By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson IV) 09/29/22

5:1 If you believe that Jesus is the Anointed One – that He is God’s Son and your Savior – then you are God’s child. And all who love the Father love His children too.

Candlish continues, can this be any different than after Mary gave birth to a boy, God spoke from heaven at his baptism, saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased?”[1] God has little interest in receiving honor, worship, or affection from us unless expressed to Him as the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One. So, God pleads: “If you would love Me the way I desire to be loved, you must love Me as a Father. And the only sure proof of your so loving Me is loving my only begotten Son.” So, hear Him – worship Him – if you desire to love me – love me as the Father from everlasting to everlasting. Love me as the One sending Jesus to save and raise Him from the dead with this acknowledgment, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.[2]

And now, says the heavenly Father, I am fathering others to be my sons and daughters through my Son. They are born anew by the power of my Spirit to make them one with the Anointed One, who is my only begotten Son, first-born among many spiritual brothers and sisters. Thus, I am birthing children for my spiritual family, one after another. And every one of them is to Me what my only begotten Son is. Can you say that He is the same to you? He will be so if you love Me, says God. So, it says here in verse one, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.”[3]

Johann Eduard Huther (1807-1880) states that verse one shows that believers, born of God, love their spiritual brothers and sisters out of necessity. The two elements of the Christian life – faith and love, represent their unity. John says Christos is motivated by the counter-argument of the false teachers. Loving others is not the manifestation of faith but faith itself. Keep in mind faith is not part of human nature. As the Apostle Paul explains, it is a gift from God.[4] This first sentence forms the premise from which the Apostle John draws his conclusion. John is not expressing fiction but fact.[5]

Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) states that when a person believes they are in union with God through the Anointed One, it requires one’s full consent of intellect, heart, and will that Jesus is the Anointed One. This faith embraces Him as God’s Son, with all His offices as Savior and giver of eternal life. Furthermore, those who believe in God are His children, just as the Anointed One is God’s only begotten Son of God. They that love the Father love the Father’s Son and all the Father’s other sons and daughters. They are, indeed, His brothers by a celestial parentage. Our family love ascends to our Father, God, and then comes down upon all His children. In other words, all are communicated by love in one way or another.[6]

Henry Alford (1810-1871) begins by asking, “Who is our brother?” Then, again, “Why does this term carry such an obligation to love?” In close connection with the previous verse, the Apostle John answers these questions: “Anyone who loves God must also love their spiritual brothers and sisters.”[7] Those who believe this does so by faith. Faith has spoken that Jesus the Anointed One is born of God. From what follows, spiritual brothers and sisters see this as necessary to love God. Then the connection between this and the following clause, some abbreviated as, “born of God = loving God.” But this is far-fetched, says Alford, and has shown above that the object points to are those we are bound to love if we love God. So then, having made this prediction of all God’s children, John takes it up again[8] as a general reference and talks about our faith as the principle which overcomes the world. Consequently, everyone who loves the One born of God cannot help but love those He is responsible for birthing.[9]

Karl Gottlieb Braune (1810-1877) says we must never separate faith and love! It is forbidden. Here’s why, 1) by its origin in the regeneration from a loving God, 2) by its object, Jesus the Anointed One, in whom the love of God was manifested, and 3) by its task, to conquer the world through love. Therefore, we must distinguish between faith and love in the work of regeneration. The first is secured by the last, but do not remove them from the sphere of sanctification where faith is the root of love, and love the many-branched crown of faith. Here is, says Braune, how you may ascertain whether you have faith and are born again from 1) your love to God the Father, 2) from your love of the brethren, 3) from your obedience to the Divine commandments, 4) and from your fight with the world in and around you.

Dr. Christian Friedrich Richter, a physician at the Orphan House of Halle, Germany, during Anne Franke’s time, was the author of a Christian song titled: “Es kostet viel ein Christ zu sein.” The lyrics in English say, “It costs a lot to be a Christian to live according to the mind of the pure spirit, for it sours nature to give itself forever to Christ’s death.” But John is saying that it is not difficult to be a Christian and live conformably to the mind of the pure Spirit, although nature finds it very hard. Both are true and good. The Law is only a burden to the person hampered by sin, not the Christian strengthened by grace. While the weak believer is encouraged to be good, enabling the firm believer to be good. Obedience to the Divine commandments marks the recovery of the Spirit; disobedience notes its decay. Nothing is more natural; nothing more adapted to human nature created by God after His image than the Will of God. It is consistent with His Nature and expressed in the Law for the benefit of His Kingdom. God did not give His Word to frustrate humanity but facilitate mankind, not as a barrier to humans, but in opposition to sin.[10]

