NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XCV) 06/06/22
4:15 Anyone who believes and says that Jesus is God’s Son has God living in them, and they are living in God.
Early Church scholar Tertullian (155-220 AD) pointed out to Praxeas (213 AD), a priest from Asia Minor, that the Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity constitutes the most significant difference between Judaism and Christianity. But, this doctrine of yours, says Tertullian, resembles the Jewish faith to believe in One God and refuse to recognize His Son, and after the Son, the Spirit. What difference would there be between Jews and Christians without this distinction you are trying to demolish? What need would there be of the Gospel, which is the core of the Final Covenant, laying down that the Law and the Prophets lasted until John the Baptizer, if then the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not both believed in as the only three-in-one God?
God was pleased to renew His covenant with humanity, argues Tertullian so that we could believe in His unity, utilizing the Son and the Spirit, so that God might now be known openly, who was not plainly understood in ancient times, though declared through the Son and the Spirit. Away, then, with those “Antichrists who deny the Father and the Son.” They reject the Father when they say that He is the same as the Son and negate the Son when they suppose Him to be the same as the Father by assigning ministries to them that are not theirs and taking away their roles. But “whoever confesses that (Jesus) the Anointed One is the Son of God” (not the Father), “God dwells in them, and they in God.” “Those that do not have the Son have no spiritual life.” So, the person who does not accept Jesus as God’s Son believes Him to be someone other than God’s Son.
Early Christian writer Lactantius (250-325 AD) also addresses this issue. He says that if God has rejected the Jews, and the Gentiles were grafted in and freed from the darkness of this present life and the chains of demons, it follows that no other hope is available to mankind if they do not follow the true faith and divine wisdom, which is in the Anointed One. Those ignorant of Him are forever estranged from God and the truth. Therefore, do not let the Jews, or philosophers, flatter themselves with their respect of the Supreme God. They who do not acknowledge the Son have been unable to accept the existence of the Father. This is wisdom, and this is the mystery of the Supreme God. Therefore, God willed that the Anointed One should be recognized and worshipped. On this account, God sent the prophets to announce His Son’s coming so that when the things prophesied were fulfilled in Him, then He might be believed to be both the Son of God and God.
Early Church scholar Didymus the Blind (313-398 AD) gives this advice to believers who may have come into contact with the Gnostics of his day: You need to understand, God will not dwell in anyone who does not obey His commandments, no matter how much they may confess Him with their lips. Some people are confused by the various names of Jesus because they do not interpret the Scriptures correctly. They think that because He came out of the womb of Mary according to the flesh and was given the name Jesus at that time, He is not to be identified as the eternal Son of God, who did not think it robbery to be considered equal with God. Therefore, they restrict themselves to the physical form the Word of God assumed, even though being the Word was never changed into humanity. To confess the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, is to acknowledge Him as God and man.
Later in the medieval period, we see that this was still a concern. Christian scholar Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD) writes: “John says that the perfect confession of the heart is one which the wicked persuasion of the heretics cannot corrupt. It cannot be overcome by the tortures inflicted by pagans in persecution or slacken under the pressure of the example of worldly brothers or the weakness of our frailty.” While we do not have people openly declaring on non-Christian TV shows today that Jesus was the true Son of the Living God, it is still alive in books, magazines, and various gatherings, even some on campuses of what used to be Christian universities. Therefore, John’s teaching on this subject is just as relevant now as when he wrote it.
John Calvin (1509-1564) notes that the Apostle John repeats the truth (whosoever shall confess), will be united with God by the Anointed One, and cannot be connected with the Anointed One unless God abides in us. Unfortunately, the terms faith and confession are used indiscriminately in the same sense. Too often, hypocrites boast of faith, yet the Apostle here clarifies that it takes more than an ordinary confession. Confession must be genuinely motivated by a believing heart. Besides, when he says that Jesus is the Son of God, he includes the sum and substance of faith, for there is nothing necessary for salvation that faith cannot find in the Anointed One.
Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) says that we should note that what John said in his Gospel and the Apostle Paul in his epistle is that this hearty confession must be accompanied by a readiness to believe all that this Son of God taught us in His Father’s name, for if He tells the truth, why do we not accept Him? So also, we must have a real reason to obey His commandments. Otherwise, why call Him Lord, Lord, and don’t do what He told us to do? 
