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First John: 1 John 3:10a-The Means by which the Believer Manifests They are a Child of God Lesson # 113

First John   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  57:34
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First John: 1 John 3:10a-The Means by which the Believer Manifests They are a Child of God

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1 John 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (ESV)
By this” is composed of the following: (1) preposition en (ἐν), “by” (2) dative neuter singular form of the demonstrative pronoun houtos (οὗτος), “this.”
The demonstrative pronoun houtos means “this” and is kataphoric meaning it is pointing to the two statements which follow it: (1) pas ho mē poiōn dikaiosynēn ouk estin ek tou theou (πᾶς ὁ μὴ ποιῶν δικαιοσύνην οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ), “whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God.” (2) kai ho mē agapōn ton adelphon autou (καὶ ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ), “nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
Therefore, this prepositional phrase refers to the believer who does not practice divine righteousness which constitutes not practicing divine love.
This word houtos is the object of the preposition en which is a marker of means indicating the means by which the action of the third person singular present active indicative form of the verb eimi, “it is” is accomplished.
Therefore, this prepositional phrase indicates the means by which the children of God and the children of the devil are manifested.
The noun teknion means “children” and is used in a figurative sense of those sinners who have been declared justified through faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and through the Spirit have been regenerated, adopted and placed in union with Christ and identified with Him in His death and resurrection.
The word emphasizes the Christian’s relationship with God from the perspective of the spiritual birth, i.e. regeneration.
The noun theos refers to God the Father and is in the genitive case functioning as a genitive of relationship which indicates a familial relationship between God and those who have been regenerated by the Spirit as a result of being declared justified by the Father through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
The verb eimi means “to exist in a particular state or condition” expressing the idea of a person existing in the state or condition of manifesting that they are a child of God or a child of the devil by whether or not they practice divine righteousness which is accomplished by practicing divine love in one’s life.
In 1 John 3:10, phaneros means “evident, visible, manifest” referring to the children of God and the children of the devil being made “manifest” or “evident” by whether or not they practice divine righteousness which constitutes practicing divine love.
The articular nominative masculine singular form of the noun diabolos means “the devil” and again refers to God’s greatest enemy among the fallen angels.
Once again, we have the noun teknion which again means “children” but this time it is used in a figurative sense of those sinners who have not been declared justified through faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Consequently, they have not been regenerated by the Spirit and adopted and placed in union with Christ and identified with Him in His death and resurrection.
1 John 3:10 By means of this, God’s children are manifested as well as the devil’s children: Any person who at any time does not practice that which constitutes true righteousness by no means possesses the characteristic originating from the one true God. Specifically, the one who at any time does not divinely love their fellow believer. (My translation)
1 John 2:28 began the fifth major section of First John and 1 John 3:10 ends it.
These verses teach the recipients of this epistle how they can have confidence at the Bema Seat Evaluation of the church and can confirm that they are experiencing fellowship with God.
They can accomplish these things by continuing to make it their habit of practicing divine righteousness, which is the direct result of living in fellowship with the Trinity.
1 John 3:19-24 parallels 1 John 2:28-3:10 because of the chiastic structure of the epistle which is manifested by the fact that both sections speak of the recipients of this epistle possessing confidence at the rapture of the church and subsequent Bema Seat Evaluation of the church.
1 John 2:28-3:10 teaches that this confidence will be the result of practicing righteousness.
On the other hand, 1 John 3:19-24 teaches that this confidence is the result of practicing love.
To love one another is equivalent to practicing righteousness since practicing righteousness speaks of fulfilling one’s obligation to one’s fellow believer and to love one’s fellow believer fulfills this obligation.
1 John 3:10 serves as both a summary and conclusion of 1 John 2:28-3:9 as well as a transition to 1 John 3:11-18.
In 1 John 3:10, the prepositional phrase en toutō (ἐν τούτῳ), “by means of this” refers to the two statements which follow it: (1) pas ho mē poiōn dikaiosynēn ouk estin ek tou theou (πᾶς ὁ μὴ ποιῶν δικαιοσύνην οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ), “Any person who at any time does not practice that which constitutes true righteousness by no means possesses the characteristic originating from the one true God.” (2) kai ho mē agapōn ton adelphon autou (καὶ ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ), “Specifically, the one who at any time does not divinely love their fellow believer.”
