no fear in love — No slavish fear can be where love reigns. But perfect, adult love casteth out slavish fear: because such fear hath torment - And so is inconsistent with the happiness of love. A natural man has neither fear nor love; one that is awakened, fear without love; a babe in Christ, love and fear; a father in Christ, love without fear.


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    Bibliography
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-john-4.html. 1765.

    Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

    Perfect love; established and genuine love.


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    Bibliography
    Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-john-4.html. 1878.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    18There is no fear He now commends the excellency of this blessing by stating the contrary effect, for he says that we are continually tormented until God delivers us from misery and anguish by the remedy of his own love towards us. The meaning is, that as there is nothing more miserable than to be harassed by continual inquietude, we obtain by knowing God’s love towards us the benefit of a peaceful calmness beyond the reach of fear. It hence appears what a singular gift of God it is to be favored with his love. Moreover from this doctrine, he will presently draw an exhortation; but before he exhorts us to duty, he commends to us this gift of God, which by faith removes our fear.

    This passage, I know, is explained otherwise by many; but I regard what the Apostle means, not what others think. They say that there is no fear in love, because, when we voluntarily love God, we are not constrained by force and fear to serve him. Then according to them, servile fear is here set in opposition to voluntary reverence; and hence has arisen the distinction between servile and filial fear. I indeed allow it to be true, that when we willingly love God as a Father, we are no longer constrained by the fear of punishment; but this doctrine has nothing in common with this passage, for the Apostle only teaches us, that when the love of God is by us seen and known by faith, peace is given to our consciences, so that they no longer tremble and fear.

    It may, however, be asked, when does perfect love expel fear, for since we are endued with some taste only of divine love towards us, we can never be wholly freed from fear? To this I answer, that, though fear is not wholly shaken off, yet when we flee to God as to a quiet harbor, safe and free from all danger of shipwreck and of tempests, fear is really expelled, for it gives way to faith. Then fear is not so expelled, but that it assails our minds, but it is so expelled that it does not torment us nor impede that peace which we obtain by faith.

    Fear hath torment Here the Apostle amplifies still further the greatness of that grace of which he speaks; for as it is a most miserable condition to suffer continual torments, there is nothing more to be wished than to present ourselves before God with a quiet conscience and a calm mind. What some say, that servants fear, because they have before their eyes punishment and the rod, and that they do not their duty except when forced, has nothing to do, as it has been already stated, with what the Apostle says here. So in the next clause, the exposition given, that he who fears is not perfect in love, because he submits not willingly to God, but would rather free himself from his service, does not comport at all with the context. For the Apostle, on the contrary, reminds us, that it is owing to unbelief when any one fears, that is, has a disturbed mind; for the love of God, really known, tranquilizes the heart. (88)

    “Fear” is the fear of judgment, mentioned in verse 17th, and he who fears is said to be not perfected or made perfect in love, which obviously refers to love in us. And then it immediately follows, “We love him,” and the reason is assigned, “because he first loved us.” He afterwards proceeds to show the indispensable necessity of having love to God and to the brethren — Ed.


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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-john-4.html. 1840-57.

    Scofield's Reference Notes

    perfect

    (See Scofield "Matthew 5:48").


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    Bibliography
    Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 1 John 4:18". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/1-john-4.html. 1917.

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

    LOVE AND FEAR

    ‘Perfect love casteth out fear.’

    1 John 4:18

    This principle, that ‘perfect love casteth out fear,’ is a universal principle, and belongs to all human things. It is shown most completely in religious matters; but it is also true that, wherever love rules, there fear has no place; that we do not fear or suspect those whom we love; and that this is true of us just in proportion as our love is true and strong.

    I. Trust in God, and confidence in Him, is really worship, even although we do not say a word or do any action, because it is an acknowledgment of His goodness and kindness; an expression of the soul’s feeling of safety when under His care.

    II. Think how sweet this confidence in God is; how it sheds a new light and a new glory over the weary duties we have in this world; how much more firmly we can plant our feet in difficult times of trial. This life is a very weary thing at times to us all. There is so much hardness in the world, so much meanness and dishonesty, so much suffering—and to express all that I mean in one word, so much sin—that even the most contented is tempted sometimes to murmur, to ask what good he is doing in the world, and what he has to look to when he leaves it. And unless we have a thorough confidence and belief in God’s care for us, and His power and wisdom in so caring for us; unless we can always fall back, in times of trial, upon the sure belief that God has brought us into the world for our good and His own glory; that He is guiding us through the world for the same good and wise reasons, we cannot be wholly at rest.

    III. And yet few persons know how little and how weakly they trust in God.—Most Christians take it so much for granted that they have a sure trust and confidence in Him that they never even ask themselves the question. But delay no longer to do so. Put off no longer a thing so important. Look into the depth of your own feelings, and consider what feelings you have towards God; whether you look to Him with trust and confidence—with that boundless and perfect affection which swallows up and destroys any fear for yourself—any fears arising from the past—any dim apprehensions for the future; whether, like a happy child, your souls dwell in faith and trust on what little we know of God; whether it is so with you—or otherwise; whether you think of Him with disquiet; whether you turn away from the idea as unwelcome of one day being brought face to face with Him; whether like a thundercloud in a calm sky the thought of God and of a judgment to come flits by your mind before you can banish it. And you will be very unwise if you simply turn away from the question I am speaking of—if you decline to question yourself thus. Remember it is a matter that will not be always put off. It is a question that waits an answer—but not for ever; that suffers itself to be put aside—but only for a time; and the longer that time the more difficult will it be when you come to answer at last—as answer you must!


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    Bibliography
    Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-john-4.html. 1876.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    Ver. 18. There is no fear in love] But complacence and acquiescence in the person beloved.

    Perfect love casteth out fear] Timorem scilicet servilem illum, non amicalem. (Beda in Proverbs 1:1-33)

    Because fear hath torment] Quem metuunt, oderunt, Whomsoever men fear, they hate, saith the proverb. And odium timorem spirat, saith Tertullian. Hatred hath fear, which sets the soul on a rack, as it were, and renders it restless.


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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-john-4.html. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    1 John 4:18

    I. We can scarcely conceive how anything could live in such a world as this that had not the element of fear. For surely every part of life, not alone of the human family, but down to the lowest animated particles, has to struggle for its existence. One of the strangest things in the organisation of this world is the prevalence of a universal destructiveness. We are taught, and we believe, that God is a God of benevolence. We are taught, and we believe, that the world was ordained for the production of happiness. And yet, when the Apostle says that "the whole creation groans and travails in pain until now," every one who is conversant with history says, "Amen." Every one who looks out into life and takes cognisance of the things that are going on—the silent sufferings, the secret mischiefs, the wastes, and the wails that spread throughout the whole human family—every such one must feel that that which has been is, and will be.

    II. Fear was the lowest and earliest condition in the human development. As men rise in knowledge and virtue, they lose the need of fear. It still remains; it may exist in some external relations as long as we live upon the globe; but, in regard to our affections and moral sentiments, that fear which is indispensable in the development of a higher life grows less and less. Men take the first steps in their development because they fear; but afterwards their development is carried on by other influences. Civilisation progresses from a state of fear toward a state of tranquillity. It works through a realm of the lower appetites and passions, filled with pain, up toward a condition in which peace, and tranquillity, and quiet predominate, and are the characteristic elements. As society develops and as men grow stronger and larger, terrors cease, and the impact of overwhelming fear becomes less and less frequent. But fear is not gone. It has taken on a latent form. That is, it has associated itself with other faculties. It acts now as an auxiliary to all the different feelings. In the beginning it acts by itself, but by-and-by it acts with the higher qualities of the mind; and then come all the solicitudes and vigilances of love, for fear working with love produces vigilance and solicitude. Fear and love acting in conjunction create apprehensiveness. Blended together, they go to make a state of mind not without its charm, and oftentimes quite indispensable to the purposes of life.

    III. And when at last men have, by culture and training, passed out of the lower and voluntary states into the higher and involuntary ones; when habits have been formed, and have clustered themselves into groups, covering the whole circle of the mind, so that character is the result; when pain has done its work, and men are set upon that which is right because they love right, and not because they are afraid of penalty; when fear has wrought out its negative fruits, and inspired such growth that men come to the positive side, and love brightness because the sense of brightness is gratified, and love truth because there is that in them which is attracted by truth, and seek goodness with their whole social and moral being, because they are so lifted up that they hunger and thirst for it, then fear has no longer any function. Now they have risen to such a state of purity, and of beneficence, and of likeness to God that they live in a higher sphere and on a nobler plane, and work by the positive attractions of good, and not by the fear of the mischiefs of evil. But this is a long course. It is the final result. It is not the beginning, but the ending, of our training in life.

    H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 212.


    I. Consider the truth, "There is no fear in love." There is no fear (1) of God's majesty. God's grandeur gives not birth to dread within the Christian's soul. There is enough majesty to overawe a universe, but not too much for the weakest saint to joy in. He knows his God, and love has cast out fear. Nor is he afraid (2) of Divine power. Though he knows that God's right hand hath omnipotence, yet does he not dread its power. Nay, it is just because God has unlimited power that he triumphs in Him. The very might of God, instead of being a thought to crush with terror, becomes one of the themes of his daily song. (3) There will be no dread, either, in approaching Him in prayer. The soul that is filled with love cannot come to God trembling like a slave. It comes with reverential, but delightful, awe; it comes with its spirit bowed, and oftentimes with its face veiled with shame, yet with holy confidence.

    II. Let us seek to know a little more of this by experience. The sad thing is that there are so many who seem content with a low, dull level of mediocrity in love for Christ. How few there are who seem to climb the mount of love until they attain a sublime, position. Let us daily ask the Lord to cause love to Him to become an all-absorbing passion, until this text shall be true in our own experience.

    A. G. Brown, Penny Pulpit, New Series, No. 1088.

    Fear and Love.

    I. Scripture assigns to fear a considerable place in the apparatus, so to speak, of religious motives and forces. Fear of punishment, either as imminent or distant, is not a false or bad principle of action in its own place and for its own time. It is appropriate for the earlier stage of spiritual training. It is commonly called "servile"; but until a soul can realise its sonship the servant's position is the one which it must occupy, and it has, at any rate, the assurance of bread enough for present needs. Bishop Andrewes, alluding to fear, observes that it is "as the base-court to the temple"; and adds that a man must do his duty "for fear of punishment, if he cannot get himself to do it for love of righteousness." So long as we are still under probation, there must be the possibility of ultimate failure even on the part of the grey-haired saint, as Bunyan in his dream saw that there was a way to hell from the gate of heaven as well as from the City of Destruction, as before now men have fallen from God at their very last hour, as once, according to a most impressive story, an ail-but martyr became through unforgivingness an apostate. And that possibility involves a fear which dwells not on the mere pain of future punishment, but on that which is the essential and central misery of hell: the forfeiture of the life-giving love of God.

