how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be
called children of God; and such we are:
idete (2PAAM) potapen agapen
dedoken (3SRAI) hemin o pater hina tekna theou klethomen (1PAPS) kai
(1Jn 4:9,10; 2Samuel 7:19; Psalms 31:19; 36:7, 8, 9; 89:1,2; John
3:16; Romans 5:8; 8:32; Ephesians 2:4,5; 3:18,19) (Children - Jeremiah
3:19; Hosea 1:10; John 1:12; Romans 8:14, 15, 16, 17,21; 9:25,26;
2Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 3:26,29; 4:5,6; Revelation 21:7)
1John 3:1-3 would make a pithy and
powerful sermon series which could be titled (credit to Dr Warren
1Jn 3:1: WHAT WE ARE
1Jn 3:2: WHAT WE SHALL BE
1Jn 3:3: WHAT WE SHOULD BE
Click to listen to the timeless, raspy
voiced exposition of 1Jn 3:1 by Dr J Vernon McGee
Keep the context in mind,
remembering that John has just written these words...
If you know that He is righteous,
you know that everyone also who practices (present
their lifestyle, it does not mean "perfection" but "direction" of
their life - toward heaven rather than toward hell!) righteousness is born of
Him. (1Jn 2:29)
In light of this truth about
their new birth, John is prompted to explain that the basis for this
new birth is the
Father’s great love by which He has made sinners His children. This
truth distinguishes believers from unregenerate men and women of this
fallen world and this distinction has significant spiritual
consequences which he will explain.
As MacDonald puts it...
The thought of being born of God
arrests John with wonder
(Ed: Beloved, when was the last
time thoughts of your own "new birth" "arrested" you with wonder? This
should be our continual mindset!), and he calls on his readers to take a look
at the wonderful love that brought us into the family of God. Love
could have saved us without making us children of God. But the manner
of God’s love is shown in that he brought us into His family as
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
Hiebert entitles this
The dynamic reality of the new life
(1Jn 3:1-2). Having become members of God's family through the new
birth, believers find that their new life has deep present as well as
future significance (Ed:
Perhaps you are in a state of despair - you need to read that previous
sentence again!). John calls upon his readers to contemplate the
amazing reality of present membership in God's family (1Jn 3:1a),
reminds them that this explains the reaction of the world toward them
(1Jn 3:1b), and stresses that this new life as God's children has
present and future implications (1Jn 3:2). (The
Epistles of John An Expositional Commentary by D. Edmond Hiebert)
MEDITATE ON IT!
See how great a love - Not
just "love" but "great love"! John wants the children of God to
take a supernatural (Spirit enabled) glimpse into the Father's supernatural love for
us. Beloved, have you
ever asked Him to illumine this great truth in your mind and heart?
What will happen to our thoughts, words and deeds when He answers
affirmatively? (cp 1Jn 5:14,15) Will not we "fall on our face"
at having been shown to be unworthy benefactors of His ineffable,
infinite, invaluable, never failing love? Will not this sense of His
love poured out in our heart by His Spirit motivate us to live for Him
rather than for ourselves?(!)
- Amazing Love) (Chris
Tomlin - Amazing Love)
And Can It Be That I Should Gain
by Charles Wesley
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
In the following passage, note that
one "result" of Paul's great prayer for the saints at Ephesus
is a knowledge of the love of Christ which "surpasses
knowledge" (talk about mystical and supernatural!)...
For this reason (Why?
see Ep 3:13), I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family
in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you,
according to (not a
portion of but proportionate to)
the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His
Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts
through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
(What does God's love do
for us here? Or how "foundational" is His love?)
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and
length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ (cp
2Co 5:14) which surpasses knowledge, (And
what is the purpose of this "surpassing knowledge" of Christ's love?
Paul explains...) that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.
(Can we be confident that
God will answer this incredibly rich prayer? How does Paul address
that question?) Now to
Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or
think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the
glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and
ever. Amen. (Eph 3:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21-see
And again notice what Paul
prays for the saints at the church at Philippi...
And this I pray, that your love
may abound still more and more in real knowledge (i.e.,
based on truth like
1Jn 3:1, et al)
and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are
excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of
Christ (cp 1Jn 3:2-note,
(Notice how a discerning,
knowledge of God's love is the wellspring from which flows an
obedient, holy life, even until the day we see our Lord face to face!);
having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through
Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Php 1:9, 10, 11-see
we beginning to see Paul's emphasis on the importance of a saint's
deep understanding of God's love?)
See the fearful exhortation of our
Lord Jesus Christ to the church at Ephesus wherein He
emphasizes the importance of believers continually recalling to their
mind the love of God and conducting themselves in concord with
this love (cp 2Co 5:14)...
To the angel of the church in
Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand,
the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
I know your deeds and your toil and
perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the
test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you
found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for
My name's sake, and have not grown weary.
But (Introduces a radical
change of direction in His exhortation!) I have this against you, that
you have left (left,
not lost!) your first
= command from our Lord
to keep on remembering - we are all prone to forget, with the
result that our heart and our love grows cold toward our Bridegroom
Jesus and we begin to wonder and to wander! Ready recall reaps
righteous "running" - cp
therefore from where you have fallen, and
= command from the Captain of the hosts [Jos 5:14,15] demanding our
urgent, immediate attention and obedience! Don't procrastinate! Don't
delay! Delay is disobedience!) and
= see previous note)
the deeds you did at first (When
He poured His love into your heart
cp 1Jn 4:10] and you
first fell in love with Jesus);
or else I am coming to you, and will remove your
lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent.
Yet this you do have, that you hate
the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
He who has an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will
grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.
(Rev 2:1-7, see notes
Comment (Tony Garland's
comments below on Rev 2:4-note
are worth pondering):
The disturbing reality is that it
is possible to think one is actively “serving God,” but without a true
relationship with Him (Ed:
Reference is to Jesus' words in Mt 7:21, 22, 23-note).
Even in the case where we begin following after Him, time and
circumstances often turn our hearts aside. (Ed:
"Amen" or "Oh my!")
When Solomon grew old...
his wives turned his heart after
other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his
God, as was the heart (cp 1Sa 13:14, Acts 13:22) of his
father David (1Ki 11:4).
Our priority must ever be
relationship over service (works). This is the essential
message of the incident involving Mary and her sister Martha related
by Luke. Martha‘s priority was serving whereas
Mary...sat at Jesus’ feet and heard
His word (Lk 10:39).
Martha was so focused on serving
that she missed a golden opportunity to listen to her Lord. Jesus
summarized the actions of the two sisters:
Martha, Martha, you are worried (merimnao
[word study] from merizo = to divide - picture of a
"divided" mind!) and troubled (turbazo = noise, uproar, disturbance -
English "turbid"!) about many things. But one thing is
and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from
her” (Lk 10:41, 42).
Time spent sitting at the Master’s
feet will never be taken away from us. Although some fret that such
time reduces our ability to serve, the result is actually the
opposite. Our devotion, motivation, and understanding of God are
deepened causing an increase in the fruit of God’s ministry through
Our ministry and service must be
grounded in and out of our love for Him
He 6:11, 12-note).
We are “priests to His God,” our
primary focus is God-ward, only then man-ward.
Instead of waning, our love for
Him is to be continually increasing
The Ephesian church had lost its focus. They had taken their eyes off
of Jesus (cp He 12:2-note)
and were now focusing on their works done for His name.
This is the essence of idolatry.
The condition of the Ephesian church at the time of John appears
considerably different to that when Paul wrote his epistle. “See the
Ephesians’ first love, Eph 1:15-note.
This epistle (Revelation) was written under Domitian, when thirty
years had elapsed since Paul had written his Epistle to them.”
