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

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s