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 THREE (Lesson XVI) 08/03/21

3:2 Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He comes, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.

David Guzik (1961) says that when we are changed to be more like Jesus, it does not mean that we cease to be ourselves, full of the distinct personality and character God has given us. Heaven will not be like the Buddhist Nirvana[1] of Eastern mysticism, where all personality is dissolved into God like a drop into the ocean. We will still be ourselves, but our character and nature will be perfected into the image of Jesus’ perfection. We will not be “clones” of Jesus in heaven! The Christian should long to be like Jesus, yet remember that God will never force a person to be like Jesus if they don’t want to. And that is what hell is for: people who don’t want to be like Jesus. The sobering, eternal truth is this: God gives His children what they really need. If you yearn to be like Jesus, it will show in your lifestyle now, and it will be a fact in eternity. If you prefer not to be like Jesus, it will also show in your behavior now, and it will also be a fact in eternity.[2]

Douglas Sean O’Donnell (1972) speaks of “non-diluted disciples.” These are believers who are salt to the world. They may experience persecution now, but thankfully, moral perfection later. As the Apostle John says, “When He appears [not before], we will be like Him.”[3] Jesus is coming back to judge and to save. Then we will finally be out of sin’s reach. Right now, we are justified by faith in the Anointed One (thus perfectly right in God’s eyes), but soon we will be just (perfectly righteous like God). Why? Because we will see Him as He is. Does that mean that once we see Jesus, He will transform us from this mortal and immoral body into an immortal and moral one? Yes! We will have glorified resurrected bodies, a clean character, and satisfied souls. Yet what it all looks like and feels like remains a mystery (“what we will be has not yet appeared.”) Whatever our future heavenly existence resembles, we can trust that it will be quite the sight.[4]

3:3a He is pure, and everyone who has this expectation will keep themselves pure of sinful tendencies, just as the Anointed Himself is pure.

EXPOSITION

The Apostle Peter also expressed such expectation of seeing the pure Anointed One. He wrote his readers, “Dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen and for Him to come, try hard to live without sinning; and be at peace with everyone so that He will be pleased with you when He returns.”[5] That’s why Jesus left this message for those who would be waiting for Him to come back, “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you must be kind.”[6]

So, there are responsibilities for believers getting and keeping themselves ready for the Lord’s return. And one of the most critical virtues is “patience.” The Apostle Paul explains this to the Romans this way: Showing patience is proof that we are strong. And this evidence gives us hope. And this trust will never disappoint us. We know this because God poured out His love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit.[7] And this hope began when they heard the good news preached to them and by faith accepted the work of the Anointed for their salvation.[8] Not only that, but this gift of eternal life was something no one deserved as wretched sinners.[9] It was all due to God’s unchanging and unending grace.[10] And moreover, once God makes a promise, He never cancels it or goes back on His word.[11]

That’s why, what we are encouraged to do out of love, not obligation, is so important. After all, when God made His promise of salvation through His Son, He did not discriminate against anyone depended on race, color, gender, or social status.[12] Therefore, based on the assured promises, we should willingly fight hard against any sinful tendencies that arise from an adverse reaction to the Law’s or the Gospel’s call to live holy lives.[13] But, of course, it is not something we do just on certain occasions but all the time.[14] But we are not to rely upon our strength alone; the Anointed One has given us everything we need to live a holy life in order to serve God according to His will.[15] That means while we wait for His return, we do not get weary in making every day a special day to be at peace with God because we are doing what He asked us to do.[16]

Being spiritually complete was not a new idea. The fact is, Jesus made it part of His message. In the Gospels, He used an Aramaic term translated into Greek as teleios, which basically means to be brought to completeness in integrity and virtue. To put it another way, to arrive at a person’s lifelong goal with everything expected of them undamaged or impaired.[17] But it wasn’t just asked of believers; God asked it of His only Son before installing Him as our new high priest.[18]

Commentators do not all agree on who is being referred to in all the pronouns in this verse. Whether “Him” refers to the Father or Son, and also regarding the “He is pure.” Some think it is best to take “He is” as God and the “hope in Him” as the Anointed One. In verse two, they say that “like Him” agrees with “in Him is no sin” in verse five. So, to make this a little simpler, they say the verse should read this way: “Every person who has this hope in Him – Jesus, should purify themselves just as He – God is pure.”

Now, when we look back to verse one, the Apostle John starts talking about the Father. Then in verse two, he mentions our being God’s children, but by using “He appears,” brings in His Son, that we will be like Him when we see Him as He is. Now, in verse three, John says that as long as we have hope in Him. So, it must be the Son John is speaking about in verse two. And that brings us to the debate of who the He is in “He is in pure.”

But here, in verse three, the Apostle John speaks of this “hope.” Some scholars believe that it refers to the Rapture, when God will make the believer be just like the Lord Jesus. The word “hope” means confident expectation concerning something in the future. Such expectation, in this case, rests “in Him.” Therefore, Jesus’ return is the foundation for our anticipation. We do not find confidence in ourselves. Our aspirations are set on the Anointed One. Therefore, the Rapture is a solid incentive for purity. God transforms the believer with a firm optimism for the Lord’s return. Eager faith will produce a changed life. The word “in” in the phrase “in Him” means “upon.” It is a term of trust or rest. It is a belief set on and resting on the Anointed One.[19] Therefore, hope produces purity.

For instance, the anticipation of company coming for dinner triggers preparation for their arrival. The strong prospect of the Anointed One’s coming makes a difference in how we behave. As the hymn says, “The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”[20] Jesus may come any moment. Do you have anything you need to straighten out before He comes? The person looking for the momentary coming of the Lord keeps no “have to-do list” with God. They do not harbor grudges in their heart against anyone. Search your heart just in case you need to deal with anything before Jesus comes.[21]

Accordingly, John’s purpose in writing is both doctrinal and ethical. True doctrine always affects how we live our lives. The word “purifies” means to remove anything inconsistent with the character of the Anointed One. Believers in fellowship with Him and others must accept the responsibility of keeping themselves clean for His sake. Cleansing does not obtain hope. On the contrary, hope promotes cleansing. Thus, anyone who knows about the imminent possibility of the Anointed One’s return purifies themselves just as He is pure. The word “He” is emphatic – “Just as He is pure.” How pure is Jesus? He is perfect purity. Jesus is free from any contamination of sin. The Anointed One was infinitely and unchangeable, holy within Himself as God, but He maintained freedom from sin in His humanity. Consequently, cleansing of sin is crucial for fellowship with the Lord and growth in the Anointed One.

Most of us could be a good secretary, an employer, or a medical doctor and do an excellent job without being a Christian, but we cannot be good Christians with unloving hearts. “Let every person examine themselves first,” then partake of the Lord’s Supper.[22] If we have hard feelings in our hearts toward anyone when we dial heaven’s prayer line, we will get a busy signal.[23] We cannot afford these things as Christians, for they will tarnish our spiritual personality.


[1] Nirvana is another word for “heaven” in Buddhism

[2] Guzik, David – Enduring Word, op. cit., p. 50

[3] 1 John 3:2

[4] O’Donnell, Douglas Sean, 1–3 John (Reformed Expository Commentaries), op. cit., Kindle Edition.

[5] 2 Peter 3:14

[6] Luke 6:35-36 – The Message

[7] Romans 5:4-5

[8] Colossians 1:5

[9] 2 Thessalonians 2:16

[10] Titus 3:7

[11] Hebrews 6:18

[12] Acts of the Apostles 15:9

[13] 2 Corinthians 7:1

[14] Hebrews 12:14

[15] 2 Peter 1:3-4

[16] Ibid. 3:14

[17] Matthew 5:48

[18] Hebrews 7:26

[19] Cf. Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12; 1 Timothy 4:10; 5:5

[20] From Helen H. Lemmel’s hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” (1922)

[21] Philippians 3:12-14

[22] 1 Corinthians 11:28

[23] Cf. 1 Peter 3:7

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XV) 08/02/21

3:2 Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He comes, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.

