WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XCIX) 11/29/21

3:21-22 But, dearly loved friends, if our consciences are clear, we can come to the Lord with perfect assurance and trust and get whatever we ask for because we obey Him and do the things that please Him.

­­Bruce B. Barton (1954) states that when believers approach God, they can trust He will give them whatever [they] ask because [they] obey Him and do the things that please Him. This statement follows what Jesus said in His final discourse to His disciples, “But if you stay in Me and obey My commands, you may make any request you like, and it will be granted.[1] Now, when a believer abides in the Anointed One and His words are active in them, their prayers will be answered. It does not mean that all requests are granted. The context in which Jesus spoke these words suggests it should pertain to fruit-bearing and glorifying the Father. The same holds true for John’s statement here in verse twenty-two, “we will receive whatever we request.” Believers’ requests will be honored by God when focused on accomplishing God’s will. The Anointed One taught His disciples to pray, “May your will be done on earth.[2] Therefore, obedience results from the Holy Spirit’s working in people, teaching them to desire God’s will so that their prayers grow out of this accord between His will and theirs.[3]

Daniel L. Akin (1957) cites how beautiful and natural John’s argument’s flows in these verses. Loving others as Jesus loved us gives assurance that we are in the truth, even when we don’t love in every respect. It is as though God is saying, “Trust Me, not your conscience, which is not foolproof and is not always correct.” Now that we are confident before God, we can be sure when we pray. This openness before God results from the clear conscience, we have in the Anointed One. It provides motivation and assurance as we approach our Father God in prayer.[4] Thus, any request made in prayer flows from a heart and life that, first, delights in keeping His commands and, second, does what pleases Him. These provide the crucial theological context for the later promise John makes.[5] [6]

David Legge (1969) supposes that the principle of answered prayer is the same as King David’s.[7] Now that is not a blank check promise that anything you ask you’ll get; the verse we find later on in this epistle must cool down the idea of “believe it, receive it, and frame it.”[8] But here’s the point: if we come and approach God and there’s nothing wrong between God and us, and very little is lacking between our fellow believers and us, we’ll be filled with God’s presence as we approach Him. Therefore, when God’s Spirit fills us, His Will becomes a priority, and we don’t ask for anything outside His will. So, John is saying to his readers; I want you to see how this confidence of not having a condemning heart, but a conscience empty of any offense thoughts toward God and others affects your Christian life. It gives you confidence when approaching God in prayer and assures you to ask God for things and get God’s answer to your prayer.[9]

Douglas Sean O’Donnell (1972) speaks of a God-centered Gospel as “the truth” that the Apostle John mentions in these verses.[10] It is this “truth” that is from the Father and the Son that abides now and forever within true believers. It is why, following John’s greeting in 2 John 1:1-3, he rejoices in verse four that some of the church members continued in the truth. By “some,” John might mean “a few out of many” or simply “those he knows about” in the congregation. But, as we see, he adds a thanksgiving (verse 4) to his greeting (verses 1-3). He is grateful to God that some are walking, meaning “doing or obeying” what is truth.[11] Thus, “in the truth” implies believing in Jesus and loving others as the Anointed One commanded.[12] [13]

3:23 And this is God’s commandment: We must trust and believe in the power of His Son’s, Jesus the Anointed One, and love one another, just as He commanded us to do.

EXPOSITION

The coming of the Messiah, the Son of God, as a leader from captivity to freedom in the same way as Moses, it was not a hidden secret. The children of Israel were promised this would happen thousands of years before He came in human form.[14] And that message of the promised Messiah was not lost or forgotten. On the contrary, they were urged not to disregard His arrival but to make Him feel welcomed so that you do not offend His Father in heaven who sent Him.[15]

By the time we reach the Apostolic period, His status as God’s Son was reinforced on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Apostle John in attendance to see and hear what was said when a voice out of heaven declared that: “This is my Son, the one I love. Listen and obey Him.”[16] Jesus also confirmed this in His prayer to the Father.[17] And when it came time for Jesus to return to the Father, He told John and the other disciples, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me.”[18]

