24/01/21 – 1 John 3:1-9
This week I focus on the present participle which is defined as “a form of a verb that ends in "ing" and comes after another verb to show continuous action” (Cambridge dictionary) That is, it should be seen as an ongoing action, a continuous tense, rather than a once-off action. For example, Vs 3 below says “And every man that hath (present participle) this hope in him …..” “hath” could therefore be written as “is having”, making his hope a continuous or ongoing action. An understanding of this tense is important to understanding why John says that “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:8) because it would be hard to exclude Christians from this accusation. However, “committeth” here is a present participle and could be written as “is committing” on an ongoing or sustained basis. The present participle can be seen as a continuous tense, here depicting that which is done habitually as part of a person’s nature. The Christian can sin but should not sin on an ongoing or sustained basis, or as a matter of habit. Therefore, “He that habitually commits sin is of the devil.”
1 John 3:1 – 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.
Behold – oida – Here it would mean “Pay attention to this” or “Observe this”.
what manner of – or “what sort of” or “what quality of”
should be called – kaleo (to call; to call by name; give a name to; to call by name to service or ministry)
kaleo is associated with giving of names ….
Matthew 1:21 – And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call (kaleo) his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
…. and/or calling by name to office or service.
Matthew 4:21 – And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James [the son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called (kaleo) them.
kaleo isn’t associated with the calling to be saved. When it comes to calling the elect (eklektos - adjective) through salvation, another word for “called” (kletos) is used. While kaleo may be used to call someone to you by name, kletos has more of an idea of an invitation to come. kaleo is a statement or command that is not expected to be refused; kletos is an invitation to choose to come when called.
Note the following (where eklektos is used to name God’s elect – the election).
Matthew 22:14 – For many are called (kletos), but few [are] chosen (eklektos).
Revelation 17:14 – These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him [are] called (kletos), and chosen (eklektos), and faithful.
Jesus acknowledged that He had chosen (eklegomai – verb form of eklektos) Judas even though Judas was “a devil”.
John 6:70 – Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen (eklegomai) you twelve, and one of you is a devil (diabolos)?
The Greek word prosphoneo can also be used to call for a choosing (an election).
Luke 6:13 – And when it was day, he called (prosphoneo – to summon to one’s self) [unto him] his disciples: and of them he chose (eklegomai) twelve, whom also he named apostles;)
It is interesting to note that Judas, is listed in Luke 6:16 as one of those chosen (elect) apostles (and also noted as a traitor).
So, in 1 John 3:1 above, “should be called” would refer to a calling by name to office, the office here named as being one of God’s children. Because the election is by God’s foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2a), then God must therefore know from the beginning (by His foreknowledge) who will call upon the name of the Lord to be saved, and thus call that person to be His elect. The initial call to be saved is the kletos which goes out to all mankind without exception. If someone responds to that kletos by calling upon the name of the Lord, then God calls that elect person by name (kaleo) to be His child, predestinating that person to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29-30).
love – agape (love of God for man; love of man for God; love of man for one another)
From 1 John 3:1 to the end of 1 John we find the word “love” (and related words) over and over again. This is a major theme of 1 John, especially Ch.4. So in 1 John we have agape (“love” – noun), agapao (“love” – verb) and agapetos (“beloved”) 52 times in 1 John, with 47 of them from 1 John 3:1 onward. Ch.3 has 12 occurrences and Ch.4 has 30 occurrences. This makes 1 John Ch.4 a “love” chapter to rival 1 Corinthians Ch.13.
God has bestowed His love upon us such that we are not just saved with eternal life, but we are adopted into His family and declared to be the sons (children) of God. John is noting the magnitude of God’s love that He should go this far, not just rescuing us but making us part of His family.
the world – kosmos This is the same “world” that John said that Jesus had propitiated in 1 John 2:2. It is biblical evidence that Jesus died for all the world of mankind, all who have ever sinned and all who will ever sin, and not just those whom God has declared to be His election. This makes MacArthur’s following statement to be a lie: “God did not intend to save everyone. He is God. He could have intended to save everyone. He could have saved everyone. He would have if that had been His intention. The atonement is limited.” (The Doctrine of Actual Atonement Part 1) It is that world (kosmos) that doesn’t know us that Jesus also died for!
In fact, in 1 John, kosmos in general stands for either the world of all mankind, or more specifically, the world representing the wickedness of satan.
knoweth – ginosko (to know; to learn to know; know by experience; to gain knowledge)
the world knoweth us not – The world cannot recognise such a family relationship with God because it has no experience of such for itself. How can you experience that which you refuse to be part of? If you reject the Saviour, then you can never experience His saving grace, and thus cannot know what His adopted children already know.
To the world Christians are foolish.
1 Corinthians 1:22-24 – 22For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Jesus taught that the world neither saw nor knew the Spirit of truth.
John 14:17 – [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world (kosmos) cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Jesus spoke of “the world” (kosmos) as the enemy of the Christian.