    II. A religion which professes to dispense with this kind of fear, on the ground that Christianity has discarded it as a permanent motive and that rational piety involves an assurance which makes it needless, may be very attractive and become widely popular, but it is not the religion of Scripture and the Church. One may suspect that its estimate of sin is gravely defective. Let our fear of grieving and quenching the Spirit, of wounding the heart of Jesus Christ, of losing our place in the house of our Father, be steadfast and perpetual in companionship with love.

    W. Bright, Morality in Doctrine, p. 209.


    I. The Apostle here contemplates a universal dominion of fear wherever there is not the presence of active love. Of course he is speaking about the emotions which men cherish with regard to God. It is not fear and love generally that he is talking about, but it is the relation in which we stand to our Father in heaven; and of that he says universally, Those that do not love Him fear Him. Is that true? It is not difficult, I think, to establish it. (1) This universal dominion of fear rests on a universal consciousness of sin. (2) This truth is not made in the least degree doubtful by the fact that the ordinary condition of men is not one of active dread of God. There is nothing more striking than the power we have of forcing ourselves to forget, because we know that it is dangerous to remember.

    II. Note the fearlessness of love, how perfect love casts out fear. Love is no weak thing, no mere sentiment. It does not ally itself most naturally with feeble natures, or with the feeble parts of a man's nature. It is the bravest of all human emotions. It makes heroes as its natural work. The spirit of love is always the spirit of power, if it be the spirit likewise of a sound mind. The love of God entering into a man's heart destroys fear. All the attributes of God come to be on our side. He that loves has the whole Godhead for him. The love of God casts out the fear of God; the love of God casts out all other fear. Every affection makes him who cherishes it in some degree braver than he would have been without it. It is not self-reliance which makes the hero. It is having the heart filled with passionate enthusiasm, born of love for some person or for some thing. Love is gentle, but it is omnipotent, victor over all. It is the true hero, and martyr if need be, in the human heart. Note these lessons: (1) they that love ought not to fear; (2) they that fear ought to love.

    A. Maclaren, Sermons in Manchester, vol. i., p. 200.


    References: 1 John 4:18.—G. Bainton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 355; G. J. Proctor, Ibid., vol. xiv., p. 195; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xviii., p. 332; Ibid., vol. xxxi., p. 84.


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    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    1 John 4:18. There is no fear in love, &c.— "This perfect love is of such a delightful nature, that though it be ever attended with a holy filial reverence of God, and cautious filial fear of offending; yet there is no distrustful or terrifying fear of God in it, as if he were our enemy. But this perfect love to him, and to our fellow-christians for his sake, when thus exalted to so high a pitch and fervour under a strong assurance of his love to us, banishes all diffident and slavish fear of God; because this sort of fear is a distressing passion, utterly inconsistent with this perfect love, and withthe sweetness, pleasure, and humble but strong confidence which flow therefrom. It is therefore a plain consequence, that he who has any servile dread of God, is far from living under thepowerofthisdelightful perfect love, which springs from the full assurance of faith, and enables us to consider God, not only as the most amiable object, infinitely lovely in himself, but as all love to us."


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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-john-4.html. 1801-1803.

    Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

    DISCOURSE: 2460

    INFLUENCE AND IMPORTANCE OF LOVE

    1 John 4:18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    THE essence of all true religion is love—love to God, working by love to man. Both tables of the law are fulfilled in this: and to bring us to such a state of mind is no less the intent of the Gospel, than of the law itself. St. John, than whom no inspired writer more fully unfolds the glories of the Gospel, abounds, more than any other Apostle, in exhortations to love. The preceding context more particularly insists on love to man: but the words before us, with the following context, speak rather of love to God. “We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God, love his brother also [Note: ver. 19–21.].” Were we to interpret the text as speaking of love to man, it would not admit of any satisfactory explanation: but, as referring to God, it sets love before us in a very instructive point of view, in that it marks,

    I. Its influence, as a principle—

    “Fear” is that passion which is chiefly dominant in the breast of fallen man—

    [Adam, before his fall, knew nothing of it: but, after his transgression, he fled from the face of God, and hid himself amongst the trees of the garden: and from that time, all the appearances of God or of angels to men have generated fear in the first instance; so that the persons most favoured with such visions, have needed to be encouraged by that reviving expression, “Fear not [Note: Luke 1:12-13; Luke 1:29-30.].” Indeed, the whole religion of the heathen world has its foundation in fear: love to their deities is never an operative principle in their hearts. Even amongst ourselves, till we are truly converted to God, the Supreme Being is rather an object of fear than of love; insomuch that we love not to hear of him, or to reflect on our future appearance before him. It is on this account that all which relates to God, his perfections, his purposes, yea, and even the mysteries of his grace and the wonders of his love, are, by universal consent, banished from our mutual intercourse and daily conversation: and, however cheerful a society may have been in their communications with each other, the introduction of such topics as death, judgment, heaven, and hell, would cast a damp upon it, and induce a gloom, or a contemptuous smile, on every countenance. The Scripture tells us, that this is the case with all; that “men, through the fear of death, are all their life-time subject to bondage [Note: Hebrews 2:15.]:” and that they are “like the troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt,” utterly destitute of any solid peace or rest [Note: Isaiah 57:20-21.].

    There may, indeed, be in men a thoughtless indifference: but this is only whilst they can shake off reflection. No man can think of God and of eternity without many fears and misgivings: and the very efforts which men use to dissipate all serious thought, clearly shew, that they do not dare to think, and that God is to them an object of dread, and not of love.]

    But “love will cast out fear”—

    [The two passions are opposed to each other, and counteract each other, as light and darkness: “there is no fear in love,” nor any love in fear: if love arise in the soul, fear will be dispelled, like the clouds of the morning: but if fear prevail again, it will draw over the soul the curtains of night. Fear is excited by a view of God, as formidable in himself, and as hostile to us: but love views him as altogether lovely in himself, and as loving to us; and, consequently, banishes from the soul the sensations which a different view of the Deity had produced. Love regards him as a Father, a Friend, a Saviour, “a Portion,” an “eternal great reward.” What room is there for fear, when such views are realized in the soul? I speak not, indeed, of a filial fear; because that is a very essential part of love: but a slavish fear, a “fear that has torment,” can find no place in a bosom that is filled with love. To a person who truly loves God, the thought of him will be sweet to the soul: and the more intimate he feels his access to God, the more sublime will be his joy. As for death, to such an one it has lost its sting: it is even numbered amongst his richest treasures: “All things, says he, are mine, whether life or death [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:22.].” And so far is he from dreading the approach of the eternal state, that “he looks for, and hastes unto, the coming of the day of Christ [Note: 2 Peter 3:12.];” and “longs to be dissolved, that he may be with Christ [Note: Philippians 1:21.].” I say not, that this feeling is constant, or without any alloy; but that to effect this is the proper influence of love; and that it will be effected in proportion as love abounds in the soul.]

    This view of love naturally leads us to consider,

    II. Its importance as a test—

    It is our privilege to be “made perfect in love”—

    [Love, like every other grace, is weak in its beginnings. But it should not be always so: like patience, it should “have its perfect work, that we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” The command of God is, that we should “love him with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength.” And if we owe to him this measure of love as our Creator, much more do we as our Redeemer. After this, therefore, we should aspire: and, whatever our attainments in it be, we should be labouring daily to increase more and more; having more of a Spirit of love; and more of that “Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”]

    Of its precise measure we may judge, by the remains of fear abiding in us—

    [Examine with what feelings you contemplate God: examine what it is that chiefly operates to keep you from offending him, and what it is that chiefly stimulates you to duty: examine what your views are of death and judgment; whether they be dreaded as objects of fear, or desired as completing and consummating your bliss.

    As for that horror to which some persons are subject at the sight of a reptile or an insect, it has nothing to do with the present subject: it is a mere constitutional weakness, to which a child of God may be exposed as well as others. Love will not produce much effect on that, except as it will habituate the mind to confide in God, and to commit every thing to him. But in all things that are the proper objects of faith, love has full scope for exercise; and will present them to the mind in so favourable a view, as to cast out all fear in relation to them.

    Behold then, I say, the two emotions are like the scales of a balance: where fear preponderates, love will be found but light: but where love abounds, fear will in vain strive for an ascendant. To judge of love by its own direct workings, may not be easy; because the warmth of our feelings towards God may depend, in a measure, on the constitutional temperament of our minds: but by its influence in dissipating and dispelling our fears, we may attain a correct judgment respecting it: if it be “perfect, it will cast out our fears;” but “if we fear, we are not yet made perfect in love.”]

    Address—

    1. Those who have neither love nor fear—

    [We have before said, that there may be persons of this character, who have so hardened their hearts, and seared their consciences as to have contracted an insensibility to God and eternal things. And I am constrained to acknowledge, that many are found in this state even in a dying hour. But if they be deaf to the voice of conscience here, it will be heard at the instant of their departure hence. Could we but behold the obdurate sinner, or the scoffing infidel, on his first entrance into the presence of his God; does his boldness continue there? No: he cries to “the rocks to fall upon him, and the hills to cover him from the face of the Lamb,” whose warnings he disregarded, and whose threatenings he despised. Yes, beloved; though now more fearless than the devils (for they believe and tremble), you will then know what “a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God.”

    But is it fear that I wish to excite in your minds? Certainly not, except as a preparatory work. I wish your religion to begin with fear: but God forbid that it should end there. No: it must be carried on by love, if ever it shall terminate in joy. Yet, till we are made sensible of our lost condition as sinners, we shall in vain hope to attain the peace and happiness of saints.]

    2. To those who are under the influence of both fear and love—

    [These opposite feelings are compatible with each other, in the earlier period of our conversion. The day springs not forth at once in the natural world; nor does piety arrive at its meridian height at once in the spiritual world. But, to imagine that the entertaining of doubts and fears is a mark of humility, is quite erroneous: such a doubtful state of mind is rather an indication of ignorance and pride, than of true humility. For, granting that the progress which we have made in the divine life may be very small, still our duty is to lay hold on the divine promises, and to cast ourselves altogether on the Lord Jesus Christ as the appointed Saviour of the world. The smallness of our attainments, or the strength of our corruptions, may well beget humility: but they should never lead us to doubt the sufficiency of Christ to save us. Were we in the lowest state to which a sinner can be reduced, our duty would be to believe in Christ, and to flee to him as to the refuge set before us. It is faith which is the parent of love; and not unbelief: and therefore I say to all, Limit not the mercy of your God; but “against hope, believe in hope.” It is worthy of observation, that the language of doubts and fears is confined to the Old-Testament dispensation. Such bondage becomes not our happier lot: it is dishonourable to God, and injurious to ourselves. Cast it off then; and seek to enjoy the full liberty of the Gospel. “The Son who has made you free, would have you free indeed.”