Pentecost goes on to say there is the danger that the redeemed of the Lord will become so preoccupied with the anticipation of the coming glory that the supreme exaltation of the Godhead is lost. Our presence in the eternal state does not depend on our position in life nor recognition of great deeds, but God’s grace. First, the Apostle John writes, we will see Him. Then second, we will concentrate on the One who loves us and made us free from our sins with His blood sacrifice.[1] Then thirdly, we will attribute all praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever to the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.[2] Together we will sing, “Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power, and strength belong to our God forever and ever. . .[3] for worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”[4] [5]

David H. Stern (1935) has a compilation of verses concerning what the Apostle John says here in verse two about us now and in the future. (1)We are God’s children now.[6] (2) Although it’s not been made clear what we will become, there are clues.[7] (3) We do know[8] that when He appears to collect His people, [9] we will be like Him. (4) We will see Him as He really is.[10] On this, Hasidic[11] Jewish Rabbi Yechiel Lichtenstein (1831-1912) comments: “For they will see eye to eye when the Lord will come again to Zion.”[12] On this basis, Yochanan (John) proved here that we would be like Him when He appears.

The proof that we will see Him, says Stern, is that since in the flesh it is impossible to see God – “Mankind will not see Me and live[13] – so it must be that “we will be like Him,” means that we will be comparable to Him. And this is so, for we will have a spiritual body like His – as the Apostle Paul says, “He will change the bodies we have in this humble state and make them like His glorious body.”[14] So likewise, the sages cited in Solomon ibn Gabirol’s book, Mivchar-HaPninim (“The Choice Pearls”), [15] says Yechiel Zvi Lichtenstein, “If I knew, I would be,” that is, “If I knew God, I would already be like Him.”[16]

Muncia Walls (1937) mentions that the Apostle John speaks of the future as though it was already here. The seed of eternal life is currently within every child of God. That why John says that we are now children of God. There is no need to wait for some process to take place later on when He returns to rapture us from the world of sin. The change that already took place is our regeneration from sinner to saint when He cleansed us from sin and made us His child. God then filled us with His Spirit to assist us in making more changes so that we become more like His Son. And just as Jesus appeared in glorified form on the Mount of Transfiguration, so we will be manifested in a glorified form when we meet Him in the air.[17]

Robert W. Yarbrough (1948) says that the Apostle John again appeals to his readers by calling them “beloved.”[18] He also repeats the adverb “now,” not in some future state but already, they are “children of God.” The present possession of believers requires constant reaffirmation because of what daily life presents them. And, so, John underscores that a greater glory awaits: “It is yet to be revealed what we will be.” Here John echoes the futuristic note already sounded in 2:28 and continued in 3:3 with the mention of hope.[19]

Colin G Kruse (1950) addressing his readers once more as “Dear friends,” the Apostle John goes on to repeatedly emphasize what he affirmed in the previous verse: now we are the children of God. The new element in the repetition highlights the fact that we are “now” God’s children. It stands in contrast to what develops later. So, John adds that our transformation will look like when we emerge has never been observed before. While what cannot be fully comprehended now, one thing we take for granted is: we know that when He appears, we will be like Him.

The nature of our likeness to the Anointed One, says Kruse, will resemble ethical purity, as the next verse makes clear. John then explains the reason for this significant change: we’ll witness Him as He is. Elsewhere in First John, the verb “to see” is used in reference to the eyewitnesses’ encounter with Jesus the Anointed One[20] and that those who keep sinning have never “seen” Jesus the Anointed One who came to take away sin.[21] In the first case, looking at something involves the physical “eyes.” In the second instance, it signifies a failure to detect with the “eyes” of faith. However, the future seeing here is of a different order: that is, not recognizing Him as He was in the days of His earthly ministry, nor examining Him with the eyes of faith, but putting our eyes on Him in person in heavenly glory; and the sight of Him, John says, will be enough to make us pure like Him.[22] [23]

Ben Witherington III (1951) adds to what he said above in verse two by saying that the Apostle John goes on to explain to the audience that they are works in progress. They are already God’s children, but it does not yet appear what they will be. What he is prepared to say about their final future is, “We will be like Him when we see Him.” True likeness will be obtained, but not identical with God or the Anointed One. It implies that complete perfection is impossible for the Apostle John’s readers before the Anointed One’s return. Only when he returns will the full and final transformation happen, eternally leaving His imprint on believers.[24]

Gary M. Burge (1952) notices that the Apostle John repeats again and again, that now we are God’s children. It is a fact that God’s Love controls. Here in verse two, John reflects on how this fact will have consequences in the future. If now we have a glimpse of what it means to have the presence of the Father within us when the Anointed One comes, there will be yet more overwhelming experiences for us. He will appear, we will appear just like him, and then we will see him exactly as He is. On that day, there will be an immediate and unmistakable unity between the Father and us. It is reminiscent of Paul’s thought, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”[25] Inherent in this idea is Paul’s notion that we will share in the glory of the Anointed One.[26] [27]

Bruce B. Barton (1954) notes that the Apostle John reinforced his statement in verse one calling the believers beloved (a term of endearment, like “dear children,”) and saying again that they were now . . . God’s children. Not sometime in the future, not upon the Anointed One’s return, but now. Yet, God’s people have a pending transformation; John further explained that no one knows what we will be. Something inconceivably wonderful is waiting for God’s children, even more, glorious than what they now possess.

Christians have been born into God’s family, says Barton, and they presently enjoy God’s kindness and blessings through the Anointed One. But ultimately, they will share in His glory. Believers have a vision of it now, but it will be a reality in their resurrected bodies. Believers don’t know yet the undisclosed specifics, but they know that at His revelation, [they] will be like Him. It hints at what this forthcoming glory will be. However, the world is entirely ignorant of it: the Anointed One will reveal Himself to His people and in His people in all His glory, as the very likeness of God, [28] and His people will be like Him! In the same way, believers will be revealed to the world as God’s children, sharing in the Anointed One’s glory and beauty.[29]

Daniel L. Aiken (1957) observes that there tension in our Christian experience that theologians often refer to as the “already/not yet” factor in Christian salvation. We are already God’s children today. However, we do not yet realize all the benefits that salvation promises for  children of God We are still under construction, a divine work of art that is not yet complete. We cannot even imagine the glory in store for us. The Apostle Paul puts it like this: “What eye did not see, and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind—God prepared this for those who love Him.”[30] The Apostle Paul adds, “For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.”[31] [32]


[1] Revelation 1:5-6

[2] Ibid. 5:13

[3] Ibid. 7:12

[4] Ibid. 5:12

[5] Pentecost, Dwight J. Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, Kindle Locations 10454-10461

[6] Cf. Romans 8:15

[7] Cf. Ibid. 8:29-30

[8] Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:34-54

[9] Cf. 1 John 2:28; John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

[10] Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12

[11] A Hasidic Jew was also known as an “Orthodox Jew.” You can spot them easily because of their hats and long side curls.

[12] Isaiah 5:28

[13] Exodus 33:20

[14] Philippians 3:21 – Complete Jewish Bible

[15] Lichtenstein Yechiel Zvi: Toledot Yeshua HaMashiach, Institutum Judalcum, Leipzig, 1883

[16] Stern, David H, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Kindle Edition.

