NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER THREE (Lesson C) 11/30/21
3:23 And this is what God says we must do: Believe in the name of His Son Jesus the Anointed One and love one another.
The “name” of Jesus represents all that He is, His person and work. It is in the significance of the name of Jesus that we believe. We believe all that the name of “His Son, Jesus the Anointed One” stands for. “His Son” implies divine majesty, His unique deity. “Jesus” signifies His redemptive humanity. “Anointed One” represents His Messianic office. Just as our name represents us, so Jesus’ names represent the essence of who He is. He stands behind His signature. Note the full title given to Jesus the Anointed One. The idea is that we should trust the message that the name conveys. We believed in the name of Jesus at the point of salvation, but now we are to accept as true the name of Jesus the Anointed One, that is, all that this wonderful person represents.
We trust in the authority that His name signifies – John’s reference to prayer in verses twenty-one and twenty-two. We always come “in Jesus’ name” in prayer, that is, in His authority. Our authority for prayer is our status in the Anointed One. God does not hear us because of who we are but because of Him. Our authority with God orbits around Jesus’ name. Therefore, the Christian life revolves around the person of the Anointed One. We worship both the person and work of the Anointed One. His name represents His glory.
We should also note that verse twenty-three begins with the Greek conjunction “kai,” which is translated mainly as “and.” The first “and” links the conduct of love to the belief upon which it is founded. Thus, right-living grows out of right-believing and right-thinking about God’s Son. One is impossible without the others. So, then the second “and” connects our right-thinking concerning God’s Son with the commandment that we love one another as He commanded us.
Loving other members of God’s family is essential because it is “His commandment.” Remember, one condition for answered prayer depends on loving fellow believers. We count on the authority of the Anointed One for this. Faith in the Anointed One is vertical, and invisible whereas love for the saints is horizontal and visible. We must prove our faith by love for the saints.
Communication between Jesus’ command and our love is equivalent to loving in “deed and truth.” Thus, Jesus linked the ideas of trust in Him and loving each other. God gave a “commandment,” not advice, that we combine belief and love. These two dynamics follow in sequence. They are no good if detached. We must take both of them. Faith is not valid if separated from love.
Therefore, belief and love are equally balanced and essential to living for God. We cannot detach one without violating the other. The infilling of the Holy Spirit or fellowship with God depends on both belief and love. One supports the other. The minimum requirement for a close Christian walk with God is belief and love. They are the hinges on the door of our faith. These two dynamics reflect the essence of the Christian faith. Belief is the apparatus by which we respond to God. Love is how we relate to believers. We need both the vertical and the horizontal. The responsibility for deciding to believe and love is on us. God never demands things that go against our will. Instead, when we choose to do His will, He then moves in the power of the Holy Spirit through us.
Theophylact of Ohrid (1050-1107) states that the first point to be made here is that we must love one another according to the faith which we have in the name of Jesus the Anointed One, for it is by this that we know that the grace of the Holy Spirit given to us will be firmly planted in us. The second thing to notice is the word “name,” which is quite frequent in Scripture. It includes the will, the glory, and the honor of the One identified by it, and His will is that everyone everywhere is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
John Flavel (1627-1691) says, let’s see how the Anointed One invites souls to come to Him. We will find the means employed are either internal or principal. It is none other than the Spirit of God, who is the Anointed One’s ambassador, who comes to us in Jesus’ name to persuade us to believe in Him as Savior. There is the authoritative call or commanding voice of the Spirit in God’s Word, a voice full of majesty and power. “This is His commandment, that we should believe in the name of His Son Jesus the Anointed One,” says the Apostle John here in verse twenty-three.
This call of the Spirit to come to the Anointed One removes one significant obstacle, notes Flavel, which is the fear of doubt. Unless this hindrance is out of the soul’s way to the Anointed One, it becomes rebellion and inexcusable stubbornness to refuse to come. Removing doubt voids all pleas against coming to the Anointed One arising from our unworthiness and deep guilt, and encourages the soul to go to the Anointed One, whatever it has been or done.
