1 John (6): Hatred vs Sacrificial Love (3:11-18)
You May Know: An Exposition of First John (part 6)
3:11–18 — The Central Message: Sacrificial Love Defined
The Parallel Outline of First John
A 1:1–4 — Prologue — Eternal Life Manifested
B 1:5–2:2 —The Truth Proclaimed
C 2:3–17 — The Love Commandment
D 2:18–27 — Antichrists Deny Jesus is the Christ
E 2:28–3:10 — Confidence as Children of God
F 3:11–18 — The Message: Sacrificial Love for One Another
E’ 3:19–24 — Confidence in God’s Presence
D’ 4:1–6 — Antichrists Deny Christ Came in the Flesh
C’ 4:7–5:5 — The Love Example
B’ 5:6–12 — The Testimony Received
A’ 5:13–21 — Conclusion — Eternal Life Assured
Last week we saw that we gain confidence before His presence by remaining in Him (v2:28), by identity as children of God (vv2:29-3:3) and by obedience in Him (vv3:4-10). The latter section emphasized that practicing sin shows that you are “of the devil” rather than born of God (3:10). The specific kind of obedience that John is love (v3:10). This is the transitional catch-phrase to the very center of the book: Sacrificial Love for One Another.
In this center section of the book, there are two parallels that provide a clear definition of Christian love which evidences life from Christ.
1 John 3:11–18 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 3:12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 3:13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
Loving One Another is the Message from Beginning (v11)
Cain’s Hatred Manifests Evil Deeds (v12)
World’s Hatred Manifests Because of Our Righteous Deeds (v13)
Loving One Another Manifests Life (v14)
1 John 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 3:17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
Hating One Another Manifests No Life (from God) (v15)
Christ’s Love Manifested in Laying Down Life (v16)
Brethren’s Love Manifested in Laying Down Goods (v17)
Loving One Another Manifested in Action and Truth (v18)
There are then two central points in this passage:
1) You must not selfishly live in hatred. The illustration is Cain who was challenged by the Lord, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” But instead he manifested his heart-evil by his actions and was controlled by it (Gen. 4:7) all the way to the end-game of all hatred, murder. Hating brethren (such as those turning away were doing) manifests being of the evil one. This is how evil is manifest, just as Christ was manifest to destroy such (v3:8).
2) You must sacrificially live in love. Just as those of the evil one, depart from the original message of “love one another” - so those who are “of God” should manifest who they are by loving others sacrificially. Christ shows this in giving all in surrendering His life for our salvation. We show that we have life in Him when we open our hearts (literally, guts) by meeting the needs of brethren in “action and truth,” not just in lip-service.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more