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Elgin’s Books


  • Christianity and Secularism

  • Evidence for the Bible


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

    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

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