"God abides in us and his love is brought to perfection in us", Wahlde. In the passage before us John sets out to confirm this truth.
i] Context: See 4:7-12. As already noted, Kruse argues that John has formed his letter in line with epideictic rhetoric. The suggestion is that our author presents a series of proofs / arguments in support of the proposition / thesis / partitio, that "God is light", 1:5, ie., that God is self-revealed, the revelation of "love", 4:8, 16. Not that God is just loving, but that he is love itself, he is a other-person self-giving being. It is his gracious character which prompts love in turn when a person willingly receives his love / grace. Following this approach, the passage before us serves as the next proof in support of John's proposition that God is life-giving light / love."
ii] Background: See 1:1-5.
iii] Structure: The confirming truths of God's love brought to perfection in us:
God is life-giving light, let us walk in the light of his love
Argument #10, v13-21:
The assurance of God's abiding love;
The evidence of the indwelling Spirit, v13b;
The evidence of the apostolic testimony, v14;
The evidence of a firm ascent in the person of our God, v15;
The evidence of a confidence in God's continued love for us, v16-18;
The evidence of brotherly love, v19-21.
John has established that a person who is "born of God", 4:7, gains "eternal life", 1:2, through the "blood of Jesus (which) purifies us from all sin", 1:7. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness", 1:9. This new birth through Christ, John describes as living in Christ and Christ living in us, 4:13. The passage before us is part of a larger unit dealing with the relationship between righteousness, love and belief. In 4:7-12 John makes the point that God's dealings with us in Christ express the nature of divine love. We who are touched by such love should therefore love as he loves. Now, in the passage before us, John sets out to provide the evidence that "we live in him and he is in us" such that "his love is made complete in us." This fact is confirmed by the presence of the indwelling Spirit in a believer; the apostolic testimony; a believer's settled reliance on foundational truth; the loving nature of God himself; and the evidence of brotherly love.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 4:13
Arguments in support of the proposition, #10 - The assurance of God's abiding love, v13-21: "This is how we know that we live in him and he in us." i] The Spirit assures us of God's love, v13b. There are "multiple dimensions of confirmation", Marshall, that God's love extends unreservedly to broken humanity, a love which is realised in his abiding in us and our abiding in him - "God's indwelling presence", Lieu. The first confirmation of "God's indwelling presence" is the gift of the Spirit.
toutw/ dat. pro. "this" - [in = by] this [we know]. Culy, so also Yarbrough, thinks that the close demonstrative pronoun points forward; "by this (ie., by means of the fact that "he has given us of his Spirit") we know that ..." "The proof that our life is joined to God's life", Barclay.
oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what "we know."
menomen (menw) pres. "we live" - we abide. "God makes possible a mutual abiding between himself and the believer", Wahlde.
en + dat. "in" - in [him]. Local, expressing space; incorporative union.
kai "and" - and [he abides in us]. Coordinative.
oJti "-" - that. Possibly causal, providing "the foundation of the knowledge", Wahlde, but better epexegetic explaining the content of "this"; "namely, that he has imparted to us of His Spirit." cf., Berkeley.
dedwken perf. "he has given" - he has given. Variant aorist exists, edwken, "he gives"; the perfect expresses the lasting quality of the gift.
hJmin dat. pro. "us" - to us. Dative of indirect object.
ek + gen. "of" - from [the spirit of him]. Here probably serving as a partitive genitive, although source / origin is possible. Certainly not part of the Spirit's person, but part of his outpouring, ie., his gifting to us is limited, unlike Jesus who receives the Spirit "without measure", Jn.3:34.
ii] The second confirmation that God abides in us and his love is brought to perfection in us, rests on the apostolic testimony that Jesus, the Son of God, was sent by the Father as the saviour of the world. The subjective presence of the gift of the Spirit is now supported by the objective apostolic witness of what Jesus has done.
teqeameqa (qeaomai) perf. "we have seen" - [and we] we have beheld [and testify]. Possibly not actually "witnessed", but "appreciated", "contemplated", but if John is John the apostle and not John the elder, then literally "beheld" is intended. Both "we have seen" and "we have testified", are perfect, both expressing a past action with ongoing consequences.
oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception / indirect speech expressing what they have seen and testify to.
swthra (hr rhoV) acc. "to be the Saviour" - [the father has sent the son] saviour. Often taken as a predicate accusative with the infinitive supplied, but more properly the accusative complement of the direct object "Son", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the "the Son"; "the Father has sent the Son as the saviour of the world."
tou kosmou (oV) gen. "of the world" - of the world. The genitive is adjectival, usually treated as verbal, objective, "saviour of the world", Barclay, but possibly possessive, "the world's saviour", Berkeley.
