NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XVII) 10/19/22
5:3 Loving God means obeying His commands. And God’s commands are not too hard for us,
The main point is that the Anointed One lives in His saints. He provides their spiritual life. The Apostle Paul once prayed to know the Power of the Resurrection, although He knew it to be a fact. Therefore, as a minister, you must be convinced when you preach that God sent you. Without the gift of love, you will never be an effective preacher. Nothing unidentified will ever persuade the faith and conduct of a preacher, giving life and power to his message. Thus, preaching is different from mere conversation. You may teach Social Studies or Ancient History without being fully convinced. But in delivering the Gospel message, if it is to be a life-giving message. The preacher must have a sense of carrying Good News and the urgency to deliver it.”
According to William Burkitt (1650-1703), the Apostle John gives us a threefold description of a sincere Christian. He describes them as follows: 1) By their inward affection for God and the Anointed One resulting from love, the Spirit deposits this in their heart. 2) By their actions that flow from this affection, namely, obedience to God in keeping His commandment. 3) By their attitude and inclination from which obedience proceeds, namely, the delight and cheerfulness of doing their duty. Therefore, His commandments are not grievous; they have nothing heavy or burdensome but everything to make them both a duty and delight.
Nevertheless, there is something for us to learn: a) That obedience is the most natural and necessary product of love; where love is the governing principle, it rules all the inclinations of the heart and actions of life. b) That love makes our obedience to God cheerful, constant, delightful, and lasting. Love is seated in the will, and the obedience which proceeds from it is by choice and voluntary. No commandment is grievous when performed with love, making obedience constant.
Yet, there is one more point to consider. Serving the Anointed One is very gracious, desirable, and delightful, but not to sinners, whose minds the god of this world has blinded, whose consciences are seared, who have not only grieved but quenched the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, doing God’s will through obedience to His commands is not grievous in itself: a healthy eye never complains of light, but a sore eye is uneasy in its glow. The teachings of the Anointed One cannot be burdensome because they expect things of us that are agreeable to our reason, suitable to our natures, and compatible with our rational desires. We cannot give an instance of any one of the commands of the Anointed One, which is in itself painful. And that includes doing to others as we would have others do us, which is a dictate of nature and the law of the Anointed One.
In Independent British minister John Guyse’s (1677-1761) mind, there are five elements in nature and extraordinary acts of true love for God and obedience. (I) It has a high admiration and esteem for God. (II) It has a most compassionate attitude towards God. (III) Its earnest desire longs after God. (IV) Its gratification and delight are in God. (V) It is pleased or displeased with itself by being conscious of its strengths and weaknesses.
Not only are there the nature and extraordinary acts of true love for God, but there are properties of true love for God. (A) It is thoughtful love. (B) extensive love. (C) supreme love. (D) and abiding love. Consequently, the effects of this love mean practicing God’s holiness by devotion to Him. It involves self-denial, patience, and resignation to His will, the management of all our passions, appetites, and behavior. It requires departing from everything that offends Him, and by His grace, and getting His approval as we glorify His name in all we do.
But that’s not all. There is an influence that true love for God has on obedience or keeping His commandments. (1) Love for God impacts the nature of all proper and acceptable compliance. (2) Love for God inclines and obliges us to keep all His commands. (3) Love for God gives us delight in keeping His commands. They harmonize with the innocent nature of a newborn soul whose prime affection is God. It also sweetens our obedience and helps us believe that nothing can become such a burden; it keeps us from performing our calling. That means no hardship we endure to please and honor Him can keep us from showing our gratitude, love, and duty to Him. (4) Love for God will make us persevere in keeping His instructions.
So, let us ask ourselves some serious questions. (a) Whether the love of God dwells in us. (b) Let sinners know how hateful and unworthy it is to refuse to obey Him. (c) Let us prize the Gospel of God’s grace and seek His help to engage our love and obedience. (d) Let us look and long for that higher ground where our love and compliance will be perfected in Him.
All in all, John Wesley (1703-1791) says we know that the Scriptures teach, “This is God’s love,” and the confirmation of that is “we keep His commandments.” The Apostle John is not speculating here; he heard the Lord tell them, “The one who obeys me is the one who loves me.” Love enjoys obedience. Not just occasionally, but everything acceptable to the beloved. A true lover of God is eager to do His will on earth as it is done in heaven.
But is this the attitude of presumptuous Christians pretending to love God? No! Their definition of love gives them the liberty to disobey, break, and choose what commandments of God they want to obey. Perhaps they worked hard to do His will when they feared God’s punishment. But now, looking at themselves as being “free from the Law,” they think they are no longer obliged to keep it. They are, therefore, less enthused about doing good things for other people. As a result, they become careless in abstaining from wrongdoing, less watchful over their heart’s desires, and less guarded over what they say. Consequently, they lose interest in denying themselves and shoulder their cross to follow Him daily. In other words, their whole lifestyle has changed; they now view themselves as being free to pick and choose.
