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Elgin’s Books


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  • Archive for October, 2012

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 4:2-3

    Thursday, October 4th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Week 35: Sept 30, 2012

    Study

    i. How to test (4:2-3)

    2 – This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every spirit who acknowledges that Jesus the Messiah[1] has become human—and remains so—is from God.

    - Having said that we should test, John now gives us a means for testing.

    Jesus the Messiah has become human—and remains so

    - The Greek is somewhat ambiguous here. This could be translated as Has become (NIV) or is come (KJV) The ISV translation encompasses both views. Those who left seem to have drawn a distinction between physical and spiritual and as such they would have denied this. So what John has done is go straight to the core issue: the nature and person of Jesus.

    - This is also the dividing line when we look at those who attend other churches. What do they say about Jesus? We may disagree on a lot of side issues, but the key question is what do they say about Jesus.

    3 – But every spirit who does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist. You have heard that he is coming, and now he is already in the world.

    - This is so important that John expresses it both in a positive and a negative fashion as a way of emphasizing it.

    not acknowledge Jesus

    - There is a textual issue here as some manuscripts have Jesus is come in the flesh or similar variations. These are almost certainly later addition by scribes who were attempting to make this verse match verse the wording in verse 2.

    - Note that the focus here on Jesus (as opposed to saying that we should acknowledge the Messiah) and thus it serves as a perfect summary. First, it focuses the issue on the key point denied by those who left. Second by just mentioning Jesus, and it serves as a generalization, i.e., the nature and person of Jesus.

    spirit of the antichrist

    - Again this is a term that has taken on a lot of meaning since the first century. John usage here is not focused on the end times, but on those who claim to be followers of Christ, when in reality they are against or opposed to Christ; i.e., antichrists. ( See comments on 2:18)

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:

    [1] 4:2 Or Christ

    [1] 4:2 Or Christ


    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 3:23-4:1

    Thursday, October 4th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Week 34: Sept 23, 2012

    Study

    i. The Commandment (3:23-3:24)

    23 – And this is his commandment: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus the Messiah,[1] and to love one another as he commanded us.

    - John spells out what is expected of us: Believe in the name (On name see notes on 2:12). The concept of Name refers to the power and the authority. This stems from who Jesus is. Note that John includes Jesus. This is another indication that those who left were a form of proto-Gnostics who would have rejected that the physical Jesus was anything more than just a container for the Messiah. The other part of the command is to Love one another. These are the two tests of a true Christian. On a side note, just think of all the things the church has at times added to this list. John’s list is much better.

    24 – The person who keeps his commandments abides in God,[2] and God abides in him.[3] This is how we can be sure that he remains in us: he has given us his Spirit.

    - John once again returns to equating obedience with abiding in God, We in him, and He in us. Marshall points out that obedience here is not so much a condition but an expression of abiding in God.

    This how we can be sure

    - While obedience equates to abiding, John give us a further test: The Holy Spirit. John does not specify how will manifest itself, probably because it is different for different believers. But his does raise the question, how do we know that what we think is the spirit is the Holy Spirit? This is a question to which, John will now turn.

    d. Test what People Say (4:1-3)

    i. Test (4:1)

    1 – Dear friends, stop believing[4] every spirit. Instead, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    - Having just told them that the Spirit confirms that we abide in God, John adds a caution: Not every spirit is from God, it is important not to be deceived. Mormons, for example, base their faith on “their Testimony” which they believe to be a message directly from the Holy Spirit. My faith is based on a message I believe came from the Holy Spirit. We both cannot be correct. So how can we tell?

    test the spirits

    - Faith is not simply a belief and nowhere are we told to just blindly accept. Christianity is not just an abstract theological system to be believed. It is a faith based grounded in historical events that can and should be tested. For example:

    1 John 10 – The claim of who Jesus is in 10:30 is challenged. Note how Jesus basis his claim on evidence in 10:30-37

    If I am not doing my Father’s works, do not believe me. But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works,

    2 John 14:11 – Jesus told his disciples to believe him, or at least believe the works (i.e., the evidence) that he has been doing.

    3 Acts 17:11 – the Bereans tested everything Paul said

    4 1 Thess 5:21 – Test everything

    - many false prophets have gone out into the world

    - Not only are there false spirits, but people are deceived by these spirits have gone out into the world. How we are to deal with these false prophets was a key message of 2nd John. Given the context here, it is most likely, those who left also claimed to be led by the Spirit.

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:

    [1] 3:23 Or Christ
    [2] 3:24 Lit. in him
    [3] 3:24 Lit. and he in him
    [4] 4:1 Or do not believe

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 3:19-22

    Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Week 33: Sept 16 2012

    Having contrasted sin with abiding in Christ, John now gives two positive examples to show what abiding in Christ and love really mean.

    Study

    i. Two Benefits (3:19-3:20)

    *19-20 – This is how we will know that we are from[1] the truth and how we will be able to keep our hearts[2] at rest[3] in his presence, 20whenever[4] our hearts condemn us because[5] God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.

    – Having stated the principle, John now gives us two reasons that we should do this. The first reason is the service of other is a sign of our devotion to the truth – That we are from (i.e., that we are grounded in) the true teaching of Christ. The second is that this should set our hearts as ease. If we are too busy “giving our lives” to others, there is no need to worry about our relationship with Christ.

    – If our hearts condemn us

    – This is a difficult verse because it is not clear exactly what John means. One possibility is that if our hearts condemns us we can take comfort in our service to others. The another is that whenever our heart condemns us, we can take comfort knowing we are from God. The word condemn (καταγινώσκῃ) here refers to knowing something against someone. But John is quick to point out that God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. He knows more than our heart does, he is the judge, not our heart. He sees everything we do. Yes he sees our failures, but he sees all the times we are faithful that we followed the leading of the Holy Spirit but did not even realize it.

    c. Love answers prayer (3:21-24)

    i. The Confidence (3:21-3:22)

    21 – Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in the presence of God.

    - John transitions by taking the point from the previous verse, i.e., that we put our heart at rest and moves his argument forward. If our heart is at rest, we can be confident before God. Do you feel confident? If not, why not?

    22 – Whatever we request we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

    - This is another difficult statement. One that in many ways, seems too good to be true. But as Marshall put it, “though we are encouraged to have faith that will move mountains, a prayer that an awkward mound in my garden will smooth itself out is unlikely to be answered by some kind of miraculous bulldozing operation.” (p 200) But as always context is important, and here it is in the context of keeping His commandments, and doing His will. This is not a grant of power to ourselves, but an expression of God’s willingness to work through us. He will give us whatever we need to do His will.

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:

    [1] 3:19 ISV belong to
    [2] 3:19 ISV: keep ourselves 3:19 Lit. keep our hearts
    [3] 3:19 ISV: Strong
    [4] 3:20 ISV: if
    [5] 3:20 ISV: lacks because