iii] The third confirmation is found in a believer's settled reliance on foundational truth, v15. Kruse suggests that this confessional statement is shorthand for "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who came in the flesh as the Saviour of the world and gave himself as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world."
o}V an "if anyone" - if who = whoever [confesses]. Introducing a relative conditional clause 3rd. class where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "whoever, as the case may be, ..... then ...." The relative 3rd. person o}V, "who", moves from the inclusive "we", indicating that not all John's readers are among those who "acknowledge", and thus, as a consequence, do no experience God's indwelling. Reciprocal indwelling is "contingent upon acknowledgment that Jesus is the Son of God", Lieu.
oJti "that" - that [jesus is]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what a person may acknowledge, namely, "that Jesus is the Son of God."
tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - [the son] of god. The genitive is adjectival, relational.
en + dat. "in" - [god abides] in [him and he in god]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical / incorporative union. John has already raised the issue of mutual indwelling, God in us / we in God, in 3:24, 4:13, 15 and 16.
iv] The fourth confirmation that God abides in us and his love is brought to perfection in us, rests on the very nature of God himself, v16-18. There are many suggested structural divisions of the passage at this point. Many modern translations start a new paragraph at "God is love", 16b, so NIV, yet Yarbrough argues that this is an unnecessary disruption of the discourse. "We are confident of God's love for us and this because God is love", ie., God loves us, a fact which is "fully consistent with the essence of God's character in terms of love as manifested in the Son; whoever dwells in this love continually dwells in God, and God likewise dwells in that person", Yarbrough.
kai "and so" - and. Possibly drawing a logical conclusion, as NIV.
hJmeiV pro. "we" - we [we have known]. Emphatic by use and position; "we are convinced."
pepisteukamen (pisteuw) perf. "rely" - [and] have believed. Again the perfect for both "know" and "rely" indicates a past action with ongoing results. "Rely" is better than "believe / have faith in." "Know" and "rely" are best treated as a hendiadys; "we are completely sure / convinced of the love God has for us."
en + dat. "for [us]" - [the love which god has] in [us]. Adverbial use of the preposition, expressing reference / respect; "with respect to us" = "for us." Not "the love God authors and sustains within us", Reicke, but the love which God extends toward us (grace) particularly demonstrated in the atonement.
oJ qeoV agaph estin "God is love" - Either a statement about God's intrinsic nature, or his character in action, "his saving action on behalf of humankind", Kruse.
oJ menwn (menw) pres. part. "whoever lives" - [and] the one abiding. The participle serves as a substantive.
en + dat. "in [love]" - in [the = this love, abides in god and god abides in him]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical. The idea of abiding in love is somewhat unclear. Wahlde suggests that the phrase encapsulates the totality of abiding in love, ie., God's love for the believer, the believer's love for God, the believers love for their brother and sister in the Lord. Yet, surely living / abiding in love is simply referring to a believers action of love toward a brother or sister. Such behaviour indicates that they abide in God and God abides in them; "loving one another is the mark of those who truly know God", Kruse.
In this and the next verse John explains that the evidential assurance realised in our mutual indwelling with God provides us with a confidence that drives out fear.
en + dat. "-" - [and] in. Instrumental, expressing means; "by this."
toutw/ "this" - this [the love has been perfected]. The demonstrative pronoun "this" points back / anaphoric; "As for the way in which love (the love realised through our being in God and he in us, v16b) is in our case brought to its fullest expression", Cassirer. Yet, possibly pointing forward / cataphoric; "On our part love comes to completion in this, that we face the judgment day confidently", Berkeley.
meq (meta) + gen. "among" - with [us]. Expressing association.
iJna + subj. "so that" - that [we may have confidence]. Here introducing a consecutive clause expressing result, as NIV; "this shows itself in our being entitled to be filled with confidence on the day of judgment", Cassirer.
en + dat. "on [the day]" - in = on [the day]. Temporal use of the preposition.
thV krisewV (iV ewV) gen. "of judgment" - The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / temporal; "when judgment will be enacted."
oJti "because / -" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why we can be confident in the day of judgment; "because our relationship to the world is the same as his was", Barclay. The TNIV opts for an epexegetic use of the conjunction.
en + dat. "in [this world]" - [as that one is and = also we are] in [this world]. Temporal use of the preposition; "while we are living in this world."
kaqwV .... kai "like [Jesus]" - as [that one]. Comparative construction; "as that one lived in the world so also we who live / are in this world." "Believers who love one another in this world, in the same way as Christ loved his disciples when he was in the world, show that they live in God, and therefore they need have no fear as they face the day of judgment", Kruse.
en "in" - [fear is not] in [the love]. The preposition is again adverbial, expressing reference / respect; foboV ouk estin, "there is no fear", en "with respect to love."
all (alla) "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...., but ....".
