WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson VII) 07/20/21

3:1a See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children – think of it – and we are! But since most people don’t know God, naturally, they don’t recognize that we are His children.

When looked at from a human point of view, says Kruse, those who “receive” the Anointed One, in the sense of believing in Him, are God’s children. And when we look at it from a divine point of view, His children are those He birthed, or as Jesus puts it, “It is the same with everyone who is born from the Spirit.”[1] Thus, the Apostle John not only says that he and his readers are “called[2] children of God as an outcome of God’s Love lavished[3] upon them, but emphasizes the reality of this status when he adds, and that is what we are! Those who believe in the Word of life are undoubtedly the children of God, but that does not mean they will gain any respect from the world. And lest this should cause the readers any distress, John explains: The reason the world does not know us is that they’ve never met our heavenly Father.[4]

Ben Witherington III (1951) hears the Apostle John asking his readers to consider how lavish is the Love that God poured out on believers. This Love is so great that God calls believers His sons and daughters. It is not, however, merely an honorary title. Instead, John believes that they actually become transformed into such children through God’s Love, by which they are “born of God.”[5] If God’s Love can do that for us, imagine how much we can do for others with that same Love in us. And just as God showed His Love to us, so we must show His Love to others for it to be transforming.

Gary M. Burge (1952) says that again and again, the Apostle John repeats that we are God’s children now. It is a fact that God’s Love is controlling our destiny. John reflects on how this truth will have consequences in the future.[6] If now we have a glimpse of what it means to have the presence of the Father within us when the Anointed One comes, there will be yet more overwhelming experiences for us. When He appears, we will be just like Him, and then we will see Him exactly as He is. At that moment, there will be an unmistakable unity between the Father and us. It is reminiscent of the prophet Isaiah’s message: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no one’s heart has imagined all the things that God has prepared for those who love him.[7] Inherent in this idea is the notion that we will share in the glory of Jesus, the Anointed One.[8] [9]

Bruce B. Barton (1954) points to the Apostle John’s statement at the end of chapter two that caused him to marvel that such Love could mean believers are “born of” God. The Greek word behind the English expression “how great” is potapen; it speaks of something that has come from a place other than the earth – something exotic, something beyond what mankind has previously experienced. The translation could read, “Behold, what unusual Love the Father has poured on us.” Just think, God’s Love came from another world; it seems foreign to humanity. And this Love has been lavished[10] on us, poured out on us, as shown by the fact that God allows us to be called His children. The Greek neuter noun teknon for “children” emphasizes birth rather than infancy. John, here, was calling attention to the remarkable fact, carried over from the last verse, [11] that God has actually “given birth” to believers as His very own children.[12]

For Daniel L. Aiken (1957), new behavior follows the new birth. Being born of God has definite and abiding results (“has been born” is a perfect-tense verb). Therefore, God’s children will grow to look like God their Father. Our conduct is proof of our parentage. The righteous Savior produces saints who live and act right. John carries this argument an additional step here in verse one, and what a step it is! He explains how the Love of God the Father is the source of our privilege to be His children. Calling their attention to this marvelous truth, John exclaims, “Look at how great a Love the Father has given us!” We could paraphrase what John says like this: “The Love of the Father is out of this world, and it is a love that will never be taken away. It is an amazing Love that awes and astonishes, and it has been given for us to enjoy forever and ever and ever.” What we read in Torah is so true: “I will never fail you or abandon you.”[13] [14]

David Guzik (1961) says that when the Apostle John uses the phrase “placed on us,” it says many things. First, it speaks of the measure of God’s Love to us; more literally translated, “lavished[15] on us.” Secondly, it expresses the manner in which God gave such Love; bestowed has the idea of a one-sided giving, instead of a return for something earned. What is it that makes us slow to believe this Love of God? Sometimes it is pride, which demands a person prove themselves worthy of God’s Love before accepting it. Sometimes it is unbelief, which cannot trust God’s love when people see the hurt and pain of life. And often, it just takes time for a person to come to a fuller understanding of the greatness of God’s Love.[16]

Peter Pett (1966) says that just the thought of being born again by the Anointed One’s work on the cross raises the Apostle John to a level of adoration in the face of such a glorious truth. “See,” John says, “what kind of love the Father has lavished[17] on us.” He has not only called us His children, but made us so through the Anointed One. We are indeed His children, created through the Anointed One, produced by God. Such was His Love freely placed on us. And that is why the world does not acknowledge us or know who we are. It comes from the fact that they could not see God and get to know Him through the Anointed One.[18] The following section in this chapter reveals more of why this is. Therefore, the world is lawless and rejects those who are true children of God introduced to the Law of Love.

And note secondly, says Pett, the Father places this Great Love in us. It is ours, not by earning it nor having deserved it by any means, but because of His gracious Love, He placed it in us as a gift. And because of it, we love Him more than we do the world.[19] So, there are two points here; first, we are called God’s children because we are His children. Secondly, being called children involves christening. It is a public demonstration of God’s favor for all to see. The world may not notice, but the angels look on at the naming ceremony in wonder. So, these puny mortals have become the Father’s children? But even more astounding is that it is true.[20]

David Legge (1969) says this particular passage of Scripture has been a dilemma to many theologians and Bible teachers for this one reason: it states that Christians should not sin in a casual reading of the text. But, of course, human beings, in general, and Christians, in particular, are acutely aware of their inherent sinfulness both in their nature and in their behavior. They know that they are sinners and that they do sin. So, we have to make sense of what the Apostle John is saying to us in the crucial verses of this chapter. What does he imply by saying that Christians should not sin? What does he mean by the word sin? John tells us later that if we stay close to God and obey Him, we won’t keep sinning, but as for those who keep on sinning, they should realize this: They sin because they have never really known Him or become His.[21] Then John states that if you keep on sinning, it shows that you belong to Satan, who has been steadily sinning since he began to sin. But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the devil.[22] [23]

Douglas Sean O’Donnell (1972) Another view takes the titles little children (teknia)[24] and children [infants] (paidia)[25] to be essentially synonymous. Those words express Christians in general, not new or immature believers. It is supported elsewhere[26] when John addresses those under his pastoral care as little children.[27] Therefore, by little children and children, John is talking about “God’s children.”[28] Then with the title’s fathers and young men, he subdivides the rest of the Christian community into two age groups – the old and the young. Like the Apostle Paul, John is not setting before us a terrifying perfectionism. Still, he is demanding a life that is constantly on guard against sin, a life in which sin is not the standard accepted way but the odd moment of defeat. To make this point, look carefully at these first two verses and notice that John sees our fallen nature realistically.[29]


[1] John 3:8

[2] The Greek verb kaleō means to bear a name or title: cf. Luke 1:35; 22:25; Acts of the Apostles 8:10  

[3] The Greek word didōmi translated by Guzik figuratively as “lavished” can be used two ways: as an adjective it means “sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious;” as a verb, it implies “to offer something in generous or extravagant quantities.” John uses it here as a verb.

[4] Kruse, Colin G., The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, op. cit., Kindle Edition

[5] Ben Witherington III. Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 6684-6687)

[6] 1 John 3:2

[7] Isaiah 6:4; cf. 52:12; 1 Corinthians 2:9

[8] See Romans 8:17–19; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 3:4

[9] Burge, Gary M., The Letters of John (The NIV Application Commentary) pp. 146-147

[10] The Greek word didōmi translated by Guzik figuratively as “lavished” can be used two ways: as an adjective it means “sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious;” as a verb, it implies “to offer something in generous or extravagant quantities.” John uses it here as a verb.

[11] 1 John 2:29

[12] Barton, Bruce B., 1, 2, & 3 John (Life Application Bible Commentary), op. cit., pp. 61-62

[13] Deuteronomy 31:6; cf. Hebrews 13:5 – Complete Jewish Bible

[14] Akin, Dr. Daniel L., Exalting Jesus in 1,2,3 John (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary), op. cit., Kindle Edition

[15] The Greek word didōmi translated by Guzik figuratively as “lavished” can be used two ways: as an adjective it means “sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious;” as a verb, it implies “to offer something in generous or extravagant quantities.” John uses it here as a verb.

