Herein is Love: 1 John 4:10 Meaning & Commentary


Lord’s Library editors offer this 1 John 4:10 meaning, with commentary, to help you understand the “Herein is love” Bible verse.

1 John 4:10 offers a deep, Christian understanding of love that differentiates it from all other interpretations. The verse states (in the King James Version) “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” This passage highlights the nature of love as sacrificial, emphasizing that true love originates not from human emotion or action, but from the Lord’s action towards His children.

The First Epistle of John addresses early Christians amidst their struggles with false teachings and internal discord. One of John’s overarching themes is the identification and embodiment of true Christian love. In 1 John Chapter 4, John elaborates on the nature of God’s love and its implications for believers.

The chapter begins with an admonition to test the spirits to see whether they are from God, warning against false prophets. See 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” This sets the stage for a deeper exploration of the nature of God as love, and how that foundational truth should manifest in one’s life.

The Gospel

1 John 4:10 Meaning

The phrase “herein is love” serves as a definitive statement that reorients any notions of love to its true source and expression—God’s love for us. The subsequent contrast, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us,” underscores that God’s love is not a response to human affection or works-righteousness, but is an unmerited and preemptive act of grace.

This runs contrary to common human-centered views of love as something earned or reciprocated.

The concept of Jesus as the “propitiation for our sins” is central to understanding the depth of God’s love. In this space, propitiation refers to the blood atonement of Jesus Christ; a sacrificial offering that turns away wrath. By describing Jesus’ sacrifice in this way, John highlights the severity of sin and the extent of God’s action to reconcile humanity to Himself.

This sacrificial love not only deals with the problem of sin but also restores the relationship between God and His children, opening the way for a transformed life through love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In sum, his verse greatly influences the doctrines of soteriology (the study of salvation) and Christology (the study of Christ’s nature and work). It affirms that salvation is not based on human merit but is a gift by grace through faith resulting from God’s initiative. It also emphasizes the essential role of Christ’s atonement, affirming the necessity of His sacrifice on the cross.

For the Christian, 1 John 4:10 calls believers to a life characterized by love that reflects the nature of God’s love. Since God loved us first, Christians are to love others proactively, not based on their worthiness but as a reflection of the unconditional love God first showed them. This has major implications for interpersonal relationships and community life that are worth considering.

1 John 4:10 provides a “radical” definition of love that sets it apart from human notions of conditional and reciprocal love. This verse encapsulates the essence of the Gospel—the unmerited, sacrificial love of God expressed through Jesus Christ. It challenges believers to both appreciate the profound nature of God’s love for them and to emulate this love in their relationships with others.

Lord's Library is a Christian resource hub. Our editors use a variety of internet research methods like search engines, audio and video, AI, consultations with ministry leaders in the field, and more. Lord's Library should never be a substitute for reading your Bible daily as the Scriptures are to be our final authority on all matters.

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Timothy Andrew

Timothy Andrew

Tim is the Founder of Lord's Library. He believes the Bible commands us to minister "as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Peter 4:11). Tim aspires to be as The Lord's mouth by "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jeremiah 15:19) and witnessing The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) to the whole world.

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