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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 4:21

 

 

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Adam Clarke Commentary

This commandment have we - We should love one another, and love our neighbor as ourselves. The love of God and the love of man can never be separated; he who loves God will love his brother; he who loves his brother gives this proof that he loves God, because he loves with a measure of that love which, in its infinitude, dwells in God.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-john-4.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And this commandment have we from him - That is, the command to love a brother is as obligatory as that to love God. If one is obeyed, the other ought to be also; if a man feels that one is binding on him, he should feel that the other is also; and he can never have evidence that he is a true Christian, unless he manifests love to his brethren as well as love to God. See the notes at James 2:10.

That he who loveth God love his brother also - See the notes at John 13:34-35. Compare John 15:12, John 15:17.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-4.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.

This verse almost certainly relates to the great summary of all the law and the prophets as given by Jesus Christ in these words:

The first (and great commandment) is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:29-31).

That almighty God desires that his human creation should love him is one of the most revealing statements in Scripture. That purposeful desire of God lies back of all that God ever revealed, all that he ever did, to redeem mankind. How universally do people tend to fall short of this basic love! Much of the love that passes for such is merely bigotry. "The bigot loves those who embrace his opinions,"[50] and receive his peculiar bias or prejudice; and he loves them for that, not for Christ.

Concerning Jesus' joining in this verse and in the Gospels these twin commandments to love God and love one's neighbor, Stott remarked, "What Christ has joined, let no man sever."[51] Plummer's summation of John's thoughts here is as follows:

Here is the Divine command to love, not only the invisible God, but the visible brother in whom the invisible God dwells. Sight may hinder as well as help; it is hard to love what is squalid and hideous. In such cases, let us remember the Divine command; let us remember the Divinity which even the most debased humanity contains.[52]

May our attitude toward this holy commandment be that of freely confessing that the total fulfillment of it lies utterly beyond our unaided human strength to accomplish it; but may we also preempt unto that holy purpose the blessed promise of the apostle: "I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13). "In him?" Yes, "in Christ," in whom we shall at last be presented before the Father in perfection!

What a wonderful world this would be, and what an incredible sweetness would pervade it, if even any appreciable percentage of its population would live by the principles laid down in this chapter of the word of God!

[50] John Wesley, op. cit., p. 916.

[51] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 171.

[52] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 105.


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

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "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

And this commandment have we from him,.... Either "from God", as the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read; and that to love the brethren is a commandment of God, is clear from 1 John 3:23; or from Christ, for it is also a command of his, even his new commandment, which he has given, and his people have received from him:

that he who loveth God, love his brother also; see John 13:34; which is an argument persuading to attend to the one as well as to the other; for the same command that requires the one, requires the other: and he that transgresses it in one case, is a transgressor of it, as well as in the other.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-john-4.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

17 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

(17) A second reason, why God cannot be hated and our neighbour loved, because this same lawmaker commanded us both to love him and our neighbour.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "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

Besides the argument (1 John 4:20) from the common feeling of men, he here adds a stronger one from God‘s express commandment (Matthew 22:39). He who loves, will do what the object of his love wishes.

he who loveth God — he who wishes to be regarded by God as loving Him.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
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 4:21". "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

That (ιναhina). Sub-final object clause in apposition with εντοληνentolēn as in John 13:34; John 15:13.

From him (απ αυτουap' autou). Either God or Christ. See Mark 12:29-31 for this old commandment (1 John 2:7.).


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "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

That ( ἵνα )

Not defining the contents of the commandment, but expressing intent. Compare John 13:34, and see on John 15:13.

His brother

“To the persecutor Saul, Christ said, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? I have ascended into heaven, yet still I lie upon earth. Here I sit at the right hand of the Father; there I still hunger, thirst, and am a stranger'” (Augustine).


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "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

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

And this commandment have we from him — Both God and Christ.

That he who loveth God love his brother — Every one, whatever his opinions or mode of worship be, purely because he is the child, and bears the image, of God. Bigotry is properly the want of this pure and universal love. A bigot only loves those who embrace his opinions, and receive his way of worship; and he loves them for that, and not for Christ's sake.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-john-4.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

21And this commandment This is a stronger argument, drawn from the authority and doctrine of Christ; for he not only gave a commandment respecting the love of God, but bade us also to love our brethren. We must therefore so begin with God, as that there may be at the same time a transition made to men.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-john-4.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

GOD’S LOVE FOR THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL

‘And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.’

1 John 4:21

It does not need, in order to call’s God’s attention, that a whole nation or an entire Church should turn from sin and set itself to serve Almighty God. There is joy in heaven for one sinner that repenteth.

I. Let us think of this individual love of God for a man’s soul.—It is revealed most plainly to us by our Blessed Lord Himself in His work and in His teaching on earth. Again and again we must be struck as we read the Gospels by seeing how our Lord thought it worth while to give Himself wholly to, to concentrate His entire attention for the time on, one individual—some particular sufferer, it might be, in soul, in mind, or in body. And so, though it is true that at times our Blessed Lord preached to the great multitudes—that He would work His miracles before thousands—yet we know that the souls which our Lord saved were saved one by one with infinite love, with tender care, with wonderful patience. Of all who stood round Calvary we are only told of one who was saved, and that was he upon whom our Lord in the extremity of His suffering turned the whole of His thought and love and care.