William Graham (1810-1883) says the believer’s relation to God is another truth asserted in verse one. From this, we learn that chosen followers of the Savior are members of God’s family. First, it allowed them to call Him their Father and approach Him, at all times, as His dear children. But to do so with holy reverence and respect, knowing He will not withhold anything else after giving His beloved Son for them.[11] Secondly, love for God is of necessity connected with love for fellow believers. It is vain to talk of loving the Father in heaven while we disregard, despise, and dislike His children on earth. But this idea of the Father and the family being so intimately related to one another is very precious and consoling to the church of God. In our loving the Father, we love the family, and in our loving the family, we love the Father. We observe, here, that there is no hint of any distinct groups in the family, which, in other passages, are very conspicuous. It is because they are all born of the same Father; this quality unites them with Him, no matter how diversified they are in other respects, and makes them the objects of the love of all that love the Father.[12]

William E. Jelf (1811-1875) sees the Apostle John giving another reason for brotherly and sisterly love from Christians spiritually born of the same Father and grounded on the position in which faith puts them. It comes in its prominent characteristic: believing He was known on earth by His human name Jesus and in heaven as the Anointed One. But, on the other hand, John considers faith the same as belief, separate from the fruit of love, because he will speak of love as a necessary part of faith. This faith is the work of the Holy Spirit and shows that the new birth has taken effect. Not only are the faithful ones adopted as God’s children, but they also have a unique nature. This new birth includes and implies that the believer loves the Father. After all, He was the One who birthed them, and by the ordinary laws of mankind’s moral nature, a child shows love to their Father. Therefore, if someone says they love God, they must admit that they are also bound to love their siblings. In all these passages, John seems to be contemplating cases in which a person would separate faith and brotherly love.[13]

John Stock (1817-1884) elaborates that those who receive the Anointed One acknowledge Him as both Son of God and Son of man in one. They also declare Him as their only Savior and way to the Father. The Anointed One is their sole Advocate with the Father and their living and triumphant Head and King. In doing so, they likewise claim Him as their prophet and High Priest. Furthermore, He is their Lord who gives them strength and hope. They affirm every part of this as they grow in Him as a mustard seed into a great tree. Their souls enjoy His saving grace and lead to a glad confession of His name, the only name under heaven given whereby we must be saved and proves they are born of God.

Theologian Stock claims that such believers love the Lord and follow Him, genuinely repenting their past sins and daily endeavor to walk with Him on the path of holiness. To such, the Anointed One gives the power, privilege, and permission to those not born naturally resulting from the passion of the flesh or the will of mankind but of God to be called God’s children. God owes no one anything for their spiritual existence; His mercy is at His disposal, for the Almighty has compassion on whom He will understand.[14] God has no interest in condemning anyone. We heap damnation upon ourselves. Vessels of wrath are fashioned for destruction, but not as God’s vessels of mercy, which God has already prepared for glory.

Professor Stock continues with his exciting proclamation about God’s offer of salvation to all. The Great Commission is to preach the Gospel to every creature. Rejectors of salvation are such by their attitude and actions. So, the Apostle Paul said to the Jews; that they rejected the message of salvation by judging themselves unworthy of eternal life. Then our blessed Lord said, Jerusalem, you would not let me gather you as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings.[15] So it was Jerusalem that refused. Isaiah also prophesied of such and said, the hearts of these people are so hard, and their ears are completely deaf and have shut their eyes so tight, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.[16] [17]

Johannes H. A. Ebrard (1819-1893) follows a further establishment of this point by the Apostle John. And it is not to be explained simply on the assumption that from verse twenty in chapter four, John had in view the relationship between genuine Christians and Christians in name only. His goal is to show the requirement of brotherly love in its organic connection with faith in the incarnation of the Son of God. Now, those who have this faith are born of God. A true believer loves God, as outlined earlier by John.[18] Therefore, we must accept that the obligation to love God is acknowledged even by those who may not love many Christian brothers or sisters. Hence, without adding anything else, John can connect the major proposition, “whosoever,” with the minor proposal of “loving.” The concluding clause then demonstrates that those who believe are born of God. And because they are born of God, they carry in them the nature of God.[19]

[1] Matthew 3:17

[2] Psalm 2:7

[3] Candlish, Robert S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., Lecture XXXV, p. 434

[5] Huther, Johann E., Critical and Exegetical Handbook to General Epistles, op. cit., pp. 600-601

[6] Whedon, Daniel D., Commentary on the New Testament, op. cit., p. 276

[7] 1 John 4:21

[8] Ibid. 5:4

[9] Alford, Henry: The Greek Testament, Vol. IV, op. cit., p. 497

[10] Braune, Karl Gottlieb, Johann Peter Lange: A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical, Vol. IX, p. 165

[11] Romans 8:22

[12] Graham, William: The Spirit of Love, op. cit., p. 307

[13] Jelf, William E., A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., pp. 68-69

[14] Romans 9:15

[15] Luke 13:34

[16] Matthew 13:15; cf. Isaiah 6:9-10

[17] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., pp. 397-398

[18] 1 John 4:7-20

[19] Ebrard, Johannes H. W., Biblical Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., pp. 310-311

About drbob76

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