NUGGETS OF WISDOM

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BELIEVING WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE

David recollected that as a young lad, with long unruly hair and a ruddy complexion, sleeping out in an open pasture under a starry sky after watching his father’s sheep all day long; how he would take his little harp and sing to the God above all gods. Looking up, he saw the sky as a huge tent with the sparkling stars as lights that lit up the night. He may have even tried to count them once or twice. But what really impressed him was that each night every star was in exactly the same place, not one of them was missing. He was so overcome with awe that he penned a hymn to the creator of that starry universe.

O my LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius, as You display Your grandeur all over the heavens for all the world to see. For through these small and tiny dots of light You communicate as a way of countering those who don’t take You seriously; yes, You do this to silence the doubter and unbeliever. When I look up into the sky and see the galaxies Your hands created, the stars and the moon You put into orbit I ask, “What role do humans play in this vast universe; why do You care and fuss over them?” Then I realized, You created them a little short of being angels; endowing them with attributes of honor and dignity; making them the smartest and most influential creatures on earth; putting them in charge to being stewards of Your handiwork, even taking care of the animals, both domestic and wild, including the birds that fill the sky and the fish that fill the sea. O LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius for all the world to see.” Psalm 8:1-9

Reflection: Back in the days of the hippy movement I sat in a coffee house in Stuttgart, Germany talking with a long-haired flower-child about God. The young man was respectful but adamant about his doubts concerning God’s existence because he couldn’t see Him or talk to Him. At that moment the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration, so I pointed to a picture hanging on the wall beside our table and asked the young man if he believed that picture came into being due to an accidental collision of paint and paper. He laughed and said, “That’s ridiculous; that picture was painted by an artist.” I responded that I wasn’t convinced because I couldn’t see the artist in the picture; how did I know that maybe one day it just appeared on the wall by accident. The young fellow looked at me for a moment and then admitted that even though I couldn’t see the artist in the painting, I had to accept the fact that an artist painted the picture because it just makes sense. I told him that in the same way, one must exercise faith to believe an unseen talented artist created such a beautiful portrait, we can also believe an unseen God created the beauty of the universe. The magnificence of God’s creation shows His responsibility for man’s existence, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God’s handiwork. The young man smiled somewhat embarrassingly as he bowed his head and said, “Okay, you got me on that one.” I asked him if we could have prayer for him to have faith, but he wasn’t sure. As he went away I asked the Holy Spirit to go with him and open his eyes to the truth.

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XII) 10/20/20

So, it appears quite clear that the Epistle of John had a significant effect on early Christian scholars’ hearts and minds. Given this impact, it undoubtedly led to what Severus, a Greek monk-theologian of Antioch (465-538 AD), repeated that John also said, “No one has ever seen God,”[1] so how can he assure us that the living Word of life was seen and touched? Clearly, it was in the human form that made Him visible and touchable.[2]

When we share our testimony, how can we get the door to an unbeliever or doubter’s mind to open?  One way would be to knock! So how do we knock? By making it possible to include Jesus in every answer to any question, they may ask us. It’s almost like what Jesus said to Thomas, “Touch the scar in my hand with your finger. Feel the scar here in my side with your hands. Stop doubting and believe.”[3]

That’s how John felt, so he tells his readers, We watched Him perform miracles and touched[4] Him with our hands.  Bible scholar Origen of Alexandria, Egypt (184-253 AD) already knew about this epistle by John because he quoted from it in several places. In his manuscript, he spoke out against Celsus’ charges, an anti-Christian Greek philosopher (circa 177 AD). Origen is giving examples of how humanity perceived God through visions and voices from above; he then adds: “And by a sense of touch, by which John says that he ‘handled with his hands of the Word of life.‘”[5]

Œcumenius (circa 700-800AD) believes that John wrote this first verse against both the Jews and the Greeks because they were protesting that the mystery which appeared among them was too new to be taken seriously. John, therefore, answers them by saying that, in fact, it is very old and has been there from the beginning. It is superior to the Law and even surpasses creation itself because while creation has a beginning, “the Life” already existed.[6] It is hard for people today to accept, especially those who believe that the universe resulted from a chance cosmic explosion of gases. The problem is they don’t know from where these gasses originated.

I like the way Johann A. Bengel (1687-1752), German Lutheran theologian and biblical scholar,  the founder of the Swabian[7] holiness movement and a pioneer in the critical exegesis of the Final Covenant, puts it: “He gave Himself in the flesh to our eyes, ears, and hands.[8]

Alfred Plummer (1841-1926), Church of England clergyman and biblical scholar, adds that the similarity of the opening of John’s Epistle to the introduction of John’s Gospel is obvious: but the thought is somewhat different. In the Gospel, the Word existed before Creation; here in the Epistle, the Word existed before the Incarnation. Plummer says, the Socinian’s[9] interpretation, “that which” means the doctrine of Jesus, and not the Incarnate Word, cannot be defended: the verbs, “have seen,” “beheld,” “handled,” are fatal to it. In using the neuter. John takes the most comprehensive expression to cover the attributes, words, and works of the Word and the Life manifested in the flesh.[10]

William Lincoln (1825-1888) points out that there are four verbs used here: “Which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life.” It copies the Psalmist’s use of parallelisms to enhance a point. Here, we have a sandwich parallel:

We have heard

     We have seen

     We have looked upon

We have handled

If you analyze this, you will see the Lord Jesus the Anointed One draws nearer to us, not we who are drawing closer to Him. Lincoln goes on to explain that “heard,” even from a distance before you can see them. “Seen” represents a nearer place within sight.

But that is not enough, John says, “with our very own eyes.” “Looked upon” means to contemplate attentively. The more you look at Him, the more you see the glories which are in Him. “Handled” is instead a peculiar term. It is doubtless in allusion to what John says in his Gospel[11] about Mary Magdalene “handling Him.” This epistle of John begins where the Gospel leaves off. Did you ever observe in the Gospel of John where it starts with the Anointed One in the Father’s bosom, and at the end of the Gospel, a sinner is seen in the bosom of the Anointed One, showing us where our Father would have us be?”[12]

Influential English scholar Thomas Scott (1749-1821)[13] notes that the Apostle began this epistle, in the same abrupt manner as he did his Gospel, and without any particular address or salutation, and he wrote as a witness or a messenger, in a censoring declaration style, and not in an argumentative manner. That essential good, that uncreated and self-existent excellency, which were from the beginning, as coequal and co-eternal with the Father, and finally appeared in human form for the salvation of sinners. It was the main subject concerning what the Apostle wrote to his brethren. If we then understand John to mean the Anointed One as the Son of God, it must be from the beginning, which denotes from eternity for if the creation and time were coequal, that which was from the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth must have also been eternal.[14]

Charles Simeon (1760-1851) confesses that it is impossible to read these words and not be impacted by the Apostle’s earnestness in his mode of giving the testimony before us. Somebody must have challenged the truth of John affirms. The evidence on which they rested their case John calls into question. And the fact was that many heresies had arisen even while the Anointed One was still alive. Some went so far as to deny Jesus ever died and rose again. They asserted that all those transactions, which the Evangelists recorded, took place in appearance only, and not in reality.

Against such absurd and condescending conceits, the Apostle John, now at a very advanced age, maintained his testimony with a zeal suited to the occasion. He was the only surviving witness of the events to which he refers. Hence, John repeats the evidence he had, again and again, respecting the validity of all that he affirmed. He urges the whole Christian Church to receive his testimony by representing the incalculable benefits given to all who believe.[15]

Johann Eduard Huther (1807-1880) looks at the opening, “That which was from the beginning,” which is unlimited in itself, is more fully explained by the following relative clauses to this extent, that “that which was from the beginning” is identical with that which was the subject of perception by the Apostle’s senses of hearing, seeing, and touching. In other words, the appearance of the Anointed One to the disciples was not an apparition or abstraction, but as a real person. Huther says that some interpret John’s words to imply what the Apostle John witnessed were that which from eternity appeared in the Anointed One. But Huther disagrees and joins other scholars in saying it did not represent the Anointed One but that He was the Life and the Light.[16]

Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) was a professor of Ancient Languages at Wesleyan University, studied law, and had some pastoral experience. He was editor of the Methodist Quarterly Review, a scholarly theological magazine, for more than twenty years. He wrote a commentary on the entire New Testament. Here in John’s first letter, he points out that the Apostle uses the Greek perfect tense of the first two verbs, have heard and have seen; but the aorist tense,[17] without the words [we have], looked upon and handled. It is a significant change of tense, lost in our English translation. It indicates that the Apostles have seen and have heard, which remains in effect as a permanent fact. But they also specifically and at the moment looked upon, that is, contemplated and the inner nature intensely studied to appreciate the bodily substance of the Lord profoundly. This specialty is enhanced by how the first was done with physical eyes, not dreams, and the last with hands, the surest instruments of touch. Though He was from the beginning and was indeed the Word of life, He submitted Himself to bodily perception to share his determinate personality.[18]


[1] John 1:18; 1 John 4:12

[2] Severus of Antioch: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament Volume XI, Edited by Gerald Bray, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, loc. cit., p. 166

[3] John. 20:27

[4] C. Haas, M. de Jong, and J. L. Swellengrebel: In a Handbook on the Letters of John, United Bible Societies (UBS), Translation Notes on 1 John, they note: “Therefore ‘and which we ourselves (actually) have touched’ is a perfectly legitimate rendering of the clause. Such a rendering will be especially useful where the combination ‘to touch with the hands’ would be unduly redundant.” 

