WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson IX) 07/22/21

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 in person.

This hope of a face-to-face encounter with the Creator of the Universe was already in the heart of a wise man named Job centuries ago. He had enough faith in God to believe that even after his human body decayed in the grave, he would still see God in a new body.[1] But Job was not alone; listen to what the Psalmist said how the Lord allowed him to enjoy a holy life here on earth, but it cannot be compared to the joy he will experience standing in God’s presence.[2]

But the Apostle John’s hope was not solely built on what these saints of long ago had to say. He was absolutely sure of it because of what Jesus said to him and the other disciples while here on earth. It came in Jesus’ prayer to His Father in heaven, “Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!”[3] When the Apostle Paul visited with John in Jerusalem,[4] perhaps in their conversation, this came up. In any case, Paul felt so strongly about it he told the Corinthians the same thing about seeing God face to face one day.[5] Then in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul put it this way: Now we look forward with confidence to our heavenly bodies, realizing that every moment we spend in these earthly bodies is time spent away from our eternal home in heaven with Jesus. We know these things are true by believing they will occur, not waiting until we see them happen.[6]

Here the context must prevail. The two statements that “We haven’t yet seen what we will be” but “we will be like Him” are coexisting. Note that the “Speaker’s Commentary” quotes the following anecdote; “When some heathen converts to Christianity and were translating a Catechism into their language, they came upon verse two about our being like Him. They stopped. ‘No, said one of them; it is too much.’ So, they requested, let us write that ‘we will be permitted to kiss His feet.’”[7]

We must be careful not to invert the meaning of this last clause here in verse one. It does not mean that seeing God is the effect of our being like Him, [8] but the cause of our being like Him. Verse five tells us that God is “Light” [understanding], and we can come into that Light [knowledge]. In this life, we cannot see the Light of the essence of Divine nature “as it is,” but only as reflected; and the mirrored light cannot transmit to us the Diving nature of the original Light, although it prepares us to receive it. That means being “face-to-face[9] with His Light [revelation]. He will illuminate us through and through, and we will become like it. That’s why some take “like Him” to mean like the Anointed One.[10] [11]

But one thing we cannot forget: Christians are the objects of love – of both the Apostle John and the Father. God loves us with a certain special kind of Love. It involves the principle that such Love is infinite and unconditional. So, how do we apply this to everyday life? God loves every Christian as much as He loves us. They may be less than sincere, but God still loves them. He loves us despite who we are, just as He loves others regardless of who they are. God does not love based on who people are; He loves them based on who He is. It’s God’s character to love. Human love is often unjust. It plays favorites and prejudices against ethnic groups or even other Christians. God’s Love is always just.

Now that we are Christians, John contrasts the present and future state of believers. The word “now” represents the present state of Jesus’ followers. A person becomes a God’s child at the moment of rebirth.[12] Eternal salvation is not instantaneous and progressive like Sanctification, but initiated until completed.[13] There will never be a time when a believer is not part of God’s family. And although Christians are God’s offspring, they are not yet what they will be. They are in the process now, but they will come to the point of perfection at a future time. We are God’s spiritual descendants “now” in contrast to “not yet.” What we are now is a foretaste of what we will be. Our present state as Christians is an indication of our future glory. So, the principle here is that in our current state as a Christian is a token of what we will be.

Christians have a fantastic future. The Bible reveals something of what it will be like after we go into God’s presence. It gives an incomplete revelation of what we will be like after Jesus comes back. Scriptures use mostly negative descriptions such as no more pain, tears, death, night, or sorrow.

We all suffer pain in this life. God has a purpose in everything we go through. He makes us more like the Lord Jesus in suffering. It is our “light affliction.” It is manageable compared to the overwhelming benefit of entering the glory of the eternal state. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, God’s Spirit renews our spirits every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet, they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So, we don’t look at the troubles we see presently; instead, we fix our gaze on things our faith imagines. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”[14]

Growing old has to be painful for those without the Anointed One, who has nothing to look forward to except the loss of health and the bleak, black hole of the grave. Their limbs creak, and their bodies ache. However, the best awaits the older Christian. They anticipate a brighter and better day. Each is one day closer to the most blessed state yet. Thank God that we are not now what we were. Again, we thank God that we are not what we shall be. Oh, what a transfiguration there will be when Jesus comes again.

John conveys a note of hope – the coming of the Lord for His own. The word “know” portrays the idea of sureness, “We know with innate assurance that we will be like Him.” Christians will receive complete changeover, spiritually and physically, at the point when the Anointed One comes back at the Rapture. The Bible does not give the exact time when he will return, but God will mold His children into their perfect state whenever that event occurs. Thus, there exists a radical contrast between the present state and the future state of the believer. We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus the Anointed One lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which He will bring everything under His control.[15]

What does it mean, we will be “like Him” when Jesus comes back? It is the point when He conforms every believer to His image or nature. The current process of being formed into the likeness of the Anointed One will become final when Jesus returns. Thus, Christianity conforms us to the Anointed One[16] with the thought in mind that Jesus will conform us into His image perfectly when He comes back.

Another thing is, the body that we have now is a marvelous piece of divine artistry, but it is nothing compared to the body we will have on that day, so the best is yet ahead. Our bodies will be just like Jesus’ resurrected body when He arrives. So likewise, our character will be like Jesus one day. It is the consummation of salvation. The Devil will not thwart this event, for God predestines us to be just like Jesus.[17]

Furthermore, there will be no selfishness in us when we receive our glorified body, for we shall see Him as He is. There will be a day when we will see Jesus with unhindered direct sight when we meet Him in His immediate presence. We will see Him in His resurrected body. We will not see Jesus hanging on the cross twisting in agony. No, we will see Him in His resurrected state as the conquering Son of God. When we see Jesus in His heavenly state, it will translate us into His likeness. The sight of Jesus face-to-face will transfigure us because like reproduces like. A deductive mind grasps scientific truths. We will be able to see the Anointed One because we will be like Him. We become in character and essence like the person we worshiped.[18]


[1] Job 19:26

[2] Psalm 16:11

[3] John 17:24

[4] See Acts of the Apostles 9:26-30; 11:30/ 12:25; 15:4, 6, 12, 22

[5] 1 Corinthians 13:12

[6] 2 Corinthians 5:6-7

[7] The Speaker’s Commentary, New Testament, Published by John Murray, London: 1881, Vol. IV, p. 326

[8] Cf. Matthew 5:8

[9] 1 Corinthians 13:12

[10] Romans 8:16-17, 29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; cf. John 17:84; cf. Revelation 22: 4; 1:7

[11] Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, 1 John, p. 71

[12] John 1:12

[13] Ibid. 5:24

[14] 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

[15] Philippians 3:20-21

[16] 1 Corinthians 15:49, 51-52; 2 Corinthians 3:18

[17] Romans 8:29

[18] Revelation 1:17

About drbob76

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