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[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
1 John 2:7-11 by Robert Dean
Series:1st John (2000)
Duration:1 hr 4 mins 25 secs

Impersonal Love is Active; 1 John 2:7-11


1 John 4:18 NASB "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." The word "perfect" here is the Greek teleios [teleioj] which means mature. It never means perfect in the sense of flawless, it means to bring something to completion or to a state of maturity. Most people, when they think of the opposite of love, think of hatred, antagonism, bitterness; but what John juxtaposes here is the concepts of fear and love. That is because fear, that inner anxiety about life, meaning purpose and security, is the core motion that is part of the driving factor of the sin nature. It is the first emotional sin mentioned in the Scripture. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and it became apparent to them instantly that they had done something that had changed reality, and God came looking for them in the garden they ran and hid. Why did they hide? Because they were afraid. Perfect [completed] love casts out fear, so they are opposites. Perfect love casts out fear because fear involves punishment and the one who fears is not completed in love. Fear focuses on punishment and condemnation and the one who loves isn't afraid of what the consequences might be. For example, the consequences might be rejection, a hostile reaction, something negative. We don't want that to happen. We want to reach out sometimes to somebody and we are afraid that they are just going to reject it. So that's fear. Perfect/completed love is not going to be motivated by fear.

So what we learn from some of these observations on love is that love is not a sentimental concept. It doesn't mean we are always nice and sweet. Sometimes we are going to be tough, and sometimes unappreciated because of our hard stand. Love is wise and discerning because it is based on doctrine, therefore a believer has to have a lot of doctrine in his soul to be able to exercise love in a wise and discerning manner. Love is not subjective, it is not based on insecurity or trying to acquire the affections of its object. Love basically means that we are going to be conscientious and treat everyone—attractive, unattractive, obnoxious, unkind—as people, individuals created in the image and likeness of God.

The first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 express the priority of love over everything else that we can think of. Paul uses a way of expression called hyperbole (exaggeration). He is going to think of the most extreme situation possible to demonstrate that no matter how great, wonderful and fantastic that we could be within the realm of thought, that of we had all of these things and did all of these things and were super wonderful, and we had all of these talents and gifts to the maximum that anybody could ever imagine, and had it without love, then it wouldn't matter what we had, it would be worthless. That is the thought in these first three verses. He is not necessarily saying that these situations are possible, he is merely expressing through hyperbole the exaggerated extreme in order to make a point. He uses a third class condition which just expresses that this is a hypothetical situation.    

1 Corinthians 13:1 NASB "If I speak with the tongues [languages] of men and of angels…" This does not support angelic languages, it is hyperbole."… but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." The issue is that they had better have love, it doesn't matter what other talents they may think they possess, if they are not doing it on the basis of impersonal love then they are just as meaningless and empty as the pagan rituals. 

1 Corinthians 13:2 NASB "If I have {the gift of} prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." Remember, this is hyperbole. No one, no apostle knew everything. Everybody in rhe body of Christ is given different gifts and different abilities, and it works together as a team; no one, even the apostle Paul, knew everything. Without impersonal love I haven't reached spiritual maturity, which is where the Christian life really happens, my life is just vanity, meaningless.

1 Corinthians 13:3 NASB "And if I give all my possessions to feed {the poor,} and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." He is talking in terms of the extreme. The bottom line on those first three verses is to stress the importance of love. The stress is not on what spiritual gifts we possess, what talents we possess, the issue is it all ultimately leads to Christian growth and maturity comes under the category of love.

