By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson LXXXIX) 05/23/22

4:13 And He has put His Holy Spirit into our hearts as proof that we live in Him and He with us.

Ben Witherington III (1951) suggests that we connect verse thirteen with what the Apostle John said earlier.[1] The phrasing here is a bit odd, and it raises interesting questions. It says that we know we are in God, and vice versa because He has given us, literally, “from His Spirit.” If this simply meant, “We know God is in us because He gave us His Spirit, which is the manifestation of the divine presence in a human life,” it is a strange expression. One possible explanation is that Jesus received the Spirit without limits. By contrast, believers only receive a portion “of His Spirit.”[2] It could be a reference to spiritual gifts, although John does not focus on that in the way the Apostle Paul does.[3]

Duncan Heaster (1967) states that what the Apostle John says here complements his statement in verse twelve that we know He abides in us if we live in love. The presence of the Spirit will produce love, the love of the Anointed One, which is the cardinal feature of His entire Spirit. In Biblical exposition, the Spirit is a gift, given – and not cultivated by our steel-willed effort or pleasure. The Spirit came after the Lord ascended back into heaven, [4] giving each believer a specific gift.[5]

Karen H. Jobes (1968) says that the Apostle John’s concerns are the Christian testimony that God sent His Son to be the world’s Savior. This flow of thought closely follows what we find in John’s gospel.

            John 17:18: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

            John 17:21: “… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

            John 17:26: “I have made you known to them … so that your love for me may be in them.”

Christian love, therefore, is the expression of us being in God (who is agápē) and Him in us. That unity also has an evangelistic and revelatory purpose so that the world might see the presence of God’s love in the Anointed One. The Spirit is the assurance of God’s presence in us and us in Him.[6]

David Legge (1969) laments that what is lacking in the preaching today is the cross – the practical agápē of the dying Jesus. That is not possible of ourselves; it is God’s agápē – and verse thirteen shows us that this happens only by the Spirit of God if we look at it. Don’t you think you can just go out and throw your arms around drunks and hug them – it doesn’t work like that! It has to be God’s agápē within your heart; only God’s agápē will do – but what we’re saying here is that the first way that agápē is presently demonstrated, as it was in the past at the Anointed One’s death, is through Christlike lives of Christians who are Spirit-filled, filled with the agápē of Jesus. It doesn’t matter what you say with your mouth; it’s what you do with your love?[7]

4:14     We have seen that the Father sent His Son to be the world’s Savior, and this is what we tell people now.


When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, He pointed out, “The truth is, we talk about what we know. We tell about what we have seen. But you Jews don’t accept what we tell you. I have told you about things here on earth, but you do not believe me. So, I’m sure you will not believe me if I tell you about heavenly things![8] So later on in this same chapter, John the Baptizer confirmed this when skeptics were questioning him, “He tells what He has seen and heard, but people don’t accept what He says. Whoever accepts what He says has given proof that God speaks the truth. God sent Him, and He tells people what God says. God has anointed Him to do this.[9]

And this is not new; in talking to the religious leaders who were disputing His claims about being the Messiah. Jesus tells them what they missed, “You carefully study the Scriptures. You think that they give you eternal life. These same Scriptures tell about me![10] So while they were looking at Jesus to find fault, they were not looking to see what God had said about Him.  Here John tells his readers that they must not make the same mistake.

John and the Apostles saw and testified of the Son of God’s presence in His time on earth. The words “have seen” mean that the apostles deliberately contemplated the reality of the Incarnate Anointed One on earth, the Son of God, in the incarnation.  It was not simply a moment-in-time, but a process of seeing and testifying. The apostles gave continuing testimony to the incarnate Anointed One. John puts stress upon Jesus as the Son.  The Son was the Son before He came into the world.  Our Lord always was the eternal Son of God.  He did not become God’s Son at Bethlehem.

