Still our apostle proceeds by way of argument to enforce upon us the obligation of our duty to love one another; he assures us here, that if our love be made perfect, that is, heightened and improved by an exact corresponding with the divine pattern and precept; if we love one another in obedience to God's command, and in conformity to Christ's example, it will give us boldness in the day of judgment, and we may think and speak of, we may expect and look for, the approach of that day without fear and consternation of mind; the reason is added, because as Christ was, so are we in the world; that is, as he was full of holiness and purity, of love and charity, so have we endeavoured to be in imitation of his example, according to our measure, in some proportion and degree.
Learn hence, 1. That such as are sincerly gracious, and do excel in the grace of love, are in the word in some sort as Christ was in the world; such as walk in love, walk as Christ walked.
Learn, 2. That such as are in the world, as Christ was in the world, shall have boldness when Christ comes to judgment, and need not fear the condemnation of that dreadful day; Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; the reason of this freedom from the fear of wrath is added, There is no fear in love; 1Jn_4:18 that is, no slavish or distrustful fear, whereby we question the favour of God, but only a filial and reverential fear, whereby we stand in awe of offending him as a father; But perfect love casteth out fear; that is, either the actings of our perfect love to God, or the apprehensions of God's perfect love towards us, do cast out all that fear which has torment in it.
Yet note, That although perfect love casteth out tormenting fear, it calls in obeying fear, Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man; Ecc_12:13 an awful fear of God is all duty, and every grace.
Note also, The true reason of our disquieting and tormenting fear is the imperfection and weakness of our love: fear may stand with faith and love, but not with perfect faith, nor perfect love: He that feareth is not made perfect in love, and because he is not made perfect in love, therefore he feareth.
Blessed be God, as there will be no torment, so no fear, in heaven; that is, no tormenting fear; yet there is a fear of reverence, which will undoubtedly remain with glorified saints in heaven; they shall have an everlasting awe of the majesty and holiness of God eternally fixed upon their hearts and spirits, even in the kingdom of glory in heaven, as well as in the kingdom of grace here on earth; the saints serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear;
Lord, hasten the perfecting of thy grace in us, particularly the perfection of our love, that perfect love may cast out tormenting fear, and cherish such a reverential fear as will both prepare us for heaven, and accompany us in heaven, to all eternity.