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)

About drbob76

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