So, it is no wonder that the Apostle Paul spread this Good News everywhere he went.[19] And he passed this on to young Timothy to make it part of his message to the world.[20] And everything must all be done in love. It will not be a fiery sermon on hell or a judgmental message on eternal separation from God that will draw sinners to the cross for salvation. The power of God’s love melts their resistance and allows the Holy Spirit to guide them to the source of everlasting life. But to make this work, we must begin with ourselves.[21] Being purified will show those to whom we preach the message of salvation is evidence, it works![22] Furthermore, if we do not love one another, the world will be skeptical that their concept of love is any different than ours.[23] We must be an example of what we preach, not just trying to make them copycats  of what we preach.

And John’s requirement is this; we should believe in His Name, Messiah. It is as though John was saying, “What the full scope of his commandment is not exhausted by loving the brethren; we must also believe in God’s Son: and the one implies the other.” What is the meaning of “believing the Name?” We can believe a document, [24] statement,[25] or person.[26] But how can we accept only a name? It’s relatively simple, by considering those truths that the name implies, in the present case, by believing that Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah, the Son of God. To produce this belief and its consequence, eternal life, is the purpose of John’s Gospel;[27] it is also God’s will[28] and the command of His Son.[29]

This belief will inevitably produce fruit showing that we “love one another [present tense of what is habitual], even as the Anointed One gave the commandment.”[30] Thus, throughout the Epistle, especially in this passage, the main ideas of those discourses are represented – obedience to the Divine commands, particularly as to faith and love; promised answer to prayer, abiding in God; and the gift of the Spirit.[31]

Thus, this verse begins the transition from loving to believing in the Apostle John’s first epistle and explains it here in verse twenty-three.  John condenses Jesus’ ideas as represented in his Gospel. The word “commandment” is singular, for God does not separate belief and love. They operate under one commandment because they are inseparably united.  It is impossible to have faith in Jesus the Anointed One without love for His family.[32]

John says that we should believe in the Name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. It is the first direct reference to belief in this epistle after becoming a Christian. The Greek tense indicates significant action [aorist tense]. John blends the ideas of conclusive belief as a Christian and decisive love as a Christian together. We trust in the Anointed One’s authority for this.


[1] John 15:7; see also Matthew 7:7; 21:22; John 9:31

[2] Matthew 6:10

[3] Barton, Bruce B., 1, 2, & 3 John (Life Application Bible Commentary), op. cit., p. 79

[4] 1 John 3:21-22

[5] Ibid. 5:14-15

[6] Akin, Dr. Daniel L., Exalting Jesus in 1,2,3 John (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary), op. cit., Kindle Edition.

[7] Psalm 66:18

[8] Ibid. 5:14

[9] Legge, David: Preach the Word, 1,2,3, John, op. cit., Part 11

[10] 1 John 3:18-19

[11] John 3:21

[12] 1 John 3:23

[13] O’Donnell, Douglas Sean, 1-3 John (Reformed Expository Commentaries), op. cit., Kindle Edition

[14] Deuteronomy 18:15-19

[15] Psalm 2:12

[16] Mark 9:7

[17] John 17:3

[18] Ibid. 14:1 – New Living Translation (NLT)

[19] Acts of the Apostles 16:31

[20] 1 Timothy 1:15

[21] Ephesians 5:2

[22] 1 Peter 1:22

[23] Ibid. 4:8

[24] John 2:22; 5:47

[25] Ibid. 5:47; 12:38

[26] Ibid. 10:37-38

[27] Ibid. 20:31

[28] Ibid. 6:40

[29] Ibid. 14:1

[30] Ibid. 13:34; 15:12; 15-17

[31] 1 John 4:5

[32] John 13:34-35; 15:12-14, 17

About drbob76

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