1John 3:10-23

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 8, 2001


The apostle John went through quite a dramatic change as a result of having known Jesus.

Early on, when he and his brother James had just started following Jesus, there were still a bit of the old rough edges about them.  They were known as the “sons of thunder”, and apparently it was because of their quick temper.

When Jesus and His disciples experienced some rejection by the Samaritans, John and his brother James were the ones who came up with the idea of calling down fire to roast those sinners.  In fact, if the Lord would let them, they would like to be the ones that gave the orders to heaven for lightning!
(Luke 9:55 KJV)  But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

Within a couple of years, John had gone through quite a dramatic change.  By the end of his life, John was known as the “apostle of love”.  This wasn’t because he wore hippie beads, sunglasses, used the word “groovy”, and flashed the peace sign everywhere he went.  It was because everywhere he would go he was telling Christians to love one another.

There’s probably no greater statement of this than what John weaves throughout in 1John.

Loving One Another

:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

manifestphaneros – apparent, manifest, evident, known; manifest i.e to be plainly recognised or known

doeth – present participle – continuous action

John has been making the point that you can’t claim to be related to God and continue to live a life filled with sin.  When a person meets Jesus, their life changes. Now he’s going to give us a concrete example of what it means to not live in sin – he’s going to talk about loving each other.

:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

messageaggelia – message, announcement, news; a proclamation, command, order

we should loveagapao – of persons; to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly. Present subjunctive.

This is the message that Jesus had taught His disciples, to love each other (John 13:34)

:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

that wicked oneponeros – full of labours, annoyances, hardships; bad, of a bad nature or condition; in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad

slewsphazo – to slay, slaughter, butcher; to put to death by violence; mortally wounded

whereforecharin – in favour of, for the pleasure of; for, for the sake of; on this account, for this cause

Cain was the firstborn son of Adam and Eve.

(Gen 4:1-9 KJV)  And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. {2} And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. {3} And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. {4} And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: {5} But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. {6} And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? {7} If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. {8} And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. {9} And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

Cain looks like a worshipper, just like everyone else at church.  He came to God with a sacrifice.  But inside he was far different from his brother.  He was filled with jealousy and hate and wound up killing his brother.
Cain becomes the picture of the person who is a “child of the devil” (3:10) because he did not do good things. He demonstrated his wickedness by hating and killing his brother.

:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

Like Cain hated Abel.

marvelthaumazo – to wonder, wonder at, marvel; to be wondered at, to be had in admiration

The world is made up of people who do not do “righteousness”, it’s made up of people who are the “children of the devil”. These are not people who will love others, they are people who will hate others.

So don’t be surprised is a little of their hatred comes your way.

:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

John will tell his readers later that one of the purposes of writing this letter is to help his readers know for sure that they are saved (1John 5:13)

(1 John 5:13 KJV)  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Now he gives one of the ways in which we can know that we are saved.

we know – perfect tense – we have known in the past and the benefits of this knowledge continue on into the present.

we have passedmetabaino – to pass over from one place to another, to remove, depart. Perfect tense, “passed over” in the past, and it still continues on today.

we loveagapao – to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly. This is not “subjunctive” here, meaning, “if we should sometimes love the brethren”, but it is indicative, “because we are continually loving the brethren”.

he that loveth not – present participle, “is not continually loving”

abideth – present tense, “is continually abiding in death”

We can know if we’ve passed from being “of the world”, from being a “child of the devil”, by whether or not we love others.

:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

hateth – present participle, “continually hating”

murdereranthropoktonos – a manslayer, murderer

Cain was a murderer.

Jesus said,

(Mat 5:21-22 KJV) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: {22} But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (“worthless”), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:

perceive weginosko – to learn to know, come to know. Perfect tense.

John is addressing the folks who are affected by the “Gnostics”, those who thought they had super special knowledge. John is showing that there’s nothing incredibly difficult to understand about God’s love.

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

lifepsuche – breath; the breath of life; the soul


The Cross and God’s love

There are plenty of times we doubt that God could love us. G. K. Chesterton writes, “All men matter. You matter. I matter. It's the hardest thing in theology to believe.”
For those who have any doubts about whether or not God loves them, God has one answer:  The Cross.
If God didn’t love you, then why did He send His Son to die on the cross for you?
Jesus didn’t have to die for you.  He could have refused.