Thomas Pyle (1674-1756) contends that, by the extraordinary and miraculous powers of God’s Holy Spirit, we are qualified to demonstrate and prove beyond all doubt the truth of those facts of which the Apostles were eye-witnesses. Therefore, Jesus is the true Messiah, the very Son of God, the Word, the Anointed One, who was with the Father and sent into the world for the redemption of mankind, by his death and sufferings. This is a doctrine that every Christian must embrace. Anyone who denies it deserves not that character, nor is entitled to any privileges of God’s true church.
James Macknight (1721-1800) says that some commentators understand that confessing Jesus is the Son of God is an outward profession of faith in the Gospel. But, notwithstanding that profession of one’s faith in the apostolic age, John was exposed to persecution. No doubt, very few would think that such a person had God living in them and they in God. The expression “God abides in him, and he in God” often occurs in this epistle and must be understood differently according to the individuals they are applied to. If directed at teachers, as in verses thirteen and fifteen in this chapter, and verses twenty-seven and twenty-eight in chapter two, their meaning is that these teachers are faithful to God in teaching the true doctrines of the Gospel and are assisted and beloved by God. But if spoken of persons, as in verses five and six, they mean one’s abiding in the belief of those doctrines, practicing the precepts of the Gospel, and enjoying God’s agápē.
John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787) tells us that even though God did all of this for us through His Son, that unless we, during these difficult times on the principle of faith and love, boldly confess that Jesus the Anointed One is the only begotten Son of God the Father, and the only qualified Savior of lost and dying sinners, can we thereby prove that God lives in us through His Spirit and has led them to their understanding of the Anointed One. Therefore, they dwell in God by faith and love through His Son, the great Mediator.
English Vicar James Slade (1783-1860), generally remembered as Canon Slade, says that confessing Jesus as the Son of God implies the following: (1) A deep and living conviction, an accurate perception of mind and heart, that Jesus the Anointed One is the only Savior for lost humanity. (2) A vital belief in His salvation, in the effectiveness of His blood, and the power of His grace. (3) A hearty and complete acceptance of the Gospel of God’s Son; resting securely in all the doctrines, waiting for all the promises, observing all the ordinances, and obedience to all the commandments. (4) Proclaiming of the Lord as our Divine Redeemer in the face of the whole world.
William Lincoln (1825-1888) exclaims, “It is a dreadful accountability to reject the Gospel.” If a person hears the Gospel and turns a deaf ear to it, it is not they are merely a fallen creature; for God made a provision for them as such; the agápē of Jesus has come down so low that even for the vilest sinner there is mercy if they accept salvation. The ground of condemnation in the Final Covenant, why people are self-condemned, is not that they have done one or the other; for all sin, there is a provision, but there is no answer for rejecting the Lord Jesus the Anointed One. So, “It is not the sin-question, but the Son-question,” between God and the world, and according to whether you receive Him, you have condemnation or salvation. As the Apostle John says here in verse fifteen, “All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.”
 1 John 4:15
 Ibid. 5:12
 Tertullian Against Praxes: Ch. XXXI, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, p. 1097
 John 14:6, 13; 5:23
 Lactantius: Epitome of the Divine Institutes, Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, Philip Schaff, Ch. 49, p. 366
 Philippians 2:6
 Didymus the Blind: (Bray Ed.), James, 1-2 Peer, 1-3 John, Jude, op. cit., loc. cit.
 Bede the Venerable, Ancient Christian Commentary, Vol. XI, Bray, G. (Ed.), James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John
 Calvin, John: Commentary on the Catholic Epistles, op. cit., loc. cit.
 John 1:12
 Galatians 4:6
 See John 8:46
 Luke 6:46
 Whitby, Daniel, op. cit., p. 467
 Pyle, Thomas: Paraphrase, op. cit., p. 397
 See Romans 10:10
 See 3:6, 24; 4:16
 Macknight, James: Literal Paraphrase, op. cit., p. 94
 Brown, John of Haddington: Self-Interpreting Bible, op. cit., p. 1328
 1 John 2:2
 Slade, James: Biblical Illustrator, op. cit., Vol. 22, pp. 99-100
 Lincoln, William: Lectures on 1 John, op. cit., Lecture VII, pp. 120-121