[16] Guzik, David, Enduring Word, op. cit., p. 47

[17] The Greek word didōmi translated by Guzik figuratively as “lavished” can be used two ways: as an adjective it means “sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious;” as a verb, it implies “to offer something in generous or extravagant quantities.” John uses it here as a verb.

[18] John 1:10-11

[19] 1 John 2:15

[20] Pett, Peter: Truth According to Scripture Commentary, op. cit., loc. cit.

[21] 1 John 3:6

[22] Ibid. 3:8

[23] Legge, David: Preach the Word, 1,2,3 John, op. cit., Part 9

[24] 1 John 2:12

[25] Ibid. 2:13

[26] Ibid. 2:1, 28; 3:4, 18; 4:4; and 5:21

[27] Also note Jesus uses the two terms for His disciples in John 13:33 [teknia] and 21:5 [paidia]

[28] 1 John 3:1, 10; 5:2

[29] O’O’Donnell, Douglas Sean, 1-3 John (Reformed Expository Commentaries), op. cit., Kindle Edition

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson VI) 07/19/21

3:1a See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children – think of it – and we are! But since most people don’t know God, naturally, they don’t recognize that we are His children.

What unspeakable, unfathomable majesty is ours, says Kretzmann! With this assurance in our hearts, we welcome what the Apostle John tells us. The children of this world will not know, will not acknowledge us, will not consider us worthy of their attention just because we claim to be the children of the Most-High God and all such a relationship implies. The world did not recognize, God as the Lord, did not accept Him in faith, and, therefore, it cannot possibly enter into friendly relations with us. Unbelievers refuse to accept the new, spiritual, divine character which the Christians project.[1]

William Barclay (1907-1976) notes that the Apostle John demands that his readers remember their privileges. For one thing, it is an honor to be called God’s children. There is something special in that title. Second, Christians are privileged in being called God’s children. Don’t we count it an honor to have attended a great school, belong to a great military unit, be a great church member, or descendant of a historical family? Third, it is an inspiration in life to carry the name of the family of God. It’s something to put our feet on the right path and to keep us going.[2]

William Neil (1909-1979) says that living an Anointed One-like life is unquestionable proof that we have been made new through Him. Out of His boundless love, God called us to be His children. We did not just wander into the kingdom of God off the street, nor did someone discard us as an unwanted child at His door. He came looking for us. Yet, we do not fully comprehend what that means. But when we see God face to face, we will be like Him – not in looks, but character. Let us not blur the distinction between right and wrong. People who are in the wrong are doing what the devil wants them to do. However, if we accomplish what’s right, we do what God wants us to do. Our lives are genuinely in union with God; there is no backdoor for sin to enter.[3]

Daniel Snaddon (1915-2009) feels that the thought of being born of God grips the Apostle John with wonder, so he calls upon his readers to consider the incredible Love that brought them into God’s family. Our heavenly Father could have rescued us from sin’s trash heap without making us His children. He could have treated us like foster children, helping us learn how to live independently, and then let us go to find our way into the world. But the quality of God’s Love is seen in that He brought us into His family as children. Abba – Father. It is the difference between being a child or a son. The emphasis is on being born into the family. A child can be adopted or born. We should consider the kind of love, the unique quality of the Father’s Love by which He made us His children. The world does not recognize us as such. They do not understand our actions at times. John says this is what we must expect because they did not understand the Lord Jesus when He was on the earth. He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him;He came to His Jewish people, and even they rejected Him.[4] Since the true child of God has the same characteristics, we cannot expect the world to understand us either.[5]

Peter S. Ruckman (1921-2010) Now, this passage is what we call “transparent.” You can see right through it without glasses, a microscope, a telescope, a magnifying glass, or bifocals. Ruckman also suggests that this Love lavished on us could include the Rapture of the Church, of which the Apostle Paul spoke.[6] It could also have a double application, for there is a snatching away of the Tribulation saints.[7] This ascension of Tribulation saints is the one that causes all modern apostate Laodiceans to teach that Christians “go through the Tribulation.” They teach that because they are stupid and lazy and intend to stay that way. The expression “sons of God[8] certainly would include all Gentiles in this age saved by grace, for all of them “received” Jesus the Anointed One. The Apostle Paul expresses it well in Romans 8:14 [children of God], 17 [co-heirs with the Anointed One] and Galatians 3:26 [God’s children through faith], 4:6 [Thus we call Him our Father]. The only thing the commentators miss – all of them – is the fantastic way that other verses are tied together. There are four great truths carefully concealed in these “original English autographs” [that no Greek scholar could find in the “Greek text,”] etc., since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.[9] Somehow, Ruckman finds this as part of the Father’s great Love that He lavished on us.

Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) tells how the United States Treasury Department has a particular group of employees whose job is to track down counterfeiters. Naturally, these men need to know a counterfeit bill when they see it. How do they learn to identify fake dollar bills? Oddly enough, they are not trained by spending hours examining counterfeit money. Instead, they study the real thing. They become so familiar with authentic dollar bills that they can spot a counterfeit by simply looking at it or, often, by feeling it. The approach in 1 John 3 warns us that there are counterfeit Christians in today’s world – “children of the devil.”[10] But instead of listing the evil characteristics of Satan’s children, the Scripture gives us a clear description of God’s children. The contrast between the two is obvious.[11]

Bishop Muncia Walls (1937) points out that the Greek adjective potapos expressed as “What manner of love” has an interesting definition. Some Greek writers used it to denote “from what region, country, nation or tribe.[12] But other Greek writers employed it as the equivalent to “of what sort or quality?” It is the way the Apostle John uses it in the Final Covenant.[13] So, instead of being thought of as referring to some unknown or forgiven type of love, it is, more or less, saying that “out of all the kinds of love that exist, what is so special or different about this Love?”

Current writer John W. (Jack) Carter (1947) focuses on the first word in this opening verse. “Behold” translates the Greek verb eidō, which means “to pay attention.” Although some translations omit it, John uses it as an instructive term. It became a very emphatic imperative that separates the two passages in the text.  It carries the idea that one can marvel at what is about to be said given what has just been said.  Though the word is highly overused, in the modern vernacular, one might say, “That’s awesome!”[14]

Robert W. Yarbrough (1948) says that in the context of other biblical writers, we see the Apostle John’s preoccupation with the divine Love by using ἀγάπη (agapē, love) and ἀγαπάω (agapaō, to love). Final Covenant uses these two words to show their frequency is highest in John’s Gospel and Epistles than in other Gospels. On another reading, his penchant for these words is evidence of ongoing wonder and joy. The high frequency of love language in John’s writings can be depicted graphically and numerically.

The status of being God’s children enables John to address a question that may have been nagging at his readers. Given God’s great love and the resultant joy and fellowship within his community, [15] why has there been such division?[16] Why does “the world” seem sinister and hostile in some respects?[17] The answer, John says, lies in the alienation that results from saying we belong to God as our heavenly Father. It is “because of this,” which here in verse one most likely points backward – that “the world does not acknowledge” John and his readers as who they are. It does not see them in the same light in which they see themselves. This flawed perception is, in turn, a function of ignorance of the Father or perhaps the Son. That they “did not recognize Him” likely refers to the world’s rejection of the Father via its rejection of the Anointed One: “He was in the world, and although it was through Him the world was made, they did not recognize Him.”[18] Even when Yeshua was present, Yahweh’s representative presence in Him was unrecognized: “They did not comprehend that He was telling them about His Father.[19] It is not surprising that Jesus’s servant John diagnoses the same malady still at work.[20]

Colin G. Kruse (1950) notes that the Apostle John includes himself with his readers among those (“we”) who are called the children of God. He begins by urging his readers to recognize the greatness of God’s Love: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us! In other words, look at the sort of Love the Father has given us! The author has in mind the exact expression of the Love of God: that we should be called His children. God calls us His children, out of Love. To be called God’s children is an immense privilege because it means that God personally chose us to be in His family. We find the best commentary on what it means to be children of God in John’s Gospel: “To all who believed in Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become God’s children. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”


