WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson LVII) 09/30/21

3:11 Here is the teaching you were taught when you were converted: We should love one another.

Not only that, says Kretzmann, but they must show their appreciation for the Anointed One’s wonderful blessings of love with one another, of which they have become partakers. The very antithesis of such unselfish love is shown in the example of Cain. Cain, who was of the Evil One, the one who murdered his brother. And why did Cain kill Abel? Because his offering to God was based on his works, but those of his brother were founded on God’s blessings.

Cain, the first murderer, received the inspiration for his evil deed from the devil, a murderer from the beginning.[1] Having rejected that which was good, Cain became a servant of selfishness and sin. At the same time, he was jealous of the pure character of his brother Abel, just as unbelievers resent the fact that Christians refuse to join them in their blasphemy of God and their various transgressions of God’s holy will.[2] That was the reason why he took his brother’s life because he could not bear God’s favor for Abel’s offering. Thus, it angered Cain that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice rather than his.[3]

Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1973) says it is no secret; the Apostle John clearly reveals that the message he is speaking of is that “we must love one another.” But John wants his readers to understand that we should love our neighbor as we want to be loved. If someone is still not convinced, love was why God sent His Son into the world;[4] love is so powerful that the Apostle Paul said that loving God and one another fulfills the entire Law.[5] It echoes what Jesus said that by loving, we fulfill the writings of the prophets.[6] So while the demand for righteousness is an article of faith, the command for love is a matter of ethics.[7]

Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952) writes about the inward confirmation of the reliability of the Scriptures. He touches on what the Apostle John says here in verse eleven about the teachings his readers already heard from him and other apostles. Pink points out that the Bible testifies to the fact that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,”[8] and our convicted conscience confirms it. The Bible declares that it is “not by trying to do what is right, but according to His mercy[9] As sinners, we all learned that we were unable to do anything to win God’s favor. However, after crying out the prayer of the Publican, [10] we all went away justified by faith.

The Bible also teaches that “if any person is in union with the Anointed One, they are a new creation: old things have passed away; behold all things are now new.”[11] Consequently, the believer has found that the objects they once hated they now love, and the things thought to be for their pleasure, they now regard as trash to be thrown away. Furthermore, the Bible explains that we “are kept by the power of God through faith.[12] Therefore, believers have proven that God’s grace is sufficient for all their needs, although the world, the flesh, and the devil are organized against them.[13] Ask any Christian why they believe that the Bible is the Word of God. They will tell you it’s because it has done for them what it professes to do. They have tested its promises for themselves and found its teachings verified in their experiences.[14]

Greville P. Lewis (1891-1976) says that once we accept the Anointed One as Savior, we must obey Him as our Lord and Master. It is so because of the incredible offer of everlasting life and the supreme ethical demand to love our brothers and sisters in the fellowship of the Church.[15]

Amos N. Wilder (1895-1993) sees the original message in this epistle is represented as an imperative declaration. The nature of the Good News is such as to have its outcome in the fellowship of mutual love. Look at it this way, the vows that a couple make at their wedding to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until death us do part, is also a declaration. But it has no meaning unless it becomes a reality.[16] The same is true with our relationship with the Anointed One. We can declare our love for Him, but it is meaningless unless it is evident in our fellowship with one another. So, for walking in the Light to have any significance, we must be moving forward with a purpose to love God by loving each other.

Paul W. Hoon (1910-2000) tells us that love as an ethical factor in our Christian life is not an option, not a religious or moralist invention, nor something based on pure emotion. Love confronts us as a necessity flowing from the heart in real-time. It is not a philosophical concept. Instead, it has its meaning in our Christian life. The Bible does not call Love a theory; it is God’s Law. Laws are established after the theory is proven as fact.[17]