[5] Origen: Contra Celsus, Bk 1, Ch. XLVIII, (See also Book 7, Ch. XXXIV)

[6] Œcumenius: on 1 John, Bray, G. (Ed.)., op. cit., p. 167

[7] Swabia is a province in central Germany that includes the city of Stuttgart, near where I once lived

[8] Bengel John Albert: Gnomon of the New Testament, Vol. II, Perkinpine & Higgins, Philadelphia, 1862, p. 788

[9] Socinianism is an unorthodox form of non-trinitarianism that was developed around the same time as the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648) by Italian humanist Lelio Sozzini and later promulgated by his cousin, Fausto Sozzini. In modern times Socinianism has been referred to as psilanthropism, the view that Jesus was merely human (from the Greek psilo meaning “merely/only” and anthropos meaning “man/human being”), a view rejected by the First Council of Nicaea.

[10] Plummer, Alfred E.: Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Epistles of John, Cambridge University Press, 1892, p. 72

[11] John 20:17

[12] Lincoln, William., Lectures on the Epistles of St. John, J. F. Shaw & Co., London, 1871, pp. 10–11

[13] Thomas Scott was a minister and author, principally known for his best-selling works, A Commentary on The Whole Bible and The Force of Truth, and as one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society.

[14] Scott, Thomas: With explanatory Notes, Practical Observations, and Copious Marginal References on the Old and New Testaments, Vol. VI, James Nisbet and Co, London 1866, p. 481

[15] Simeon, Charles: Horæ Homileticæ, Discourses, Vol. XX, James to Jude, 6th Edition, Henry G. Bohn, London, 1844, p. 356

[16] Huther, Johann Eduard: Hand Book on the General Epistles, op. cit., p 468

[17] The aorist tense expresses action without indicating it completion or continuation such as “I walked.”

[18] Whedon, Daniel D. Commentary on the NT, Vol. 5, Jennings & Graham, New York, 1880, p. 253

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

Chapter One (Lesson XI) 10/19/20

COMMENTARY

When examining quotes from the past, we find that the Latin or Greek manuscripts translated into English are hard to understand because of the early English grammar and vocabulary. But there is a great benefit when we read them slowly and look for the moral lesson. It takes patience, but it is worth it. 

Greek story-teller Aesop (620-564 BC) shares an insightful story about a fox chased by hunting dogs, who came across a woodcutter cutting down an oak tree. The fox begged him to show him a safe place to hide. The Woodcutter advised him to take shelter in his nearby hut, so the Fox crept in and hid in a corner. The huntsman soon came up with his hounds and inquired of the woodcutter if he had seen the fox. He declared I haven’t him, while all the time was pointing and winking toward the hut where the Fox lay hidden. The huntsman took no notice of the signs, but believing his word, quickly went forward in the chase.

As soon as they were far enough away, the fox came out of the hut and trotted away without even looking at the Woodcutter. So, the Woodcutter called out to the fox and reprimanded him, saying, “You ungrateful fellow, you owe your life to me, and yet you leave me without a word of thanks.” The fox replied, “Indeed, I should have thanked you fervently if your deeds had been as good as your words, and if your hands had not been traitors to your speech.[1] The Apostle John knew there were many false teachers around already telling different stories about Jesus. So, John accuses them of the same thing; they were saying one thing but meaning another. However, John could say, “I knew Jesus; I walked with Him for over three years; you do not understand what you are teaching.” The same is true of us today. Some say they know Jesus, and yet they’ve never met Him.

Dionysius of Alexandria (248-264 AD) was the Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, during the third century. A convert to Christianity at a mature age, he led the Alexandrian Catechetical School  before becoming the bishop of Alexandria. He was called Dionysius the Great by Church Historian Eusebius of Caesarea In his arguments against Nepos’ writings, a bishop in Egypt (circa 200-250 AD) teaching that to understand promises given to holy men in the Scriptures, it must be from the Jewish perspective. He affirmed that there would be some kind of a millennial period, filled with imagined delights, upon this earth. Dionysius makes a comment, that “The evangelist, on the other hand, did not attach his name to this catholic epistle; but without any hesitation commenced at once with the mystery of the divine revelation itself in these terms: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes.”[2]

Caius (275-350 AD), a Presbyter of Rome and Christian author who lived at the end of the 2nd century AD and beginning of the 3rd century AD, in a fragment of his writings makes this claim: “There is no difference as regards the faith of believers since all of them are related under one majestic Spirit, which concerns the Lord’s incarnation, His passion, His resurrection, His conversation with His disciples, and His twofold advent,— the first in the humiliation of rejection, which is now past, and the second in the glory of royal power, which is yet in the future. What marvel is it, then, that John brings forward these things so consistently in his epistles, saying of his own experience, what we have seen with our eyes, and heard with our ears, and our hands have handled, that have we written.  He professes himself not only to be an eye-witness but also a hearer, and besides that, the historian of all the wondrous facts concerning the Lord as they happened.”[3]

Add to this what Christian theologian Didymus the Blind of the Coptic Church in Alexandria (313-398 AD) has to say. He writes: “There is an important difference between seeing and contemplating. For what people see can be told to others, which is not always the case with things contemplated.[4] Didymus goes on to say that many think these words here in verse one apply to the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. They say that John is speaking of himself and the other disciples who first of all heard that the Lord had risen and afterward saw Him with their own eyes, to the point where they touched His feet, His hands, His side, and felt the imprint of the nails. Even if Thomas was the only one who made physical contact with him, he was representative of the others, for the Savior told them all to touch Him and see for themselves.[5]

But others, says Didymus, take these words in a deeper sense, noting that they do not merely speak about touching but also about handling the “Word of life which was from the beginning.” Who can this refer to, other than to the One who said: “I Am that I Am”?[6] Another interpretation is that we have now openly seen with our own eyes the one who was “at the beginning,” of whom the Law and the prophets spoke, saying that He would come. He arrived seen in the flesh, and the scriptural texts bear witness to him; this is what we believe about the Word of life.[7]

And Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), in one of his sermons on this text, made this comment: Well then, the Life was manifested in the flesh because it was exhibited, so that which we can only see by the heart, should be seen by the eyes also, that it might heal the hearts. For only by the heart is the Word seen: but the flesh is seen by the bodily eyes also. We had what was needed to see the flesh, but did not have what was needed to see the Word: the Word[8] was made flesh, so we might see the Word by being healed.[9] To this, we can add what one current commentator had to say in echoing Augustine’s thought. He writes: “Jesus’ incarnation is the central doctrine of the Christian faith. Embracing this historical Jesus and continuing to bear witness to Him (seeing/touching/hearing) should be at the center of our lives together. Jesus Christ as God-in-flesh cannot be marginalized.”[10]

Augustine also has an interesting comment here on what John says in verse two. Perhaps, he says, some of the believers who are not acquainted with the Greek noun martyrs, translated as “witnesses.” It is a term used by all Greek and Final Covenant writers in religious reverence. In my [Augustine’s] language [Latin], we call them witnesses. Now, where is the person that never heard of martyrs, or where is the Christian who never spoke the word martyrs? And where is the believer who is also not committed to being a martyr for the cause of God’s Kingdom and the message of salvation to a lost and dying world?

Well, John did not have any problem announcing that he and the others have seen and are witnesses, is like saying, we have seen and are martyrs. It was for bearing witness of that which they saw, bearing witness of that which they heard from them who did see, that, while their testimony itself displeased the men they delivered it to, the martyrs gladly bore all they suffered. The martyrs are God’s witnesses. It pleased God to have humans for His witnesses, that others also may have God to be their witness.[11] And as we know from Church history, all but John died as martyrs for the sake of the Anointed One.

Vincent of Lérins (390-456 AD) comments on what the Apostle John said “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of the life,” proves that old testimonies confirmed by new testaments are as ancient prophecies confirmed by contemporary preaching. As the prophet Isaiah said: “Stop relying on humans, in whose nostrils is a mere breath – after all, they don’t count for much, do they?”[12] That’s why John says: we’ve seen Him, we’ve heard Him, we’ve touched Him. What was once part of the Messiah’s mission was now part of the Messiah’s message.

Isaiah also tells us that as humans, the Jews would inflict whippings and wounds on the Messiah,[13] but John declared that He was touched by human hands dispensing healing. Isaiah proclaimed that the Son of God would become the son of man. It is clear then, says Lérins, they both show the Lord Jesus the Anointed One to be both God and man; and that the same person who became man had always been God, and thus He was God and man because God Himself became man.

What perplexed Lérins the most was that some could not comprehend that He, who was invisible from the beginning, was now seen in the flesh. He was not a phantom as the Marcionites and Manicheans claimed. John declared that He was real. The Word made flesh and came to live among us. The author of Hebrews proclaims: “Jesus the Anointed One is the same yesterday, today and forever.”[14] In other words, the same person who existed before the commencement of the world is the same person who will go on living when the world ends; Jesus is the same in the present as He was in the past, for He is the same through all the ages, as He was before all the ages. And all this is seen in the incarnate Lord Jesus the Anointed One.[15]


[1] Aesop’s Fables, Books for the Ages, AGES Software, Albany, OR, Version 1.0, 1997, p. 51

[2] Dionysius: From the Two Books on the Promises, I:4

[3] Caius: Canon Muratorianus, Part 1

[4] Didymus the Blind: Ancient Christian Commentary, loc. cit., p. 167

[5] Luke 24:10

[6] Exodus 3:14

[7] Didymus the Blind: On 1 John, Bray (Ed.), op. cit., loc. cit.

