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1 John 4:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

No man hath seen God at any time - The very words, with the change of ἑωρακε for τεθεαται, of this apostle in his gospel, John 1:18. We may feel him, though we cannot see him; and if we love one another he dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us - it has then its full accomplishment, having moulded us according to its own nature.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

No man hath seen God at any time - See the notes at John 1:18, where the same declaration occurs. The statement seems to be made here in order to introduce a remark to show in what way we may know that we have any true knowledge of God. The idea is, “He has never indeed been seen by mortal eyes. We are not, then, to expect to become acquainted with what he is in that way. But there is a method by which we may be assured that we have a true knowledge of him, and that is, by evidence that we love another, and by the presence of his Spirit in our hearts. We cannot become acquainted with him by sight, but we may by love.”

If we love one another, God dwelleth in us - Though we cannot see him, yet there is a way by which we may be assured that he is near us, and that he even dwells in us. That way is by the exercise of love. Compare the notes at John 14:23-24.

And his love is perfected in us - Is carried out to completion. That is, our love for each other is the proper exponent of love to him reigning in our hearts. The idea here is not that we are absolutely perfect, or even that our love is perfect, whatever may be true on those points, but that this love to others is the proper carrying out of our love toward him; that is, without this our love to him would not have accomplished what it was adapted and designed to do. Unless it produced this effect, it would be defective or incomplete. Compare 1 John 4:17. The general sense is this: “We claim to have the love of God in our hearts, or that we are influenced and controlled by love. But however high and exalted that may seem to be as exercised toward God, it would be defective; it would not exert a fair influence over us, unless it led us to love our Christian brethren. It would be like the love which we might profess to have for a father, if it did not lead us to love our brothers and sisters. True love will diffuse itself over all who come within its range, and will thus become complete and entire.” This passage, therefore, cannot be adduced to demonstrate the doctrine of sinless perfection, or to prove that Christians are ever absolutely perfect in this life. It proves only that love to God is not complete, or fully developed, unless it leads those who profess to have it to love each other. See the notes at Job 1:1. On the meaning of the Greek word here used, ( τελειόω teleioōsee the notes at Philemon 3:12. Compare the notes at Hebrews 2:10.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The Spirit of God is the Spirit of love. He that does not love the image of God in his people, has no saving knowledge of God. For it is God's nature to be kind, and to give happiness. The law of God is love; and all would have been perfectly happy, had all obeyed it. The provision of the gospel, for the forgiveness of sin, and the salvation of sinners, consistently with God's glory and justice, shows that God is love. Mystery and darkness rest upon many things yet. God has so shown himself to be love, that we cannot come short of eternal happiness, unless through unbelief and impenitence, although strict justice would condemn us to hopeless misery, because we break our Creator's laws. None of our words or thoughts can do justice to the free, astonishing love of a holy God towards sinners, who could not profit or harm him, whom he might justly crush in a moment, and whose deserving of his vengeance was shown in the method by which they were saved, though he could by his almighty Word have created other worlds, with more perfect beings, if he had seen fit. Search we the whole universe for love in its most glorious displays? It is to be found in the person and the cross of Christ. Does love exist between God and sinners? Here was the origin, not that we loved God, but that he freely loved us. His love could not be designed to be fruitless upon us, and when its proper end and issue are gained and produced, it may be said to be perfected. So faith is perfected by its works. Thus it will appear that God dwells in us by his new-creating Spirit. A loving Christian is a perfect Christian; set him to any good duty, and he is perfect to it, he is expert at it. Love oils the wheels of his affections, and sets him on that which is helpful to his brethren. A man that goes about a business with ill will, always does it badly. That God dwells in us and we in him, were words too high for mortals to use, had not God put them before us. But how may it be known whether the testimony to this does proceed from the Holy Ghost? Those who are truly persuaded that they are the sons of God, cannot but call him Abba, Father. From love to him, they hate sin, and whatever disagrees with his will, and they have a sound and hearty desire to do his will. Such testimony is the testimony of the Holy Ghost.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 265

As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son. Jesus, the outshining of the Father's glory, “and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3), was on earth found in fashion as a man. As a personal Saviour He came to the world. As a personal Saviour He ascended on high. As a personal Saviour He intercedes in the heavenly courts. Before the throne of God in our behalf ministers “One like unto the Son of man.” Revelation 1:13. 8T 265.1

Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of His divinity and came to live as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator. No man has seen God at any time except as He is revealed through Christ. 8T 265.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 137

Those in positions of responsibility will need wisdom from on high in order to deal justly, to love mercy, and to show mercy, not only to a few, but to everyone with whom they come in contact. Christ identifies His interests with those of His people, no matter how poor and needy they may be. Missions must be opened for the colored people, and everyone should seek to do something and to do it now. 8T 137.1

There is need that institutions be established in different places, that men and women may be set at work to do their best in the fear of God. No one should lose sight of his mission and work. Everyone should aim to carry forward to a successful issue the work placed in his hands. All our institutions should keep this in mind and strive for success; but at the same time let them remember that their success will increase in proportion as they exercise disinterested liberality, sharing their abundance with institutions that are struggling for a foothold. Our prosperous institutions should help those institutions that God has said should live and prosper, but which are still struggling for an existence. There is among us a very limited amount of real, unselfish love. The Lord says: “Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:7, 8, 12. It is not pleasing to God to see man looking only upon his own things, closing his eyes to the interests of others. 8T 137.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 85

The teachers in our college should not conform to worldly customs or adopt worldly principles. The attributes which God prizes most are charity and purity. These attributes should be cherished by every Christian. “Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” “We shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” 5T 85.1

God has been moving upon the hearts of young men to devote themselves to the ministry. They have come to our college in the hope of finding advantages there which they could obtain nowhere else. But the solemn convictions of the Spirit of God have been lightly regarded by teachers who know but little of the worth of souls and feel but little burden for their salvation, and they have endeavored to turn the youth from the path into which God had been seeking to lead them. 5T 85.2

The compensation of well-qualified teachers is much higher than that of our ministers, and the teacher does not labor nearly so hard or subject himself to so great inconvenience as the minister who gives himself wholly to the work. These things have been presented before the youth, and they have been encouraged to distrust God and disbelieve His promises. Many have chosen the easier course and have prepared themselves to teach the sciences or to engage in some other employment instead of preaching the truth. 5T 85.3

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 73.1

If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12. RC 73.1

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