BSF Study Questions John Lesson 25, Day 4: John 18:38-19:17

Summary of passage:  Pilate declares Jesus innocent and offers to release him as is the Jewish custom of Passover.  The Jews instead demand a rebel, Barabbas.  So Jesus was flogged and beaten and mocked.  Pilate again says Jesus is innocent.  The Jews again demand to crucify him and accuse him of disobeying their law.  Afraid of an uprising, Pilate questions Jesus again, probably looking for more reasons to set him free.  Jesus refuses to answer, saying all the power Pilate has over him is from God.

Still, Pilate tried to set Jesus free but the Jews kept insisting he die.  Finally, the Jews said Jesus is violating Roman law by claiming to be a king over Caesar.  So Pilate brings Jesus out and the people demand he die so Pilate reneges.  Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha.

Questions:

9)  Pilate ignores the truth in front of him.  Jesus explains how God is the one who has given him power over him.  Pilate chose instead to look out for himself.  He was afraid he’d lose his position.

10)  He ultimately condemns a man he knows to be innocent to death.  He’s afraid of a Jewish uprising.  He’s afraid he’ll lose his position.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Many.  Unquestioningly.

Conclusions:  Not the best questions.  We all know Pilate was a coward and caved to political pressure.  Obeying God is our job.

End Notes:  Knowing Jesus was innocent, Pilate offers to release him, calling Jesus the King of the Jews in hopes of appealing to them.  The crowd condemns Jesus as Matthew tells us at the prompting of the religious leaders (Matthew 27:20; Mark 15:11).  The name Barabbas sounds like son of the father.  The people chose the antichrist instead, a choice that is still being made every day when Jesus is rejected.

Barabbas was probably involved in the local resistance movement against the Romans and would have been viewed as a hero.  He was accused of at least three crimes: Theft (John 18:40), insurrection (Mark 15:7), and murder (Mark 15:7).

Pilate ordered Jesus to be scourged.  Most think Pilate was trying to help Jesus–that this act would satisfy the crowd.  Scourging like crucifixion was a Roman practice.  It involved a whip (picture HERE) with many leather strands, each having sharp pieces of bone or metal at the ends, pummeling the back, redoing it to raw flesh.  Many died from its use.

Scourging had three purposes. It was used to punish prisoners, and to gain confessions of crimes from prisoners. Also, in cases of crucifixion scourging was used to weaken the victim so he would die more quickly on the cross.

Jesus was humiliated and mocked.  The crown of thorns cut into his head and purple was reserved only for royalty.

As a judge Pilate had both reason and responsibility to set Jesus free with no punishment instead of the humiliation and brutality that He endured.  Pilate made five attempts to release Jesus (Luke 23:4, 15, 20, 22; John 19:4, 12, 13).

Whatever pity the crowd might have had was drowned out when the religious leaders shouted:  “Crucify!”  Pure hatred this was plain and simple.

The Jews finally admitted they wanted Jesus dead because he claimed to be God.  Pilate was afraid because he did see something in Jesus.  The Romans believed their gods came to earth in human guise all the time.  Pilate probably did believe Jesus was some sort of divine being.

Pilate questions Jesus more, hoping for something to set him free.  Unfortunately, he asks Jesus the same questions he already answers so Jesus says nothing more.

Pilate is angry Jesus won’t beg for his life or answer someone as important as him.  Pilate claims to have power but he’s at the mercy of the religious leaders and the crowd.  Jesus tells him God is in charge and there are others more guilty than you.  These are Jesus’ last words to Pilate.

Pilate panics.  His wife had told him she dreamed Jesus should be set free (Matthew 27:19-20); yet he caves to the crowd.  Pilate was a weak, unremarkable man who only had his position because he married the granddaughter of the emperor. He was scared his position would suffer if he set Jesus free.

The Lamb of God is ready for sacrifice on Passover.  Pilate is the one actually on trial.  He refuses to free an innocent man and condemns him to death.

Mark and John disagree on the time here.  It is possible it’s a copyist error or John may have been using Roman time, which means Jesus was before Pilate at 6 am and crucified at 9 am.

