By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson CX) 07/12/22

4:17                If God’s agápē is made perfect in us, we can be without fear on the day when God judges the world.  We will be without fear because we are like Jesus in this world.

Vincent says that the second term is our love. The KJV takes the Greek preposition meta (“with”) and the pronoun hēmōn (“us”), making it equivalent to “our.” In that case, it might mean the love between Christians or God and Christians. The Revised Version renders it “with us:” Love is made perfect “with us.” This is preferable. Finding a parallel to the expression “our love” in the Final Covenant would not be easy. The basic idea is that love is perfected through fellowship. God’s agápē is perfected with us, in communion, through our abiding in Him and He in us.[1]

And the third term is boldness. In other words, notes Vincent, we may have confidence.[2]  It is the opposite of being ashamed. It corresponds to what King Solomon said, “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.[3] The idea of free, open speech stands as the fundamental truth of coming before God’s judgment bar with nothing to hide.  The thought is embodied in the general confession of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer: “That we should not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our Heavenly Father but confess them.” Vincent sees this same thought expressed in an old hymn,[4]

Jesus, your blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in that great day;
Who can a word against me say?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame

Evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) agrees with other commentators that if a person really listens to the words of Jesus and believes with their heart in God who sent His Son to be the world’s Savior, and lays hold of and appropriates this great salvation, there is no fear of future judgment. They will not be looking forward with dread to the White Throne judgment.[6] If we believe, there is no condemnation, that is, sin’s penalty of eternal spiritual separation from God. That is behind us and long gone; we will have the confidence for everlasting life on Judgment Day.[7]

Eric Haupt (1841-1910) says that we should observe how passionately verse seventeen concurs and coincides with 3:1-4. There, the entire conformity to the Anointed One, which we saw in the idea of family, lays before us as the issue of judgment. However, in order to attain it, we must have achieved another kind of likeness or equality to Him – we must have become very much like Him. Then the following exposition showed that this purity consists of righteousness and love, which on their part depended on the infusion of the Divine Spirit. Comprehending all in one, we must abide in God and He in us. Now the Apostle John returns to the beginning: this fellowship with God and perfected love in us is the likeness to the Anointed One, necessary on judgment day. By virtue of this, we pass through the terrors of the judgment untouched and then press onward to higher things to the beautiful status of perfect equality with the Anointed One. If we have entered through the Day of Judgment into eternity, further development will not be found unpaid when it is revealed what we are.[8]

The Homilist was a Baptist Magazine by English clergymen. Published in (1852) and went on to produce forty volumes. There is no name attached to the author of the sermon, but he is describing spiritual attainment. He says there is no doubt that living as the Son of God is in this world is the only possible perfection and the only ground of “boldness in the day of judgment.” To begin with, the Apostle John’s words mention our attainment of affection for God. God wins our hearts by His agápē; we then love Him more and more.

Then, John expands on evidence of complete affection for God. In this asserted perfection of our love, there is a clear recognition of the supremacy of our agápē. That’s “because,” John says, we live like Jesus here in this world. This clause seems to belong to our being made perfect in love and our boldness on the day of judgment. First, the humility of the Anointed One is reproduced in His followers. Secondly, the endurance of the Anointed One characterizes a Christian. Think about Jesus. He patiently endured the angry insults that sinful people were shouting at Him. Think about Him so that you won’t get discouraged and stop trying.[9] Thirdly. Witnessing the truth of the Anointed One is seen in His disciples.[10]

John concludes this section by concentrating on the divine design in our evidenced attainment in the Anointed One-like love. That is, we now have “boldness.” etc. First: This is not (1) the boldness of evil;[11] it is not (2) the boldness of ignorance, nor (3) the boldness of self-sufficiency; neither (4) the boldness of iniquity; nor (5) the boldness of presumptionSecondly, (1) This is a holy boldness.[12] It is (2) The boldness of fearlessness. “Perfect love drives out fear.”[13] It also qualifies as (3) the boldness of approving conscience. “It is God that justifies.”[14] The Apostle Paul was bold in prison chains because the Divine Judge approved him.[15] Furthermore, it is (4) the boldness of perfect sympathy and unity with the Judge. “He that confesseth Me.”[16]