Beware of the deceptive delusion of doing rather than being. The first
command was, is and always will be "You shall love the LORD your
God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your
mind and with all your strength" (Mk 12:30)
See (Behold - KJV)
(idete - verb = horao) means to discern clearly
(physical or mental), and does not call for the reader to merely
"see", but also to have an actual perception of the object.
When horao is used of seeing
God it also conveys the idea of knowing Him (i.e., horao is rendered "see" or "seen"
and is coupled with knowing in
the following = Jn 1:18; 14:7, 9; 1Jn 3:6; 4:20; 3Jn 1:11)
and knowing His character as in the present context where
believers are charged to "see and behold and know" His great attribute of
amazing, "other worldly" love (see
short summary of God's attribute of Love).
Notice that John uses the
which is a
command calling for the reader to give immediate, effective, even urgent
attention. Here's the idea...
Look at this!
Think about it!
Ponder its significance!
John also uses the plural (of
which calls for all of his readers to take a "heart moving look at the
the amazing love which gave them membership in God's family" (Hiebert)
Alexander Maclaren's practical
application of John's charge to "See"!
Wuest adds that...
Behold is plural here,
literally, “behold ye.” The usual form is singular. John is
calling upon all the saints to wonder at the particular
(Ed: distinctive, noteworthy, remarkable, singular, uncommon,
unique, special, exceptional, "peculiar" [in a good sense of course])
kind of love God has bestowed upon them.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
By way of application, let me
"put in a plug" for the spiritual discipline of
- but don't just read
about it -- delight to do it that you might be like a tree firmly
planted by streams of water
and that you might be careful to do according to all that is written
in God's Word (~God's will), for then you will make your way
prosperous, and then you will have success.
Jackman rightly says of
the command to "see"
The force is that we need to take
time to contemplate this love and allow its reality to sink down into
the depths of our being. (Amen!) (The Bible Speaks Today)
Primer on Biblical Meditation)
Steven Cole makes the
point that it is sad but true of our human nature that...
Some things grow commonplace over
time. We’ve heard about them and known them for years. Maybe at first,
when it was new, an idea or experience affected us. But over the
years, the effect grows weaker and weaker, until finally it’s just a
far-distant memory. But
the Father’s great love for us is the kind of experience that should
grow stronger and stronger over the years, until it totally dominates
every aspect of our lives.
It should consume our thoughts and control our behavior (cp 2Co 5:14).
It should motivate us to serve God and to live holy lives. It should
give us comfort in all our trials. It should fill us with the eager
hope of being with Him in heaven. It should fill us with awe and
worship, that He, the holy sovereign of the universe, would set His
love on a sinful, self-willed rebel like me! “Amazing
love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, should die for me!”
Don’t let yourself ever hear of the Father’s great love and think, “Ho
hum!” It ought always to amaze you. (The
Father's Great Love)
(Bolding and color added)
Spurgeon in expositional
notes comments on 1John 3 that it...
is a chapter in every word and a
sermon in every letter. How it opens with a "Behold!"
because it is such a striking portion of sacred Scripture, that the
Holy Ghost would have us pay particular attention to it. "Behold!"
"read other Scriptures if you like, with a glance, but stop
here. I have put up a way-mark to tell you there is something
eminently worthy of attention buried beneath these words."
"Behold, what manner of love the
Father hath bestowed on us." Consider who we were, and who we are
now; ay, and what we feel ourselves to be even when divine grace is
powerful in us. And yet, beloved, we are called "the sons
(children) of God." It is said that when one of the learned
heathens was translating this, he stopped and said,
No; it cannot be; let it be written
'Subjects,' not 'Sons,' for it is impossible we should be called 'the
sons of God.'
What a high relationship is that of
a son to his father! What privileges a son has from his father! What
liberties a son may take with his father! and oh! what obedience
the son owes to his father, and what love the father feels
towards the son! But all that, and more than that, we now have through
ye angels! stop, ye seraphs! here is a thing more wonderful than
heaven with its walls of jasper.
universe! open thine eyes, O world. "Behold,
what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should
be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because
it knew him not." Well, we are content to go with Him in his
humiliation, for we are to be exalted with him.
"Beloved, now are we the sons
(children) of God." That is easy to read; but it is not so easy to
"Now are we the sons
(children) of God."
How is it with your heart this
morning? Are you in the lowest depths of sorrow and suffering? "Now
are you a son of God." Does corruption rise within your spirit, and
grace seem like a poor spark trampled under foot? "Beloved, now are
you a son of God." Does your faith almost fail you? and are your
graces like a candle well nigh blown out by the wind! Fear not,
beloved; it is not your graces, it is not your frames, it is not your
feelings, on which you are to live: you must live simply by naked
faith on Christ.
Beloved, now are we the
sons (children) of God."
With all these things against us,
with the foot of the devil on our neck, and the sword in his hand
ready to slay us—beloved now in the very depths of our sorrow,
wherever we may be—now, as much in the valley as on the mountain, as
much in the dungeon as in the palace, as much when broken on the wheel
of suffering as when exalted on the wings of triumph—"beloved, now are
we the sons of God."
"Ah!" but you say, "see how I am
arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not shine
with apparent glory." But read the next: "It doth not yet appear what
we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like
him." We are not so much like him now, but we have some more refining
process to undergo, and death itself, that best of all friends, is yet
to wash us clean. "We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like
him; for we shall see him as he is."
from pote = interrogative adverb [when?] + pou =
where?) is firstly an interrogative adjective which means
"of what sort or what kind?" (speaking of quality). When potapos is used (as
in the present passage) in an exclamation, the context conveys the
sense of admiration =
"how great!"; "how wonderful!", "how glorious!" (cp Mk 13:1)
John Stott says potapos always implies
primarily, “from what country,”
then, “of what sort”...
Steven Cole adds
It’s as if John thinks about the
Father’s great love and says, “Where does this come from? It must be
from heaven, because there’s nothing like it in this world!” (The
Father's Great Love)
Potapos - 7x in 6v - Matt
8:27; Mark 13:1; Luke 1:29; 7:39; 2 Pet 3:11; 1 John 3:1. NAS = how
great(1), what kind of(2), what sort of(1), what sort of person(1),
what wonderful (2). Potapos is not found in the non-apocryphal
how great ("what manner of"1Jn 3:1KJV)
“What manner of” is potapēn, “from
what country, race or tribe?” The word speaks of something foreign.
The translation could read, “Behold, what foreign kind of love
the Father has bestowed upon us.” The love of God is foreign to
the human race. It is not found naturally in humanity. When it exists
there, it is in a saved individual, and by reason of the
ministry of the Holy Spirit. Smith suggests, “from what far
realm? What unearthly love,… how other-worldly.”
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Hiebert notes that
implies a reaction of astonishment,
and usually of admiration, upon viewing some person or thing. The
expression conveys both a qualitative and quantitative force, "what
glorious, measureless love!" This love, originating with God, ever
seeks the true welfare of those being loved; it is amazing in-deed
when we remember the personal destitution of those He loves. God's is
a love that works visible, transforming results in the lives of its
Epistles of John An Expositional Commentary by D. Edmond Hiebert)
is unconditional, sacrificial love and Biblically refers to a love
that God is (1Jn 4:8,16), that God demonstrates (Ro 5:8-note,
Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and that God enables in His children (see note on
fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5:22-note).
Agape may involve emotion,
but it must always involve action. Agape is
unrestricted, unrestrained, and unconditional. Agape love is
the virtue that surpasses all others and in fact is the prerequisite
for all the others. Jesus when asked
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” replied ”‘You
shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your
soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost
commandment." (Mt 22:36, 37, 38)
John explains love
in this letter noting that...
by this (by what? read on...) the
love of God was manifested (phaneroo
= made visible) in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son (Jesus
is the exact representation of God's nature [Heb 1:3-note]
and He as the very personification of divine love shows us the
Father's love) into the world so that we might live through Him (He is
our life - Col 3:3-note?