Therefore, this prepositional phrase refers to the believer who does not practice divine righteousness which constitutes not practicing divine love.
This prepositional phrase “by means of this” indicates the means by which the children of God and the children of the devil manifest themselves as such.
This indicates that believers manifest that they are children of God by practicing righteousness which constitutes loving their fellow believer as Christ loves them.
The NET Bible has the following note, they write “Once again there is the problem (by now familiar to the interpreter of 1 John) of determining whether the phrase ἐν τούτῳ (en toutō) in 3:10 refers (1) to what precedes or (2) to what follows. If it refers to what precedes, it serves to conclude the unit which began with 2:28. The remainder of 3:10 would then form a transition to the following material (another “hinge” passage). On the other hand, if the phrase ἐν τούτῳ refers to what follows, then the entirety of 3:10 is a summary statement at the end of 2:28–3:10 which recapitulates the section’s major theme (conduct is the clue to paternity), and provides at the same time a transition to the theme of loving one’s brother which will dominate the following section (3:11–24). Although R. E. Brown (Epistles of John [AB], 416) prefers to see the phrase as referring to the preceding material, it makes better sense to refer it to the remainder of 3:10 that follows, and see the entirety of 3:10 as both a summary of the theme of the preceding section 2:28–3:10 and a transition to the following section 3:11–24.”[1]
In this verse, the apostle John is by no means teaching the recipients of this epistle how they can identify the person who has been declared justified by the Father through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and subsequently regenerated by the Spirit and thus His child.
In other words, he is not identifying the marks of a believer and a non-believer.
But rather, he is identifying for the recipients of First John, who were regenerated, how they demonstrate that they can confirm or be assured that they are children of God and how they can have confidence at the Bema Seat.
In this verse, he teaches in a negative sense that they can manifest that they are a child of God by practicing divine righteousness which constitutes practicing divine love toward others.
This interpretation is substantiated by John’s use of the noun adelphos in 1 John 3:10, which refers to a spiritual brother or sister in Christ or in other words, a fellow believer or fellow Christian.
The non-believer has no capacity whatsoever to practice divine righteousness nor divine love because they are not indwelt by the Spirit as believers are.
We also must remember that 1 John 2:28-3:10 constitutes a single unit which identifies for the recipients of this epistle how they can have confidence at the Bema Seat Evaluation of the church and know for certain that they are a child of God.
He is identifying in a negative way how they can demonstrate that they are children of God.
Furthermore, in 1 John 1:1-4, John states that the overall purpose of this epistle was that the recipients of this epistle would continue to regularly experience fellowship with God, which is something the non-believer has no capacity to do whatsoever.
Now, the question arises, that if John is not contrasting the children of the devil with the children of God, then why does he mention these two totally antithetical groups of people together here in 1 John 3:10?
The answer is that he is presenting a contrast with his statement in 1 John 3:8, which asserts that the one who at any time does practice that which constitutes sin does possess the characteristic of sinning which originated from the devil.
Therefore, if we compare 1 John 3:8 with 1 John 3:10, we can see clearly that John is not contrasting the children of God with the children of the devil but rather he is contrasting the practice of sinning and the characteristic of sinning with the practice of righteousness and the characteristic of righteousness.
In other words, he is contrasting the believer being characterized by sinning with being characterized by the practice of righteousness.
The latter originates with God and the former with the devil.
Thus, John is persuading his readers to continue to make it their habit of practicing righteousness rather than sinning since they are children of God and not children of the devil.
1 John 2:12-14 indicates that they were making it their habit of practicing righteousness rather than sinning since they serve to confirm that they were regularly experiencing fellowship with God and thus these verses serve to commend them for doing so.
AB Anchor Bible (a commentary series)
[1] Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
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