[1] Kretzmann, Paul E., Popular Commentary, Vo. II, op. cit., p. 566

[2] Barclay, William: New Daily Bible Study, op. cit., p. 82

[3] Neil, William: Harper’s Bible Commentary, op. cit., p. 528

[4] John 1:10-11

[5] Snaddon, Daniel C., Plymouth Brethren Writings, op. cit., 1 John 3

[6] 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 15:49-55

[7] See Revelation 11:12; Psalm 50; Job 37; Isaiah 26:20; Matthew 24:31; Revelation 14:16

[8] John 1:12

[9] Ruckman, Dr. Peter S., General Epistles Vol. 2 (1-2-3 John, Jude Commentary) (The Bible Believer’s Commentary Series). Kindle Edition

[10] 1 John 3:10

[11] Wiersbe, Warren W., Be Real (1 John): Turning from Hypocrisy to Truth (The BE Series Commentary), op. cit., p. 105

[12] Walls, Muncia. Epistles of John & Jude, op., cit. (Kindle Locations 895-896)

[13] See Matthew 8:27; Mark 13:1; Luke 1:29; 7:39; 22:42; 23:34; John 14:2; 2 Peter 3:11; 1 John 3:1; 4:2

[14] Carter, John W. (Jack), 1,2,3, John & Jude, op. cit., p. 72

[15] 1 John 1:3-4

[16] Ibid. 2:19

[17] Ibid. 2:15-17

[18] John 1:10

[19] Ibid. 8:27; cf. 16:3

[20] Yarbrough, Robert W., 1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., p. 176

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

FALSE AND REAL HUMILITY

No doubt, after going through a war and all the chaos that followed, François Fénelon saw some of his fellow countrymen in a deep depression. Was it the way they lived that caused this? Of course, Fénelon had some advice. He told them it is false humility to believe ourselves unworthy of God’s goodness and dare not look to Him with trust. True humility lies in seeing our unworthiness and surrendering to God, never doubting that He can work out the most needed results for and in us. If God’s success depends on our foundations, we might as well suspect that our sins destroyed our chances. But God needs nothing that is in us. He can never find anything there except what He has already given. We cannot say that the worthlessness of a person who is bound with sin in a faithless soul, is the most appropriate of all subjects to receive His grace.

God delights to pour out His mercy on sinful souls. Especially those who have never experienced anything because they were too spiritually weak to ask for any of God’s gifts. It is just as the Apostle Paul says: “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to embarrass the strong.”[1] So, don’t be afraid that your past faithlessness makes you unworthy of God’s mercy. Nothing is so worthy of compassion as utter weakness. Jesus came to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.[2] Indeed, all would be lost if it were not for Him. The physician seeks the sick, not the healthy. Oh, how God loves those who boldly come to Him wearing their filthy, ragged garments and ask, as a child does of a father, for some clothing that would make them look better.

You may be wanting to keep in touch with God until He shows His smiling face. But I tell you that if you open your heart thoroughly to Him, you will cease troubling yourself about looking special when His face appears. Let Him change your harsh and dissatisfied look as much as He wants to. He will never love you more than when He shows displeasure, for He disciplines only to test, humble, and free souls from self-righteousness.

Do you want God’s pity, or do you want God? If pity, then you don’t love God for His sake but your own. In that case, you don’t deserve anything from Him. But if you seek Him alone, you will find Him more quickly when He tests you than when He pities you. When He feels sorry for you, you may end up caring more for what gives then for the Giver Himself. But when He deals roughly with you, and you hold on fast, it is to Him alone that you cling. The best time for progress is not when you delight in having a contented conscience, but when faith is unresponsive and cold – if you do not yield to discouragement.

Leave it all to God. It is not your business to judge how He should deal with you because He knows far better than you do what’s best for you. You deserve a certain amount of trial and distress. Endure it patiently! God keeps doing His part, even when He doesn’t answer you right away. So, do your part, which is to love Him without waiting for Him to assure you of His love for you. Your love is a guarantee of His; your confidence will end up turning all His sternness into tenderness. That means if He doesn’t show more interest, surrender to His decisions, and accept His intentions of nailing you to the cross in union with His Son, Jesus, that you might live in partnership with Him.

Such is the solid food of pure faith and generous love with which you should sustain your soul. I pray that God may make you strong, carrying your troubles. Expect all, and all will be given you: God and His peace will be with you.

Written over 450 years ago

Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] 1 Corinthians 1:27

[2] Mark 2:17

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson V) 07/16/21

3:1a See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children – think of it – and we are! But since most people don’t know God, naturally, they don’t recognize that we are His children.

John Stock (1817-1884) has a great way of introducing this chapter. He writes that the Apostle John has every reason to demand our admiration and wonder over the elevation of the faithful to the dignity of being adopted into God’s family; to their being called the very children of God! God’s bountiful goodness is unlimited. He furnished us with an indescribable gift by giving His only human-born Son to be our Savior, for His sake, and to freely gives us all things. The one blessing of His Son comes with many other gifts and surpasses all others. And it is only by His mercy that we receive the privilege to possess all He plans to share. “Behold,” says the Apostle John, “wake up to the realization of such marvelous grace, and the free favor involved in this transfer of everlasting honor to us, who are born corrupted,[1] who have been rebellious, who have sinned, and so, like Esau, have forfeited the birthright inheritance of the firstborn; who have been hostile to God by immoral living; that we should be called ‘children of God!’”[2]

Brooke Westcott (1825-1901) points out that the children of the devil who run this world do not “recognize” the children of God. It isn’t because they don’t know their names, occupation, or claims of being a follower of Jesus the Anointed, but because they don’t understand why we live, act, talk, and worship the way we do. For worldly people, their future is the time remaining between their present status and the grave. But for Christians, their future begins after they die and are laid to rest to await the resurrection. What puzzles the world is that the believer’s future is still to be revealed when they are transfigured to meet the Anointed One and see God.[3]

Andrew Maclaren (1826-1910) mentions that what the Apostle John says here is an example of shared love. John bids us “observe what type of love.” If we turn to the cross, we will see a Love that does not shrink from sacrifice. It is a Love not aroused by any lovableness on our part, but comes from the depth of God’s Infinite Being. He loves because He must; He is God. It is a love that yearns for acceptance, which desires nothing from us. The kind of Love that our sinfulness and shortcomings will not cancel. In like manner, we have to think, can we estimate the value of this “kind” of Love, that through and with great sacrifice of Jesus the Anointed One, it offers us the gift of a Divine life like His own? We may gain another measure of this Love’s greatness if we emphasize one word, “gave,” and think of such Love freely provided to pitiful creatures like ourselves.[4]

In one of his many sermons, Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) preached on being God’s children. The question is, how could anyone claim to be a child of God before He gave them the power to become His children and believed in His reputation as a Savior? True spiritual children of God are not born by human effort; they did not become God’s children by mere creation.[5]If any text can be more conclusive than this against universal sonship,” says Spurgeon. “I must confess I know of none.” And unless these words turn out to mean nothing at all, we rightly believe we are God’s children and His alone. Listen to the Word of the Lord in what the Apostle John says here in verse one; this shows how much He loved us. We are called children of God, and we indeed are. But worldly people don’t understand that we are God’s children because they know nothing about Him.[6]

There is a story involving Danish missionaries who went to India. There, they appointed some converts to translate a catechism for teaching young believers. When they came to where it mentions Christians being called God’s children, one of the translators was so startled at such bold teaching that he told the missionaries, “This is too much! Let me render it, ‘They will be permitted to kiss His feet.’”[7] Oh, God! That Christians would feel the same way today when they sing, “Who You say I am, I am a Child of God.”[8]

John James Eastmead (1822-1868) says that God’s spiritual family is called upon to take a look at “what type of love the Father placed upon us.” He goes on to suggest that God’s Love can be sorted into six types: 1. It is Covenant Love; 2. Unchanging Love; 3. Incarnate Love; 4. Redeeming Love; 5. Pardoning Love; and 6. Restoring Love.[9] With this multifaceted aspect of God’s Love, we can see how it helps us grow in understanding of God’s affection for us when applied to our lives.

