Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 23: No Reason to Fear

Today’s passage: 1 John 4:16–18

Focus verse: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18)

In the Old Testament of the Bible, we read the command to “fear God” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In the New Testament we see the principle to “love God” (1 Corinthians 8:3), and we read that God is love (1 John 4:8 and 16).

How can we fear someone we’re supposed to love, someone who loves us? Is it even possible?

Is there a difference between fearing God in the Old Testament and loving God in the New Testament? Although it’s the same God in both, one who doesn’t change, the difference is Jesus. Jesus alters the way we understand and perceive God.

True, we are to fear God, and we are to love God. This is a spiritual paradox.

In the Old Testament, the focus is on the law (rules) and the result is fear because we fall short of God’s expectations. Based on our failure to follow every part of the law, we deserve to die; stumbling over one small point makes us guilty of all (James 2:10).

The penalty for our sins is death; it doesn’t matter if it is one sin or many. This is something to fear.

Under the law we can’t make ourselves right to stand before God. This conclusion is the purpose of the law. It shows us our sin and the need for Jesus to save us (Romans 7:7).

In the New Testament, Jesus fulfills the law—overcomes or replaces its rules—with love. This is the immense love of Father God in sending Jesus to earth to save us and our Savior’s incomprehensible love to die in our place.

The result is that love trumps fear. This doesn’t mean we should disregard a healthy fear of God, but instead we should temper our fear with his love.

His love serves to push away our fear of punishment. This is because his perfect love drives out our fear. 

Therefore, by faith we can have confidence on judgment day because of his love. Whoever lives a life of love has God living in them. 

But we need not feel guilty if a touch of fear remains. This simply means that his love has not yet fully matured in us. But through him we move closer toward realizing his perfect love.

When his love becomes complete in us, it will drive away our fear of the future and judgment.


  1. How can we balance the paradox between fearing God and loving God?
  2. How can God’s love in us move toward completion and become perfect? 
  3. What does a healthy fear of God look like?
  4. What should our attitude be toward any fear that remains in us?
  5. How can we be confident on judgement day?

Discover more about fear in Luke 1:50, Luke 12:5, Luke 23:40, Philippians 2:12, and Revelation 14:7.

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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