By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XCII) 06/01/22

4:14 Furthermore, we have seen with our eyes and now tell the world that God sent His Son to be their Savior.

John James Lias (1834-1923) notes that in verse fourteen, we read  “God sent,” in the Authorized Version, (KJV) which is better translated, “God has sent” in the Revised Standard Version. It is the mission of God’s Son. Also, it is not just an historical event, but an ongoing fact. It is necessary that the manifestation of “God as Love” continues.” The two sides of the truth are presented to us. In verse ten, we have the Divine Nature of the Son brought into prominence here in verse fourteen – His Sonship. In these verses, we have an explanation of verses eleven and twelve. Even though any immediate comprehension is missing, God’s presence in the heart is proven by the intermediate agency of His Spirit within us and in the world. [1]

But Lias has more to say. Christians do not merely believe; they know. Unbelievers may tell us it’s only our opinion and that one view is as likely to be accurate as another. They ask for evidence, argument, and logical proof of Christianity’s truth. And they have a right to demand this within certain limits. Humans are reasonable beings, and their faith must be valid. But reason must stay within its sphere. It is finite; God is infinite. Logic can apply to principles already ascertained and conclude from facts already discovered. However, why things are and how they are, in their origin, is beyond its place and power. Logic knows that they are and can, within certain limits, tell what it means to be a Christian, why they are different now, and what they will become. Human reasoning knows, for instance, specific natural laws, such as motion, gravitation, chemical change, and life. It knows their effect, but not their divine origin, their duration, nor can it penetrate beyond a certain distance in its attempts to define them. If logic is powerless in the affairs of the visible world, it is no wonder it fails to penetrate the secrets of the spiritual world?[2]

Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1922) gives us the origin of the term “world’s Savior.” He notes that we should compare the exact phrase in John 4:42 and 3:17. God’s Son as “Savior” only occurs here and in John’s Gospel.[3] Elsewhere it is applied both to God the Father[4] and the Anointed One.[5] The title can also be found in Paul’s Epistles of the Captivity[6] and the Pastoral Epistles, but not in Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, or Thessalonians.[7]

In classical Greek writings, they applied this term to many deities, especially Zeus (Jupiter); also, Hermes (Mercury), Apollo, Hercules, and even female gods, such as Fortune and Aphrodite (Venus). “Zeus Sōtēr (“Zeus Savior”) was used as a formula for drinking at banquets. The third cup was dedicated to Zeus. Greek Philosopher Plato wrote that Socrates once offered this toast at a banquet: Then let us sum up and reassert what has been said, thus offering the third libation to the savior Zeus.”[8] The drinking of this cup was a symbol of good fortune, and the third time came to mean the lucky time. “Well then, that makes two in a row, and twice the just man has been victorious over the unjust one. Now the third, in Olympic fashion, to the savior and the Olympian Zeus.”[9] This gave rise to the proverb, “the third to the savior,”[10] namely, the third or lucky time. Savior was also given later to princes or public benefactors.

The kindred noun “salvation” does not occur in John’s Epistles and appears only once in his Gospel.[11] It is found three times in Revelation.[12] The verb “save” occurs six times in John’s Gospel[13] and once in Revelation.[14] It does not appear in the Epistles. This information will surely help us better understand why the Apostles used the word “Savior” or “salvation” in connection with Jesus, says Vincent. However, it did not make a big impression among the Gentiles.

George G. Findlay (1849-1919) says that all Apostle John’s arguments lead to one conclusion; his appeals have one intent: “Beloved, let us love one another.” Heaven and earth, nature and grace, the old times and the new, resonate in our ears with one strain: “Little children, love one another!” This is the substance of the Epistle and forms the message of the aged Apostle’s ministry. Twice he has broadened the command of love – first, urging it to become the law of true life for a believer, [15] and second, recognizing it as the sign of a new birth from God.[16]

Therefore, notes Findlay, now John must anchor these positions by showing that Love is of the essence of God. The pure affection glowing in human hearts comes from the bosom of the Father; the spark of brotherly love cherished under the chills and obstructions of earthly fellowship has been kindled from the fires that burn everlastingly in the being of the All-holy. The solidarity of love – our love with that indwelling of the infinite God, all love centering in one Divine communion and commonwealth: this thought possesses John’s mind for the rest of chapter four. He holds it up like a jewel to the sun; each turn of expression, like another facet, flashes out some new ray of heavenly light.[17]

Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951) tells us that the Apostle John sums it all up in verse fourteen. “We (the apostolic company) have seen (they who were witnesses who knew the Anointed One personally), and do testify (bear witness) that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” Notice, again, “The Father sent the Son” – the relationship of Father and Son did not begin after His birth into the world. God the Father and the Son have eternally dwelt together. The Anointed One is God’s preexisting Son. He did not become the Son after He was ordained by the Father to be the world’s Savior. It does not imply that everyone will be saved, but that God has provided a Savior for all who desire to be redeemed. So, the personal relationship between God and mankind today is not merely the details about our sins, sinful tendencies, or commission of sins; the unsettled question between humanity and God is this: “What are we doing with God’s gift, the Lord Jesus the Anointed One?”[18]

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) discusses the various views on the word “Savior” concerning Jesus the Anointed One. That, in its essence, is what the Final Covenant would teach us concerning the Lord Jesus as the Savior of our souls. You can see that He is not a helper or an assistant. He is not merely the One who encourages us; He is not only an example to follow. It’s hard to accept such thinking. He is so glorious, holy, and divine that it makes no sense. And thank God we are not commanded to do so in such a demeaning way. Primarily, this is the message: He is the Savior; He fulfilled the law, satisfied its demands, and offered to share His righteousness with us. He is “working so powerfully in us,”[19] as the Apostle Paul puts it, to deliver me from my sinful tendencies in all its aspects. Eventually, He will take us by the hand and present us to His Father, who will welcome us into His everlasting glory.[20]

F. F. Bruce (1910-1990) Not only is God’s agápē poured into His children’s hearts through the Holy Spirit, but an appreciation for God’s truth was imparted to them by the same Spirit. The Spirit of love is the Spirit of truth. The Spirit persuades and enables us to believe in Jesus as God’s Son; He communicates to us the new life which is ours as members of God’s regenerate family; it is through Him that we remain in union with the ever-living the Anointed One and He with us; it is through His inward witness that we receive the power to bear our witness. Thus, our Lord’s promise in the upper room is fulfilled: “When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes – the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father – He will confirm everything about Me. You, too, from your side, must give your confirming evidence since you are in this with Me from the start.”[21] [22]

David E. Hiebert (1928-1995) points out what few translations, among them, Young’s Literal Translation, show that in the Greek text, the article “the” is missing before the word “Savior.” “The Father sent the Son – Savior of the world.” Hiebert says that the perfect tense “has sent” denotes the significance of sending His Son “to be the world’s Savior.” Thus, “Savior” describes what He is, not merely His mission. The salvation He wrought is inseparably connected with His Person as God’s unique Son. “The world,” steeped in sin and corruption, needs a Savior. He is our Savior, not of Jews only, but the entire world.[23]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) points out that the term “savior” occurs only here in the letters of the Apostle John. It is also used once only in the Fourth Gospel, [24] in a parallel phrase which includes the definite article “the Savior of the world. ”[25] In the classical Greek world, the title “savior” was applied both to the gods and humans. In the Roman imperial cult, the tendency to incorporate the theme of saviorhood into the designation of Hellenistic rulers found its most potent expression. Starting with Caesar Augustus, it was eventually known as “the savior of the (inhabited) world.”[26] It is possible, says Smalley, that the Christian description of Jesus as “Savior” may have developed in opposition to this usage and as a way of establishing the claim that Jesus transcended all the gods of the pagan world.[27]

[1] Lias, John James: The First Epistle of St. John with Exposition, op. cit., pp.325-326

[2] Ibid. With Homiletical Treatment, op. cit., pp. 324-325

[3] John 4:42

[4] 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:3; Titus 2:10; 3:4; Jude 1:25

[5] Luke 2:11; Acts of the Apostles 5:31; 13:23; 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4

[6] Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20

[7] Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. II, op. cit., pp. 358-359

[8] The Dialogues of Plato, Trans. B. Jowett, p. 1195

[9] The Republic of Plato, ⁋583b

[10] The Mysteries of Adoni by S. F. Dunlap, Williams and Norgate, London, 1841, To Triton (the Third) to the Savior! Philebus by Plato, 66, p. 81

[11] John 4:22

[12] Revelation 7:10; 12:10; 19:1

[13] John 3:17; 5:34; 10:9; 11:12; 12:27, 47

[14] Revelation 21:24

[15] 1 John 2:7-11

[16] Ibid. 3:10-18

[17] Findlay, George G., An Exposition of the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., Chap. XX, p. 327

[18] Ironside, Harry A., The Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., pp. 157-158

[19] Colossians 1:29

[20] Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Life in the Anointed One, op. cit., p. 506

[21] John 15:26-27 – The Message

[22] Bruce, F. F., The Epistles of John: A Verse-by-Verse Exposition. Kingsley Books, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[23] Hiebert, David E., Bibliotheca Sacra, op. cit., January-March, p. pp. 80-81

[24] John 4:42

[25] Cf. John 3:17; 12:47

[26] See Odes of Horace, Bk. 4, XV

[27] Smalley, Stephen S., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., p. 252

About drbob76

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