Wednesday, 15 April 2020
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:3
John just spoke of the hope of the believer. It is that “we shall be like Him.” He now says, “And everyone who has this hope in Him.” The word “everyone” is certainly used in order to refute some heresy which had already begun to invade the church, even at this early date. It is a way of saying, “Every single person, and this means every single one of you as well…” He is actually addressing each individual, but he is making the exhortation in a universal manner.
In the Greek, the placing of one’s hope for this statement is “on Him,” rather than “in Him.” Saying “in him” is ambiguous. Is it speaking of the person hoping, or is it speaking of the object of the hope? For this reason, the “hope” is set “on” Christ Jesus. Vincent’s Word Studies notes that this is the only reference by John concerning Christian hope. That is unlike Paul who speaks of it again and again. Further, Vincent’s notes that this is the Bible’s only instance where hope is “on” rather than “in” Jesus. John’s specific wording calls for specificity of translation.
John continues by saying that whoever has this hope on Christ “purifies himself.” The word translated as “purifies” is in the present tense and therefore indicates continual purification. It is used in John and Acts when referring to external purification under the Law of Moses. However, under the New Covenant, we see that those external purifications were intended to point to internal purification in the believer in Christ. It is used in James 4:8, 1 Peter 1:22, and here in 1 John 3:3 – all when speaking of internal purification.
John said in the previous verse that “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” This is what he is now referring to. We are to purify ourselves “just as He is pure.” Here, John uses an adjective form of the same word. It is one used by Paul, James, Peter, and John, and it signifies being without any type of ceremonial defilement, and thus holy and sacred.
Life application: Because John’s plea is to the individual, but universally applied, the message it carries is universally applicable. If you hope in the One who is pure, you must also purify yourself. And, this is not a one-time deal, after which one is pure always. We are to continually cleanse ourselves of our impurities, because of the hope we have in Jesus.
As noted, the idea behind the purity is that of ritual cleansing, or ceremonial purification before coming into the presence of God. This is explained in Exodus (and elsewhere) in the Old Testament, and in Hebrews in the New. Believers need to have the whole person free from defilement in this purification process. How to accomplish this purification will be dealt with in the verses to come, but it particularly deals with righteousness and love.
We need to ensure we have both qualities working in an appropriate manner or we simply can’t be pure in the way we need to be. Let us look to the words of the psalmist to see a portion of what’s needed to please God –
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.” Psalm 24:3, 4
Lord God, we look to You for the necessary cleansing required to make us pure. Though we try under our own power, we will only fail. But by appealing to You and applying the instruction found in Your word, we know that we can be purified and cleansed – thus being acceptable as personal offerings to You. May this come about for Your great glory as we stand before You in thanks and praise! Amen.