We love because he first loved us.1 John 4 v 19
We love him because he first loved us. — This is the foundation of our love to God. 1. We love him because we find he has loved us. 2. We love him from a sense of obligation and gratitude. 3. We love him from the influence of his own love; from his love shed abroad in our hearts, our love to him proceeds. It is the seed whence our love springs. Clarke
Inherent in this epic declaration is the fact that Christ was not crucified in order to persuade God to love people, but because God already loved mankind, the divine love preceding the entire program of redemption, and even more, existing in the heart of God even before the world was. One great purpose of the cross was that of persuading people to receive the salvation God was so willing to give. Another truth evident in this is that, “Our love (whether of God or man) is a plain duty to us, since God first loved us.” It should be considered by all that the very fact of God’s loving sinful and fallen humanity provides a powerful incentive for all perceptive souls to do likewise. Why did God love fallen and sinful men? Even their being sinful did not change the fact that they had been designed and created in the image of the Father; and through God’s provident mercy, all of the moral and eternal consequences of their sins were potentially removable, through the means God revealed. Moreover, the disaster which had fallen upon humanity in the events of the Fall, had actually been brought upon them by the seduction and skilful cunning of their inveterate enemy, Satan. God pitied those human creatures who were so heartlessly betrayed and ruined by the sadistic moral rape of their innocence in Eden; and pity is never very far from love. And should not similar considerations today lead every Christian in the direction of loving all people, every man, who like himself is a victim of sin, and yet is potentially an heir of eternal glory as a beneficiary of the blood of Christ? “Such love flows from the nature of the lover, and not from the worthiness of the one loved.” The great redemptive purpose of God in Christ is that of making his children like himself, and, therefore, not to love is to negate our own redemption. “After God’s love in giving his Son for us, it would be monstrous not to love .” Coffman
We love him, because he first loved us – This passage is susceptible of two explanations; either.
(1)That the fact that he first loved us is the “ground” or “reason” why we love him, or.
(2)That as a matter of fact we have been brought to love him in consequence of the love which he has manifested toward us, though the real ground of our love may be the excellency of his own character.
If the former be the meaning, and if that were the only ground of love, then it would be mere selfishness, (compare Matthew 5:46-47); and it cannot be believed that John meant to teach that that is the “only” reason of our love to God. It is true, indeed, that that is a proper ground of love, or that we are bound to love God in proportion to the benefits which we have received from his Hand; but still genuine love to God is something which cannot be explained by the mere fact that we have received favours from Him. The true, the original ground of love to God, is the “excellence of His own character,” apart from the question whether we are to be benefited or not. There is that in the divine nature which a holy being will love, apart from the benefits which he is to receive, and from any thought even of his own destiny. It seems to me, therefore, that John must have meant here, in accordance with the second interpretation suggested above, that the fact that we love God is to be traced to the means which he has used to bring us to himself, but without saying that this is the sole or even the main reason why we love him. It was His love manifested to us by sending His Son to redeem us which will explain the fact that we now love Him; but still the real ground or reason why we love Him is the infinite excellence of His own character. It should be added here, that many suppose that the Greek words rendered “we love” (ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν hēmeis agapōmen are not in the indicative, but in the subjunctive; and that this is an exhortation – “let us love him, because he first loved us.” So the Syriac, the Arabic, and the Vulgate read it; and so it is understood by Benson, Grotius, and Bloomfield. The main idea would not be essentially different; and it is a proper ground of exhortation to love God because He has loved us, though the highest ground is, because His character is infinitely worthy of love. Barnes