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The Great Confidence of God's Love. (4:17, 18)

1 John 4:17 In this has this love been brought to its goal with us, that we have boldness in connection with the day of the judging because even as that One is, we on our part also are (although still) in this world. (Lenski) [1]

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. [29] If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. (KJV)

A Review of God's Love Perfected in the Believer

This is the third of three objectives of God's Love in us.[2]  Lenski calls them the goals of God's Love. This is taken from the original teteleiotai which means "...that which is complete or fully developed, reaching its intended goal." [3] The first objective of God's Love is found in 1 John 2:5 where the believer is obeying the Word of God.  The very first act of obedience the believer has performed was that of obedience to the Gospel. This obedience has its beginning in the New Birth and continues in obedience to God's Word in the Christian walk - John's reference to guarding God's Word. Please note the passage in 2:28, 29. John always has in the background of his epistle the beginning of this Christian walk as starting from the New Birth. The first objective of God's Love is met when we come to Him in repentance and confess our need of a Savior and as a result of our conversion we keep on guarding His Word. This is the first objective of God's Love.

Paul expressed it this way: "But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted." (Romans 6:17, NIV ). Obedience to God's Word started at conversion and continues throughout one's Christian Walk.

1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [12] No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

The second objective of God's Love is found in 1 John 4:12 where believers are to express or demonstrate God's Love among one another. John puts a special conviction on his assertion that we Love one another in this text. He is essentially saying "since God greatly Loved us with infinite intensity we should Love one another with that same intense, enormous Love - His Love. Here, for example, is where the Christian marriage has a distinct advantage over the marriage between the unsaved. When a marriage relationship is strained over a conflict between the egos of the partners, a battle between the two could ensue. The unsaved have no resources other than love that marriage offers and their ability to resolve the conflict amicably through mutual compromise. The Christian marriage has in addition to the love that is found within it the power of the Love of God that is in the hearts of each spouse. Christian marriage has the resources of God's Love as found in 1 Cor. 13 and Galatians 5 to bring the two egos under control of the Holy Spirit and thus, to resolve any conflict in such a way that a wonderful testimony toward each spouse is presented and also to the children. In fact, conflict in a Christian marriage can be a blessing as the children see Christ's Love being manifested such selfless resolution. The same can be said for any Christian organization or the local church. Any time God's Love resolves conflict within Christ's Body - God's Love is presented to those believers involved in a very unique way. The world, also, can benefit from such a testimony.

Confidence at the Judgment Seat of Christ

The third objective of God's Love is found in 1 John 4:17, 18, our present text. God's Love properly exercised, produces a confidence within the soul of the believer. This confidence is the result of the communion that the believer has had down through his years of walking with Him.

Hebrews 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. [16] Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV, my emphasis).

Please reference this passage to 1 John 2:1, 2; 3:19-22. Prayer, for example, is not the "real thing" until we are willing to bring our whole life before Him. This confidence that the writer of Hebrews speaks of is that of a believer who is entirely honest with himself and the Lord. Prayer is a very important part of God's Love. Confidence does not come from "magic bullet" passages of scripture quoted to a believer who is having great difficulty and looking for a "quick fix." No. Confidence comes from a life-time of deep commitment to the Lord in study of the scripture, "passing the tests" of applying God's Word to life's circumstances and close communion with Him. It means a life-time of obedience to His will in every area of our lives.


Comments on "The Day of Judging." The first application of this term brings to mind the Return of Christ where all believers will be ushered into the presence of Christ - and well it might. John certainly believed in the imminent return of Christ and looked forward to it - but he and the other apostles certainly knew that death was the probable way that believers would be ushered into this "day."

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. [31] It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

God holds all men accountable to His Lordship. To the unsaved, Christ offers no protection from the raw unadulterated wrath of God, for they have rejected the saving work of Christ on the cross - their judgment will be hell. For the saved, the day of judging is different. Christ will be able to present all believers spotless to the Father (Eph 5:26, 27). However, there are those who are saved who have not followed the Lord in faithful discipleship. The scriptures given above apply particularly to believers. The writer of Hebrews was concerned with believers who were considering renouncing their relationship with the Lord and returning to the "legal" religion of Judaism. The author points out the severity of judgment that will fall on any who would abandon their Lord and fall back into a life of denying Christ.

Paul's Commentary:

Romans 14:10-12 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. [11] For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. [12] So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (KJV).

But He does expect more than a casual relationship from every believer - the believer will face what is frequently called the Bema Seat of Christ - where all actions especially those of service to the Lord will be brought into accountability. Paul makes a very important point here and that is this: no believer will be ushered into eternal bliss who has not bowed the knee to His Lordship. Positional truth must never be used to give the believer an option of full service to the Lord (Rom 12:1, 2) or a casual relationship with Him. No! We all must give an account of our obedience and loving service to Him - period. The time spent before our Lord in this judging will, for some be wonderful vindication - for others painful realization of their neglect of and restoration to their Lord as sovereign in their lives - see also 1 Pet 4:17, 18.

Dying Grace:

When the final "test" of facing death comes, the Lord has a special confidence for the believer who has been committed to the Lord - let us call this confidence "dying grace." Here's what the psalmist says about the Lord's attitude concerning the death of a child of God:

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (KJV)

A life-time of grace being poured out on the believer comes to the head when a child of God is dying. God freely gives His grace to His dying child. The Lord seems more precious than ever before. Scripture verses come into focus that didn't have a great deal of meaning until then. Loved ones for whom our dying saint has been praying become even more of a burden - Love for them becomes very intense! The energetic Love of God must shower His Grace and Mercy a dying saint as his death is that precious in His sight.

