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Bible Commentaries
1 John 3

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-15

  1. INTRO:
    1. If you’re an orphan living in a 3rd world country, what is better than getting adopted into Brad & Angelina’s wealthy home? Uhh, adopted into God’s family!!!
    2. Overview: Main point - Deliberate sin is a serious thing!
      1. Deliberate sin grieves the Father who loves you & has a wonderful future planned for you (1-3).
      2. Deliberate sin grieves the Savior who died for you & delivered you from the power of Satan (4-8).
      3. Deliberate sin grieves the Holy Spirit who lives in you & gave you new birth (9-15).
    3. Outline: 5 things - Love; Likeness; Loyalty; Living Rightly; Loving brothers.
    1. ​​​​​​​LOVE! (1)
    2. Behold - Lit. of what country! John’s saying I don’t even know what country this love is from!
    3. Here is love...we’ve been adopted into God’s family. We’re now called God’s kids!
    4. This privilege (our adoption) is a direct gift of our heavenly Father.
      1. Why? It springs from His love!
    5. (1b) The world does not know us - of course not, our possession of a divine life is altogether hidden from the one who doesn’t possess this experience.
    6. LIKENESS! (2)
    7. We see this gift of adoption is really the giving of the gift of Himself we shall be like Him
      1. This verse celebrates the accomplishment of God’s eternal purpose concerning man!!! This purpose found its expression way back in Gen.1:26 “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our Likeness.”
      2. He declares his intention of bringing into existence beings like Himself, as like Himself as it is possible for creatures to be like their Creator. (Boice)
    8. In grade school my teacher used to say, “put on your thinking caps”! - Let’s put on our dreaming caps!
      1. It is almost beyond our comprehension to think of anything higher than our present privilege of being children of God.
      2. The difference between the present & future is one of degree rather than kind.
      3. It will consist in our future condition rather than any change of position!
        1. Illustration: When you go through an International adoption in a 3rd world country, the paper work takes place in that country. There the child becomes yours! By now bringing the child home (to the U.S.) their condition changes, but not their position. They can’t become more a part of your family...they are family!
          1. ​​​​​​​But look at the difference of going from 3rd world, to 1st world living!
      4. Now compare 1st world living to 1st Heaven living?
        1. We shall be like Him… glory & all! - See Col.3:4,5.
        2. “We shall see Christ, & be like Him, & the sight will transform us into His image & likeness” (Griffith Thomas; John; pg.286)
      5. Illustration: A missionary was occupied w/the assistance of a native teacher in translating 1st John into the language of the people among whom he was working. When he came to these words, “we shall be like Him,” the scribe laid down his pen, & said, “No, I cannot write these words; it is too much; let us write, “we shall kiss his feet.” But, as Dr. Barrett says in narrating this incident, “It is not too much for the love of God!”
    9. LOYALTY! (3)
    10. Sonship must of necessity have a practical result...Purity!
    11. Everyone that possesses this hope fixed on seeing & being like Christ hereafter will necessarily purify himself here & now.
    12. How pure? - Just as He is pure.
    13. LIVING RIGHTLY! (4-9)
    14. Whoever commits sin(and continues to commit sin) is displayed in the tense (pres act part)
      1. Whoever continues to practice sin habitually in their life…
    15. Lawlessness - meaning opposition to all legal requirement, & in this, the denial of all moral obligation.
    16. (5) Here is another reason why sin cannot be admitted into the Christian life Christ was manifested(appeared) to take away our sins.
      1. In Jn.1:29 Jesus came to “take away the sin of the world”(the root of sin); here Jesus came to “take away our sins”(the fruit of sin).
    17. (7) God Himself is righteous, & those who receive His life necessarily manifest the same feature!
    18. (8) 2nd reason Jesus came...He also came to destroy the works of the devil.
      1. This is one of the aspects of sin that needs constant attention.
      2. To commit wrong is not merely to break a Divine law, but to deny the entire purpose of Christ’s coming.
        1. If Christ was about destroying the works of the devil, what are you doing rebuilding the works of the devil by sinning?
    19. (4,6,9) Does not sin - we know what it doesn’t mean (see 1:8)
      1. John is saying practicing sin is no part of the Christians experience; & if anyone indulges this practice, it is clear proof that he has not seen Christ nor had a personal or permanent experience of Him.
