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Bible Commentaries
1 John 3

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

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B. Learning to See God’s Children 2:29-3:10a

John began a new line of thought to develop the theme of preparing to meet the Lord unashamed, indicated in the Greek text by the absence of a connective (asyndeton). The theme of this section is "manifestation," which begins it, in 1 John 2:28, and ends it, in 1 John 3:10 a (an inclusio).

Verse 1

The Holy Spirit’s production of righteous behavior in abiding Christians is evidence of God’s great love for us. John used love language more frequently in 1 John (46 times) and in his Gospel (44 times) than any other New Testament writer. Paul used it third most frequently in Ephesians (20 times). [Note: See Yarbrough, pp. 174-75 for a graph and a table of the occurrences in all the New Testament books.] Scripture calls us God’s children (Gr. tekna) because that is what He has made us. The name simply expresses the reality.

"The thought here is of the community of nature with the prospect of development (teknon, comp. 2 Peter 1:4), and not of the position of privilege (huios)." [Note: Westcott, p. 96.]

John never used the title huios, "son," to describe the relation of Christians to God. He reserved huios to describe the relation of Jesus to God (cf. 1 John 3:2; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 5:2).

Unbelievers cannot fully comprehend the children of God. The reason for this lack of perception is their failure to comprehend God fully. Since they do not "know" the Parent they do not "know" the children (cf. John 1:12-13; John 5:37; John 7:28; John 16:3).

"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." [Note: Barker, p. 330.]

". . . the world hates the children of God (1 John 3:13), just as it hated Jesus (John 15:18 f.), since they do not belong to the world. This very fact is a further proof that the readers are children of God: the way in which the world does not recognize them as being on its side is proof that they belong to God." [Note: Marshall, p. 171.]

Verse 2

Even though we are presently God’s children we do not yet fully reflect His image as we shall. However when (not "if," another third class condition) Jesus Christ appears and we see Him, we shall experience full transformation (i.e., glorification). Evidently seeing Jesus Christ will fully transform us physically and spiritually (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12).

"A child of God is here and now, indeed, like a diamond that is crystal white within but is still uncut and shows no brilliant flashes from reflected facets." [Note: Richard C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude, p. 452.]

"He will not be anything essentially different hereafter, but he will be what he is now essentially more completely, though in ways wholly beyond our powers of imagination." [Note: Westcott, p. 97.]

John’s references to the appearing in 1 John 2:28 and 1 John 3:2 frame his references to the new birth in 1 John 2:29 and 1 John 3:1. Every true Christian will participate in this appearing.

Verse 3

In the meantime we anticipate seeing and knowing Jesus Christ fully, and that anticipation has a purifying effect on us now (cf. 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:6; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:17; Matthew 5:8). [Note: See Wayne A. Brindle, "Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture," Bibliotheca Sacra 158:630 (April-June 2001):149-50.] Similarly in the future seeing and knowing Christ will have a completely purifying effect on us (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18). The believer’s hope is not "in him" (AV and NIV; i.e., "within himself"), but "on Him" (NASB; i.e., "set on Christ"; Gr. ep auto).

"John states two reasons why the Christian ought to be pure. One is related to a past work of God and the second to a future work." [Note: Ryrie, "The First . . .," p. 1472.]

Verse 4

"In the preceding section John has been stressing the importance of continuing in Christ, doing what is right, and purifying oneself in anticipation of his coming. Now he deals more closely with the negative side of all this, the need for believers to abstain from sin and the possibility of their doing so." [Note: Marshall, p. 175.]

"The present vv, 1 John 3:4-9, form six strophes, each of which divides . . . roughly into half. The two halves of the strophes balance one another; for the second part of the v provides a development of the first part (1 John 3:4-5; 1 John 3:7), or a parallel (1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:9) or a contrast (1 John 3:8) to it." [Note: Smalley, p. 152.]

Sin stands in opposition to purity. Furthermore sin is very serious. The use of the Greek word translated "lawlessness" (anosmia) carries a connotation of wickedness (cf. Matthew 7:23; Matthew 13:41; Matthew 24:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:7). It means rejection of law in its broadest concept, flagrant opposition to God, rather than just breaking specific laws. Evidently the false teachers had a soft view of sin (cf. 1 John 3:7-8).

