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Our Father Who Art in Heaven

6/18 – Wow, How Great a Love! (1 John 3)


Introduction — Here John urges his beloved brothers and sisters in Christ to see the great love the Father has given them. The Father called them to know Him. The Father calls them His children. That’s who they are.  Next, John shows two reasons Christ came. One, the Son came in order to take away sins. There is no sin in Him. Two, the Son came in order to destroy the works of the devil.  And no one born of God makes it a habit to sin because God dwells in him. John also clearly states how obvious the distinctions are for the children of God and the children of the devil: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. That God commands His children to love one another is a major theme of this section. Those who are God’s children must lay down their lives for their brothers and sisters. They must care for their brother or sister in need. They must love in deed and truth. They must love one another, just as He commanded. Did they do that? Did they learn to love one another in such radical, yet practical ways? How about us? Do we see the great love of the Father? Do we fathom the depth of His love? Do we grasp the wonder of His love? Do we realize how much He loves us? Do we bow in humble worship? Do we rise up in steadfast love for Him and for our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we behold the love of the Father with awestruck vision? Do we behold the love of the Father with joyful delight and with delightful obedience? Do we see the wow of His great love?


Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children! And we are! Wow, how great a love He has for us! His love is complete! His love calls us. His love confirms us. His love comes to us. His love captivates us.


His love changes us. (1-12)


Comment: Here John reminds his beloved brothers and sisters that the Father’s love reaches to them and changes them. His love changed them. They are His children. God’s love will change them. Beloved, now we are His children, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is (2). And God’s love is changing them now. Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (3). John points to the great work of Christ who came in order to take away sins (5), and to destroy the work of the devil (8). So complete and perfect is the work of Christ that no one born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because is born of God. Here John is driving home the wondrous and beautiful transformation God brings to His beloved children. So amazing is this change on their behalf, that God’s former enemies are now His family. Those who hated each other now love one another. What a dramatic change God has wrought. Wow, how great a love He has for His children! Question: Do you see this great love God has for His children? Do you fix your hope on Christ? Do you flee wicked thoughts and actions? Do you have an abiding and growing love for God? Do you love the folks around you, especially the household of faith, the church? Application: If you’re one of God’s children, then stop messing around with sinful actions. Flee wicked thoughts. Run from detestable actions. Keep your gaze fixed on Christ. See the Father’s great love!


His love connects us. (13-22)


Comment: Here John reminds his beloved brothers and sisters that the Father’s love connects them to one another. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren (14).They are part of His family, and they are family to one another. And because they are family, these brothers and sisters show that love to one another in compelling, yet practical ways. This is an amazing love, for sure. First, the Father’s love sacrifices for the sake of another. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (16). Second, the Father’s love prompts His children to see their love as more than mere lip service; their love for each other is life service. They love with truth and action (18). Since they are connected to each other, the will not close their hearts to each other (17). They will do what is pleasing in God’s sight (22) and that means they grow in their joyful service to fellow Christ followers. Their love for one another is real. Question: Do you see how great this family is? Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you love those in this church with more than lip service? What is the measure of your love?

Do you love with truth and action? Application: The Father’s love connects us to each other. So, if you’re part of God’s family, then stop harboring secret hatreds for your Christian family. Stop ignoring their pleas for help. Step up and serve in practical, sacrificial ways.


His love commands us. (23-24)


Comment: Here John reminds his beloved brothers and sisters that the Father lays out clear instructions to those He love. In fact, the Father commands His children. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The Father’s loving commands were for their good and for His glory. First, those who keep His commandments enjoy an ongoing and growing relationship with the Son. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him (24). And secondly, those who keep His commands have an abiding assurance of abundant, eternal life. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us (24). Question:  Do you see the devout and serious call God has on your life?  Do you delight to keep God’s commands? Do you long to keep God’s commands? Do you eagerly learn and follow God’s commands? Do you hear and heed God’s commands? Application: See how great a love He has given us. See that no one deceives you about the truth of His love. See that you are not surprised when the world rejects His love. Keep trusting in the name of Jesus Christ. Look to Him. Grow in your love for Him. Grow in your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children! And we are! See His love. Savor His love. Shout His love. Wow, how great a love He has for us!