    I would, indeed, guard you against that kind of confidence which is founded on vain delusions. There are some who, from impulses, or visions, or other delusive imaginations, attain a confidence which they will not for a moment suffer to be questioned. But this is not the confidence of love. Love is jealous of itself; and is glad to have its actings scrutinized with the utmost exactness. Love affects the honour of God; and is infinitely more anxious that he should be glorified, than that its own defects should be concealed. The getting rid of fear is not at all the object of love, but the effect of it. Let the one endeavour of your souls be to glorify your God; and with the growth of your love shall your peace and joy be multiplied, both in time and in eternity.]


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    Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/1-john-4.html. 1832.

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

    1 John 4:18 serves to establish the preceding thought, that love has its perfection in παῤῥησία.

    φόβος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ] The thought is quite general in its character: “where love is, there is no fear” (Ebrard); φόβος is therefore not specially the fear of God, and by ἀγάπη we are not to understand specially love to God, but at the same time this general thought is certainly expressed here in reference to the relationship to God. It is quite erroneous to explain ἀγάπη here, with Calvin, Calovius, Flacius, Spener, etc., as “the love of God to us;”(280) but it is also incorrect, with Lücke and others, to understand by it, specially, brotherly love.(281)

    The preposition ἐν is not = with (à Mons: ne se trouve avec la charité); Luther correctly: “Fear is not in love;” i.e. it is not an element in love, it is something utterly foreign to it, which only exists outside it. By the following words: ἀλλʼ τελεία ἀγάπη ἔξω βάλλει τὸν φόβον, the preceding thought is confirmed and expanded: love not only has no fear in it, but it does not even endure it; where it enters, there must fear completely vanish. Beza inadequately paraphrases the adjective τελεία by: sincera, opposita simulationi; it is not love in its first beginnings, love which is still feeble, but love in its perfection, that completely casts out fear. The reason why love does not suffer fear to be along with it is: ὅτι φόβος κόλασιν ἔχει. The word κόλασις (besides here, only in Matthew 25:46; comp. Wisdom of Solomon 11:14; Wisdom of Solomon 16:2; Wisdom of Solomon 16:24; Wisdom of Solomon 19:4) has always the meaning of “punishment” (also LXX. Ezekiel 14:3-4; Ezekiel 14:7; Ezekiel 18:30; Ezekiel 44:12, as incorrect translation of מִכְשַׁוֹל ); if we adhere to this meaning, that expression can only mean: fear has punishment, in which case that which it has to expect is regarded as inherent in it, just as on the other hand it could be said: ἀγάπη ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον (this being considered as future happiness, as in Matthew 25:46); this idea has nothing against it, for fear, as rooted in unbelief, is in itself deserving of punishment, and therein lies the reason ( ὅτι) why perfect love casteth out fear.(282) Several commentators, however, explain κόλασις by “pain,” thinking that “here causa is put pro effectu” (Ebrard), or, in more correspondence with the thought, by “pain of punishment” (Besser, Braune, so also previously in this comm.); similarly Lücke explains κόλασις = “consciousness of punishment.” The thought that then results is indeed right in itself, for “certainly this having of κόλασις does actually show itself in the consciousness or the pain of the expectation of punishment” (Brückner); but such a change in the meaning of the idea κόλασις cannot be grammatically justified. The following sentence: δὲ φοβούμενος οὐ τετελείωται ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ, which is not connected with the subordinate clause ὅτι φόβος κ. τ. λ., but with the preceding principal clause, does not contain a conclusion from this ( δέ is not = οὖν), but (as Braune also thinks) expresses the same thought in negative form (hence the connection by δέ); only with this difference, that what was there expressed in an objective way, here receives a subjective aspect. It needs no proof that the apostle has in view in this verse no other fear than that of which Paul says, Romans 8:15 : οὐκ ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα δουλείας πάλιν εἰς φόβον, and therefore not the childlike awe of God arising from the consciousness of God’s glory, which forms an essential element of love to God.(283) The conjectures of Grotius, instead of κόλασιν: κόλουσιν (i.e. mutilationem; so that the sense is: “metus amorem mutilat atque infringit, aut prohibet, ne se exserat”), and instead of φοβούμενος: κολουόμενος (“qui mutilatur aut impeditur in dilectione, is in ea perfectus non est”); and that of Lamb. Bos: instead of κόλασιν, κώλυσιν, are not merely useless, but even rob the thought of the apostle of its peculiar force.


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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-john-4.html. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    1 John 4:18. φόβος, fear) which shrinks from God and the day of judgment. The condition of men is varied: without fear and love; with fear without love; with fear and love; without fear with love.— ἀγάπῃ, love) towards God.— τελεία, perfect) To this refers, is brought to its consummation.— κόλασιν ἔχει, has torment) For it distrusts: it imagines to itself and sets forth all things as unfriendly and opposed to it; it flees from and hates them.


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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-john-4.html. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    That he proveth from the contrary natures of fear and love. The fear which is of the baser kind, viz. that is servile, and depresses the spirit, hath no place with love, but is excluded by it, by the same degrees by which that love grows up to perfection, and shall be quite excluded by that love fully perfected: inasmuch as love is a pleasant, fear a tormenting, passion, which, as such, while it remains, shows the imperfection of love.


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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-john-4.html. 1685.

    Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

    1 John

    LOVE AND FEAR

    1 John 4:18.

    John has been speaking of boldness, and that naturally suggests its opposite--fear. He has been saying that perfect love produces courage in the day of judgment, because it produces likeness to Christ, who is the Judge. In my text he explains and enlarges that statement. For there is another way in which love produces boldness, and that is by its casting out fear. These two are mutually exclusive. The entrance of the one is for the other a notice to quit. We cannot both love and fear the same person or thing, and where love comes in, the darker form slips out at the door; and where Love comes in, it brings hand in hand with itself Courage with her radiant face. But boldness is the companion of love, only when love is perfect. For, inconsistent as the two emotions are, love, in its earlier stages and lower degrees, is often perturbed and dashed by apprehension and dread.

    Now John is speaking about the two emotions in themselves, irrespective, so far as his language goes, of the objects to which they are directed. What he is saying is true about love and fear, whatever or whosoever may be loved or dreaded. But the context suggests the application in his mind, for it is ‘boldness before him’ about which he has been speaking; and so it is love and fear directed towards God which are meant in my text. The experience of hosts of professing Christians is only too forcible a comment upon the possibility of a partial Love lodging in the heart side by side with a fellow-lodger, Fear, whom it ought to have expelled. So there are three things here that I wish to notice--the empire of fear, the mission of fear, and the expulsion of fear.

    I. The empire of fear.

    Fear is a shrinking apprehension of evil as befalling us, from the person or thing which we dread. My text brings us face to face with that solemn thought that there are conditions of human nature, in which the God who ought to be our dearest joy and most ardent desire becomes our ghastliest dread. The root of such an unnatural perversion of all that a creature ought to feel towards its loving Creator lies in the simple consciousness of discordance between God and man, which is the shadow cast over the heart by the fact of sin. God is righteous; God righteously administers His universe. God enters into relations of approval or disapproval with His responsible creature. Therefore there lies, dormant for the most part, but present in every heart, and active in the measure in which that heart is informed as to itself, the slumbering, cold dread that between it and God things are not as they ought to be.

    I believe, for my part, that such a dumb, dim consciousness of discord attaches to all men, though it is often smothered, often ignored, and often denied. But there it is; the snake hibernates, but it is coiled in the heart all the same; and warmth will awake it. Then it lifts its crested head, and shoots out its forked tongue, and venom passes into the veins. A dread of God is the ghastliest thing in the world, the most unnatural, but universal, unless expelled by perfect love.

    Arising from that discomforting consciousness of discord there come, likewise, other forms and objects of dread. For if I am out of harmony with Him, what will be my fate in the midst of a universe administered by Him, and in which all are His servants? Oh! I sometimes wonder how it is that godless men front the facts of human life and do not go mad. For here are we, naked, feeble, alone, plunged into a whirlpool, from the awful vortices of which we cannot extricate ourselves. There foam and swirl all manner of evils, some of them certain, some of them probable, any of them possible, since we are at discord with Him who wields all the forces of the universe, and wields them all with a righteous hand. ‘The stars in their courses fight against’ the man that does not fight for God. Whilst all things serve the soul that serve Him, all are embattled against the man that is against, or not for, God and His will.

    Then there arises up another object of dread, which, in like manner, derives all its power to terrify and to hurt from the fact of our discordance with God; and that is ‘the shadow feared of man,’ that stands shrouded by the path, and waits for each of us.

    God; God’s universe; God’s messenger, Death--these are facts with which we stand in relation, and if our relations with Him are out of gear, then He and all of these are legitimate objects of dread to us.

    But now there is something else that casts out fear than perfect love, and that is--perfect levity. For it is the explanation of the fact that so many of us know nothing of this fear of which I speak, and fancy that I am exaggerating, or putting forward false views. There is a type of man, and I have no doubt there are some of its representatives among my hearers, who are below both fear and love as directed towards God; for they never think about Him, or trouble their heads concerning either Him or their relations to Him or anything that flows therefrom. It is a strange faculty that we all have, of forgetting unwelcome thoughts and shutting our eyes to the things that we do not want to see, like Nelson when he puts the telescope to his blind eye at Copenhagen, because he would not obey the signal of recall. But surely it is an ignoble thing that men should ignore or shuffle out of sight with inconsiderateness the real facts of their condition, like boys whistling in a churchyard to keep their spirits up, and saying, ‘Who’s afraid?’ just because they are so very much afraid. Ah, dear friends, do not rest until you face the facts, and having faced them, have found the way to reverse them! Surely, surely it is not worthy of men to turn away from anything so certain as that between a sin-loving man and God there must exist such a relation as will bring evil and sorrow to that man, as surely as God is and he is. I beseech you, take to heart these things, and do not turn away from them with a shake of your shoulders, and say, ‘He is preaching the narrow, old-fashioned doctrine of a religion of fear.’ No! I am not. But I am preaching this plain fact, that a man who is in discord with God has reason to be afraid, and I come to you with the old exhortation of the prophet, ‘Be troubled, ye careless ones.’ For there is nothing more ignoble or irrational than security which is only made possible by covering over unwelcome facts. ‘Be troubled’; and let the trouble lead you to the Refuge.