John 15:18-19 – 18If the world (kosmos) hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. 19If ye were of the world (kosmos), the world (kosmos) would love his own: but because ye are not of the world (kosmos), but I have chosen you out of the world (kosmos), therefore the world (kosmos) hateth you.
1 John 3:2 – Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Beloved – agapetos
doth … appear / shall appear – phaneroo (revealed; manifested; make visible; make known)
know – oida (a word that represents understanding of knowledge) Perfect tense
like – homoios (like; similar; resembling; the same as)
shall see – optanomai or optomai (to look at; behold; to appear; to see; to permit one’s self to be seen)
for – or “because”
he / him / him – This has to refer to Christ whose second coming (parousia) has already been introduced in 1 John 2:28 where it says that we should not be ashamed at His coming (parousia). 1 John 3:2 then teaches why we should not be ashamed (dishonoured by any disfigurement of sin) because we shall be like Him who is without sin. If we are His, we shall know what we look like by seeing Him as He really is, for we will have been conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) who is “the express image of his (God’s) person”, the exact-in-every-way image of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore we should have no shame at Christ’s parousia because when He is revealed, we will be in His image (“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” – Genesis 1:26) This then may be seen as the restoration of man as the image of God in which he (man) was originally created.
“Beloved, right now we are (present tense) the children of God. It is not yet revealed what we shall be like (future tense) but we already know (have already understood – perfect tense) that when Christ shall appear (be revealed to us) we shall (future tense) resemble Him, because we shall (be able to) see (future tense) Him as He really is now (present tense).”
1 John 3:3 – And every man that hath (present participle) this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
every man – or more literally just “all” (pas – “all”)
hope – elpis (hope; expectation of good; can also mean expectation of evil; joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; the thing hoped for) from a primary root word elpo (to anticipate, usually with pleasure)
in him – The context of previous verses makes this a pronoun for Christ.
purifieth – hagnizo (purify; ceremonially to cleanse from Levitical pollution; to take on a purification such as Nazarites) hagnizo is derived from hagnos (reverence; venerable; sacred; pure) from hagios (holy)
pure – hagnos
Here this hope refers to “that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (Vs 2 above), and that “we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28). Our hope is in Christ who shall appear one day. In order to not be ashamed at His coming (parousia) we purify ourselves such that “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is”, that is, pure and holy. “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
To keep ourselves from impurity requires effort, according to Paul.
1 Corinthians 9:27 – But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (reprobate; rejected).
So, if our hope rests in the parousia of Christ to take us home, then we should be purifying ourselves so that we may be like Him and not be ashamed at His coming.
1 John 3:4 – Whosoever (“All who”) committeth (present participle) sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
committeth – or “does” – Thus, committeth sin = “does sin”
transgresseth …. the law – anomia (the condition of without law; lawlessness; iniquity; wickedness) A noun, therefore can read as “does transgression”.
Thus “Whosoever does sin does transgression” or “Whoever commits sin commits lawlessness”. That is, “sin is the transgression of the law” as John has put it, or, put the other way, the transgression of the law is what defines sin.
Whosoever – pas – It generally means “all without exception” but can also mean whosoever; each; every; any; everyone; all things; everything.
In cases where it is illogical to translate as “all”, it can mean “some of all types”. For example, that Jesus healed people of all sickness and all diseases (Eg Matthew 4:23), cannot mean that He healed all sicknesses and all diseases without exception, so must be translated as “all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Also note that when “all manner of” is used, then it is followed by a noun such as “precious stones” or “disease” etc. Without this qualifying noun added, “all” must mean “all without exception”.
In Vs 4 above, it can be read as “Any (or “every”) one of all those who commit sin ….”, thus “Whosoever without exception commits sin”.
And, if all commit sin (Romans 3:23), then all have transgressed the law, and if all have transgressed the law, then all must die (Romans 6:23). Therefore only those who have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13) can be truly free of death’s penalty; the rest must die as per God’s judgment.
1 John 3:5 – And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
was manifested – phaneroo (manifested; revealed; made visible) Christ was revealed to us by becoming flesh for our sakes by coming into this world; His incarnation. Christ as God cannot die; but Christ as a man can die! God has to become man in order to die in place of man so that man can be saved.
John 1:14 – And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
1 Peter 2:24 – Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
In God there is no sin because God is holy and righteous. Only a perfect lamb innocent of any wrong-doing could pay for sin (noting the Passover lamb of Exodus 12:5). Christ, the Word of God, was manifested (made visible; revealed) to us in the flesh (incarnated) in order to die for us who are His creation in His image.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” – John 1:14
Christ was the sinless perfect lamb of God who became our Passover for us.
“For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:” – 1 Corinthians 5:7
1 John 3:6 – Whosoever (“All who”) abideth (present participle) in him sinneth not: whosoever (“All who”) sinneth (present participle) hath not seen him, neither known him.
hath …. seen – horao (to see with the eyes or mind; become acquainted with by experience; take heed beware; appeared; properly, to stare at) Perfect tense, thus “has never seen Him”
known – ginosko (to know) Perfect tense, thus “has never known Him”.