Who is living your life
today beloved?) The only
way to live an "other worldly", supernatural, Christian
life is to surrender your rights each day and allow Him to live
through you! cp Ro 12:1-note).
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us (Note
that agape love is not manifest by gushy feelings, but an "action"
verb, which gives without expectation of return or even of reception!)
and sent His Son to be the propitiation (fully satisfactory sacrifice
- the justice of the Father has been satisfied by the perfect sinless
sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jn 1:29, 36) for our sins. (1Jn 4:9, 10)
Steven Cole offers the
following practical applications of this section...
The Father’s great love should instruct us about our
relationships with one another. This is the apostle Paul’s thought in
Ephesians 5:1, 2 (notes),
= command for this to be our lifestyle, our general pattern - our
direction not perfection) imitators of God, as beloved children;
and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up
for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Imitate God by walking in love, with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross
as your great example! If you need more specifics about what walking
in love really looks like, go to Paul’s great chapter on love (1Cor
13:4-8a - see notes
v7-8). He writes,
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag
and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its
own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all
things. Love never fails (Ed:
Notice that love is defined by
verbs not adjectives!)….
Can you substitute your name in place of “love”? (“Steve is patient,”
etc.) Those qualities should increasingly describe your relationships
with others, beginning with those that you live with.
We’re all prone to excuse our lack
of love by blaming those that we are supposed to love. We say,
“I am usually a very loving person,
but if you knew how unloving my husband is, you’d understand why I
treat him as I do.”
“I work long hours to provide for
my wife, but all she does is gripe and criticize me. Sure, I’m mean
and angry sometimes, but who wouldn’t be?”
But such excuses don’t hold up because such unloving behavior does
not in any way resemble God’s great love for you. Where would you be
if God made up excuses for why He should withhold His love from you?
He doesn’t need to make up excuses—He has legitimate reasons why you
do not deserve His love! He would have been completely justified to
leave you in your sins, with no remedy. But, instead, He so loved you
that He sent His only begotten Son to bear the penalty that you justly
deserved. Now He says,
“Imitate My love by loving those who are
insensitive, mean, and unloving toward you.”
John’s words here also apply to how we as earthly fathers relate to
our children. All of biblical parenting can be summed up in one
sentence: Love your children as the heavenly Father loves you. Such
love involves proper correction and discipline, of course. But, I
think that most Christian parents fall short primarily in the realm of
love, not discipline. God lavished His love and grace on us in Jesus
Christ. As Christian parents—especially as fathers—we need to lavish
grace and love on our children. It will motivate them to follow Christ
far more than strict rules ever will. I’m not saying that there is no
need for rules. I am saying that if your children feel your love for
them, the need for rules is greatly diminished.
So John shows us that the Father’s great love should both amaze and
instruct us. Stop and behold it often! (Bolding and Links added)
Father's Great Love)
Alexander Maclaren has these
devotional thoughts on the love that is bestowed...
We are called upon to come with our
little vessels to measure the contents of the great ocean, to plumb
with our short lines the infinite abyss, and not only to estimate the
quantity but the quality of that love, which, in both respects,
surpasses all our means of comparison and conception. Properly
speaking, we can do neither the one nor the other, for we have no line
long enough to sound its depths, and no experience which will give us
a standard with which to compare its quality. But all that we can do,
John would have us do—that is, look and ever look at the working of
that love till we form some not wholly inadequate idea of it.
We can no more ‘behold what
manner of love the Father has bestowed on us’ than we can look with
undimmed eyes right into the middle of the sun. But we can in some
measure imagine the tremendous and beneficent forces that ride forth
horsed on his beams to distances which the imagination faints in
trying to grasp, and reach their journey’s end unwearied and ready for
their task as when it began. Here are we, ninety odd millions of miles
from the centre of the system, yet warmed by its heat, lighted by its
beams, and touched for good by its power in a thousand ways. All that
has been going on for no one knows how many aeons. How mighty the
Power which produces these effects!
In like manner, who can gaze
into the fiery depths of that infinite Godhead, into the ardours of
that immeasurable, incomparable, inconceivable love? But we can
look at and measure its activities. We can see what it does, and so
can, in some degree, understand it, and feel that after all we have a
measure for the Immeasurable, a comparison for the Incomparable, and
can thus ‘behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us.’
So we have to turn to the work of
Christ, and especially to His death, if we would estimate the love of
God. According to John’s constant teaching, that is the great proof
that God loves us. The most wonderful revelation to every heart of man
of the depths of that Divine heart lies in the gift of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle bids me ‘behold what
manner of love.’ I turn to the Cross, and I see there a love which
shrinks from no sacrifice, but gives ‘Him up to death for us all.’ I
turn to the Cross, and I see there a love which is evoked by no
lovableness on my part, but comes from the depth of His own Infinite
Being, who loves because He must, and who must because He is God. I
turn to the Cross, and I see there manifested a love which sighs for
recognition, which desires nothing of me but the repayment of my poor
affection, and longs to see its own likeness in me. And I see there a
love that will not be put away by sinfulness, and shortcomings, and
evil, but pours its treasures on the unworthy, like sunshine on a
dunghill. So, streaming through the darkness of eclipse, and speaking
to me even in the awful silence in which the Son of Man died there for
sin, I ‘behold,’ and I hear, the ‘manner of love that the Father hath
bestowed upon us,’ stronger than death and sin, armed with all power,
gentler than the fall of the dew, boundless and endless, in its
measure measureless, in its quality transcendent—the love of God to me
in Jesus Christ my Saviour.
In like manner we have to
think,, if we would estimate the ‘manner of this love,’ that through
and in the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ there comes to us the gift
of a divine life like His own. Perhaps it may be too great a
refinement of interpretation; but it certainly does seem to me that
that expression ‘to bestow His love upon’ us, is not altogether the
same as ‘to love us,’ but that there is a greater depth in it. There
may be some idea of that love itself being as it were infused into us,
and not merely of its consequences or tokens being given to us; as
Paul speaks of ‘the love of God shed abroad in our hearts’ by the
spirit which is given to us. At all events this communication of
divine life, which is at bottom divine love—for God’s life is God’s
love—is His great gift to men.
Be that as it may, these two are
the great tokens, conequences, and measures of God’s love to us—the
gift of Christ, and that which is the sequel and outcome thereof, the
gift of the Spirit which is breathed into Christian spirits. These two
gifts, which are one gift, embrace all that the world needs. Christ
for us and Christ in us must both be taken into account if you would
estimate the manner of the love that God has bestowed upon us.
We may gain another measure of
the greatness of this love if we put an emphasis—which I dare say the
writer did not intend—on one word of this text, and think of the love
given to ‘us,’ such creatures as we are. Out of the depths we cry
to Him. Not only by the voice of our supplications, but even when we
raise no call of entreaty, our misery pleads with His merciful heart,
and from the heights there comes upon our wretchedness and sin the
rush of this great love, like a cataract, which sweeps away all our
sins, and floods us with its own blessedness and joy. The more we know
ourselves, the more wonderingly and thankfully shall we bow down our
hearts before Him, as we measure His mercy by our unworthiness.
From all His works the same summons
echoes. They all call us to see mirrored in them His loving care. But
the Cross of Christ and the gift of a Divine Spirit cry aloud to every
ear in tones of more beseeching entreaty and of more imperative
command to ‘behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon
Love That Calls Us Sons
The Father - This
description is at the end of the Greek phrase which gives emphasis to
God as a Giver Who is also a Father. This emphasizes the intimate
relation He has with His sons and daughters, a relationship which is
so profound and deep and undeserved that it simply causes one to fall
down and worship!
