By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XCIV) 06/03/22

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

Ben Witherington III (1951) points out that here is one of the rare places where it is clear that the Apostle John knows and approves of sharing this witness with the world. In Johannine theology, God has not limited the scope of who may be redeemed, [1] as John proves in his Gospel.[2] Instead, God desires that everyone come to salvation. So, He sent a Savior, not just for Jews or even the elect among the nations. Here we may see a counterclaim to Cæsar Augusts’ followers that he was the world’s rescuer and benefactor. The Greeks used the term soter (“savior”) for many pagan deities, including Zeus, Asclepius, Isis, and Serapis.[3]

Bruce G. Schuchard (1958) begins with the words:

             “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

                      Hail the incarnate deity.[4]

It is another way of saying that God the Father sent the Son in human flesh to be the world’s Savior. The Apostle John references not seeing God with human eyes; after all, “no one has ever seen God.[5] Instead, John references seeing what is genuinely veiled, what must be seen with something other than physical eyes. The contention between John and the secessionists likely would have been over “the Father sent His Son to be the world’s Savior.” The words of Jesus can supplement the correct sense clarified by the Apostle John, “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.”[6] That’s why the blessed are those who have been made to see what the eyes can in no way see, for theirs is the “sight of faith” brought by the Spirit.[7]

Ken Johnson (1965) says that to have a real relationship with God, a person must have the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is made evident by testifying that Jesus, the Son of God, is the world’s only qualified Savior.[8] Why is this important? Because it is a message that there are no other saviors, one need not trust in them or their words. And that includes people, places, things, and churches. You may find something that promises to let you work your way into Nirvana.[9] But don’t look for any streets of gold, no river of life, no gates of pearl, nor the presence of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Peter Pett (1966) states that we cannot abide in God if it means we must see Him. Indeed, no one has beheld God at any time. But His presence among us and His abiding in us is revealed in the agápē that flows from us to our fellow believers. Those surrounded and inhabited by the God who is agápē will become channels of that love, especially those who are also the same love channels. This agápē, which is the evidence that we have been born of God and know God, this oneness of heart with God’s faithful people, this agápē and those who are in the truth, will result in God’s agápē being perfected in us. As we love each other, we get to know God’s agápē better. For inherent within this is the response to the truth proclaimed by those who are truly God’s children.

For Duncan Heaster (1967), the Apostle John continues his narrative on the result of the gift of the Spirit John spoke of in verse thirteen. For it was the Comforter who would “testify” of the Lord, “and you also will testify.”[10] The power to witness comes from the strength of the Spirit we received. This way, timid individuals can somehow find the ability to be effective witnesses.  God can also arrange circumstances whereby the most reserved of us encounter others searching for the truth about the Anointed One, so we can share with them. John and his fellow apostles testified of what they saw in Jesus’ preaching, of which the Gospel of John is a transcript.[11] John sees himself as following the example of the Gentile Samaritan woman, who “testified” that the Lord was the Savior of the world.[12] [13]

Peter Legge (1969) notes that John then tells us the second way this love is demonstrated in the apostolic message of the cross. “We,” the apostles, “have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the world’s Savior.” We must show practical love as Christians, and it’s a great thing, and it’s a significant lack in the church today – but if you want to love someone, you need to give them the Gospel, you need to preach to them the cross. Dr. Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), whom I knew in Switzerland, said, “We must never forget that the final apologetic which Jesus gives is the observable love of true Christians for true Christians.”[14] – it is the most excellent argument for people to believe in God and have their souls saved. That argument doubles when they not only see the love of the Anointed One dying for them on the cross, but they see that same love in your life as you love them.[15]

4:15     So anyone who says, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God,” is a person who lives in God, and God lives in that person.


In other words, believers do not need to come up with some physical evidence that God lives in them through the Holy Spirit; all they are required to have is their acknowledgment of faith.  But this cannot be merely words recited from a prayer book or said as part of a sinner’s prayer; it must be founded on their relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior through conversion and the new birth.

