NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson LXXXVI) 05/18/22
4:13 And He has put His Holy Spirit into our hearts as proof that we live in Him and He with us.
William E. Jelf (1811-1875) says that the Apostle John presents a test and testimony in clear language – Our possession of the gift of the Spirit is the foundation of our knowledge on this point, as our understanding must be our assurance. The “Spirit” is the Spirit of truth and holiness and miracles. The question is – how the Spirit shows itself. One way must be by its fruit, and the Apostle Paul lists these in his Epistle to the Galatians. Therefore, the possession and practice of the Christian graces must be the foundation of this assurance. We do not receive the Spirit’s gifts on our own, only by the Spirit Himself. What we call the gifts of the Spirit are, in reality, the Spirit working in us. The phrase “of the Spirit” might signify the difference in how the Spirit of miracles worked. It is the same Spirit, but to one He worked in one way, to another a different way; or, popularly speaking, one gift would be given to one person, a different one to another. 
William Kelly (1822-1888) draws our attention to the fact that our relationship with God begins with Him residing in us, not with our living in Him. It is of great importance to discern the difference. That God dwelling in us is His grace when resting on the Anointed One’s redemption. That we are in union with Him is the fruit of the confidence in God that His grace inspires in us. Thus, as it were, we retire from self and all things around us and make our hearts God’s home even while we are here below. This is abiding in God, and it is only suitable for us to look to God for grace to keep in union with Him. When fellowshipping with Him this way, He acts in us through power. Therefore, it is written that He has given us of His Spirit. “Of His Spirit” has a distinct method in the manner of its expression. It indicates that what He shares with us is part of Himself.
Kelly then proposes that we look at the force of this passage more closely. In verse twelve, we read, “This is how we know that we dwell in Him, and He in us because He has given us of His Spirit.” Then in verse fifteen, it says, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in them, and they in God.” Perhaps, a person may be without the objective knowledge that God’s Spirit is in them. But this does not hinder the truth of the blessing. If you confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in you, and you in God. He resides in you, having given His Spirit to be in you. This is the way His dwelling in us is affected, but the consequence of that gift to you is that you make God your refuge and delight. In other words, once God knows you, it’s up to you to get to know Him. That’s why He put His Spirit in you for that purpose. You just don’t sit in your salvation and marinate; you activate it into action.
Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) gives us this excellent parody. “Do you want a house for your soul? What will it cost?” Is it something less than proud human nature will provide? Is it without money or price? Ah! says Spurgeon, you would like to pay rent! You would love to do the Anointed One a favor! Then you cannot have this house, for it is “without price.” You see, this house is furnished with all you need; it is filled with riches more than you will accumulate as long as you live. Here you can have intimate communication with the Anointed One and feast on His agápē. Do you want this house? Here is the key, “Come to Jesus.” Even if you don’t feel good enough to live there, the Anointed One will make you good enough. He will wash you and cleanse you, and you will be able to exclaim, “I dwell in Him.” By “dwelling in Him,” you have not only a perfect and secure house, but an everlasting one. When this world has melted like a dream, your house will survive. It stands more imperishable than marble, more solid than granite. It is self-existent, for it is God Himself – “We dwell in Him.”
John James Lias (1834-1923) says that an answer is ready if we ask how God can live in us. God dwells in us because there is a presence within us of His Spirit. Nor is this a mere dream of the imagination. We have not seen God, but we see our fellow humans, the Image of God, endowed with the visible signs of God’s agápē working through us to perfection. He announced Himself as the Savior of the world. His claim is backed by His works of mercy He untiringly performed and that great and final attestation of His mission which His resurrection placed before us. To Him, we testify. And it is to the confession of Him as God manifest in the flesh that we owe the presence of the Spirit in our hearts, and from this presence alone comes the life of love we lead. Our union with our comprehension of God comes not from the intellectual insight that enables us to grasp the mystery of His being, but from the spiritual oneness with Him, which enables us to carry out the purposes He had in humanity’s creation.
In Lias’ mind, the Apostle John teaches that living in Him involves placing our wills in line with His. His will is love for all mankind. Our will aligns with His when we desire to love as He does. And so, we are here told (1) that when our will becomes united with His, He abides within us. He makes no brief visit to our heart, but takes up His dwelling there. Our union with Him is an actual and permanent fact, manifested by our conduct. And we are further told (2) how to discover the signs of this permanent indwelling. If it exists, we shall be conscious of continued impulses toward good due to the constant presence of His Spirit in the heart. And the presence of that Spirit is due to the humanity of Jesus. The union of the Godhead in His person is the means whereby we all are taken up once more into union with the Divine. Through the humanity of Jesus, the Divine Spirit flows into each human heart. And by its impulses to love, we recognize its presence within. We know that we dwell in God and God in us because we feel inspired and mastered by God’s purpose toward all the world.
