By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XCVII) 06/08/22

4:15 Anyone who believes and says that Jesus is God’s Son has God living in them, and they in Him.

Amos N. Wilder (1895-1993) says that another proof to the Christian that God abides in them, and they in God, is the confession they make. The required insight can come only from God. To recognize the Father and His working certifies true sonship. But this proof is closely related to the witness of the Spirit.[1] For it is by God’s Spirit that we testify that the Father sent His Son and anyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son.[2] To such a witness, John has in mind, “This is what God told us: He told us the truth about His Son.[3] [4]

Paul Waitman Hoon (1910-2000) takes what the Apostle John says here as a way to make sure his readers understand that abiding in God and His dwelling in them is an important testimony that you live a good Christian life. However, this inward witness of the Spirit must be complemented by the outward witness of fellowshipping with other believers. But, while one’s Christian assurance can be verified by the traditions and heritage of the Church, a problem arises when those traditions are raised above what the Scriptures say. Therefore, every believer must apply, define, and confess their beliefs.[5] Not based on Creeds, Catechisms, or Articles of Faith, but on “Thus says the Lord.”

Rudolf Schnackenburg (1914-2002) states that faith in Jesus is the necessary assumption for belief in God’s agápē for us. This leads the Apostle John to raise a point we would have expected him to bring up in verses one to six, says Schnackenburg. While faith and love are conditions and hallmarks of our fellowship with God, they are inseparable. The confession “Jesus is the Son of God” calls our attention back to verse fourteen, where the words “God sent His Son” show how the title Son of God has both personal and Messiah implications for the mission of our Lord. In Jesus, we perceive One who is the Son of the Father in a relationship sense.[6] The only-begotten One was sent into the world by His Father to enable men and women to participate in the divine life of Father and Son.[7] In a formal sense, John repeats this confession.[8] But it is also related to the person, nature, and role of the Anointed One.[9] Knowing this adds additional weight and meaning to John’s words, “Anyone who says, ‘I believe that Jesus is the Son of God,’ is a person who lives in God, and God lives in them.”[10]

Once more, John R. W. Stott (1921-2011) examines two verses as one. What the Apostle John said in verse fourteen that we have seen, he now says we must believe what we’ve seen in verse fifteen. It is all about gaining confidence for the future, especially on Judgment Day. This confidence does not result so much in knowledge as it does in freedom of speech. They will not grow bolder in telling others about Jesus but gain confidence to speak the truth on Judgment Day. However, a Christian’s faith does not belong just to the future, the Second Coming, [11] or Judgment Day, [12] but to the here and now.

It describes both the manner of our approach to God as free and bold[13] and our expectation of its outcome, namely “that … He hears us.”[14] The qualification, however, is “if we ask anything according to His will.”[15] To put this all in a nutshell, if we just sit around and do not become involved in sharing God’s Good News and manifest it by the way we live, then when we are summoned before the Judgment Seat, it will finally hit us that we will have nothing to say. However, if we both talk and walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we can march into the heavenly courtroom and be happy to answer whatever questions God has for us.[16]

David E. Hiebert (1928-1995) notes that the Apostle John says that God’s agápē is established between Himself and mankind through mutual fellowship. God’s agápē is further confirmed in the experience of believers. Verse fifteen indicates how people enter into fellowship with God. The conditional statement, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,” indicates how God’s redemptive purpose in sending the Anointed One becomes operative in human lives. The scope of the conditional statement, “Whoever confesses,” literally, “the one who may confess,” is restricted only by the individual’s willingness to make the indicated confession. The aorist verb “confesses” denotes a specific and public admission born of an inner persuasion. The verb, which means “to say the same thing,” shows a personal acceptance that the reality being testified to is the same thing the Holy Spirit says to them.[17]

Simon J. Kistemaker (1930-2017) says that when we look at this phrase from a biblical point of view, we soon realize that John causes us to look at theological truth. The word Jesus embodies the entire history of Jesus, from His birth to His ascension and seated at the right hand of God. The term God has its roots in the First Covenant prophecies that were fulfilled when Jesus came.[18] The confession “Jesus is the Son of God” gives voice to His humanity and divinity. It excludes everyone who denies that Jesus is God’s Son[19] as one who has no fellowship with God.[20]

My dear wife, who is a naturalized citizen, told me of the pledge of allegiance she said with her right hand raised: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.” In the same way, the Apostle John is saying that to become a naturalized citizen of God’s Kingdom, you must vow that you believe Jesus the Anointed One is His Son.