    II. That brings me to the second point--viz., the mission of fear.

    John uses a rare word in my text when he says ‘fear hath torment.’ ‘Torment’ does not convey the whole idea of the word. It means suffering, but suffering for a purpose; suffering which is correction; suffering which is disciplinary; suffering which is intended to lead to something beyond itself. Fear, the apprehension of personal evil, has the same function in the moral world as pain has in the physical. It is a symptom of disease, and is intended to bid us look for the remedy and the Physician. What is an alarm bell for but to rouse the sleepers, and to hurry them to the refuge? And so this wholesome, manly dread of the certain issue of discord with God is meant to do for us what the angels did for Lot--to lay a mercifully violent hand on the shoulder of the sleeper, and shake him into aroused wakefulness, and hasten him out of Sodom, before the fire bursts through the ground, and is met by the fire from above. The intention of fear is to lead to that which shall annihilate it by taking away its cause.

    There is nothing more ridiculous, nothing more likely to destroy a man, than the indulgence in an idle fear which does nothing to prevent its own fulfilment. Horses in a burning stable are so paralysed by dread that they cannot stir, and get burnt to death. And for a man to be afraid--as every one ought to be who is conscious of unforgiven sin--for a man to be afraid and there an end, is absolute insanity. I fear; then what do I do? Nothing. That is true about hosts of us.

    What ought I to do? Let the dread direct me to its source, my own sinfulness. Let the discovery of my own sinfulness direct me to its remedy, the righteousness and the Cross of Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, can deal with the disturbing element in my relation to God. He can ‘deliver me from my enemies, for they are too strong for me.’ It is Christ and His work, Christ and His sacrifice, Christ and His indwelling Spirit that will grapple with and overcome sin and all its consequences, in any man and in every man; taking away its penalty, lightening the heart of the burden of its guilt, delivering from its love and dominion--all three of which things are the barbs of the arrows with which fear riddles heart and conscience. So my fear should proclaim to me the merciful ‘Name that is above every name,’ and drive me as well as draw me to Christ, the Conqueror of sin, and the Antagonist of all dread.

    Brethren, I said I was not preaching the religion of Fear. But I think we shall scarcely understand the religion of Love unless we recognise that dread is a legitimate part of an unforgiven man’s attitude towards God. My fear should be to me like the misshapen guide that may lead me to the fortress where I shall be safe. Oh, do not tamper with the wholesome sense of dread! Do not let it lie, generally sleeping, and now and then waking in your hearts, and bringing about nothing. Sailors that crash on with all sails set--stunsails and all--whilst the barometer is rapidly falling, and boding clouds are on the horizon, and the line of the approaching gale is ruffling the sea yonder, have themselves to blame if they founder. Look to the falling barometer, and make ready for the coming storm, and remember that the mission of fear is to lead you to the Christ who will take it away.

    III. Lastly, the expulsion of fear.

    My text points out the natural antagonism, and mutual exclusiveness, of these two emotions. If I go to Jesus Christ as a sinful man, and get His love bestowed upon me, then, as the next verse to my text says, my love springs in response to His to me, and in the measure in which that love rises in my heart will it frustrate its antagonistic dread.

    As I said, you cannot love and fear the same person, unless the love is of a very rudimentary and imperfect character. But just as when you pour pure water into a bladder, the poisonous gases that it may have contained will be driven out before it, so when love comes in, dread goes out. The river, turned into the foul Augean stables of the heart, will sweep out all the filth and leave everything clean. The black, greasy smoke-wreath, touched by the fire of Christ’s love, will flash out into ruddy flames, like that which has kindled them; and Christ’s love will kindle in your hearts, if you accept it and apprehend it aright, a love which shall burn up and turn into fuel for itself the now useless dread.

    But, brethren, remember that it is ‘perfect love’ which ‘casts out fear.’

    Inconsistent as the two emotions are in themselves, in practice, they may be united, by reason of the imperfection of the nobler. And in the Christian life they are united with terrible frequency. There are many professing Christian people who live all their days with a burden of shivering dread upon their shoulders, and an icy cold fear in their hearts, just because they have not got close enough to Jesus Christ, nor kept their hearts with sufficient steadfastness under the quickening influences of His love, to have shaken off their dread as a sick man’s distempered fancies. A little love has not mass enough in it to drive out thick, clustering fears. There are hundreds of professing Christians who know very little indeed of that joyous love of God which swallows up and makes impossible all dread, who, because they have not a loving present consciousness of a loving Father’s loving will, tremble when they front in imagination, and still more when they meet in reality, the evils that must come, and who cannot face the thought of death with anything but shrinking apprehension. There is far too much of the old leaven of selfish dread left in the experiences of many Christians. ‘I feared thee, because thou wert an austere man, and so, because I was afraid, I went and hid my talent, and did nothing for thee’ is a transcript of the experience of far too many of us. The one way to get deliverance is to go to Jesus Christ and keep close by Him.

    And my last word to you is, see that you resort only to the sane, sound way of getting rid of the wholesome, rational dread of which I have been speaking. You can ignore it; and buy immunity at the price of leaving in full operation the causes of your dread--and that is stupid. There is only one wise thing to do, and that is, to make sure work of getting rid of the occasion of dread, which is the fact of sin. Take all your sin to Jesus Christ; He will--and He only can--deal with it. He will lay His hand on you, as He did of old, with the characteristic word that was so often upon His lips, and which He alone is competent to speak in its deepest meaning. ‘Fear not, it is I,’ and He will give you the courage that He commands.

    ‘God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’ ‘Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father,’ and cling to Him, as a child who knows his father’s heart too well to be afraid of anything in his father, or of anything that his father’s hand can send.


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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/1-john-4.html.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    Fear hath torment; literally, fear hath punishment. It is this towards which fear looks, and the dread of it fills the soul with misery.


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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-john-4.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    18. Proof of the preceding statement that perfect love will give us boldness, by shewing the mutually exclusive nature of love and fear. Love moves towards others in the spirit of self-sacrifice: fear shrinks from others in the spirit of self-preservation. The two are to be understood quite generally; neither love of God nor fear of God is specially meant. In all relations whatever, perfect love excludes fear, and fear prevents love from being perfect. And the two vary inversely: the more perfect the love, the less possibility of fear; and the more the fear, the less perfect the love. But, though as certain as any physical law, the principle, that perfect love excludes all fear, is an ideal that has never been verified in fact. Like the first law of motion, it is verified by the approximations made to it. No believer’s love has ever been so perfect as entirely to banish fear; but every believer experiences that as his love increases his fear diminishes. It is worthy of note that S. John here abandons his antithetic method. He does not go on to state anything about him that feareth not. And rightly, for the absence of fear proves nothing: it may be the result of ignorance, or presumption, or indifference, or unbelief, or inveterate wickedness.

    Tertullian quotes this verse in insisting on the duty of suffering martyrdom, adding “What fear would it be better to understand than that which gives rise to denial (of Christ)? What love does he assert to be perfect, but that which puts fear to flight, and gives courage to confess (Christ)? What penalty will He appoint as the punishment of fear, but that which he who denies is to pay, who has to be slain, body and soul, in hell” (Scorp. XII.). Simon Magus is said to have “freed his disciples from the danger of death” by martyrdom, “by teaching them to regard idolatry as a matter of indifference” (Origen c. Celsum VI. xi).

    ὁ φόβος κόλασιν ἔχει. As R.V., fear hath punishment. ‘Torment’ would be βάσανος (Matthew 4:24; Luke 16:23; Luke 16:28). Wiclif has ‘peyne’ representing poena in the Vulgate. Other Versions have ‘painfulness’, Luther Pein. Κόλασις, common in classical Greek and not rare in LXX., occurs only here and Matthew 25:46 in N.T. Its primary meaning is ‘pruning’, and hence ‘checking, correcting, punishing’: whereas the primary meaning of βάσανος is ‘testing’, and hence ‘trying by torture, tormenting’. Comp. ἵνα τὴν λείπουσαν ταῖς βασάνοις προσαναπληρώσωσι κόλασιν (Wisdom of Solomon 19:4).

    ὁ δὲ φοβ. The δέ, omitted in A.V., connects this clause with the first one, ἀλλʼ … ἔχει being parenthetical. Wiclif has ‘forsothe’ and Purvey ‘but’, the Genevan, Rhemish, and R.V. have ‘and’. None are satisfactory, owing to the preceding ἀλλά. The passage is a good instance of the difference between ἀλλά and δέ (sed and autem, sondern and aber). The one introduces a sharp opposition, the other a qualification, objection, or contrast. Winer, 551, 552. The present participle indicates a constant condition: the habitual fearer is necessarily imperfect in his love.

    S. Paul teaches the same doctrine; ‘Ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father’ (Romans 8:15). The servile fear, which perfect love excludes, is therefore altogether different from the childlike awe, which is a necessary element in the creature’s love for its Creator. Even servile fear is necessary as a preparation for perfect love. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’; and it is also the beginning of love. The sinner must begin by fearing the God against whom he has sinned. Bengel gives the various stages thus: ‘Neither love nor fear; fear without love; both fear and love; love without fear’. Fear is the child of bondage; love of freedom. In this case also the bondwoman and her son must be cast out (Galatians 4:30).


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    "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-john-4.html. 1896.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    18.] Confidence in (or as understood, as to) that terrible day presupposes the absence of fear: and this casting out of fear is the very work of love, which in its perfect state cannot coexist with fear. Fear ( φόβος, abstract and general: anarthrous, on account of the negative predication) existeth not in love ( τῇ ἀγάπῃ, abstract and general also, as in 1 John 4:17; not “God’s love to us,” as Calv., Calov., Spener, al.: nor “brotherly love,” as Lücke, al.), nay perfect (see on τετελείωται in 1 John 4:17) love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment (see below): but he that feareth hath not been perfected in (his) love. The points here to be noticed are, 1) the emphatic οὐκ ἔστιν, which is better rendered as above, than “There is no fear in love,” in order to keep φόβος, which is the subject in the Greek, also the subject in the English:

    2) ἀλλά, which is not here the mere adversative after a negative clause, in which case it would refer to something in which fear is, e. g. φόβος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ, ἀλλʼ ( ἐστιν) ἐν τῷ μίσει: but it is the stronger adversative, implying “nay far otherwise:” “tantum abest ut … ut:”

    3) the argument in ἀλλʼ … ἔχει, which is doubly enthymematic, having in it two assumptions or suppressed premisses, α) that nothing having κόλασις can consist with perfect love: β) that fear is in us by nature and needs casting out in order to its absence:

    4) the meaning of κόλασιν ἔχει. There are two opinions: a) that κόλασις is merely pain or torment; so Aug(72) (“tormentum habet”), Erasmus (“punitionem seu potius cruciatum habet”), Tirinus (“parit animi perturbationem cruciatum et tormentum, ob impendens, quod metuit, malum seu pœnam”), Luther, Calvin, Schlichting, Beza (and E. V.), Piscator, Aretius, Episcopius, Rosenm., Bengel (“nam diffidit, omnia inimica et adversa sibi fingit ac proponit, fugit, odit”), Joach. Lange (who interprets it, compunction at the preaching of the law), Sander, al.:

    b) that κόλασις is properly punishment. So Lyra (but mistaking κ. ἔχει; “debetur pœna timori servili”), Corn.-a-lap., Estius (well: “pœnam, quam commeruit, semper animo versat”), Mayer, Seb.-Schmidt, Calov., Spener, Benson, Whitby, Baumg.-Crus., Neander, Lücke (includes in itself punishment, i. e. consciousness of deserving it), De Wette, Düsterd., Huther. And this last is certainly the sense, both from the usage of the word (reff.), and from the context, in which the day of judgment is before us. Fear, by anticipating punishment, has it even now; bears about a foretaste of it and so partakes of it:

    5) the last clause, ὁ δὲ φοβούμενος οὐ τετελείωται ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ, is intimately connected with what follows (see on 1 John 4:14) as well as with what went before. The δέ is adversative to the whole preceding sentence, ἡ τελεία ἀγάπη κ. τ. λ., and mainly to the idea of τελεία ἀγάπη therein expressed.

