With 4:1 the epistle shifts its focus somewhat. The previous section (2:28—3:24) dealt with what it means to be God's children. Now a long section on belief and love begins. To be sure, belief and love are both identifying marks of the children of God. But the emphasis here will not fall so much on how these characterize God's children as it will on how God works to bring about true confession and true love. This long section begins and ends with a subsection on belief (4:1-6; 5:6-12). In between is one subsection that deals with love for each other (4:7-12) and two (4:13-21; 5:1-5) that interweave both themes.
Together the threads of love and faith weave the tapestry of Christian life. But these two threads are not chosen at random nor are they inde pendent of each other. Rather, they are intimately related, for it is through the Son that God's love is manifested (4:10-11), and in this Son the readers are called to have faith (4:2-3, 14-15; 5:1, 5-12). We can expect, then, that the threads of love and faith shall reappear and cross over each other many times and that, as they do, the textures and colors will deepen and become richer. But we turn, first, to a passage that exhorts the faithful to be alert to the dangers of deception from these false teachers.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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