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1 John 3:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Behold, what manner of love - Whole volumes might be written upon this and the two following verses, without exhausting the extraordinary subject contained in them, viz., the love of God to man. The apostle himself, though evidently filled with God, and walking in the fullness of his light, does not attempt to describe it; he calls on the world and the Church to behold it, to look upon it, to contemplate it, and wonder at it.

What manner of love. - Ποταπην αγαπην· What great love, both as to quantity and quality; for these ideas are included in the original term. The length, the breadth, the depth, the height, he does not attempt to describe.

The Father hath bestowed - For we had neither claim nor merit that we should be called, that is, constituted or made, the sons of God, who were before children of the wicked one, animal, earthly, devilish; therefore, the love which brought us from such a depth of misery and degradation must appear the more extraordinary and impressive. After κληθωμεν, that we might be called, και εσμεν, and we are, is added by ABC, seventeen others, both the Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Slavonic, and Vulgate.

Therefore the world - The Jews, and all who know not God, and are seeking their portion in this life; knoweth us not - do not acknowledge, respect, love, or approve of us. In this sense the word γινωσκειν is here to be understood. The world Knew well enough that there were such persons; but they did not approve of them. We have often seen that this is a frequent use of the term know, both in Hebrew and Greek, in the Old Testament and also in the New.

Because it knew him not - The Jews did not acknowledge Jesus; they neither approved of him, his doctrine, nor his manner of life.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Behold, what manner of love - What love, in “kind” and in “degree.” In kind the most tender and the most ennobling, in adopting us into His family, and in permitting us to address Him as our Father; in “degree” the most exalted, since there is no higher love that can be shown than in adopting a poor and friendless orphan, and giving him a parent and a home. Even God could bestow upon us no more valuable token of affection than that we should be adopted into His family, and permitted to regard Him as our Father. When we remember how insignificant we are as creatures, and how ungrateful, rebellious, and vile we have been as sinners, we may well be amazed at the love which would adopt us into the holy family of God, so that we may be regarded and treated as the children of the Most High. A prince could manifest no higher love for a wandering, ragged, vicious orphan boy, found in the streets, than by adopting him into his own family, and admitting him to the same privileges and honors as his own sons; and yet this would be a trifle compared with the honor which God has bestowed on us.

The Father hath bestowed upon us - God, regarded as a Father, or as at the head of the universe considered as one family.

That we should be called the sons of God - That is, that we should “be” the sons of God - the word “called” being often used in the sense of “to be.” On the nature and privileges of adoption, see the Romans 8:15-17 notes; 2 Corinthians 6:18 note, and practical remarks on that chapter.

Therefore the world knoweth us not - Does not understand our principles; the reasons of our conduct; the sources of our comforts and joys. The people of the world regard us as fanatics or enthusiasts; as foolish in abandoning the pleasures and pursuits which they engage in; as renouncing certain happiness for that which is uncertain; as cherishing false and delusive hopes in regard to the future, and as practicing needless austerities, with nothing to compensate for the pleasures which are abandoned. There is nothing which the frivolous, the ambitious, and the selfish “less” understand than they do the elements which go into the Christian‘s character, and the nature and source of the Christian‘s joys.

Because it knew him not - It did not know the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, the world had no right views of the real character of the Lord Jesus when he was on the earth. They mistook him for an enthusiast or an impostor; and it is no wonder that, having wholly mistaken his character, they should mistake ours. On the fact that the world did not know him, see the 1 Corinthians 2:8 note; Acts 3:17 note. Compare John 17:25. On the fact that Christians may be expected to be regarded and treated as their Saviour was, see the notes at John 15:18-20. Compare Matthew 10:24-25.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Little does the world know of the happiness of the real followers of Christ. Little does the world think that these poor, humble, despised ones, are favourites of God, and will dwell in heaven. Let the followers of Christ be content with hard fare here, since they are in a land of strangers, where their Lord was so badly treated before them. The sons of God must walk by faith, and live by hope. They may well wait in faith, hope, and earnest desire, for the revelation of the Lord Jesus. The sons of God will be known, and be made manifest by likeness to their Head. They shall be transformed into the same image, by their view of him.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 461-2

Religious privileges have been too much neglected by those employed in the offices. None should engage in the work of God who treat these privileges with indifference; for all such connect with evil angels and are a cloud of darkness, a hindrance to others. In order to make the work a success, every department in the offices must have the presence of heavenly angels. When the Spirit of God shall work upon the heart, cleansing the soul-temple of its defilement of worldliness and pleasure-loving, all will be seen in the prayer meeting, faithful to do their duty and earnest and anxious to reap all the benefit they can gain. The faithful worker for the Master will improve every opportunity to place himself directly under the rays of light from the throne of God, and this light will be reflected upon others. 4T 461.1

And not only should the prayer meeting be faithfully attended, but as often as once each week a praise meeting should be held. Here the goodness and manifold mercies of God should be dwelt upon. Were we as free to give expression to our thankfulness for mercies received as we are to speak of grievances, doubts, and unbelief, we might bring joy to the hearts of others, instead of casting discouragement and gloom upon them. The complainers and murmurers, who are ever seeing the discouragements in the way, and talking of trials and hardships, should contemplate the infinite sacrifice which Christ has made in their behalf. Then can they estimate all their blessings in the light of the cross. While looking upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, whom our sins have pierced and our sorrows have burdened, we shall see cause for gratitude and praise, and our thoughts and desires will be brought into submission to the will of Christ. 4T 461.2