Verse 5

Two more facts believers know highlight the seriousness of sin. Jesus Christ became incarnate to remove sin, and there was no sin in Him. This is a strong assertion of Jesus’ sinlessness (cf. 1 John 2:1; John 8:31-59; John 10:30; John 17:22; 1 Peter 2:22)

"Because Jesus was holy, and without sin, this can become the character of those who abide in him (cf. Hebrews 2:10 to Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 5:9)." [Note: Ibid., p. 158.]

"The dominant thought here is not that of the self-sacrifice of Christ, but of His utter hostility to sin in every shape." [Note: Westcott, p. 103.]

Verse 6

If abiding in God equals being a Christian, as many interpreters believe, this verse appears to contradict what John wrote in 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10. There he said that Christians sin (cf. 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:15; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 5:16; 1 John 5:21). It also seems to contradict personal experience since genuine Christians do indeed sin.

The key to understanding this statement, I believe, lies in the other terms that John used in the verse: "abides," "has seen," and "knows." John used these words throughout this epistle to refer to a believer who is walking in intimate fellowship with God (1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 2:10). Still does this view not contradict what John said about the depravity of sinners, even Christian sinners (1 John 1:8)? I believe John was claiming that when a Christian walks in close fellowship with God he does not sin. The abiding believer never repudiates God’s authority over him by doing anything that resists God’s law or will while he is abiding in Christ. If he does, his fellowship with God suffers; He no longer "knows" God in that intimate sense. He no longer "sees" God because he has moved out of the light into darkness.

"John is thus saying that (translating the Gr. literally) ’everyone who lives in him (Jesus) does not sin’; and by this he means that an intimate and ongoing relationship with Christ (ho en auto menon, ’the one who lives in him,’ using the present tense) precludes the practice of sin . . ." [Note: Smalley, pp. 158-59. Cf. John 15:5.]

There was no sin whatsoever in Jesus Christ (1 John 3:5). He consistently abode in (obeyed) the Father (cf. John 14:9). The Christian who consistently "abides" in a sinless Person does not sin (1 John 3:6). If we could abide in Christ without interruption, we would be sinless. Unfortunately we cannot do that.

Some Christians have used this verse to support the theory that Christians are sinless and perfect. Scripture and experience contradict this position (e.g., 1 John 1:8-9; et al.). Others have used it to teach that a Christian does not habitually sin, but this too is contrary to experience and the same Scripture. Advocates of this second view usually support it with the present tense of the Greek verb (harmartanei) that they take to mean "keeps on sinning."

"In modern times a popular expedient for dealing with the difficulties perceived in 1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:9 is to appeal to the use of the Greek present tense. It is then asserted that this tense necessitates a translation like, ’Whoever has been born of God does not go on sinning,’ or, ’does not continually sin.’ The inference to be drawn from such renderings is that, though the Christian may sin somewhat (how much is never specified!), he may not sin regularly or persistently. But on all grounds, whether linguistic or exegetical, the approach is indefensible.

"As has been pointed out by more than one competent Greek scholar, the appeal to the present tense invites intense suspicion. No other text can be cited where the Greek present tense, unaided by qualifying words, can carry this kind of significance. Indeed, when the Greek writer or speaker wished to indicate that an action was, or was not, continual, there were special words to express this." [Note: Hodges, The Gospel . . ., pp. 58-59. See also Smalley, pp. 159-60; and Yarbrough, p. 183.]

"The perfect tense in Greek signifies a state of affairs. It is not concerned with the past occurrence of the event but with its reality, its existence." [Note: J. P. Louw, "Verbal Aspect in the First Letter of John," Neotestamentica 9 (1975):101.]

"The perfect tense here is not intended to categorize a person as either saved or unsaved, since even believers sin (1 John 1:8). Instead, the statement is intended to stigmatize all sin as the product, not only of not abiding, but also of ignorance and blindness toward God." [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 136.]

