v 7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before.
Just in case his readers might get the idea that he was writing something new and different, John now reminds them that Love is the old commandment. Indeed, when Jesus was asked to summarise the ten commandments from the Old Testament, He set them in the positive context of Love, love for God and love for neighbours. Jesus, and now John, see love as the undergirding principle of every law. Love is the foundation stone of every relationship and social obligation. Without love, society disintegrates and becomes a selfish rat-race – no more than a free-for-all with survival and self-promotion as the major motivations in the ambition stakes.
Verses 9-11 put some practical flesh on the idea. Love is supportive – it prevents others from stumbling on their way through life; and hatred is destructive like walking in total darkness, you are blind to what is going on around you. Love opens opportunities for fellowship and makes for a fuller and more wholesome experience of life. Hatred shrink-wraps life in around you, leaving you lonely and vulnerable. Love expands life and brings genuine fulfilment and joy. No wonder John begins the letter by writing in 1v4 ‘We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. ‘
Those who learn to love most fully discover also the deepest of joy.