[17] Walls, Muncia. Epistles of John & Jude, op. cit., p. 49

[18] Cf. 1 John 3:2, 21; 4:1, 7, 11; 3 John 1:2, 11; Jude 1:3

[19] Yarbrough, Robert W., 1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., p. 177

[20] 1 John 1:1-3

[21] Ibid. 3:6

[22] Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 3:18

[23] Kruse, Colin G., The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, op. cit., Kindle Edition.

[24] Ben Witherington III. Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: (Kindle Locations 6700-6703)

[25] 1 Corinthians 2:9

[26] Romans 8:17-19; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 3:4

[27] Burge, Gary M., The Letters of John (The NIV Application Commentary), op. cit., pp. 146-147

[28] 2 Corinthians 4:4

[29] Barton, Bruce B., 1, 2, & 3 John (Life Application Bible Commentary), op. cit., pp. 62-63

[30] 2 Corinthians 2:9

[31] 1 Corinthians 13:12

[32] Akin, Dr. Daniel L., Exalting Jesus in 1,2,3 John (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary), op. cit., Kindle Edition.

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

CRITICIZING OTHERS

We don’t know what Bishop François Fénelon saw happening in his parish, especially with the influx of strangers due to the war with Spain. But something caught his eye and prompted him to write the following instructions for all believers involved. Fénelon spent years in France trying to convert the Huguenots (French Protestants) back to Catholicism, but was unsuccessful. However, we can detect from his writings that he may have learned more from them than they learned from him.

Fénelon said you need to be more broadminded when it comes to other people’s faults. I grant you that you cannot help seeing them when they are near or around you. Also, it’s hard not to notice how they seemingly act and behave without principles or morals; neither can you ignore the irritation that such things cause. Suffice it to say, if you try to deal with apparent faults, avoiding judging those that are suspicious, and resist the characteristics that distance you from other people. In other words, if you don’t act like the world, the world won’t like you.

Perfection finds it easy to tolerate the imperfections of others and to be all things to all people. We ought to learn to put up with the most glaring faults in weak believers and leave them alone until God gives the sign for a gradual weeding; otherwise, we will likely tear up the wheat with the weeds. God often leaves certain hardships and handicaps that disturb even the most devout souls, things that seem quite out of character with their dedication to His service. It’s similar to when abandoned land is reclaimed and cleared; those who did the work leave reminders to show how extensive the clearance work has been. God leaves similar reminders to show from where He has brought us.

All such souls must work at self-evaluation at their rate, and you must labor to endure their imperfections. Your experience has taught you that correction is sometimes a bitter pill, and since you know this, give them some room to recover. It shouldn’t be your aim or goal to correct others for their sake. When you don’t provide them with enough time to move, your perfectionism shuts the door of your heart to them.

Written over 450 years ago

Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XV) 07/30/21

3:2 Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He comes, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.

Ernst Drylander (1843-1922) declares that if we are children – of this, there can be no doubt – “We still don’t know what we will be” because it hasn’t been made apparent. God’s children still wander around in ordinary clothing, like the king’s son who travels incognito. And not only that, but every day, they receive fresh wounds, resulting in their unceasing battles with sin and the world. They bear the scars of sin. Again and again, they feel like giving up, tired of the unending hardships. Yet, the reality that they are children of the Most-High flashes through their minds with renewed brilliance during daily devotions as they kneel at God’s altar and bow their heads in earnest prayer.

So, I ask you, says Dryander, who has not felt tormenting doubts, who has not lived through dark and weary hours, who has not experienced the power of the world’s allurements, that sudden slackening of the will; in the presence of overpowering temptation? Who among us has not suffered embarrassment when we realize the painful contradiction between the dignity of Divine nature and the disobedience of human nature? So, the Apostle John has us lift our eyes to the picture of a beautiful, dazzling hope: “it has not yet been revealed what we will be.” We would be foolish to try and portray ourselves in the form or figure of angelic beings. Doesn’t John say, “it is not yet apparent?” But one thing he does proclaim clearly and without hesitation: “We are aware that when He appears, we will be just like Him; for we will finally see what He looks like.”[1]

F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) assures us that it is our privilege, not only to be God’s children, but to realize that’s what we are right now. The world doesn’t recognize it, but God loves us, and we appreciate Him, and we perceive that we are His sons and daughters through regeneration and faith. How are we convinced? He gave us His Word,[2] the witness of His Spirit,[3] the guidance of His Spirit,[4] our love for other believers,[5] and our resistance to sin.[6] It does not apply to some isolated incident resulting from our weakness, but a chronic habit of inconsistency and wrong-doing; this is one of the best tests to determine if we are indeed born again.[7]

George G. Findlay (1849-1919) agrees with German theologian Erich Haupt, who attached verses 28 and 29 of the second chapter to verse one in the third, marking a central division in the structure of the Epistle. In addition, says Findlay, except for the Greek verb menō, “abide in” (“stay in”) at the beginning of verses twenty-seven and twenty-eight, all other ideas are new and enter the Epistle for the first time. These “special ideas,” notes Findlay, “touched on here for the first time,” are the ever-recurring fundamental elements of the Epistle’s second half.[8]

F. F. Bruce (1910-1990) takes verse two as a reference to the present work of sanctification. Paul says that the followers of the Anointed One, seeing His glory reflected “as in a mirror,” are “transfigured into His likeness.[9] It leaves the door open for an exciting possibility. If the image we see of Him looks at us from a mirror, think, whose face do we see when we look into the mirror? Could it be that when we finally get a close-up look at Him, the reason we will know Him right away is that we feel like we are looking at ourselves in a mirror? Dr. Bruce continues, if progressive adaptation to the likeness of the Lord results from having a visual perception of Him through a dark glass. To witness Him face to face, to “see Him even as He is,” will result in being exactly like Him.[10]

Daniel C. Snaddon (1915-2009) says that despite what the world says, the Apostle John declares that God says that we are His children now, and this is our quality of future glory. We cannot appreciate what this relationship means while on earth.[11] But we do know that when the Anointed One raptures us, we will be changed to be like Him. It does not mean that we will be physically like the Lord Jesus. The Lord will have His unique appearance and will bear the scars of Calvary throughout eternity. Each of us will have our distinct features, and we will be recognizable as such. The Bible does not say that everyone will look alike in heaven. The thought is that we will be holy like the Lord. He will be free from sin, immorality, sickness, sorrow, and death. Each day that we live, the process of becoming like the Anointed One should be going on. But the process will only be complete when “we see Him as He is.”[12]

Peter S. Ruckman Sr. (1921-2010) says that what the Apostle John says here proves that our actual state is not yet apparent. That is what the Apostle Paul said to the Roman church.[13] But John leaves no doubt. In verse two, he says, “we know.” No, guesses. No, maybes. No, perhaps. Unlike Mohammed with his Koran, dictated to him by an angel, he could not check one verse for verification with any other document Allah ever wrote. When John says, we will be “like Him,” it implies a thirty-three-year-old male with a body that can pass through solid objects and move faster than the speed of light.[14] Also, a sinless, incorruptible, eternal body free of pain, sorrow, or dying.[15]Oh, to be like You, O blessed, pure Redeemer!”[16]

D. Edmond Hiebert (1928-1995) explains why members of God’s family are assured that whenever the Anointed One arrives, “we will be like Him.” God’s purpose to develop Christlikeness in all the members of His family will be fulfilled when the Anointed One returns, and all the children are “conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the original firstborn among many brethren.”[17] The indwelling Holy Spirit is already at work in the lives of believers, inwardly transforming them into the moral image of the Lord of glory.[18] The completion of the believer’s transformation will take place at the return of the glorified Anointed One, who will also “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.”[19] But this glorious assurance must not be misinterpreted to mean believers will become little gods – the adjective “like” denotes qualitative comparison, not equality. As the incarnate Son of God, who died and rose again in a glorified body, He will ever be distinct as “the first-born in the family of God.”[20] So also, the vast family of redeemed human beings, purified and transformed into His image, will ever “be to the praise of His glory.”[21] [22]