(didomi) means to give, to bestow, to confer, to make a present
of, to put something into
another's possession. Didomi also conveys the added sense that the
granting is based on a decision of the will of the Giver (in this case
our Father) and not on any merit of the recipient (saved sinners).
This love is a gift and which cannot be earned or purchased (it is
priceless)! Beloved, don't fall into the trap even after salvation of
trying to earn the Father's love! You can't do it! God bestows it upon
those who do not deserve it (which sounds a lot like grace!)
The 1828 Noah Webster's
Dictionary has an excellent definition of give as "to pass or
transfer the title or property of a thing to another person without an
equivalent or compensation". What a great description of the Father's
gracious love. And this great love is not just for time but for
eternity as indicated by the
which signifies past completed action with ongoing effect/result! His
love lavished upon saved sinners (cp grace lavished Ep 1:8-note)
will endure throughout the ages. This love of which believers
have become benefactors is a permanent gift.
Wuest adds that the ...
is used here to indicate that the gift becomes a permanent possession
of the recipient. God has placed His love upon the saints in the sense
that they have become the permanent objects of His love. One of the
results of this love in action is that we are called sons of God.
Smith says: “The purpose of this
amazing gift; a wise, holy love, concerned for our highest good, ‘not
simply that we may be saved from suffering and loss, but in order that
we may be styled children of God.’
And we have not only the name but
the character: ‘so we are.’
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Vincent notes an
Emphasizing the endowment of the
charizomai [word study],
grace, favor, which emphasizes the good-will of the giver. See Gal.
3:18; Php. 2:9-note;
On us (hemin) -
Not on "you" but "us" - Thus John reflecting his
humility includes himself among the recipients of this amazing love.
Paul describes us in
Romans 5 as those who were helpless, ungodly (Ro 5:6-note),
sinners (Ro 5:8-note),
and enemies (of God - Ro 5:10-note),
toward whom He choose to demonstrate "His own
and within whose hearts His
love was "poured
out...through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Ro 5:5-note)
(hina) is explanatory, clarifying the love that the Father has
given to His children.
Alexander Maclaren has an
interesting thought on that writing that...
The text is, I suppose, generally
understood as if it pointed to the fact that we are called the sons
of God as the great exemplification of the wonderfulness of His
love. That is a perfectly possible view of the connection and
meaning of the text.
But if we are to translate with
perfect accuracy we must render, not ‘that we should be called,’
but ‘in order that we should be called the sons of God.’ The meaning
then is that the love bestowed is the means by which the design that
we should be called His sons is accomplished. What John calls us to
contemplate with wonder and gratitude is not only the fact of this
marvellous love, but also the glorious end to which it has been given
to us and works. There seems no reason for slurring over this meaning
in favour of the more vague ‘that’ of our version. God gives His great
and wonderful love in Jesus Christ, and all the gifts and powers which
live in Him like fragrance in the rose. All this lavish bestowal of
love, unspeakable as it is, may be regarded as having one great end,
which God deems worthy of even such expenditure, namely, that men
should become, in the deepest sense, His children. It is not so much
to the contemplation of our blessedness in being sons, as to the
devout gaze on the love which, by its wonderful process, has made it
possible for us to be sons, that we are summoned here. (The
Love That Calls Us Sons
(kaleo) means to speak to another in order to bring them
nearer, either physically or
in a personal relationship, clearly the latter in this context.
Undeserving sinners are called out of the morass of the miserable
multitude and made sons and daughters of the Most High God (see
El Elyon: Most High God - Sovereign Over All).
As believers, we have been invited into His "palace" and given entree
(freedom of entry or access) into the King's chamber (cp Ro 5:1-note,
cp bold access into the Holy of holies, Heb 4:16-note).
Is this truth not beyond
our finite comprehension beloved?
Wiersbe rightly reminds
us that children of God
is not simply a high-sounding name
that we bear; it is a reality! We are God’s children! We do not expect
the world to understand this thrilling relationship, because it does
not even understand God. Only a person who knows God through Christ
can fully appreciate what it means to be called a child of God.
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
(teknon [4x 1Jn = 1Jn
3:1, 2, 10; 5:2] from tikto
= to bring forth or bear children ) literally refers to those who are
"born ones" and in the plural (tekna) refers to descendants,
posterity or children, those viewed in relation to their parents or
Here teknon is used figuratively to refer to those who have by
grace through faith been born (by the Spirit - Jn 3:5, 6, 7, 8, Ep
spiritually (Jn 1:12). How can we be certain we are children of the
Living God? (See 1Jn 2:29, 3:7, 9, 10, 5:2, et al -
tense = as
one's general lifestyle!)
The Holy Spirit bears testimony to our human spirit that we are
children of God, and our Spirit-energized spirit thus joins the Holy
Spirit in a joint-testimony to that fact (Ro 8:16, 17-note)
Note that children (teknon)
occurs while the related word "little children" (teknion)
occurs in 1Jn 2:1, 2:12, 2:28, 3:7, 4:4, 5:21.
John explains how this
supernatural adoption into God's family has miraculously transpired
as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God,
even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor
of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (It was
God's plan for our life from the beginning - let us gratefully worship
Him Ro 11:36-note).
(Jn 1:12, 13)
know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices (present
tense = as
one's general lifestyle!)
righteousness is born of Him. (1Jn 2:29)
Teknon - 99x in 91v -
Matt 2:18; 3:9; 7:11; 9:2; 10:21; 15:26; 18:25; 19:29; 21:28; 22:24;
23:37; 27:25; Mark 2:5; 7:27; 10:24, 29f; 12:19; 13:12; Luke 1:7, 17;
2:48; 3:8; 7:35; 11:13; 13:34; 14:26; 15:31; 16:25; 18:29; 19:44;
20:31; 23:28; John 1:12; 8:39; 11:52; Acts 2:39; 7:5; 13:33; 21:5, 21;
Rom 8:16f, 21; 9:7f; 1 Cor 4:14, 17; 7:14; 2 Cor 6:13; 12:14; Gal
4:19, 25, 27f, 31; Eph 2:3; 5:1, 8; 6:1, 4; Phil 2:15, 22; Col 3:20f;
1 Thess 2:7, 11; 1 Tim 1:2, 18; 3:4, 12; 5:4; 2 Tim 1:2; 2:1; Titus
1:4, 6; Philemon 1:10; 1 Pet 1:14; 3:6; 2 Pet 2:14; 1 John 3:1, 2, 10;
5:2; 2 John 1:1, 4, 13; 3 John 1:4; Rev 2:23; 12:4f
And such we are - Note
that this phrase does not appear in the KJV (Textus Receptus) but is
considered authentic by the modern critical manuscripts and this is
found in most of the modern translations.
Hiebert comments that...
words, "and such are we" (kai esmen, "and we are"),
emphatically declare that we are not merely God's children in name but
in reality. They express a ringing note of assurance, encouraging and
strengthening the readers. Lias notes that "the words `children of
God' were no mere title, but the expression of a fact, a fact which
was to colour all their thoughts and actions, to banish superstitious
fear, and to fill them with a thought of ever-present love, which
should sustain them in all the trials and distresses of the world." (The
Epistles of John An Expositional Commentary by D. Edmond Hiebert)
comments on and such we are noting that...
these words come with a very great
weight of manuscript authority, and of internal evidence. They are
parenthetical, a kind of rapid ‘aside’ of the writer’s, expressing his
joyful confidence that he and his brethren are sons of God, not only
in name, but in reality. They are the voice of personal assurance, the
voice of the spirit ‘by which we cry Abba, Father,’ (Gal 4:6, Ro 8:15-note)
breaking in for a moment on the flow of the sentence, like an
irrepressible, glad answer to the Father’s call. With these
explanations let us look at the words. (The
Love That Calls Us Sons)
Cole comments that...
