Born of love

1John 4:7b says everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. I’m a little confused as to what birth is being spoken of here. Your normal birth would make sense because everyone loves to some degree and so everyone is born of God. They love to a degree because we bare the image of God. But that doesn’t mean that they know God. Or does it mean new birth of the spirit but the issue here is that people who aren’t born again love as well


Hi Michael,

I believe the crux of the confusion in this statement comes from the fact that the English translate the word love as simply “love.” We do not distinguish between the four different types of love of the Greek language. There’s: storge (empathy), Philia (friendship/brotherly love), Eros (romantic love), and Agape (unconditional, or a God-like, love). John uses the term agape in the Greek text. So when he says that anyone who does not love does not know God, he is saying that when we are reborn into Christ, we receive His characteristics. We have his spirit imparted to us. So when we are born physically, we are in the image of God, and we can love, but the love that we have naturally falls mostly in the three other types of love, as defined by the Greek usage. The kind of love that we adopt when we become children of God, is not something that is inherent to us upon our physical birth.
So we could read it as “Beloved, let us unconditionally love one another, for unconditional love is from God, and whoever loves unconditionally has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love unconditionally does not know God, because God is unconditional love.” (You can see how wordy that is. So perhaps they chose to shorten it for that reason. Haha ;)) But it takes on an entirely new and, in-depth, meaning when you add that long word. So when you realize the weight of what unconditional love imposes on Christians, we can see why we must fight our natural impulse to hate others with differing viewpoints, or lifestyles. Everything we do must be done with this type of love in mind. The kind of love that does not put conditions upon another person in order to love them. In order to want what is best for them. John is challenging us to love regardless of what people say, or do. And only if we know God, only if we have had his nature imparted to us, can we understand what agape love actually is. An unbeliever may love, but there is conditions on everything. Whether you and he agree on life’s big questions often will affect and impose upon his actually loving you. But you, as a Christian, with Christ-likeness, have been born in agape love and therefore your love for him does not stop you from sharing the gospel and sharing love and good wishes with him.
It’s a difficult mandate, and we can never be perfect in it. But it is our objective, as laid out here for us by John.
Hope this helps!
Grace and peace to you,