Zane C. Hodges (1932-2008) offers insight into one of the more complicated portions of the Apostle John’s letter. It has to do with being like the Anointed One through the new birth. He concedes that though we are children of God, there is no physical evidence of this that the eye can see. The physical changes in Christians await the coming of the Anointed One. But we know that we will be like Him.[23] Such a transformation will result from seeing Him as He is. But pending that event, it is already confirmed that everyone who has this hope in Him (the pronoun refers to the Anointed One, the Object of this hope) purifies themselves, just as He is pure.[24]

Here the writer probably continued to refer to the new birth. One who sets their hope by faith on the Son of God experiences an inward purification that is as complete as the Anointed One’s purity. We should not mistake this for physical cleanliness. That’s why the Apostle John prepares the basis for the assertions he would soon make. The new birth involves disinfection from sin.[25] But how do we sustain such cleansing? It is through “sanctification.” So, keep in mind that constant holiness is designed to keep the purging of our hearts and minds of sin from becoming contaminated again. If sin does get in, remember we have an Advocate whose blood cleanses away all such wrongdoing, so we are clean again.[26]

Dwight Pentecost (1915-2014) says that concerning the eternal destiny of the saints, we must keep in mind that their destiny is primarily related to a Person rather than a place. While the location looms with importance, [27] the Person into whose presence the believer is delivered overshadows the venue. When the Anointed One, who is our life, appears, we will appear with Him in glory.[28] It is a promise emphasized by the Apostle Paul.[29] Such is the Apostle John’s message here in verse two.[30]


[1] Dryander, E., A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John in the Form of Addresses, op. cit., pp. 91-92

[2] John 1:12

[3] Galatians 4:6

[4] Romans 8:14

[5] 1 John 4:7

[6] 1 John 3:9

[7] Meyer, F. B., Our Daily Devotion, op. cit., p. 233

[8] Findlay, G. G. (1909). Fellowship in the Life Eternal: An Exposition of the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 229

[9] 2 Corinthians 3:18

[10] F. F., The Epistles of John, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 1655-1659)

[11] 1 Corinthians 2:9

[12] Snaddon, Daniel C., Plymouth Brethren Writings, Epistles of John, op. cit., loc. cit.

[13] Romans 8:19-22

[14] Matthew 28:9

[15] Revelation 21:1-4

[16] Ruckman, Dr. Peter S, General Epistles Vol. 2 (1-2-3 John, Jude Commentary) (The Bible Believer’s Commentary Series), BB Bookstore. Kindle Edition

[17] Romans 8:29

[18] 2 Corinthians 3:18

[19] Philippians 3:21

[20] Romans 8:29

[21] Ephesians 1:12

[22] Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 John, Bibliotheca Sacra, op. cit. p. 205

[23] Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:52-54; Philippians 3:21

[24] 1 John 3:3

[25] Hodges, Zane C., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Vol. 2, op. cit., p. 893

[26] 1 John 2:1; 1:7

[27] John 14:3

[28] Colossians 3:4

[29] 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

[30] Pentecost, Dwight J., Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, (Kindle Location 10090-10098)

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XIV) 07/29/21

3:2 Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He comes, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.

On the subject of Holiness and the Second Coming of the Anointed One, James Blain Chapman (1884-1947) tells us that Jesus made the primary call to get ourselves ready for His coming, “So you also must be ready. The Son of Man will come at a time when you don’t expect Him.”[1] And to be ready is to be “blessed and holy,” that is, regenerated and sanctified. The holiness of heart and life is the only qualification to meet Jesus at His second advent with joy. Surely, no one can deny this. But accept that these are the qualifications, and we are to be ready at all times. In that case, this is evident: we must get the blessing of a clean, holy heart and keep it continually and live out its guidelines in everyday contacts and conduct.

For someone to say that we will be given holiness at the appearance of the Lord would be wishful thinking, just as the claim that there will be further opportunity to repent after death. The Apostle John starts this chapter by announcing, “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when the Anointed One appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.”[2] [3]

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) concludes that believers in the Anointed One are now as truly in union with Him as they will be when they are with Him in heaven. So also, we are now just as much God’s children as we will be when all the splendor and perfection in our relationship of eternal glory radiates out from within us. Therefore, it is good for us to be spiritually engaged in learning more about these truths. That way, we enjoy the benefit of having the same mind and close communion in our hearts with the Father and the Son. We are confident, knowing and believing the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Our union with the Anointed One in this life is as perfect as it ever will be in glory. We are as indeed the children of God now as we will ever be.[4]

Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) commented on the Lord of Heaven who became the Son of Man by saying we should appreciate the significance of the word “Son” in the titles of our Divine Lord. But, first, as to His self-chosen designation of Son of Man. Is it, as the Rationalist and the Jew would tell us, a mere Hebraism, meaning no more than that He was human? Of course, but what happens to us humans when we become like Him? Secondly, Anderson says, we too “will be changed.” “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”[5] The earthy image, or pattern, is that of the first Adam of Eden; the heavenly figure is that of the last Adam. And He will “change our humble bodies and make them like His own glorious body. The Anointed One can do this by His power, with which He rules everything.”[6] For the triumph of redemption will not be in restoring us to the place which Adam lost by sin, but in raising us to the perfectness of the new creation, of which the Lord from heaven is the head. The eyes of our faith are not fixed upon the blessedness of Eden, but upon the glory of “the Holy Mountain”; for “we know that when he appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.[7] [8]

Charles Simeon (1759-1876) notes our Lord was hated, reviled, persecuted, and put to death, but we still see how glorious and exalted in character He was as a person. Similarly, His followers are treated with contempt, but God declares their state to be the most honorable on earth. To this effect, the Apostle John represents them as slighted by mankind and honored by God.[9] So don’t let the world’s criticism of your faith or rejection of your claim to be a child of God discourage you. There is One greater than all the world who is on your side.

Charles Hodge (1797-1878) says that the term “child” in such connections expresses mainly one or the other of three ideas, and sometimes all of them united: 1. Similar in disposition, character, or nature.[10] 2. Objects of deep affection.[11] 3. Those given a respected title or an outstanding honor.[12] [13] Hodge goes on to say that God predestined His children to conform to the image of His Son.[14] [15]

William E. Jelf (1811-1875) proposes that the same Divine attributes of wisdom, love, and purity which exist to an infinite degree in the Divine nature, will also exist in us and make up our being. So, that, though not being gods or deified humans, still being glorified people in our spiritual body, [16] we will be Godlike, and thus, brought into visible communion with Him, will see even as we are seen. The veneration of mankind is never spoken of in Scripture. They are to remain human, in the perfection of humanity, where the eyes will be open to discern God; not merely to know Him, or see Him as a reflection in a mirror, [17] that is the privilege of the faithful now, but to see Him face-to-face. It helps us see any self-righteousness that can make us fit for holy living; how much we need the unspotted righteousness of the Anointed One not only to hide our sins but also to clothe our souls and cloak our being. Hence, we may see that we must conform in this life to the mind and practices similar to the Anointed One’s excellence so that these may be perfected and glorified by Him hereafter.[18]

