1 Peter – Chapter One L

by Ed Urzi

“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart”
(1 Peter 1:22)

The word “fervently” is often associated with a sense of emotional passion. While it may be natural to ascribe that quality to our text from 1 Peter 1:22, this word better identifies the characteristics of earnestness and intensity. (1) Unlike those who are indifferent or apathetic, this passage conveys the idea of an athlete who is stretched to his or her limit in pursuit of a goal.

This reminds us that “fervent love” is not necessarily synonymous with the external display of emotional affection. For example, the type of love referenced in the passage quoted above is a love that originates in the will. If we always felt naturally affectionate toward one another, there would be no need to demonstrate the type of fervent love that requires us to stretch ourselves to the limit. Instead, “…the idea suggested is that of not relaxing in effort, or acting in a right spirit.(2)

While a sense of warmth and affection might grow easily and spontaneously among those of similar temperament, it’s important to remember that there are wide varieties of personal, cultural, and emotional differences among Jesus’ followers. In other words, there are other genuine followers of Jesus who differ from us in terms of personality, background, and maturity.

While we should expect to find love and affirmation among Jesus’ followers, we must also recognize that there may be instances where we struggle to get along with one another (see Acts 15:36-41 for an example). This may explain why the New Testament book of Romans reminds us to, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV).

So the fervent love mentioned here should incorporate the qualities of longsuffering, kindness, and an attitude that enables us to rejoice in the welfare of others without envy or jealously. (3) Although there may be some (or perhaps many) who require us to “stretch ourselves to the limit” in our love for them, one commentator leaves us with some helpful conclusions…

“That he commands them to love one another already implies that love has essentially to do with one’s will and disposition rather than one’s emotions. Love is active goodwill or acting for the highest good of another person. Of course, ‘the highest good’ must be understood in light of the good revealed by God in Christ. It is in this sense that Peter commands Christians to love one another.” (4)

(1) G1619 ektenos https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g1619/kjv/tr/0-1/
(2) Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers. See https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/Dictionary/viewTopic.cfm?topic=VT0000847 [C-1]
(3) See Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament [1 Peter 1:22-25] Copyright © 1942-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
(4) Kendall, David W. “2. Love (1:22-2:3)” In Asbury Bible Commentary. 1189. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 1992.