John adds, “and such we are” (the
KJV and New KJV omit these words, but there is solid manuscript
support for them). The idea is that we not only have the name or
title, “children of God,” but that that title reflects our true
condition. Through His power, God causes us to be born again through
His Holy Spirit (see John 3:1-8; Jas 1:18-note;
; 1Pet. 1:3-note;
1John 2:29; 3:9, 10; 5:1, 18). He imparts new life to us, so that we
are raised from spiritual death to spiritual life. We actually become
partakers of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4-note),
although we never become “gods” in any sense. But, we share His very
Father's Great Love)
C H Spurgeon (Morning and
Evening) exhorts us to...
Consider who we were, and what we
feel ourselves to be even now when corruption is powerful in us (Like
the hymn "prone to wander, Lord I feel it..."), and
you will wonder at our adoption (Amen to that!). Yet we are called "the sons of God."
What a high relationship is that of a son, and what privileges it
brings! What care and tenderness the son expects from his father, and
what love the father feels towards the son! But all that, and more
than that, we now have through Christ. As for the temporary drawback
of suffering with the elder brother, this we accept as an honour:
"Therefore the world knoweth
us not, because it knew him not."
We are content to be unknown with
Him in His humiliation, for we are to be exalted with Him.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of
That is easy to read, but it is not
so easy to feel. How is it with your heart this morning? Are you in
the lowest depths of sorrow? Does corruption rise within your spirit,
and grace seem like a poor spark trampled under foot? Does your faith
almost fail you? Fear not, it is neither your graces nor feelings
on which you are to live: you must live simply by faith on Christ.
With all these things against us, now-in the very depths of our
sorrow, wherever we may be-now, as much in the valley as on the
"Beloved, now are we the sons of
"Ah, but," you say, "see how I am
arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not shine
with apparent glory. " But read the next: "It doth not yet appear what
we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like
him. " The Holy Spirit shall purify our minds, and divine power shall
refine our bodies, then shall we see Him as He is.
1John 3:1a Octavius Winslow
(Daily Walking with God - SEPTEMBER 13)
IT is not strange that the fact of
his adoption should meet with much misgiving in the Christian's mind,
seeing that it is a truth so spiritual, flows from a source so
concealed, and has its seat in the profound recesses of the soul. The
very stupendousness of the relationship staggers our belief. To be
fully assured of our divine adoption demands other than the testimony
either of our own feelings, or the opinion of men. Our
feelings—sometimes excited and visionary—may mislead; the opinion of
others—often fond and partial—may deceive us. The grand, the divine,
and only safe testimony is "the
Spirit itself bears witness with
our spirit." (Ro 8:16-note)
There exists a strong combination of evil, tending to
shake the Christian's confidence in the belief of his sonship.
is ever on the watch to insinuate the doubt. He tried the experiment
with our Lord: "If You be the Son of God." In no instance would it
appear that he actually denied the truth of Christ's Divine Sonship;
the utmost that his temerity permitted
was the suggestion to the mind of a doubt; leaving it there to its own
working. Our blessed Lord thus assailed, it is no marvel that His
disciples should be exposed to a like assault.
The world, too,
presumes to call it in question. "The world knows us not, because it
knew Him not." Ignorant of the Divine Original, how can it recognize
the Divine lineaments in the faint and imperfect copy? It has no
vocabulary by which it can decipher the "new name written in the white
stone." (Re 2:17) The sons of God are in the midst of a crooked and perverse
nation (Php 2:15), illumining it with their light, and preserving it by their
grace, yet disguised from its knowledge, and hidden from its view.
the strongest doubts touching the validity of his adoption are those
engender in the believer's own mind. Oh! there is much there to
generate and foster the painful misgiving. We have said that the very
greatness of the favor, the stupendousness of the relationship,
startles the mind, and staggers our faith. "What! to be a child of
God! God my Father! can I be the subject of a change so great, of a
relationship so exalted? Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house,
that You should exalt me to be a King's son? (cp 2Sa 9:1-13, 8, 11 -
and also see discussion of Mephibosheth in connection with
Covenant: Withholding Nothing
from God) Is this the manner of
men, O Lord God?" And then, there crowd upon the believer's mind
thoughts of his own sinfulness and unworthiness of so distinguished a
blessing. "Can it be? with such a depravity of heart, such carnality
of mind, such rebellion of will, such a propensity to evil each
moment, and in everything such backslidings and flaws, does there yet
exist within me a nature that links me with the Divine? It seems
impossible!" And when to all this are added the varied dispensations
of his Heavenly Father, often wearing a rough garb, assuming an aspect
somber, threatening, and crushing, oh, it is no marvel that, staggered
by a discipline so severe, the fact of God's love to him, and of his
close and tender relation to God, should sometimes be a matter of
painful doubt; that thus he should reason—"If His child, reposing in
His heart, and sealed upon His arm, why is it thus? Would He not have
spared me this heavy stroke? Would not this cup have passed my lips?
Would He have asked me to slay my Isaac, to resign my Benjamin? All
these things are against me." And thus are the children of God
constantly tempted to question the fact of their adoption. (Octavius
Winslow. Daily Walking with God)
On the chapel wall at Eagle
Village, a residential treatment center for boys near Hersey,
Michigan, hang the portraits of two twelve-year-old boys—Rick and
Rosy. The pictures bring to mind a tragedy that happened several years
ago. Boys from Eagle Village were on a canoe expedition on Lake
Superior when they pulled ashore to make camp. Rosy spotted something
floating in the water, so he pushed off in a canoe to retrieve it.
Strong winds quickly blew him offshore. The staff recognized his peril
and started off in two canoes to rescue him. When Rick saw that his
best friend was in danger, he insisted on going along. The wind tossed
all three canoes until finally they capsized. The staff members all
made it to shore. But Rick and Rosy were both lost in the depths of
Lake Superior. A plaque between the pictures is inscribed: Rick, who
loved enough to give his life for another. Rosy, who was loved enough
to have another pay that price.
This story calls to mind "what manner of love the Father has be-stowed
on us." (1Jn 3:1) He loved us enough to give His Son to die as payment
for our sin. And we were loved enough that He would willingly make
that sacrifice. Our salvation is the best demonstration of the power
of love. —D. C. Egner
MOTIVATING LOVE - (From
The Father's Great Love - Steven Cole)
Love is one of the greatest motivators in the world. When someone
loves you, it gives you hope and strength. When you feel unloved or
rejected by someone you love, it can be devastating.
George Matheson was a 19th century
Scottish pastor. He was born with an eye defect that left him totally
blind by age 18. Shortly after this, his fiancée left him, deciding
she would not be content to be married to a blind preacher. Years
later, at age 40, Matheson was alone on the night of his sister’s
wedding. Something happened, perhaps the memory of being rejected by
his own fiancée years before, that caused him severe mental suffering.
Suddenly, the words of a hymn came to him as if dictated by some
inward voice. The whole thing was done in five minutes and he never
had to edit or correct it (from Kenneth Osbeck, Amazing Grace
[Kregel], p. 49).
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
In his blindness and loneliness,
perhaps feeling forsaken by the love of a woman, Matheson sought and
found comfort in the unchanging love of God. Here are Matheson's own
My hymn was composed in the manse
of Innelan [Argyleshire, Scotland] on the evening of the 6th of June,
1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that
time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the
family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me,
which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe
mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the
quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of
having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working
it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in
five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any
retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the
other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came
like a dayspring from on high.
Maclaren has the following practical application from 1John 3:1...
