7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
(1 John 4:7-13, NASB).
How many times does John call his readers “Beloved”? Let me count the ways!
2:7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.
3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.
3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 2:7; 3:2, 21; 4:1, 7, 11, NASB).
Six times! A good number of them are in chapter 4. The word translated “beloved” here is the Greek word “agapetos”, meaning “beloved, esteemed, dear, favourite, worthy of love”. It means, “agaped one”. Agape is a well known Greek word for love in the new Testament, which means, to be fond of, to love dearly, to be well pleased, to be contented with. Think of that – we are the ones with whom God is contented!
I think there is a lesson in the repetition of this address: we are greatly loved. Not only that; it is not simply that we are loved. Our identity by which we are named is this: beloved. It is so true and so persistent that it has become our essential identity. We are to hear these words as addressed to us as the beloved, as the ones of whom God is fond and with whom He is contented! It is from this identity, from this perspective, we are to hear the words of this letter. I say I am studying this from a “grace perspective”, and this is exactly what I mean. I look at this as one who is beloved and with whom God is content.
There will be much more to come on this passage! This is one of the most delicious paragraphs in all of scripture. Our discipline in study has led us here! Hallelujah!