1 John 3 – Summary Exposition

  1. 1 John 3.1-3. The Father calls us his children. John addresses his audience as beloved and we. This indicates again that his audience is believers. We are called children of the Father (God the Father). The word for children is teknon τεκνον, which refers to a child, one who is a descendent, youngsters, or offspring. We are now our heavenly Father’s children. This word is also used in John 1:12. As children we need training.
    1. 1 John 3.1. Present time. The world does not know us in the sense of understanding us. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:17 where right now as new creatures in Christ we have a new relationship with God, a new kind of life (eternal life in quality and length), a new capacity to know, grow, fellowship with, and serve God, and a new way and power for living. We are related to God with a different character, lifestyle, and purpose.
    2. 1 John 3.2. But later, when Jesus appears (φανεροω to be visible, show, revealed, aorist passive) we will changed to be like (`ομοιος homoios same nature, like similar) him in resurrection body. This will happen when Jesus comes back to take his church to heaven. John recorded in John 14.1-3 that Jesus told the disciples he would go and prepare a place for them and come back and take them to heaven. Then we will be changed (Philippians 3.20-21; 1 Corinthians 15.51-54). We will see him just as he is. Theologically, this event is called the rapture.
    3. 1 John 3.3. Purifies himself. This confident expectation will keep us focused on the Lord, and our desire to be like him—holy in life (αγνος pure, holy).
  2. 1 John 3.4-10. The argument. The new nature, God’s seed, cannot sin. If we sin it is from the old Adam nature. John writes to spiritual children (teknon τεκνον). This section of 1 John presents a wonderful truth, but it is often missed. The simple point is that we as believers in Christ, are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5.17) and are the offspring of God (seed, 1 John 3.9, born of God).
    1. 1 John 3.4-5. Sin and lawlessness are both violation of God’s character. Jesus came to remove the sin barrier through his death on the cross. Jesus the sin bearer was completely without sin. To redeem, one must be able and that means no sin in himself.
    2. 1 John 3.6-7. 1. Therefore when a believer abides in Christ (μενω meno present active participle used as the subject) he does not sin (`αμαρτανω hamartano customary present active indicative indicating what does or does not happen). 2. One who abides is in a not sinning condition; and one who sins is in a not seeing or not knowing condition. 3. Therefore, do not let anyone deceive you by saying that God is not perfectly righteous and a little sin will not harm your fellowship with God. God is righteous and believers should do righteousness.
    3. 1 John 3.8-10. Ultimately, all sin comes from Satan, the first sinner. All righteousness comes from God. From that perspective we are like our sinless parent, and so when we live from our new creation position we cannot and do not sin. Personal sin comes from the Adam man—the old man under the domination of the sinful nature.
    4. Recall that every believer is also called or has the new man (Ephesians 4.24; Colossians 3.10), new creation (2 Corinthians 5.17, Galatians 6.15), partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1.4), and God’s seed remains in us (1 John 3.9).This develops into the “Christ formed in you” of Galatians 4.19 and the “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” man of Romans 13.14. Alternative interpretations include taking “does not sin” and “cannot sin” as progressive present tenses meaning continually sin, or meaning that the person is really not a believer. Neither of these fits the context of John’s writings nor other New Testament teachings. Also compare Romans 6-8. Specific points of doctrine here include: sin and lawlessness go together, Jesus Christ was sinless, he came to take away sin, believers do not sin when abiding in Christ, a believer who sins is acting like the devil, the devil is the first sinner, the born of God person living according to his see cannot sin (God nature does not sin), a believer who does not practice righteousness or who does not love his brother is not living according to his God nature.
  3. 1 John 3.11-13. Godly love is the standard Christian practice. Cain did not love Abel; instead he was jealous, self-centered, and angry leading to murder. The world has the same hateful attituded toward believers. Do not be amazed (θαυμαζω thaumazw, pres act imperative, to be extra impressed or disturbed, amazed) if (1 class if) the world (κοσμος kosmos) hates you who love other believers (John 15.18). They have a different standard, authority, relationship, and way of living.
  4. 1 John 3.14-24. Godly love for believers informs us that we have passed from death to life. Love is where we live.
    1. 1 John 3.14. There is a contrast between passed (perfect act indicative μεταβαινω metabaino, to change place or state, here from unsaved to saved) and abide (present active indicative μενω meno). To not love shows we are abiding in death, or at that time experiencing the sphere of death, even though we have in position passed out of death and into life.
    2. 1 John 3.15. Hatred of a believer is mental murder, and of course that believer is not experiencing his eternal life.
    3. 1 John 3.16. Jesus demonstrated godly love by his sacrifice in death for us and we should be willing to do the same..
    4. 1 John 3.17-20. We should love by what we do, not just by what we say. When we love in deed and truth we will know it, even if we might doubt that we are loving as God loved. God knows that we are loving correctly if we love in deed and truth—according to Jesus’ standard. God knows when we love others, so trust him to direct us.
    5. 1 John 3.21-22. On the other hand, when we are confident about our love we pray with greater ease and expectation. Why? Because we keep his commandments, his word. We obey him. Our prayer life is more natural and more effective.
    6. 1 John 3.23. God’s commandments are summarized into one command. God is pleased that we do what he says. First part—to believe the name of his son Jesus Christ. The second part—to love one another.
      1. “Believe the name” ἵνα πιστεύσωμεν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ Υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Τhe aorist subjunctive of πιστευω is difficult and probably the reference is to believers due to context and pronouns (though many say this this refers to the initial faith for justification). I conclude that it is constative aorist subjunctive referring to the entire life of a believer that is by faith in the Son on a regular basis, somewhat the same as Galatians 2.20, 2 Corinthians 5.7, Hebrews 12.2, and probably Hebrews 11.6. Then the present subjunctive of αγαπαω, probably customary present for the day to day regular action. Main point would be that every believer should follow Christ, focus on him by faith in him personally and his provision for the church (often called occupation with Christ, loving Christ, focus on Christ) and as outward expression of this have godly love for believers.
      2. 1 John 3.24. The first result—mutual abiding, we in God and God in us. That mutual fellowship that we have with God the Father. The second result—The Holy Spirit whom God sent to indwell us assures us of this mutual fellowship. The realization of this gives contentment, confidence, and renewed loyalty in our Christian lives.