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

About drbob76

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