In writing about brotherly love, John stresses a striking reality when he writes that brotherly love is the hallmark of the new world order (v. 8b).
There are several ways by which to view history. We can look back and regard it as a sequence of events that has nothing to do with us; or we can assess it from the point of view of the major actors on the stage of time and their ideas; or we can regard it as a visible expression of the providence of God. John gives us another way of seeing it when he writes that ‘the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining’.
Those two clauses can be written over the history of the world ever since the first coming of Jesus. The old world order is depicted as ‘darkness’ and the disastrous situation was brought about by the absence of brotherly love in human society. Into this dark world, a light began to shine when Jesus was born; the light increased as he revealed through his perfect life the love that continually shone in his heart.
But what happened to the outshining of love after Jesus left the world? John says it continues to shine in the disciples of Jesus when they display brotherly love. This is an amazing assessment of a group of Christians displaying brotherly love – such are showing the world in a bright, clear and warm manner what the kingdom of God is like.