When 1 John 3:15 talks about hating a brother, what is it actually talking about?

1 John 3:15 states, "Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him." This verse has been the subject of much discussion and debate among scholars and theologians, as its meaning is not immediately clear. However, a closer examination of the text and its context can shed light on what the author was actually trying to convey.

Firstly, it is important to note that the term "brother" or "sister" in this context most likely refers to fellow believers, rather than literal siblings. The author of 1 John is writing to a community of Christians, and is concerned with the relationships between members of this community.

The term "hate" in this verse does not necessarily refer to a feeling of animosity or hostility towards another person, but rather to an attitude of indifference or neglect. To hate a brother or sister in this context means to fail to show them love, care, and compassion, as Jesus Christ commanded us to do. This could involve neglecting to help someone in need, failing to forgive someone who has wronged us, or simply not showing concern for their well-being.

Furthermore, the author is emphasizing the seriousness of this attitude of indifference or neglect. To fail to show love to a brother or sister is to act like a murderer, as it is a betrayal of the commandments of God. The author is not suggesting that failing to show love to a fellow believer is equivalent to physically killing them, but rather that it is a serious transgression that can have eternal consequences.

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Jamie Larson