Harry John Wilmot-Buxton (1843-1911) declares that we must be brave and loyal as Christians. We must never forget whose children we are and be courageous in our faith. Someone might say, “Since the Anointed One made the Christian course an exercise in warfare, of all living believers, a coward is the most unfit to be called God’s child.” Yet what miserable cowards some so-called Christians are, smiling while the prosperity sun shines, but when the clouds of persecution and trial arise against the Gospel, their smile turns into a frown. When the struggle involves one’s duty to God against satisfying oneself, between what we like and what is right, many, like the children of Ephraim, turn around and flee on the day of battle.[10] When the fighting comes, the Cross beckons, the shadows of Gethsemane and Calvary darken around us. Yet, too many forsake Jesus and do not follow Him anymore. We must be willing to give our all for one another because we are one Family, the children of God. Some say that pity, sorrow, and sympathy are sensitive like love. At most, condolences are a lukewarm expression of love. Only the outward and visible sign of the inward grace of God is love.[11]

William Sinclair (1850-1917) sees passing before the Apostle John’s mind the oddness that the stream of the world’s thought, the tide of the world’s history, should go on as if the Anointed One never came. No matter how insignificant the old Apostle was in the metropolis of Ephesus, or elsewhere, in the eyes of the wise, influential, or famous philosophers everywhere else. Why was this? Because what God manifested in the Anointed One was incomprehensible to the world. Therefore, if it did make sense to them, it only caused them more resentment. And since believers were like their heavenly Father, their characteristics became incompatible with the features that make up the character of the world. As far as the “world” exists at all in the moral meaning of the word, it is a mixture of qualities and tendencies that may or may not be like each other, but which all agree in being opposed to true righteousness.[12]

Arno C. Gaebelein (1861-1945) shows the development between the Apostle John’s ministry and later that of the Apostle Paul, and how the “sons of God[13] using the Greek noun yhois, changed to the Greek noun teknon, “children of God.”[14]  John never speaks of yhoissons of God” in his message. In the Apostle Paul’s writings, the Holy Spirit speaks of believers as “sons and heirs.” But John unfolds the truth that believers are in the family of God by the new birth, hence the use of the word “children” to denote the community’s nature as born of God. As God’s children, we are partakers of His divine spiritual nature. It is by our heavenly Father’s that it was conferred on all who believe. And, finally, the Spirit of God assures us of this through the pen of John: “Now we are the children of God.” There can be no doubt about it; our present and known position is because having believed in Him, we are born again and possess eternal life.[15]

Harry A Ironside (1876-1951) comments on what beautiful words are written to believers here in the opening chapter three. He notes that this is something different from the universal love expressed in John’s Gospel.[16] That is infinite Love to lost people everywhere. If you are not a believer, be assured of this: the Love of God goes out to you, and He extended His Love to you when you were a sinner and the Anointed One died for you. However, there is a love sweeter and more precious than that, but it is not for you until you trust in the Anointed One. But if you have already trusted in Him, then you can enter into the Father’s Love. God’s children are addressed here as the beneficiaries of the Love that comes from being added to His family.[17]

Paul Edward Kretzmann (1883-1965) says it was the believer’s righteousness and conduct which the Apostle John urged. Now, he introduces another motive for such behavior. The Christians should use the eyes of both body and mind to see; they should concentrate their attention upon that miracle, upon that mystery, that we should be honored with the name, children of God. After all, the penalty of eternal damnation was removed and replaced by an intimate fellowship with God only available by the new birth through the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. “Children of God,” that is what we are by faith in the Anointed One, Jesus, [18] sons, and daughters of God, led by the Spirit of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with the Anointed One.[19] The image of God, lost by Adam’s Fall, is renewed in us with the restoration of the Anointed One.[20]


[1] Psalm 51:5

[2] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., p. 228

[3] Westcott, Brooke: Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 95

[4] Maclaren, Andrew: The Biblical Illustrator: New Testament, op. cit., pp. 52283-52284, Kindle Edition.

[5] John 1:13

[6] Spurgeon, Charles: The Spurgeon Sermon Collection: Vol 2, Sermon 339, The Sons of God, p. 177

[7] The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., p. 308

[8] By Hillsong

[9] Eastmead, James John: Biblical Illustrator, First Epistle of John, op. cit., p.

[10] Psalm 78:9-10

[11] Wilmot-Buxton, Harry John: Notes of Sermons for the Year, part 1, p. 94

[12] Sinclair, William: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 482

[13] Romans 8:14, 19; Philippians 2:15

[14] John 11:52; 1 John 3:10; 5:2

[15] Gaebelein, Arno, C: The Annotated Bible, op. cit., loc. cit.

[16] John 3:16

[17] Ironside, H. A., Addresses on the Epistles of John (Ironside Commentary Series Book 43), op. cit., p. 26

[18] Galatians 3:26

[19] Romans 8:14, 17

[20] Galatians 4:19

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson IV) 07/15/21

3:1a See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children – think of it – and we are! But since most people don’t know God, obviously, they don’t recognize that we are His children.

Nathanael Emmons (1745-1840), American Congregational minister and influential Divinity School theologian, talks about the future state of Christians. He writes concerning the character of God’s children. This family spirit forms all the beautiful and good-natured traits in the Christian character. First, it influences the children of God to love Him with enthusiasm and supreme affection. Second, it motivates them to love the Lord Jesus the Anointed One in sincerity and believe in Him alone for salvation. Third, it unites all the children of God to one another. Fourth, it offers a spirit of grace and supplication. Fifth, it inclines His children to obey all His commands.

But what about their future state? First, they are unacquainted with perceiving either material or spiritual objects after they have lost their bodily senses. Second, it’s unknown and mysterious how they will converse with one another and with the heavenly hosts after leaving these mortal bodies. And Third, they must remain uninformed in this life, how they will arrive in heaven, and move from place to place after they come there.

Yet, there one more thing. What do God’s children know concerning themselves in a future state? First, they do now perceive precisely where in the universe they will be hereafter. It’s called heaven, but that’s a unique place. Second, they can appreciate in this world what manner of persons they will be in the next. Third, they realize that they will be delighted and blessed when they leave this present evil world.

So, what lessons can we learn from this, asks Emmons? First, it appears that all the knowledge that Christians have of themselves in a future state wholly derives from Divine revelation. Second, they learn why some Christians die in so much light and joy and some in grief and distress. Third, Christians may and ought to infer the great importance of making their calling and election sure. Fourth, the preceding observations leave no doubt that death is always a happy event for God’s children. Fifth, it affords excellent consolation to those bereaved over the passing of near and dear Christian friends.[1] All this may not seem like something to shout over down here, but we will be shouting all over heaven when it comes to pass.

Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1829) says the significance of this verse makes it different from all others. We’ve received Unction – an anointing – from the Holy One. We are now the partakers of a new and supernatural birth. God sent His Spirit into our hearts, whereby we cry Daddy. We have received the blessings of grace and glory. It gives us an inward, genuine, and actual enjoyment of those gifts, which enabled us to examine and contemplate the Love of our heavenly Father. He is the original fountain, and spring, of our eternal life, blessedness, perfection, and glory.[2]

Catholic writer George Leo Haydock (1774-1849) speaks very much like an Evangelical when commenting on this verse. He states that the Apostle John said in the last verse of the preceding chapter that since we know that God is always good and does what’s right, we may correctly assume that all those who do right are His children. By that, I mean children of God by adoption. But the world does not recognize this, nor do they esteem and value us as such. But it’s no wonder because they’ve never known, nor acknowledged, nor reverenced God as they ought. We indeed are the children of God; we believe it because God assured us of it. It is why John tells us that is precisely who we are: children of God.

