WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson II) 07/13/21

3:1a See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children – think of it – and we are! But since most people don’t know God, naturally, they don’t recognize that we are His children.

The opening verse contains the Greek adjective potapos translated as “manner,” and literally means “From what country, nation, or tribe.” The Final Covenant always supplies amazement, [1] but it means outstanding quality rather than size as the original meaning leads us to expect. We must take Love factually: the Divine love itself – agape, and not a mere mention of it. Potapos strikes the keynote of the whole section. The goal of this Love is that forever we’ll go by the title “Children of God.” And, whatever petty critics may say, the title is rightfully ours. The Apostle John shows that the people of this world do not recognize us because they did not recognize God from the beginning. Had they known the Father, they would acknowledge us as His children. John also refers to what precedes;[2] it does not merely anticipate that which follows. In logical phraseology, we first have the central premise, then the conclusion introduced by “what kind,” then – to clinch the argument – the minor premise introduced by “that.”[3]

Christians need to hold in high regard the nature of God’s Love. So, do you esteem the Love of God? We see His Love best in transforming sinful people into the children of God by the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. What kind of affection, what quality of appreciation, what depth of devotion, and what commitment is in this Love? God’s Love for us exceeds the love of a mother for her child. No poet or preacher can exhaust explaining the Love of God. He loves us in pain as much as in health. He loves us when we are pinched financially as when we are prosperous. We should not confuse God’s gifts with God’s Love. We distort a great moment when we say that we can tell how much God loves us by how much He blesses us materially. God’s Spirit directs us again and again to the quality of God’s Love for us. We can so easily forget His Love is unconditional.[4]

Keep in mind, God’s Love comes to us by untainted grace. God does not have to prove His love for us except through Jesus the Anointed One. He gave His best when He gave us Jesus. Anything beyond that is trivial. He gave us the most when He gave His Son. God offers believers the honor of holding the title of His family. In doing so, God gives us a more prestigious title than when we receive any reward from this world; it is an honor to be a child of God, a son or daughter of eternal destiny. We have, however, an entirely different value system of measurement than that of the world. God measures us by belonging to His family, not by power or position.

We can never be good enough for God to love us. He does not love us based on who we are, but on who He is. Acceptance of God’s Love is by faith, not works. We would never know whether we were in God’s Love if it depended on our measuring up to God’s perfection. Gaining God’s Love by works warps the idea of God’s grace.

We Christians have an extraordinary calling. We would treat each other better if we remembered that. The world does not have the spiritual capacity to know all about who and what God or Christians are. The world does not recognize us as the children of God. It looks upon us as just another subculture in society. The reason is that non-Christians do not have spiritual perceptions. They are dead spiritually. Although the non-Christian world may recognize us as Christians in name only, they do not know what it truly means. We should not expect the world to acknowledge our relationship with the Father in heaven. They may even resent that relationship because it reflects on their lack of supreme values.

The reason non-Christians reject our testimony and the witness of the Anointed One is because they voluntarily stop listening. They have no spiritual insight, so they cannot see. Genuine Christians will always be in the minority until Jesus returns. We will never win our entire nation to Jesus the Anointed One. He will establish His kingdom here on earth after He comes back to begin His millennial reign.

COMMENTARY

John Cotton (1585-1652) points out that the Apostle John teaches us that God’s plans are hidden and unknown to the world. Just like when they find out that a beggar or hobo who lives from hand to mouth is a millionaire. God’s people are worth millions, says Cotton, but they are hidden people; the world does not recognize them. If a pearl falls into the mud, you cannot discern it, but wash away the dirt, and you can see it gleam.[5] From all that Cotton says elsewhere, it is clear that he is not talking about Christians living in this dark world with no light shining like a city built on a hill. Instead, it appears that he is talking about when the Lord returns, and we shall see Him as He is, then all the world will know how special we are as children of God.