We Have Here, Finally, The
Loving And Devout Gaze Upon This Wonderful Love.
‘Behold,’ (See!) at the
beginning of my text, is not the mere exclamation which you often find
both in the Old and in the New Testaments, which is simply intended to
emphasize the importance of what follows, but it is a distinct command
to do the thing, to look, and ever to look, and to look again, and
live in the habitual and devout contemplation of that infinite and
wondrous love of God. (See also
I have but two remarks to make
about that, and the one is this, that such a habit of devout and
thankful meditation upon the love of God, as manifested in the
sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the consequent gift of the Divine
Spirit, joined with the humble, thankful conviction that I am a child
of God thereby, lies at the foundation of all vigorous and happy
Christian life. How can a thing which you do not touch with your hands
and see with your eyes produce any effect upon you, unless you think
about it? How can a religion which can only influence through thought
and emotion do anything in you, or for you, unless you occupy your
thoughts and your feelings with it? It is sheer nonsense to suppose it
possible. Things which do not appeal to sense are real to us, and
indeed we may say, are at all for us, only as we think about them. If
you had a dear friend in Australia, and never thought about him, he
would even cease to be dear, and it would be all one to you as if he
were dead. If he were really dear to you, you would think about him.
We may say (though, of course, there are other ways of looking at the
matter) that, in a very intelligible sense, the degree in which we
think about Christ, and in Him behold the love of God, is a fairly
accurate measure of our Christianity.
Now will you apply that sharp test to yesterday, and the day before,
and the day before that, and decide how much of your life was pagan,
and how much of it was Christian? You will never make anything of your
professed Christianity, you will never get a drop of happiness or any
kind of good out of it; it will neither be a strength nor a joy nor a
defence to you unless you make it your habitual occupation to ‘behold
the manner of love’; and look and look and look until it warms and
fills your heart.
The second remark is that we cannot keep that great sight before the
eye of our minds without effort. You will have very resolutely to look
away from something else if, amid all the dazzling gauds of earth, you
are to see the far-off lustre of that heavenly love. Just as timorous
people in a thunder-storm will light a candle that they may not see
the lightning, so many Christians have their hearts filled with the
twinkling light of some miserable tapers of earthly care and pursuits,
which, though they be dim and smoky, are bright enough to make it hard
to see the silent depths of Heaven, though it blaze with a myriad
stars. If you hold a sixpence close enough up to the pupil of your
eye, it will keep you from seeing the sun. And if you hold the world
close to mind and heart, as many of you do, you will only see, round
the rim of it, the least tiny ring of the overlapping love of God.
What the world lets you see you will see, and the world will take care
that it will let you see very little —not enough to do you any good,
not enough to deliver you from its chains. Wrench yourselves away, my
brethren, from the absorbing contemplation of Birmingham jewellery and
paste, and look at the true riches. If you have ever had some glimpses
of that wondrous love, and have ever been drawn by it to cry, ‘Abba,
Father,’ do not let the trifles which belong not to your true
inheritance fill your thoughts, but renew the vision, and by
determined turning away of your eyes from beholding vanity, look off
from the things that are seen, that you may gaze upon the things that
are not seen, and chiefest among them, upon the love of God in Christ
Jesus our Lord.
If you have never looked on that love, I beseech you now to turn aside
and see this great sight. Do not let that brightness burn unnoticed
while your eyes are fixed on the ground, like the gaze of men absorbed
in gold digging, while a glorious sunshine is flushing the eastern
sky. Look to the unspeakable, incomparable, immeasurable love of God,
in giving up His Son to death for us all. Look and be saved. Look and
live. ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on you,’
and, beholding, you will become the sons and daughters of the Lord God
A GOOD FATHER - Where do
kids get the stuff they come up with? One evening as I was getting
8-year-old Steven settled in for the night, he looked at me and said,
"You're my second favorite dad." Whoa, I thought. Am I missing
something here? But then Steve quickly filled me in. "First, God. He's
my number one Father. Then you."
I'm glad Steven is able to transfer his feelings of love for his
earthly father to his heavenly Father. But some people have a tough
time accepting that "other Father." All they know of a father on earth
is desertion, abuse, neglect, hatred, and pain. To those who have seen
nothing but bad from an earthly dad, turning their life over to
another Father—even one who is God—is not easy But it is not
If you struggle with loving the One who is our heavenly Father,
remember that He is the ultimate Dad because He epitomizes love,
grace, mercy, and compassion. J. D. Branon
A good father reflects the love
of the heavenly Father.
For this reason the world
does not know us, because it did not know Him: dia touto o kosmos ou
ginoskei (3SPAI) hemas hoti ouk egno (3SAAI) auton: (John
15:18,19; 16:3; 17:25; Colossians 3:3)
And these things (What things? = Jn 16:2) they will do, because they
have not known the Father, or Me. (John 16:3)
Do not be surprised,
= command to stop this - forbids the continuance of an action already
going on) brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have
passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He
who does not love abides in death. (1Jn 3:13, 14)
Are you surprised (like I am) when someone finds out you are a
believer and their entire affect and relationship with you changes
from that day forward? If you have walked with Jesus for a few years,
you have undoubtedly experienced this subtle but surprisingly painful
from of "hatred", but John says don't marvel when this occurs. Stand
fast in grace and in faith based on the Truth, for our redemption is
drawing nigh beloved!
For this reason - The
fact that we are children of God and as family members of this divine
family are called to be imitators of Christ and to manifest His light and life
to "a crooked and perverse generation" (Php 2:15-note).
related to the verb kosmeo =
to put in order], to adorn literally [1Ti 2:9], to adorn figuratively
means essentially something that is well-arranged, that which has
order or something arranged harmoniously. Kosmos as used here
by John is the world composed of people who constitute the enemy of
God and consequently of all of His children. In short, the world in
the present context is the ungodly (unsaved) multitude, the whole mass
of men alienated from God, and hostile to His Son Jesus Christ.
Trench on kosmos...
All that floating mass of thoughts,
opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at
any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and
accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective
power, being the moral, or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of
our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale. (Synonyms)
Does not know us -
Not = absolute negation. The idea then is that the world absolutely does not know
who we are (children of God). See following explanation.
(ou) is the stronger word for negation and here signifies the
unredeemed of humanity absolutely don't know us because they
absolutely don't know Jesus. Sure, many (but not all... So let us pray
for the "hidden
peoples" in the spirit of Mt 9:37, 38) have heard the
matchless Name of Jesus (Acts 4:12) and all mankind one day will hear
His Name (Php 2:9, 10, 11-note),
but the truth is that have no intimate knowledge of Him and no
personal relationship with Him by grace through faith (Eph 2:8, 9-note
= a relationship with
Jesus in the New Covenant). And furthermore their unregenerate heart
even the Name of Jesus (witness their frequent use of this glorious
Name as a profanity!) because He is the Light that exposes their sin
(cp Jn 3:19, 20)
One distinguishing mark of God’s
children is that they know Him for in His priestly prayer Jesus prayed
This is eternal life, that they may
know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
(John 17:3, see believers and unbelievers contrasted - 1Jn 3:10 = note
all mankind belong to one of these groups!)
(ginosko) means to know by experience and thus speaks of
knowledge that goes beyond the mere facts. By extension, the term
frequently was used of a special relationship between the person who
knows and the object of the knowledge. It was often used of the
intimate relationship between husband and wife and between God and His
people, an intimacy that believers cannot experience with unbelievers
because sadly they hate Jesus and they hate us. Jesus issued this
warning to His disciples (and it still rings true!)...
