Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing devotions pulled from my study What is Love? based on 1 John 4.
To download a 14-day Bible study to accompany these devotions, click here.
If you want to read this series from the beginning, click here.


Knowing and relying on love. How does that hit you? What do you think it means?

Last week I ended by telling you that us loving each other is a visible representation of the reality of the cross and what God intended. But John doesn’t stop there in his first epistle. No, he goes far deeper. ee cummings quote

Continuous Growth

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~EE Cummings, American poet, author, and painter

Let’s dive back into 1 John chapter 4, starting with verses 13-15.

This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

This points us back to continuous growing. Eugene Peterson wrote it beautifully in The Message translation: Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God.

That’s exactly the heart of what John was writing here.

Knowing and relying.

The next verse, verse 16, is where John writes the phrase that I want to spend some time on today. He writes, And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

First, a little grammar, then we’ll put it all together.

Know is the Greek word egnōkamen (GHIN  OCE  KA  MEN) and rely is the Greek word pepisteukamen (PE  PIST  TOO  KA  MEN). Notice how each of them end—the last five letters are the same. That’s because they are closely connected. In fact, they are so close that scholars think of them more like a compound verb than two verbs joined with a conjunction. They work together rather than in unison.

Furthermore, they are both in the perfect tense, which means that the characteristics of knowing and relying are a reality in our present moment. And scholars believe the order was highly intentional—first we know, then because we know, we rely.

So what do we get if we put all that head knowledge into something that makes sense for our everyday life?

St Augustine quoteKnowing and relying translates to knowledge and faith.

Knowledge comes before faith. Then our faith explains and relies on our knowledge. In other words,

  1. First, we know (learn) about Jesus and the cross.
  2. Then we have faith in Jesus and the cross.
  3. Then our faith in the cross relies on our knowledge of the cross.

Faith must have content. It must have an object to focus on. So when John says we know and rely on God’s love, he’s saying that when we abide in God’s love, our knowledge of God grows, which means our faith in God grows, which means our trust to abide in God grows.


Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. ~Saint Augustine, theologian and bishop of Hippo Regius, Roman North Africa

Knowledge, then faith, then trust. Repeat. It’s an upward spiral, leading us ever closer to God.



Enjoying this series? You can purchase the study that includes discussion questions to make this all very personal and help you grow in love. It’s downloadable, so print only the pages you want. And it’s only $2!

What Is Love? Bible Study

What is love? We can give examples of love and talk about being in love, but what exactly is it? Do we have a defining moment, an ideal expression to live up to or look for? The apostle John goes deep into love in 1 John chapter 4, telling us exactly what love is.

This 14-day study includes questions to help you define what you think love is and what God may want you to do or change. Download is printable and formatted for half sheets of standard paper (5.5″ x 8.5″).

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