Fellowship with God is rooted in our understanding of our status as children

John has detailed how fellowship with God is rooted in love for God (2.15-17) and apostolic epistemology (2.18-27). Now he broaches the subject of the Christian’s relationship with God as Father and how fellowship is realized and enriched when God’s children understand that status.

1 John 2:28–3:3 (ESV)

28And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

Little children—term of endearment/affection of the aged John to these Christians-2.1,12,18

Abide in him—same exhortation as we have seen in v.27: keep on abiding in Him (only). Him who? God? Christ? In one sense, yes. But specifically (contextually), I lean toward God (v.29). Here is the exhortation from John—in light of His coming, remain in Him.

So that (purpose) when he appears—Not sure when, but He will come, no uncertainty.

We may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame—John commonly juxtaposes counter positions and here is another example: boldness v. shame. The person who abides in Him has confidence (though standing in the intimidating presence of God) and does not need to be ashamed from Him (here is the shrinking back). Fear not, you who abide in Him.

At his coming—Lit. in His presence. Though in the presence of Almighty God, there is no need to be afraid, ashamed if we abide in Him. It would seem that John has the final coming of Jesus in mind.

29If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

If you know that he is righteous—”know” is perfect tense from oida, that knowledge that is absolute. It is absolute knowledge that God (He must be God the Father based on latter part of this verse) is righteous, right, just.

You know the one practicing righteousness—lit. the one doing right(ness). You are doing the same thing God and it is you habitual practice to act like God (walk in the light). Children of God will act like their Father.

Has been born of him—”has been born” is perfect tense passive. We were born (in the past) and stand begotten of God. Further, it is God who made us children of God. This verse speaks not to the means by which one becomes a child of God but rather speaks to the evidence that shows one is a child of God.

1See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

What kind of love the Father has given to us—”what manner of love,” lit. “of what country.” This kind of love is of divine origin; it is out of this world. And God gave it and continues to give it to us.

That we should be called—this is an appeal to the conscious nobility of the readers: you have been given a great title, name, even God’s name.

Children of God—Paul often speaks of Christians as “sons of God” and this points to the adoption aspect of our conversion. Strictly speaking, though, the word used by John speaks to the actual parentage involved. Coupled with “the Father” who has called us and the picture is set.

The world does not know us—present tense, the world could perceive that we are of God if they would but know God first.

It did not know him—aorist tense, seems to point back to Jesus. This is the same point Jesus made while on earth (see John 15.18; cf. 1 Jon 3.13).

We are children of God. Therefore the world does not know us for the world does not know God. God is known/seen by seeing/knowing Christ (John 14.8-9).

2Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

We are God’s children now—in this present age/world, this is the present reality.

What we will be… – though our present state is known, the future state is unknown. It simply has not yet been manifested even as Christ has not yet been manifested (2.28).

We know…we shall be like him—though there is much we do not know, what we do know is that we’ll be like him (Jesus), of the same or similar nature/kind.

We shall see kim as he is—present tense, Christ has exchanged mortality for immortality and is presently with the Father functioning in His salvific roles (1 Tim 2.5; Heb 7.25; et al).

3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who thus hopes—to be like Him, with Him.

Purifies himself—present, keeps on purifying body and spirit (2 Cor 7.1). Christ, the Son is pure; what about the rest of God’s children, us?


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