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The Epistles of John (Part 41): 1 John 4:16–17

by Stephen Hebert on Monday - 13 July 2009

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

This is the 41st part in an ongoing series on the epistles of John.

English Standard Version Nestle-Aland 27
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐγνώκαμεν καὶ πεπιστεύκαμεν τὴν ἀγάπην ἣν ἔχει ὁ θεὸς ἐν ἡμῖν. Ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν, καὶ ὁ μένων ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ ἐν τῷ θεῷ μένει καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἐν αὐτῷ μένει. Ἐν τούτῳ τετελείωται ἡ ἀγάπη μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν, ἵνα παρρησίαν ἔχωμεν ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς κρίσεως, ὅτι καθὼς ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐσμεν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ τούτῳ.

What does it mean “to have confidence/boldness for the day of judgment” anyway?

Detail of Michelangelo's Last Judgment

Detail of Michelangelo's Last Judgment

The Day of Judgment is not something that we like to talk about. We look at depictions of it, such as the one by Michelangelo to the right, and are enthralled by the severity of God’s punishment of the wicked. We are appalled by the reality of Hell and the notion that an all-loving God could even conceive of something such as judgment.

How could this judgment, which naturally leads to condemnation of some, be consistent with the statements in 1 John 4:16 and elsewhere?

No matter how secure you might be in your theological beliefs and opinions, at some point you will be confronted with the doctrine of the Day of Judgment Judgment — the belief that God will judge all human souls, condemning those who turned completely away from him and celebrating those who abide1 in him.

Without writing a treatise on the Day of Judgment,2 and what it means, I want to say that I do believe that we will be judged. I also believe that Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross was sufficient to eliminate the debts owed by those who abide in him.

In a previous post I wrote about the perfection of God’s love:

This is the perfection of God’s love — the completion of that relationship between him and us. Picture an electrical circuit. When the circuit is closed and complete, the light turns on. The same is true of our relationship with God. When the relationship is complete, the light turns on; God’s love is perfected and we shine, standing out amongst those who are still searching for ways to complete the circuit.

When that circuit is closed, we know that our relationship with God is secure and whole; we know that we are complete in him. This completeness should give us confidence when we come to the Day of Judgment. We stand assured in our salvation, confident in the sacrifice of Christ, and whole before the King.

I think that is what it means to be bold or confident on the Day of the Judgment — to know that you have abided in him and that he will not let your foot slip.

Article Series - The Epistles of John

  1. The Epistles of John (Part 1): 1 John 1:1–4
  2. The Epistles of John (Part 2): 1 John 1:5
  3. The Epistles of John (Part 3): 1 John 1:6–7
  4. The Epistles of John (Part 4): 1 John 1:8–10
  5. The Epistles of John (Part 5): 1 John 2:1
  6. The Epistles of John (Part 6): 1 John 2:2
  7. The Epistles of John (Part 7): 1 John 2:3–6
  8. The Epistles of John (Part 8): 1 John 2:7–8
  9. The Epistles of John (Part 9): 1 John 2:9–11
  10. The Epistles of John (Part 10): 1 John 2:12
  11. The Epistles of John (Part 11): 1 John 2:13
  12. The Epistles of John (Part 12): 1 John 2:14
  13. The Epistles of John (Part 13): 1 John 2:15
  14. The Epistles of John (Part 14): 1 John 2:16
  15. The Epistles of John (Part 15): 1 John 2:17
  16. The Epistles of John (Part 16): 1 John 2:18
  17. The Epistles of John (Part 17): 1 John 2:19
  18. The Epistles of John (Part 18): 1 John 2:20
  19. The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21
  20. The Epistles of John (Part 20): 1 John 2:22
  21. The Epistles of John (Part 21): 1 John 2:23–25
  22. The Epistles of John (Part 22): 1 John 2:26–27
  23. The Epistles of John (Part 23): 1 John 2:28
  24. The Epistles of John (Part 24): 1 John 2:29
  25. The Epistles of John (Part 25): 1 John 3:1–3
  26. The Epistles of John (Part 26): 1 John 3:4–6
  27. The Epistles of John (Part 27): 1 John 3:7–10
  28. The Epistles of John (Part 28): 1 John 3:11–12
  29. The Epistles of John (Part 29): 1 John 3:13
  30. The Epistles of John (Part 30): 1 John 3:14-18
  31. The Epistles of John (Part 31): 1 John 3:19–22
  32. The Epistles of John (Part 32): 1 John 3:23–24
  33. The Epistles of John (Part 33): 1 John 4:1–3
  34. The Epistles of John (Part 34): 1 John 4:4–6
  35. The Epistles of John (Part 35): 1 John 4:7-8
  36. The Epistles of John (Part 36): 1 John 4:9
  37. The Epistles of John (Part 37): 1 John 4:10
  38. The Epistles of John (Part 38): 1 John 4:11-12
  39. The Epistles of John (Part 39): 1 John 4:13–14
  40. The Epistles of John (Part 40): 1 John 4:15
  41. The Epistles of John (Part 41): 1 John 4:16–17
  42. The Epistles of John (Part 42): 1 John 4:18–19
  43. The Epistles of John (Part 43): 1 John 4:20–21
  44. The Epistles of John (Part 44): 1 John 5:1
  45. The Epistles of John (Part 45): 1 John 5:2-3

Footnotes

  1. Is the proper word “abided” or “abode” — you tell me!
  2. I realize that this can be a very touchy subject for many. Therefore, I sincerely invite readers to explore it and ask questions about it.

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