As John recorded in his Gospel: “God sent Him.”[11]  The Pharisees and scribes were upset that Jesus had appointed Himself as the Messiah.  They kept calling for proof that God was behind His coming.  Jesus was very outspoken about this and was not hesitant to tell His distractors, “But I have a proof about Myself that is greater than anything John the Baptizer said. The things I do are My proof. These are what My Father gave me to do. They show that the Father sent Me. And the Father who sent Me has given proof about Me Himself. But you have never heard His voice. You have never seen how He appears. The Father’s teaching does not live in you because you don’t believe in the one the Father sent.[12]

It wasn’t so much that there was no evidence that the Father was behind Jesus’ coming; they refused to look and accept the evidence.  What would your answer be if someone asked you to prove that Jesus was living in you and that the Holy Spirit was leading you?  Would you use some theological defense or dogmatic creed?  No!  You would produce evidence to show the difference they’ve made in your life.  Like the blind man being questioned about the claim that Jesus healed his eyes said, “All I know is this, once I was blind, but now I see.”  So, when the religious leaders argued with Jesus over His being the Son of man, He asked them, “So why do you accuse me of insulting God for saying, ‘I am God’s Son?’ I am the one God chose and sent into the world.[13]

Therefore, the dispute was not with Jesus, nor is it with us; it ends up being with God.  I have learned through debating that we must always keep this in mind when someone challenges us about our faith or beliefs.  Always inform them that their argument is not really with you; it’s with the Scriptures, upon which your faith and beliefs are founded.  So, each time they point to you, you point to the Scriptures.  Eventually, you can establish this rule for any further debate: Their argument is with the Scriptures, and your argument is in defense of the Scriptures.  Where did I get this brilliant idea?  From Jesus the Anointed One, my ideal debater.  John now wants to add after his readers saw that the heavenly Father was involved.

John the Baptizer was the first to see this.  We hear him announce as he saw Jesus walking toward him during his baptismal services: “Look, the Lamb of God. He takes away the sins of the world![14] And after telling the story about Nicodemus coming to Jesus to learn more, John concludes that “Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life.[15]

Not only that, but so impressed were the townspeople where the woman who met Jesus at the well in Samaria lived that they told her this, “First we believed in Jesus because of what you told us. But now we believe because we heard Him ourselves. We know now that He is the one who will save the world.[16] And Jesus concurs with their words when He tells those who came out to welcome Him as He rode from Bethany toward Jerusalem, “I did not come into the world to judge people. I came to save the people in the world.[17]

Jesus was the Redeemer of the world, not merely the elect.  Jesus came to the world as “Savior,” not as a social worker. There are only two instances where the Final Covenant calls Jesus the “Savior,” here and in John 4:42. That means that all people are savable (2:2).[18] Salvation in the Anointed One is the foundation of dynamic living in Christianity. 

Thus, “we” clearly means apostles, and “beheld” implies contemplation with bodily eyes.[19] The invisible God can only be “invisibly seen” with a pure heart. The language of this verse fourteen would be strained and unreal for someone who had not seen the Anointed One in the flesh. Note that “Savior” has no article. The “world,” as commonly used in John’s writings, is primarily unregenerate sinners among the human race.

It is good to keep in mind that the Apostle John and other apostles saw and testified of the Divine Son’s presence in time on earth. The words “have seen” mean steadfastly and deliberately contemplating the very existence of the Anointed One in human form on earth.  It was not a momentary event, but a process of seeing and testifying. The apostles gave continuing testimony that the Anointed One was alive and, in the flesh, while He was with them.

[1] 1 John 3:24

[2] Cf. Ephesians 1:13-14

[3] Witherington III, Ben: Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: op. cit., loc. cit., (Kindle Locations 7216-7223)

[4] John 7:39

[5] Heaster, Duncan: New European Commentary, op. cit., 1 John, p. 33. Heaster does not reveal what that special gift is. We can only assume that he means “eternal life.”

[6] Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Book 18), p. 195

[7] Legge, David: 1,2,3 John, Preach the Word, op. cit., “Christian Love: Its Source and Sign,” Part 13

[8] 1 John 3:11-12

[9] Ibid. 3:32-34

[10] Ibid. 5:39

[11] Philippians 3:34

[12] Ibid. 5:36-38

[13] Ibid. 10:36

[14] Philippians 1:29

[15] Ibid. 3:16

[16] Ibid. 4:42

[17] Ibid. 12:47

[18] Ibid. 2:2

[19] 1 John 4:12

About drbob76

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