Again, it was Roman custom to carry the crosspiece to the place of execution.

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 25, Day 2: John 18:28-32

Summary of passage:  Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate’s house and addressed outside so his Jewish captors could remain clean.  They took him there to be tried under Roman law because Roman law allowed executions.

Questions:

3)  They would become unclean if they entered Pilate’s palace and they wanted to eat the Passover meal.  More concerned about food than the life of a man.  Hypocrites.

4)  Jewish law does not allow executions but Roman law does.  Pilate tried to have the Jews try him.  He will be crucified and flogged.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m not one for excuses and I try to do what is right.

Conclusions:  We’re marching along with Jesus to his death and are seeing everything people will do to kill him–doing things they normally wouldn’t do probably.  The sad thing is man hasn’t changed.

End Notes:  John leaves out how Jesus was first presented before the council recorded in Matthew 26:57-68 and the official, daylight meeting of the Sanhedrin in Luke 22:66.  Thus, the Jews have condemned Jesus to death and now need the Romans to carry it out.

The palace or praetorium was likely at the Roman Fortress Antonia, where Pilate held court and conducted public business.  It was the commander’s headquarters.  The word is better translated judgment hall.  Palace is a misnomer.

We see the hypocrisy here as the Jews refused to break relatively small commands regarding ceremonial defilement, but broke much greater commands in rejecting God’s Messiah and condemning an innocent man to death.  The law stated they couldn’t come into contact with unclean Gentiles or enter an unclean home with leaven.

“Eat the Passover”:  This statement introduces a controversy, namely this – was the Last Supper a Passover meal, and was Jesus crucified on the Passover or the day following? This statement in John 18:28 seems to indicate that Passover was the coming day, the day Jesus would be crucified and that the Last Supper was the day before Passover. Yet several passages seem to indicate that the Last Supper was a Passover meal (Matthew 26:18, Mark 14:12, 14:16, Luke 22:15). The best solution to this difficult chronological problem seems to be that Jesus was crucified on the Passover, and the meal they had the night before was as Passover meal, held after sunset (the start of the day in Jewish reckoning). We can speculate that Passover lambs were sacrificed on both days, a necessity due to the massive number of lambs sacrificed in Jerusalem at the temple on Passover (later described by Josephus as being more than 200,000).–Taken from enduringword.com

It was early, perhaps before 6 am and we see Pilate’s irritation.  The religious leaders did not expect objections from Pilate.  He was a ruthless man, known for his corruption, his acts of insolence, his rapine, his habit of insulting people, his cruelty, his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never-ending gratuitous and most grievous inhumanity.  The Jews are evasive cause they know the charges are trumped up and false.  Luke 23:2 does have a more specific answer.

Josephus tells us, that it was not lawful to hold a court of judgment in capital cases, without the consent of the Procurator.  Besides, Jewish law allowed for death by stoning.  Only the Romans could crucify.

The Jews were the ones who wanted Jesus dead.  He wasn’t really on the radar as an enemy of Rome.  The Jews were the ones who made him so.  Tragic.

Who was Pontius Pilate?  Pilate was the Roman procurator or regional ruler for Judea at the time of Jesus’ death from 26-36 AD.  His early life is unknown and most of what we know before Jesus is speculation like how he came to be governor.  Some say it was punishment.  Others say it was political connections.  Governors were mainly in charge of tax and financial matters but because Judea was so difficult and troublesome a province the governor there answered directly to the emperor and had authority over judicial matters as well.

Most governors hated being posted to so distant a post but Pilate seems to enjoy it.  He was cruel to them as he tried to force Rome upon them.  Pilate was in Jeruasalem to keep the peace during Passover.  He was staying at Herod’s Palace near the temple.  He didn’t want to offend the Jews nor condemn an innocent man so he kept trying to get Jesus set free.  Eventually, he succumbed to politics and sentenced Jesus to death.

Judea was a source of turmoil as the Jews hated Rome.  He didn’t want to deal with Jesus and tried sending him to Herod instead.  He asked, “What is truth?” and didn’t see truth right in front of him.