    As regards the absence of fear from the love of the Christian believer, it has been well observed by Œcum., that there are two kinds of godly fear, φόβος προκαταρκτικός, which afflicts men with a sense of their evil deeds and dread of God’s anger, and which is not abiding: and φόβος τελειωτικός, of which it is said, “The fear of the Lord is clean and endureth for ever,” Psalms 19, and which δέους τοιούτου ἀπήλλακται. And Bengel says in his brief pointed manner, “Varius hominum status: sine timore et amore: cum timore sine amore: cum timore et amore: sine timore cum amore.” The difference is finely wrought out by Augustine, in loc. Tract. ix. 5–8, vol. iii. p. 2048 ff.


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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-john-4.html. 1863-1878.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    18. No fear in love—They are contrary affections. So far as love is perfected so far is fear dispersed. So Bengel strikingly gives the grades of our moral state: “Without fear or love; with fear, but without love: with both love and fear; with love without fear.”

    Casteth out—The stronger and better affection expels the weaker and the worse.

    Fear hath torment—And this shows that the exclusion of the apostle’s fear is not the exclusion of that reverential fear which “is the beginning of wisdom.”

    Torment—Sense of guilt and dread of penalty.

    Feareth—The dread of penalty arising from conscious guilt shows us to be not perfect in love. We have here, then, something of a subjective measure of what is sometimes called “Christian perfection.” When there exists within our hearts the consciousness of the full divine acceptance, so complete that we have no fear at the thought of meeting him at judgment, we may trust that our love is perfected. The maintenance of this consciousness, sustained and justified by the external life, is the highest aim of life.


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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-john-4.html. 1874-1909.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    When we love others we have no basis for fear as we anticipate the judgment seat of Christ (cf. Romans 8:15; Hebrews 2:15). The person who loves Isaiah , of course, the person over whom God is exercising His controlling influence (i.e, an abiding Christian). A believer who does not love others feels guilty and fears meeting his Judges , perhaps subconsciously if not consciously. This fear is a punishment. His guilty conscience punishes him. A Christian who loves others may have other fears, but he need not fear the judgment seat of Christ. The fact that he loves others demonstrates that his relationship with God is essentially what it should be.

    John was using love for God and other people here as he did elsewhere in this epistle (e.g, 1 John 2:3-11). He meant that it is the most important manifestation of a proper relationship with God, not the only manifestation.

    On the human level only total acceptance of another person will remove the fear in love. For example, in marriage a love relationship that is free of fear is one in which there is a commitment to demonstrate total acceptance of the mate. Total forgiveness is also necessary for a transparent relationship ( Ephesians 4:31-32).


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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-john-4.html. 2012.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    1 John 4:18. Bern.: “Amor reverentiam nescit”. φόβος, the opposite of παρρησία. κόλασιν ἔχει, “implies punishment,” the portion of slaves. The portion of slaves is punishment ( κόλασις) and their spirit fear; the portion of sons is chastisement ( παιδεία) and their spirit boldness ( παρρησία). Cf. Hebrews 12:7, Clem. Alex.: “Perfectio fidelis hominis caritas est”. Aug.: “Major charitas, minor timor; minor charitas, major timor”. Bengel has here one of his untranslatable comments: “Varius hominum status: sine timore et amore; cum timore sine amore; cum timore et amore; sine timore cum amore”.


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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-john-4.html. 1897-1910.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Fear is not in charity, &c. By the fear, which a perfect charity and love of God excludes, we may understand a fear of temporal losses in this world, of the loss of goods, of banishment, of torments, of death itself, which the love of God made so many glorious martyrs contemn; or an anxious servile fear of punishment in the next world, for the more perfect charity and the love of God is, so much the more doth it banish this imperfect and servile fear; but as perfect charity does not exclude a love, and constant desire of loving God as our last end, for whose enjoyment we were created, so it does not exclude a fear of displeasing, offending, and losing him by sin. (Witham) --- Perfect charity, or love, banisheth human fear, that is, the fear of men; as also all perplexing fear, which makes men mistrust or despair of God's mercy; and that kind of servile fear, which makes them fear the punishment of sin more than the offence offered to God. But it no way excludes the wholesome fear of God's judgments, so often recommended in holy writ, nor that fear and trembling with which we are told to work out our salvation. (Philippians ii. 12.) (Challoner)


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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-john-4.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    no = not, 1 John 4:3.

    perfect. App-125.

    torment = punishment. Greek. kolasia. See Matthew 25:46.


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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-john-4.html. 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    Fear has no place in love. Bold confidence (1 John 4:17), based on love, cannot co-exist with fear. Love, which, when perfected, gives bold confidence, casts out fear (cf. Hebrews 2:14-15). Christ's propitiatory death was designed to deliver from this bondage of fear.

    But , [ alla (Greek #235)] - 'on the contrary.'

    Fear hath torment , [ kolasin (Greek #2851)] - punishment. Fear is always revolving the punishment deserved; and, by anticipation (through consciousness of deserving it), has even now its foretaste. Perfect love is incompatible with self-punishing fear. Fear of offending God differs from slavish fear of consciously-deserved punishment: the latter is natural to us all, until love casts it out. 'Men's states vary: one is without fear and love; another, with fear without love; another, with fear and love; another, without fear with love' (Bengel).


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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-john-4.html. 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    Love Casting Out Fear

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love.—1 John 4:18.

    1. St. John’s name does not call up before us the fiery zeal that stirs some to noble deeds, or the unfaltering faith that nerves others to meet danger, or the calm endurance that lifts others above pain and trial; though zeal, and resolution, and endurance are each and all so commonly the offspring and the evidence of love in the hearts of men. What St. John, for the most part, represents to our minds is love in its softer aspect. We often forget that he was Boanerges. We picture him to ourselves as the tenderest of men, and the most unselfish; at once the most ready to sympathize with and comfort others in distress and the most quickly responsive to affection shown by others for him. And so it is, not only with St. John, but with other characters also; we are apt to forget that other side, the necessary complement, of love—namely, courage, and resolution, and all that is akin to these. Often, when we see men soft and gentle, like St. John, we fail to remember that there must be a stronger side to their characters; just as, on the other hand, when we see men who are evidently cast in a sterner mould, we frequently forget that there may be—often, indeed, that there must be—warm springs of feeling within their hearts which we cannot see, to account for that strict or even rigid performance of duty which we can see.

    2. But the love which he commends in this Epistle is not an emotion based upon mere feeling and impulse, or a passion having its roots and energy in the lower nature of man; it is a love entirely in subordination to principle, and sanctified by its hearty consecration to God. According to the Apostle, therefore, Christian love is elevated into the very highest type of spiritual chivalry. It is emphatically an affection based upon a reasoning perception of worth in the object of its choice, and hence it is a moral power, and not an unintelligent emotion of instinct or habit. In the fulness of its strength it has power to call forth forms of spiritual beauty more thrilling than any manifestation of mere animal passion. In Christian life it is a profound reality, being the true secret of man’s happiness and well-being.

    Such is the love which the Apostle puts in opposition to fear. It is the “perfect love”—the love which is fostered with the truest sincerity, and from a purely unselfish motive—that has power to cast out fear. There is no fear in that great passion of the human soul which is called “the love of God”; for, on the contrary, it is instrumental in producing in the heart that beats and burns with it a blessing which surpasses all human anticipation. It is the prize and glory of the spiritual life, the master grace that enriches the fellowship of a soul with heaven. The modes of its action and the forms of its life are such as give it free and glorious course, and show, in proportion to its sincerity and intensity, how pre-eminently it is the conqueror of all fear.

    In heaven, love will absorb fear; but in this world, fear and love must go together. No one can love God aright without fearing Him; though many fear Him, and yet do not love Him. Self-confident men, who do not know their own hearts, or the reasons they have for being dissatisfied with themselves, do not fear God, and they think this bold freedom is to love Him. Deliberate sinners fear but cannot love Him. But devotion to Him consists in love and fear, as we may understand from our ordinary attachment to each other. No one really loves another, who does not feel a certain reverence towards him. When friends transgress this sobriety of affection, they may indeed continue associates for a time, but they have broken the bond of union. It is a mutual respect that makes friendship lasting. So again, in the feelings of inferiors towards superiors. Fear must go before love. Till he who has authority shows he has it and can use it, his forbearance will not be valued duly; his kindness will look like weakness. We learn to contemn what we do not fear; and we cannot love what we contemn. So in religion also. We cannot understand Christ’s mercies till we understand His power, His glory, His unspeakable holiness, and our demerits; that is, until we first fear Him. Not that fear comes first, and then love; for the most part they will proceed together. Fear is allayed by the love of Him, and our love is sobered by our fear of Him.1 [Note: J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, i. 303.]

    3. The Apostle had just spoken of a day of judgment. To his mind there was something very real in that judgment, very decisive too. But the reality—the force of such reality—lay in this, that he did not project it into some distant future, else it would have lost much of its terribleness by such distance. He saw—and we, too, may see if we will—the judgment already set, and the books opened. There are days of our inner experience which are to us days of judgment, when we seem to stand at the bar of conscience, and meet face to face with God, who sits enthroned there. The secrets of our hearts are revealed to ourselves, and the searching eye of a Divine truth is set upon us. What strength or what boldness can we reach compared with that which comes from love? This appears to be the innermost thought of our writer. Love on the throne and in the heart gives fearlessness in every day of judgment. The soul finds shelter, not simply in its own affection, but in the Divine affection. It becomes a solace to us when most unfriended. Here is the perfection of Love, that it meets God with fearlessness. With all the dreadful things we may be able to trace in ourselves, and even at a time when most of all we feel we must be true to God, to be able to stand in the Eternal Light: this is the perfection of Love.

