By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XCIII) 06/02/22

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

Zane C. Hodges (1932-2008) says that the Apostle John now reaches a pivotal point in his argument. He had just written that “if we love each other,” then the God whom no one has seen abides “in us, and His agápē is made complete in us.” This experience shows that we have seen and testified that the Father sent His Son to be the world’s Savior. Since the first-person plural “we” in verses seven to thirteen is meant to include the readers, the “we” here in verse fourteen also embraces them. The indwelling God, whose presence is manifested in a loving Christian community, thus becomes, in a sense, visible to faith’s eye. Though no one “has seen” (“beheld”) God, [1] believers who abide in Him[2]see” (“behold”) the Son as He reveals Himself among loving Christians. Believers who behold this manifestation have, in fact, “seen” and can “testify” to the fundamental truth that “the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.” This great truth can be displayed through the instrumentality of Christian love.[3]

John Painter’s (1935) thoughts bring to mind that what the Apostle John said in verse nine that God sent His only Son into the world “that we might live through Him,” is now completed here in verse fourteen that the Father sent His Son “to be the Savior of the world.” As this is the third and final use of the topic of the sending of the Son,[4] it may be helpful for John’s highlighting the three statements using the Greek verb apostellō (“sent”). The first and third in verses nine and fourteen use the perfect tense – meaning to be “complete” – while the second use in verse ten employs the aorist tense – meaning “action without beginning or end.”

While all three refer to the sending of the Son, notes Painter, the first and second refer to God as sender while the third refers to the Father. The first and second make God’s agápē the basis for sending of His Son. No cause is mentioned in the third instance. In verse nine, the purpose/consequence of sending the Son is “that we may live through Him.” His Son is sent “as the propitiation for our sins in verse ten.[5] Finally, in verse fourteen, the Son is sent “as the world’s Savior.”[6]

Muncia Walls (1937) affirms that the declaration that Jesus is the “Savior of the world” is a remarkable declaration to consider. Foremost, how many people are presently living in this world, yet this statement applies to everyone! The power of His blood is sufficient to cleanse the dirtiest sinner in the world![7] There is a lovely song we used to sing years ago that makes a similar statement:

               Though millions have found Him a friend
               And have turned from the sins they have sinned
               The Savior still waits to open the gates
               And welcome a sinner before it’s too late


               There’s room at the cross for you
               There’s room at the cross for you
               Though millions have come, there’s still room for one
               Yes, there’s room at the cross for you.[8]

Michael Eaton (1942-2017) hears the Apostle John say, “It is we apostles and those who believe our testimony, who have experience of God. No one knows the experience of God’s presence who does not accept our apostolic message.” John’s words summarize the message:

  • The Father and the Son were there before the time when Jesus came into the world (“the Father sent the Son”).
  • Jesus was the incarnation of the divine Son (“And we have seen… that the Father sent the Son”).
  • His mission in this world originated from God.
  • His work was a work of salvation (“With Him as the Savior”)
  • His work is available for all, not for a few elites (“the Savior of the World”)[9]

William Loader (1944) says that this statement about God’s sending the Son is formulated in traditional terms and has already appeared in earlier verses.[10] Likewise, Savior of the world was probably a well-established phrase. It was already present in the community’s Gospel.[11] Similar to the tradition mentioned earlier, [12] it is one of the few places in the epistle where the worldwide perspective is expressed. The initiative of God’s agápē was directed not to a particular group, but towards all people. The Apostle John wants to preserve this broader outlook.[13]

I remember attending an evangelism seminar in Amsterdam, Holland, where the main speaker was Dr. Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.[14] His vision was that if every one of us delegates were to go out and win two souls to the Lord, then those two people won two more and multiplied, again and again, it wouldn’t be long before the whole world would be followers of Jesus the Anointed One. That was in September 1971, and here over fifty years later, the world seems just as lost as ever. Was there anything wrong with Dr. Bright’s message? No! The only fallacy was in the expectations. Jesus made it clear that no one can come to Him except the Father draws them.[15] So, we may go out by the thousands, but unless we go in the Spirit and the Spirit does the convicting, our efforts will not fulfill our hopes and dreams.