James Nisbet (1823-1874) has an interesting way of contextualizing what the Apostle John has to say here. I remember learning in my journalism studies; there are critical questions that bring clarity to most situations. We are to ask the four “W’s”: Who? What? When? Where? And How? But back in Nisbet’s day, it was: Whence? Where? And Whither? These are intended to provide answers for: Where did I come from, where am I now, and where am I going? And yet, there is another more critical “W” which the Apostle John requires: What? The reason for this estimate is plain. Character compels circumstances; it is what we are, far more than where we are, which has to do at any time with the happiness of life in union with the Anointed One. Therefore, consider what John says as to what we are and what we may become.[19]

Brooke F. Westcott (1825-1901) reminds us that when we meet our Lord in the sky and are transported into God’s presence, we will not be treated like children but adults who inherit all that God has in store for those who believe in His Son. We will no longer be as we were, but will be as He is. That is, essentially more complete through ways wholly beyond our current powers of imagination.[20] Furthermore, we will not fully understand what all this means until His resurrection power transforms us. This is the hope, says the Apostle John in the next verse, that we take with us to the grave.[21]

John Stock (1817-1884) has a wonderful message based on this chapter. For him, our faith produces love as its fruit; works by its inclination to holiness, and makes labor light. It describes Jacob’s love for Rachel, making a seven years’ service as of a few days, [22] and proves unquestionably that we are born of God; are inhabited by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, none of these things could take place; and that then to doubt that we are the children of God is to be cruel to ourselves, untrue to God, and to grieve, in no ordinary way, the witnessing of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. We then please Satan; stunt our growth; have the locusts of unbelief devouring all the spiritual vegetation of our souls. It will cause us, who should be as the garden of the Lord, yielding Him all manner of pleasant fruits, to become as the arid wilderness, as silent and barren as it is.[23]


[1] Matthew 24:44

[2] 1 John 3:1-2

[3] J. B. Chapman: Holiness, Ch. 11, p. 36

[4] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 329

[5] 1 Corinthians 15:49

[6] Philippians 3:21

[7] 1 John 3:2

[8] Sir. Robert Anderson: The Lord from Heaven, Ch. 2, p.20

[9] Charles Simeon: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 421

[10] Matthew 5:9, 45

[11] Romans 9:20; 2 Corinthians 6:18

[12] Galatians 3:8; John 1:12; 1 John 3:2

[13] Hodge, Charles: Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 7655-7661)

[14] Ephesians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 15:49; See Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2

[15] Hodge, Charles: Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 8232-8235)

[16] 1 Corinthians 15:44

[17] Ibid. 13:12

[18] Jelf, W. E., A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 40

[19] Arnold, Thomas; Maurice, F.D.; Burgon, John. Church Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., (Kindle Location 92903)

[20] See 1 Corinthians 2:9

[21] Westcott, Brooke: Epistles of St. John, op. cit., pp. 97-98

[22] Genesis 29:19

[23] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., p. 235

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XIII) 07/28/21

3:2 Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He comes, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) tells us that salvation brings wonderful things beyond expectation. First, it provides everything a person needs to enjoy life in the Lord. Secondly, when God’s people develop agape-love for one another, they naturally want to have fellowship with them. Just to hear about them is not enough to satisfy that love. So, here in verse two, the Apostle John says that God has made provision for us to see the Anointed One, the object of our supreme love. Not only to hear and read about Him in His Word, but one day to see Him “face-to-face.” Here is the promise, “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they will see God.[1]Also guaranteed is that we will not see Him, through a dark glass, as we do now, but “eye-to-eye.[2] It will be more than a vision; we will see the Anointed One as He is.[3]

Edwards shows how saving faith differs from common faith. The writer of Hebrews describes the nature of saving faith by pointing to the ancient patriarchs as examples. He tells us that all these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive the promises right then, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and pilgrims here on earth.[4] So, the evangelist John calls faith a “receiving of the Anointed One.[5] Here, says Edwards, the Apostle John declares who he means by the term “receiver.” It is the same with believers in the Anointed One, or one that has saving faith.[6]

Also, in one of his sermons, Edwards talks about when we shall see the Lord face-to-face, as John says here in verse two. Then, they will have a clearer understanding of the Anointed One as Mediator and how He has undertaken from eternity to accomplish their salvation. They will understand the glorious covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son; will see the eternal love the Anointed One had for them before the foundation of the world. They will, likely, comprehend the mystery of His incarnation; they will know and appreciate the gloriousness of the way of salvation that even angels longed to fathom.[7] They will also have a complete understanding of the infinite wisdom of God in contriving the plan of salvation; will grasp the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the Anointed One’s love for sinners, [8] by undergoing for them the agony in the garden, and the more overwhelming sufferings of the cross.[9]

Charles Hodge (1797-1878) looks at what the Apostle John says here in verse two from another angle and why we shouldn’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. As the Apostle Paul said, “For if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.” [10] It’s because they are comparatively insignificant.[11] Without altering the sense of what Paul says, the “for” in verse eighteen may refer to the last clause of verse seventeen. Then Paul implies that we’ll have minor troubles now, but these predicaments are helping us gain eternal glory.[12] We are the recipients of great favor, and will be displayed in divine glory for everyone else to see.[13] It is a revelation of glory in us.[14] [15]

And then Hodge sees the role of those chosen as predestined to conform to the image of God’s Son, that is, that they might be like His Son in character and destiny. As the Apostle Paul said, “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in the Anointed One to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus the Anointed One. It is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”[16] Furthermore, we are to put on our new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.[17] And just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the Heavenly Man.[18] [19] Hodge goes on to say that the term “child,” in such connections, expresses mainly one of three ideas, and sometimes all of them united. 1. A person similar in disposition, character, or nature;[20] 2. Someone who is the object of affectionate love.[21] 3. Or those who have a title to some unusual dignity or status.[22] [23] A child of God is certainly all of these in His eyes.

In a sermon based on verse two here in chapter three, Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) focuses on “We will see Him as He is.”[24] Says Spurgeon, it is one of the most natural desires in all the world, that when we hear of a famous individual, we want to see them in person. So also, when we read the works of any eminent author, we customarily look for their picture on the dust cover. So likewise, upon hearing of any heroic deed of daring, we will watch the parade go by to catch a glimpse of the hero. So, it should be no surprise that when we hear that some anointed evangelist or pastor has written a book, we do not mind standing in line to get an autographed copy. This feeling becomes doubly powerful when we have any connection with the pastor or evangelist whose gifts and preaching have changed our lives. Then the wish to see them rises to an insatiable desire to express our gratitude for their anointed ministry.

I am confident, my brothers and sisters in the Lord, says Spurgeon, you will all confess that this same strong desire has arisen in your minds concerning the Lord Jesus the Anointed One. We want to see no one, talk to no one, spend time with no one, more than He who sacrificed His life to save us, especially since He thinks of us continuously.

I believe, all of us who love His name, have an unquenchable wish to behold Him in person. The thing for which I would pray above all others would be forever to look into His face, forever to lay my head upon His shoulder, forever to know that I am His, forever to dwell with Him. O yes, one short glimpse, one transitory vision of His glory, one glance at His marred, but now exalted and beaming countenance, would repay enduring a world of trouble. Nor do I think that such a desire is wrong.[25] And if you don’t think that way, then there is something wrong with you.