[8] The word Logos is the term by which Christian theology in the Greek language designates the Word of God, or Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Before John consecrated this term by adopting it, the Greeks and the Jews used it to express religious conceptions which, under various titles, exercised a certain influence on Christian theology, and of which it is necessary to say something. (Cf. Genesis 1:3; Psalm 32:9)

[9] Fathers of the Church: Augustine of Hippo, Homily on the First Epistle of John

[10] Burge, Gary M., The NIV Application Commentary, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, op. cit., p. 56

[11] Augustine, op. cit.

[12] Isaiah 2:22 – Complete Jewish Bible

[13] Isaiah 53

[14] Hebrews 13:8

[15] The Seven Books of John Cassian on the Incarnation of the Lord, Against Nestorius, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 11, Bk. 5, Ch. 6, pp. 1173-1174

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POINTS TO PONDER

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We’ve all heard about staying humble. It means not letting something making us big-headed and see ourselves as better than others. But that may be more like humility. So, what is the difference? Humble and humility are two words that confuse many people since they have similar meanings. Both humility and humble come from the same Latin root word, “humilis.” Humilis is for “low or close to the ground,” and refers to having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance. The difference between these two words lies in their grammatical categories. Humble is an adjective whereas humility is a noun. This is the key difference between humble and humility. It is also important to note that the word humble also has other meanings in addition to modesty.

Psychologist Mark Leary tells us that most researchers suggest that humble people have an accurate view of themselves, acknowledge their mistakes and limitations, are open to other viewpoints and ideas, keep their accomplishments and abilities in perspective, have a low self-focus, but not a low self-esteem, and appreciate the value of all things, including other people.

And Psychologist Beverly D. Flaxington lets us know that a lot of people spend a great deal of time trying to figure out others – “What did they mean by that?” “What were they thinking?” “Why would they make that choice, versus another choice?” People do this and think of it as “knowing others.” You might say, “I get people – I am wise.” But knowing one’s self leads to mastery of one’s self, and that is where true power of humbleness lies.

Flaxington goes on to say that being humble does not come naturally to most people, so she offers the following steps in being a humble person. First, “Step outside yourself from time to time in relationship to others.” People get into a rut; in the way they operate with other people. In other words, instead of saying “What does that mean?” we say, “Why am I thinking like this?”

Second, “Listen instead of speaking.” Put your attention on the other person rather than on yourself. Don’t just listen to the words from your frame of reasoning; listen to what’s underneath their words. What do they need from you in the moment they are speaking? Stay humble; get focused on what you can give, not on what you can get.

Third, “Watch your emotions and understand your triggers.” When you get angry – what provokes the anger? When you are sad – what stimulates the emotion of sadness? When you feel joyful – what contributes to your joy? Stay humble. Become interested in your own emotional response. Instead of just responding next time, consider your response and what it connects to. Every emotion has a learning inside it.

Fourth, “Give joyfully.” Many people give out of guilt or responsibility or a connection to being “a nice person.” This can lead to resentment and frustration when others don’t give, or you think you give too much. When you give, remain humble. Let go and give to your heart’s content – be a cheerful giver.

Fifth, “Start over every day.” Most people are not taught to be humble. It can be confused with simply putting ego to the side, or giving so much of one’s self that there is little left! True humbleness is knowing who you are and having the calm confidence in yourself that you are able to be other-focused, without sacrificing all that matters to you. It’s not easy. It takes practice. Look for ways each day to practice “being humble and kind.”

Then David Nield, contributing journalist at ScienceAlert, says that psychologists have identified an important trait that could be shared by truly humble people – something called “hypo-egoic nonentitlement.” That simply means that you don’t believe your positive qualities and life achievements entitle you to any kind of special treatment from others. That’s slightly different to having a tendency to downplay your strengths and your achievements, which you might ordinarily associate with being humble, and it gives us a new insight into the essence of humility.

In other words, accept the fact that there are people out there that are smarter and more educated than you are on a variety of subjects. So, don’t act like a “know-it-all.” But at the same time, you stand alone when it comes to the lessons and insights you’ve learned over time. That belongs to you. Be humble, use it wisely, don’t insist on everyone agreeing with you or that everybody should follow your advice. Offer what you know and leave the response up to them.

But what does the Word of God have to say about being humble? Solomon tells us that “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”[1] And the prophet Micah calls out, “O people, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”[2]

Jesus taught that “Whoever exalts themselves will be humbled, and whoever humbles themselves will be exalted.”[3] And the Apostle Peter advises that we “Humble ourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt us.”[4] Also, the Apostle James notes that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”[5]

But the most notable emphasis on being humble comes in God’s answer to King Solomon’s prayer for the first Temple. The LORD said, “If my people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”[6] We need to follow this divine advice today more than ever before in our history. – Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] Proverbs 11:2

[2] Micah 6:8

[3] Matthew 23:12

[4] 1 Peter 5:6

[5] James 4:6

[6] 2 Chronicles 7:14

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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I DID IT GOD’S WAY

This story touched me as a husband and father; I’m sure it will impact your heart if you are a wife and mother.

For Sarah Cochran, infertility brought sadness that took root deep in her heart.

For years, Sarah prayed to God, “I will do whatever you want me to.” She had fallen in love with Tom the summer after high school graduation, and three years later, they were married. She felt blessed and happy to join him in his call to ministry.

But one thing afflicted her. She often jumped out of bed, screaming with abdominal pain or bending over while strolling through a store or driving. Doctors diagnosed her with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and Sarah soon learned that conceiving children would be difficult. Bearing children became a goal to be achieved to make the physical pain worthwhile. Sarah began to withdraw from people. Symptoms of depression began to appear as she and Tom pursued fertility treatments month after month without any result.

One morning, after years of trying to conceive and yet another failed pregnancy test, Sarah locked herself inside their bathroom and screamed. She repeatedly banged her head against the wall. Sarah vomited out of pain–caused by nausea from the fertility drugs and her disgust and rage. She cried out to God to let her die. Her prayers felt as though they bounced off the ceiling, mocking her every thought. How could she have faith in a God that would not heal? She was weary of the pain and tired of praying for others, doubting that God even cared. She became cynical and bitter. She had built her life around a God who cared, but she could see no evidence of that care in her situation.

One morning, as questions swirled in their minds, Tom sat down in the bedroom, while Sarah was still lying in bed, and began to play his guitar and sing: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love…the Lord is good to all, and He has compassion on all that He has made. As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far He has removed our transgressions from us…”[1] At that moment, they could feel God’s presence in the room.

A seed of faith and hope began to take root in Sarah’s heart. It expanded and grew over the next decade. God was answering Sarah’s prayer: “God, I will do whatever you want me to.” Sarah realized God was asking if she meant it. He did care for her, but did she care about God’s purpose, His plans, and His people, or was she entirely focused only on her desires and comfort? God wanted her to surrender her full attention, plans for her future and family, and aspirations for education and a career. Could she submit her entire life to God?

After Sarah said, “Yes, Lord, I’ll do whatever you want me to do,” God called Sarah to return to school and become a pastor. She now says confidently, “God’s grace is sufficient to forgive my sins. He is sufficient for me. God does care, though He does say ‘no’ sometimes. God’s perspective is not our perspective. His is bigger and better!

You may not have gone through what Sarah experienced, but no doubt, there have been times in your life when you prayed, even begged God, to give you something you thought you needed to bring you satisfaction and joy in living for Him. You saw how others were having their prayers answered, and the happiness it brought them. It made you wonder if God was ignoring you or that; perhaps, you were asking for the wrong thing even though it was a legitimate request. I experienced that but found out later why God led me the way He did.

You remember what King Solomon said about trusting the LORD completely, and don’t depend on what you think you know. With every step you take, think about what He wants, and He will help you go the right way.[2] Solomon also stated that you may have plans in your heart of where you want to go, but the LORD will plan out your steps to get there.[3]

The prophet Jeremiah seemed to be having the same problem as Sarah in finding God’s will for his life. So, the LORD told him: “I have good plans for you. I have no intention on hurting you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.”[4]

And the Apostle Paul put it this way: “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan.”[5] I know this to be true because if I had not surrendered my ideas and accepted God’s plan, I would not be sending you this Serendipity at the age of 82. I wanted to find a straight path to reach my goal, but God took me down a winding road because there was so much more for me to learn before He gave me what I wanted. Remember, even if you give up on God, He will never give up on you.[6] – Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] Ord, Graham. (1998) The Lord is Gracious and Compassionate. Vineyard Music.

