NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XC) 05/24/22
4:14 And furthermore, we have seen with our eyes and now tell the world that God sent His Son to be their Savior.
John stresses that Jesus was God’s Son before He came to earth. He did not become a Son at Bethlehem, and it was for Him to be the world’s Savior, not merely some special messenger. Jesus came to the world as “Savior,” not “social worker.” There are only two instances where the Final Covenant calls Jesus “Savior.” What makes this so critical is that all humanity needed saving. So, the basic principle here is that Salvation through the Anointed One is the foundation of dynamic Christian living. Faith in the Anointed One produces love for God and ignites a love for other believers. As God showed His love toward us in the Anointed One, we are to show that same love to those who love Him.
Œcumenius (800-900 AD) comments that since we have fellowship with God in agápē, it is also by agápē that the Apostles who saw Him in the flesh acknowledged Him and bear witness that the Father sent Him to be the world’s Savior. But above and beyond their testimony, Jesus instructed them to teach us about this, thereby leading us to a perfect understanding of Him, as when He said: “I went out from the Father and came into the world.”
John Calvin (1509-1564) points out that the Apostle John now explains the other part of the knowledge of God, by which He communicates Himself to us through His Son and offers Himself to be enjoyed. It follows that we receive Him through faith. John’s design shows that God is so united to us by faith and love that He dwells in us and manifests Himself in a manner visible by His presence. Otherwise, we would not know God was there. Therefore, when John says that we have, seen, and testify, he refers to himself and others. And by seeing, John does not necessarily mean only by visible contact, but by the spiritual enlightenment found in faith by which they recognized the glory of God in the Anointed One. So then, according to what John goes on to say, Jesus was sent to be the world’s Savior; and this knowledge flows from the illumination of the Spirit.
John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787) feels that since the Apostle John tells his readers that he and other Apostles were eye-witnesses to the personal life of the Anointed One, His preaching, miracles, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension back into heaven’s glory, that upon such infallible evidence can attest to the fact that God the Father sent His only begotten Son to be born in human flesh and thereby qualify Himself as the Lamb of God to be the Redeemer of both Jews and Gentiles so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
William E. Jelf (1811-1875) notes that the Apostle John, for a moment, recalls what he said before as the source and foundation of Christian love,  the source from which it springs, the foundation on which it stands – God’s agápē in sending His Son as reconciliation with God for our sins. He now puts his personal and visual evidence of the certainty of this doctrine to confirm it and show the importance of a genuine belief as the sound foundation for practice for himself and the other apostles.
William Kelly (1822-1888) points out that the Spirit of God glorifies the Anointed One by receiving His words and explaining them to us. He was to guide us into all the truth. Many religions recommend a kind of mysticism that glorifies self; it is occupied with feelings. Therefore, it exposes some souls to self-worship and others to dejection. People are not easily satisfied with what they get from such meditation. It is wholesome to learn that there is nothing in ourselves to yield spiritual satisfaction, to make the Anointed One our all-in-all. But to be occupied with one’s heart, save for humbling ourselves on account of it, is as dishonoring to Him as it is dangerous to ourselves. Occupation with ourselves is not merely unprofitable, but hinders growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Anointed One.
Yet, says Kelly, there is no doubt that many Christians get drawn into this human philosophic view which substitutes occupation with self instead of the Anointed One, Jesus, and being happy instead of always delighting in the joy of the Lord. So, how can we correct such inward-looking? John says here, “And we have seen.” Here are the emphatic words of the inspired witnesses, “and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” Whatever others may occupy themselves with, “The Father sent His Son as the world’s Savior.” What is, what ought to be, the effect of such a truth?
Does this not fill us with the praise for the Father and the Son? Does it not shame us into nothingness as to ourselves? We are shown that we were sinners saved by faith through grace—timid faith questions whether we were so bad or God was so good. But if we simply believe through the Holy Spirit, we cannot assuredly find anything in ourselves worth talking about compared to grace, so rich and everlasting. It’s how God weans us from ourselves, the world, and every other object, to delight our souls in Him and His Son. Knowledge may puff up, but the Father’s and Son’s love builds up.