And that’s only the beginning, says Haydock. Right now, we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He returns, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.[3] Furthermore, since time began, Scriptures say no one has seen or heard of such a God as ours, who works for those who wait for Him![4] But again, we only know this, that His elect will be like Him because they shall see Him as He is when they enjoy Him in heaven.[5]

Albert Barnes (1798-1870) expounds on what manner of Love God used to love us. Here, the Apostle John signifies the type of love, and to a certain degree. This kind of Love is the most tender and ennobling in adopting us into God’s family, permitting us to address Him as our Dad to such a degree that it is exalted. Since no higher love can be found that adopts a poor and friendless orphan boy and gives him a parent and a home, certainly God could not bestow on us a more valuable token of affection than that we too were adopted into His family, permitting us to regard Him as our spiritual Father.

When we remember how insignificant we are as creatures, says Barnes, and how ungrateful, rebellious, and vile we have been as sinners, we might be amazed at the Love which would adopt us into the holy family of God so that we may be regarded and treated as the children of the Most-High. A princess could not exhibit higher love for a wandering, ragged, spiteful orphan girl found in the streets than by adopting her into the royal family, admitting her to the same privileges and honors as her daughters. Yet, this would be a trifle compared with the honor which God placed on us.[6]

Robert Smith Candlish (1806-1873) says that Jesus, the first-begotten among many brethren, is teaching us now to know, as He knows, the righteous Father through the love by which the Father loved His Son living internally in union with us. Candlish likens the world to a schoolhouse ill-prepared, in many respects, for teaching. The students are not as brilliant as one might wish. The schoolhouse is dimly lit and stuffy; the atmosphere is too full of dust and smoke; the learners are often drowsy, and reading the textbook is like looking through a dark glass.

But then! The hour comes when a kind and caring teacher leads the students into a spacious, magnificent, bright study hall on His Father’s mansion-filled estate. There, He presents them to the Father, face to face, saying, “Here I am Lord with the students You have given me.”[7] Then there is clear sight; unclouded vision; a complete and perfect understanding of the righteous Father; a comprehensive and textbook knowledge between Him and us; as whole and flawless an experience there can be of His beloved. All that is dark or doubtful about His character and ways are cleared up. There is nothing to awaken suspicion or suggest a question; nothing to give a partial or distorted view of what He is or what He does. We see Him as He is, and seeing Him as such, we approve, love, and are like Him evermore![8]

Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) explains that Regeneration, as a term, does not appear in Scripture but is expressed in all such phrases as born or birthed by God. It is that work of the Holy Spirit by which the love of God and Christian graces spring up in the soul. It occurs immediately following our repentance and faith, brought on by the convicting and enabling influences of the Spirit. The first spark of divine love is the flame of spiritual life – the glowing ember of everlasting life; if preserved within the soul, it will advance until it works out in resurrection glory.[9]

John Eadie (1810-1876) exclaims, what “manner” of God’s Love is this? Transforming those who were once so unlike Him, Love prompted Him to adopt them, and after they are adopted, He has delight in them. So, what “manner” of love is this that the repentant fallen should finally have a place in His embrace which the unrepentant unfallen can never occupy! Still more, a glorious destiny awaits them. When the years of being a minority expire, the children are taken home to the household on high, where the whole family form one unbroken and vast assemblage. We see the extraordinary Love of the Father in the entire experience of discipline arranged for His children. And what child would not be content under any circumstances? Whatever is for their good, their heavenly Father will give them. Such temporal blessings will come as they improve in obedience.[10]

Richard Holmes Tuck (1817-1868) points out that the things the Apostle John remembers of the words and works of our Lord Jesus were the things that caught and engaged his attention. They were forever fixed in his memory. We all can understand that the things we were most deeply involved with are the things we remember the longest. Think of it; only John records our Lord’s interview with Nicodemus; only John distinctly gives us the idea of the Christian life coming from a new and Divine new birth. So, he talks about the essential things he heard, saw, and touched that he remembers in detail and significance.[11]


[1] Emmons, Nathanael: Biblical Illustrator, 1 John 3, op. cit., pp. 40-41

[2] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 325

[3] 1 John 3:2

[4] Isaiah 64:4

[5] Haydock, George Leo: First Epistle of John, op. cit., loc. cit.

[6] Barnes, Albert: New Testament Notes, op. cit., p. 4837

[7] Isaiah 8:18

[8] Candlish, R. S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., p. 239

[9] Whedon, Daniel: Commentary on NT, op. cit., p. 267

[10] Eadie, John: The Biblical Illustrator: New Testament (p. 52259-52262). Kindle Edition.

[11] Tuck, Richard H., The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., p. 282

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson III) 07/15/21

3:1a See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children – think of it – and we are! But since most people don’t know God, naturally, they don’t recognize that we are His children.

Nathanael Emmons (1745-1840), American Congregational minister and influential theologian of a Divinity School, talks about the future state of Christians. He writes concerning the character of God’s children. This family spirit forms all the beautiful and good-natured traits in the Christian character. First, it influences the children of God to love Him with enthusiasm and supreme affection. Second, it motivates them to love the Lord Jesus the Anointed One in sincerity and believe in Him alone for salvation. Third, it unites all the children of God to one another. Fourth, it offers a spirit of grace and supplication. Five, it inclines His children to obey all His commands.

But what about their future state? First, they are unacquainted with perceiving either material or spiritual objects after they have lost their bodily senses. Second, it’s unknown and mysterious how they will converse with one another and with the heavenly hosts after leaving these mortal bodies. Third, they must remain uninformed in this life, how they will arrive in heaven, and move from place to place after they come there.

Yet, there one more thing. What do God’s children know concerning themselves in a future state? First, they do now perceive precisely where in the universe they will be hereafter. It’s called heaven, but that’s a unique place. Second, they can appreciate in this world what manner of persons they will be in the next. Third, they realize that they will be delighted and blessed when they leave this present evil world.

So, what lessons can we learn from this, asks Emmons? First, it appears that all the knowledge that Christians have of themselves in a future state wholly derives from Divine revelation. Second, they learn why some Christians die in so much light and joy and some in grief and distress. Third, Christians may and ought to infer the great importance of making their calling and election sure. Fourth, the preceding observations leave no doubt that death is always a happy event for God’s children. Fifth, it affords excellent consolation to those bereaved over the passing of near and dear Christian friends.[1] All this may not seem like something to shout over down here, but we will be shouting all over heaven when it comes to pass.

Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1829) says the significance of this verse makes it different from all others. We’ve received Unction – an anointing – from the Holy One. We are now the partakers of a new and supernatural birth. God sent His Spirit into our hearts, whereby we cry Papa, Father. We have received the blessings of grace and glory. It gives us an inward, genuine, and actual enjoyment of those gifts, which enabled us to examine and contemplate the Love of our heavenly Father. He is the original fountain, and spring, of our eternal life, blessedness, perfection, and glory.[2]

Catholic writer George Leo Haydock (1774-1849) speaks very much like an Evangelical when commenting on this verse. He states that the Apostle John said in the last verse of the preceding chapter that since we know that God is always good and does what’s right, we may correctly assume that all those who do right are His children. By that, I mean, children of God by adoption. But the world does not recognize this, nor do they esteem and value us as such. But it’s no wonder because they’ve never known, nor acknowledged, nor reverenced God as they ought. We indeed are the children of God; we believe it because God assured us of it. It is why John tells us that is precisely who we are: children of God.

And that’s only the beginning, says Haydock. Right now, we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when He returns, we will be like Him, as a result of seeing Him as He is.[3] Furthermore, since time began, Scriptures say no one has seen or heard of such a God as ours, who works for those who wait for Him![4] But again, we only know this, that His elect will be like Him because they shall see Him as He is when they enjoy Him in heaven.[5]

Albert Barnes (1798-1870) expounds on what sort of Love God used to love us. Here, the Apostle John signifies the type of love of this kind, and to this degree. This kind of love is the most tender and ennobling in adopting us into God’s family, permitting us to address Him as our Father to such a degree that it is exalted. Since there is no higher love to be found that adopts a poor and friendless orphan boy and give him a parent and a home. God could not bestow on us a more valuable token of affection than that we should be adopted into his family, permitting us to regard Him as our spiritual Father.