[2] Proverbs 3:5-6

[3] Ibid. 16:9

[4] Jeremiah 29:11

[5] Romans 8:28

[6] Philippians 1:6

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

Chapter One (Lesson X) 10/16/20

The Apostle John TaughtThe Gnostics taught
Jesus is God incarnate, part of the Trinity. (1 Jn. 1:1-2)Denied the Trinity. Said Jesus was one of many gods.
Jesus is the only way to Salvation (1 Jn. 1:1-2)Taught a person could be of another religion and still be saved.
God is only good; there is no evil in Him. Satan is only evil and is not equal to God. (1 Jn. 1:5)It was first introduced dualism into Christianity through the Syrian Gnostic heretic Cerdo.
Everyone is born with a sinful nature that causes them to sin. Everyone needs a savior. (1 Jn. 1:8)Taught, through religious teacher Basilides, that man was born without a sinful nature, and was able to live a sin-free life and did not need salvation
No one has ever lived a life without sin or sinning. (1 Jn. 1:10)Taught that even if he had a sinful nature, he still might have been able never to sin.

If we sin, we confess the sin to God and are forgiven; we do not pay for our sins before or after we are saved.  (1 Jn. 1:9-22)
Taught that if you sinned after you were saved, you had to pay penance for your sin.
COMMENTARY (Cont)

David Guzik (1984) points out that the idea of Logos – the Word – was necessary for John and the Greek and Jewish worlds of his day. For the Jew, God was Himself in His Word because they knew God perfectly revealed Himself in His Word. For centuries, the Greek philosophers spoke about the Logos – the basis for organization and intelligence in the universe, the Ultimate Reason, which controls all things. It’s as if John said to all of them: “This Logos you have been talking about and writing about for centuries – well, we have heard Him, seen Him, studied Him, and touched Him. Let me now tell you about Him.[1]

Current scholar Simon J. Kistemaker points out that the Apostle John begins this sentence with “that” instead of “who.” Rather than saying, “Jesus the Anointed One, who was from the beginning,” John writes, “That which was from the beginning.” Therefore, “that” is broader than “who” because it includes the person and message of Jesus the Anointed One. It also has God’s revelation, namely, the Gospel, which John points out, “we proclaim concerning the Word of Life.”[2]

John Phillips tells us that John may also be addressing the big controversy prevalent in his day with the Docetists who accept Jesus as the Messiah but deny His humanity. John walked with, ate with, and conversed with Jesus daily for three years. In his mind, the deity and humanity of Jesus were perfectly balanced. He was, without doubt, God manifested in the flesh.” That made it hard to tell where His deity ended and His humanity began. For instance, when the Lord sat by Jacob’s well in Samaria. John and the other disciples say that He was, “wearied with His journey,”[3] which revealed His humanity. But when told the woman from the town who came out to get water all about her past life, she knew He had supernatural abilities.

John tells us about the gradual revelation this woman experienced. In John 4:9, this lady recognizes Jesus as a Jew. Then in John 4:19, she declares that He must be a prophet. And finally, in John 4:29, she proclaims that He must be the Messiah the Jews were awaiting. How about when Jesus, as a tired man, fell asleep in a boat, but when awakened, He calmed the winds and the waves which only the power of God could perform?[4] Furthermore, they saw Him on the cross as a dying human being, but three days later, they encountered Him as a living divine being.[5]

Bruce G. Schuchard talks about how this first prologue exhibited a certain amount of parallel construction in its several parts, advancing an impressive “semantic and rhythmic momentum that highlights “life,” “fellowship,” and “joy.”[6] So imagine it to be the opening to a concerto. First, it begins like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with an aggressive allegro movement in verse one. Then transitions to a more soothing adagio movement in verse two, before rising again to an allegro tempo in verse three, and finally to a crescendo in verse four. To remove any one of these movements and the whole concerto loses its measure and symphony. The same goes with what John says about the Life and the Light. It takes all of these movements to produce joy.

1:1b That allows John to say …This is the One we listened to and saw with our own eyes…

EXPOSITION

The Apostle John expressed this very well when he wrote in his Gospel: “So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.[7] John is not the only one; his fellow Apostle Peter offered the same testimony. Having two witnesses to back up a story was the rule from the time of Moses,[8] and by which Jesus confirmed Himself as the standard for verification.[9]

But John says they not only saw Him, but they heard Him. John was emphatic about making that known when in his Gospel, he declared: “In the beginning, there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. By Him, all things were made, and nothing was made without Him. In Him, there was life, and that life was the light of all people. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.[10] And in his vision, this same Jesus was revealed to him, dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.[11]

So, it is clear that John was speaking here of the One he spoke of in his Gospel: Shouldn’t our experiences today be the same? When we look back over our lives and see the many times our Lord has communicated with us, communed with us, and comforted us, do we not also feel the joy of such a close walk with Him? Should we not distribute those things so that we may fully share our joy with others like John? And not offer them only with members of the congregation, but with everyone we meet. Not intrusively, but every time the door opens.

It is the same way that King Solomon speaks about the person he calls “Wisdom.” In his Hebrew Lexicon, Thayer says that this Hebrew noun chokmah is often used in Scripture to identify a ruler, to a king [Messiah],[12] and in a greater and more eminent sense to God.[13] The prophet Isaiah introduces us to the phrase, “The first and the last,”[14] which we know in Revelation as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.[15] So we can see that John, a Jew, saw this linkage to the past and was confident that somebody already mentioned the One he openly spoke about secretly in the First Covenant. But it all came out for everyone to hear when the prophet Micah received this prophecy: “O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past![16]

But when the right time came, Matthew,[17] Mark,[18] and Luke[19] record what the Apostle Peter says about when he was there on the holy mountain when the Anointed One blazed with honor given Him by God His Father. Peter said I heard that glorious, majestic voice calling down from heaven, saying, “This is my much-loved Son; I am well pleased with Him.[20] But while John appreciated Peter’s testimony, he was there on the mountain with Peter and James when they saw the transfiguration of their Master and heard this witness come from heaven.[21] That’s why John could say with confidence that the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we saw His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.[22] But to cap it all, John also saw the risen and glorified Son of God, dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and He was called the “Word of God.[23]


[1] Guzik, David: Enduring Word Commentary Series, Verse by Verse Commentary on 1, 2, 3 John and Jude, Enduring Word Publishing, 1019, p. 10

[2] Kistemaker, Simon J., New Testament Commentary, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1986, p. 234

[3] John 4:6

[4] Matthew 8:23-27)

[5] Phillips, John, The John Phillips Commentary Series, Exploring the Epistles of John, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 2003, p.

[6] Schuchard, Bruce G., Concordia Commentary, A |Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis, 2012, pp. 61-62

[7] Ibid. 1:14 – New Living Translation (NLT)

[8] Deuteronomy 17:6

[9] Matthew 18:16

[10] 1 John 1:1-5

[11] Revelation 19:13

[12] Isaiah 11:2

[13] Job 12:12-13; 28:12, 28; 32:13

[14] Isaiah 41:4

[15] Revelation 22:13

[16] Micah 5:2

[17] Matthew 17:5

[18] Mark 9:7

[19] Luke 9:36

[20] 2 Peter 1:17-18

[21] See Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2;

[22] John 1:14

[23] Revelation 19:13

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

Chapter One (Lesson IX) 10/15/20

The same things are said of each, and the same characteristics attributed to each. The fundamental resemblance lies in the fact that each is the revealer or tangible expression of the Invisible God. As the written or spoken word expresses, to communicate to another the invisible and inaccessible thought, so Jesus the Anointed One as the Incarnate Word, and the Holy Scriptures as the Written Word, express and communicate knowledge of the invisible and inaccessible God. “Those who have seen Me have seen the Father.” “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.[1] [2]

I like what Alan England Brooke (1863-1939), Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, ordained priest in the Church of England and Professor of Divinity lays out for us to comprehend the full revelation of the Word of Life through the incarnate Son of God whom the Apostle John saw, heard, and touched. He says that what John announces about the Word of Life, the revelation of life, is no recent discovery. The revelation began with creation. It continued in the history of the nations and the People, in the work of Prophets, Psalmists, Legislators. It culminated in the earthly life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore, the mystery, which is as old as creation, was gradually revealed, until it was wholly manifested in Jesus the Anointed One, the Son of God.

Brooke continues by saying that the phrase “the Logos of Life,” necessitates some such interpretation of the phrase. It cannot refer to the eternal, pre-existent nature of the personal Word, though in the writer’s conception, this is no doubt included. The whole message of God’s revelation, as it has been gradually unfolded, is the object of the writer’s writing. The mystery which he takes his part in “revealing” is concerned with the eternal reality underlying the phenomena apparent to sense-perception and needed to explain them. What he has to say is one stage in its unveiling; his words are part of a process of teaching which began when “God said. Let there be light.”[3] In other words, the Son of God coming to earth was not the Word of Life’s first appearance to humanity. It started in creation with nature and continually grew in intensity through the Law and finally through Jesus of Nazareth. It is when personal communion and fellowship with God became possible. But it is still not finished. This same John said that one day we will all see Him for who He is.[4]

H. A. Ironside (1876-1951), a Canadian-American Bible teacher, preacher, theologian, pastor, and author who pastored Moody Church in Chicago from 1929 to 1948 and belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, sees some distinct beginnings emphasized in Scripture. We read, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth[5] That was the beginning of creation. Some speculate that it occurred about six thousand years ago; it might have been much more than that, but the Bible does not say. But go back as far as you want, and you still find that, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Whenever that event took place, it was God who did it. He was there. In other words, it was not the beginning of God, nor was it the beginning of the universe, but the beginning of the earth and its atmosphere.