David Jackman (1947) says that we should notice how the Apostle John compresses much of what we have already learned into one short sentence. He is determined to drive nails into the coffin of Gnosticism, again and again. The Father sent the preexistent Son into the world. He came to be its Savior by human death on the cross. These are the facts of the matter. The Spirit’s witness and the apostolic testimony belong together, for there can be no separation between the Spirit and the Word. The One who was the Word inspired its human authors by His Spirit. Now, the Anointed One uses His specially designed tool to bring us life and build us up in the faith. The justification for the Spirit’s work in our lives is seen in commitment to the revelation of God in the Scriptures.[16]

Robert W. Yarbrough (1948) indicates that the primary reference of “we” here in verse fourteen is an apostolic claim that few readers would have viewed Jesus in His earthly days. The unnecessary stated pronoun “we” may be slightly emphatic, marking a contrast between John and his readers. It is not to deny that John “includes the readers with himself.” Yet, writer and readers do not blend into a single indistinguishable voice. We may understand John’s language as excluding those shadowy opponents whose errors his epistle periodically addresses.

John not only “beheld,” says Yarbrough, referring back either to Jesus’s life as a whole or perhaps even to His crucifixion in particular when the divine love was manifest in a climactic way;[17] he also now “testifies.” This action is closely linked with the act of “seeing” or “beholding” that this may be, what Yarbrough calls a “hendiadys.”[18]Seeing is believing,” goes the old saying; for an appointed spokesperson like John.[19] For the apostles Peter and John, “to see is to testify.”[20] For John the Baptizer, “I have seen, and I testify.”[21]  And for Jesus, “we testify to what we have seen,”[22]He testifies to what He has seen.[23] [24] Colin G. Kruse (1950) points out that the concerns of the Apostle John’s First Epistle are different from those of his Gospel. The background of this letter was strife within the Christian community. The idea in the Gospel was to convince the world that Jesus of Nazareth was God’s Anointed One – the Messiah, who came as a Savior to redeem humanity from everlasting death and give them eternal life. The question here in the Epistle was whether Jesus needed to be recognized as Savior. In particular, it was whether belief in Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice for sin was necessary. Those who had seceded from the community denied that they had sinned[25] and argued that Jesus’ atoning death was unnecessary and did not occur.[26] Those who, with John, acknowledged their sins confessed the importance of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, which provided cleansing

[1] 1 John 4:12

[2] Ibid. 4:13

[3] Hodges, Zane C., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] See 1 John 4:9, 10, 14

[5] Cf. Ibid. 2:2

[6] Painter, John. Sacra Pagina: 1, 2, and 3 John: Vol. 18, loc. cit.

[7] Walls, Muncia: Epistles of John & Jude, op. cit., p. 76

[8] Written by Ira F. Stanfield (1914-1993) in 1946

[9] Eaton, Michael: Focus on the Bible, 1,2,3, John, op. cit., p. 157

[10] 1 John 4:9-10

[11] See John 4:42

[12] 1 John 2:2

[13] Loader, William: Epworth Commentary, op. cit., p. 55

[14] Campus Crusade for Christ was founded in 1951 at the University of California, Los Angeles

[15] John 6:44

[16] Jackman, David: The Message of John’s Letters, op. cit., p. 127

[17] 1 John 4:10

[18] Hendiadys is the expression of a single idea by two words connected with “and,” e.g., nice and warm. However, one could modify the other, as in nicely warm.

[19] Cf. John 15:27

[20] Cf Acts of the Apostles 4:20

[21] John 1:34

[22] Ibid. 3:11

[23] Ibid. 3:32

[24] Yarbrough, Robert W., 1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., p. 247

[25] Cf. 1 John 1:6 – 2:2

[26] Cf. Ibid. 5:6-8

About drbob76

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