The American Bible Union (1854) sees the connection of thought, on which depends the translation and punctuation of verse seventeen, is this: “As the end of faith,”[17] and “the satisfaction of hope,”[18] so likewise the completion of Love, the divine element in which the Christian community lives, moves, and has its being.[19] It can only be found in a fearless, joyful meeting with that Savior at His coming, whom we love although we have not seen Him, and, in loving, are even now changed into the same image, this being the only evidence that we are His, and sure ground of our confidence. Therein we can see the perfecting of our mutual love, that we (or then is our love perfected, when we) can have confidence in the day of judgment,[20] where we walk in the world, as the Anointed One walked. Thus: “Love proceeds from God,” manifested in the mission of the Anointed One, taken up into the communion of the faithful, trained after the pattern of the Anointed One, has then reached its mark when, as confiding children to their father, we draw close to Him without any fear.[21]

Reuben A. Torrey (1856-1928) says that when the disciples were baptized with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, they were not only gifted with ministering power, but they entered into the experience of sonship. Then they knew as they could not have known before that through the heaven-descended Spirit, the children of God are forever united with the heaven-ascended, glorified Son of God. Since Jesus was born by the Spirit, so were they. He is not of the world as to origin and nature, and neither were they. He is loved of the Father, so were they, and with the same love was sanctified and sent into the world to bear witness to the truth, so likewise He sent them.

Furthermore, notes Torrey, as He received the Spirit as God’s seal of His Sonship, so were they sealed. He was anointed with power and wisdom to serve, so they received the unction from Him. As He began to minister, the Spirit confirmed the testimony of the Father, so they began to serve when the Spirit of the Son, the Witness, was sent into their hearts, saying Abba, Father. Then, after His service and suffering, He was received into glory, so will they obtain His glory when He comes again to receive them unto Himself. This is John’s message in verse seventeen, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So, we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can confidently face Him because we live like Jesus here in this world.”[22] [23]

Alonzo R. Cocke (1858-1901) says that this secure and exalted assurance is stated here in verse seventeen: “Because as He is, so are we in this world.” The ground of confidence is not the believer’s worthiness but God’s wondrous agápē, which places the believer in a position of oneness with the Anointed One. The Anointed One may be in heaven and we on earth, yet we stand in the same relationship to God as the Anointed One. Belonging to the Anointed One as a member of His body, we can no more be separated from God than the Anointed One, for in Him, we have become objects of the divine love and care. In the Anointed One’s relationship to God, we have our pledge.

Jesus wishes us to have everything that He possesses: “My peace I give to you,”[24]that you might have My joy fulfilled in you;”[25] we are “joint-heirs with the Anointed One.”[26] That’s why “In this world, we are like Jesus” are marvelous words! We have the same legal standing and acceptance as the Anointed One, and by the communication of the life in Him, we are brought into the same relationship with Him in God’s family. Moreover, the same infinite inheritance comes to us that comes to Him because we are in Him. What a vivid contrast between those who realize that God’s agápē has placed them in this safe, perfect place and those who do not and, consequently, have their hearts terrorized with fear.[27]

[1] Cf. Acts of the Apostles 25:4; 2 John 1:3

[2] See John 7:13; Acts of the Apostles 2:29; 1 John 3:21; 4:17; 5:14; Hebrews 3:6; 10:19; Philemon 1:8

[3] Proverbs 13:5; cf. Philippians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 3:12

[4] Vincent, Marvin R., Word Studies in the New Testament, op. cit., pp. 359-360, 341

[5] The Lord our Righteousness by Nicolaus Ludwig, Graf von Zinzendorf (1739), translation by John Wesley

[6] Revelation 20:11

[7] Moody, Dwight L., The Way to God and How to Find it, op. cit., Ch. III, p. 48

[8] Haupt, Erich: The First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 273

[9] Hebrews 12:3

[10] Cf. John 14:6

[11] Ecclesiastes 8:1

[12] Hebrews 10:19

[13] 1 John 4:18

[14] Romans 4:5

[15] Philippians 1:12-26

[16] Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8

[17] See 1 Peter 1:9

[18] Titus 2:13

[19] Acts of the Apostles 17:28

[20] Cf 1 John 3:9, especially 3:14

[21] American Bible Union, First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 47

[22] See John 10:36; 17:1-26; Romans 5:5

[23] Torrey, Reuben A., The Fundamentals – A Testimony to the Truth, Vol. 2, p. 290

[24] John 14:27

[25] Ibid 15:11; 17:13

[26] Romans 8:17

[27] Cocke, Alonzo R., Studies in the Epistles of John, op. cit., loc. cit., Logos

About drbob76

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