Here is where John comes to his next dichotomy (2 mutually-exclusive groupings): those who abide (remain) in Him that do not sin, and those who have never seen Him nor have they ever known Him (particularly in salvation) and therefore do sin.
Of course, Christians do sin. Even John states this clearly.
1 John 1:8 – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
But, Christians should not want to sin; this is the difference here. Christians should not enjoy their sin; instead they should hate it enough to want to deal with it.
1 John 2:1 – My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So how can a Christian not sin if he lies when he says he doesn’t sin? There are two possible answers here. One is that the Christian might sin but he should no longer be a sinner by nature. Paul alluded to this when he said the following.
Romans 7:20 – Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Paul also wrote: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4) That is, if we walk in the Spirit, we are righteous; if we are unrighteous, we are not walking in the Spirit. This introduces the 2nd possible answer: that while we abide in Him, we do not sin; if we sin, therefore, we are not abiding in Him.
As John wrote: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:6)
Christians can struggle to continually avoid sin because they do not abide 100% in Christ. But Christians do not (should not!) want to be governed by their sin nature.
As Paul wrote:
Romans 7:24-25 – 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
However, those who have never “seen” Christ or known Him can only be governed by their sin nature. They sin because they are sinners by nature. They have no other nature! Not so the Christian whose sin nature should have been crucified with Christ.
Romans 6:6 – Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him – Note that “sinneth” here is a present participle and therefore indicates habitual sinning (on an ongoing basis). It should not refer to the Christian who should not habitually sinning.
1 John 3:7 – Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth (present participle) righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
John here continues to reiterate that they should not be deceived by false teachers. Doing righteousness (as a continuous action) defines a person as righteous because Christ Himself is righteous. John has already written that if we know that Christ is righteous, then we should also know that everyone who does (and sustains – present active participle which can be used to form a continuous tense) that same righteousness can only do it through being born again of Christ (1 John 2:29).
If anyone were to try to teach them, then assess such people according to their righteousness which demonstrates either that they have been with Christ, or have not!.
Acts 4:13 – Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
So if you want to know if someone is a deceiver, then assess their righteousness according to the righteousness of Christ.
1 John 3:8 – He that committeth (present participle) sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
the devil – diabolos (prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely) “The false accuser”
manifested – phaneroo (revealed; manifested; made visible)
from the beginning – Because satan was created perfect until iniquity was found in him (Ezekiel 28:15), this would have to refer to the beginning of the devil’s sin when he rose up in rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-15).
the works of the devil – This would refer here to those works aimed at the corruption of man, commencing with the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
Christ was manifested (revealed in the flesh) in order to destroy those works of the devil; His life, death and resurrection marked the fall of satan’s authority over man.
John 12:31 – Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
By His death and resurrection, Christ redeemed (purchased back for Himself again) all mankind. This therefore now gave all mankind a way back to God, to restore the image which had been broken in the garden of Eden. However, it remained for man to plead guilty before he could be granted a pardon for all his sins. (This is standard practice in many countries today: that in order to be pardoned, one must first plead guilty as charged, placing his life in the hands of the court, or judge.)
Just as liars are of the devil, the father of all lies (John 8:41, 44), those who commit sin on an ongoing basis are of the devil who is the instigator of all sin. “committeth” here is present active participle which can be considered continuous tense here.
Note that John is continuing with his definition of sin as per Vs 6 above. He who sins is one who is obeying his sin nature because he has no other option. Only those who abide in Christ are able to obey their new spiritual nature in order to reject sin. Only those in Christ are able to reject sin; those of the world cannot.
1 John 3:9 – Whosoever (“All who”) is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
his seed – This would refer to the new birth in Christ remaining (meno – remain; continue; abide) in the genuine Christian.
If you are born again in Christ, you do not commit sin (on an ongoing or continuous basis). In fact, you cannot sin on an ongoing basis because you are born of God.
Once again, this is merely repeating Vs 6 above: that those who are born of God cannot sin while they are abiding in Him.
This ties back to John’s warning to not love the world because the love of the Father would not be in them. A non-Christian can only love the world; he has no other option. But a Christian can and should love God (and not the world, because you cannot love both the world and God). When a person is saved, he must take up his cross and follow Christ, without which he cannot be Christ’s disciple (Luke 14:27), nor can he be worthy of Christ (Matthew 10:38). He must destroy his return pathway back to the world; he must burn his bridges (back to his old life) behind him. If he doesn’t, he will continue to be tempted to return again and again. Taking up your cross means turning your back on the world that you have left behind.
It’s all about how much you love God compared with how much you love the world. If you love anything or anybody in the world more than you love God, then you cannot be worthy of Christ (Matthew 10:37). Whatever you love most in your life is your god! In order to abide in Christ you must turn your back on the world you used to be a part of, lest you be drawn back into it again, like Demas who loved this present world (obviously more than he loved God – 2 Timothy 4:10).