1 John 4:18 Meaning of Perfect Love Drives out Fear

1 John 4:18
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Explanation and Commentary of 1 John 4:18

John seems to be speaking of a certain fear of judgment. If anyone is afraid of judgment they only need to ask themselves if they love God and people. Love is the main subject of John’s first letter and here he is getting clear to the point. You cannot both love God and hate a brother. This might be a good reason to fear. That is, seeing the hate in your heart is a good reason to go to God and tremble before him. Ask him for his help. Tell him to save you and show you how to forgive. He will put love in your heart and along with it the confidence for the day of judgment that you have lacked.

Being “made perfect in love” is the ultimate freedom. See the Kingdom of God in part by seeking to love all others. God loved us first before we loved him and gave the life of his Son for our forgiveness. This is more than enough to teach us how to love others and give of ourselves. This true love will drive fear far away from us.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of 1 John 4:18

#1 “There is no fear in love.”
You might expect someone to say, there is no fear in courage. But courage cannot exist without fear. It is only love that drives out fear. The love of God has a powerful emboldening effect on the heart of the new creation in Christ.

#2 “But perfect love drives out fear,”
Perfect love can only be agape, the love of the Father. All other emotional attachments that masquerade as love will quickly turn to hatred and even can be a cause of fear. Perfect love is not first emotional, but springs from an understanding of who God is and what he’s done. It comes from submission and obedience to God. Fear doesn’t exist alongside a true love of God and others, because that love comes with a powerful trust in God.

#3 “because fear has to do with punishment.”
John seems to be writing specifically about the fear of hell. It is reasonable to fear hell if one refuses to love God and others.

#4 “The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
This simple statement provides a test for our hearts. If you find yourself in fear, rather than asking God to help you not fear, ask him to help you love perfectly.

Bible Study on 1 John 4:18

Expert Overview of 1-3 John

Biblical Translations of 1 John 4:18

NIV
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

NLT
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

ESV
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

KJV
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

NKJV
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.