II. The Church and the individual.—And the Church which was left by our Lord to carry on His great work has ever sought to work on those same principles. She has tried to bring into the fold those from outside, not in great masses, but one by one. One by one you and I were brought to the font and united to our Lord. One by one we received into our souls the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit at our confirmation. One by one we received from God’s minister the blessed Body and Blood of our Lord. Can we be thankful enough for these proofs of the love of God for man’s soul?

III. An extension of the principle.—But the Church’s mission in working on our Lord’s principles for the salvation of souls is not confined to the souls of men. It applies to our bodies as well. Just as our Lord would listen to every detail of bodily and mental suffering, so the Church has tried, as she has been able, to help the bodies of her members as well as their souls. And here again shall we not try to work out the same principle? It is very good that we should interest ourselves with great problems for helping large masses—I mean questions like better housing, or the provision of open spaces that will benefit a whole neighbourhood. But surely we shall not exhaust our compassion for our fellow-men in forwarding wide movements of that sort. The text tells us that if we love God we shall love our brother also. I must try and get down to the individual, the separate man and woman. They are all so different, and need such different kinds of help. What are you doing to help your brother?


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-john-4.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Ver. 21. And this commandment we have from him] Lo, here a singular evidence of God’s great love to us, that he commandeth us also the love of our neighbour as well as of himself: quasi non tam de se amando fuerit sollicitus, quam de proximo nostro diligendo, saith Aretius. Our Saviour therefore, summing up the law, joineth those two precepts, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all," &c., and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Yea, God prefers mercy before sacrifice; and is content that his own immediate service should be intermitted, rather than offices of love to our brother omitted. "Leave there thy gift, and go thy way; first be reconciled," Matthew 5:24.

Love his brother also] If he be a good man, love him in God; if bad, for God.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-john-4.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

This commandment; this great and chief commandment, above the rest, this summary and comprehensive commandment, including all the rest, namely, to love God above all, for his own sake, and to love our brother as ourselves, for God's sake, this command, so full of wisdom, so agreeable to right reason, and so much our duty and interest to comply with, have we received from God; and it is most certain that we love him not, if we keep it not; This commandment have we from God, that he who loveth God, loveth his brother also.

Learn thence, 1. That the great God, by his gracious command, requires that we love him and place the supremacy of our love upon him.

2. That as God requires us to love him above ourselves, so does he oblige us, by virtue of his command, to love our brother as ourselves; as sincerely, though not so intensely, as ourselves.

Learn, 3. That the same commandment that requires us to love God, requires love to our brethren also; God interprets the neglect of our duty to our brother, as a neglect of our obligation to himself.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/1-john-4.html. 1700-1703.

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

1 John 4:21. Alterum argumentum cur amare proximum (or, more correctly: fratrem) debeamus: quia Deus id praecepit (Grotius).

καί] not = and yet (Paulus); for this verse does not contain an antithesis, but an expansion of the preceding thought.

ταύτην τὴν ἐντολὴν κ. τ. λ.] Lange interprets ἐντολή here by: “teaching;” and Grotius paraphrases ἀγαπῶν τὸν θεόν by: qui a Deo pro amante ipsius haberi vult; both false and unnecessary; for although brotherly love is the natural fruit and activity of love to God, yet at the same time the practice of it is the habitual task which he who loves God has to perform, as one appointed him by God. It is doubtful whether we are to understand by αὐτοῦ God (Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Düsterdieck, etc.) or Christ; that in the latter case ἐκείνου must be read is unfounded; because τὸν θεόν follows, the second view seems to be the more correct; but as in the context there is no reference here at all to Christ, it might be safer to understand by αὐτοῦ God.

By ἵνα referring back to ταύτην, it is here, as frequently after verbs of wishing and commanding, not so much the purpose as the purport of the commandment (the realization of which is certainly the aim and object of the commandment) that is stated, which Braune here also incorrectly disputes.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". 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 4:21. τὴν ἐντολὴν, the precept) which must be kept by those who love God: Matthew 22:39. [He who loves not his brother, does not keep the commandment as to φιλαδελφία, and therefore does not love GOD.—V. g.]


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". 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

Both ought to be conjoined, being required both by the same authority.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-john-4.html. 1685.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

21. καὶ τ. τ. ἐντ. ἔχ. ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ. The Apostle drives home his arguments for the practice of brotherly love by the fact that God has commanded all who love Him to love their brethren. So also S. Paul, here again in harmony with S. John: ‘The whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Galatians 5:14). Some take ‘Him’ to mean Christ. But this is unlikely, as Christ has not been mentioned for several verses: although it must be admitted that S. John is so full of the truth that ‘I and My Father are one’, that he makes the transition from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father almost unconsciously. Where has God given this commandment? In the whole Law, which is summed up in loving God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbour as oneself (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Luke 10:27). The Apostle thus anticipates a possible objection. A man may say, ‘I can love God without loving my brother, and I can prove my love by keeping His commandments’ (John 14:15). ‘Nay’, says S. John, ‘your own argument shews your error: you cannot keep His commandments without loving your brother’. Thus then we have two revelations of God: our brother, who is His image; and commandment, which is His will. Not to love our brother is a flagrant violation of both. As Pascal puts it, we must know men in order to love them, but we must love God in order to know Him.