If we were to translate 1 John 1:8 and 1 John 5:16, where the present tense also occurs, "do not continually have sin" and "continually sinning a sin" respectively, these verses would contradict 1 John 3:6. It would involve no self-deception to say that we do not continually have sin (1 John 1:8) since whoever is born of God does not continually sin (1 John 3:6). Furthermore if one born of God does not continually sin (1 John 3:1), how could a Christian see his brother Christian continually sinning (1 John 5:16)? Suppose we translated the present tense in John 14:6 the same way: "No one continually comes to the Father except through Me." This would imply that occasionally someone might come to God in another way. No orthodox translator would offer that as an acceptable rendering of John 14:6, and it is not acceptable in 1 John 3:6 either.

". . . it is not surprising that commentators have attempted to water down John’s teaching to refer merely to the believer’s freedom from habitual sin. But we must not misinterpret the text for pastoral reasons. Properly interpreted, the text remains a source of comfort." [Note: Marshall, p. 187.]

Another view takes John to mean that no one who abides in Christ has the power to sin, or, to put it positively, Christians who abide in Him have the power not to sin. [Note: Smalley, pp. 161-62, 164, 172.] Yet this is an idea that the reader must import into the verse. While it is true that Christians who abide in Christ have the power not to sin, this does not seem to be what John meant here. He seemed to link abiding and not sinning in a more direct cause and effect relationship.

1 John 3:4 sets forth the essential character of sin, 1 John 3:5 relates it to the person and work of Christ, and 1 John 3:6 relates it to the whole human race.

Verses 7-8

Evidently the false teachers were in danger of deceiving John’s readers by telling them the opposite of what the apostles said here. John’s point was two-fold: conduct manifests spiritual relationship (cf. 1 John 2:29), and God hates sin (cf. 1 John 3:5). A sinner’s sinning has its source in the devil.

"By saying that the person who is a determined sinner (in the sense suggested by 1 John 3:6) ’belongs to the devil,’ John is in the first place drawing on the background of Genesis 3 (1-15), where the power of evil is represented as a serpent who tempts the woman (and, through her, the man) to disobey God (the reference to Cain and Abel in 1 John 3:12 confirms the suggestion that this section of the OT is in mind here)." [Note: Ibid., p. 168.]

Verse 9

Many English translations interpret the Greek present tense as saying no Christian habitually sins, as in 1 John 3:6. For example, the NASB has, "practices sin;" the Living Bible, "does not make a practice of sinning;" the Amplified Bible, "[deliberately and knowingly] habitually practices sin;" and the NIV, "continues to sin." However the Greek present tense does not always indicate habitual action, as pointed out previously. [Note: Marshall, p. 180; Dodd, p. 79.] Frequently it describes absolute action. The New King James Version takes the Greek present tense this way and renders the clause, "Whoever had been born of God does not sin." The NET Bible is inconsistent: it translates 1 John 3:6, "does not sin," but 1 John 3:9, "does not practice sin." Since earlier John wrote that the Christian does sin habitually (1 John 1:6-10; cf. 1 John 2:1) the idea that the Christian does not sin habitually is unacceptable. [Note: See Robert N. Wilkin, "Do Born Again People Sin? 1 John 3:9," Grace Evangelical Society News 5:3 (March 1990):2-3.]

". . . the ’tense solution’ in 1 John 1:9 is in the process of imploding in the current literature. It was shrewdly questioned by C. H. Dodd in his commentary in 1946 and dealt a major blow by S. Kubo in an article entitled, "1 John 3:9: Absolute or Habitual?" published in 1969. [Note: Footnote 16: Sakae Kubo, "1 John 3:9: Absolute or Habitual?" Andrews University Seminary Studies 7 (1969):47-56.] It has since been given up by the three major critical commentaries published since Kubo’s article; namely, I. Howard Marshall (1978), Raymond E. Brown (1982); and Stephen S. Smalley (1984). It seems quite clear that the ’tense solution’ as applied to 1 John 1:9 is an idea whose time has come-and gone!" [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 144.]

The reason one born of God does not sin is he has been born of God. John could say the Christian is sinless because a sinless Parent has begotten the Christian. The Christian becomes a partaker of God’s divine sinless nature when he or she experiences the new birth. The Christian sins because he also has a sinful human nature. However in this verse John was looking only at the sinless nature of the indwelling Christ that we possess. Jesus told Nicodemus that people need to experience a second birth (John 3:5-7). Every Christian has been born twice, once physically and once spiritually. John was looking at the consequence of our second birth in 1 John 3:9.