Ironside continues by saying that it may have gone through a great many changes before the conditions described in Genesis 1:2. Nevertheless, it was created by a personal God in the beginning – the beginning of creation. Then in the Gospel of John, we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”[6] That is the beginning of the beginning. When everything that ever had a beginning began, the Word already was. He had no beginning but was the eternally existing Son subsisting in the bosom of the Father. Then in the first chapter of this Epistle, “That which was from the beginning” is not the beginning of the creation; neither is it the beginning of the beginning of John 1:1. Still, it is the beginning of the new dispensation – the beginning of Christianity when the truth was revealed in the Anointed One.[7] Stephen Steward Smalley (1931-2018) adds that the allusion to the “Word” existing from the beginning is a possible allusion to the pre-existent Word as eternity itself, rather than to the “beginning” of creation as such.[8]

Greville Priestly Lewis (1891-1976) calls this work a pastoral tract rather than a personal letter. It starts without any greeting to the readers and not addressed to any specific church or person. The unique thing is that the Apostle John starts his prologue in verse one and ends in verse four with a striking summary of his main theme: That which was from the beginning…we write to you that your joy may be complete.[9]

William Barclay (1907-1978) says that John’s message is of Jesus the Anointed One; he has three great things to say about the Lord. First, he says that Jesus was from the beginning. That is to say, in Him, eternity entered time; in Him, the eternal God personally entered the world of men. Second, that entry into the world of men was a real entry; it was authentic manhood that God took upon himself. Third, through that action, there came to men the Word of life, which changed death into life and mere existence into real living. Again, and again, in the Final Covenant, He is called “Word” – Logos, and it is of the greatest interest that we see the various connections in which this term is used.[10] By becoming a real human being, our Lord Jesus made it possible for us to become real children of God.

Wendell C. Hawley (1930) says that the Apostle John says “what was from the beginning” to start this letter. There are two explanations for John’s use of the relative pronoun “what” instead of the personal pronoun “who.” John used “what” because it is more inclusive; it encompasses everything about the “Word of Life” that the Apostles came to know and experience that this prologue is a poem, John likely intended both meanings.[11]

Dr. Peter Pett, a retired Baptist minister and college lecturer points out that here the aging Apostle John addresses his readers with great tenderness as his little spiritual children (Greek teknia) – in that they followed Jesus.[12] And he assures them that he does not write to them like this so that they may feel that they can freely sin, or feel that they cannot help but lose the battle against their known sins. He does it so that they may not sin. His longing is that they may be so aware of the God who is pure light that they shy away from sin, seek earnestly to be sinless. He desires that they become holy people walking in the Light. While it is not possible to be completely innocent, the Holy Spirit can empower people so that they gain the victory over all known sin, of which they are aware. If they walk by the Spirit, they will not fulfill the desire of the flesh.[13]

Judith Lieu (1951) shares an appealing thought about the sensory perceptions of hearing, seeing, and touching. As far as touching is concerned, Lieu says that it echoes what we read in Isaiah about the people complaining that, although they wait for light, there is darkness and they walk in the gloom and “grope” like the blind along a wall.”[14] The Greek verb psēlaphaō translated here by the NKJV as “handled,” “touched (NIV),” means to “grope,” says Lieu. It is used that way about blind Isaac gropingly touching and “recognizing” Jacob-in-disguise as Esau.[15] Yet this should not lead to any uncertainly about the Apostles touching Jesus.[16] It is best understood when putting it into the context of the first three years when the disciples physically followed the Lord. It wasn’t until His resurrection they finally realized it was all true, God had come in human form, and now they had no fear or misgivings about their testimony of this reality.

Ken Johnson (1965), author and lecturer on Bible prophecy, ancient history, and the coming last days, points to John’s quote from the prophet Micah who speaks of Bethlehem where the Messiah would be born and whose origins are far in the past, back in ancient times. It clearly shows that Jesus was God incarnate. Because of this, Jesus is the only source of eternal life because He is Life eternal. Johnson then goes on to show a comparison between John’s Gospel and what the Gnostics were peddling as their gospel.[17]


[1] John 14:9, 11

[2] Mauro, Philip: Life in the Word, The Fundamentals – A Testimony to the Truth, Vol. 2, R. A. Torrey, Ed., pp. 125-126

[3] Alan E. Brooke: The International Critical Commentary, S. R. Driver, A. Plummer, C. A. Briggs Eds., T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1912, The Johannine Epistles, pp. 1-3

[4] 1 John 3:2

[5] Genesis 1:1

[6] John 1:1

[7] Ironside, Harry A. Notes on Selected Books, loc. cit.

[8] Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary, op. cit., p. 7

[9] Lewis, Greville P., Epworth Preacher’s Commentaries, Johannine Epistles, Epworth Press, London, 1961, pp. 6-7

[10] Barclay, William: The New Daily Study Bible, The Letters of John and Jude, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1958, p. 26

[11] Wendell C. Hawley & Philip W. Comfort, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 1-3 John, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, IL. 2007, p. 329

[12] See John 13:23

[13] Peter Pett: Commentary on the Bible, StudyLight, loc. cit.

[14] See Isaiah 59:9-10

[15] Genesis 27:21-22

[16] Lieu, Judith M., The New Testament Library, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 2008, pp. 39-40

[17] Johnson, Ken. Ancient Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., pp. 53-58, Biblefacts.org. Kindle Edition.

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

Chapter One (Lesson VIII) 10/14/20

William Kelly (1822-1888) also draws attention to the term, “The Word of Life.” It is, indeed, closely connected with the main object of the Epistle. Still, when the Apostle John first mentions it, the reader will have very little preparation without reading the first chapter of John’s Gospel. Suddenly, John introduces us to the unique, divine theme that the Holy Spirit stooped down to take up and give us. Can we not see that in John’s testimony of the Lord having been heard, seen, and touched, he begins by calling Him the Eternal Word in human form? The Word of Life is at once ushered before the believer’s eyes to see and comprehend.

Could any other question show the reverence that filled the Apostle’s heart more clearly, or that is due from ours? But here we begin, remarkable to say, with the “Human/Divine Word of Life,” and, it may be added, as another thing of importance, the “Human/Divine Word of Life Man” not in the heavens but on the earth. The glorified Man on the throne of God above has great significance with the Apostle Paul. Here, on the other hand, the most excellent possible care is taken first to present the Word when He walked here below, not before He became flesh, as is done in verse two, nor after He died and rose again, as elsewhere in the Epistle. Those positions or states of our Lord appear appropriately in their place. Still, here John is treating eternal life manifested on earth with its just and full proofs, and its importance for sharing brotherhood and sisterhood with the Father and the Son, to the fullness of joy of all who share it in the grace of God. Hence, he immediately brings us to hear the Word of Life report as the disciples saw and heard Him on the earth.[1]

Chancellor of Llandaff Anglican Cathedral in Cardiff, Wales, and Lecturer in Divinity at the University of Cambridge, John James Lias (1834-1923), hears the Apostle John say: We declare to you what was the fact about Him from the beginning.[2] Lias goes on to say that the word spoken must be for others to hear. It would be useless to tell it otherwise. Therefore, the Word of God must be spoken, must be the revelation of God, that is, to all to whom He has given ears to hear it, to all humanity. It is its essential character to be disbursed and distributed. With it being in us at all, it cannot remain hidden within our hearts. It must burn; it must yearn to communicate itself to others. According to our circumstances and opportunities, we cannot rest without endeavoring to bring others to the knowledge of what we know. If no such passionate feeling exists, we have not yet appropriated the Word of Life by faith. If we have, we must, in our way, feel with Paul that “necessity is laid upon us, yes, Woe unto us if we preach not the Gospel.”[3]

Our call, says Lias, is in various ways. Some have the humble privilege of mentoring relatives and friends to live in union with the Anointed One. Some have a broader influence over scholars, or laity, or dependents. Furthermore, some persons of education and position have an even wider sphere. Then others undertake to mentor the young, evangelizing the lost and dying world, or reclaiming the backslidden. Some, again, are full-time ministers of the Anointed One, some are His evangelists to the unreached. But all in their appointed place must impart to others the knowledge they have received.[4] If you have the fire in your soul of spreading your testimony when God gives you the opportunity, remember, each day lost in sharing what the Holy Spirit put in your heart may be another soul lost to salvation through grace.