    The most perfect example of love is our Lord Jesus Christ. And the most complete example of a being whose ruling disposition and principle is fear and hate, is the devil. Here are the two models—and we are all growing more like to one or the other of them. We are all, as the years go on, growing more loving, more trustful, more kindly in disposition, more liberal in almsgiving; or we are growing more fearful and suspicious, more grudging and mechanical in our performance of duty, money-loving and miserly, ruling ourselves in our daily life, not by love, but by fear.2 [Note: Literary Churchman, xxiv. 235.]

    Mr. Robert E. Speer stopped from a British India steamer at Muscat to visit the Rev. Peter Zwemer, who was working there alone. Mr. Zwemer took his visitor up to his house, where, he said, his family were staying. There, sitting on benches about the room, were eighteen little black boys. They had been rescued from a slave-ship that had been coming up the eastern coast of Arabia with those little fellows, to be sold on the date plantations along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The British consul had seized them from the traders, and Mr. Zwemer had undertaken to keep them until they were eighteen years old, when they would be given their manumission papers.

    “When I got them,” said Mr. Zwemer, “the whole eighteen huddled together in the middle of the floor, like jack-rabbits, and every time I came close, they huddled a little nearer. They mistrusted every one. On each little cheek-bone was the brand of the slave’s iron, and for months and months they had known nothing but hatred and beatings, and had been shut down in the hold of the slaveship, in order that they might make no noise and betray their presence.”

    When Mr. Speer saw them they looked happy and confident, and they sang for him, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” looking as if the realization that all their blessings had come from that Divine Source had already sunk deep into their hearts.

    I

    The Inevitableness of Fear

    1. There are different meanings attached to this word fear, which we must take account of. Let us remember that in its highest sense it is reverence, and the love that does not reverence is a coarse earthly thing. Worship is one of the essential attributes of a true love. Heavenly love is always a reverence for the object loved. It lays its ample treasure at the feet of the beloved. But fear also suggests alarm, disquiet, suspicion. Perfect love does not know, cannot reckon upon, these. How does this description apply to the spiritual affection about which St. John writes? Let the heart love God, and it cannot dread Him. Let the heart love, and it will cling where it loves. You cannot cling without sympathy.

    Our love to God is full of clinging confidence in Him and sympathy with all His purposes. But love has to take some things upon trust. It cannot always read the meaning when it trusts the purpose of the beloved. Still less does it suspect. You cannot call that a perfect love in any of the human relationships which looks suspiciously, which is full of forebodings. Love trusts—trusts always.

    Augustine speaks of fear as the needle, sharp and painful, but bringing in the thread; the needle passes, and the pain is gone, and then comes the thread which forms the union and joins the soul to God. So fear may begin the blessing to the soul; love perfects it, and then—fear all gone—it rises to filial confidence.1 [Note: J. B. Figgis, The Anointing, 76.]

    2. In a world where everything has to struggle for existence fear is inevitable. One of the strangest things in the organization of this world is the prevalence of a universal destructiveness. We are taught, and we believe, that God is a God of benevolence. We are taught, and we believe, that the world was ordained for the production of happiness. Yet, when the Apostle says that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,” every one who is conversant with history agrees with him. Every one who looks out into life and takes cognizance of the things that are going on—the silent sufferings, the secret mischiefs, the wastes, and the wails that spread throughout the whole human family—must feel that some defence is needed to make life tolerable or even possible. Now fear is the best defence of all the passions that are committed to men. If the world were all peaceful, fear would be a torment; but on the supposition that the world is full of antagonisms and destroying influences, and that life is to be maintained and developed in spite of the difficulties and dangers which surround everything and everybody, fear is a preservation.

    Wherever there is evil to be seen, there is fear or the seed of fear; and evil is around us, and in us, on all sides, in this world of ours. Who can look around at the state of the world at any moment and not feel anxious at what we and our children may have to go through? Who has not things which he values as the apple of his eye, things to which he has always been accustomed—things which he believes to be bound up with all that is good and precious in life, things whose removal would make days for ever dark and unbearable—and yet does not see that they hang but on a thread; perhaps that what is to bring their ruin and overthrow has already begun to work? Who does not feel that change is the law and order of the world, and never more so than in our own days; and who does not feel that a change might easily come—in his circumstances, in his friends, in the neighbours among whom he dwells—which would make things very wretched to him? Every one who thinks and looks forward to what may be in the world, and in the country where he lives, must sometimes feel fear and anxiety coming over him, taking possession of him, and distressing him. What may I not live to see? What may I not live to see overthrown or set up? What calamities such as I hear of on all sides may I not have to taste of? Who can tell? To-day for one, to-morrow for the other, is the rule of fortune. And when these thoughts come into the mind, of the judgments and trials of God’s providence meeting us, we understand what is meant by the saying that “fear hath torment.”1 [Note: R. W. Church, Village Sermons, iii. 258.]

    3. Fear arises necessarily from our ignorance. A person altogether unacquainted with the operations of a machine, a steam-engine or the like, would fear to meddle with it, because it might do him injury in some way which he would have no reason to expect; an engineer by profession would have no such fear as this. What is the difference between the two? Clearly this, that one understands the action of the machine with which he has to do, and the other does not; the machine must be spoken of as dangerous or not dangerous, according to the training of the person concerned. So an honest man is in no fear of a judge, provided only that he knows the judge to be himself an honest man and a competent judge; if by any misfortune an innocent man were placed upon his trial, and he was well assured of the integrity and intelligence of his judge, he could not dread the result; but suppose that the judge, either from ignorance, or ill-temper, or party-spirit, or any other cause, were well known as a capricious man, one whose judgments could never be anticipated, because he would not be guided by the high rules of honour and the laws of evidence—who would not fear to stand before such a judge? The good and the bad must tremble alike; there could be no confidence, no one would be able to guess whether a man would be punished for an alleged crime or not. Let a ruler be as stern as he pleases in enforcing laws, yet if those laws be just, and the penalties of them known, no one need fear for his safety; but if the ruler be a tyrant, and if instead of acting according to law he act according to his own fancy, and treat his subjects in an arbitrary manner, then indeed he may well be feared (as all tyrants are) with that fear which has torment, which breeds hatred, and which can never be united with love.

    The little pilgrim of the dawn has now the freedom of what Professor Sully calls “the realm of fancy.” In his active brain he has a magic wand which makes him master of creation. He fills the blank spaces between the zenith and the nadir with his imaginings; makes the woods fearful with wolves, discovers the haunts of fairies and tree-folk in holes under the tree roots, and associates the church, the barn, the lane, the brook, the gate, with the people and places of his story-books.

    This realm is not only the land of fancy, but that of fetish. To one little fellow, born in Siberia, the great god Pan was a reality. At night he would say, “Bye-bye, Poo-ah!”—“Goodnight, Out-of-doors!” Another went in mortal dread of a feather from the eider-down or a fluff of the wool in which a banana had been packed, and he would flee with a yell when it moved towards him on a breath of air. Boy Beloved had an unpseakable horror of an indiarubber hot-water bottle, but if he had to pass near it, he would propitiate it with “Nice water-bottle!” and, watching it carefully, sidle out of danger.1 [Note: W. Canton, Children’s Sayings, 20.]

    4. Fear is stirred by our wrong-doing. When we sin we cower before offended justice and regard God as a foe more terrible than Odin with his trenchant sword. Our thoughts of God grow darker as we grow in sin; and the awful aspect He seems to present to conscience darkens us like a shadow or deadens us like a pall. Human life is often like one of those great tragedies where, in the earliest scenes, a suspicion is infused of the darkness that is to deepen round the close. Unless the principles of Divine light and the powers of Divine love have wrought their influence upon the sinful heart, men carry about with them, everywhere and always, the consciousness of those dark secrets which linger from the earliest age of responsibility in the inmost recesses of the heart. Such a fear, always changing, always undermining, the joys and hopes of life, plants upon conscience its own growth, until sometimes it becomes an inquisitor with a whip of scorpions. To such men the very name of the God who governs the world is fear.

    Of the state of his mind and heart in regard to religion at Harrow Cardinal Manning has left the following record:—“It was not a good time with me. I do not think I ever ceased to pray all through my time at Harrow. I said my prayers, such as I had learned, I suppose, from my mother. I had always a fear of judgment and of the pool burning with fire. The verse in Apocalypse Revelation 21:8 was fixed in my whole mind from the time I was eight or nine years old, confixit carnem meam timore, and kept me as boy and youth and man in the midst of all evil, and in all occasions remote and proximate; and in great temptations; and in a perilous and unchecked liberty. God held me by my will against my will. If I had fallen I might have run the whole career of evil. In the midst of everything I had a veneration for religion. The thought of it was sweet to me, and I lived in the hope and temptation of being religious one day before I died. I never went to church unwillingly; and I always liked hearing sermons, which was my state when I went to Oxford.1 [Note: E. S. Purcell, The Life of Cardinal Manning, i. 27.]

    In darkest days and nights of storm,

    Men knew Thee but to fear Thy form;

    And in the reddest lightning saw

    Thine arm avenge insulted law.


    In brighter days, we read Thy love

    In flowers beneath, in stars above;

    And in the track of every storm

    Behold Thy beauty’s rainbow form.


    And in the reddest lightning’s path

    We see no vestiges of wrath,

    But always wisdom,—perfect love,

    From flowers beneath to stars above.


    See, from on high sweet influence rains

    On palace, cottage, mountains, plains;

    No hour of wrath shall mortals fear,

    For their Almighty Love is here.2 [Note: Theodore Parker.]

    5. Fear has an educative function. Fear of punishment, either as imminent or as distant, is not a false or bad principle of action in its own place, and for its own time. It is appropriate for the earlier stage of spiritual training. It is commonly called “servile”; but until a soul can realize its sonship, the servant’s position is the one it must occupy, and has at any rate the assurance of “bread enough” for present needs. A Psalmist could draw an illustration from the wistful looking up of slaves under chastisement, and the fear which “has punishment,” although in this sense “servile” is disciplinary; it marks a stage in the moral progress through which the supreme Educator, divinely equitable and patient, conducts His children by slow steps, in consideration of hearts not fully softened, and consciences not thoroughly enlightened, which, as yet, are unfit for a high religious standard.