"As a total person, we do sin and can never claim to be free of it, but our ’inward self’ that is regenerated does not sin. . . .

"Sin does exist in the Christian, but it is foreign and extraneous to his regenerated inner self, where Christ dwells in perfect holiness. Put into Johannine terms, since Christ is eternal life (1 John 5:20), the one who possesses that life cannot sin because he is born of God." [Note: Ibid., p. 141.]

Again, if we were able to abide in Christ without interruption, we would never sin (cf. 1 John 3:6). The sinless nature of Christ controls the abiding Christian whereas the sinful human nature controls the non-abiding Christian (cf. Romans 6:16).

"That is, sin is never the product of our abiding experience. It is never the act of the regenerate self per se. On the contrary, sin is the product of ignorance and blindness toward God [cf. 1 John 3:6 b].

"To view sin as intrinsically foreign to what we are as regenerate people in Christ is to take the first step toward spiritual victory over it." [Note: Idem, The Gospel . . ., pp. 60, 61.]

John was saying that when a Christian abides in God he will behave as his heavenly Father, and others will recognize that he is a child of God. [Note: See Harris, p. 221.]

"If someone says, ’A priest cannot commit fornication,’ one cannot deny that as a man he can commit it; but priests, functioning as priests, do not do those things. The Bible uses language in a similar way, ’A good tree cannot produce bad fruit’ (Matthew 7:18). Of course a good tree can produce bad fruit, but not as a result of what it really is, a good tree. Also Jesus said, men ’cannot’ fast while the bride groom is with them (Mark 2:19). They can fast, but to do so is incongruous and unnatural.

"Similar notions are found in Pauline thought. Paul says, ’I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me’ (Galatians 2:20). If a Christian sins, his sin cannot be expression [sic] of who he really is, because his true life is that of Christ in him [cf. Romans 7:20-25].

". . . when a Christian sins (and John believes he can and will, 1 John 2:1), in that act he is behaving like a child of Satan. Who he really is is not being made evident. To use Paul’s phrase, he is walking like a ’mere man’ (1 Corinthians 3:3)." [Note: Dillow, pp. 168, 169, 172.]

A different explanation and one that is commonly held, though it is inconsistent with both what John wrote earlier (1 John 1:6-10; 1 John 2:1) and with experience, is the following.

"Only the unconverted and the counterfeit will practice a self-seeking, self-asserting life of sin." [Note: Gleason L. Archer, An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, p. 429.]

Note the chiastic structure of 1 John 3:9. 1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:9 also form an inclusio.

“A No one who abides in Him sins (6a)

B Everyone who sins . . . (1 John 3:6 b)

A The one who acts righteously (1 John 3:7)

B The one who commits sin (1 John 3:8)

A No one who is born of God sins (1 John 3:9).” [Note: Smalley, p. 171.]

Verse 10

The absence of righteous behavior in a life indicates the absence of intimacy with God. Likewise the absence of love for one’s brother Christian shows that the individual who does not love has little fellowship with God. Love is the most important particular manifestation of righteous behavior (John 13:34-35; cf. Matthew 22:37-39). John proceeded to discuss this trait more fully.

"The whole aim of the Gospel is the creation and strengthening of love. [Note: Westcott, p. 109.]

"The NIV rendering here, ’Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God,’ is a classic example of theologically motivated translation run amuck. It not only paraphrases the text but misinterprets it at the same time! There is nothing in this text about not being a child of God. How could there be? One must be a child of God before one could hate his brother. An unsaved man has no Christian brother to hate . . ." [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 152.]

The unloving Christian is "not of God" in the sense that God is not animating what he is doing. This believer is not on God’s side; he is doing the devil’s work rather than God’s.

Verses 10-15

1. What Love Is Not 3:10b-15

John began this part of his argument by explaining what love is not.

Verses 10-23

C. Learning to See Christian Love 3:10b-23

John has made clear that the only basis on which a Christian can be identified (manifested) as such is by his or her righteous behavior. Christians are not manifested by the absence of sin in them; he never says this. The next question that John proceeded to respond to is, How can we identify "righteousness?" John’s response was, It is not seen in morality-unbelievers can be moral-but in brotherly love. In this section, as in the one preceding it and in the one following it, the theme, brotherly love, opens and closes the section, forming an inclusio.