He condemned Jesus to be rid of him and keep the peace between Rome and the Jews.  Pilate would be out of power a few years later for massacring Samaritans and after that he disappears from history with only unsubstantiated claims he killed himself.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 23, Day 3: John 17:6-10

Summary of passage:  Jesus says he has revealed God to the disciples.  They have obeyed him and accepted Jesus as God.  Glory comes to Jesus through them.  God has given the disciples and us to Jesus. We are His.  We will bring glory to God.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Because we are God’s gift to him (Jesus).  We have believed in Jesus. We will bring glory to Jesus.  It’s hard to internalize that I bring joy to Jesus especially when my life is wrought with sin.  It helps to know I’m on his path and doing his work.

7a)  Because they obeyed God, accepted the teaching, knew Jesus’ origin, and believed in Jesus as God’s Son.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By following Jesus everyday in all the little things in life that add up to the big things in life.  By having faith in him.  By showing the world our faith to bring Jesus glory.

Conclusions:  Thought we could have dug a little deeper into these questions instead of focusing so much on the personal.  See End Notes for more.

End Notes: This prayer is to the disciples initially but is extended to all believers as well.  Here, Jesus is giving the disciples over to God.  Only as people see the Father at work in Jesus do they have a proper concept of God.

Manifest is a better translation that revealed in the NIV.  Jesus manifested God to his disciples in all that he did:  miracles, the way he lived, the love, the compassion, the holiness of God.  So we are to manifest God as well in all we do.

God gave the disciples to Jesus (Luke 6:12-16).  Yet they had faith in Jesus as the Savior.  Both must occur for eternal salvation.

This prayer is for the disciples.  It is the disciples who will bring the rest of us to faith.

Spurgeon says, “There is an old proverb; it is, ‘Love me, love my dog.’ It is as if the Lord Jesus so loved the Father that even such poor dogs as we are get loved by him for his Father’s sake. To the eyes of Jesus we are radiant with beauty because God hath loved us.”  Because God loves us, Jesus loves us.  And thank God for that!  He loved us enough to pay our penalty for sin.  Amazing!

Believers belong to both God and Jesus.  Everything we have belongs to God, but not everything He has belongs to us.  Anyone can say to God the Father “all mine are Yours“; but only Jesus could say “and Yours are Mine.”

Jesus is glorified in us.  Think on that a moment.  Think of our actions every day.  We must be mindful that Jesus is in us and must be glorified.  How would your actions change if you remembered that?

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 22, Day 4: John 16:16-24

Summary of passage:  Jesus says he is leaving, but they disciples will see him again after the Resurrection and he appears before them..  The grief will turn to joy once they realize all Jesus’ death means.  When they see him again, they will know all.  If you ask for things in Jesus name, God will give them whatever they ask and they will have complete joy.

Questions:

8 )  When Jesus dies, they won’t see him.  When they die and ascend to heaven, they will see him.  More specifically, this is referring to the Resurrection and Jesus reveals himself to them.

9)  He tells them they will “weep and mourn…but their grief will turn to joy.”  He tells them they will have complete joy.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I keep asking and keep listening.  They keep searching and asking and Jesus keeps answering until they get it.  The same goes for us.  Jesus will keep responding as long as we keep seeking until we do get it.

Conclusions:  Perhaps the greatest example in history of pain and grief bringing joy.  Great lesson for us in the throes of life.

End Notes:  The disciples didn’t know like we do that he is about to be arrested and crucified.  Jesus is telling them he will rise from the dead.  This obviously would confuse anyone.

The disciples are talking among themselves, asking if anyone knows what Jesus is saying here.  Jesus interrupts them to give them more clarity.  He says their grief will turn to joy once all is revealed.  This is true.  We see no writings of regret from the apostles.  They got it after all!

