Search Bible Outlines and commentaries




Where do you place the dividing line between section 1 and 2? Such a subtle transition that both vs. 28 and 29 belong to both sections. However, we can see the change. The antithesis between light and darkness is replaced by that between love and hate. The opposition between the world and God becomes the opposition between the world and God’s children. The idea of having fellowship with God is transformed into that of being sons of God. Walking in the light is now spoken of as doing righteousness — even though many of the same specifics (such as love for the brethren) are included in both sections.


A. The Sphere of our Fellowship must Continue to be in Christ

“And now, little children, abide in Him”

Stedman: “What for? Why do you need power? Do you think of it in terms of miracles, dazzling displays, and wonderful deeds that you could do to capture the attention of others? Is that why you want power? Look at Colossians Chapter 1, Verse 11. Paul prays for power for believers, ‘May you be strengthened with all power [tremendous, isn’t it?], according to his glorious might [isn’t that exciting! For what?], for all endurance and patience with joy,’ {Col 1:11 RSV}. Endurance! That means putting up with the conditions in which you live. And patience — waiting quietly for something to happen. And joy, in the midst of it all. That takes power, does it not? You cannot do that without power. It is impossible to live like that in the midst of the conditions in which you live, if you do not have the power of God. You know it, do you not? It takes far more power than any of us can possibly produce in ourselves. It takes God’s power. The word of the cross, the principle of the denial of self and self-interest, is the power of God, to us who are being saved.”

B. The Return of Christ will mean either Confidence or Shame

“so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

“parousia” — the personal presence of own now absent, the visible appearing of one now unseen; often used in connection with the many positive blessings that believers will experience at the time of Christ’s return:

– 1 Cor. 15:23 — those who are Christ’s at His coming will be made alive — speaking of the order of the resurrections of which Christ is the first fruit

– 1 Thess. 2:19 — faithful disciples are Paul’s joy and crown in the presence of the Lord Jesus at His coming

– 1 Thess. 3:13 — the Lord will establish our hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints

– 1 Thess. 5:23 — Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

– James 5:7-8 — As hard-working, patient farmers we wait for the harvest that will be ours at the coming of the Lord who already is at hand

Speaks of the undismayed confidence of faith; the feeling of freedom and joyfulness and openness in the presence of another; nothing to hide; Instead of the responsibility being on us to manufacture this confidence and bring it with us to our eternal meeting with Christ, this is boldness that we receive from Christ as a result of abiding (persevering in the faith; remaining a true believer). We receive this confidence as part of the culmination of our salvation.

Not talking here about the possibility of believers feeling shame at the judgment seat of Christ because of inconsistent living. Those who only claim fellowship with God will be covered with shame and will shrink away from Him when he appears all-glorious, the final Judge, with a verdict that damns them (Lenski) — Dan. 12:2; Mark 8:38; Rev. 6:15-17. By remaining in Christ we escape the wrath of God. (Now a valid application (not interpretation) would be that we should want to remain as close as possible in intimate fellowship with Christ.)


A. The Character of God is Righteous

“If you know that He is righteous”

God is righteous in all His ways: in His laws, His promises, HIs judgments, His discipline, His timing, etc. The unsaved are quick to excuse their unbelief with the accusation that the God of the Scriptures is unfair — but ultimately every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the righteousness of God and of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. We are too quick as believers to call God unfair in His dealings with us — far better that we appreciate His discipline and acknowledge our own shortcomings than to blaspheme the character of God.

B. Those who Pursue Righteousness have been born of God

“you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

Wuest: Re translation — “If you know absolutely that He is righteous, you know experientially that every one who habitually does this aforementioned righteousness (which God is), out from Him has been born, with the present result that that one is a born one.”

The child exhibits the parent’s character because he shares the parent’s nature.


A. The Wonder of God’s Love — “See how great a love”

“Behold” — the word always implies astonishment; beyond just rational explanation

B. The Focus of God’s Love

1. Directed towards us

“the Father has bestowed upon us”

2. For the purpose of establishing us as sons

“that we should be called children of God; and such we are”

But just like the glory of Christ was hid from the world, and the light shone in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not, so our sonship is real, but not yet apparent.

C. The Antithesis of God’s Love = the hatred of the world

“For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

Don’t grieve because you are not important in the eyes of the world. The world is proud of what it knows; but it fails to know those things that are most important. The world has no conception of what we are as those who are born from God and thus God’s actual children. The deepest reason for this ignorance is the fact that the world does not have any conception of the Father; these things are mysteries to the natural man.