      2. He cannot go on living in sin.
        1. The assert that a man who is truly born of God can at the same time live in sin, is ludicrous, as some false teachers were propagating in John’s time.
      3. It’s not that believers have to “give up things”. The Lord just took the “want to” out of our lives! I can do this & that f I want to,...but I don’t want to anymore! :)
    21. (10) Wow what an awful contrast between children of God & children of the devil.
      1. How about a category “C”? Nope.
      2. These were even our Masters words, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (Jn.8:44)
      3. Paul says to Elymas, “you son of the devil.”
    22. The radical distinction between these 2 groups consists in 2 great facts: doing righteousness & loving your brother.
      1. The 1st test is towards God; The 2nd test is towards man.
    23. Children of the devil are easy to spot, for they act like their father; in the same way it should be easy to identify the Children of God for they practice the righteousness of their Father!
    24. (11,12) Why is he raising Cain here?
      1. Cain has been rightly called a “loveless soul”. The main issue here is motive.
      2. It was the absence of love in Cain’s character & conduct that led to his action.
      3. He becomes the essence of lovelessness & hatefulness.
    25. (14,15) We have passed from death to life - You have a new nature & a new Father; therefore, you should live a new life!
      1. John sharply contrasts 2 realm’s, there’s not even a possibility of a third, or even a borderline. It’s child of God or devil; it’s death or life; it’s hate or love.
    26. John’s bottom line...If you are to be like Christ hereafter, then we must act like Him now!

Verses 16-24

  1. INTRO:
    1. For the past 40 years Eunice Pike has worked with the Mazatec Indians in Southwestern Mexico. During this time she has discovered some interesting things about these beautiful people. For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that, they are hesitant to teach one another or to share the gospel with each other. If asked, “Who taught you to bake bread?” the village baker answers, “I just know,” meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone’s help. Eunice says this odd behavior stems from the Indian’s concept of “limited good.” They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well - “Have a good day” - means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired.
      1. Limited good? No, we can do good without any limit, because we serve a limitless God!
    1. Ghgjghjgjg! (16)
    2. (16) He defined love by way of example; our example of love is Christ Himself!
      1. As Cain was the supreme example of hate; Christ is the perfect picture of love
      2. One took a life, the other laid down His life.
        1. To rob a person of their life(murder) is the worst of sins.
        2. To give up one’s life for another is the supreme example of love.
      3. His act was real, meeting us at our deepest need.
      4. It was active. It reached out to us. It changed our situation.
      5. Thus we too are called to “seeing, reaching, active love that makes a difference”...as next 2 verses makes clear.
    3. If need be we should be willing to lay down our lives for others.
      1. The effects of Christ’s loving self-sacrifice are unique; but The pattern for our social behavior is set by Him.
        1. We must sacrifice for others!
    4. LOVE IN ACTION! (17,18)
    5. Love is more than words. It’s Love in action. It’s love thats extremely practical.
      1. Christianity is love, & love means action!
    6. Note how John’s switches the target of love from the brethren(pl.) to his brother(sing.)
      1. By doing this he brought the command from the world of theory to the world of practical & attainable action.
      2. True believers love by sharing what they have with those who are in need.
    7. It’s not the utterance of some great or profound truth, or the accomplishment of some wonderful deed, but the quiet, simple help of a needy brother that beyond all else demonstrates our possession of the love of God. (Griffith Thomas)
    8. 3 words tell the story of a terrible selfishness: Has - sees - shuts!
      1. To possess life’s good things & then to gaze at a needy one, & then shut up our compassion like a key turned in a lock, is to disapprove our possession of the 1st principle of love.
    9. ASSURE YOUR HEART! (19-23)
    10. Expressing God’s love to others benefits us as well:
      1. It confirms that we are His! (we know that we are of the truth)
      2. It pours confidence into our faith! (we assure/set at rest our hearts b4 Him)
      3. It assures our prayers ring w/the security & assurance of an obedient child before a loving father. (whatever we ask we receive from Him by keeping & doing)
    11. (19) This obedience will give us great assurance as we approach God.
    12. Assure our hearts - πείθω peithō only here & in Mt.28:14 (high priests giving the guards assurance they’d “appease” the gov if he heard about disciples stealing body form them)
      1. “To pacify” “soothe” “reassure” “to set at rest”. As a tranquilizer can calm a wild animal, so the truth can pacify a confused heart.