Verse 11

The message that John and his faithful followers had heard from the beginning was Jesus’ command to His disciples to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34-35; John 15:12).

"When differences arise within a community, hard feelings can be the result." [Note: Yarbrough, p. 197.]

Verse 12

Cain’s murder of Abel evidenced control by Satan rather than by God. Cain was jealous because of Abel’s greater righteousness, and this motivated him to kill his brother (Genesis 4:3-8; cf. John 8:40; John 8:42; John 8:44). Often our pride tempts us to dislike those who are more righteous than we are because they make us feel guilty by comparison. This is the only Old Testament reference in John’s epistles and the only proper name, except for names of God, in 1 John. Love and hatred are typical forms of righteousness and sin respectively. [Note: Dodd, p. 82.]

Saying that Cain was unsaved and so an unsaved person must be in view here will not work. The Bible does not say that Cain was unsaved. Furthermore, Christians have committed murder, as Cain did. Peter warned his readers, "Let none of you suffer as a murderer . . ." (1 Peter 4:15). Christians are capable of any and every type of gross sin. It should be obvious that a true believer can hate his brother Christian.

Verse 13

If we feel loving concern for one another, it should not surprise us if unrighteous people hate us for being more righteous than they are. Apparently John’s first readers could not understand why the world hated them, because he wrote, "Stop marveling." Christians are to the world what Abel was to Cain, so we should not be surprised if the world hates us. Sometimes unbelievers who become angry with us, for example, are reacting more against God in us than they are reacting against us personally.

"Of central importance for victory when a Christian is subjected to the world’s hatred is the recognition that hatred is the natural response of the sinful world toward righteousness." [Note: Hiebert, "An Expositional . . .," 146:302.]

"The author does not say that the world always hates believers. It did not always hate Jesus. But whenever the community of faith acts so as to expose the greed, the avarice, the hatred, and the wickedness of the world, it must expect rejection; and if it should go so far as to interfere with its evil practices, as Jesus did in the temple, it may expect suffering and brutal death (cf. John 15:18-19; John 15:25; John 17:14)." [Note: Barker, p. 335.]

Verse 14

Love for other Christians shows the presence of new life in us and is a secondary ground for assurance (cf. 1 John 5:13). "Death" and "life" are two vastly different spheres of existence. The contrast shows the great change that has taken place in the believer’s life. The one who does not love at all is the person who is abiding in death rather than in eternal life. John made the case extreme to make his point clear. His contrasts are death and life, hatred and love, darkness and light.

Verse 15

"Every one" includes Christians. Murder is the ultimate outward expression of hatred (cf. Matthew 5:21-22). The key to the statement that concludes this verse is the words "abiding in him." John evidently meant that no Christian whose eternal life (i.e., Jesus Christ; 1 John 1:2) has control of him, who is walking in fellowship with God, will commit murder. Some believers have committed murder, but they were not abiding believers when they did so (cf. John 15:4).

Verse 16

In contrast to the murderer Cain’s act, we see love in Jesus Christ’s laying down His life for us (cf. John 10:11). This is the opposite of taking another person’s life, as Cain did. Jesus Christ laid down His life once, and we ought to lay down our lives repeatedly in self-sacrificing love, as the tenses of the Greek verbs suggest.

"Most people associate Christianity with the command to love, and so they think that they know all about Christianity when they have understood its teaching in terms of their own concept of love. John found it necessary to explain clearly to his readers what he meant by love . . . .

"Love means readiness to do anything for other people." [Note: Marshall, p. 192.]

Verses 16-18

2. What Love Is 3:16-18

If hatred of a brother Christian is the antithesis of eternal life, what does true Christian love look like? John proceeded to explain.

Verse 17

We may not have the opportunity to save a brother’s life by dying in his place. Nevertheless we can and should do the next best thing, namely, sustaining his life when he has needs. When I give to a brother in need what might keep me alive, I have followed the Lord Jesus’ example of self-sacrificing love.

Verse 18

The evidence of genuine love is not verbal professions but vital performances, deeds rather than words (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1; James 2:15-16).