This now involves all the changes made upon the heart’s attitude. So Flavel testifies, “Time was when I had no sense of sin, nor sorrow for it; no desire after Christ, no heart to duties. But it is not so with me now: I now see the evil of sin so as I never saw it before; my heart is now broken in the sense of that evil; my desires begin to be inflamed after Jesus Christ; I am not at rest, nor where I would be, till I am in secret mourning after the Lord Jesus: surely these are the dawning of the day of mercy; let me go on in this way.” It is reminiscent of what the leper at the siege of Samaria said, “If I stay here, I perish:” The convicted sinner can express the same; if I don’t go to the Anointed One, I will perish. Hence, believers can handle all discouragements.
John Bunyan (1628-1688) answers the question, “What are we to understand about the word faith?” Is faith an act of obedience? First, Bunyan says faith is receiving, embracing, accepting, or trusting God will deliver on His promises. As far as faith being obedience, says Bunyan, it is the most submissive act a person can perform. The Apostle Paul says that with the Spirit’s help, we wait for the hope of being right with God by faith? Living by faith is the way to receive fresh strength from heaven, thereby managing your everyday work with life and vigor; yes, everyone take a look by faith at Jesus the Anointed One as you do this great work. Thus, it is said, when Paul saw the brethren who came to meet him, “he thanked God, and took courage.”
Oh! How much more, says Bunyan, will the Christian be blessed with fresh strength and courage even as they envision the Anointed One. Bunyan urges us to be conscious of the duty of believing, and be as fearful of falling short here as in any other command of God. It is God’s commandment that you believe, writes John here in verse twenty-three. That way, whatever we ask, we will receive from God because we believe and are doing good things in His sight.
William Burkitt (1662-1703) tells us to observe how the command of faith and love are knitted. It is as if the weight of salvation hangs equally upon both; because without faith, it is impossible to please God, so without love, it is impossible to please Him. Will any ministry profit without faith? No! In the same way, we can neither profit ourselves nor others without love. Whatever is not done by faith is worthless, so whatever good deeds we perform towards our brother or sister, if we do it not out of love, we miss our reward. O, Lord! Can we ever think of this command to love as small and insignificant when You joined the love of Your image with faith in your dear Son? It is Your commandment that we believe in the Name of Your Son and love one another.
In a letter dated November 24, 1746, to Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), living in Northampton, New England, Rev. Thomas Gillespie (1708-1774), who lived in Carnock, Scotland, took issue with some of the things Edwards said in his treatise on Religious Affections. For example, he took exception to the line that reads: “They should confidently believe and trust, while they remain without spiritual light or sight.” This, says Gillespie, as anti-scriptural and absurd doctrine you are refuting. The command of the Lord that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus the Anointed One is no less binding on the sinner than to obey the command immediately not to murder, keep the Sabbath, or any other duty, which we all agree, the sinner is obligated to do.
In his answer, Edwards addressed Gillespie’s objections. Edwards said, I am sorry you did not read the book through before you made them; if you had, perhaps the difficulties would not have appeared quite so great. I suppose there is no difference of opinion between you and me unless it concerns the significance and respectability of expressions. I am in complete agreement with you and always was without the slightest doubt. Everyone, both saint and sinner, is essentially bound, at all times, by Divine authority to believe in the Lord Jesus. The Lord commands that we believe in the Name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed One – it is a prescription of the moral Law.
 See Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:21; 18:20; John 1:12; 3:18; 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24; Acts of the Apostles 4:12
 See James 2:17
 See Colossians 3:14
 1 John 3:18
 Theophylact of Ohrid: Bray, G. (Ed.), James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, op cit., pp. 205-206
 2 Kings 7:3-4
 Flavel, John: The Method of Grace, pp. 173-174, 327
 Galatians 5:5
 Acts of the Apostles 28:15
 2 Corinthians 3:18
 John 6:46
 Bunyan’s Practical Works: Vol. 7, Saved by Grace, Ch. 8, pp. 146-151, 326
 1 Corinthians 13:1
 Burkitt, William: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 772
 1 John 3:23
 1 John 3:23