John Trapp (1601-1669) addresses what the Apostle John says about the world not knowing who we are. First, he says that unknown princes are unrespected; unrecognized, and undignified, as a proverb in the North part of the country. Then Trapp shares a story of a well-known Christian in his day. It concerned Mr. James Bainham (1500-1532), an English lawyer and Protestant reformer burned as a heretic tied to a stake on Tuesday, April 30, 1532.

Bainham was the son of Alexander Bainham, a man of wealth and influence; he was a knight and the sheriff of Gloucestershire. Young James was provided with an excellent education, excelling in Latin and Greek. But it was his actions and criticism of the Catholic Church that brought him to the attention of the ecclesiastical inquisitors. He stood accused of possessing Tyn­dale’s New Testament and attend­ing illegal meetings in a ware­house on Bow Street. He became even more suspect when he mar­ried the widow of the notorious Simon Fish, who died of the Black Death while awaiting trial for heresy.

Sir Thomas More, the Chancellor of England, had James Bainham arrested and brought to his home. He wanted to know the location of Tyndale’s New Testament and other for­bidden books, plus the names of the men and women who met on Bow Street. Mr. More attempted to obtain this information through persuasion and kind words; however, when Chancellor More saw his efforts were futile, Bainham was tied to a tree in the More’s gar­den, and he personally lashed and cut Bainham’s body severely. He then ordered the prisoner to be taken to the Tower of London to be placed on a stretching torture rack.

Bainham did not take back what he said nor surrender to their demands to disown all he had said about the Church. Thus, he was declared guilty of all charges and ordered to be burned. However, they tried one more time. They sent Parson Nicholas Wilson, chaplain and confessor to King Henry VIII, Archdeacon of Oxford in 1528 and rector of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in London in 1531, counselling Bainham to conform himself to the Church. But here’s Bainham’s answer:

“I trust I am a true child of God, which you, blind donkeys do not perceive. I am like the princess bride, waiting within her chamber, robed in beautiful clothing woven with gold,[6] dark but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, tanned as the dark tents of Kedar,[7] rough, but rich; as the tabernacle in the wilderness, covered with black goat’s hair, but inside luxurious and unique, just like the staff of Marcus Brutus’s scepter in Plutarch’s story, that was covered in solid gold in a its hollow wooden shell. All righteous people are kings in righteousness as the Priest Melchisedec was, and just as obscure to the world as he was. They are content to pass on to heaven as the Anointed One did, as concealed royalty. Their faith made them glorious in the Lord Jesus the Anointed One.[8] Although now they are not noticed or given any attention, one day their faith will be proven to be pure, the result will be praise and glory and honor when Jesus the Anointed One returns.”[9]

But before being led to the place of execution, he turned to Mister Pave, the town clerk, saying, “God forgive you and show you more mercy than you’ve shown me.” He also prayed for God to forgive Sir Thomas More. Thus, they burned James Bainham tied to a wooden stake on Tuesday, April 30, 1532, the man who preferred death to life if it meant he must deny his faith. One year later, Mr. Pave, Bainham’s tormentor, hung himself. However, Sir Thomas More refused to renounce the Pope and recognize King Henry the VIII as the sovereign head of the Church of England, and he was arrested and thrown into the Tower of London. They beheaded him on Friday, January 28, 1547, for treason. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord.[10]


[1] Matthew 8:27; Mark 13:1; Luke 1:29; 7:39; 2 Peter 3:11

[2] John 5:16, 18; 7:22; 8:47; 10:17; 12:18, 27, 39

[3] Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, 1 John, p. 70

[4] Richison, Dr. Grant, Verse by Verse Commentary on John’s Epistles, loc. cit.

[5] Joseph Cotton, Exposition of First John, op. cit., Ch. 3:1, p. 328

[6] Psalm 45:13

[7] Song of Solomon1:5

[8] James 2:1

[9] 1 Peter 1:7

[10] Deuteronomy 32:35; cf. Romans 12:17-19

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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