teleia adj. "perfect [love]" - complete = perfect [love]. Love that is perfect / complete is presumably that love which abides through the mutual union between a believer and God in Christ, the stress being on God's love for us in Christ, but possibly, although unlikely, "fully developed love", Phillips, ie., quality love exhibited in the life of a believer.
exw adv. "out" - [throws, casts] outside [the fear]. Adverb of place.
oJti "because" - Here introducing a causal clause explaining why God's love for us drives out fear, namely, because those united to God's love do not face punishment.
ecei (ecw) pres "has to do with" - [fear] has [punishment as its end]. A rather strange statement, paraphrased by the NIV, correctly according to Smalley. "The notion of punishment is bound up with it", Cassirer.
oJ .... foboumenoV (fobew) pres. part. "the one who fears" - [and] the one fearing. The participle serves as a substantive.
ou teteleiwtai (teleiow) perf. "is not made perfect" - has not been perfected [in love]. "He has not yet experienced love in all its perfection", Barclay.
v] The fifth confirmation is the evidence of brotherly love, v19-21. A person who is touched by God's love finds within themselves the capacity to love; not perfect love, since only God is perfect, but love none-the-less. A person devoid of compassion for their brothers and sisters is self-deceived if they claim that they share in God's love.
oun "-" - therefore. This variant, drawing a logical conclusion, was obviously inserted to conclude the previous passage, making v20 introduce the next sentence.
hJmeiV pro. "we" - Emphatic by position and use. Unlike those who fear, we .....
agapwmen (agapaw) pres. "love" - we love. Variants exist where the object "Him" is supplied. Although probably just an attempt to improve the syntax, so making "God" the intended object. The act of loving in general remains a possibility, particularly brotherly love. The NIV translates the verb as indicative, but it is possibly subjunctive, either a hortatory subjunctive, "let us love", so Lieu, Schnackenburg, even conditional, "if we love God it is because he first loved us", so Cassirer.
oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why hJmeiV agapwmen, "we love."
hgaphsen (agapaw) aor. "he [first] loved" - he [first] loved [us]. The antecedent is unclear, but probably "God" rather than "Jesus".
prwtoV adj. "first" - first. "God always makes the first move in the game of love", Sloyan.
ean tiV + subj. "whoever" - if anyone [should say]. Introducing a relative conditional clause 3rd. class where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if someone, as the case may be, ..... then [he is a liar]" John is referring to the troublemakers / opponents / secessionists who may well claim to love God / to be believers / to be born by the Spirit, but whose claim can be tested by whether they act in love toward their brothers and sister in Christ. If they demonstrate a lack of care / consideration / compassion toward their brothers ("hates", cf., 2:9), then obviously they are self-deceived ("liar").
oJti "to [love]" - that [i love god]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what a certain person may say.
kai "yet" - and [the brother of him he may hate, he is a liar]. Here slightly adversative / comparative, as NIV.
gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why someone who claims to love God but hates their brother is a liar; "because ...." The argument is a portiori ie., an argument from the lesser to the greater. If a person is unable to love a brother, which is not overly hard to do, then obviously they are going to have great difficulty loving God, something very hard to do. "If he does not love his fellow Christian whom he has seen, he is incapable of loving God whom he has not seen", REB.
oJ ... mh agapwn (agapaw) pres. part. "whoever does not love" - the one not loving [the brother of him]. The participle serves as a substantive.
eJwraken (oJraw) perf. "[whom] they have seen" - [whom] he has seen. "If they won't show compassion toward someone they have had a face-to-face contact with, then they are obviously incapable of entering into a reciprocal loving relationship with a God they can neither see nor touch."
agapan (agapaw) pres. inf. "[cannot] love" - he is not able] to love [god whom he has not seen]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "is not able."
ap (apo) + gen. "[he has give us]" - [and we have this command] from [him]. Expressing source / origin. Presumably "from" autou, "him" = "God".
tauthn pro. "this" - The close demonstrative pronoun references forward; the command being to love the brother / sister in the Lord.
thn entolhn (h) "command" - As has already been noted, the foundational command, love God / love neighbour, is restated by Jesus in the terms of belief in him and love of the brotherhood. John exegetes Jesus' teaching in the terms of believing in Christ, which faith-act empowers brotherly love. Where the love of God / faith is absent, neighbourly love is likely to be absent. Where there is faith, then there should be love, which point is made in this verse and expanded in 5:1ff.
iJna "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech, commanding, or epexegetic, specifying the command.
oJ agapwn (agapaw) pres. part. "anyone who loves" - the one loving [god]. The participle serves as a substantive.
agapa/ (agapaw) pres. subj. "must [also] love" - [and = also] should love [the brother of him]. Hortatory subjunctive, although not specifically as a command, but rather what should follow for those who love God, namely that they "should also love their (his) fellow believer (brother)." "Must love their fellow believer (kai) as well."