Structure of 1 John 4:7-5:5


1 John 4:7-5:5 is the most difficult portion of 1 John to outline. The structure, section breaks, and outline of the rest of the book are relatively much easier to discern; and there is much more agreement among scholars and preachers. However, no such consensus exists for 1 John 4:7-5:5. Commentaries, for instance, vary widely.

As I preached through this section, though, I noticed what I believe is a discernible structure with clear structural markers that I find convincing. However, I did not find this structure reflected in any of the literature (e.g., commentaries) that I read. So I wanted to document and offer it here in case it may serve valuable or convincing to others.

My three sermons on this section can be found here:

1 John 4:7-11

Claim: As we have come to know God’s love for us in the gospel, we must love one another. Those who know the God of love will necessarily be known by their love for each other.

1 John 4:12-20

Claim: As those characterized by love, we have confidence before God’s judgment that we abide in him.

1 John 4:21-5:5

Claim: As those who have conquered by trusting in Jesus, we must keep God’s commandment of love. John seeks to mobilize and encourage this command to love our fellow Christians (the church) by casting it in terms of the empowerment we’ve received in our salvation through Christ. Love is not merely a command; it is a product of our salvation.

[What follows is my own translation:]