The Model of Love (4:9–10)* Also typical of 1 John, the discussion does not remain on the abstract level. Following the general statement love comes from God, the epistle here begins to speak of the specific manifestation of that love in the sending of the only Son. God’s love is a model for how and why we are to love each other. The Elder emphasizes the visible manifestation of love (v. 9); its active and redeeming character (vv. 9–10); and its ultimate definition in terms of God’s action rather than our own (v. 10). We may look briefly at these three items.
First, just as God’s love was manifested in the sending of the Son, so John expects that we will demonstrate love in action to others (compare 3:16–18). Christians will live out their love in kindness, generosity and service to others. But, second, the Elder’s argument moves quickly beyond the example that God’s love provides for us to an examination of its active and redeeming character (vv. 9–10). God has loved us in a way that has given us life. The atoning death of Jesus provides the means by which believers come into a life-giving realm where love is received and expressed (Jn 3:16). We do not simply gaze at the painting on the wall; we are touched by the hand of God and given life-giving love. And, third, because life and love come from God, it is God’s activity and not our own behavior and efforts that defines the essence of love.
Thompson, M. M. (1992). 1–3 John (1 Jn 4:9). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.