Again, as he has so frequently done, John draws the contrast between the born again believer who knows God, and the man who is simply a religious pretender.  He has just shown that the truly regenerate soul loves the people of God, and manifests his knowledge of God by his love for Christ’s people.  The man whose life shows a definite lack of love for the people of God shows just the opposite: he knows not God.  How can a man who has no love in his heart for the people of God claim to be in communion with the God Who is love?  Love has its original in the breast of the eternal God, and has its perfect manifestation in the redemption which He planned, and then accomplished through Jesus Christ.  How, then, can a man who has no marks of love, say that he is in fellowship with that God?  His fellowship is with other spirits, malevolent spirits, and not with the God of love.

I might add here, because of the generation in which we live, that John does not mean to infer that love is God’s only, or even His essential attribute.  We know that His holiness is the divine quality which fills the seraphims near His throne with marveling adoration, and is the theme of the praises they utter.  I rather think that, by saying “God is love,” John intends to manifest the heart of God toward His people.  The Scriptures say with equal definiteness in Psalm 5:5 that God hates all workers of iniquity.  That no more means that hatred is God’s only attribute than that this verse means love is His only attribute.  But just as God’s holy nature is filled with repugnance and holy hatred for those who rebel against Him, so He manifests an infinite quality of love toward those who are His children by election, redemption, and regeneration.  He loved us when we were unworthy of His love, and has done everything necessary to bring us into a state of grace and favor.  So deep was His love that He gave His only begotten Son, that we should live through Him.  This quality of love will, then, be manifested in those who are in fellowship with this loving God.  Those who lack that virtue give conclusive evidence that they know nothing of the God Who is the very essence of what genuine love is about.