In verse 4 Paul begins to give several characteristics of love. 1 Corinthians 13:4 NASB "Love is patient, love is kind {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant." So love is defined with two positive adjectives and three negative descriptions. Love is patient, enduring longsuffering literally, from the Greek word makrothumia [makroqumia] – to endure a long time under negative reactions. It means to endure rejection, hostility, difficult circumstances, without faltering, without giving up. It is not just the idea of patience, it is the idea of endurance and hanging in there in difficult circumstances. It is the ability or capacity to endure hostility, rejection, or ill-treatment without retaliation, reaction, mental attitude sins of resentment, hostility, anger or revenge. Love is kind, the Greek word chrestuomai [xrhstuomai], which basically means grace in action. That is why you can't love if you don't understand grace. Grace precedes love; it means that God dealt with us not on the basis of who we are and what we have done but on who He is and what Christ did no the cross. It is not conditional, it is unconditional. To the degree that we understand unconditional grace, to that degree we can have unconditional love for people because it is not based on their failures or successes, it is based on the absolute character of God. It is not jealous, the Greek word zelos [zhloj] which emphasises self-promotion. Love is not interested in promoting itself over somebody else and operating on insecurity because somebody else is getting all the attention. Love does not brag, perpereuomai [perpereuomai] which refers to a bragger, somebody who is always talking about themselves. This is somebody who is using words to embellish and heighten their own achievements, promoting themselves. Finally, it says love is not arrogant. The basic orientation of our sin nature is arrogance. The word here is phusioo [fusiow] which is one of the harshest expressions of arrogance. It is only used seven times in the New Testament, six of which are in Corinthians. Remember, arrogance operates on four basic skills and they form a cycle of degeneration. First of all self-absorption where the basic orientation is me. When we become absorbed with ourselves, our agenda, our hopes, our plans, our dreams, and we begin to focus on whatever we want right now, whatever will please us—the key to immaturity is the inability to postpone self-gratification, and we live in a culture that can't postpone self-gratification because it is self-absorbed. They want it now. So self-absorption leads to the second arrogance skill which is self-indulgence. We are absorbed by our needs, our wants, our pleasures, and so we want to indulge them just as soon as possible. Then we get into the third arrogance skill which is self-justification. We have to justify everything that we are doing. When we are in self-justification we reconstruct the world according to our own likes and dislikes and we get into self-deception; we are completely divorced from reality and have distorted reality. We must always remember that arrogance is tenacious, it never gives up and it masks itself in all kinds of "good" ways. Arrogance is the basic orientation of the sin nature but under spiritual growth we can get away from arrogance and can truly and genuinely love people as Christ has loved us.     

1 Corinthians 13:5 NASB "does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,}" The word "unbecomingly" is the Greek word aschemoneo [a)sxhmonew] and it means to act rudely, to act in violation of social norms. Then, "it does not seek its own." This is comparable to arrogance. This is the verb zeteo [zhtew] plus the reflexive pronoun heautos [e(autoj], and this is fulfilling one's own gratification. It is "not provoked," the Greek paroxuno [parocunw] which they weren't hypersensitive, they weren't easily incited to a reaction to anger or to hostility or revenge.   

1 Corinthians 13:6 NASB "does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth." Unrighteousness is the word adike [a)dikh], which John says in 1 John 5 is sin. It doesn't have a positive attitude towards sin. It rejoices with the truth, aletheia [a)lhqeia], doctrine. Doctrine is the highest priority. [7] "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." A difficult one and really challenges us: "bears all things," is the Greek word stego [stegw] which means to conceal, to protect people's privacy. That means when somebody does something foolish you don't run around and tell everybody; it means you are not going to parade others' failures in front of the world. Next, "believes" doesn't refer to credulity and believing every lie somebody tells us, it is trusting, having a basic orientation of trust. It "hopes all things," it is confident in itself, and "endures all things," it does not react in anger, hostility, bitterness or jealousy. [8] "Love never fails…" That sets up the remainder of the chapter which is going to talk about the permanence of love versus the impermanence of spiritual gifts, specifically, knowledge, wisdom, prophecy and tongues. Love is going to stay the course throughout the church age but the other gifts are temporary and with disappear by the end of the apostolic period. Love is the mandate for the Christian and the church age.