The disciples will have access to God through Jesus by speaking in Jesus’ name.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 22, Day 2: John 16:5-11

Summary of passage:  Jesus explains the Counselor (Holy Spirit) will come to them once he is gone, which is for their good.  The Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Questions:

3a)  Because only then can the Holy Spirit come to guide them and indwell and convict the world of sin, expose righteousness, and judge the devil.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  In person.  Then I would know without a doubt my life would be Christ led.  I think I would have less doubts.  But there are advantages and disadvantages either way.  In reality, we have the Holy Spirit only so growing that is the key.

4)  Sin:  The Holy Spirit shines light in the darkness, exposing the evil.  With the Holy Spirit, one lives by the truth and by the light, which can be plainly seen to unbelievers.  The Holy Spirit cleanses unbelievers to  live a sanctified life.

Righteousness:  Sins pollute us and make us feel unclean and prideful.  The humble are exalted and those who admit they are sinners.  Those who keep the law and God’s commands become conscious of sin, repent, and therefore righteous before God.

Judgment:  God judges sinners but those who confess in faith are sanctified before God. The devil blocks unbelievers from seeing the light.  Through faith, grace, and mercy, we became alive in Christ and obedient to God.

Conclusions:  Back to John after 1 John is such a relief.  Much smaller chunks of the word to intake and digest.

End Notes: Peter had asked this question earlier (John 13:36) and Thomas asked a similar question (John 15:5). Peter was diverted immediately and he made no real attempt to find out where Jesus was going.  He had been concerned with the thought of parting with Jesus, not with that of the Master’s destination. He was only thinking of what it meant for himself for Jesus to leave.  Grief had distracted them.

Jesus does not say why the Holy Spirit would not come until after his departure.

Nevertheless (But in the NIV) is one of the great words of the Bible, meaning despite all of that.   “It tell you the truth” is to emphasize Jesus’ words.

The Holy Spirit will be better for believers than his physical presence–Jesus could now be with every believer every moment of the day.  Our belief is greater since we can’t see Jesus.  We understand Jesus better.  We obviously are closer to him.

Sin is the truth about man, righteousness is the truth about God, judgment is the inevitable combination of these two truths.  Apart from sin’s convicting work, people can never see themselves as sinners.

“Convict” in the Greek means to expose, refute, and convince.  The Holy Spirit would bring the truth and a realization of man’s shame and hopelessness without God in their lives.

Sin is unbelief, the rejection of God and His Son, which the Holy Spirit reveals.  Jesus was righteousness which the Holy Spirit reveals.  The Holy Spirit reveals that Satan will be judged.  The Holy Spirit works in the world and in hearts to reveal these truths to all.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 5: 1 John 4:7-5:21

Summary of passage:  1 John 4:7-21: God is love and showed it to us by sending His Son so that we may live.  We ought to love one another.  If you love, you know God.  If you acknowledge Jesus and God’s Son, then God lives in you.  You should have no fear.

1 John 5:  To love God is to obey His commands.  Only those who believe Jesus is the Son of God will overcome this world and have eternal life.  The Spirit, the water (baptism), and the blood all testify the truth.  If we ask anything according to his will, God hears us and will answer us.  We are born of God.  He keeps us safe from the evil one.  We are God’s children.  Jesus gives us understanding.  Stay with the truth.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He sent His Son to dies for us so that we might live.  He has given us the Holy Spirit as a guide.  He has taken away our fear.  I am more loving towards others and compassionate.  Love overflows from God’s love.

13a)  We have eternal life through faith in Jesus.  We do not continue to sin as the Holy Spirit is our guide.

b)  We do not continue to sin and are kept safe from the evil one.  We are God’s children.  Christ gives us understanding so that we may know the truth.

Conclusions:  John repeats himself here, summing up what he just said and what’s most important:  loving God and others and obeying his commands.  Jesus’ baptism, death, and Spirit testify to who he is and are a gift from God to us.

End Notes: 1 John 4:  We love one another because and only because we are loved by God.  Otherwise, we’d all hate each other.  Man is still capable of love because we are made in God’s image.  But it’s imperfect and messy like man.  The Greek says is best:  agapetoi agapomen, “those who are loved, let us love.”

