Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 24: He First Loved Us

Today’s passage: 1 John 4:19–21

Focus verse: We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Perhaps the most misused, most misunderstood word in English is love. I love my wife, and I love to watch movies. I love nature, and I love blue. I love to write, and I love spring.

I also love God. 

If our love of God means anything, we show it by how we love. This is because he loved us first. Therefore, we respond to his love by loving him back and by loving others.

We show our love to him by how we worship him, how we spend our time, and how we use the resources he blesses us with. Our love for him is a fitting response to his love for us.

We also show our love to God by obeying his commands. One of his chief instructions is for us to love one another (Day 16). 

If we do not love the brothers and sisters we live with and can see, how can we expect to love the God we don’t live with and can’t see?

We delude ourselves if we claim to love God yet remain mired in hate toward others. Therefore, if we love God, we must also love our brothers and our sisters.

We may wonder who qualifies as our brothers and sisters. Surely, this goes beyond our own family, but does it expand to include only those in our faith community, or does it mean everyone in the entire world? 

We can ask the same question about the command to love one another. Does this only apply to the Church of Jesus, or does it apply to everyone?

For the answer to this question, recall the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). A religious expert asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.

Jesus tells him to love God fully and to love his neighbor as much as he loves himself. The religious expert asks Jesus to define neighbor. This is when Jesus gives his parable.

It’s a story about a man who’s robbed and left on the side of the road to die. A priest comes upon the man but walks by him. Next a Levite arrives and ignores the hurting man as well.

At last, a Samaritan—a person Jesus’s audience reviled—arrives on the scene. He stops to help the man and takes steps to nurse him back to health.

Jesus asks the religious expert which of these three people acted as a good neighbor to the injured man.

The religious leader can’t bear to even say “the Samaritan man.” Instead, he simply says, “The one who showed mercy.”

Jesus tells him to do likewise.

In the same way we should love one another—our brothers and sisters—because God first loved us.


  1. What is your definition of love?
  2. In what ways do we misuse the word love? 
  3. How can we love God more fully?
  4. How can we love our brothers and sisters better?
  5. Who can we show mercy to?

Discover more about loving our neighbors in Galatians 5:14.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

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Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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