Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 John 3:1-8

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Children of God - 1 John 3:1

children of God. See WLC 74; WSC 34. Having begun this section with the intimate address, dear children or little children (2:28), John describes the love the Father gives lavishly to his children. See notes on 4:7-8, where John identifies God as the source and definition of true, mature love. Because the world is estranged from God, it opposes God's family.

We shall be like him - 1 John 3:2-3

we shall be like him… purifies himself. See WCF 9.5; 18.3; WLC 86, 90; WSC 38; HC 57; CD 5.VIII. The aim of Christian discipleship is Christlikeness. The process of sanctification is bound by two events, the new birth which brings people into God's family, and Christ's return, which brings the influence of the devil and sin to an end. The word purify (hagnizo¯) occurs only seven times in the NT, often in the context of ceremonial purification (see notes on Jn. 11:55; Acts 21:24, 26; 24:18). Like James and Peter (see notes on Jas. 4:8; 1 Pet. 1:22), John is concerned here with moral development through righteous action, motivated by love for God. This text also implies one of Paul's major points, that Christians will share in Christ's glory, because of his righteousness (see notes on Rom. 8:17-19; Phil. 3:21; Col. 3:4). Like other NT authors, John's understanding of moral purity and transformation is rooted in the presence and glory of God among his people, and their right relation with him (see notes on Exod. 34:29-35). The appearance, even expectation of God's presence motivates love and holiness in God's people.

Sin is lawlessness - 1 John 3:4

sin is lawlessness. See WCF 6.6; WLC 24, 152; WSC 14. The word lawless is used in Matthew to talk about false prophets and others who are against God's kingdom in the last days (see notes on Matt. 7:23; 13:41; 23:28; 24:21). According to Paul, the law exposes sin (see notes on Rom 7:7). John defines sin as lawlessness, that is, living with disregard for God's will. After the same pattern set by Adam and Eve in the garden, sin is defying God's command in order to define good and evil in one's own terms, to become a law unto one's self

Take away sins - 1 John 3:5

take away sins. See notes on Rom. 6:6-7 and 1 Jn 2:2. This is atonement language. The purpose of Jesus' life, death and resurrection was to remove sins and restore life, that is, to set it right (see note on Jn. 1:29).

Will keep on sinning . . . continues to sin - 1 John 3:6-7

will keep on sinning… does righteousness. John has written that Christians will not become sinless in this life (1:10), and everyone needs to be cleansed from their sins (1:7-9; 2:1-2). Furthermore, John tells his readers in this chapter to purify themselves in expectation of Jesus' arrival (3:3). Grammatical and theological issues are intertwined in verse 6. How should John's readers understand the use of the present tense? Since John Wesley, some evangelicals in the holiness tradition have read this section and other passages in John's letter (see notes on 4:12-18) as describing a level of "Christian perfection" or "entire sanctification," that is experienced after "a second baptism" with the Holy Spirit. Though Wesley opposed the idea of "sinless perfection," he taught that Christians could mature to the point of not committing "conscious sin." But, the use of the present tense here is more proverbial. John is making a general observation about the people of God, they are not characterized by sin. That is, they are known for their good character

To destroy the devil's works - 1 John 3:8

<3089>to destroy the devil's works. See BC 13; HC 123. The devil's activities are designed to incite rebellion against the one, true King and to destroy his people. According to John, the devil is characterized by two particular activities to such an extent that he is called a liar and a murderer (see notes on Jn. 8:44). Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. His ministry consistently liberated the demonized; his atoning death removed sins (see notes on 2:2; 3:5; 4:10); and his resurrection reestablished a righteous standing and direction for God's people

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