In his writing on the hope of the Christian, Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) mentions that the fabrication of “baptismal regeneration” assumes that the new birth is peculiar to the Christian dispensation. But the striking fact that the new birth is never mentioned in the writings of the Apostle Paul makes it plain that there is nothing distinctively Christian in the doctrine. Nevertheless, Anderson may have had the term “new birth” in mind because Paul does say “new creature” to mean the same thing.[26]

When it comes to hope, Anderson says that in contrast with the unintelligent groan of creation, the groan of those “who have the first-fruits of the Spirit” is instinct with hope. And both the expectations of the spiritually dead of this world and the faithful yearning of the spiritually alive will be satisfied in the day of “the manifestation of the children of God.” “Beloved, now are we the sons of God,” a further word declares, “And it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”[27] [28]

Holiness preacher Wayne C. Aman (1819-1893), speaking about the Apostle Paul’s crown of holiness,[29] looks back on the conflicts of the sanctified life. Aman calls on every believer to make their calling and election sure by inviting the Sanctifier into their temple. Does your spirit witness to a holy heart? “No eye has seen; no ear has heard, and no one’s heart has imagined all the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.”[30] As the Apostle John states, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when the Anointed One appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him exactly as He is.”[31] [32]


[1] Matthew 5:8

[2] 1 Corinthians 13:12

[3] Edwards, Jonathan Works of: Wisdom of God, Sec. 3, pp. 1060-1062

[4] Hebrews 11:13

[5] John 1:12

[6] Edwards, Jonathan Works of: Remarks on Important Theological Controversies, Ch. 6, Concerning Faith, p. 455, 1457

[7] 1 Peter 1:12

[8] Ephesians 3:18

[9] Works of Jonathan Edwards: Seventeen Occasional Sermons, Sermon 8, Glory, honor, and peace, to every one whose work is good. pp. 1457-1458

[10] Romans 8:18

[11] Ibid. 8:17-18

[12] 2 Corinthians 4:17

[13] Ephesians 3:10

[14] See Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2

[15] Hodge, Charles, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, op. cit., p. 422

[16] Ephesians 1:4-5

[17] Ibid 4:24

[18] 1 Corinthians 15:49; See Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2

[19] Hodge, Charles. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, op. cit., p. 448

[20] Matthew 5:9, 45

[21] Romans 9:20; 2 Corinthians 6:18

[22] Galatians 3:8; John 1:12; 1 John 3:2

[23] Ibid. p. 472

[24] Delivered on Sunday, January 20, 1856 – Entered here in my commentary on January 20, 2020

[25] The Spurgeon Sermon Collection: Vol. 1, Sermon 61-62, The Beatific Vision, p. 302

[26] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[27] 1 John 3:2

[28] Sir Robert Anderson: Redemption Truths, Ch. 12, p. 68

[29] 2 Timothy 4:7-8

[30] 1 Corinthians 2:9; Cf. Isaiah 64:4 – Complete Jewish Bible

[31] 1 John 3:2

[32] Wayne Aman: The Cross and Crown of Holiness, Ch. 10, p. 30

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XII) 07/27/21

3:2 Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He comes, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.

And in one of his other writings, Owen mentions that another thing that allows us to commune with the Anointed One is the spiritual entitlements faith brings. The benefits we enjoy from the Anointed One are incalculable and innumerable. To insist on having them would require a person’s whole life to be given to doing nothing but good works, not just a few chores. So, the Apostle John tells us here in verse two; we are God’s children with a fountain of privileges before God. How did this happen? It came from above with the love of the Father. But who brought us this majestic honor? It was the Anointed One to all who believed Him and accepted Him; He gave the right to become children of God.[1] Now, God is our and the Anointed One’s Father; we are brothers and sisters. The Anointed One is the source of all the honor, advantages, rights, and titles we have.[2]

John Flavel (1627-1691), speaking about the idea of our adoption into the family of God, says that the blood of the Anointed One purchases all good spiritual things for us, such as Justification, which comprises remission of sins and acceptance by God.[3] His blood bought the privilege of belonging to God’s family.[4] Since the Anointed One is His Son, He is God’s “natural heir.” As our Mediator, He is the “heir by appointment” of all things.[5] Because of the Anointed One’s Sonship, we are united to Him by faith to become God’s children; and then joint-heirs, as John says here in verse one.

Flavel goes on to say that our spiritual happiness represents satisfaction resulting from knowing we will see the Son of God one day, the Shepherd of our soul.[6] This awareness of God in His glory yields indescribable gratification to every soul that beholds it, since it will be a spontaneous vision. The bodies’ glorified eye will see the Anointed One.[7] And when will this meeting take place? The Apostle Paul gives us a hint.[8] Thus, it appears Flavel endorses the idea that the Spirit will resurrect believers with a glorified body containing all the senses of our current body. For him, what an enchanting vision this will be! And how much will it exceed all reports and apprehensions we have of it here! Surely, we have been told only half the story. It will be a transformative vision; it will change the beholder into its image and likeness. “We shall be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” Just as iron placed over a roaring flame becomes fiery red, likewise, the soul, conversing with God, is changed into His very likeness.[9]

Then, Flavel states, what a great honor for the Anointed One to sit enthroned at God’s right hand? Therefore, what glory God reserves in heaven for those faithful to the Anointed One, here on earth? When Jesus prayed, God heard His prayer.[10] So, what heart cannot conceive the contentment of such a sight? It made Stephen’s face shine as the face of an angel when he had but a glimpse of the Anointed One at His Father’s right hand. But this is not all, though this will thrill the spectators of the Anointed One on His glorious throne; we will not only observe Him but will also sit with Him enthroned in glory. To behold Him is one thing, but to sit with Him is even more unimaginable. The queen of Sheba observed the beautiful palace Solomon had built. She noticed the food at the king’s table. She spotted his officials conferring. Not only that, but the Queen glimpsed the servants in the palace and the good clothes they wore. She eyed his parties and the sacrifices that he offered in the Lord’s Temple. She was so amazed; she could hardly breathe![11] [12]

In another place, Flavel states how reasonable is it then that you should now conform yourselves to Him in holiness? The Apostle John says here in verse two, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Not only will your souls be like Him, but your bodies, even these awful bodies, will be changed, fashioned like His glorious body. Remember, Jesus’ resurrected body could walk through walls;[13] vanish from sight while talking with others;[14] remain unknown until granted particular perception;[15] defy gravity in ascending from the earth;[16]  yet could be touched, [17] capable of speaking, [18] consume food, and was imperishable.[19]

It is a forcible motive to urge people to imitate the Anointed One down here, especially seeing our conformity to Him in holiness is the evidence of our likeness to Him in glory.[20] But, since there can be no complacency in our allegiance to God, it is plain from what John says here in verse two that either God must become like us or we be made agreeable to God, which is what John is proving the necessity.[21]

John Bunyan (1628-1688) states that godly people are not eternally saved until their soul is in heaven’s possession. True, their spirit is made perfect and has as much of heaven as presently possible, but a person, consisting of body and soul, cannot be saved entirely so long as their spirit is heavenly, but their body is earthly. Keep in mind; the Anointed One purchased the body with His blood.  Therefore, the body became the temple of God’s Spirit[22] and a member of the Anointed One’s spiritual body.[23] With that being the case, eternal salvation comes for believers only after the resurrection.[24]

That’s why, says Bunyan, when the Anointed One comes the second time, then He will save the body from all those things that at present make it incapable of abiding in heaven, for we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, where the Lord Jesus the Anointed One lives. And we eagerly wait for Him to return as our Savior.21  He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His.[25] O what treasure God put into this little word “saved!” But, of course, we will not see all the jewels that God placed in this word “saved” until the Lord Jesus comes to raise the dead.[26] But until He appears, what we will become cannot be seen just by looking at this word “saved.” Until then, we have the deposit of what we shall be – the Spirit of God.[27] [28]

George Swinnock (1627-1673) says that the sacred moments brought by the sound of the Gospel, that draws God’s people to be of one heart, are spoken of as proceeding from this cause: “for the earth will pile up with God’s knowledge like the water that fills the oceans.”[29] The perfection of grace and holiness in heaven will affect part of this knowledge of God. As the Apostle John says here in verse two, we will be exactly like Him once we shall how ideal He is.[30]

Scottish Presbyterian John Ker (1673-1726) notes that the first thought of the apostle was no doubt the human nature of Christ as appearing again to the eyes of His friends. He left with that nature and promised to return the same way – “I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice.”[31] His first disciples are not the only favored believers who saw the Anointed One in the flesh.[32] If we are part of those who love His appearing, [33] we will experience it with them. Sinful flesh will finally be removed – the marred look and form of suffering. And we’ll have the same look that turned the Apostle Peter’s face into a grin when Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit, and thanked His Father, Master of heaven and earth, that He hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent children.

