Heavenly Father, we pray for mercy, grace, wisdom, insight, and understanding into the reading of Your word. We pray for unlocking the meaning and interpretation of difficult and controversial verses, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 John 3: 1-24, behold, what manner of love
VV 1-3, 1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Greek for behold is ‘’horao”, which means consider. John encouraged his audience and us to consider the magnitude of God’s for us when He adopted into His family as children when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour. The word love appeared repeatedly in 1 John and the Greek word for love is always “agape”. Agape is the highest form of love, the divine sacrificial love of God for people. The world rejected us because it rejected God. When Christ comes back during the rapture, He will resurrect us into a glorified body to meet Him in the heaven, 1 Thess 4:17.
1 Thess 4:17, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever”.
VV 4-6, 4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
Greek for sin is “hamartia”, which means missing the mark. Greek for lawlessness is “anomos”, which means transgression. Whoever missed the mark of God’s perfect standard had transgressed against God. The problem of sin had been dealt with on the cross. Christ paid the penalty of our sins on the cross of Calvary on Good Friday. Whoever walked in obedience to Christ will not walk in sin because Christ is sinless.
VV 7-9, 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
John warned his audience and us not to be deceived by the heretic gnostic teachers. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous just as Christ is righteous. Whoever practices wickedness is from satan. Christ came to earth to destroy the works of satan. Those who are born again will not sin because they are born of God.
VV 10-12, 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
John compared the children of God, Christians, with the children of satan, non-Christians. The children of God practiced righteousness, whereas the children of satan practiced wickedness. The children of God practiced love, whereas the children of satan practiced wickedness. We are to love one another just as Christ loves us. John compared Cain, a son of satan, with Abel, a son of God. God rejected Cain’s unrighteous sacrifice but accepted Abel’s righteous sacrifice. Cain murdered his brother because he was wicked and his brother was righteous.
VV 13-15, 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
John warned his audience and us not to be surprised if the world hates us because the world hates God. We are to love our brother and not to hate him. To hate our brother is to murder him in the heart. Jesus said in the beatitude, that murder begins in the heart, Matthew 5: 21-22.
Matthew 5: 21-22, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council”.
VV 16-17, 16 By this we know love because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Christ demonstrated His love for us when He died on the cross for us while we were still sinners, Romans 5:8. We are to love our brothers in the same way that Christ loved us. We are to help our brother if he needs our help and if we are in a position to meet that need.
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.
VV 18- 20, 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
John warned his audience and us not to love in words alone but in action and truth because we are of the truth. Greek for condemn is ‘’kataginosko”, which means accuse. If our heart accused us of sin, God is greater than our heart and He will not accuse us of sin.
Romans 8:1. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”.
VV 21-23, 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
Greek for confidence is “parresia”, which means boldness to speak. If our heart did not accuse us, we can come before God with boldness and confidence in prayer and He will answer us, Hebrews 4:16, Ephesians 3:12. We are to believe in the name of Christ and love one another as Christ loved us, John 13:34.
Hebrews 4:16, “Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.
Ephesians 3:12, “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him”.
John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another”.
V 24, Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this, we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
John encouraged his audience and us to keep Christ’s commandments and remain in Him. Christ will abide in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me”.
God loved you with an everlasting love, Jer 31:3. Christ’s death on the cross showed the extent of His love. Love is one of the tests of knowing Christ. We are to love God vertically and love our brothers and sisters in Christ horizontally. Love is the greatest of the ten commandments and is the greatest virtue of all, 1 Cor 13:13.
1 Cor 13:13, And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Jer 31:3, The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness, I have drawn you.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Saviour. Thank You for Your love, mercy, and grace. We pray for the grace to love You, to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and our neighbors. We pray for divine enablement to keep Your commandments and to abide in Your love, in Jesus’ name, Amen.