A plane crashed and burned on a runway in Philadelphia.  The hostess was Mary Frances Hausley.  She stood at the door assisting passengers to safety.  When she thought all were safe, she heard a woman screaming, “My baby, my baby!”  With this prompting she returned to the flaming plane, never to be seen again.  When the burned wreckage was unsnarled, Miss Hausley’s body was found draped over the child she tried to save.  The caption of Time’s story read, “She Could Have Jumped.”

-- G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Broadman, 1986), p. 88.

When we are going through difficult times, we may begin to question God’s love for us, wondering if God is really out to destroy us.
But why would He have died in my place if He didn’t love me?
If you ever doubt God’s love, you MUST look to the cross.

:16  and we ought …

we oughtopheilo – to owe; to owe money, be in debt for; that which is due, the debt


Love is required

We owe it to each other to love each other like Jesus loves us.
When I’ve counseled with husbands about learning to love their wives like Jesus loves the church, I’ve heard many a husband say, “That’s nice, but I’m not Jesus”. That’s not a legitimate excuse.
God doesn’t require us to do things that are impossible.
You may not be perfect in loving others, but we still need to aim at loving people like Jesus loves us.

:16  to lay down our lives for the brethren.


True Love is sacrificial

By this time, the readers may be asking, “just how do I know if I really love someone or not?”
True love, God’s love (agape), is not cheap sentimentality like a Valentine’s day card, but it’s all about giving up your self for another.
From an interview with a famous person:
People often discuss the importance of delayed gratification; what do you mean when you talk about "displaced gratification"?

In delayed gratification, we put off something so that we can enjoy something even better later on—avoiding a “sex life” before marriage, for instance, so that we can more fully enter into a deeper love of the marital union. In displaced gratification, we put off something so that the gratification can go to somebody else. Within marriage, for example, we put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own.

When William Booth finally left the Salvation Army, he sent a one-word telegram to every member of his army. That one word embodied the guiding principle of Booth’s life: “Others.”

What is the reward of displaced gratification?

The man or woman who understands delayed and displaced gratification realizes that “others” are what it’s all about. Instead of demanding our rights and satisfaction, we can work for the rights of others, we can find fulfillment in seeing other people satisfied, and we can serve instead of trying to conquer. Displaced gratification is the oil that keeps our society running smoothly.

Where do you draw inspiration to live this way?

Learning to put the needs of others above your own is the “displaced gratification” my father taught me about. The ultimate understanding of displaced gratification is reflected in the life of Christ, who gave up heaven for earth, who could have been crowned king, and who could have called ten thousand angels to rescue Him from the cross. Instead He accepted brutal, humiliating torture on our behalf. He put serving others ahead of serving His own needs.

-- John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States.  He is author of Lessons from a Father to His Son.

:17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

goodbios – life; that by which life is sustained, resources, wealth, goods

seeththeoreo – to be a spectator, look at, behold; to see

needchreia – necessity, need

shutteth upkleio – to shut, shut up; metaph. to shut up compassion so that it is like a thing inaccessible to one, to be devoid of pity towards one

bowelssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, to the Greeks, this is where their emotions, their compassion came from.


Risk loving others.

We need to be careful when we’ve been hurt by others, that we don’t fall into the trap of not loving anybody.
We need to follow Jesus’ example of loving the entire world, even when the world turned around, rejected Him, and crucified Him.
(Col 3:12-13 KJV) Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; {13} Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

little childrenteknion – a little child; in the NT used as a term of kindly address by teachers to their disciples

wordlogos – of speech; a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea; its use as respect to the MIND alone; account, i.e. regard, consideration

tongueglossa – the tongue, a member of the body, an organ of speech

deedergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind; an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasised in opp. to that which is less than work

truthaletheia – objectively; what is true in any matter under consideration


Real love can be seen

It’s one thing if a person says they love you, but can you see it in their actions?

:19-24 Confidence before God

:19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

we knowginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel. Present active indicative.

beforeemprosthen – in front, before; before, in the presence of, i.e. opposite to, over against one; before, in the sight of

shall assurepeitho – persuade; to persuade, i.e. to induce one by words to believe; to make friends of, to win one’s favour, gain one’s good will, or to seek to win one, strive to please one; to tranquillise; be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident; Future indicative

lit., “and we shall persuade our hearts …

We are the ones that do the assuring, that do the persuading of our own hearts.

(1 John 3:19 NIV) This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence


Loving leads to assurance.

One of the things it takes to have confidence and peace in God’s presence is to know that you are doing the right things.
One of the right things we ought to be doing is to love one another.

:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

condemnkataginosko (“against” + “know”) – to find fault with, blame; to accuse, condemn. Present active subjunctive.

knowethginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel. Present active indicative.