John was not interested in fiction or fairy tales; he wanted his readers to know the facts about the Anointed One’s existence before humans could measure it. With this in mind, Lias asks: Has not a life outside of us been communicated internally to us? Some would have us believe that all the Anointed One did for us was to set an example. It is the Socinian theory.[5] So far as it may be true, we gladly accept it. But did not Benjamin Franklin warn us that “a truth which is half a truth is the greatest lie of all,[6] Does Socinianism place us in the most dangerous of half-truths? We must not forget that the Final Covenant does not fail to proclaim with the utmost emphasis, that the life of the Anointed One is not merely an example offered to us, but a principle implanted in us. Our Authorized Version (KJV) of the Bible obscures this truth sometimes, says Lias, by rendering (as in Romans 6:23) the Greek preposition n with the English word through. In the Epistle, however, as in the Gospel, the more accurate rendering of “in” is maintained. In John’s Gospel, we find this truth articulated throughout, especially in chapters 6,[7] 7,[8] and 17.[9] We see it in this Epistle with ever-increasing definiteness.[10] Nor is it absent from our version of Paul’s Epistles.[11]

It is communicated to us by specific means, says Lias. The one primary means is faith, without which all other means are useless. Faith is the medium whereby we place ourselves in rhythm with the divine impulse. Faith is the electric wire which connects heaven with earth and makes our lives sensitive and responsive to influences from above. Without trust, what we know as the means of grace is like the telegraph when the electric current is absent – dead, lifeless machinery. Yet without these means, electric current would not be able to make itself felt. And so, without the means, the Anointed One blessed, faith itself would fail to exert its influence. And these means are threefold, prayer, sacraments, and the study of God’s revelations.[12]

Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) sees verse three as the beginning of this dissertation. John says: We announce to you what we have seen and heard because we want you also to have fellowship with us. Our camaraderie is with God the Father and with his Son, Jesus the Anointed One. Then go back to verse two and then verse one. It helps clear up the disrupted construction. In any case, says Bultmann, the fact that the subject matter and person are identical becomes evident by the end of verse three.[13] In other words, the One John is proclaiming, the One who existed from the beginning, the One they heard, saw and touched, the Word of Life, the One manifested, the One who is eternal life, the One they are a friend with is the same Jesus the Anointed One. He is all in One, and One in all.  

Clement Clemance (1845-1886) comments on Dr. Alfred Edersheim’s remark concerning the Church’s learning of the Anointed One by saying it involves two great states in history. Here is what Dr. Edersheim, a converted Jew, admitted, is not easy to understand what the disciples expected when they awakened the Anointed One on the ship with their Hosanna cry of “Lord, save us – or we perish!” Indeed, that’s not what happened; it wasn’t only amazement that came over them but also awed reverence as they witnessed His presence on earth. It is quite probable that their witness would be a vague, undefined belief in the unlimited possibility of the eternal Anointed One. A view which seems to us quite natural as we think of it as gradually emerging while partially capped by the height of His Divinity, of which, as yet, only appeared visible to them as dim an outline. It accounts for the lack of complete comprehension characterized by the Son of God’s bearing by a Virgin, and equally illustrated by the disciples on Resurrection-morning inspecting the empty tomb, filling them with incredulous wonder that the tomb was vacant.

This brings us to that stage in history, says Clemance, when there was opposition from His enemies regarding His claim of being the Son of God.  Neither could anyone comprehend His Teaching nor His ministry until understanding His personality – He is of God, the Living God. We gradually reach toward the convenience and the need for the Holy Spirit’s coming to reveal His person’s mystery more clearly. Similarly, the two significant stages in the history of the Church’s learning what He did; the second – to come to an experience of what He did and does by knowing what He is. We see the first stage in the First Covenant in the history of Israel, and the second stage corresponds to the Final Covenant when Jesus was on earth up to His Ascension into Heaven and the Descent of the Holy Spirit.[14]

And there is also an intermediate truth, says Edersheim, with which we are gravely concerned. It involves the fact John reminds us of at the opening of this Epistle. Through this process, we pass on to the second stage of the writings of those who passed through earlier. John carries out its intended effect by this inspired letter. There is no doubt the Apostle John wrote this letter, the same John who authored the Gospel.

Philip Mauro (1859-1952) was an American lawyer who practiced before the Supreme Court, a patent lawyer, and a Christian writer. He points out that of the many statements that the Bible makes concerning God’s Word, none is more significant, and indeed none is of greater importance to dying sinners than the belief that the Word of God is a LIVING WORD. In Philippians, we have the expression, “The Word of Life.”[15] It is employed here by the Apostle John in verse one of Jesus the Anointed One, the Incarnate Word, whereas it is used by the Apostle Paul when referring to the Written Word. The Written Word and the Incarnate Word are spoken of in Scripture in ways that are not always clear.


[1] Kelly, William: An Exposition of the Epistles of John the Apostle, Published by T. Weston, London, 1905, pp. 5-6

[2] Lias, John J., The First Epistle of St. John with Exposition, James Nisbet & Co., London, 1887, p. 10

[3] 1 Corinthians 9:16

[4] Lias, J. J. The First Epistle of St. John with Homiletical Treatment, London: James Nisbet & Co., 1887, pp. 22-24

[5] Socinianism is an unorthodox form of non-trinitarianism that was developed around the same time as the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648) by Italian humanist Lelio Sozzini and later promulgated by his cousin, Fausto Sozzini. In modern times Socinianism has been referred to as psilanthropism, the view that Jesus was merely human (from the Greek psilo meaning “merely/only” and anthropos meaning “man/human being”), a view rejected by the First Council of Nicaea.

[6] 1758 Poor Richard’s Almanack, p. 89

[7] See John 6:10, 31, 39, 45, 49, 53, 56, 59, 61

[8] Ibid. 7:1, 4, 9-12, 18, 22, 23, 28, 37, 43

[9] Ibid. 17:10-13, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26

[10] Cf. 1 John 4:4, 15, 16; 5:11, 12, 20

[11] See Ephesians 1:23, 5:30; Col. 1:27, 3:3

[12] Lias, John J, The First Epistle of St. John with Homiletical Treatment, op. cit., pp. 13–17

[13] Bultmann, Rudolf: The Johannine Epistles, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1973, pp. 7-8

[14] Edersheim, Alfred: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 1, Bk. 3, Ch. 24, 1883, p. 525

[15] Philippians 2:16

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

Chapter One (Lesson VII) 10/13/20

James McKnight (1721-1800) reminds us that the Apostle John is not merely describing “the word” but “the Living Word.” It is “the Word of God” clothed in human flesh to be seen, heard, and touched. Furthermore, this Word was not new; it existed from the beginning. Now the Living Word would be tested by actual encounters with wickedness and the temptations of the devil. It was proven to be real by baptism, the Holy Spirit’s descent in the form of a dove, and a voice out of heaven declaring Him to be God’s Son. He was no apparition because he walked, talked, ate, slept, and communed with humanity.[1] In other words, the Word became real in the world’s eyes, more real than even their idols who could not do what He did to bring the message of salvation to a lost and dying people.

Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1829) tells us that the Apostle John wrote this First Epistle to address his concerns of the believer’s communion with God the Father and His Son Jesus the Anointed One through the grace and influence of the Holy Spirit. It is the very essence and utmost excellence of grace, either on earth or in glory. The Apostle John is part of God’s chosen people in the Final Covenant, while Daniel was among God’s chosen people of the First Covenant. Daniel was spoken to by an angel, “O man greatly beloved,”[2] and John earned the reputation as the disciple whom Jesus loved. He was highly favored by our Lord Jesus the Anointed One. It is told that John rested his head on our Lord’s chest just like the Anointed One lay in the arms of His Divine Father before time began, and drew the love of His Father’s heart into His own, and reflects the full splendor of it, and mirrors the glorious shine of it on His church. And he was, thereby, most eminently qualified to write concerning one of the greatest of all subjects – communion with the divine Godhead, in the incomprehensible essence as they stand related to us, and are personally interested in us, according to their sovereign will and grace.[3]

Pierce concludes his sermon with eloquence by saying with the title, “Word.” John styles this most wonderful Anointed One as “the Word of life.” Yes, we have heard with our ears, we have seen with our eyes, we have looked upon, and our hands have handled “the Word of life.” We find these words recorded in the First Covenant, “By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made.”[4] We also read the Word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Fear not, Abram; I am your shield, and exceeding great reward.”[5] David says, “For Your Word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You did all these great things, to make your servant know them.”[6] So the Word of Life has always been valuable.

In all these passages, our Lord bears the title of “the Word.” The Word is the index of the mind, by accounting for and expressing what the mind contains. So, the Anointed One, being one in the self-existing Divine Essence, speaks out the eternal Father’s intentions. The heavens and the earth were created, with His Almighty’s approval and all that surround them. It was by Him, all the secrets of the Most-High were proclaimed, and the invisible God brought out of His invisibility. So, says our Evangelist in the first chapter of his Gospel, “No one has seen God at any time: the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”[7] It is in Him the full revelation of Godhead is made known. By the Son of God’s union, with the man Jesus the Anointed One, there is the most apparent evidence given to us of the Trinity in Unity for us to understand. In the essential Word, all of God’s mind is opened; all the love of God expressed; the whole essence of God declared. It is as this essential Word, the only begotten Son of God shines forth as God-Man in His most glorious person, mediation, work, grace, and salvation, in the everlasting Gospel, and enlightens His Church so that in His light they can see the Light.[8]

In 1823 Richard Rothe (1799-1867) received an appointment as chaplain to the Prussian embassy in Rome. In 1828 he was made Ephorus,[9] at the preachers’ seminary of Wittenberg, Germany, and afterward professor in Bonn and Heidelberg. Rothe was considered one of the most profound thinkers of the century, equaled by none of his contemporaries in his speculation’s grasp, depth, and originality. As he sees it, the first four verses form a preface to the whole Epistle. They point to the contents of the communication of the writer and state its purpose. However, says Rothe, in the Epistle itself, we do not meet with this communication again. On the other hand, they are presented to us clearly and distinctly in John’s Gospel.