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) notices how the description of Jesus as “the world’s Savior” in verse fourteen is now interpreted as the Apostle John shows how that salvation becomes effective in the Church and the believer: acknowledgment of the divine sonship of Jesus leads to the mutual indwelling of God and His people. The fact that John returns to this subject seems to be in line with the orthodox “confession” given in verses two and three. But, again, this may be driven by John still having in mind the need to resist the heretical members of his community, who, even though they’ve left, their teachings are still causing trouble in the minds of some believers.[21] That’s why when a pastor becomes aware that some new trending gospel or interpretation has caught the attention of his parishioners, not to let it colonize and produce trouble among the membership. Instead, neutralize it with the serum of the Gospel, and wipe it out.

Muncia Walls (1937) notes that the Apostle John is not saying here in this verse that all one needs to know is that the Anointed One dwells in them to make a confession that Jesus is the Son of God. There is more to salvation than just mere lip service. It reminds us of another verse often quoted by those who want to think that all that is needed to be redeemed is some kind of oral declaration of accepting Jesus as Savior, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[22] Like the one here in verse fifteen, this verse, if taken out of its context, can be made to appear to say that all one needs to be saved is make a public declaration that Jesus is Lord. But neither verse should be taken out of context and interpreted independently of the other.[23]

This testimony is taken out of the prophet Joel’s assurance that when God’s people are assaulted by an enemy[24] – whom John likens to a locust, those who go to God in earnest prayer will be delivered. On the contrary, it was brought forward by the Apostle Paul to prove the truth of what he just suggested, that all that call upon the name of the Lord Jesus the Anointed One will find Him rich and plenteous in mercy and ready to dispense His grace and salvation to them: as many as will call on Him, whether Jews or Gentiles; not with temporary salvation only, but with a spiritual and eternal one; for the words of the prophet refer to Gospel times, as the context shows, and is cited and applied by the Apostle Peter.[25]Besides, the deliverance and salvation Joel speaks of is of a “remnant whom the Lord shall call;” and designs the remnant according to the election of grace, whether among Jews or Gentiles, whom God calls by His effectual grace; between which call and eternal glory, there is a certain and inseparable connection.

William Loader (1944) says the Apostle John has spelled out the basis of assurance in the preceding verses. He now returns to the centrality of love as the manifestation of God’s being and activity and as evidence of our being in a right relationship with Him: God is love; they who dwell in love are dwelling in God, and God in them. No doubt John is looking back at where he wrote, “God lives in us, and His agápē is made complete in us.”[26] This indwelling finds its realization not simply in private devotions; but its life is in community. The Apostle bases this fact on what he said earlier, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.”[27] [28] As a child of God, you may want to affect your community positively; the best way to begin and end is with God’s agápē.

[1] See 1 John 4:13

[2] Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3

[3] 1 John 5:9

[4] Wilder, Amos N., The Interpreter’s Bible, op. cit., 1 John, Exposition, p. 283

[5] Hoon, Paul W., The Interpreter’s Bible, op. cit., 1 John, Exegesis, p. 283

[6] Cf. 1 John 4:10 and 4:14

[7] Ibid. 4:9

[8] Ibid. 5:5

[9] Ibid. 2:22; cf. 2:23; 5:1

[10] Schnackenburg, Rudolf: The Johannine Epistles, op. cit., pp. 220-221

[11] 1 John 2:28

[12] Ibid. 4:17

[13] Ibid. 3:21

[14] Ibid. 5:14

[15] Ibid. 3:22

[16] Stott, John. The Letters of John (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), op. cit., pp. 184-185

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

[18] Cf. Hebrews 1:5

[19] 1 John 2:23; 5:10, 12

[20] Kistemaker, Simon J., New Testament Commentary, op. cit., p. 337

[21] Smalley, Stephen S., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., p. 253

[22] Romans 10:13

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

[24] Joel 2:32

[25] See Acts of the Apostles 2:16-21

[26] 1 John 4:12

[27] Ibid. 4:7

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

About drbob76

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