If the world (kosmos)
hates you (present
this is the continual attitude/action of those in spiritual darkness
and under the power of Satan [1Jn 5:19] toward those who manifest the
life and light of Christ, cp 2Ti 3:12-note,
Mt 5:10, 11, 12-note),
you know (ginosko) that it has hated Me (Why? Jn 7:7) before it
hated you. If you were of the world (kosmos),
the world would (kosmos)
love its own; but because you are not of the world (kosmos),
but I chose you out of the world (kosmos),
therefore the world (kosmos)
you. (Jn 15:18, 19)
Paul adds that another reason
the world does not really know who we are in Christ (see
is because in this present evil age (Gal 1:4) our "life is hidden (perfect
emphasizes the believer's permanent condition - another truth
affirming the doctrine of eternal security - genuine salvation cannot
be lost!) with Christ in God" (Col 3:3, cp 1Cor 2:14).
The mystery of the new birth is
foolishness to the proud heart, which considers the children of God at
the very least as "deluded" and even a bit "off" mentally! Even
"the teacher of Israel", did not initially grasp the profound truth of
the new birth in his nighttime encounter with the Master Teacher,
Jesus (Jn 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
It (the world) did not
know Him - Notice the
which defines this as a historical fact - the world failed to
understand Jesus' Mission. In short, they had no personal relation
with the Messiah Christ Jesus, which is tantamount to the fact that
they were not born again, not regenerated by the Holy Spirit and were
still dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-note).
In one of the most frightening (my opinion) statements Jesus ever made
He spoke these "frightening" words (especially if they are the last
words a person will ever hear from Jesus!) to those who did not
"Not everyone who says to Me,
'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven (I.e., they are
unsaved); but he who does (present
their lifestyle, it does not mean "perfection" but "direction" of
one's life - toward heaven rather than toward hell! Note carefully -
Their "works" do not save them but only serve as a clear demonstration
that their faith is genuine - see exposition of Jas 2:14-26 [notes]
for much more detail on this critically important topic) the will of
My Father who is in heaven. Many (How does He quantify? Contrast the
numerical evaluation in Mt 7:14-note)
will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in
Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform
many miracles?' (Notice He does not dispute their claim.
Implication? They carried out these "deeds"!) "And then I will declare
to them, 'I never knew you;
imperative) FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE (present
their lifestyle, their continual attitude/action) LAWLESSNESS (anomia
= sin in 1Jn
3:4).' (Mt 7:21-note,
Mt 7:22, 23-note)
Wuest adds that...
From their experience with us, the
people of the world, while recognizing us as Christians, children
of God, do not come to an understanding and appreciation of the
nature of person we are, since unsaved people never have had a saving
relationship with and knowledge of God. Intimate understanding and
knowledge of another person is based upon fellowship (cp word study of
koinonia) with him. Since the people
of the world have nothing in common with the children of God,
they have no fellowship with them, and therefore have no intelligent
appreciation and understanding of them. The foreign kind of love
produced in us by the Holy Spirit (cp Ro 5:5-note,
constitutes us a foreign kind of person to the people of this world,
and since they do not understand foreigners, people of a different
race from themselves, they simply do not understand Christians.
Children of God could just as well have come to earth from a strange
planet so far as the people of the world are concerned. They are
strangers to them.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Through Isaiah God
foretold of Christ's rejection by mankind...
For He grew up before Him like a
tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately
form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we
should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man
of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide
their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah
Stephen shortly before
being stoned by his Jewish audience, preached these "politically
incorrect", "user unfriendly" words...
You men who are stiff-necked and
uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit
(Note - Clearly the implication is that the Spirit was "trying" to get
their attention, so they are without excuse!); you are doing just as
your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not
persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the
coming of the Righteous One (the Messiah, Zech 9:9NIV), whose
betrayers and murderers you have now become (Acts 7:51, 52)
In John's introductory
background on Jesus, he explains that...
He (Jesus) was in the world (His
First Coming), and the world was made through Him, and the world did
not know Him. He came to His own (Israel, the Jews), and those
who were His own did not receive (aorist tense = decisive act) Him.
(Jn 1:10, 11)
The failure of the world to know
God is one of the basic themes of the Gospel of John (Jn 5:37; 7:28;
16:3). Those who belong to the world live in darkness. They cannot
come to the light but must inevitably hate it (Jn 3:19, 20).
Barker concludes his
comments with a pithy application...
The author wants his readers to
know that approval by the world is to be feared, not desired. To be
hated by the world may be unpleasant, but ultimately it should
reassure the members of the community of faith that they are loved by
God, which is far more important than the world's hatred.
Steven Cole sums up 1Jn 3:1
with the following exposition...
Because of this divide, if you know
God’s love in Jesus Christ, you are an alien in this evil world that
has rejected Christ. You should feel like an alien when you are in the
company of the world, or when you encounter the world’s godless
entertainment. You should not expect to be popular in the world’s
eyes. You should not seek to gain the world’s approval; to the
contrary, you should fear it (Luke 6:27). When you go into the world,
you should not go to join them in their dissipation (1Pe 4:3, 4).
Rather, go as Jesus did, to seek and to save the lost. He attended the
gatherings of sinners, but not to join them in their frivolous
revelry. He went as the Great Physician, to heal their terminally ill
souls (Luke 5:29, 30, 31, 32).
Can you honestly say,
“The world does not know me”?
Can you truly say,
“I am a stranger to this world”?
If you cannot answer those
questions affirmatively, you’d better examine how well you know and
experience the Father’s great love. If you know His love and you are
His child, you will be distinguished from this evil world that rejects
His love. As the hymn writer put it,
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace
Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus).
Conclusion - Several years
ago, John MacArthur had the opportunity to spend several days
traveling with the well-known gospel musicians, Bill and Gloria
Gaither. At one point, he asked Bill what, in his estimation, were the
greatest Christian lyrics ever written, aside from the inspired
Psalms. Without hesitation, Gaither began quoting the words from F. M.
Lehman’s “The Love of God”:
The Love of God
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.
When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
Gaither said that no lyrics in all
hymnody surpass the third stanza of that song (MacArthur, The Love of
God, pp. xi, xii). That third stanza, by the way, was part of an
ancient lengthy poem composed in Arabic in 1096 by a Jewish
songwriter, Rabbi Mayer, in Germany. The lines were found in revised
form on the walls of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after his
death. The author of the hymn heard these words cited at a camp
meeting, where he wrote them down. God later gave him the words for
the first two stanzas and the chorus, which his daughter put to music
(Osbeck, Amazing Grace, p. 47).
If you know God through faith in
Jesus Christ, pause often to revel in the Father’s great love that
made you His child. If you do not know God, His great love calls you
even now to the cross, where Jesus Christ shed His blood to pay the
penalty for all that will believe in Him. (The
Father's Great Love)
ILLUSTRATION OF 1JOHN 2:28-3:1 - TODAY IN THE WORD - For years
Sergei wanted to be a part of a family. At age ten, he had never known
family life. He had orphanage friends, but it wasn’t the same. With
each birthday, his dream faded, but it never completely died. Then at
age eleven it finally happened: an American couple adopted him as
their son and brought him to the United States. Within a year, his
self-confidence grew alongside his laughter and smile.
Deep down, all of us share this
same desire for belonging, a desire that can only ultimately be
fulfilled as a child of God. Perhaps the greatest privilege we have as
children of God is the confidence to stand before Him. The shame to
which John refers (1Jn 2:28) most likely has to do with the shame of
those who have denied Christ. Remember John’s encouragement about
forgiveness and purification through the blood of Christ (1Jn 1::9). It’s
precisely because of this that these believers can stand confidently
before the Father–a confidence that nonbelievers can never have.
