22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1 Peter 1:22–23 (ESV)
These verses, which seem so simple at first glance, contain a series of potential difficulties. The difficulty begins immediately, because the connection of verse 22 to the preceding section is not plainly stated by means of a connection, disjunction or particle which otherwise brings together the logical structure.
Ramsay suggests that the connection may derive from the Christian triad of faith, hope and love: faith and hope having been developed in the preceding verse, Peter naturally turns to love:
Peter makes no attempt at a transition but appears to change direction rather abruptly. Although there is no immediate or obvious connection between hope (v 21b) and purification, the principle expressed in 1 John 3:3 that “everyone who has this hope in him [i.e., in Christ and his appearing] purifies himself just as he [i.e., Christ] is pure” illustrates how hope might have prompted Peter to speak of purification. Alternatively, it is possible that Peter and John are drawing on some common catechetical traditions (R. E. Brown, The Epistles of John, AB, 30:432–34). In view of the catechetical importance of the triad of faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13; cf. 1 Thess 1:3; 5:8; Col 1:4–5) it is also possible that a connection between vv 13–21 and vv 22–25 can be seen in the concluding emphasis on faith and hope in v 21 followed by the imperative of love in v 22.
J. Ramsey Michaels, vol. 49, 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 73-74. Such a connection is certainly possible. This argument may also be strengthened by another comparison to 1 John: the relationship of fellowship with the Trinity being intimately tied to fellowship among believers:
that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3 (ESV)
This accords with Jesus’ teaching that love among the disciples both proves their status as disciples of Jesus (John 13:35), and the truth of the Son being sent by the Father (John 17:21). Indeed, one cannot claim any fellowship with God who does not demonstrate that fellowship by means of love of the disciples:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7–12 (ESV)
This tie is made stronger when one considers well what is meant by the word “love” as used in the Bible. It certainly does not refer primarily to what one feels emotionally when one is said to “fall in love” (which is primarily a sexual attraction) or to “love” one’s friends (which is the affection one feels for another):
Of course, “love” must be defined biblically. As J. Wilson (2001:131) notes, “Love is a terribly debased term today, almost beyond rescue as a description of the good news of the kingdom come in Jesus Christ. …We must work recover an understanding and practice of love …. Salving is living in the way of love.” The love Peter has in view is neither a warm, fuzzy feeling nor friendships around a coffeepot after worship, though love as Peter defines it may involve both. Rather, it refers to righteous relationships with each other that are based on God’s character, which Christian behavior reflects. Peter describes the quality of relationships rightly lived in the Christian community as “love,” and he goes on in his letter to reframe the self-understanding of his readers as a community that constitutes a spiritual house in which God is worshipped by acceptable offerings (2:5).
Christians are to love one another because by obeying the truth, by coming to faith in Jesus Christ, they have set themselves apart from the ways of the world and how they used to treat people.
Jobes, I Peter, 123.