      2. Assure our hearts BEFORE HIM - assured as we live before the face of God.
    13. So the visible evidence of Christlike love produces the assurance of a Christ-saved life.
    14. (20) A Condemned heart - God is greater because He knows all things.
    15. (21) A Non-Condemned heart - is because he/she is practicing all the characteristics of a truly Christian life like obedience, love, & faith.
      1. What blessings does this person enjoy? (21-24)
        1. Confidence (21); answered prayer (22); answered prayer (23); 2-fold abiding (24a; he in us - us in Him); have the Holy Spirit in us(24b).
        2. Confidence = boldness (as in the other 3 places in the epistle)
          1. A “freedom of speech”.
          2. An attitude of perfect frankness in our personal relation to God.
    16. When doubt enters a believers heart we can be “set at rest” not by trusting our feelings, but by trusting our knowledge.
      1. Our hearts & consciences cannot always be trusted.
      2. God is greater than our heart & knows all things...in that He is more knowledgeable & is more true.
      3. Paul spoke about the reverse effect (1 Cor.4:4) My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
    17. (22) Ask/receive - A Jewish saying, quoted by Dr. Brooke(International Critical Commentary) “Do His will as if it were yours, that He may do your will as if it were His.”
    18. The world is characterized by hatred that comes from the devil.
      1. Such hatred produces murder, proving their existence in spiritual death.
    19. The true believer is characterized by love that comes from the Father.
      1. Such love produces self-sacrifice, proving their existence in eternal life. (Shepherdʼs Notes; pg.55)
    20. Acts 24:16 I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
    21. Title? What Does Love Look Like?
  3. We Are Rich! Adapted from, The Hole in the Gospel; Richard Stearns.
    1. Show GlobalRichList.com (25,000 richer than 90% of world) (50,000 richer than 99% of world)
    2. 93% of our world doesn’t own a car.
    3. American church is the wealthiest Christians in the history of Christendom.
      1. How wealthy? Total income of churchgoers 5.2 trillion.
        1. Or more than 5000 billion dollars.
      2. It would take a little over 1% of the total # of American Christians to lift the poorest 1 billion out of extreme poverty.
    4. American Christians make up 5% of church world wide, yet we control about ½ of the global Christian wealth.
      1. A lack of $ is not our problem.
    5. Only 5% of American households tithe(10%)
    6. What did we give? (2005 stats) 2.5%
      1. As our income has increased in U.S. our giving decreased.
      2. Our economy? At the height of the depression in 1933, giving was 3.3%.
        1. 27% more than in 2005.
    7. Where does it go?
      1. 2% to oversees missions of any kind.
      2. 98% stays right here in our churches & communities.
      3. So, what do the wealthiest Christians give to the world? 2% of 2% or 5/10,000th of our income.
      4. That’s, 6 pennies per person per day that we give to our world through our churches.
    8. What if we gave 10%?
      1. We’d have 168 Billion to spend on the work of the church world wide.
      2. 705 Billion - what Americans spend on Entertainment/Recreation.
      3. 179 Billion - amount spent by teenagers (12-17) (2006)
      4. 65 Billion - amount spent on jewelry (2008)
      5. 58 Billion - amount spent on state lottery (2007)
      6. 39.5 Billion - total US government foreign assistance budget for the world.
      7. 31 Billion - spent on pets (2003)
      8. 13 Billion - spent on cosmetic surgery in US (2007)
      9. 5 Billion - total oversees ministries income to 700 protestant missions agencies (including denominations, inter-denominations, & independent agencies) (2005)
    9. If every Christian tithed(10%) we can literally change the world!
      1. 65 billion (less than 40% of the 168 billion) can eliminate extreme poverty for more than 1 billion people.
      2. Universal primary education for children just 6 billion.
      3. The cost of bringing clean water to the poor 9 billion.
      4. Basic health & nutrition 13 billion.
    10. Now imagine not only what this would do for the poor but for the image of Christians!
      1. To give so generously (ex: news anchors in regards to RickWarren short budget)
      2. The whole world would stand up & take notice.
      3. Let this vision catch the imagination of every follower of Christ!
    11. 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?
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 John 3". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/1-john-3.html. 2017.
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