Yet along with privilege comes responsibility: believers are to do
what is right (1Jn 2:29). Recall that 1 John 2:3 says that doing His
commands confirms that we know Him. In the same way, doing what’s
right doesn’t make someone a child of God; rather, doing what’s right
confirms that a person has truly been born again. Both these
privileges and responsibilities cause John to marvel at God’s love for
His children (1Jn 3:1).
It may be easier for us to understand what it means to be a child of
God by considering newborn babies. Just as a baby does not bring about
its own birth, so too becoming a child of God is not something that we
could bring about on our own.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Consider parallels between physical and
spiritual birth. We’ve listed a few in today’s study, but you’ll no
doubt come up with several more. For example, just as we are born into
a certain physical family, so too we are forever born again into the
family of God. Just as physical families have certain family
resemblances, so too members of God’s family resemble each other to
the extent that they resemble their Father. What are some other ways
in which physical birth and childhood illustrate being a child of God?
in the Word)
GOOD FOR LOVING - Craig
Massey, in an article in Moody Monthly, told about being in a
restaurant when a young boy spilled his milk. The boy's angry father
yelled, "What are you good for?" The boy put his head down and softly
Years later Massey was disgusted with his own son for a minor
infraction, and he asked the same question. His son gave the same
reply, "Nothing." Immediately Massey regretted the question, calling
it "the cruelest question a father can ask." But as he thought about
it, he realized that the question was all right but the answer was
A few days later when his son committed another minor offense, he
asked, "What are you good for?" But before his son could reply, he
hugged him and kissed him and said, "I'll tell you what you're good
for. You're good for loving!" Before long, when-ever he asked the
question, his son would say, "I'm good for loving.
Every child in this world is good for loving and, like adults, they
need it most when they make mistakes. —D C Egner
1 John 3:1 J. C. Philpot
(PEARLS) writing on
"The world knows us not."
Both the openly profane world, and the professing world, are grossly
ignorant of the
children of God. Their . . .
real character and condition,
state and standing,
joys and sorrows,
mercies and miseries,
trials and deliverances,
hopes and fears,
afflictions and consolations,
are entirely hidden from their eyes.
The world knows nothing of the
motives and feelings which guide and actuate the children of God. It
views them as a set of gloomy, morose, melancholy beings, whose
tempers are soured by false and exaggerated views of religion—who have
pored over the thoughts of hell and heaven until some have frightened
themselves into despair, and others have puffed up their vain minds
with an imaginary conceit of their being especial favorites of the
Almighty. "They are really," it says, "no better than other folks, if
so good. But they have such contracted
minds—are so obstinate and bigoted with their poor, narrow, prejudiced
views—that wherever they come they bring disturbance and confusion."
But why this harsh judgment? Because the world knows nothing of the spiritual feelings which
actuate the child of grace, making him act so differently from the
world which thus condemns him.
It cannot understand our sight and sense of the exceeding sinfulness
of sin—and that is the reason why we will not run riot with them in
the same course of ungodliness.
It does not know with what a solemn weight eternal things rest upon
our minds—and that that is the cause why we cannot join with them in
pursuing so eagerly the things of the world (1Jn 2:15, 16, 17- see
Jas 4:4-note), and living for time as
they do—instead of living for eternity (Php 3:20, 21-note).
Being unable to enter into the spiritual motives and gracious feelings
which actuate a living soul, and the movements of divine life
continually stirring in a Christian breast, they naturally judge us
from their own point of view, and condemn what they cannot understand.
You may place a horse and a man upon the same hill—while the man would
be looking at the woods and fields and streams—the horse would be
feeding upon the grass at his feet. The horse, if it could reason,
would say, "What a fool my master is! How he is staring and gaping
about! Why does he not sit down and open his basket of provisions—for
I know he has it with him, for I carried it—and feed as I do?"
So the worldling says, "Those poor stupid people, how they are
spending their time in going to chapel, and reading the Bible in their
gloomy, melancholy way. Religion is all very well—and we ought all to
be religious before we die—but they make so much of it. Why don't they
enjoy more of life? Why don't they amuse themselves more with its
innocent, harmless pleasures—be more gay, cheerful, and sociable, and
take more interest in those things which so interest us?"
The reason why the world thus wonders at us is because it knows us
not, and therefore cannot
understand that we have . . .sublimer feelings, nobler pleasures, and
more substantial delights, than ever entered the soul of a worldling!
Christian! the more you are conformed to the image of Christ—the more
separated you are from the world, the less will it understand you. If
we kept closer to the Lord and walked more in holy obedience to the
precepts of the gospel, we would be more misunderstood than even we
now are! It is our worldly conformity that makes the world understand
many of our movements
and actions so well.
But if our movements were more according to the mind of Christ—if we
walked more as the Lord walked when here below—we
would leave the world in greater ignorance of us than we leave it
now—for the hidden springs of our life would be more out of its sight,
our testimony against it more decided, and our separation from it more
John MacDuff in his book
The Thoughts of God writes
about this great, precious, exotic love of God for the unlovely
in a chapter entitled "Paternal Pity"...
"How precious also are Your
thoughts unto me, O God!"
The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to
those who fear Him. For He understands how weak we are; He knows we
are only dust. Psalm 103:13, 14
What feelings on earth are to be compared, in depth and intensity, to
those that link a parent to his offspring? Has some member of his
family been unjustly wronged? Many a man would willingly himself
submit to unmerited injury and ridicule—bear in silence the tongue of
calumny and slander—receive in silence the arrows of unkindness, who
could not rest thus unmoved under the affront or stigma attempted to
be fastened on his child.
Or does the parent see his child in suffering? He could himself bear
pain with comparative composure; but when he sees slow, torturing
disease ploughing its furrows on the young cheek, and dimming the
luster of the young eye, the iron enters into his soul; he would
gladly even risk his own life were that of his loved one endangered.
Many a father has stood by an early grave, and said, through anguished
tears, "I wish I could have died rather than you!"
Behold, in the loving, pitying thoughts and tender pitying deeds of
the earthly parent, a picture and symbol, O believer, of God's
thoughts and God's love to you. No, more—He identifies Himself with
the sufferings and wrongs of His children. Injure them, and you injure
Him. He that touches them touches the apple of His eye. He says, as
David said to Abiathar, "Abide with me, for he that seeks your life,
seeks my life—but with me you shall be in safeguard."
When and where does this pitying love of God begin? "And when he was
yet a great way off, his father saw him!" God's thoughts of pity were
upon us when we had not thought of pity on ourselves. And at this
hour, too, is He pitying us—in our weakness, our sorrows, our
temptations, our difficulties, our perplexities. Many an earthly
father can make only a little allowance for the weakness and
feebleness of his offspring. Not so our heavenly Father. "He remembers
that we are but dust." When Job was greatly perplexed and downcast by
the bitter reflections of his adversaries, this was his comfort—"But
He knows the way that I take."
See how these same thoughts of pitying love, like the ivy clasping the
battered ruin, cling even round His wayward, backsliding children—"Is
not Israel still My son, My darling child? I had to punish him, but I
still love him. I long for him and surely will have mercy on him." Oh,
blessed assurance, this great Being loves me, pities me—pities me and
loves me even in the midst of my truant forgetfulness, ungrateful
wandering—and continues to call me His "darling child." I have in Him
a love in which fatherhood, brotherhood, sisterhood, are all combined!
Arise, go to your Father! He is waiting and willing to welcome you to
His embrace. He asks elsewhere, in a passage which touchingly
describes His thoughts (His loving, paternal thoughts) at work—"How
shall I put you among the children?" The gospel plan of salvation has
answered that question—solved that Divine problem of parental love.
Jesus has opened a way of access to the heavenly household—and made us
heirs to all these precious thoughts of a Father's heart. Seated under
Calvary's cross, we can exclaim in grateful transport—
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we
should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John