Admission is one condition for having the Anointed One abiding in us. The basic idea of conceding the presence of sin is telling God what He already knows, but He wants to hear it from us. The Greek verb for “confess” is the compound homo-logeō which combines “same” and “speak.”  That means we agree to make a compact with God about His Son based on what God said. Disclosure can also be a synonym for faith.  Affirming that Jesus is “the Son of God” means that we acknowledge He is God.  The Greek aorist tense in homo-logeō means that this person comes to a decisive moment when they recognize Him as the Son of God.  Conceding the Anointed One’s deity implies surrendering to His character and authority. 

There is a connection between confession in verse two and here in verse fifteen. Verse two has to do with the genuine humanity of the Anointed One.  Such a proclamation differentiates true believers from pretending believers. Here in verse two, it has to do with agreeing that He is the Son of God.  Homo-logeō serves to distinguish between those who talk about love and those who never show it.  In each case, the Holy Spirit produces the profession of belief. Those who meet the condition for abiding, and God in them. That one condition reveals personal trust in God’s Son and His finished work on the cross. God only lives inside born-again people; He does not fellowship with those without the Anointed One. God exclusively fellowships with God’s elect.

Rev. Benjamin Charles Caffin (1826-1894), Vicar of Northallerton, England, says that the KJV rendering “Whosoever confesseth.” seems preferable to “whosoever shall confess” or “shall have confessed.” The exact meaning is, “Whosoever has once and for all taken up the position of confessing.” Verse fourteen gives the ease of the apostles and those who accepted their witness. In verse fifteen, we have that of both together.[16]

Therefore, confession is one condition for abiding. The basic idea of confession is an agreement to say the same thing.  “Confess” comprises two Greek words: to say and concur. Therefore, we agree or make a compact with God about His Son. Confession is also a synonymous term with faith.  The confession that Jesus is “the Son of God” means acknowledging that He is God.  The Greek tense in “confess” means that this person comes to a decisive moment when they recognize Him as the Son of God.  Confession of the deity of the Anointed One implies surrendering to His character and authority.

There is a connection between confession in verse two and verse fifteen.  Confession in verse two has to do with the genuine humanity of the Anointed One, distinguishing true believers from the fakers. In verse fifteen, confession has to do with acknowledging His deity, that He is God’s Son. It differentiates between those who give evidence of love and those who do not. In each case, the Holy Spirit produces the confession. Confession is more than a proclamation of doctrine; it is proof of a life united with God.

As a result, there is a correlation between what we say and do. Many people confess to knowing the Anointed One but have never trusted Him as their personal Savior.[17] Therefore, the confession implies that the Anointed One is God’s Son and sovereign Lord over our lives. He is God Almighty to us. He imparts His life to us, called eternal life. The nature of that life changes the individual. God abides in the believer and changes their perspective on love. Love finds its source in faith in the Son of God. God’s agápe does not see others as obstacles, but as people worthy of His attention. God’s proof of this is Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross for our sins. True love shows itself in concrete action.  

Those who meet the condition for abiding in God will have God dwelling in them. The one prerequisite is the confession of personal trust in the Son of God and His finished work on the cross. We need to remind ourselves that we are children of the King. We have rights and privileges with God. We hold the same position as Jesus holds with the Father.[18] Since God abides in the believer, the believer is never alone. This is great encouragement in times of sorrow.  He never forgets us nor forsakes us.[19]

[1] Cf. Titus 1:3-4

[2] John 3:16-17

[3] Witherington III, Ben: Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: op. cit., loc. cit., : (Kindle Locations 7237-7242)

[4] Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, by Charles Wesley (1739), Stanza 2

[5] 1 John 4:12

[6] John 20:29

[7] Schuchard, Bruce G., Concordia Commentary, op. cit., p. 481

[8] Johnson, Ken. Ancient Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., pp. 78-79

[9] In Buddhism, Nirvana is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.

[10] John 15:26,27; 1 John 5:6

[11] John 3:11; 19:25; 21:24; Revelation 1:2

[12] John 4:29

[13] Heaster, Duncan: New European Commentary, op. cit., p. 33

[14] Schaeffer, Francis: The Mark of the Christian, (1970 L’Abri Fellowship); Reprinted by IVP Books, Downers Grove, Illinois, p. 29

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

[16] Caffin, B. C., The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, op. cit., p. 104

[17] Romans 10:8-11

[18] Ephesians 1:6; Romans 8:1

[19] Hebrews 13:5; cf. Deuteronomy 31:6

About drbob76

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