When we remember how insignificant we are as creatures, says Barnes, and how ungrateful, rebellious, and vile we have been as sinners, we might be amazed at the Love which would adopt us into the holy family of God so that we may be regarded and treated as the children of the Most-High. A princess could not exhibit higher love for a wandering, ragged, spiteful orphan girl found in the streets than by adopting her into the royal family, admitting her to the same privileges and honors as her daughters. Yet, this would be a trifle compared with the honor which God bestowed on us.[6]

Robert Smith Candlish (1806-1873) says that Jesus, the first-begotten among many brethren, is teaching us now to know, as He knows, the righteous Father through the love by which the Father loved His Son living internally in union with us. Candlish likens the world to a schoolhouse ill-prepared, in many respects, for teaching. The students are not as brilliant as one might wish. The schoolhouse is dimly lit and stuffy; the atmosphere is too full of dust and smoke; the learners are often drowsy, and reading the textbook is like looking through a dark glass.

But then! The hour comes when a kind and caring teacher leads the students into a spacious, magnificent, bright study hall of His Father’s mansion-filled estate. There, He presents them to the Father, face to face, saying, “Here I am Lord with the students You have given me.”[7] Then there is clear sight; unclouded vision; a complete and perfect understanding of the righteous Father; a comprehensive and textbook knowledge between Him and us; as whole and flawless an experience there can be of His beloved. All that is dark or doubtful about His character and ways are cleared up. There is nothing to awaken suspicion or suggest a question; nothing to give a partial or distorted view of what He is or what He does. We see Him as He is, so seeing Him, we approve, love, and are like Him evermore![8]

Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) explains that Regeneration, as a term, does not appear in Scripture but is expressed in all such phrases as born or birthed by God. It is that work of the Holy Spirit by which the love of God and Christian graces spring up in the soul. It occurs immediately following our repentance and faith, brought on by the convicting and enabling influences of the Spirit. The first spark of divine love is the spark of spiritual life – the spark of everlasting life; if preserved within the soul, it will advance until it works out the resurrection glory.[9]

John Eadie (1810-1876) exclaims, what “manner” of God’s Love is this? Transforming those who were once so unlike Him, Love prompted Him to adopt them, and after they are adopted, He has delight in them. So, what “manner” of love is this that the repentant fallen should finally have a place in His embrace which the unrepentant unfallen can never occupy! Still more, a glorious destiny awaits them. When the years of being a minority expire, the children are taken home to the household on high, where the whole family form one unbroken and vast assemblage. We see the extraordinary Love of the Father in the entire experience of discipline arranged for His children. And what child would not be content under any circumstances? Whatever is for their good, their heavenly Father will give them. Such temporal blessings will come as they improve in obedience.[10]

Richard Holmes (1817-1868) Tuck points out that the things the Apostle John remembers of the words and works of our Lord Jesus were the things that caught and engaged his attention. They were forever fixed in his memory. We all can understand that the things we were most deeply involved with are the things we remember the longest. Think of it; only John records our Lord’s interview with Nicodemus; only John distinctly gives us the idea of the Christian life coming from a new and Divine new birth. So, he talks about the essential things he heard, saw, and touched that he remembers in detail and significance.[11]


[1] Emmons, Nathanael: Biblical Illustrator, 1 John 3, op. cit., pp. 40-41

[2] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 325

[3] 1 John 3:2

[4] Isaiah 64:4

[5] Haydock, George Leo: First Epistle of John, op. cit., loc. cit.

[6] Barnes, Albert: New Testament Notes, op. cit., p. 4837

[7] Isaiah 8:18

[8] Candlish, R. S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., p. 239

[9] Whedon, Daniel: Commentary on NT, op. cit., p. 267

[10] Eadie, John: The Biblical Illustrator: New Testament (p. 52259-52262). Kindle Edition.

[11] Tuck, Richard: The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., p. 282

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson II) 07/13/21

3:1a See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children – think of it – and we are! But since most people don’t know God, naturally, they don’t recognize that we are His children.

The opening verse contains the Greek adjective potapos translated as “manner,” and literally means “From what country, nation, or tribe.” The Final Covenant always supplies amazement, [1] but it means outstanding quality rather than size as the original meaning leads us to expect. We must take Love factually: the Divine love itself – agape, and not a mere mention of it. Potapos strikes the keynote of the whole section. The goal of this Love is that forever we’ll go by the title “Children of God.” And, whatever petty critics may say, the title is rightfully ours. The Apostle John shows that the people of this world do not recognize us because they did not recognize God from the beginning. Had they known the Father, they would acknowledge us as His children. John also refers to what precedes;[2] it does not merely anticipate that which follows. In logical phraseology, we first have the central premise, then the conclusion introduced by “what kind,” then – to clinch the argument – the minor premise introduced by “that.”[3]

Christians need to hold in high regard the nature of God’s Love. So, do you esteem the Love of God? We see His Love best in transforming sinful people into the children of God by the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. What kind of affection, what quality of appreciation, what depth of devotion, and what commitment is in this Love? God’s Love for us exceeds the love of a mother for her child. No poet or preacher can exhaust explaining the Love of God. He loves us in pain as much as in health. He loves us when we are pinched financially as when we are prosperous. We should not confuse God’s gifts with God’s Love. We distort a great moment when we say that we can tell how much God loves us by how much He blesses us materially. God’s Spirit directs us again and again to the quality of God’s Love for us. We can so easily forget His Love is unconditional.[4]

Keep in mind, God’s Love comes to us by untainted grace. God does not have to prove His love for us except through Jesus the Anointed One. He gave His best when He gave us Jesus. Anything beyond that is trivial. He gave us the most when He gave His Son. God offers believers the honor of holding the title of His family. In doing so, God gives us a more prestigious title than when we receive any reward from this world; it is an honor to be a child of God, a son or daughter of eternal destiny. We have, however, an entirely different value system of measurement than that of the world. God measures us by belonging to His family, not by power or position.

We can never be good enough for God to love us. He does not love us based on who we are, but on who He is. Acceptance of God’s Love is by faith, not works. We would never know whether we were in God’s Love if it depended on our measuring up to God’s perfection. Gaining God’s Love by works warps the idea of God’s grace.

We Christians have an extraordinary calling. We would treat each other better if we remembered that. The world does not have the spiritual capacity to know all about who and what God or Christians are. The world does not recognize us as the children of God. It looks upon us as just another subculture in society. The reason is that non-Christians do not have spiritual perceptions. They are dead spiritually. Although the non-Christian world may recognize us as Christians in name only, they do not know what it truly means. We should not expect the world to acknowledge our relationship with the Father in heaven. They may even resent that relationship because it reflects on their lack of supreme values.

The reason non-Christians reject our testimony and the witness of the Anointed One is because they voluntarily stop listening. They have no spiritual insight, so they cannot see. Genuine Christians will always be in the minority until Jesus returns. We will never win our entire nation to Jesus the Anointed One. He will establish His kingdom here on earth after He comes back to begin His millennial reign.

COMMENTARY

John Cotton (1585-1652) points out that the Apostle John teaches us that God’s plans are hidden and unknown to the world. Just like when they find out that a beggar or hobo who lives from hand to mouth is a millionaire. God’s people are worth millions, says Cotton, but they are hidden people; the world does not recognize them. If a pearl falls into the mud, you cannot discern it, but wash away the dirt, and you can see it gleam.[5] From all that Cotton says elsewhere, it is clear that he is not talking about Christians living in this dark world with no light shining like a city built on a hill. Instead, it appears that he is talking about when the Lord returns, and we shall see Him as He is, then all the world will know how special we are as children of God.

John Trapp (1601-1669) addresses what the Apostle John says about the world not knowing who we are. First, he says that unknown princes are unrespected; unrecognized, and undignified, as a proverb in the North part of the country. Then Trapp shares a story of a well-known Christian in his day. It concerned Mr. James Bainham (1500-1532), an English lawyer and Protestant reformer burned as a heretic tied to a stake on Tuesday, April 30, 1532.

