1 John 2:28-3:3 | What Manner of Love


Verse 2:28 is a bridge verse as the Apostle John links what he wants to write next with what he has been saying. So, this verse is a look backwards as well as a look forward. The point of this for the Apostle is to offer what benefits there were in  ‘taking the threefold tests” of a believer (obedience, love, and truth). He does this prior to writing on “being a true child of God” in a relationship with God. 

Vs. 28-29 Abide, appear and ashamed

Vs. 28 Notice that in verse 28 John uses three words that are advantages to believers who have passed the test of fellowship with God. The three words are: ABIDE, APPEARS, and ASHAMED!

  1. ABIDE: This is John’s primary exhortation or calling to believers, “stay where you are at”! The believer’s calling in maturity, their advancement is to “STAY PUT”. “Stay put”, in believing truth, stay put in living that truth out towards others in love, stay put in obey the truth by dying to self-centeredness. If Christians find out that they are out of fellowship with the Lord then we know that we have “MOVED” away from God when we should have “STAYED PUT”! The call of God upon every believer is to stay at home with Jesus! When the world is calling you to go out into the tantalizing trinkets of the world system tell them you would rather stay home with Jesus! What a joy it is to abide in His live, His Word and in His grace. The Lord has made it simple to “Stay at home” with Him as He has given us the His Spirit within, His Word without and with these in place we have: Protection for every peril, power over every weakness, peace over every perplexity and permanence over the state of flux of the world!
  2. APPEARS: Notice that John writes, “WHEN, He appears” not “IF, He appears”. John states the return of Christ as a FACT, a certain expectation. There is NOT ant shred of doubt and instead John states it’s as a fact that had passed 70 years of his life! As this relates to the three-fold test that we have taken this reminds the believer that any such test taken now is to make certain that you will PASS the FINAL EXAM! It is clear that John wanted this exhortation of Jesus soon return to produce, “confidence” in the present! This word “confidence” in the Greek means “freedom of speech” and it speaks of true friendship in fellowship with God which allows us to speak with Him in perfect honesty and frankness. It suggests that when we see Jesus we will have nothing to hide, nothing we are embarrassed about as we have already gotten that all out of the way before we have seen Him face to face!          
  3. ASHAMED: The context of this word “Ashamed” is specific as John says that such “sorrow at our unfaithfulness” is related to His coming! John is NOT speaking to the loss of salvation instead it speaks of the LOSS of joy that a groom or bride may feel at their wedding knowing that they have been unfaithful to the love of their life who had been lovingly faithful towards them! John wants his readers to think of this before they stray away from Jesus perfect love so that they can choose NOW to stay at home with HIM!

Vs. 29 This is where John begins to take up a new thought in his letter which is being “a child of God” “Born of Him”! So, what John takes up here is the topic of true believers being “children of God” which is different than natural birth as birth is “regeneration” by the power of God through the work of His Son by His Spirit! The result of this is that God through our adoption has given us His nature! We will notice this “regenerative” work based upon two distinct marks:

  1. Knowledge: Twice in this verse John uses the word know. This knowledge is both absolute and experienced as we have a twofold understanding:
  • First, we have an absolute knowledge that is only reinforced through experience of Who alone is righteous, The Lord!
  • Second, we know again both absolutely and experientially that such an encounter with Jesus who alone is righteous is transformative in nature if we have truly been born again! The supreme proof of NEW BIRTH is the evidence of Jesus Life in our life! There must be Jesus’ righteousness seen in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Without His features seen in us then there is no possibility of us being born of God. To claim that God is our Father we must share the DNA of His character!       

Life: John clarifies this by use of the words “practices righteousness” and not just “profession of righteousness”. Those that are “alive” will look like Jesus who is alive! It will be our practice. We cannot claim a transformative work if there is no evidence of transformation. Life where there once was death, love where there once was hate, truth where there once was trusting in lies!      

3:1-3 Children of God

Vs. 1 John speaks of the transformative work of God in the believer from three standpoints:

  1. Vs. 1 What we are
  2. Vs. 2 What we shall be
  3. Vs. 3 What we should be

Vs. 1 What we are: “Behold what manner of Love the Father has bestowed on us”. John now bursts forth with the amazing proclamation of assurance of those who have passed the threefold test that indeed “We are children of God”. The first point he makes is with regards to our new birth conception as we are “Conceived in His love”. The Fathers love for us is “unique” it nis “one of a kind and out of this world”. While we were His enemies he loved us and sent His Son to die for us. The whole plan of salvation begins with then Love of God. It was “bestowed” NOT earned or deserved, His love for us is a direct gift from our heavenly Father. This love is shown, given exhibited and imparted it is this gift alone that has enabled us to be called “children of God”! This realization has two thoughts connected with it:

  1. Some texts add the words “And we are” after the words “Behold what manner of Love the Father has bestowed on us”. This indicates that such truth must be experienced in our conscience of this new life and how it has come to be. It is a personal revelation of God’s overwhelming love towards us that has nothing at all to do with us and everything to do with HIM!
  2. Second, those words “And we are” suggest that once we realize this truth we cannot help ourselves as we must share such a truth with everyone. We are a witness to God’s goodness to those around us.

John says, “Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” This tells us that a relationship based completely upon God’s work and none of the object of His love (us) will not be either accepted or understood by those that we want to share His love with. The world cannot God’s love and the amazing adoption that is the believer’s life because they can only be spiritually discerned according to 1 Cor. 2:14. The Children of God are unknowable to the people of the world unless by the Spirit of God. God’s divine nature imparted will not draw them to His love apart from the Spirit of God’s work through it! We must not be depressed or discouraged over this as they had the same response towards Jesus in His earthly life. Though they knew His family, His mother even they initially didn’t recognize Jesus divine relationship with the Father.

Vs. 2 What we shall be: Even beyond the amazing joy of being children of God “THAT’S NOT ALL”, there is more to come. There is by lack of experience an “unknown glory” that awaits the Child of God. Beyond our conception to think of anything higher than our present privilege but nonetheless John declares the reality of a “Higher” degree between the present and the future our condition. It will be radically improved beyond our imagination while our position as His children will not be changed which means that we are in the right place now and ought to be able to enjoy our position in the present while we await the change in our condition! John does tells us two things that we can “Know” of this condition change as “but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

  1. First John lets us know the timing of such change in our condition as it will be “when He is revealed”.
  2. Second John tells us what condition will have changed “we shall be like Him”.
  3. Third John reveals how such condition was made possible as “we shall see Him as He is”.

Vs. 3 What we should be: The final verse we look at is what the above two should produce in the believer now. The fact that we are children of God ought to produce two particle results in the life of every believer.

  1. Incentive to purity: “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself”. Those who have come into the love of Christ where they see who they now are, who they will become will want to live like Jesus did NOW! Purity is not an option it is a necessity of transformation. We won’t work on purity to be loved by God we are loved by God which causes us to want to enjoy His love even more so we will seek to be pure.   
  2. Standard of purity: “just as He is pure”. The standard of purity isn’t compared to our brothers and sisters it is Jesus himself. We are to imitate Jesus, our constant consideration, our every thought with regards to our behavior ought to be like Jesus.

As Children of God, we note that such a life was: Conceived in God’s love, is marked by our loyalty towards Him and will culminated in our likeness of Him!