Question:I want to learn what the verse I John 4:18 is all about. Does this speak of our love for God or for our brothers and sisters? Or can this also apply to relationship between lovers? My friend quoted this verse to me saying that when you are "in love" but there is fear, it is not love. Can I ask more details on this? Thank you so much.
The letter of I John is about a Christian's relationship with God and from there his relationship with other Christians. John addresses issues, such how a Christian can be in fellowship with God while still dealing with sin and how we know we are saved.
Whenever we deal with a verse, we need to see it in its context:
"Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 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. We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:15-19).
In the context, this is dealing with a Christian's love for God. The issue is how does a Christian love God when he knows that God will be judging him one day. John's answer is that as a Christian, we ought to have confidence in coming before God. Our love for God, which John tells us drives us to obedience (I John 2:3-6; 5:3), allows us to know where we stand before God. If we fear to come before God, then we are like a child who dreads facing his father because he knows he has done wrong. A Christian ought not to have any guilt or anguish over sin because he deals with those matters and knows God forgives (I John 1:8-10).
Albert Barnes put it this way: "If a man had perfect love to God, he would have no fear of anything -- for what would he have to dread? He would have no fear of death, for he would have nothing to dread beyond the grave. It is guilt that makes men fear what is to come; but he whose sins are pardoned, and whose heart is filled with the love of God, has nothing to dread in this world or the world to come."
It would be hard to apply this passages to other relationships because other people are not like God. They don't always keep their promises. You don't always know where you stand with them because emotions get in the way of truth.