”We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Eight words make up this one-sentence verse in our commonly used English Bible. These are simple words that require no explanation other than to say that the Greek word for “love” and “loved” transliterates as “agapao” which is the word used of God’s love in contrast to “phileo” which is used of brotherly love. We note that the two pronouns, “we” and “us” must refer to the same people. The grammar of the sentence requires it. English language rules do not support the idea that God loves everyone unless it can be demonstrated that everyone loves God and that is obviously not true. These people are said to love God and God is said to love these people. Those people who love God is not a larger group than those whom God loves. Conversely, those people whom God loves is not a larger group than those who love God. The people represented by the “we” and the “us” are the same people. It cannot be otherwise. “We” who love Him are the “us” whom He loved first. Everyone whom God loves loves Him! There is no reason given as to why God loves these people, but these people love God because God loved them first. We must ask this: When did God begin to love these people? Did He once hate these people? Or did He just somehow once upon a time not love them? Did He change and for some reason begin to love these people whom He had not loved before? Such a change is not possible with God for He declares, “For I am the LORD, I change not…”l (Malachi 3:6). Again the Bible tells us, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent…” (Numbers 23:19). With God “…is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). So we learn that God neither repents nor changes! He is constant and has been forever. He may appear to change because men neither understand Him of His eternal plan, but He does not change. If God were to change it would mean that either He was prior to His change less than perfect or that He changed from perfection and became less than perfect.
Since God does not change and since the Bible says, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18), we must understand that God loved these people from before the foundation of the world. These people and God’s love for them has always been a part of God’s great eternal plan of redemption. He planned to act in a particular way toward these people because God’s love is neither in active nor is it just a sentimental feeling. God’s love is a determination to do good to the object of His love regardless of what it costs Him. It was God’s love to all the nations of the world that was displayed when He gave Christ to pay for the sins of a multitude in all nations – see John 3:16.
What did God do in eternity for these people whom He loved then? How is it that He included them in His eternal plan? The Bible makes it clear in Ephesians 1:4-6: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” In these verses we learn that God predestinated these people to be His children, that He chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world and that He made these people accepted in the beloved Son, Christ Jesus. These are plainly stated facts and above disputation although most people do not understand these things and many openly state their disbelief of these great truths. This passage also states that the reason God did these things was “according to the good pleasure of his will.” So then, these things were done before the foundation of the world for those people whom God loved “according to the good pleasure of his will:” Not because of anything these people ever did. God does not love “us” because of anything we ever did or will do. Romans 9:10-16 says: “…when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” God loved Jacob and hated Esau according to this passage and did so before either had been born. So then Bible believers must conclude that God predestinated, chose, and made some people accepted in the beloved before the foundation of the world – and that He did so without regard for anything they would ever do. Nothing that these people would ever will to do or attempt to do or accomplish caused God to love these people. God willed to love the unlovely!
And so when we read that, ”We love him, because he first loved us” we must understand that this verse speaks of a particular people whom God loved from before the foundation of the world. We must also understand that it was because of God’s great eternal plan that He chose to love them and do all for them in order to make them His sons and daughters. If you are one of the “we” who love Him because He first loved you – give Him all the glory for your blessed spiritual condition and take no glory unto yourself for “…Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).

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