"The major concern of this passage is to encourage obedient and active love from all those who claimed allegiance to the Johannine church." [Note: Smalley, p. 199.]

Verses 19-20

"By this" refers to what John said in 1 John 3:17-18. Tangible demonstrations of love for the brethren show the believer’s true character, his righteousness. They should be a comfort to us when we feel guilty that we have not met many needs, a condition that prevails no matter how generous we may be. We can overcome feelings of false guilt by remembering that God knows our real motives. He does not judge on the basis of appearance, as we often judge ourselves.

"This phrase ["before Him," 1 John 3:19] could refer to standing in the presence of God on the day of judgment (1 John 4:17), an occasion which might well fill the heart of a man with foreboding. But the context here is one of prayer: dare we approach God with our requests if we feel guilty before him? On the whole, it seems more likely that this is what is in John’s mind (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:9[-10]). We then have a smooth transition to 1 John 3:21. [Note: Marshall, p. 199.]

Verses 19-23

3. What Love Does for Believers 3:19-23

The practice of such self-sacrificing love for the brethren can give us boldness in God’s presence now as we pray and in the future when we stand before Him at His judgment seat.

Verses 21-22

True love for the brethren demonstrated in deeds of self-sacrifice enables the believer to face Jesus Christ unashamedly whenever He may appear (cf. 1 John 2:28). John stressed the importance of a clear conscience again (cf. 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:2; Hebrews 10:22; 1 Timothy 1:19). Shamelessness can give us appropriate boldness to approach God’s throne of grace in prayer even now (cf. John 8:28-29). We will receive our requests if such is the will of God. John did not state this condition here, but he mentioned it later (1 John 5:14-15).

"There is nothing mechanical or magical about prayer. For it to be effective, the will of the intercessor needs to be in line with the will of God; and such a conformity of wills is brought about only as the believer lives in Christ." [Note: Smalley, p. 205.]

"Obedience is the first condition for answered prayer, when that prayer is offered by a child of God. The second, related condition is willing service: the determination to ’do’ always (poioumen, present) what pleases God." [Note: Ibid., p. 206.]

Verse 23

Jesus taught the apostles to trust in Him and to love each other. This is the distillation of His teaching. Specifically He taught them to trust in the efficacy of His name when they prayed to His Father (John 14:12-15; John 16:24). This is an added ground for confidence in prayer.

"There are frequent points of contact between this Epistle and the words of Jesus in John 13-17." [Note: Robertson, 6:228.]

Believing in this verse probably refers to believing for eternal salvation rather than to believing after we are Christians. The tense of the Greek verb (aorist) points to this as does the object of belief, namely, "the name of His Son Jesus Christ."

"To believe in the name of Jesus Christ is to accept Jesus Christ for what He really is." [Note: Barclay, p. 104.]

"The Christian who hates his brother acts utterly out of touch with God, exemplifies the murderous spirit of Cain, and is ’abiding’ in the sphere of death (1 John 3:10-15). By contrast, the loving Christian takes Christ’s own self-sacrificing love as the model by which he himself should love in actual deeds and in accord with the truth (1 John 3:16-18). If he does so, he can quiet a guilt-ridden heart, achieve a superb confidence before God in prayer, and expect answers to his prayers precisely because he is pleasing God (1 John 3:19-23)." [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 169.]

D. Learning to See the God of Love 3:24-4:16

Another inclusio helps us identify the theme of this section: God abiding in believers (1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:16). God abiding in us, as well as we abiding in Him, is essential to our having boldness as we anticipate the judgment seat of Christ (1 John 2:28; 1 John 4:17-18). Having boldness as we anticipate the judgment seat of Christ is the subject of the body of this epistle (1 John 2:28 to 1 John 4:19).

Verse 24

1. God’s Indwelling Affirmed 3:24

Obedience results in mutual abiding, God in man and man in God. God "abides" in every obedient believer, but He indwells every believer (cf. John 15:4-5; John 15:7; Romans 8:9). The evidence that God "abides" in us is the manifestation of His Spirit in and through us. This is the first explicit reference to the Holy Spirit in 1 John.

"Thus, the sentence is a definition of abiding. To abide is to keep his commandments." [Note: Ryrie, "The First . . .," p. 1474.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 3". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-john-3.html. 2012.
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