Kelly adds that he hardly knows of anything that should affect us more profoundly than these words in verses thirteen and fourteen. How can we conceive of being near God if it is not dwelling in God and God in us? No image paints a more graphic picture of intimacy and mutuality, so to speak, than this. And when we think about who and what God is and what we are, it is indeed a great testimony. But who is the Apostle John talking about? Very high and pious believers? Only ministers and theology professors? Perhaps devoted saints like Mother Theresa? No! He speaks of every Christian. We are all fruit of the same Gospel.
Kelly concludes that the best way to know that we dwell in Him, and He in us, is because He gave us His Spirit. This goes farther than the last verse of chapter three, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in Him and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.” But now, John adds that we have seen and testified that the Father sent His Son to be the world’s Savior. Therefore, whoever will confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in them, and they in God. So what John says connects what we do to show God’s Spirit is in us rather than what we say about Him dwelling in us.
James Arminius (1560-1609) comments on the testimony of the Samaritan village people who learned about Jesus after revealing Himself to the woman at Jacob’s Well who said: “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man is the world’s Savior.” Arminius says that the Samaritan’s word was confirmed by the Apostle John, who stated: “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the world’s Savior.” He focuses on the word “world” and says that all people, in general, are to be understood as part of the world in these passages. For there is, in my judgment, says Arminius, no passage in the whole Bible in which it can be proven beyond controversy that the word “world” signifies only the Elect. Again, the Anointed One is said to have died for all. Paul explains that He is said to be “The Savior of all people, especially those who believe.” 
John Bunyan (1628-1688) writes concerning the individual who comes to the Anointed One and their advantages. Those who come to the Anointed One are nearer to Him than those still choosing to go to Him; They are like the prodigal son, “And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming.” Now the one nearest to God can see Him clearly. It helps them make the best judgment of His amazing grace and beauty; as God said, “Let them approach; then let them speak.” And as the Apostle John says, “And we have seen and testify that the Father sent His Son to be the world’s Savior.” Those who have not decided to come to the Anointed One, though He is coming back, is not fit, (incapable of judging the worth and glory of the Anointed One’s grace), as those who have come to Him, and have seen and observed it. Therefore, sinner, suspend your decision-making until you decide to draw nearer to God. 
William Burkitt (1650-1703) says it’s as if the Apostle John said, although no one has ever seen God with their physical eyes at any time, yet, the apostles, who preach the doctrine of faith and the duty of love, have seen Him with their natural eyes through the Lord Jesus the Anointed One, and do testify, that God the Father glorified His agápē, by sending His Son to be the Savior of a perishing world; not of Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.
And John further declared, says Burkitt, that whoever believes the apostle John’s testimony will confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that this Jesus, whom we preach, is the Son of God and will evidence the truth of his faith by the sincerity of His agápē. God dwells in them by His Spirit, and they abide in God by repeated acts of love. We apostles, says John, know well and firmly believe the love, the incredible great love, which God manifested towards us, in and through His Son Jesus the Anointed One; we again affirm and conclude that God is love.
 1 John 4:14 & John 4:42
 Ibid. 16:28
 Œcumenius: Commentary on 1 John, loc. cit.
 Calvin, John: Commentary on the Catholic Epistles, op. cit., loc. cit.
 Brown, John of Haddington: Self-Interpreting Bible, op. cit., p. 1328
 1 John 1:1
 Jelf, William E., First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 63
 Philippians 4:4
 Kelly, William: Lectures on the Catholic Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 327
 John 4:42
 1 John 4:14
 See Hebrews 2:9
 1 Timothy 4:10
 Arminius, James, op. cit., An Examination of the Treatise of William Perkins (1558-1602), p. 312
 Luke 15:20
 Isaiah 41:1 – Complete Jewish Bible
 1 John 4:14
 Reminds me of the song the ship’s string ensemble on the Titanic, as it sank. “Nearer to Thee; E’en though it be a cross that raises me, still all my song shall be Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee.”
 Bunyan, John: Practical Works, Vol. 2, Come and Welcome to Jesus the Anointed One, pp. 153-154
 Burkitt, William: Notes on N.T., op. cit., p. 432