Yes, Father, says Jesus, it pleased You to do it this way. Those innocent children were the first disciples, and what they felt will be part of every saint that enters heaven. And like them, our divine royalty has hidden from the world’s eyes. But when He is made visible, God’s redeemed will be the center and the sunlight of a new world.[34] They are the heritage of an innumerable company. Yet, each one of us, as if by ourselves, will have a personal encounter and genuine human fellowship with the Son of God.[35] How long will it take Him to hug and chat with billions of believers? Simple, as long as eternity.


[1] John 1:12

[2] Owen, John: Communion with God, Ch. 10, p. 268

[3] See Romans 3:24

[4] Galatians 3:26

[5] Hebrews 1:2

[6] See Psalm 17:15

[7] Job 19:26-27

[8] 1 Thessalonians 4:17

[9] Flavel, John: The Fountain of Life, pp. 179-182

[10] John 17:24

[11] 1 Kings 10:4b-5

[12] Flavel, John: The Fountain of Life, op. cit., p. 550

[13] See John 20:19, 26

[14] Luke 24:30-31

[15] Ibid. 24:15

[16] Acts of the Apostles 1:9

[17] John 20:27

[18] Luke 24:17-32

[19] 1 Corinthians 15:42

[20] See Romans 6:5; 2 Peter 3:11

[21] Flavel, John: The Method of Grace, op. cit., pp. 430; 367

[22] 1 Corinthians 6:19

[23] Ibid. 12:12

[24] Ibid. 6:13-19; Ephesians 5:30

[25] Philippians 3:20-21

[26] 1 John 3:2

[27] 2 Corinthians 1:22

[28] Bunyan’s Practical Works: Vol. 7, Saved by Grace, p. 15

[29] Isaiah 11:9

[30] Swinnock, George: Vol. 3, The Christian Man’s Calling, Ch. 12, p. 158

[31] John 16:22

[32] Think of the 5,000 He fed (Matthew 14:13:21)

[33] 2 Timothy 4:8

[34] Revelation 1:7-8

[35] Ker, John: Biblical Illustrator, First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 50

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XI) 07/26/21

3:2 Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He comes, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.

COMMENTARY

On another subject, Calvin employs what Paul says here in verse two about justification by faith. He points to the teachings of Andreas Osiander.[1] Calvin accuses Osiander of introducing a monstrosity termed “essential righteousness.”[2] Although intended not to abolish our being right with God, he shrouds it in darkness, and by that darkness deprives sanctified minds of a profound sense of divine grace. Nevertheless, Calvin argues, as the Apostle Peter says, “Because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the assurance that enables us to share His divine nature and escape the World’s corruption caused by human desires.”[3] As of now, the Gospel promises what we will be at the final advent. The Apostle John reminds us, “when He appears we will be like Him, for we shall see what He really is.”[4] [5]

Calvin also finds another application for Paul’s words here in verse two, “that He will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous.”[6] Yet, the Scripture more frequently describes the resurrection as intended for God’s children only. Thus, properly speaking, the Anointed One did not come to destroy but save the world. But since the foretelling by the prophet that death will be swallowed up in victory, [7] only then will it be completed. Let us always remember that the end of the resurrection is such eternal happiness that not even a thousand tongues can describe one minute of that gladness. Although we’re told that the kingdom of God will be full of light, and delight, and joy, and glory, yet what these things mean will remain a mystery, like a puzzle. Only when that day arrives will they manifested by His glory upon seeing Him face to face.[8] Therefore, since the prophets could not give a verbal description of that spiritual blessedness, they usually described it using emotional senses.[9] [10]

James Arminius (1560-1609) notes that all things are complete in God in his oration on theology. He alone fills the mind and satisfies its disastrous desires, for He is unlimited in wisdom, power, and goodness. He is the chief principle of truth. But the human mind is limited by its formation, and only in this capacity can it fathom something infinite. Thus, despite being able to apprehend, it cannot comprehend God, the Eternal Being, and Chief Truth. King David, therefore, in an exclamation of joyful self-gratulation, openly confesses that he was content with the possession of God alone, who employing knowledge and love is possessed by His creatures.[11]

Arminius then says three things to consider: First, we cannot fully understand an infinite God. Therefore, it necessitates that He be defined according to our mind’s capacity to comprehend. Secondly, it is not proper, in the first moment of revelation, to cram such a considerable amount of knowledge into the human mind. It is only by the process of having the Light of Glory illuminate it, thereby enlarging it to a greater capacity. Therefore, to use the understanding given to us by grace properly, we must proceed higher by doing things God’s way until we reach the level of the spiritual conception of His glory. Just as the Master said, “Whoever has will be given more.”[12] Thirdly, these things are not part of our theology merely to be known but revered.

The Theology of this world below is Practical. However, the Theology belonging to the world above consists of pure and unclouded vision. As the Apostle Paul expressed it, “We walk by faith, and not by sight.” Consequently, this gives greater meaning to the Apostle John’s words: “Then we will be like Him, for we will see what He’s like.”[13] For this reason, we must robe the One our theology points to in such a manner that it will enable us to worship and be fully persuaded to practice what we preach.[14]

John Cotton (1585-1652) makes an interesting comment on what the Apostle John says here in verse two. He notes that our bodies will be changed upon resurrection and also our souls.[15] While we live here, says Cotton, our souls are as if we were still condemned to die in sin.[16] Nor will there be any change in our bodies; they are already ashes and dust. I’m afraid I have to disagree with Cotton on this point. At the resurrection, our dust and ashes will be exchanged for a new covering for the soul. Then, we will not have any combating or striving between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh is gone, and our new temples will be home only to the soul. That’s why the Apostle John heard it said; “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good – tears gone, crying gone, pain gone – all the first order of things gone.”[17]

But I agree with Cotton that now we are full of imperfections, as the duties we perform in the best manner are full of human frailty and weakness. Now our natural affections whirl around us and ofttimes drive us away from performing charitable deeds. Still, we should constantly be involved in doing good for others so our Christian friends and acquaintances can rejoice with us.[18] [19]

John Owen (1616-1683) comments on verse two by saying that this promise to see the Anointed One face-to-face affects our conformity to God’s will because that’s where we discover our eternal blessing, which is vision or sight. Here faith begins what sight will perfect one day while “we walk by faith, and not by sight:”[20] And although the life of faith and vision differ in degrees – or, as some think, in type – yet they both have the same aim and the same function because there is an awareness between them. The thing behind the whole mystery of divine existence and will is its operation in perfect conformity to God.[21] In other words, we become more like Him in our actions and attitude. That’s where we find His blessings.

