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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
1 John 4

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-21

IV:1-6 The Discernment of Spirits —1. Besides those impulses which have their origin in ourselves, there are two other kinds of spiritual activity, which come from without. God can enlighten the mind and move the will of man, either immediately or through the agency of others. On the other hand, the evil spirit tries to perplex and disquiet the faithful with false teachings, and he can imitate the appearance of good in order to deceive men. Hence, the Apostle warns his readers not to trust every spirit, but to put the revelation they receive, or the teaching they hear to a test, to see whether it is from God or from the devil. 2-3. Teachers, who are animated by the divine Spirit, defend the incarnation of the Son of God. Those who make a distinction between Jesus, a mere man, and Christ, the Son of God, are not of God, but of Antichrist. 4. The Apostle is grateful that his ’little children’ have not been deceived by such false teachers, because God, who dwells in them, has helped them to persevere in the truth.

7-21 God and Charity —After showing this distinction between the children of God and those of the world, St John next proves that love of God and of the neighbour are so closely related that the one cannot exist without the other.

7. Those who love their Christian brethren are united to God and know him, i.e. are able to distinguish his revelation from the false teachings of men.

9-10. When God in his infinite mercy determined to restore fallen mankind to its original supernatural state, his love knew no bounds. He sent his only-begotten Son into the world to be a sacrifice of propitiation for our sins.

11. This was an act of purest love. For we were his enemies, deserving punishment. Yet he chose this method to’ teach us to love our brethren.

12-14. When we love one another, the invisible God dwells in us, because by this act we resemble God, whose love in sending his Son to be the Saviour of the world we freely admit and confess.

15-17. By faith and love we are united to God and to one another, and if we perfect ourselves in love, we need not fear the day of judgement.

18. Just as love unites two persons, so fear separates them. There is a servile fear of God that is incompatible with perfect charity. This looks only to the punishment, and he who is influenced solely by it fears to approach a just God. He fears the punishment more than the fact of offending God. Such ’fear is not in charity’. There is also a filial fear of God, which considers only that sin is an offence against God. Such fear springs from love and is wholesome.

20-21. Because it is easier for us to love what we see rather than what we do not see, therefore, he who hates his brother cannot truthfully claim that he loves God, particularly since God himself has commanded us to love our brother.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on 1 John 4". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/1-john-4.html. 1951.
 
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