That leaves us with love for God and our neighbor. We know this from what Jesus said about the two greatest commandments. So, can we say that love for God is not a fondness of the soul but merely an outward expression? Or is love for our neighbor, not an attitude of the heart but little more than treating our neighbor with courtesy? To mention such a wild interpretation of the Apostle’s words is to discredit them. The indisputable meaning of the text is we have signs and evidence of love for God. It begins by keeping the first and great commandments to all His commandments. Then, once it abides in our hearts, true love will compel us to do what it demands since whoever loves God with all their heart cannot but serve Him with all their strength.
As James Macknight (1721-1800) sees it, the Apostle John wants believers to understand that God’s commandments are expected to be obeyed at any time. Therefore, in times of persecution, His command to suffer the loss of liberty, spoiling of goods, torture, and death must be excepted by good people. Thus, keeping God’s commandments is not seen as a challenge but as an opportunity, being the soul’s delight.
In John Brown of Haddington’s (1722-1787) mind, impartial respect and delightful obedience to God’s commandments should not be considered heavy burdens. On the contrary, they provide the distinguishing mark of one’s first and foremost love for God.
As stated by British clergyman and author William Jones of Nyland (1726-1800), the fact that the children of God love their Divine Parent, the Apostle John draws this deduction: they will love God’s children as well. Therefore, it is natural and proper that those who love the Father should also love His children or that children with the same Father should love each other. Here, then, is the reason for the obligation to love our fellow Christians. Since we believe in one Lord and Savior and are children of the Divine Father, we are members of one spiritual family. As such, we are characterized by a moral resemblance to each other. Moreover, each person is like the Father of all; we are animated by the same holy and invigorating hope and look forward to the same bright and blessed eternal home. Therefore, to the highest degree, we should love each other naturally and reasonably.
For example, Thomas Scott (1747-1821) tells us that everyone who believes Jesus to be the promised Messiah and obeys Him in that character, according to the prophecies of the First Covenant and the testimony of the apostles, concerning Him, is doubtless “born of God.” This faith must be the effect of divine life and is inseparable from repentance, love, and other graces or fruit springs from them. Also, all who credibly profess this faith qualify for that love that Christians owe to their brethren, whatever differences there might be in their previous character, abilities, rank, or situation. Everyone who loves God, the Father of all regenerate believers, must also love every one of His children. Even the unregenerate love and show kindness to the offspring of their dear friends and liberal benefactors.
In addition, people have learned how to use counterfeit affection and call it love. That is why it’s necessary to distinguish genuine “love for God’s children” from natural caring by its inseparable connection to God’s love. The same Spirit, who transformed these previous sinners’ hearts to love the image of God in His children, also taught them to love His divine character, principles, and mission. Consequently, Christians can know their love for one another is spiritual, having “passed” from spiritually dead to alive in the Anointed One. Moreover, it gave them the disposition to love and obey God in all other aspects of their life since no one can genuinely love God’s children who commit known sins while neglecting known duties.
All things considered, Charles Simeon (1759-1876) reiterates that people will judge our religion by what they see in us. What if they get the impression that you are rendering service to God on a scale you think is consistent with your ultimate safety? In that case, they will conclude that being faithful to your religion is a heavy yoke to which no one submits but out of necessity. And if they watch you going to the world for cheerfulness, they will feel assured that, whatever you may say, your religion is not sufficient to make you happy. On the other hand, if they observe you devoting yourself unreservedly to the Lord and walking cheerfully in His holy ways, they will be forced to acknowledge that there is something in your religion they have never tasted. Always keep in mind that many eyes are looking at you. It will influence your conduct in the world.
 Philippians 3:10
 Biographical Sketches of Memorable Christians of the Past, Edward King, Bishop Lincoln, 8 March 1910, written by James E. Kiefer.
 Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19
 Burkitt, William: Expository Notes, op. cit., pp. 734-735
 Guyse, John: The Biblical Illustrator, Vol. 22, First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 387-388
 John 14:21
 Matthew 6:10
 Ibid 16:24
 Wesley, John, The Works of, First Series of Sermons, Sermon 10, p. 184
 Matthew 22:37-39
 Ibid. Vol. 5, First Series of Sermons, Sermon 18, The Marks of the New Birth, p. 288
 Macknight, James: Apostolic Epistles with Commentary, Vol. VI, p. 103
 Brown, John of Haddington: Self-Interpreting Bible, N. T., Vol. IV, op. cit., p. 506
 Jones, William: Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., Vol. 22, p. 159
 John 1:10, 13
 See 2 Samuel 9:1-13; 19:31-39
 Scott, Thomas: Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. VI, p. 405
 Simeon, Charles: Horæ Homileticæ; Vol. XX, op. cit., Discourse 2462, p. 519