Word Study for 1 John 3:1-24

1 see (eidon—see; pay attention to; understand; visit; experience)

1 how great (patapos—from what country; of what origin; what sort of; what kind of; how massive)

1 bestowed (didomi—give; grant; pay; deposit; let experience; show)

5 take away (airo—raise; take up; carry; remove; destroy)

8 destroy (lyo—loosen; unbind; unfasten; dismiss; untie; set free; destroy)

10 obvious (phaneros—visible; evident; manifest; clearly seen; widely known)

11 message (angelia—tidings; news; report; announce)

13 surprised (thaumazo—be astonished; wonder; marvel; amazed)

15 hates (miseo—abhor; love less)

16 laid down (tithemi—put; set; place; take off; kneel; deposit; remove)

16 ought (opehilo—be obligated; owe; be in debt; must)

17 closes (kleio—shut; bar; lock)

18 deed (ergon—act; work; workmanship; occupation; assigned task; job)

18 truth (aletheia—truthful; authentic; reality; right; genuine)

23 commandment (entole—injunction; order; instruction; precept)

24 keeps (tereo—guard; watch over; obey; take care of; protect)[1]


Application for 1 John 3:1-24

Let’s keep remembering how great a love the Father gives us.

Let’s cherish the relationship we now have with God because He’s called us to be His children.

Let’s fix our hope on God.

Let’s keep living pure lives.

Let’s see the mighty work of Christ on our behalf.

Let’s forsake sin.

Let’s not close our hearts to our brothers and sisters in need.

Let’s not be surprised if the world hates us.

Let’s love in deed and truth.

Let’s continue to believe in Christ.

Let’s continue to love one another.


Gospel Connections for 1 John 3:1-24

Jesus Christ appeared in order to take away sins. There is no sin in Him. He is the Son of God. He is God. Jesus appeared to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus came to give life. And by God’s grace, those who believe in Christ receive new life. They are new creations. They reject the destroying, hateful works of the devil. Instead, they do righteous works for the glory of God. They love one another. They do not close their hearts to one another. They see each other as brothers and sisters. They know the great love of the Father. They know they are His children.


Thoughts and Quotes for 1 John 3:1-24

We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground. ~ Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel


The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands. ~ Martin Luther


If there is no scent of Christ’s love on someone, then they bear no evidence of true devotion to Christ. ~ Eric Ludy, When God Writes Your Love Story


Jesus fulfilled the conditions of the covenant so we can enjoy the unconditional love of God. Because of the Cross, God can be both just toward sin and yet mercifully justifying to sinners. ~ Timothy Keller, Prayer


The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us. ~ C.S. Lewis

Commentary for 1 John 3:1-24


3:1. This verse begins with the word idete (“behold, look at”), not translated in the NIV. The writer had just told the readers how to see the reality of new birth in righteous behavior; now he invited them to contemplate the greatness of the divine love which that reality displays. Behold how great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. (The words and that is what we are, rightly omitted by most mss., are probably a scribal addition.) In the Bible the word “called” indicates that this is what one actually is (cf. “called to be holy,” lit., “called saints” [1 Cor. 1:2]). Believers are “called children of God” because they are the born-ones (tekna) of “the Father.”

The perception to which John invited his readers is, however, lost on the world. Since the world … did not know Him (God or Christ), it can hardly be expected to recognize believers as His children. This kind of discernment about others is a distinctively Christian perception.[2]



The apostle, having shown the dignity of Christ’s faithful followers, that they are born of him and thereby nearly allied to God, now here,

I. Breaks forth into the admiration of that grace that is the spring of such a wonderful vouchsafement: Behold (see you, observe) what manner of love, or how great love, the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, effectually called (he who calls things that are not makes them to be what they were not) the sons of God! The Father adopts all the children of the Son. The Son indeed calls them, and makes them his brethren; and thereby he confers upon them the power and dignity of the sons of God. It is wonderful condescending love of the eternal Father, that such as we should be made and called his sons—we who by nature are heirs of sin, and guilt, and the curse of God—we who by practice are children of corruption, disobedience, and ingratitude! Strange, that the holy God is not ashamed to be called our Father, and to call us his sons![3]



1. Behold. The second argument is from the dignity and excellency of our calling; for it was not common honour, he says, that the heavenly Father bestowed on us, when he adopted us as his children. This being so great a favour, the desire for purity ought to be kindled in us, so as to be conformed to his image; nor, indeed, can it be otherwise, but that he who acknowledges himself to be one of God’s children should purify himself. And to make this exhortation more forcible, he amplifies the favour of God; for when he says, that love has been bestowed, he means that it is from mere bounty and benevolence that God makes us his children; for whence comes to us such a dignity, except from the love of God? Love, then, is declared here to be gratuitous. There is, indeed, an impropriety in the language; but the Apostle preferred speaking thus rather than not to express what was necessary to be known. He, in short, means that the more abundantly God’s goodness has been manifested towards us, the greater are our obligations to him, according to the teaching of Paul, when he besought the Romans by the mercies of God to present themselves as pure sacrifices to him. (Rom. 12:1.) We are at the same time taught, as I have said, that the adoption of all the godly is gratuitous, and does not depend on any regard to works.[4]


[1] Word studies from various books and authors referenced from  Logos Bible Software, including, but not limited to Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (1 Jn 3:1). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.


[2] Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 893). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2447). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[4] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (pp. 202–203). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.