ἵναἀγαπᾷ. “The final particle (ἵνα) gives more than the simple contents of the commandment. It marks the injunction as directed to an aim” (Westcott). See on 1 John 1:9.


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Bibliography
"Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-john-4.html. 1896.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

21.] And besides this argument from common sense, there is another most powerful one, which the Apostle here adds. “Quomodo diligis eum, cujus odisti præceptum?” as Aug(73) And this commandment we have from Him (God: not, Christ: see below), that he who loveth God, love also his brother (where have we this commandment? In the great summary of the law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, … and thy neighbour as thyself,” so often cited by our Lord; see Matthew 22:37-39).


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-john-4.html. 1863-1878.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

What a relief is it to the child of God, amidst all the antichrists, and false prophets and teachers, which the latter day dispensation is to bring forth, that Jesus hath said, though if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect; yet this assurance confirms their safety in Jesus, they shall not. Whither but for this, might a believer be tossed about, with every wind of doctrine, and the cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive? Blessed God the Spirit! be thou everlastingly praised, and loved, and adored, for what thou hast taught the Church in this precious Chapter! Here from thee, thy regenerated people learn, that the knowledge of Christ being come in the flesh, having proclaimed redemption in his blood, and regenerating the souls of his redeemed, by his holy Spirit; becomes an infallible security, against all the awful heresies abounding, in this Christ-despising generation. Lord! let thy children know, and especially thy little children, that we have overcome the whole enemies of our salvation in our new birth. Greater is he that is in us, than all that is in the world. And oh! for the Lord to shed, abroad his love in our hearts, that we may love him who hath first loved us. And, do thou grant, gracious God, that in thy strength we may have boldness, looking forward to that great day of our God, that when he shall appear, who is our life our portion, our righteousness, and complete justification; we may confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. For as he is, so are we in this world!


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/1-john-4.html. 1828.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

21. And this whole doctrine of love takes the form of a commandment. Not only we may, but we must. It is a divine invariable law, that the lover of God be a lover of his brother. Our highest blessedness is our highest duty.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-john-4.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And this commandment have we from him, that he who loves God love his brother also.’

So God has made it a command. God commands us to love such brothers. So it is not only logically and spiritually necessary, it is commanded. We have no choice in the matter. We are to be as one (John 17:20-23), because he has commanded it. But it should be noted of what this love consists, it consists of the keeping of the commandments (1 John 5:2-3). It is a noble, moral love that seeks wholly the good of the one loved. It is an essential part of God’s whole purposes.


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Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/1-john-4.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Furthermore, God commanded us to love both Himself and our brothers, not just Himself ( 1 John 2:3; 1 John 3:23-24; 1 John 5:3). Here is another false claim (cf. 1 John 1:6; 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10; 1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:6; 1 John 2:9; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 5:10).

"Much verbal expression of devotion for the person of Christ can co-exist with remarkably un-Christian attitudes toward the people of Christ ..." [Note: Bruce, p115.]

"It is easy to have a kind of love for God which does not recognize the obligation to love one another. Such love for God falls short of being real love for him, since it fails to obey his commandments." [Note: Marshall, p226.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-john-4.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

The victory of Faith in Jesus as the victory of Love.

1 John 4:21. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. The three points of chap. 1 John 3:12 having been discussed, a new subject begins. That is the precept of love given by ‘Him,’ that is, Christ, whose name needs not to be mentioned, as the second part of the theme of chap. 1 John 3:23 : ‘And thy neighbour as thyself’ is the primitive commandment; but the next verse answers the question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ as our Lord does, by inverting the order.


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Bibliography
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/1-john-4.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 John 4:21. The Old Commandment. Cf. 1 John 2:7-11.


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-john-4.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

from. App-104. Compare 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23. John 13:34; John 15:12.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "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

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Besides the argument (1 John 4:20) from men's common feeling, he adds a stronger from God's express commandment (Matthew 22:39). He who loves will do what the object of His love wishes.

He who loveth God - he who wishes to be regarded as loving Him.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-john-4.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

Is the command. It is God's will that he who loves the Father should love the children also! See John 13:34-35; John 15:12; 1 John 3:11. You cannot obey the command to love God without loving your brother!!!


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-john-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
11; 3:11,14,18,23; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:29-33; Luke 10:37; John 13:34,35; 15:12; Romans 12:9,10; 13:9,10; Galatians 5:6,14; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 3:8; 4:8

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-john-4.html.

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

On the basis of the reasoning in the preceding verse. John commands the disciples not to attempt loving God it they will not love the brethren also, for their profession of love will be rejected.


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Bibliography
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 4:21". 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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