Epistemology is the study of how we know something. The apostle John understood the epistemology of love very well. So well, in fact, that he has sometimes been called “the apostle of love.” In his letter to the Church, he has a lot to say about love as a way of knowing.
- “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:5). This is God’s work of love being brought to maturity and completeness in us. We see it at work when we keep His word, His commandment, which is to love one another. And by this love, we know that we are in God (and that God is in us), because love is the work of God in us.
- “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14). Here again is the love of God being perfected in us and revealed through love for each other. And by this love we know that we have passed from death to life.
- “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Here is how we know love itself — the Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life for us (even while we were yet in our sins and rebellion against God), and we manifest that love to each other in the same way, by laying down our lives for each other.
- “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). Those who love are born of God, because it is God’s love that is being demonstrated through them. And by that love, they know God — for God is love.
- “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:1-2). All who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are born of God, and we can know that He is in us because of love for all those who belong to God. And here is how we can know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandment. Love comes from God, and when we look to Him, He will work in us by that love. His commandment is that we love one another (1 John 3:21). Indeed, all His commandments are fulfilled through love. Paul said, “He who loves another has fulfilled the law … For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:8, 10).