1 John 4:17 In this has this love been brought to its goal with us, that we have boldness in connection with the day of the judging because even as that One is, we on our part also are(although still) in this world. (Lenski, my emphasis)

Some confusion has arisen regarding the timing of this confidence because of the mistranslation of the Greek preposition, en - translated "in the day of jud..." (KJV), "on the day..." NIV), "...confidence in the day of..." (NASB). Please forgive me for getting a little technical but there is the world of difference by the way we treat this seemingly "little" word "en." W. Hall Harris points out in his paper Epistles of John and Johannine Theology, that the secondary usage of en is to be applied, eg. "about, concerning." [4]  If we apply this approach we must agree with Lenski and Hall and translate this phrase "...that we have boldness [confidence] regarding [in connection with, in the sphere of] the day of judgment..." Lenski further points out that our "troublesome" preposition is in the present tense, placing this timing of our confidence in the "now."

Lenski's commentary:  "John writes: 'we have boldness,' have it now. The tense is perfectly plain when we translate en te hemera tes kriseos  'in connection with the day of judging.' We are looking forward to that day and to the fact that on that day we shall stand with God. As we do so now we have no fear but only parresia, 'boldness.' This word at times has the sense of 'confidence.' When  en is taken to mean 'in' in the sense of 'on,' 'at,' a clash in dates seems to result. John should then write: we shall have boldness on the day. John's present tense 'we have' is correct when en is properly understood."  [5]

Commentary on "...with us..."  of verse 17.  The picture here is one of very close companionship.   Actually, if we were to paraphrase this we would say, using Lenski's translation,   "In this has this love been brought to its goal arm-in-arm with us...."  The thought of these two words is that of intimacy with the Lord in connecition with His Love.  So then, walking in His Light means a life-time of walking arm-in-arm with our Blessed Lord - in His Love and our Loving Him in return as enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The song writer writes; "What a fellowship, What a Joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms..."

I apologize for taking up so much space for proving the present tense of our confidence regarding the day of judging but we must understand this timing so that when we face death, we can snatch the Devil's power of doubt and fear away from him and take comfort in this a special grace that the Lord has provided for us.

"...because even as that One is, we on our part also are(although still) in this world. (Lenski).

"That one" is Jesus Christ in His ascension and session at the right hand of the Father. "Because" [gk - hoti] introduces a purpose clause explaining the validity of our confidence now regarding facing the day of judgment through death (for most of us). Jesus' state (the is of this passage) is that of mutual, intimate fellowship in Love with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is Jesus' present state. It is important for us to grasp our present state of remaining in the same state as Jesus' - that of remaining in God's Love even though we are presently in the world - not face-to-face with Him - even as we might face the prospect of the day of judging as we face dying.

John is certainly referring to God's Love - the same Love that sent the Savior, the same Love that saved us, the same Love that compels us to do good to each other in It's energy. What a glorious prospect! A life-time of walking in close fellowship with Him, in His Light - of walking arm-in-arm with His Love culminates in a dying grace where the prospect of our "day of Judging" becomes a day of vindication and joy where we receive the joyous welcome of our Lord - the time of this confidence is now.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (KJV)


The fear is gone - His Love is that strong! John closes his argument with an interesting word-picture. Imagine the gardener pulling weeds from his garden. He pulls out the offending weed as though it is poison for his garden and throws it away so that it cannot choke out his crop. Fear is like a poisonous, choking weed that lurks in the heart. Death holds a fear over the sinner or the saint who is not walking with the Lord. However, the saint who is walking in the Light has God's Love - a dynamic affection. God's Love rips the fear of dying from our dear saint's heart and discards it like garbage or a weed - this is the third objective of God's Love - a wonderful confidence in the face of death:

1 Cor 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (KJV)

I would be wrong if I said that death did not have sorrow - the knowledge that loved ones will be separated - a dad who worries what will become of his family - of unsaved loved ones, friends or family, who are still on the prayer-list - the burden for these is not removed. But the sting of death! It is gone!

Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- [15] and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (NIV)

Jesus' work on the Cross removes the power that Satan has over the child of God. Because He tasted death for us we do not have to drink of the horrible dregs of death. A slavery - not only to sin but to the fear of dying has been removed when the sinner comes to Christ and enjoys fellowship with Him. We are delivered from all this if we know the Lord.

2 Cor 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (KJV, my emphasis on "confidence.").

Confidence is not a last minute "boost" that the dying saint gets from a visit from the pastor who quotes the appropriate scripture verses. This confidence is not a "warm, fuzzy feeling" that comes when a minister does his professional "thing," but this confidence is every bit as intense and full of His Life as though the saint were dying a martyr's death. Nothing wrong with sharing God's Word with a saint who is dying but the confidence is boosted because our dying saint already has the confidence from a life-time of walking in the Light - this ministry is a joy both to the pastor and the dying saint. Frequently, however, the dying saint is the one who does the ministering and the pastor walks away with a great blessing.

A caution to the believer who would be casual with his relationship with the Lord. The second half of verse 18 does not merely refer to the unsaved - God's third objective of His Love, confidence in the face of death, can be frustrated by a saint who has not put the Lord first in his life.

1.  I do not like the KJV treatment of love because it calls God's Love our love. Back ]

2.  From The Complete Biblical Library.  World Library Press, INC., Hebrews - Jude Volume, Page 413.  The same thought is expressed in Lenski. [ Back ]

3.  NIV has this right.  [ Back ]

4.  "The main problem with this interpretation [that the confidence is in the future, at the judgment] is that since the day of judgment is still future, it necessitates understanding the second use of the preposition "in" (en2) to mean "about, concerning" with reference to the day of judgment in order to make logical sense."  (W. Hall Harris, italics my comment, Greek is italicized and underlined) [ Back ]  Click here to download his document (MS Word format) containing these comments.

5.  Lenski Interpretation of Peter, John, Jude, Page 511. [ Back ]