When you are born of God, you have a love you didn’t have before, one you weren’t capable of.  Because it’s God’s love, not man’s, which is non-existent without God.

This is the agape love, the love without expecting anything in return.  If we want to love one another more, we need to draw closer to God.  Love is a triangle with God at the apex.

God does everything out of love.  He’s righteous and holy and just because He loves us.  He is incapable of hating.

Love is also the giving of the Father as much as it is the sacrifice of the Son.  This should read only begotten Son, indicating God and the Son are of the same substance or being.

The love of the Father takes away our sin and allows us to live.  Both are important for we still deserve death but God wants us with Him.

His love for us initiates our relationship of love with Him, our love only responds to His love for us. We can’t love God the way we should unless we are receiving and living in His love.

Love is the constant.  Wherever there is love, there is God.  This is our evidence since we cannot see God that He exists and is working in our lives.  However, God is also spirit (John 3:24), light (1 John 1:5), righteous (1 John 2:29; 3:7), holy (1 John 2:20), powerful or great (1 John 4:4), faithful (1 John 1:9), true (1 John 5:20), and just (1 John 1:9).

We know (not hope) that Jesus is in us (through the Holy Spirit) and we are in him (giving us this knowledge is the Holy Spirit).

“We” are the disciples and the eyewitnesses.  Believers must acknowledge of confess that Jesus is the Son and believe God loves them even when they don’t feel His love.  God’s love will be complete on the day of Judgment.

Fear here is not the fear of God of his awesomeness but the fear that robs us of having a life full of peace in Him.  We should not fear judgment when Christ has taken it all on him.

“We love because he first loved us.”  We love God and Christ.  God has always loved us since before time.  Our love for God is always in response to His love for us; He initiates, and we respond. We never have to draw God to us; instead, He draws us to Himself.

Loving others is a choice and that is why it is a command from God.  We must choose to love others even when it’s not easy; otherwise, God is not in us if not.  To love God more is to love others more. If you want to love God move, love fellow Christians more.

1 John 5:  John wants to make sure you understand that you don’t earn salvation by loving others. You trust in Jesus and his atoning sacrifice on the cross to earn salvation.

Our love and obedience to God is a demonstration of love to the body of Christ.  Love for God will show itself in obedience.  Commandments are gifts from God to show us the most fulfilling life possible.  The Holy Spirit enables us to obey.

The key to victory is faith (reliance upon, trust, etc) in Jesus as Son and Savior.

“water and blood” has perplexed scholars for centuries.  What exactly did John mean here?  Some think water is our baptism and blood is communion (Luther and Calvin).  Some think this is the water and blood that flowed from Jesus when he was pierced with the spear at crucifixion (Augustine).  Others think the water is Jesus’ birth from the womb and the blood is his death.

Most likely, John means the water of Jesus’ baptism, and the blood of His crucifixion.  This was when Jesus’ ministry began and ended.  This explanation is the oldest recorded Christian understanding of the passage.  Jesus identified with man when he was baptized and saved us with his death.  This also supports John 3:5.

A priest was always ordained by sacrificial blood, cleansing water, and oil that spoke of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  So Jesus also had these same three witnesses to His priestly ministry.

John keeps harping on this point because of the Gnostics.  If Jesus was not fully God at death, then his death was not sufficient to pay for our sins.

The Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus is the Son of God in two ways:  When the Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism and he continues to affirm this truth in the heart of believers.

Note on 1 John 5:7-8:  This passage is disputed.  Some words were added to the Latin manuscript that never appeared in any Greek manuscript that still appear in some Bible versions.  The NIV has it correct however.  Words were probably added to clarify the Trinity late in the Middle Ages.

If you reject Jesus, you are calling God a liar with your unbelief.

Eternal life is a gift from God receive in Jesus.

Ask anything and everything in His will.  Why doesn’t God just answer prayers?  God wants us to work with Him, and that means bringing our will and agenda into alignment with His. He wants us to care about the things He cares about, and He wants us to care about them enough to pray passionately about them.  God is delighted when we pray His promises. It shows our will aligned with His, our dependence on Him, and that we take His Word seriously.