Bainham was the son of Alexander Bainham, a man of wealth and influence; he was a knight and the sheriff of Gloucestershire. Young James was provided with an excellent education, excelling in Latin and Greek. But it was his actions and criticism of the Catholic Church that brought him to the attention of the ecclesiastical inquisitors. He stood accused of possessing Tyn­dale’s New Testament and attend­ing illegal meetings in a ware­house on Bow Street. He became even more suspect when he mar­ried the widow of the notorious Simon Fish, who died of the Black Death while awaiting trial for heresy.

Sir Thomas More, the Chancellor of England, had James Bainham arrested and brought to his home. He wanted to know the location of Tyndale’s New Testament and other for­bidden books, plus the names of the men and women who met on Bow Street. Mr. More attempted to obtain this information through persuasion and kind words; however, when Chancellor More saw his efforts were futile, Bainham was tied to a tree in the More’s gar­den, and he personally lashed and cut Bainham’s body severely. He then ordered the prisoner to be taken to the Tower of London to be placed on a stretching torture rack.

Bainham did not take back what he said nor surrender to their demands to disown all he had said about the Church. Thus, he was declared guilty of all charges and ordered to be burned. However, they tried one more time. They sent Parson Nicholas Wilson, chaplain and confessor to King Henry VIII, Archdeacon of Oxford in 1528 and rector of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in London in 1531, counselling Bainham to conform himself to the Church. But here’s Bainham’s answer:

“I trust I am a true child of God, which you, blind donkeys do not perceive. I am like the princess bride, waiting within her chamber, robed in beautiful clothing woven with gold,[6] dark but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, tanned as the dark tents of Kedar,[7] rough, but rich; as the tabernacle in the wilderness, covered with black goat’s hair, but inside luxurious and unique, just like the staff of Marcus Brutus’s scepter in Plutarch’s story, that was covered in solid gold in a its hollow wooden shell. All righteous people are kings in righteousness as the Priest Melchisedec was, and just as obscure to the world as he was. They are content to pass on to heaven as the Anointed One did, as concealed royalty. Their faith made them glorious in the Lord Jesus the Anointed One.[8] Although now they are not noticed or given any attention, one day their faith will be proven to be pure, the result will be praise and glory and honor when Jesus the Anointed One returns.”[9]

But before being led to the place of execution, he turned to Mister Pave, the town clerk, saying, “God forgive you and show you more mercy than you’ve shown me.” He also prayed for God to forgive Sir Thomas More. Thus, they burned James Bainham tied to a wooden stake on Tuesday, April 30, 1532, the man who preferred death to life if it meant he must deny his faith. One year later, Mr. Pave, Bainham’s tormentor, hung himself. However, Sir Thomas More refused to renounce the Pope and recognize King Henry the VIII as the sovereign head of the Church of England, and he was arrested and thrown into the Tower of London. They beheaded him on Friday, January 28, 1547, for treason. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord.[10]


[1] Matthew 8:27; Mark 13:1; Luke 1:29; 7:39; 2 Peter 3:11

[2] John 5:16, 18; 7:22; 8:47; 10:17; 12:18, 27, 39

[3] Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, 1 John, p. 70

[4] Richison, Dr. Grant, Verse by Verse Commentary on John’s Epistles, loc. cit.

[5] Joseph Cotton, Exposition of First John, op. cit., Ch. 3:1, p. 328

[6] Psalm 45:13

[7] Song of Solomon1:5

[8] James 2:1

[9] 1 Peter 1:7

[10] Deuteronomy 32:35; cf. Romans 12:17-19

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson I) 07/12/21

3:1a Notice the unique way[1] in which our heavenly Father loves us,[2] for He allows us to be called us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they have never known Him as we do.

EXPOSITION

When reading these encouraging words by the Apostle John, it would be easy to hear the Psalmist who wrote: “Forever and ever I will sing about the tender kindness of the Lord! Young and old shall hear about your blessings. Your love and kindness are forever; your truth is as enduring as the heavens.”[3] We can see why the Apostle Paul was inspired to tell the Ephesians, “I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the ability to understand the greatness of the Anointed One’s love – its width, its length, its height, and its depth of that love. The Anointed One’s love is greater than anyone can imagine, but I pray that you will be able to experience that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has waiting for you.[4]

No wonder the Apostle John was so astounded that even in Jesus’ homeland and among His people, the Jews did not greet Him with open arms. Only a few welcomed and receive Him as the Messiah. But to all who did acknowledge Him, He gave the right to become God’s children. All they needed to do was trust Him to save them.[5] The same is true today. Yet, I can imagine the shock on the faces of those who did believe in Him as the Savior of the world when He then told them, if the world hates you, remember that they hated Me first. If you stayed in the world, they would love you for that, like, they love everyone else in their lost condition. But that’s why I chose you to be different from those in the world. So, you don’t belong to the world anymore, and that is why the world doesn’t like you.[6] Something they continued to do until now.

In the second chapter, we saw the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God brought together and their distinctive principles and practices enunciated. The one that hates and they that love are compared and contrasted. The followers of the world and the followers of God are clearly and eternally distinguished. The Apostle John identified the antichrist movement as attempting to dissolve the Anointed One into a chosen human to be the Messiah, who then claimed to know the real Son of God. The spirit that pervades the previous chapter is pure and holy love, which seeks to separate from the evil out of love to the evil-doer.

These are some of the glorious truths discussed in the last chapter, and now we come to the third, which is peculiarly rich and full of the spirit of the beloved disciple John. May the Spirit enable us to understand it fully and expound it faithfully! Therefore, we may sum up the substance of the first verse in these words: Our heavenly Father’s love.[7]

He begins it with Jesus, the Advocate with the Father, and ends it with Jesus, the Righteous One, from whom, as the second Adam, the new and regenerated life must flow, so that the Alpha and the Omega of the chapter is Jesus, the Son of God. In Him alone, the apostle sees all the fullness of mercy and eternal life for our ruined race; in Him the only power that can conquer the principles of the world and the flesh, and finally lift the redeemed and believing church to the glory of the skies. He is one with the Father in such a way that the Father can never be honored, loved, and adored if He is despised and rejected. He sacrificed Himself for our sins on the cross of Calvary to become our Advocate and Mediator with the Father in heaven. We see that in the Anointed One, the new commandment of love was verified. As a result, the Holy Spirit conveys that unction to the believer through our Lord’s mediation.

John is not attributing any virtue to God for which He has never been known to have. The Psalmist knew of God’s loving-kindness a long time ago.[8] In fact, the Psalms tell us that God was adored because of His precious and unfailing love.[9] As Ethan the Ezrahite sang, “I will always sing about the LORD’S love and loyalty.”[10] And the Apostle Paul expressed it this way, “God showed his great love for us in this way: the Anointed died for us while we were still sinners.”[11] And to prove that love, He did not spare His only Son, but gave Him up to die in our place on a cross.[12] That’s how high and deep God’s grace and mercy flows.[13] But the real question is, do all of God’s people understand the power of His endless love?[14]

This thought by John of how wonderful it was to call his readers children of God came from the heart of God, who used Jeremiah to tell the people of Israel how much he desired for them to be His children, so He could treat them with tender loving care.[15] In fact, God not only wanted Israelites to be called His children, but the Gentiles as well.[16] That’s why Paul felt he had the authority from God to call Gentiles who converted to the Anointed One; they too could be His children if they would only allow the Holy Spirit to lead them.[17] No wonder, Paul quotes the prophets Samuel and Isaiah to prove his point.[18] Not only that, but there are no restrictions on race, skin color, gender, or social status.[19] And as John saw in his revelation, this father-child relationship will last for all eternity.[20]

This idea of the world not having ever known God the way His children do was also in the words of Jesus Himself.[21] Even in His prayer, Jesus said, “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me.”[22] That’s why the Apostle Paul told the Colossians that even though they were once among those called “the world” as far as that unconverted sinful society is concerned, they died to the world long ago when they were born in union with the Anointed One, God’s only Son.[23]

But we must be cautious of supposing that everyone who fails to recognize “our form” of Christianity is necessarily of the world. The Apostle John invariably speaks of believers as the “children of God.[24] The Apostle Paul generally called them “sons of God.”[25] The latter expression can apply to adopted sons; the former, strictly speaking, implies actual parentage. In saying John, “we might be called” appeals to the conscious nobility of Christians: we have this magnificent title with its corresponding dignity.

