1 John 3:11-18 – Love One Another


1 John 3:11-18


In response to God’s sacrificial love for us in Christ, we are called to love one another, not only in words but in action.


The theme of this section – that we should love one another – is announced in verse 11 and summarized in verse 18. This general exhortation quickly becomes very concrete. The example of Cain and Abel (3:12) shows the opposite of love–the jealousy and hatred which led Cain to murder his brother. Believers should not be astonished to be hated by the world (3:13). The term world (kosmos) is used in the same sense here as it is often used in John’s Gospel, meaning all that is opposed to God and God’s purposes. Whoever does not love abides in death, and all who hate a brother or sister are murderers (3:14-15).  

In stark contrast to the death-dealing ways of the world, God shows us what true love is in that Jesus laid down his life for us (3:16a). This great love calls us to love one another, even to the point of laying down our lives for one another (3:16b). Laying down our lives includes sharing our goods with our brothers and sisters in need (3:17). This is what it means to love “not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (3:18).