Rothe states that the words “That which was from the beginning,” signifies its original self-existence. Being eternally existent, therefore, the only real, actual existence of the Absolute. It adds to the manifestation of the Redeemer’s superior dignity and worth. With that being the case, John’s message’s essential thought means this self-existence is the real and eternal life of which John will speak in verse two. You could not have anything eternally futuristic unless it existed before the beginning. It is especially valid when speaking of God’s Son as the Divine Logos – the Word. Hence, His message was not new; it already existed and only need to be revealed. That’s John’s opening message.[10]

German Lutheran Pastor and theologian Johann Eduard Huther (1807-1880) focuses on the Anointed One’s theological genealogy whom the Apostle John calls “the Living Word.” This thought, says Huther, is inconclusive in itself, but is more fully explained by the following relative clauses to this extent: “that which was from the beginning” is identical with that which was the subject of perception by the Apostle’s senses.[11]

And English Bishop in the  Anglican Church and noted scholar, Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1880), notes that John begins this Epistle without mentioning himself. He appears to be unconscious of his individuality and so absorbed in contemplating the Divine Glory of the Anointed One that he heard, saw, and touched that he only sees the One who came down from heaven out of infinite love for His creation. We hear John reverting to the opening of the First Covenant: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”[12] That was the beginning of the visible world. Then in his Gospel, John speaks of the beginning of the spiritual world.[13] And here in his Epistle, he begins with Him who had no beginning but is and has been from the start. So, by seeing the Anointed One, John looked at someone existing before the commencement of the world’s creation.[14]

William Graham (1810-1883) summarizes what the Apostle John was thinking while writing this letter to his readers. Graham has John saying, I taught you something of the nature and universality of sin, of the deceivers and hypocrites who say they have no sin. Still, it would be best if you did not misunderstand that sin is an element of our being. Neither is it attached to us as an absolute necessity or infused into us by God’s will or authority. Also, that resisting such might and dominion are vain and impossible. On the contrary, says John, the main object of my Epistle lies in four words, “that you sin not.”

It is the aspiration of my heart, says John, and the end of all my labors as an Apostle of Jesus the Anointed One, the divine Redeemer. You must not yield to sin but resist it to the uttermost, in the assurance that the grace of the Anointed One will be sufficient for you, and every fresh victory over it will prepare the way for new conquests until the crucifixion of the old self. We must bring every thought into subjection to the Gospel of the Anointed One.[15]

English Baptist minister, college head, and Biblical scholar Joseph Angus (1816-1902) says that we learn the true nature of our partnership with God. He is Light and Love, and being one with Him implies conformity to Him as the Light and purified humanity, redeemed, and holy.  And in conforming to His Love, they must love God and love one another. However, when we deny the Anointed One, all these blessings are lost. We discover the blessedness and duties of sonship. As a family, adoption is our privilege in the Anointed One, and again we are led to the same results. God is righteous: as His children, we too must be righteous! The Anointed One came to take away sin, and in Him is no sin; we must conform to Him. He gave His life for us, and herein His love is our model. Having His Spirit, we shall share His other blessings. Again, if Christ is denied, especially in His human nature, and these blessings are lost.[16]


[1] James McKnight: On First John, op. cit., p. 24

[2] Daniel 10:19

[3] Pierce, Samuel E. Exposition of the First Epistle of John, Sermon 1, Vol. 1, London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1835, p. 1

[4] Psalm 33:6

[5] Genesis 15:1

[6] 2 Samuel: 21

[7] John 1:18

[8] Samuel Eyles Pierce: First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 8-9

[9] Ephorus is usually the head of an evangelical seminary or monastery supported by scholarships

[10] Rothe, Richard: Exposition of the First Epistle of St. John, The Expository Times, London, January 1890, p. 85

[11] Johann E. Huther, Epistles of James and John, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the General Epistles, Funk & Wagnalls, New York, 1886, p. 469

[12] Genesis 1:1

[13] John 1:1-3

[14] Christopher Wordsworth: The NT with Introduction and Notes, Vol. II, Rivingtons, Waterloo Place, London, 1872, p. 107

[15] Graham, W. (1857). The Spirit of Love, op. cit., p. 75

[16] Joseph Angus: The Bible Hand-Book: An Introduction to the Study of Sacred Scripture: New Edition, Thoroughly Revised and in Part Re-written by Samuel G. Green, The Religious Tract Society, London, 1904, p. 753

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

Chapter One (Lesson VI) 10/12/20

Œcumenius (circa 700-800 AD) believes that the Apostle John wrote this counter to the Jews and Greeks. They claimed that Christianity was a recent offshoot from Judaism, conspired by rebels like Peter, James, and John to declare a mystery too new to be taken seriously. John responds that this is older than Judaism. It has existed from the beginning. Not just before the Law, but before creation.[1]

Isho’dad of Merv (circa 823-883 AD), Bishop of Hdatta, a city on the East bank of the Tigris in what is today Iraq, seems to be in the same camp by saying that what many have said about this Epistle have erred, supposing the Apostle John wrote it. Yet, if they investigated the matter, they would have seen that the thought, shape, and authority of this letter are vastly inferior to the sound words of the Evangelist.[2] To the end of the first millennium, there were disagreements among scholars as to who wrote this letter. We have no way of knowing exactly how their views influenced what branch of the early church’s theology. In any case, Isho’dad would be applauded by today’s liberal theologians while conservative and fundamental theologians would turn it thumbs down.

Bulgarian theologian Theophylact of Ohrid (1050-1108) believes that the Apostle John is saying that those who have heard this before from the initial teaching, go on to see Him, not bodily, but rationally, and not with physical eyes, but with their mind’s eye. And to “touch” the Word of Life means we now have that life through the Word.[3] It also might be reasoned about the Word, says Theophylact, that it initially existed because we heard it from the Law and the Prophets that the Word would come. When the Word came embodied in the flesh, we saw Him. For God, as He is in Himself, “no one has ever seen.”[4]

Theophylact goes on to say that we joined the appeared Word not frivolously, but, as already stated, after touching, that is, after searching in the Law and the Prophets, we believed the Word that appeared in the flesh. We saw and felt not what the Word “was” (for “who will explain His kind?)”[5] What the Word “became,” we touched and mentally touched with our senses, for example, as Thomas did after the resurrection. He was united and indivisible, forever the same, visible and invisible, both encompassing and immense, untouchable and tangible, broadcasting like a man, and wonderworking like God. It is how we speak of the Word because of the close union of God with the flesh.[6] Keep in mind; this is what was being taught in the Church almost 1,000 years ago. No wonder the Spirit brought Reformation to the Church by the 1400s.

English Augustinian spiritual writer Walter Hilton (1340-1395) wonders whether or not a particular love of Jesus is necessary for salvation, and how. Of course, he knew that some would oppose such an idea. They would object: If what you say is true, it doesn’t match what we find in the writings of other holy men. Some of them say, (as we understand them), that the person who cannot love this blessed name “Jesus” nor find and feel its spiritual joy and delight with sweetness will be an outsider to the bliss of Heaven and never get there. Hilton’s explanation is in the style of writing in his day and may be hard to understand if left in its original form. So, I have attempted to make it more understandable for today’s reader. I hope you’ll take the time to read his response slowly.

When I read these words, says Hilton, they astonished me, making me anxious. I hoped (as they said) through the mercy of our Lord, they would be safe by keeping of the commandments. Also, by true repentance for their former sinful life, but who never felt any spiritual sweetness, in the name of Jesus. Therefore, I marvel even more to find them saying (as I interpret it) contrary to what I believe. To this, I answer that what (in my opinion) they’re saying (if I understand it correctly) is accurate, and not a bit contrary to what I have said, for this Name, Jesus is nothing else in English but Healer or Health.

Hilton goes on to say that every person that lives is spiritually sick, for there is no one that lives without sin, which is a spiritual sickness, as the Apostle John said: “If we say we have no sin, we beguile ourselves, and there is as no truth in us.” Therefore, they can never come to the joy of heaven until cured of this ghostly sickness. But no person may have this spiritual healing except they desire it, and love it, and enjoy it, just as much as they hope to get it. 

Now, the name of Jesus brings nothing else but spiritual health. They indeed say that no person can be safe unless they love and adore the name of Jesus for no one can be spiritually healed until they love and desire spiritual wellbeing. The same is true of a sick individual who feels that no earthly thing is so dear, nor so needful, nor so much cherished, as bodily fitness.

The conclusion is simple, says Hilton. If you would give them all the self-esteem and riches of this world and not make them whole, they will not be satisfied. In the same way, a person that is sick spiritually, and feels the pain of conviction; nothing is so dear, nor so needful, nor so coveted, as is spiritual energy, and that is Jesus, without whom all the joys of heaven cannot please them. Accordingly, it appears that none can be saved unless they love salvation, have it through the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and only by the merits of His suffering which love they may have even though they live and die in poverty.[7]

In the early days of the Protestant Reformation, William Tyndale (1494-1536) was an English scholar and became a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his (incomplete) translation of the Bible into English and makes an interesting point when he states that the Son of God, who was Everlasting Life, did not yield to the condemnation of the death sentence demanded by the Law. He died on our behalf, not His own. Therefore, since He overcame death by rising from the dead, now that we are alive in union with Him, we too are freed from the Law’s condemnation.[8] The Lord did not win victory just for Himself, but for us.[9] This truth certainly puts a new light on what Jesus said at the last supper concerning His body and His blood.[10] So, says Tyndale, there is a big difference between believing there is a God and believing in the God who is there.[11]

Scottish philosopher and Church of Scotland theologian Hugh Binning (1627-1653) makes a statement about the circumstances in his day that might be applied to our situation today. He notes that some pretend to possess more precise knowledge of creation and things of the past, including religion. As Binning sees it, most of this is pretention in having an expanded understanding of divine things. They claim to have brighter perception than those in the past, which they describe as “Times of ignorance and darkness, which God winked at.”[12] If that were so, says Binning, we would count the days we live in now as happy and blessed.[13] I doubt if anyone will have a better relationship with God today than Abraham did in his day, without first getting to know Jesus.

