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17 By living in God,[a] love has been brought to its full expression in us[b] so that we may fearlessly face the day of judgment,[c] because all that Jesus now is,[d] so are we in this world. 18 Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment[e] has not reached love’s perfection. 19 Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us.[f]

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  1. 1 John 4:17 Or “By this” (relationship with God).
  2. 1 John 4:17 Or “love has reached its goal/destiny within us.”
  3. 1 John 4:17 The Aramaic can be translated “we will have open faces on the day of judgment.” For the true believer filled with God’s love, the day of judgment is not to be feared but looked forward to, for perfect love will have made us completely like Christ. Love provides us with no reason to fear the future or to fear punishment from God. See 1 Cor. 4:5.
  4. 1 John 4:17 Or “because we are what he is in this world.” The verb tense is important. We are not like Jesus was, but because of grace, we are like he is now: pure and holy, seated in heaven, and glorified. See Rom. 8:30; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-4. Faith has transferred his righteousness to us.
  5. 1 John 4:18 The immediate context shows that it is the fear of correction, “punishment,” or rejection. The Aramaic can be translated “Fear is suspicious.”
  6. 1 John 4:19 Or “We [continue to] love because God first loved us.” Some manuscripts read “We love God because he first loved us.”

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