Friday, 15 May 2020
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9
John now continues the same thought that he has been giving for the past two verses. In verse 7, he said, “and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” In verse 8, he said, “He who does not love does not know God.” He is speaking about the state of love either existing in a person or lacking in a person. That continues with this verse with the Greek words en hēmin. Rather than, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us,” the Greek reads, “In this the love of God was manifest in us.”
John has shown that belief and love are actually one inseparable idea –
“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
To love without belief does not satisfy the expectation of God. To believe without love is to fail to obey the commandment given by Christ Jesus. But we are not given a commandment we cannot obey. Therefore, the “love of God is manifested in us” when we believe.
John uses an aorist verb, indicative mood, and passive voice. It happened at a set time, it is a certain fact, and the believer is the recipient of the action. Belief brings us into the state of love. At this point, our love can be acceptable to God. Before this point, we could love all day long and it would be of no true value to Him.
God cannot credit love as righteousness unless the person is already deemed righteous through faith in Christ. If He could, then faith in Christ would be unnecessary to be pleasing to God. This is why “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world.”
In this, the Greek more accurately reads, “His Son, the only begotten.” He enlarges and highlights the Son by stating it this way. God has “sons” as is recorded in Scripture. Israel is called His son in Exodus 4:22. Believers are sons of God, as is noted in both testaments as well. But only Christ Jesus is set apart as “His Son, the only begotten.” It is He who was “sent.” The verb, being in the perfect tense, reveals the completed and continuing results which stem from sending Him. And those results are “that we might live through Him.”
This is the purpose of the sending of Christ. Sending Him is how the love of God is manifested in us, but our living through the Son defines why God did this. In belief, we are saved, and in being saved, the love of God now defines our love, meaning it is now a love that is acceptable to God.
To more fully appreciate this, one must consider the words, “live through Him.” If we were not “alive,” meaning possessing eternal life, before coming to Christ, it means that we were still dead in our trespasses and sins. In this state, it doesn’t matter how much we loved others. We were dead in sin and God could not accept our love. But in living through Christ, our sins are atoned for, our state before God is changed, and our love – whatever level of love it may be – is now acceptable, because the love of God is manifested in us.
Life application: This verse, like others from John, is reminiscent of John 3:16 –
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
It is important to remember that the term, “begotten,” and not, “one and only,” as many modern translations state, is the correct term to use. The reason for this is more than translational from the Greek, but it is scriptural based on Exodus 4:22 (mentioned above) –
“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.”
God has more than one son – in several contexts. Israel is called God’s “firstborn son.” We are also sons of God through adoption. Therefore, the term “one and only” is entirely incorrect. Additionally, the Greek supports “begotten.” Jesus was generated of the Most High and the power of the Holy Spirit through Mary. He is unlike any other. Because of these points, it is far preferable and proper to use the term “begotten.”
Also, John mentions “the love” of God. The article which precedes “love” isn’t referring to a general love, but the specific love, one which is particular to that demonstrated in the work of Jesus.
Because of the great love God has for the people of the world, He sent Jesus Christ to restore us to true and spiritual life, and to grant us eternal life – someday to be free from the trials, troubles, and temptations of this world. Let us never forget this great and awesome love, demonstrated at the cross of Calvary!
How tender and precious it is to be called a son of God because of the work of Jesus! We can now call you Father in a way which was never possible before. Thank You, thank You, O God, for the wondrous and extravagant love You have for us! Glory, honor, and majesty – they belong to You alone! Amen.