Love, obedience, and truth
For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 1 John 3:11-12 CSB
John seems to be repeating three topics in the epistle: love, obedience, and truth. But the repetition of these three themes provides the readers a varying way of how to apply these Christian virtues. The more believers live their lives applying God’s commands based on these themes of love, obedience, and truth the deeper they grow in their relationship with God and others. This is what John highlights from the text. He builds on the idea of how believers should love one another, as they have “heard from the beginning,” the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John 13:34 says, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” The Greek word for love used here is agape, self-sacrificing love, which was demonstrated by Jesus on the cross. To make even clearer how to love, John shows a negative example of what love is not. Cain and Abel were brothers. Cain worked the land, while Abel kept flocks. Both Cain and Abel made offerings to the Lord. Cain offered “some of the fruits of the soil, (Genesis 4:3)” while Abel offered “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock, (Gen. 4:4).” Cain offered some of his goods, but Abel offered up his best to the Lord. The Lord was looking at their hearts and intentions behind the offerings, and Abel was found righteous, while Cain was not, which led to him becoming angry. Cain would then murder his brother and lie about it to God (Gen. 4:8-10). Whatever is in our hearts will come out in our actions. Matthew 5:21-22 says, “‘You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire.’” John is challenging us to remember Jesus’ command and love one another, being filled with our love for Jesus (John 14:15). Satan, the ruler of this world, “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan controls the world through murders and lies. The blindness led to the lack of faith, so Cain instead of repenting from sin and change his ways, decided to kill the one exposing the darkness that in his life.
Isaac De Guzman