First John: 1 John 3:8b-The Son of God Appeared to Destroy the Works of the Devil Lesson # 111
1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (ESV)
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” is composed of the following: (1) preposition eis (εἰς), “the reason” (2) accusative neuter singular form of the immediate demonstrative pronoun houtos (οὗτος), “the reason” (3) third person singular aorist passive indicative form of the phaneroō (φανερόω), “appeared” (4) articular nominative masculine singular form of the noun huios (υἱός), “the Son” (5) genitive masculine singular form of the noun theos (θεός), “of God” (6) conjunction hina (ἵνα), “to” (7) third person singular aorist active subjunctive form of the verb luō (λύω), “destroy” (8) articular accusative neuter plural form of the noun ergon (ἒργον), “the works” (9) articular genitive masculine singular form of the noun diabolos (διάβολος), “the devil.”
The immediate demonstrative pronoun houtos could be interpreted as anaphoric meaning it is pointing back to something in the immediate preceding context and thus it would be pointing back to the concept of committing sin.
It also can be interpreted as kataphoric meaning it is referring to the something which follows it and thus, it would be referring to the phrase hina lysē ta erga tou diabolou (ἵνα λύσῃ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ διαβόλου), “to destroy the works of the devil.”
The latter would appear to be the best interpretation because the ἵνα (hina) clause which follows appears to be related to the prepositional phrase eis touto (εἰς τοῦτο) since it is resumptive which means that it is restating the idea of “purpose” already expressed by the prepositional phrase eis touto (εἰς τοῦτο).
The immediate demonstrative pronoun houtos is the object of the preposition eis, which functions as a marker of purpose indicating that sin was the purpose for which the Son of God became a human being.
The noun huios is used in relation to Jesus Christ and is employed here as a title for the deity of Christ describing the relationship between the Father and Jesus Christ implying that they share the same nature.
The noun theos refers to God the Father and is in the genitive case functioning as a genitive of relationship indicating a familial relationship between God and His Son.
The verb phaneroō means “to be revealed, to be manifested” and is used of not only the incarnation of the Son of God but His subsequent hypostatic union and earthly life or First Advent.
The conjunction hina is employed with the subjunctive form of the verb luō, “destroy” in order to form a purpose-result clause that indicates both the intention and accomplishment of the action of the verb phaneroō.
Therefore, this indicates that this conjunction is introducing a clause which presents both the purpose and the result of the Son of God being revealed to the human race as a human being.
The verb luō means “to destroy, to neutralize” since the word pertains to causing something to cease to exist or causing the destruction of something, to counteract the activity or effect of something.
Here it is used figuratively in relation to the works of the devil and is expressing the idea that the incarnation of the Son of God “destroyed” the works of the devil in the sense that it caused these works to cease to exist.
It also expresses the idea that the incarnation of the Son of God counteracted the activity of Satan which was to prompt human beings to sin against God.
The noun ergon is in the plural and means “activities” and is used in relation to the devil.
Thus, it refers to the evil activities of the devil which oppose God.
Once again, we have the articular genitive masculine singular form of the noun diabolos which again means “the devil” and again refers to God’s greatest enemy among the fallen angels.
This word is in the genitive case and functions as a genitive of production meaning that this word produces the noun to which it stands related.
Therefore, it expresses the idea that the devil “produces” or “performed” these activities.
1 John 3:8 The one who at any time does practice that which constitutes sin does possess the characteristic originating from the devil because this devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose, God’s one and only Son was revealed, namely, in order to destroy the works produced by the devil. (My translation)
A purpose-result clause completes the apostle John’s thought in 1 John 3:8, which presents both the purpose and the result of the Son of God being revealed to the human race as a human being.
This purpose-result clause emphasizes that the incarnation and subsequent hypostatic union and First Advent of the Son of God accomplished God’s eternal purpose for the Lord’s incarnation and subsequent hypostatic union and First Advent in that it destroyed the works of the devil.