Daniel Whitby (1638-1726)[14] paraphrased verse one as follows: “That which was from the beginning (of the Gospel-dispensation, that) which we have heard, which we have seen (namely, discerned as clearly as if we had seen it) with our eyes, (that) which we have looked upon, and our hands have (as it were) handled, of the Word of life, (declare we to you).” He explains that he rendered it as “From the beginning of the Gospel dispensation;” because he finds that is the constant use of the phrase in this Epistle, and elsewhere, where it relates to what Christians heard and saw. He mentions that John’s term “From the beginning” is used nine times in his first two epistles.[15] For Whitby, this is the best argument against those who claim new light or a more profound revelation of the Messiah than what John testifies.[16]

English Bible expositor and evangelical churchman William Burkitt (1662-1703) states that by John saying here in verse one, “That which we have looked upon,” certainly exceeds “That which we saw.” To “see” involves a sudden transient act, but to “look upon” is a fixed and deliberate act, and usually a pleasing and delightful act; we looked upon Him as the rarest object, as the desire and the delight of our eyes.[17] We can make the same comparison between “reading” and “studying,” between “heard” and “hearing.”


[1] Œcumenius: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. XI, op. cit., p. 167

[2] Isho’dad of Merv: Bray, G. (Ed.), 1-3 John, op, cit., p. 167

[3] John 14:6

[4] Ibid. 1:18

[5] Isaiah 53:8

[6] Theophylact Bulgarian; Archbishop of Ohrid, Interpretation 7 of Epistles of Apostles Peter, John, and Jude (New Testament Scripture Interpretations) (Kindle Locations 2143-2160). Kindle Edition.

[7] Walter Hilton: The Scale of Perfection, Bk. 1, Part 3, p. 73

[8] John 3:16

[9] 1 Peter 2:6

[10] John 6:35-40

[11] William Tyndale: Expositions and Notes (1536), The University Press, Cambridge, Published by the Parker Society, pp. 145-146

[12] See Acts of the Apostles 17:30

[13] The Works of Mr. Hugh Binning, Printed by R. Fleming and Co., Edinburgh, 1735, p. 483

[14] Whitby was a controversial English theologian, Biblical commentator, and Arminian priest in the Church of England

[15] Cf. 1 John 1:1; 2:7, 13, 14; 2:24; 3:8, 11; 2 John 1:5, 6

[16] Daniel Whitby: Critical Commentary and Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament, Vol. VI, Printed by J. F. Dove, London, 1822, p. 421

[17] William Burkitt: Expository Notes with Practical Observations, on the New Testament, Vol. II, Published by James Dinnis, London, 1832, p. 753

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POINTS TO PONDER

silhouette-man-top-mountain-sunset-conceptual-sce-scene-48015806

It’s been a long time since I played on a schoolyard during recess and heard someone involved in a game accuse another person of not being fair in their scoring. The other person was giving themselves an advantage by changing the rules. Psychologist Melanie Greenberg tells us that humans are inherently social beings. We don’t only care about material and financial rewards, but also about social status, belonging, and respect. Research studies show that our brains automatically evaluate the fairness of how rewards are distributed. We seem to have a happiness response to fair treatment and a disgust or protest response to unfairness. This brain wiring has implications for life, happiness, relationship satisfaction, raising kids, and family or social leadership. We must look at how our brain processes experiences of fairness and unfairness and how to cope with life’s unfair moments.

Psychologist Jennifer Verdolin notes that in relationships, in families, and at work, fairness seems to have a bad name. When someone shouts, “That’s not fair!” we are quick to respond with, “Too bad! Sometimes life isn’t fair.” And that’s the message, isn’t it? Don’t expect life to be fair. You’ve got to take what you can get, and if it’s unjust to another, so be it. If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade out of it.

The paradox is that we are capable of detecting inequality instantly and are extremely sensitive to it. In relationships, we call it keeping score. Usually people dislike score-keeping, and strangely it is the people that are ahead of the game who resent it. Why? Because keeping score is a way to balance the scales and restore equality.

Psychologist E. Paul Zehr explains that we all want fairness, whether it’s in daily life or sporting competition. The term “level playing field” is used in regular conversation to capture this idea of equity and fairness. Central to the idea of fairness is the idea of catching out and preventing folks who want to cheat or seek an advantage against others. Those are all great motivations for trying to use technology and support to make sure that the correct calls or decisions are made.

But we also know that sometimes equality of outcome isn’t the right measure. If every party to a deal is satisfied, regardless of any objective measure of equality, then there is no unfairness. But this isn’t the only measure of fairness — we’re also offended by cheating, i.e. breaking rules to gain an advantage. Taking a broader view, the emotions around unfairness perhaps hold society together by calling greed and cheating to account.

Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter shares her experience in dealing with unfairness. She recounts that while in college she received a call from a family member telling her that her mother was in the hospital. It was a surprise to hear because her mom was young and healthy as far as anyone knew, but she was told that she needed to come home. Although she lived less than two hours away, when she got to the hospital, her mother was unconsciousness and she passed away soon after she arrived. She had suffered a severe brain aneurysm and doctors told her there really was never any chance that she would survive.

Dr. Carter said it was hard to understand and she had a difficult time getting past the unfairness of it all. Although it’s natural for people feel this way when they lose something very important to them, as the days, weeks, and months passed, she was unconsciously letting herself become preoccupied by the unfairness of life. It seemed like everything even marginally negative that happened was interpreted by her as unfair. If she got a parking ticket on campus, it was unfair (even though she parked in a zone where she wasn’t supposed to park). If it was raining on a day she had to walk to class, it was unfair (even though she was living in a city where rain was common). If she accidentally stubbed her toe, it was unfair. Having that kind of negative mindset, of course, was adding considerably more stress to her life, but at the time, she couldn’t see it.

Fortunately, a few months after her mother’s death, she found the strength to go through some of the things her grandmother left behind, and among them she found a small card with the Serenity Prayer written on it: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” The message struck her and stayed with her. Instead of immediately going to “that’s unfair” in her head whenever something negative happened, she found herself thinking about whether she had control over it, and if she did, what she could have done to change the outcome. In fact, finding that card led to a series of changes to her mindset that not only changed her mental direction, but she also suspects it was the impetus underlying many of the personal and professional choices she had made and continue to make on her journey through life.

I found some suggestions on how to deal with unfairness, and one of them is, “Stop jabbering about how unfair things are and start listening to sound advice.” Another tip was, “Don’t always give a long explanation of why you are right.” Also, “Take steps to deal with the unfairness privately, not publicly.” Also, “Apologize and make the necessary change needed to get beyond the unfairness, don’t pretend.” And finally, “Keep a positive attitude even though being treated unfairly is a hard thing to handle.”

If you are to put the unfairness in the past and move on, you must take time to find out the root of the problem. Then, determine what control you have over the situation. Furthermore, take responsibility for your behavior. Don’t keep blaming yourself for circumstances beyond your control. Don’t be indecisive, make up your mind that you are internally focused on what you need to do. Then put aside any conclusions you jumped to at the beginning. Take the moral high ground instead of letting it become a street fight. Look for what is still good, fair, and right. Forgive whoever may be responsible for being unfair, even though they were wrong. To forgive means, giving up on any punishment that might be appropriate.

So, what does God’s Word have to say about fairness? Initially, you begin with yourself. Don’t be unfair with someone who you know cannot fight back.[1] Also, keep things balanced so that you own your part of the circumstance.[2] In His prayer, Jesus said to forgive others of their wrong doing so that you will be forgiven of yours.[3] The Apostle James warns us that when we know the right thing to do but fail to do it, we become unfair and that is a sin.[4] And the Apostle Paul tells us to be fair with those over which he have influence so that our heavenly Master will be fair with us.[5] Keep in mind the lesson that the Apostle Peter learned, that God shows no partiality but is fair in all things.[6]

Once we know how to deal fairly with others, we will be able to handle any unfairness done to us. It wasn’t fair that they beat, tortured, and hung Jesus on the cross for doing everything that was right. But He dealt with it by asking His Father in heaven to forgive them because they did not realize how unfair they being with the Son of God. In other words, he took their unfairness and covered it with His own blood so that it would not continue to be a hindrance to the purpose for which He came into the world. So instead of lecturing, scolding, or plan to punish someone who treats you unfairly, do what Jesus did, neutralize it with Love. – Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] Exodus 23:6

[2] Proverbs 11:1

[3] Matthew 6:14-15

[4] James 4:17

[5] Colossians 4:1

[6] Acts of the Apostles 10:34

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