There are times when my own heart condemns me incorrectly. God is greater than my heart and in those circumstances He does not condemn me.


Be careful of self-condemnation

There are times when my own heart (or conscience) condemns me correctly.
A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse. In the defense’s closing statement the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all,” the lawyer said as he looked at his watch. “Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom.” He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened. Finally the lawyer said, “Actually, I made up the previous statement. But, you all looked on with anticipation. I therefore put to you that you have a reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and insist that you return a verdict of not guilty.” The jury, clearly confused, retired to deliberate. A few minutes later, the jury returned and pronounced a verdict of guilty. “But how?” inquired the lawyer. “You must have had some doubt; I saw all of you stare at the door.” The jury foreman replied, “Oh, we looked, but your client didn’t.”
Sometimes we’re just simply guilty. And even then I need to understand that God is greater than my heart and knows just how much condemnation I need.
But sometimes we heap condemnation on ourselves incorrectly.
How can I tell if the Holy Spirit has been convicting me, or if I’m just condemning myself?
One way is to see the direction it’s pushing you. If it’s leading you back to the Lord, it’s the Holy Spirit. If it’s driving you away from the Lord, it’s either your self or the devil.
When our heart is condemning us, we need to trust in God, not our heart.
God is greater than our heart, and it’s what He thinks that counts.

Rom 8:31-34 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? {32} He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? {33} Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. {34} Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

I think it’s interesting how the modern translations put this verse together and punctuate it with the previous one:
(1 John 3:19-20 NIV) This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence {20} whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

:21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

condemnkataginosko – to find fault with, blame; to accuse, condemn. Present active subjunctive.

confidenceparrhesia – freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech; free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance

John is talking about the Christian who has a sensitivity to the Lord. There are some people whose conscience is seared and don’t feel anything. John isn’t talking about those people.

When our heart isn’t condemning us, we find ourselves able to come boldly before God’s throne.

It’s not that we can’t come boldly when our heart is condemning us, but in our practical experience, we don’t come because we feel condemned.

:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

we askaiteo – to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require. Present active subjunctive. Third class condition, it’s fairly probable that we would ask.

we receivelambano – to take; to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain, to get back. Present active indicative.

we keeptereo – to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard; to observe; present active indicative

pleasingarestos – pleasing, agreeable


Answered prayer comes from an obedient life

We have to be careful here not to get the wrong idea. We don’t in any way “earn” brownie points by being good. We don’t receive the answers to our prayers because we are good.
The idea is that if we are living a life of obedience, we are living a life that “has a clue” as to what God wants us to be praying for. We will be people who are praying for the right things.
And because we are living correctly, our own hearts don’t condemn us and keep us from coming to God and praying for others.

Answered prayer comes from a loving life

In context here, the “obedient” life is the one of loving others.

in his sightenopion – in the presence of, before; towards which another turns his eyes


Do it for Dad.

Do we realize that He’s always watching?
Some people have the concept that when they’re sinning, that somehow God has stopped watching. They think that when they enter the bar, Jesus stays outside of the bar, waiting for you to come out. The truth is, He never leaves you. He goes with you.
We aren’t supposed to be performing in that we’re trying to pretend to be something that we’re not, but that we’re doing our best because our Dad’s in the audience, and He’s watching, and we want to please Him.
In His Father's Eyes
Bob Richards, the former pole-vault champion, shares a moving story about a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart. Practice after practice, he eagerly gave everything he had. But being half the size of the other boys, he got absolutely nowhere.
At all the games, this hopeful athlete sat on the bench and hardly ever played. This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game.
This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him and also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn’t want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he’d get to play when he became a senior. All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game but remained a bench-warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.
When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a “walk-on.” Everyone was sure he would never make the cut, but he did.
The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always put his heart and soul into every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed. The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His dad shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games. This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in a game.
It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big playoff game, the coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, “My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?” The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, “Take the rest of the week off, son. And don’t even plan to come back to the game on Saturday.”
Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon. “Coach, please let me play. I’ve just GOT to play today,” said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in. “All right,” he said. “You can go in.” Before long, the coach, the players, and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before, was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, blocked, and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders while the crowd cheered.
Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that this young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, “Kid, I can’t believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?” He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, “Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?” The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, “Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could SEE me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!”

Your Father in heaven has never been blind.  He’s always been watching.  Do it for Him.

:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

It is God’s will that we believe in Jesus.

(John 6:28-29 KJV) Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? {29} Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

It is God’s will that we love one another.