We pray for our sinful brothers.  There are sins that lead to death but not all.  This could refer to the Gnostics adamant denial of the truth and their shameless immorality.  This is a spiritual death. Another view here is a physical death because a believer continues to sin so God takes their life (1 Corinthians 11:30).

If we are in Jesus, Satan cannot harm us.  Some bibles say “touch” instead of harm here.  It means “grasp” or “lay hold of”.  The only other place in his writings where John uses this particular verb for touch is in John 20:17, where He literally tells Mary to stop clinging to Me.

Significantly, this understanding must be given. We cannot attain it on our own. If God did not reveal Himself to us, we would never find Him.  Jesus is fully man and God.

Idols interfere with our relationship and fellowship with God.  Remember, putting anything (wealth, money, others, clothes, power, self, food, etc) above God is an idol.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 4: 1 John 3:1-4:6

Summary of passage: Believers are children of God and unbelievers do not know us because they don’t know God. When Jesus appears again we shall be like him. Jesus takes away our sin and if we live in him, we do not continue to sin. If you do what’s right, you will be righteous. Jesus appeared to destroy the devil’s work. If you do what’s right, you are children of God. Love your brother. The world hates you because of this love.

Jesus sacrificed his life for us, defining love. Love with actions and truth. If we obey God’s commands and do what pleases him, He will give us anything we ask for. He commands us to believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another. If we obey his commands, He lives in us through the Holy Spirit.

Spirits that acknowledge Jesus is God in the flesh are true; all others are false. God is greater than the devil.

Questions:

9)  Personal Question. My answer: We are God’s children. God has purified us, taking away our sins permanently.

10)  Personal Question. My answer: Love is life. Anyone who loves one another is of God. Jesus defined love by laying down his life for us. So we are to do for others with actions and truth. God commands us to love one another and if we do, the Spirit will guide us and give us all we ask.

11)  Just that: That Jesus is God’s Son in the flesh. That he came down in human form. That he is God. That he took away our sins with his blood. Many religions now and then doubted either Jesus was human or Jesus was God’s Son. To do so is to die eternally. Gnostics, a popular religious movement at the time, taught Jesus was not human. They denied a pure God could take on a physical body, which they believed to be intrinsically evil. This led to immoral living as Gnostics believed they could not be tainted by earthly sins. John is emphasizing this point. Jesus is God in the flesh. Period. Believe it or die.

Conclusions: Wow! A ton here! Good job to BSF for bringing it all out. Love one another is a command from God no matter how hard it is. Love defeats all. Actions speak louder than words. Love with deeds. And believe Jesus is real. If you do these two simple things (believe in Jesus Christ and love one another) we will walk with God by the Holy Spirit, receive whatever we ask, and live forever with Him. Awesome!

End Notes:  John is asking for us to just pause and ponder the great love the Father (God) has for His children (believers).  NOTE:  We have more than Adam ever possessed albeit he walked with God.  It is an error to think of redemption as a restoration of Adam; it’s much more than that!  Christians are strangers to the world and should expect to be treated as Jesus was.  We cannot be like the world no matter how hard we try.

God’s ultimate goal in our lives is to make us like Jesus, and here, John speaks of the fulfillment of that purpose.  We will never succeed in being like Jesus on this side of heaven; this will only be fulfilled when we get there or when Jesus comes.  Those who don’t want to be like Jesus get what they want:  they go to hell.

We will see God!  Can you imagine?  What makes heaven heaven is God’s presence–not our loved ones, the streets paved in gold, or angels.

Our hope is in Him as we strive to be more like Jesus here on earth.

Sin is a disregard for God.  Jesus is here to take away our sin.

Verse 6:  According to the verb tense John uses, “does not sin” means does not live a life style of habitual sin. John has already told us in 1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. In 1 John 1:8, the grammar indicates John is speaking about occasional acts of sin. The grammar of 1 John 3:6 indicates that John is speaking of a settled, continued lifestyle of sin.  John is not teaching here the possibility of sinless perfection, which is impossible.

