Tuesday, 5 May 2020
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. 1 John 3:23
In the previous verse, John said, “because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” He now says, “And this is His commandment.” John goes from the plural to the singular. The singular, then, is the commandment of God, and it is in relation to “His Son Jesus Christ.” God’s commandment is “that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ.”
To do the commandment of God, one must do this thing. This is how John closed out his gospel –
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:30, 31
What is presented then builds upon what is said in John 6:29 –
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’”
Believing in Jesus being sent from God is the work that is necessary. In believing in this, one will believe that He is the Son of God (meaning deity) and believing on His name as well (meaning that He is the incarnation of the Divine Name – YHVH). All of this is tied up in the thought.
John next says, “and love one another. As He gave us commandment.” This is the command of God the Son. Jesus stated this commandment in the Gospel of John – in verse 13:34 (and which is substantially repeated in 15:12) –
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Together, these form the “commandments” noted in the previous verse. However, one cannot escape the truth that when John says “His commandments” in the previous verse, and then “His commandment” and “as He gave us commandment” in this verse, that the two are united in one thought. The commandment of God and the commandment of Jesus are considered as one – meaning that Jesus must be God.
Understanding this, there is a commandment which cannot be overlooked in the process of keeping His commandments. In other words, we can “do” all day, and still not be “doing” what is necessary.
For example, the word says to refrain from sexual immorality. One can do that and still not meet the main requirement which will make a person pleasing in the sight of God. In fact, a person can “do” everything that is asked of him in the entire New Covenant except the one thing that John mentions, meaning believe in the name of Jesus Christ, and he can be as far from God as Satan himself.
And in believing in Jesus, one is naturally expected to be obedient to the command He gave to love. Though they are two things – believing and love – they are united as one. They cannot be separated. This will be further explained in the next chapter, especially in 1 John 4:9.
John is showing that faith and love are a unit. This then provides the clarification needed to understand the previous verses. Someone might argue that “doing” is sufficient to meet God’s commandments, even if we don’t believe. This is incorrect. If one is to do what is right, he must rightly believe as well. The doing part is loving one another, but a person can love every believer on the planet and not be a believer in the name of Jesus, the Son of God. If this is the case, then his love of those people does not make him right with God. The two commandments unite as one whole.
Life application: This verse may very well may sum up the expectation of the Christian as well as any other verse in the New Testament. When John says we are to believe on the name of Jesus Christ, he uses an aorist verb. This indicates the initial conversion of a believer. This requirement is stated by Paul in Romans 10:9, 10 –
“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Believing on the name of Jesus means believing on everything His name represents in the context of “Lord.” Jesus is our God united with human flesh. He is able to save us, freeing us from our sin debt. He is able to continue to save us despite ourselves, etc. Secondly, after believing, John brings in loving one another.
Love for other Christians is to be the defining characteristic of the faithful (those who have believed). Let us live as if we believe it truly is the case! Paul shows us the importance of love in this manner in 1 Corinthians 13. Take time today to read that short passage and think on it as you go about your day.
Lord God, for those who have believed in Jesus Christ, it was with the heart, trusting in Him for our salvation. Since that time, we have not always been faithful, and we have failed to love our fellow Christians as we ought to have. Forgive us of this and lead us to the point of loving them, even as You love each of us. To Your glory we pray, Amen.