Alfred Plummer (1841-1926) notes that in verse thirteen, “knowing that we live in God and He in us” is in harmony with “those who keep God’s commands lives in Him and He in them” in verse twenty-four. There, as here, the gift of the Spirit is the proof of God’s abiding presence: but this is joined with keeping His commandments; here, it is connected with the special duty of brotherly love. He gave us His spirit, but we must receive our measure of His Spirit. However, only of the Anointed One, it is said in the fullest sense, “not by measure” is the Spirit given to Him. Christians are sometimes told “receive the Spirit,” and sometimes, receive the gifts “of” the Spirit. Accepting the whole Spirit, not just “of,” is only true of the Anointed One.
Clement Clemance (1845-1886) points out that the Greek text reads, “out of the Spirit of Him,” and the NIV renders it, “has given us of His Spirit.” It is impossible, says Clemance, for us to receive more than a portion; the fullness of the Spirit is possessed by the Anointed One alone. That is how we have the fullness of the Spirit available to us. As John says in his Gospel, “Out of His fullness,” we have His grace. For instance, when Mary brought in a pint of expensive perfume made of pure nard, she poured out the perfume on Jesus’ feet. So it is with us; all the Spirit’s grace, wisdom, power, knowledge, and other gifts are poured into us.
Thomas Gunn Selby (1846-1910), Methodist missionary in China, notes that some say the most delicate rose tree in the world is in Holland, which a few years ago had six thousand flowers in bloom at the same time. So, perhaps, the less spectacular English hedgerow rose might despair of rivaling that wonderful rose tree and attaining worldwide distinction. But if someone transplanted it and gave it nurture of needful skill, and a bud from that Dutch tree be grafted into it, the poor despised growth of the hedgerow might hope one day to bear its thousand blooms and be the wonder of a nation. And as lacking in all high moral and spiritual qualities as we may be, grudging in sacrifice, dishonorable in spirit, confused in motive, yet if God grafted His life within us, no limit can be put to our spiritual development.
James B. Morgan (1850-1942) addresses how our brotherly love serves as the evidence of our fellowship with God, arising out of the indwelling of the Spirit. If there is such an exercise of this heavenly principle, it cannot ascend from any other source than God’s indwelling the soul by the Spirit. Is there a person who longs after the spiritual well-being of their relatives, who can say like the Apostle Paul, “I could wish that I were cursed and cut off from the Anointed One for the sake of my people, those of my race?” Instead, we may say of them, “God dwells in them and has given them of His Spirit.” Is there a person who loves it and lingers with it wherever they see the image of the Anointed One, whose “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them.” 
Is there a person who burns with zeal for the soul’s being converted, asks Morgan, and longs and labors to see this world of sin and sorrow become holy and happy? These are fruit that do not grow in nature. They are the plants of grace alone, and unmistakably proclaim their heavenly origin. The seal leaves its impression behind it, and we may know where the Spirit is by the image He stamped upon the character. He is the Spirit of holiness, and wherever holiness is found, He dwells. He is the Spirit of love, and there is He wherever there is holy love.
Albert Barnes (1872-1951) states that God has imparted the influences of His Spirit to our souls, producing “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,” etc. It was one of the promises which the Lord Jesus made to His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them after He withdrew from them,  and the clearest evidence we have that we are the children of God is derived from the influences of that Spirit on our hearts.
 Galatians 5:22-23
 Romans 12:6-8
 Jelf, William E., First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 62
 Kelly, William: An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., Logos, loc. cit.
 Kelly, William: Lectures on the Catholic Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 327-328
 See 1 Corinthians 2:11
 Spurgeon, Charles H., Morning and Evening Daily Readings, op. cit., May 6 AM
 See 1 John 4:13
 Lias, John James: The First Epistle of St. John with Exposition, pp. 322-323
 Lias, John James: The First Epistle of St. John with Homiletical Treatment, pp. 322-323
 John 3:24
 See Galatians 3:2, 3, 5; 4:6
 1 John 3:24
 Plummer, Alfred: Cambridge Commentary, op. cit., p.150
 John 1:16
 Ibid. 12:3
 Clemance, Clement: First Epistle of John, Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, Exposition, op. cit., p. 104
 Selby, Thomas G., Biblical Illustrator, op. cit., Vol. 22, p. 94
 Romans 9:3
 Psalm 16:2-4
 1 John 4:13
 Morgan, James B., An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., Lecture XXXIV, p. 332
 Galatians 5:22-23
 John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7
 Barnes, Albert: New Testament Notes, op. cit., p. 4867