    The beginnings of morality and virtue are in fear; for, although men may finally be organized so highly that they shall work for the love of working, as men do that are in health of both body and mind, yet, in the beginnings, among low and rude people, men do not work because they like it. They bask lazily in the sun, and gorge themselves with food when they have it, and suffer the pangs of famine when they have it not. They learn to build houses, that they may not be exposed to the severity of the weather. They learn to cultivate the fields, that they may have food in winter. They are brought to habits of foresight and industry and regularity by the stimulus of fear. They are stimulated by the fear of suffering in themselves, and then by the fear of suffering in their households, when they begin to love them. It is fear that develops the human race in its earlier stages. It is fear that in the beginning promotes civilization. Fear is the strongest impulse towards improvement on the lower range in the scale of human life. Love is the highest element; but this is at the other extreme.

    The filial relation is seen in its perfect shape only where a discipline is maintained and obeyed. Fear is the parent of love in the work of education. Such fear does not cast out love; it cherishes it and makes it a reasonable and a worthy love, based like all love worthy of the name upon reverence and honour. But this love in turn casts out that other fear of which St. John speaks—a fear which is born not of faith but of distrust; the fruit of ignorance, not of knowledge. “I know,” says the Apostle Paul to Timothy, “whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” This is the calm and humble conviction of one in whom fear had been cast out by a perfect love. In Jesus Christ he had seen death abolished; for he had seen a sinful world reconciled to the Father; he had seen in Him life and immortality brought to light through the Gospel; and it had banished fear for ever.

    It is said that the son of that profligate French prince Louis who is branded with the name of the “godless Regent” was, in his boyhood, deeply impressed by what his tutor told him about the punishments reserved for obstinate sinners. He grew up into manhood, serious, conscientious, pure in life, devout towards God, compassionate towards men. The fear of hell, as such, had done its work at the right time; it fairly burned out the germs of sinful passion; it prepared him, we cannot doubt, for a better spiritual condition at last attained. It may be so with many a youth who is not yet accessible to higher motives, but who believes that wicked ways lead to hell, and who therefore, in his own phrase, “keeps himself straight.” Is not this “fear” worth something? Bishop Andrewes, alluding to it, observes that it is “as the base-court to the temple”; and adds that a man must do his duty “for fear of punishment, if he cannot get himself to do it for love of righteousness.”1 [Note: William Bright, Morality in Doctrine, 215.]

    The genial Principal of Glasgow University, in the course of a public speech a year or two ago, told this story. An old couple in his country parish had taken with them to church their stirring little grandson, who behaved all through the service with preternatural gravity. So much was the preacher struck with the good conduct of so young a listener that, meeting the grandfather at the close of the service, he congratulated him upon the remarkably quiet composure of the boy. “Ay,” said the old man with a twinkle in his eye, “Duncan’s weel threetened afore he gangs in.”2 [Note: Sir Archibald Geikie, Scottish Reminiscences, 88.]

    Wouldst thou abolish quite strongholds of self and sin?

    Fear can but make the breach for Love to enter in.3 [Note: R. C. Trench, Poems, 124.]

    II

    The Antagonism of Fear and Love

    1. Love and fear are antagonistic passions, and the tendency of the one is to overshadow and extinguish the other. The love of God is declared in this text to be the victorious antagonist of that fear of sin which has torment in it. In general we can see without difficulty how the two, love and fear, do exclude one another. Pear is entirely based on a consideration of some possible personal evil consequence coming down upon us from that clear sky above us. Love is based upon the forgetfulness of self altogether. The very essence of love is, that it looks away from itself. It is thus free from that torturing and anxious thought, What will become of me? which makes the torment of fear as the sister of selfishness. It is because love is the going out of my heart, out of itself altogether, that it frees me at one sweep from all the torturing anxieties and trembling anticipations of personal consequences. Fill the heart with love, and there is an end to the dominion of fear.

    There is no exorcist of fear like love. Longing for the good of another will carry one through fire and water.1 [Note: R. W. Barbour, Thoughts, 20.]

    Our love wakes in the morning, unafraid

    To meet the little worries of the day;

    And if a haggard dawn, dull-eyed and grey,

    Peers in upon us through the window shade,

    Full soon love’s finger, rosy tipped, is laid

    Upon its brow, and gloom departs straightway.

    All outer darkness melts before that ray

    Of inner light, whereof all love is made;

    Each petty trouble and each pigmy care.

    And those gaunt-visaged duties which so fill

    Life’s path by day, do borrow of love’s grace.2 [Note: E. W, Wilcox, Poems of Love and Life, 7.]

    2. “Fear hath torment,” says the Apostle. Some artists have taken pleasure in painting monstrous forms—beings that never existed save in their own deranged imagination—things hideous to behold. Similar to this is the genius of fear; it opens its sombre canvas, spreads it out before the mind, covers it with phantoms of evils to come, filling the soul with anguish and misery. Thus it was with Job. When he could believe in the Divine goodness, hope dawned upon him, and he spoke cheerful words: “I know that my redeemer liveth.” “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” “When he hath tried me I shall come forth as gold.” But when he could not see God or realize His goodness, when his light was turned into darkness, fear returned, producing “torment,” by which it is always accompanied. Sometimes he is like a forsaken child, wandering hopelessly and alone at midnight in a desolate place, far from the habitations of men. He sighs for the light, but it comes not; feels after God, but He evades his touch. “O that I knew where I might find him!… I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him.” Again and again does the image of his great affliction pass before his mind, like the spectre in the vision of Eliphaz, creating a depth of misery which he endeavours in vain to express.

    We have met with some who ought to have been bathing in the depths of the Divine love and sufficiency, suffering such torments as are described in Dante’s Purgatorio or Inferno. To what is this torment due? To an untrusting fear of God. They do not find any comfort in their thought of God; always speculating as to what God will think of this or that, they know not the blessed joy of an uncareful, God-delivered soul. One would say to such, do not think that God saves you only upon condition that you carry about with you in your very breast the torment of hell. As you believe the Divine love, cast this torment from you and come at once into the more perfect enjoyment of that Divine grace, which does not extend its favour to you because you are so good, but that it may make you better.1 [Note: G. J. Proctor.]

    3. Love, unlike fear, inspires confidence. Love enlightens, purifies, and elevates the soul. We are influenced by the objects of our love. We cannot love a noble human character without in some degree becoming like that character; and if we love Christ, and God in Christ, we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory. Love is fruitful in good works; it inspires the mind to keep the commandments of Christ, and imparts power to surmount the greatest difficulties, while fear takes away our strength, enervates the soul, and deprives us of our moral and spiritual energy. The marvellous labours and self-denial of the apostles are accounted for by the love that constrained them. It is, moreover, essential to acceptable service, for there is no virtue in that which is done from mere fear. A man doing his duty simply because he is afraid to leave it undone, resembles the crouching slave who works because the lash of the taskmaster hovers over his head, and is ready to descend the moment he desists; but he who obeys from love is like an affectionate child who hastens to do his father’s will because obedience is to him a real delight.

    On a lonely moorside, far from any other habitation, dwells a weakly woman, the wife of a powerfully built crofter. They live alone in their humble cot, the weakly wife entirely in the power of her strong husband. If he so willed he could do her grievous harm, but does she ever think of that? No, for perfect love casts out all fear. She rejoices in his strength because she has perfect confidence in his love, she cannot fear because she knows and believes fully the love that he has for her. All this you say is perfectly natural. Certainly, and is it not just as natural that we should, when we are joined in covenant relationship with God, trust Him as fully and realize that any feeling of fear is simply impossible, because we know and believe the love which He hath toward us?1 [Note: C. O. Eldridge, in The Preacher’s Magazine, 1894, p. 318.]

    4. The love which casts out fear is not a vague emotion towards an unknown God; nor is it the result of a man’s willing that he will put away from himself his hatred and his indifference, and will set himself in a new position towards God and His mercy: but it rises in the heart as a consequence of knowing and believing the love which God hath to us. Hence, again, it is the conqueror of fear. That flowed from conscience trembling before the half-seen face of the Divine Judge. This comes when the eyes are opened to behold the full Divine mercy in the face of Jesus Christ and there to see that God hath no anger, but is infinite Love. It is not by any power in our love to appease the stingings of sin that we get rid of the fear. We lose it because our love comes from apprehending that great Gospel and blessed hope, that God’s love is ours, ours in His Son, ours that our love may be perfectly fixed upon it, ours without disturbance from any of His awful attributes, ours without fear of loss or harm from any events. Believing this, the heart fills with a mighty tide of calm responding love which sweeps away on the crest of its rejoicing wave, the vileness, the sorrows, the fears, which once littered and choked the channels. They are flooded out, and the heart is delivered.

    A little love has not mass enough in it to drive out thick, clustering fears. There are hundreds of professing Christians who know very little indeed of that joyous love of God which swallows up and makes impossible all dread, who, because they have not a loving present consciousness of a loving Father’s loving will, tremble when they front in imagination, and still more when they meet in reality, the evils that must come, and who cannot face the thought of death with anything but shrinking apprehension. There is far too much of the old leaven of selfish dread left in the experience of many Christians. “I feared thee, because thou wert an austere man, and so, because I was afraid, I went and hid my talent, and did nothing for thee” is a transcript of the experience of far too many of us. The one way to get deliverance is to go to Jesus Christ and keep close by Him.1 [Note: A. Maclaren, Triumphant Certainties, 303.]

    5. The love which casts out fear heightens reverence. There is a fear which is the foundation of all religion, and which is the abiding duty of Christian men. And it is worth noticing how love, which casts out dread, and makes us cease to be afraid of God, perfects reverence and makes us venerate with holy awe far deeper than ever subsisted by the side of terror, and yet makes us stand much nearer to God than when we were slaves, and crouched before the image of Him which conscience set up. A man who is trembling about personal consequences has no eye to appreciate the thing of which he is afraid. There is no reverence where there is desperate fear. He that is trembling lest the lightning should strike him has no heart to feel the grandeur and to be moved by the solemn awfulness of the storm above his head. And a man to whom the whole thought, or the predominant thought, when God rises before him, is, How awful will be the incidence of His perfections on my head! does not and durst not think about them and reverence Him. Perfect love takes out of the heart all that bitter sense of possible evil coming on one and leaves one at liberty, with thankful, humble heart, and clear eye, to look into the centre of the brightness and see there the light of His infinite mercy. Love destroys slavish fear, and perfects that fear which is reverence.

    He seemed to bear about with him a certain hidden, isolating, constraining, and ennobling fear, which quenched the dazzling light of many things that attract most men; a fear which would have to be clean got rid of before time-serving or unreality could have a chance with him. Whatever that fear was it told upon his work in many ways; it helped him, probably, in great things to be unworldly; it sustained with an imperious and ever-present sanction his sense and care for perfect justice, in act and word, in his own life and in his verdicts on the past: and it may well have borne part in making his style what it was: for probably few men have ever written so well and stayed so simply anxious to write truly.1 [Note: Life and Letters of Dean Church, xxii.]