“Son” (huios) expresses three fundamental concepts regarding the Lord Jesus Christ: (1) His eternal relationship with the Father. (2) His appointment to the office of Savior and Messiah. (3) His divine essence.
It also expresses the Lord Jesus Christ’s eternality and that He is infinite and eternal God (John 1:1-2, 14; John 8:58; 10:30a; Col. 2:9a; Rev. 1:8) indicating His equality with the Father (Matthew 17:1-5; John 10:30, 37-38; 14:9; 17:5, 24-25; 20:30-31; Romans 1:1-4; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 1:3).
Therefore, in 1 John 3:8, John presents the second purpose of the incarnation and subsequent hypostatic of the Son of God whereas in 1 John 3:5 he presented the first purpose, which was to eradicate sins.
Now, here in 1 John 3:8, he asserts that it was to destroy the activities produced by the devil.
These activities would involve tempting people to sin (Gen 3:1–19; Job 1:6–12; 2:1–7; Matt 4:1–10; 16:23; Mark 1:13; 8:33; Luke 4:2–13; 22:31; 1 Cor 7:5; 1 Tim 3:6–7; 5:15; Rev 2:10), inciting people to sin (1 Chr 21:1; Luke 22:3; John 8:44; 13:2, 27; Acts 5:3), hindering the work of God (Matt 13:19, 38; Mark 4:15; Luke 8:12; 1 Thess 2:18), deceiving people (2 Cor 4:4; 11:14; Eph 6:11; 2 Thess 2:9; Rev 2:24; 20:10), oppressing and harming people and the church (Luke 13:16; John 8:44; Acts 10:38; 26:18; 1 Cor 5:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 12:7; Eph 6:16; 1 Tim 1:20; 1 Pet 5:8; 1 John 3:12; 5:18; Rev 12:12), and accusing people before God (Job 1:8–11; 2:3–5; Zech 3:1; Rev 12:10).
Of course, the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ destroyed the works of the devil by means of His substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross, which provided human beings deliverance from God’s wrath and eternal condemnation.
The work of the Lord on the cross also delivered sinners from condemnation from the Law as well as spiritual and physical death.
His finished work on the cross also provided deliverance from bondage to the sin nature and the devil and his cosmic system.
This work is appropriated by the sinner through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
Since the devil’s activities refer to deceiving human beings to sin, Jesus Christ’s work on the cross in eradicating these sins committed by the human race destroyed the activities produced by the devil.
These sins provided the devil the basis to accuse human beings before God and demand God’s judgment.
However, that basis is abolished since Christ’s work on the cross resolved the human race’s problem with sin and thus abolished the basis for Satan’s accusations.
On the cross, Jesus Christ was judged by the Father in the place of every human being.
Therefore, the activities of Satan have been destroyed since the Father judged His Son for the sins committed by members of the human race.
Therefore, all that the devil accomplished in getting human beings to sin against God has been destroyed by Jesus Christ’s substitutionary spiritual and physical death on the cross.
The incarnation of the Son of God destroyed the works of the devil in the sense that it caused these works to cease to exist.
It also expresses the idea that the incarnation and subsequent hypostatic union of the Son of God counteracted the activity of Satan which was to prompt human beings to sin against God.
1 John 3:8 is one of several passages which speak of Jesus Christ’s victory over Satan and his angels (cf. Matt. 12:25-29; Luke 10:18; Col. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:22; John 12:31.
Therefore, in 1 John 3:8, the apostle John is presenting two more reasons why he wants the recipients of First John to continue to reject sin and obey his apostolic teaching.
The first is that he doesn’t want them to be characterized by sin since sin characterizes the devil.
The second is that committing sin stands in direct opposition to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross on their behalf.
The Son of God became a human being to die on the cross in order to destroy the works of the devil which are the direct result of tempting and deceiving human beings to sin against God.
Christ died in order that those who trust in Him as their Savior could practice God’s righteousness in their lives and not be enslaved to sin and Satan.
 Kruse, C. G. (2000). The letters of John. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.