Today’s passage: 1 John 3:11–15
Focus verse: For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11)
John tells his audience that we are to love one another.
It’s not a new command but one we’ve heard from the beginning. He first mentions this in 1 John 2:7–8. And now he tells us what this command is: we are to love one another. It’s that simple.
Saying that we’ve heard this from “the beginning” centers on Jesus.
When an expert in the law asks Jesus to name the greatest command, he says it’s to love God.
Then he tacks on a second one—which makes it the second greatest command—to love others. In a most effective manner, these summarize everything in the Old Testament (Matthew 22:35–40).
We are to love God and love one another.
Jesus also talks about the importance of loving one another in his Sermon on the Mount. In that message he tells his listeners to love others in the same way that they love themselves (Matthew 7:12).
He says the same thing, although more succinctly, in his Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:31).
Though it’s through Jesus that we get this essential command to love one another, we find it throughout the Old Testament. All the commands God gives his people either relate to their relationship with him or their relationship with others.
As we’ve already mentioned, this comes from the Ten Commandments too. We first love God (commandments one through four) and then we love others (commandments five through ten).
This is why Jesus says the greatest command is to love God and the second greatest is to love others. Everything else in the Old Testament underscores these two (Matthew 22:37–40).
We find this command to love others hidden in the Levitical law too. Quoting the words of Father God, Moses writes that we are to love our neighbors in the same way we love ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), which Jesus later quotes in Matthew 22:39.
Paul reiterates this in his letter to the church in Rome. He says we should owe no outstanding debt other than the continuing debt to love one another. When we do this, we fulfill the Old Testament commands (Romans 13:8).
In his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul confirms that we can keep the entire law by obeying the singular command to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves (Galatians 5:14).
This command to love one another as we love ourselves is the essence of the Golden Rule. We are to treat others the way we want them to treat us.
This means doing for them the same things that we’d like to receive ourselves. It also means not doing to them the things we don’t want to receive. The Golden Rule is based on the Bible, going back to Leviticus 19:18.
This idea of loving one another as we love ourselves permeates Scripture. It’s been there since the beginning.
- What must we do differently to more fully obey God’s essential command to love our neighbor?
- Beyond that, how well do we obey God’s greatest command to love him?
- What is an area where your love shines?
- What is an area where you need to love better?
- Is it wrong to love others more than we love ourselves? Why?
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.
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.