In the gracious blessings which our heavenly Father has bestowed upon us we may discern innumerable evidences of a love that is infinite, and a tender pity surpassing a mother's yearning sympathy for her wayward child. When we study the divine character in the light of the cross we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice. In the language of John we exclaim: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” We see in the midst of the throne One bearing in hands and feet and side the marks of the suffering endured to reconcile man to God and God to man. Matchless mercy reveals to us a Father, infinite, dwelling in light unapproachable, yet receiving us to Himself through the merits of His Son. The cloud of vengeance which threatened only misery and despair, in the reflected light from the cross reveals the writing of God: Live, sinner, live! ye penitent and believing souls, live! I have paid a ransom. 4T 461.3

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Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 15

The price paid for our redemption, the infinite sacrifice of our heavenly Father in giving His Son to die for us, should give us exalted conceptions of what we may become through Christ. As the inspired apostle John beheld the height, the depth, the breadth of the Father's love toward the perishing race, he was filled with adoration and reverence; and, failing to find suitable language in which to express the greatness and tenderness of this love, he called upon the world to behold it. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1 John 3:1. What a value this places upon man! Through transgression the sons of man become subjects of Satan. Through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ the sons of Adam may become the sons of God. By assuming human nature, Christ elevates humanity. Fallen men are placed where, through connection with Christ, they may indeed become worthy of the name “sons of God.” SC 15.1

Such love is without a parallel. Children of the heavenly King! Precious promise! Theme for the most profound meditation! The matchless love of God for a world that did not love Him! The thought has a subduing power upon the soul and brings the mind into captivity to the will of God. The more we study the divine character in the light of the cross, the more we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice, and the more clearly we discern innumerable evidences of a love that is infinite and a tender pity surpassing a mother's yearning sympathy for her wayward child. SC 15.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 950

The greater man's influence for good, under the control of the Spirit of God, the more determined will be the enemy to indulge his envy and jealousy toward him by religious persecution. But all heaven is on the side of Christ, not of Antichrist. Those who love God and are willing to be partakers with Christ in His sufferings, God will honor. Antichrist, meaning all who exalt themselves against the will and work of God, will at the appointed time feel the wrath of Him who gave Himself that they might not perish but have eternal life. All who persevere in obedience, all who will not sell their souls for money or for the favor of men, God will register in the book of life (Manuscript 9, 1900). 7BC 950.1

(Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:20.) Human Reason vs. God's Wisdom—Many exalt human reason, idolize human wisdom, and set the opinions of men above the revealed wisdom of God. This affords opportunity for the working of Satan, and the spirit of Antichrist is far more widespread than any of us imagine.... 7BC 950.2

The maxims of the world, that know not God, have been worked into the theories of the church. In the eyes of men, vain philosophy and science, falsely so-called, are of more value than the Word of God. The sentiment prevails to a large extent that the divine Mediator is not essential to the salvation of man. A variety of theories advanced by the so-called worldly-wise men for man's elevation, are believed and trusted in more than is the truth of God, as taught by Christ and His apostles. 7BC 950.3

The lying spirit that enticed Eve in Eden, finds acceptance with the majority of earth's inhabitants today. Even the Christian world refuses to be converted by the Spirit of God, but listens to the prince of darkness, as he comes to them in the garb of an angel of light. The spirit of Antichrist is prevailing in the world to a far greater extent than it has ever prevailed before. 7BC 950.4

The day of test and purification is just upon us. Signs of a most startling character appear, in floods, in hurricanes, in tornadoes, in cloudbursts, in casualties by land and by sea, that proclaim the approach of the end of all things. The judgments of God are falling on the world, that men may be awakened to the fact that Christ will come speedily (The Review and Herald, November 8, 1892). 7BC 950.5

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 563

Jesus, heaven's great Commander, left the royal courts to come to a world seared and marred by the curse. He took upon Himself our nature, that with His human arm He might encircle the race, while with His divine arm He grasps Omnipotence, and thus links finite man to the infinite God. Our Redeemer came to the world to show how man should live in order to secure immortal life. Our heavenly Father made an infinite sacrifice in giving His Son to die for fallen man. The price paid for our redemption should give us exalted views of what we may become through Christ. 4T 563.1

As John beholds the height, the depth, and the breadth of the Father's love toward our perishing race, he is filled with admiration and reverence. He cannot find suitable language to express this love, but he calls upon the world to behold it: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” What a value this places upon man! Through transgression the sons of men became subjects of Satan. Through the infinite sacrifice of Christ, and faith in His name, the sons of Adam become the sons of God. By assuming human nature, Christ elevates humanity. Fallen men are granted another trial and are placed where, through connection with Christ, they may educate, improve, and elevate themselves, that they may indeed become worthy of the name sons of God.” 4T 563.2

Such love is without a parallel. Jesus requires that those who have been bought by the price of His own life shall make the best use of the talents which He has given them. They are to increase in the knowledge of the divine will, and constantly improve in intellect and morals, until they shall attain to a perfection of character but little lower than that of the angels. 4T 563.3

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