16b God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Never was more meaning encapsulated in so few words than in this short sentence – “God is love”. It is a statement of eternal magnitude. The apostle John stated this truth twice in his first epistle (cf. 1 John 4:8, 16). In fact, the message of this short verse is splashed all over the Bible.
When John wrote that “God is love”, he was not saying that “love” is the complete revelation of God. In fact, he has earlier also written in the same epistle that “God is light” (1 John 1:5), which refers to God’s holy nature (cf. John 3:18-21; 1 John 1:5-10). So, love is not the only attribute that adequately describes God. God cannot be fully explained by one of His attributes alone. The emphasis of the saying, “God is love”, is that in God alone we can fully view what true love is; it is only by His enablement that we can express true love.
The declaration that “God is love” not only reveals God as a loving God, but also portrays love as natural and essential to His divine glory. All of God’s will and all of His works are draped in His glorious love. In nature and essence, He is “God of love” (2 Corinthians 13:11).
God is perfect and His love is perfect too. God is unfathomable; hence His love is beyond our full grasp. But the knowledge that God is full of perfect and infinite love enables us to draw near to Him with full assurance of faith for pardon and redemption. There is no act of love in this world that can ever be compared to God’s love which receives us as His children, though we were once His enemies. He loved us when we had no love for Him. He lovingly came to us even when we had wandered away from Him. He loved us wretched sinful mortals so that we might live in heaven, live with God, and live in eternal glory and blessedness with Him and through Him. Oh, what love has reached us here on earth!
The apostle John also declared the unmistakable proof of our loving relationship with God – “and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Everyone who loves all that God loves is certainly the one who dwells in God, and God in him. This is the practical proof of our relationship with God. So let us love Christ and His people, just as God loves them. Let us love the church, the work of the Gospel and His servants, just as He loves them. Let us love even our enemies, for God loved us while we were yet His enemies. Where God abides, love abides.