You don’t know Jesus if you are living a lifestyle of sin.  How do you react when you sin?  Are you repentant?  Or indifferent to where you keep on sinning?  This is a good question to ask ourselves when we sin.

Do not excuse your sin.  Confess it so it won’t be a lifestyle.

Righteous is right standing with God.  Perpetual sinners are of Satan.

1 John 3:5:  Jesus came to take away our sins.

1 John 3:8:  Jesus came to destroy the devil.  If we have Jesus, we have no need to fear the devil.  In fact, the devil fears us because our walk with Jesus destroys the devil’s works.

Here we see where “born again” came from in verse 9.   A change comes over us as we obey Christ and bury sin.

You are either a child of God or a child of the devil.  You either do right and love your brother or you do wrong and hate your brother.  Period.

It’s not just about you.  It’s about your love for others as well.

If you have faith in God, love Christians, and are righteous, you are a true Christian.

What is love?  The ancient Greeks had 4 words for 4 different types of love:

1)Eros was one word for love. It described, as we might guess from the word itself, erotic love. It referred to sexual love.

2) Storge was the second word for love. It referred to family love, the kind of love there is between a parent and child, or between family members in general.

3) Philia is the third word for love. It spoke of a brotherly friendship and affection. It is the love of deep friendship and partnership. Philia love might be described as the highest love that one is capable of without God’s help.

4) Agape is the fourth word for love. It described a love that loves without changing. It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given – it gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive.

The epitome of love is Jesus’s death on the cross, removing our sins from us.  Loving other Christians in a sacrificial manner is what John is saying here. Say no to your life to let others live.  It’s an action.

This is not one, big sacrificial moment like in Jesus’ case.  For most of us, God calls us to lay down our lives piece by piece, little by little in small, but important ways every day.

When we love others, we are assured and God knows us. We experience answered prayer.  We are so in tune and fellowship with God that we ask for what is on God’s heart, not on ours.  This is when we receive.  Thy will be done.  Those things that please God.  Ask yourself how much do you do to please yourself? How much do you do to please God?  God is glorified when we enjoy His goodness and His good things.

Verse 23 is one commandment:  Believe in Jesus and love Christians.  To believe in the name of Jesus means to trust in Him, rely on Him, and cling to Jesus.  It isn’t about intellectual knowledge or understanding, it is about trust.  John will develop the first part in 4:1-6 and the second part in 4:7-12.

Knowing that Jesus is in us is having the Holy Spirit.  Someone who loves God should act like it.  Period.

John talks much about the devil here in this short letter.  He is called the devil and the evil one.  He has been sinning from the beginning.  He is the instigator of human sin and those who continue to sin belong to him and are his children.  He is in the world and has the whole world of unbelievers under his control.  He cannot lay hold of believers to harm them.  In fact, Christians will overcome him and destroy his work.

1 John 4 starts with a warning:  beware of false prophets and test them.  See if what they say lines up with what God says.  Their words.  Their actions.  God will never contradict Himself, which is His word.

In John’s day, the issue was about if Jesus had truly come in a real body of flesh and blood. Many Gnostic-influenced teachers said that Jesus, being God, could not have actually become a flesh and blood human being, because God could have no partnership with “impure” material stuff.

Docetism also taught that Christ was a spirit.  Cerinthians taught that the divine Christ came upon the human Jesus at his baptism and then left him at the cross so that it was only the man Jesus who died.

Many today deny that Jesus is really God (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims). But way back in John’s day, in this time closest to the actual life and ministry of Jesus on this earth, people didn’t have a hard time believing Jesus was God. They had a hard time believing that he was a real man. This false teaching said Jesus was truly God (which is correct), but really a “make-believe” man.

The antichrist both opposes Jesus and comes as a substitute.  He does not want you to believe in the true Jesus.  The Holy Spirit inside of us is greater than Satan and will over come him.  We have nothing to fear.

John uses the simplest language (barely 300 different Greek words) to express the Gospel, using contrasts to help us understand.