    III

    The Expulsion of Fear

    1. One way of trying to banish fear is levity or indifference. There is nothing more striking than the power we have of forcing ourselves to forget because we know that it is dangerous to remember—that strange power which a man has of refusing to think of a subject because he knows that to think of it would be torture and terror. It is a strange faculty that we all have of forgetting unwelcome thoughts and shutting our eyes to the things that we do not want to see, like Nelson when he put the telescope to his blind eye at Copenhagen because he would not obey the signal of recall. But surely it is an ignoble thing that men should ignore or shuffle out of sight with inconsiderateness the real facts of their condition, like boys whistling in a churchyard to keep their spirits up, and saying “Who’s afraid?” just because they are so very much afraid.

    One of our poets gives a grim picture of a traveller on a lonely road, who has caught a glimpse of a frightful shape close behind him,

    And having once turned round walks on,

    And turns no more his head.

    The dreadful thing is there on his very heels, its breath hot on his cheek; he feels it though he does not see, but he dare not face round to it, he puts a strong compulsion on himself, and with rigidly fixed face, strides on his way, a sickening horror busy with his heart. An awful image that, but a true one with regard to what many men do with their thoughts of God! They know that that thought is there, close behind them. They feel sometimes as if its hand were just coming out to be laid on their shoulders, and to top them. And they will not turn their heads to see the Face that should be the love, the blessedness, the life of their spirits, but is—because they love it not—the terror and freezing dread of their souls.1 [Note: A. Maclaren.]

    2. It is “perfect” love that casts out fear. The more devotedly the heart clings to God the more complete will be its victory over fear. The more we love God the more we grow like God. He that loveth not knoweth not God. He that is born of God loveth. He that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. “If there were not something sunny in the eye,” says Goethe, “it could not see the sun”; so if there be no love within our hearts, we can never know God, for He is love, and we can know Him only as we love Him. If our love is not a reflection of His love, if it is so weak and feeble that, when the cloud passes over it and darkens the sunlight, it cannot keep our heart from failing because of fear; then let us look up to Him who is our life, and seek that gift of love which He alone can bestow, and the dominion of fear will end.

    The most effectual and permanent remedy for any passion is to give power enough to its opposite to control it. We see empirical cases of this. For instance, mirthfulness stands over against combativeness. A man who has humour and sees things in a mirthful light escapes destructiveness and combativeness more easily than anybody else. A child is angry and hateful, and strikes back; but the nurse sets a little monkey jumping, and he laughs; and that minute the child’s temper is all gone. The two elements cannot reign together. The nurse, empirically, has fallen upon the right philosophy. In the whole range of life, over against the causes of fear are the opposites; and by keeping them alive and in full play a man can control fear more easily than by direct and specific acts of the will.

    We find that medicine acts in the same way. If a person is under the influence of overwhelming grief the physician orders a change of place, or association, or occupation. A new class of influences is brought into play, and they cure or medicate the trouble. So all the things that tend to courage, to hope, to trust, to mirthfulness, to gaiety, whatever elements are radiant in the human mind, are the natural born doctors of the things in the human mind that are dusky, low-browed, and care-pierced.2 [Note: Henry Ward Beecher.]

    3. The way to perfect love and freedom from fear is the old way of obedience. Before we can love God truly we must first have learned to obey His will even in the smallest duties of our life. We so often begin the other way. We look right away from the little duties, from the common everyday work, which we ought to love, from the friendships which we ought to be making here, and think we can know at once what is meant by loving God. And how often, as the years go on, we fail; and know that the reason for our failure was that we had not yet learned the meaning of Christ’s words, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”—those words which should teach us that we cannot know what perfect love is until we know something of love in its simplest form, as love for our work and love for those around us. Only that love which has its roots in perfect obedience and simple trust is strong enough to cast out fear.

    I remember the instance of a pale woman who taught a village school in summer. One rude boy tried her very soul, and there was a strife of some weeks before she gained the ascendancy; and some months passed by before her spirit conquered his, and he became, not an abject servant, but the servant of love; so that, although he was stronger than a dozen of her physically, though he had the power rudely to discompose her spirit, and stamp out the order of the school, not her shadow moved more obediently to her movements than he did to her wishes; for he loved her. That which in the beginning she compelled him to do, and which he did very poorly, he afterwards did with eagerness and a great deal better. For the inspiration of love, when men are prepared for it, is a nobler inspiration than that of fear. It is more comprehensive, more fruitful, more beneficent. And while it has its efficiency in this life, it has the promise, the signet, the earnest of the life which is to come.1 [Note: Henry Ward Beecher.]

    4. Perfect love rests on the bosom of Christ, and looks forward to the day of judgment without apprehension. That is the particular thought which this text enshrines. Love God, and fear not, the Apostle seems to say, for now we know to what inconceivable lengths God’s love for us has gone. The crown and perfect work of our love of God is shown in this, that it enables us to look forward even to the dreadful day of judgment with courage and boldness. The terrors and sufferings which may come upon us here in our mortal life, are light and trifling compared with the horror which must fall upon all things in that closing day of doom. But even of that, the soul which loves and cleaves to God can face the thought, can wait for it with calmness and quiet. For why? Because as He is, so are we in this world. Because we are here on the side of God. Because they who love God are, as God is, on the side of good, of truth, of holiness, which God must and will one day make victorious.

    Think of St. John himself, the disciple whom Jesus loved, the disciple whose one hope and longing in the world was to see the Kingdom of his Master, and to rejoice with Him in glory, whom he had loved in the bitter day of defeat and shame. He was the disciple who felt his whole heart beat with the heart of his Master; who knew that what Jesus Christ loved, he loved too; that what Jesus Christ worked for, he himself was ready to die for; that what Jesus Christ counted sin and abomination, that he himself loathed as an accursed thing. He felt that after having known Jesus Christ and His love, all that this world could offer him was not worth a thought; he lived in the mind of Jesus Christ about eternity and the things of time, and felt that all the greatness, and glory, and beauty of this world was only that which his Master had despised and trampled on. With what thoughts of things to come would such a man live? What would he fear of sorrow, or perplexity, or loss, or pain, or death? What would the worst evils which can visit man be to him who lived in the love of Jesus Christ, on whose bosom he had leaned at supper—who was now at God’s right hand? What to St. John, personally, would be all the woes and plagues which—when in the isle of Patmos he saw the vision of the future—he beheld gathering upon the world of the ungodly? He might tremble, he might pity, he might weep for others; but in the earthquake, and pestilence, and storm, and death, what fear for himself? To him the day of judgment was the day of Christ, it was the coming back and appearance of his beloved and departed Lord, the beginning of that kingdom of glory for which he daily waited and daily prayed. Awful as it was, he could have boldness when it came. He was ever abiding in Christ and His love, that, as he says elsewhere, when his Master should appear, he might have confidence, “and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”1 [Note: R. W. Church, Village Sermons, iii. 262.]

    O thou that walkest with nigh hopeless feet

    Past the one harbour, built for thee and thine,

    Doth no stray odour from its table greet,

    No truant beam from fire or candle shine?


    At his wide door the host doth stand and call;

    At every lattice gracious forms invite;

    Thou seest but a dull-grey, solid wall

    In forest sullen with the things of night!


    Thou cravest rest, and Rest for thee doth crave,

    The white sheet folded down, white robe apart.—

    Shame, Faithless! No, I do not mean the grave!

    I mean Love’s very house and hearth and heart.

    Love Casting Out Fear

    Literature

    Ainger (A.), Sermons in the Temple Church, 101.

    Banks (L. A.), John and his Friends, 143.

    Bright (W.), Morality in Doctrine, 209.

    Church (R. W.), Village Sermons, iii. 258.

    Cox (S.), Expositions, i. 364.

    Davies (D.), Talks with Men, Women and Children, ii. 247.

    Figgis (J. B.), The Anointing, 67.

    Gibbon (J. M.), The Gospel of Fatherhood, 43.

    Goodwin (H.), Parish Sermons, iv. (1856) 48.

    Gregory (B.), Perfect in Christ Jesus, 104.

    Hart (H. G.), Sermons Preached in Sedbergh School Chapel, 20.

    Kingsley (C.), Village, Town and Country Sermons, 341.

    Lushington (F. de W.), Sermons to Young Boys, 9.

    Maclaren (A.), Sermons Preached in Manchester, i. 194.

    Maclaren (A.), Triumphant Certainties, 296.

    Price (A. C.), Fifty Sermons, i. 161.

    Temple (F.), Sermons Preached in Rugby School Chapel, ii. 47; iii. 212.

    Trench (R. C.), Westminster and Other Sermons, 32.

    Christian World Pulpit, ii. 355 (Bainton); iii. 212 (Beecher); xiv. 195 (Proctor); xxi. 84 (Beecher).

    Church of England Magazine, xxiii. 112 (Ayre); xliv. 67 (Morris).

    Literary Churchman, xxiv. (1878) 235.

    Preacher’s Magazine, v. (1894) 317 (Eldridge).


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-john-4.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
    is no
    Luke 1:74,75; Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 12:28
    fear hath
    Job 15:21; Psalms 73:19; 88:15,16; 119:120; James 2:19
    He that
    12

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-john-4.html.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    No fear in love. Note that John uses fear as the opposite of love. One type of person lost eternally is the coward (fearful), as we see in Revelation 21:8. [We fear God in the sense of reverence and respect.] "Fear of punishment never goes along with love; but perfect love to God and man drives out all fear of punishment from our mind! One who truly loves God and man will know that he has left death and come over into life (1 John 3:14), and will have no reason to fear punishment!" Love has not been made perfect. "The one who fears the Judgment has not been made perfect in love to God and man! For this he has no excuse!" Bengel says there are four possible conditions of a human soul: (1) without either fear or love; (2) with fear, without love; (3) with fear and love: (4) with love, without fear. This verse shows that only the fourth describes the true (mature) Christian!


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography
    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-john-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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

    The Bible does not contradict itself, and when it appears that it does there is always an explanation for it. We know we are commanded to fear God ( 1 Peter 2:17), but our present verse says that perfect love will cast out fear. The explanation is very simple which depends on the meanings of the original Greek word-phohos. Thayer gives us two definitions of the word as follows: "1. fear, dread, terror," and "2. reverence, respect." As we have seen frequently before, the particular meaning of any word must be determined by the connection in which it is used. The connection here shows John is using it in its bad sense which would made it read, "There is no dread or terror in love." If we love God and manifest it by loving our brother, we will not have any dread at the thought of meeting God in the judgment.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/1-john-4.html. 1952.

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