So, notes Owen, faith has the same ambition and operation in its degree and measure. The great and incomprehensible mysteries of the Divine Being – God’s will and wisdom – are its proper objective and operation regarding conforming us to His likeness. And this it does, in a peculiar manner, in the contemplation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus the Anointed One; and by this, we have our nearest approach to the life of vision and its effects so that we all show the Lord’s glory, and changed to be like Him. Our transformation brings more and more recognition, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit, [22] which makes possible the vision to see glory. The exercise of faith does more to raise and perfect the mind – more disposed to holy, heavenly attitudes and affections – than any other duty.[23]

Later on, Owen notes that the joy of being a child of God is that by grace in His grand design, while we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.[24] And since He is the pattern of all our graces, He receives all the glory, for He will change our humble bodies and make them like His own glorious body. The Anointed One does this by His power, with which He rules everything.[25] That’s why God placed the fullness of His grace on the Anointed One’s human nature along with His glorious image. It was done that He might be the prototype and example of what the church would become partakers of through Him. This work must continue until we are all joined in what we believe and know about the Son of God. Our goal is to become like an adult – to look just like the Anointed One and have all His perfection.[26] [27]


[1]  Andreas Osiander, original name Andreas Hosemann, (born Wednesday, December 19, 1498, Gunzenhausen, Ansbach – died Monday, October 17, 1552, Königsberg, Prussia. German theologian who helped introduce the Protestant Reformation to Nürnberg. However, one Lutheran faculty and synod after another declared its opposition to Osiander’s deprecation of forensic justification of sinners and his exaggerated stress on the indwelling of Christ Himself as the essential factor in justification.

[2] Andrew Osiander, 1549, began publicly to propound a doctrine in which he abandoned the conception of justification by imputation of the merits of the Anointed One, and returned to the Roman view of justification by infusion of the eternal essential righteousness of the divine nature of the Anointed One. In other words, it is not the work that the Anointed One did on the cross freely given by grace that justifies the sinner before God, but the practice of the Anointed One’s righteousness that leads to justification.

[3] 2 Peter 1:4

[4] 1 John 3:2

[5] John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, Bk. 3, Ch. 11, p. 763

[6] Acts of the Apostles 24:15

[7] Isaiah 25:8

[8] 1 Corinthians 15:54

[9] John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, Bk. 3, Ch. 25, p. 1033

[10] Ibid. Bk. 4, Ch. 18, pp. 1453-1454

[11] Psalm 73:25

[12] Matthew 13:12

[13] 1 John 3:2

[14] The Works of James Arminius: Vol. 1, Oration 2, p. 46

[15] 1 Corinthians 13:12

[16] Ezra 9:6

[17] Revelation 21:4

[18] Job 4:10

[19] John Cotton: Commentary on First John, op. cit., p. 335

[20] 2 Corinthians 5:7

[21] Romans 12:1

[22] 2 Corinthians 3:18

[23] Owen, John: Christologia, pp. 65-66

[24] 1 Corinthians 15:49

[25] Philippians 3:21

[26] Ephesians 4:13

[27] Owen, John: Christologia, pp. 229-230

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

THE DECEITFULNESS OF SELF-LOVE[1]

François Fénelon was very much aware that some of his fellow Christians were trying to reach sainthood on their own. They saw how much veneration individuals received by performing highly religious acts of charity and hospitality. Some even chose a form of attire that made them stand out in a crowd. But he knew that when it came to serving God, let Him make whatever you do extraordinary. Be like Gideon of old, [2] who did not think himself worthy of such an honor. So, Bishop Fénelon had a word of advice for them. He said:

Generally speaking, I should fear that reading about extraordinary spiritual accomplishments tends to harm weak imaginations. Self-love easily flatters itself that it has attained the altitudes that it has admired in books. It seems to me that the only course in such a case is to take no notice of such temptations. Therefore, I advise you never to dwell voluntarily on astonishing achievements. It is a better way to discover how much self-conceit has to do with these supposed abilities. Nothing tends to wound the vanity of self-conceit and bring illusions to light as a simple desire to set aside these fantasies of selfish pride and ask the person who dreams of fulfilling those imaginings to act as though nothing of the sort existed. Without such a test, I do not believe a person can be proven genuine without it; I do not think the Church has given sufficient warning against these types of spiritual delusion.

The blessed John of the Cross[3] advises souls to look beyond such spotlights and remain in the dawning of simple faith. If the abilities are natural, such detachment will not hinder them from leaving their marks upon the soul; if not, such uncompromising faith will be a sure guarantee against delusion. Moreover, such a line will not keep a soul back from God’s proper leading, for there is no opposition. It can only distress self-conceit, which finds a hidden self-satisfaction in a person’s ambitions, and that self-conceit is the very thing that needs pruning.

Even if such an individual’s ideas are unquestionably honest and sound, it is most important to learn how to harness them and live by simple faith. However excellent the opportunities may be, letting go of them is still better. Did not the Apostle Paul say, “Let me show you a way of life that is best of all.”[4] – the way of faith and love; not clinging either to sight, feeling, or taste – only to obedience to the beloved One. Such a way is simple, genuine, straightforward, free from the snares of pride.

Written over 450 years ago

Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others.

[2] Judges 6:15

[3] Saint John of the Cross, also known as San Juan de la Cruz, the patron of mystics, contemplatives, and Spanish poets. He initially attempted to institute reforms in the Carmelite Order but was met with imprisonment. He attempted again after escaping from confinement and this time the reforms revitalized the Order. Saint John of the Cross is known as a great spiritual writer and as a Doctor of the Church. Saint John of the Cross’s feast day is December 14th.

[4] 1 Corinthians 12:31

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

THE DECEITFULNESS OF SELF-LOVE[1]

François Fénelon was very much aware that some of his fellow Christians were trying to reach sainthood on their own. They saw how much veneration individuals received by performing highly religious acts of charity and hospitality. Some even chose a form of attire that made them stand out in a crowd. But he knew that when it came to serving God, let Him make whatever you do extraordinary. Be like Gideon of old, [2] who did not think himself worthy of such an honor. So, Bishop Fénelon had a word of advice for them. He said:

Generally speaking, I should fear that reading about extraordinary spiritual accomplishments tends to harm weak imaginations. Self-love easily flatters itself that it has attained the altitudes that it has admired in books. It seems to me that the only course in such a case is to take no notice of such temptations. Therefore, I advise you never to dwell voluntarily on astonishing achievements. It is a better way to discover how much self-conceit has to do with these supposed abilities. Nothing tends to wound the vanity of self-conceit and bring illusions to light as a simple desire to set aside these fantasies of selfish pride and ask the person who dreams of fulfilling those imaginings to act as though nothing of the sort existed. Without such a test, I do not believe a person can be proven genuine without it; I do not think the Church has given sufficient warning against these types of spiritual delusion.

The blessed John of the Cross[3] advises souls to look beyond such spotlights and remain in the dawning of simple faith. If the abilities are natural, such detachment will not hinder them from leaving their marks upon the soul; if not, such uncompromising faith will be a sure guarantee against delusion. Moreover, such a line will not keep a soul back from God’s proper leading, for there is no opposition. It can only distress self-conceit, which finds a hidden self-satisfaction in a person’s ambitions, and that self-conceit is the very thing that needs pruning.

Even if such an individual’s ideas are unquestionably honest and sound, it is most important to learn how to harness them and live by simple faith. However excellent the opportunities may be, letting go of them is still better. Did not the Apostle Paul say, “Let me show you a way of life that is best of all.”[4] – the way of faith and love; not clinging either to sight, feeling, or taste – only to obedience to the beloved One. Such a way is simple, genuine, straightforward, free from the snares of pride.

Written over 450 years ago

Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others.

[2] Judges 6:15

[3] Saint John of the Cross, also known as San Juan de la Cruz, the patron of mystics, contemplatives, and Spanish poets. He initially attempted to institute reforms in the Carmelite Order but was met with imprisonment. He attempted again after escaping from confinement and this time the reforms revitalized the Order. Saint John of the Cross is known as a great spiritual writer and as a Doctor of the Church. Saint John of the Cross’s feast day is December 14th.

[4] 1 Corinthians 12:31

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