Rudolf Schnackenburg (1914-2002) notes that the Apostle John repeats here in verse eleven what he said in 1 John 1:5 and links them at the end of verse ten. To neglect this message, says Schnackenburg, would be a dangerous compromise. Earlier, John talks about Jesus’ command that we love our fellow believers, but now he broadens that by saying “love one another.” In other words, love is a two-way street; it is mutual and reciprocal. You might hear someone say, “I love that statue,” or “I love that car.” The problem is that your love is not returned to you. John does not want loving others to be restricted only to those in our group, but every human we meet. And the kind of love John is speaking of is defined in John 3:16 – God’s Love led to His giving, and His gift brought trust, and trust delivered help. Therefore, how can we love those outside God’s family if we do not love those inside?[18]

Donald Burdick (1917-1996) reminds us that the love of brothers and sisters in God’s family is essential for Christian living. That’s why God gave it as a command. Burdick mentions that the excluded Gnostics and Dualists only appeared after Jesus came. Their refusal to fellowship with others caused them to be considered part of the antichrist spirit.[19]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) says that a true child of God not only renounces any love for sin, but announces their unconditional love for others. The reason is that the message which Apostle John says was from the beginning is Good News about Love.[20] Just think of this: Did God create the universe out of anger? Did He generate man and woman out of spite? Did He cause the atmosphere to provide light and rain out of rage? Did He call Abraham just to be mischievous? Did He give Moses the Law out of hatred? No! Nor did He send His Son to punish sinners, but to save them.[21] So, long before it was spoken and then written, Love has been God’s proclamation to the world.

Edward Malatesta (1932-1998) states the Apostle John announces the central theme of this section to be love for one another. It is something he heard and preached since he became a disciple of the Anointed One. Now he adds faith in verse twenty-three as an integral part of the commandment.[22] It’s understandable that you cannot love God or love your fellow believer unless you believe in God.

James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) sees verses 11-18 as the second contrast of Love and Hate, the first being the children of God versus vipers of the devil. While that may seem improper for the Apostle John’s day, it certainly is relevant for today. The meaning of love has been so degraded that the world uses it when talking about loving bad things. Boice brings up a popular song some years ago titled, “Everybody loves somebody sometime.”[23] But it doesn’t work with God. You can’t say that you love the Father and all His children just because you went to church. Hate originated with the devil; love commenced with God, who is Love. John expands on this in the next verse.[24]

Michael Eaton (1942-2017) makes an interesting point by noting that the earliest promise of the Gospel comes as a commitment that God will crush Satan’s head.[25] In other words, He will undo everything that Satan did in engineering the alienation between God and humanity. But this account in Genesis three is followed in Genesis four by a breach between man and woman. It then goes on to detail the breakdown between Cain and Abel. Later we read of the division between Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, David and Saul, and finally, physical Israel and spiritual Israel. No wonder the Psalmist cried out, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”[26] [27]


[1] John 8:44

[2] 1 Peter 4:4

[3] Kretzmann, Paul E., Popular Commentary, 1 John, op. cit., pp. 567-568

[4] John 13:34-35

[5] Galatians 5:14

[6] Matthew 22:40

[7] Bultmann, Rudolf, A Commentary on the Johannine Epistles – Hermeneia, op. cit., p. 54

[8] Romans 3:23

[9] Titus 3:5

[10] Luke 18:13

[11] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[12] 1 Peter 1:5

[13] 2 Corinthians 12:9

[14] Arthur W. Pink: The Divine Inspiration of the Bible, Ch. 12, p. 56

[15] Lewis, Greville P., The Johannine Epistles – Epworth, op. cit., p. 84

[16] Wilder, Amos N. The Interpreter’s Bible, op. cit., pp. 260-261

[17] Hoon, Paul W., The Interpreter’s Bible, op. cit., pp. 260-261

[18] Schnackenburg, Rudolf, The Johannine Epistles, op. cit., p. 178

[19] Donald, The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 56

[20] Smalley, Stephen S., 1,2,3 John – Word Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., 181-183

[21] John 3:17

[22] Malatesta, Edward, Interiority and Covenant, op. cit., p. 251

[23] As song written by Sam Coslow, Irving Taylor, and pianist Ken Lane which Dean Martin made popular in 1964

[24] Boice, James Montgomery, The Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 91-92

[25] Genesis 3:15

[26] Psalm 133:1

[27] Eaton, Michael, Focus on the Bible, 1,2,3, John, op. cit., p. 107

About drbob76

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