Also, John wants his readers to take special note of something. The word “behold” is a command to focus on the subject at hand. This dramatic word conveys an idea similar to someone pulling a cord that unveils a statue in a public meeting. He says in effect, “Take note of the astonishing, unadulterated, undying love of God for us.” The principle involved is that God wants us to take special note of His unique love for us. He wants us to concentrate on the nature of His love. John calls attention to the beautiful exhibition of God’s love for us. This way, we can better see His love. We’ll find self-sacrificing love, one-way love that relates to us because of the sacrifice of His Son for our sins. Furthermore, we’ll discover that His love is unconditional, unadulterated, undiminished, undying, unstoppable, and unrelenting. We can never “out-sin” His love for us. His passion is more significant than anything we can do or say.

More than God’s love is at issue here, more than that He loved us; but how He loved us. The words “what manner” connote quality. Note the quality of the Father’s love. His love is perfect and unconditional. He wraps His love in the sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ. The word “love” is not primarily emotional; instead, it describes an attitude where the mind and will are the overriding idea. God loves sinful people not because they are loveable, but even though they are not loveable. God always seeks our highest good. His love never wavers toward us.


[1] Behold what exotic [foreign to the human heart] love the Father has permanently bestowed upon us.

[2] Wuest, K. S. (1961), The New Testament: an Expanded Translation, op. cit., (1 John 3:1)

[3] Psalm 89:1-2

[4] Ephesians 3:18-19

[5] John 1:11-12

[6] John 15:18-19

[7] Graham, W. (1857), The Spirit of Love, op. cit., p. 182

[8] Psalm 31:19

[9] Ibid. 36:7-9

[10] Ibid. 89:1-2

[11] Romans 5:8

[12] Ibid. 8:32

[13] Ephesians 2:4-5

[14] Ibid. 3:18-19

[15] Jeremiah 3:19

[16] Hosea 1:10; See Romans 9:25-26

[17] Romans 8:14-17

[18] See 2 Samuel 7:14; Isaiah 43:6

[19] Galatians 3:28-29; 4:5-6

[20] Revelation 21:7

[21] John 16:3

[22] Ibid. 17:25 – The Living Bible

[23] Colossians 3:3

[24] Cf. Revelation 21:7

[25] Galatians 4:6

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

FEAR OF BEING WRONG

Undoubtedly, François Fénelon was able to see into other people’s lives not just by their actions or attitudes, but in conversing with them. The stress of post-war recovery and wanting not to give God another reason for such punishment, they became reclusive, not wanting to earn His disfavor. What Fénelon heard motivated him to address them this way:

Don’t you know that your spiritual progress is more hindered by your excessive fear of taking the opportunity to enjoy ordinary, innocent things, than which could be enjoyed by your participating. Of course, self-indulgence is always to be avoided, especially when we need self-restraint; but you seriously injure yourself by keeping up a perpetual effort to resist even the smallest involuntary pleasure in the details of a well-regulated life. I would have you steadily resist such a tendency. I do not approve of your efforts to reject the enjoyment inevitably attending upon simple food and needed rest.

Speak honestly about your concerns about your health to your doctor. Then leave it to him to, decide and stop thinking about your delights. But obey quietly; that should be the aim of your courage and steadfastness. Without this, you will not acquire the peace that God’s children possess, nor will you deserve it. Bear all annoyances of your present condition, which is full of inconveniences and discomfort; in a penitential spirit; these arc the penances God assigns you, and they are far more useful than those you may choose for yourself. There is no spot in the world where you would not find yourself beset with your natural taste for enjoyment. Even the strictest solitude would have its thorns.

The best state to be in is the one in which God’s hand holds you: do not look beyond it, and be content to accept His will from one moment to another in the spirit of self-denial and renunciation. But this surrender must be full of trust in God, who loves you even more for not sparing you. You ought to be scrupulous about your scruples rather than about your enjoyment of innocent, ordinary things.[1] [2]

Written over 450 years ago

Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] Cf. Philippians 4:8

[2] Fénelon, François: The Complete Fénelon, Part 1, The Royal Way of the Cross, pp. 8-9

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

INTRODUCTION to CHAPTER THREE

In this exciting third chapter, the Apostle John has a treasure chest full of beautiful jewels of spiritual insight to show wondrous love God the Father extended to us! Believe it or not, it involves our relationship with the Creator of the universe! But, sadly, the people of this world don’t know what it is because they have no idea who He is or what He is.

But this is only the beginning, says John, but there’s more coming. For one thing, we will finally see things the way they are, not what we imagined them to be. And we are told that we will immediately recognize it because of what happens in the twinkling of an eye. So, says John, keep living in anticipation of that glorious moment, and do all we can to use Jesus as our model for living here on earth.

It makes no sense to indulge in sinful living, which is next to lawlessness. It would help if you did not forget, says John, the Anointed One came to earth for a reason. None of those who don’t do this have got everything backward. We all should want to be one of God’s in-laws, not one of His outlaws.

The Apostle John takes all of this personally. As a result, we can hold on to something that will keep us from wandering away from the path of holy living. Of course, it involves acting right in God’s eyes. But it has a prequalification. We were given a great model to follow; He will never let us down. But what about those who don’t want to live this way? Where did these people come from who makes a practice of sinning? And, what is God’s answer?

Now, people who are recreated and brought to spiritual life by God don’t make it a practice of sinning. How could they? There is something deep inside them that makes them who they are. A person with a Godly nature will never want to practice and parade their sins. We must learn to tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s demons. It is all based upon an original message from our Lord. It will keep us right in God’s sight.

To better understand this, says John, take a look at what happened back in Adam’s day. Not only did Satan fool Eve, but he wanted to deceive her children as well. Sadly, it all ends up in murder. John draws an impressive conclusion from this incident and wants to pass it on to every believer. However, while it certainly brings much good to our lives, it also ushers in things we are not comfortable with. But don’t be surprised, it has been going on for a long, long time.

So, how can we know we’ve been transferred from spiritual death to life? It’s nothing complicated, but for some, it seems so hard to do. If we do what John tells us God wants us to do, it will enhance our lives. If we don’t, then there are dire consequences. So, it’s a case of either do this, or something unfortunate and unwanted will happen. Like oil and water, some things in life just don’t mix.

The Apostle John has no interest in making it complex. Just look at what the Anointed One did to make this happen. Without what He did for us, there is no hope for an everlasting future with God in heaven. But, at the same time, it does offer us an example to follow. Everything is for our benefit and the good of our fellow believers. It is like waiting for the “Walk Light’ to come on before you cross the street, taking away of fear of being injured and even suffering death. It begins with what God transferred to us; that we are to pass on to our Christian brothers or sisters in need. If you don’t share of everything you’ve received, then of everything you have, you will be relieved.

We just can’t talk about doing what God and our Lord Jesus want us to do. If we don’t follow through, then it raises a big question about our relationship with God. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God has something more significant than what we have to handle the stress we sometimes feel in being a holy living Christian in this world, especially when things aren’t going the way we want them to.

John concludes that we need to take care of something if we plan to enjoy the more abundant life our Lord promised us. We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what He said, doing what pleases Him. Again, this is God’s command, not some rule of the Church or a bishop’s demand. It involves something we all enjoy. It keeps us spiritually healthy and grants us a long life. Here’s nothing new; it has been around since the beginning. And doing what our heavenly Father commands, we live sure and secure in Him and He in us. And we experience His deep and abiding presence daily. One day, all of this will become crystal clear because we will have not only heard it, but will see it.

 

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