1 John | 1 | 2:1-14 | 2:15-29 | 3:1-10 | 3:11-24 | 4 | 5:1-10 | 5:11-21 | PDF |

These small group studies of 1 John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 John 3:11-24 Inductive Bible Study


I. We are commanded to love one another (11-12)
II. Loving others is evidence that we have eternal life (13-15)
III. Love in action gives us confidence before God (16-22)
IV. Believe God. Obey God. Love the brethren (23-24)

I. We are commanded to love one another (11-12)

Discussion Questions

  • Was John teaching them something new (to love one another)?
  • In what other Scriptures prior to this had it been taught to love one another?
  • Based on Scripture, what would you see are the central mark or marks of a believer?
  • Why is Cain given as an example here?
  • Does this just mean that love is not killing?
  • Then what is the point of this verse?
  • What motivated Cain to kill Able?
  • What motivates us to not love the people around us?
  • Can you give some examples in the Bible of someone who did show Christlike love to others?


Genesis 4:1-8 – Cain kills Abel.

Romans 5:5 – And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 – Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

John 15:12 – My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

1 Peter 1:22-23 – Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. John is very consistent that believers need to love one another.

In the gospel of John, he records many of Jesus’ discords on love to His disciples. Love is also a major theme in 1, 2, and 3 John and is also touched on in Revelation. But it is not only John teaching this. Loving others is continuously taught throughout the Bible, including the Old Testament.

Leviticus 19:17-18 Bible Verse

You could go as far as to say that love is THE distinguishing mark of a believer. Why?

God’s characteristics can fall into two very broad categories. One is justice, which includes His hatred of sin and holiness. The other is love, which includes His grace and mercy. Both are very important for believers, but since we are not the judge of others we can’t exercise justice in the same way that God does. But we can follow God’s examples of love. As believers we must try to emulate God and be like Him. Loving others is one of the best ways to do this.

God showed us His love by sending Christ. Jesus showed His love by giving His life for us.

John often uses the phrase “from the beginning.” This is because the true gospel does not change. Neither do God’s principles. God’s standard and His principles did not change in the first century AD before 1 John was written. Neither have they changed in the two millennium since then. The application of how to love might be different (in the Old Testament it might require taking care of your neighbor’s ox), but the principle is the same.

2. Cain outwardly believed in God. He even offered a sacrifice to God. But his actions show us clearly that he did not really belong to God. He grew jealous of Abel’s success, leading him to hate his brother and finally kill him. Abel’s righteousness made him angry. Why? Most likely when he saw Abel he felt even more guilty and was convicted of his own sin because he knew he didn’t love god like Abel did.

This verse doesn’t mean that as long as we don’t murder others, we are OK! But it shows that the actions show the heart. If you don’t love the people around you and do unkind things on a large scale like Cain or a small scale, then you are unloving and your heart doesn’t belong to God.

II. Loving others is evidence that we have eternal life (13-15)

Discussion Questions

  • Who can give a brief summary of the reasons why the world hates believers?
  • From this passage, how can we know that we have been saved (14)?
  • Then by implication, what does it mean if we do not love?
  • Who is our brother? Why does John say the person who hates his brother is a murderer considering that no court of law in this world would convict somebody for hating his brother?
  • Does this verse indicate that murderers cannot be saved?


Hebrews 11:36-48 – Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

Matthew 5:20-22 – For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Galatians 5:19-21 – The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Revelation 22:15 – Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Verse 13 is another reminder that the world will hate us if we follow Christ. Cain and Abel are a classic example. Abel followed God and Cain, feeling guilty and jealous, murdered him.

I know a brother who had a home group Bible study raided by the police in one restricted country. This was the result of a lady’s complaint. Her daughter was pregnant with a down syndrome baby and she has been pressuring her daughter to have an abortion. But her daughter asked the believers at this home fellowship for advice. They counseled her to keep the baby. The mother was angry and went to the police to report the “illegal” Bible study group. The police were therefore forced to deal with it and ended up warning them not to hold it anymore. This lady hated the Christians because of what they stood for.

When these kinds of things happen to you, do not be surprised about it. It is likely to happen sooner or later.

It might be surprising to some because Christians may think “I didn’t do anything to her. I’ve only showed love and kindness to the people around me. Why do they hate me?” Well, our love for others doesn’t guarantee they love us in return.

2. In verse 14 we see a review of one of the spiritual self-exam tests we can perform on ourselves. That is, do we love the brethren? If we truly love others from our heart, this is evidence that we are saved. If we don’t love others, then we are still abiding in death. So you see that loving others is not a choice. It is not optional. It is not just there as a choice if or when we feel like it. It is THE CORE mark of a believer. It is THE CORE action of a believer. After trusting in Christ, our lives are to be different. A key aspect of that is that we are to love one another.

A real Christian loves others.

3. Here we see that God equates hatred with murder. To God they are one and the same. Why? The attitude is equal to the action. According to the world’s standards, you can think whatever you want. You can lust, covet, envy, or hate, but if you don’t do it (perhaps out of fear of being caught and punished), then it is OK. The court of law would not convict you. Most of the time they wouldn’t even know because these are unseen things going in our mind.

But God knows. He sees everything. He will judge our thoughts and our motivations.

Hebrews 4:12 Bible Verse

What is more, if we have hate and greed in our hearts, eventually these attitudes are bound to show themselves in our behavior. So what application can we make from this? Resolve any unconfessed ill will Confess your sin to God (and yes, not forgiving someone is also sin). Then go to the brother or sister and resolve the conflict. Whatever they did to you, forgive them.

1 Peter 3:9 – Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

III. Love in action gives us confidence before God (16-22)

Discussion Questions

  • What is true love?
  • If we don’t have the opportunity to really give our lives for others, how can we demonstrate this love?
  • What is the connection, if any, between loving the people around us and loving God?
  • Which of love’s qualities does verse 17 highlight?
  • What does this verse tell us about God’s view of our possessions?
  • Does verse 18 teach us that we shouldn’t say “I love you” to others?
  • If not, what does it mean?
  • Have you ever felt upset that someone told you he/she loves you, but doesn’t show it?
  • What are some examples of how we can love in deed?
  • What are some examples of how to love in truth?
  • What are the positive benefits for the person who loves others?
  • Compare and contrast the phrase “assure our heart before Him” (19) and “if our heart does not condemn us” (21).
  • Is verse 22 a guarantee to give us everything we ask for in prayer? What conditions are there for God answering our prayer?


Galatians 5:13 – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Romans 13:8 – Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Romans 12:9 – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 – If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

James 2:14-16 – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Verse by V