September 24, 2020 – Thursday
John 1:9-13 NIV
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.
11 He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.
12 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Today we have more reference to the light that is Jesus, but our real focus today is on the last two verses above, Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. And within these two verses the phrase, to those who believed in His name.
Peter Pett really nails this in his commentary when he writes, But even in the world in its darkness there would be those who responded, and they would thereby receive the right to ‘become the children of God, by ‘believing on His Name’’ that is, by believing in Him for what He really is. John here makes a clear distinction between general humanity, who view themselves as ‘children of God’ in a general sense; the Jews, who saw themselves as God’s children in a special way (Deuteronomy 14:1), and believers in Jesus who become children of God in a unique sense through being born of the Spirit (John 1:14 & 3:6). We have the responsibility to respond as Pett writes and to believe in His name for what He really is, thus becoming children of God.
Pett goes on to write, And he [John] stresses that it is the last only who are the true children of God. For this is the purpose for which the Word has come. He has come to bring men to God and to give them the life of the Spirit, and it is only through that, and through a loving response to His word, that they can be His children. I really like how Pett further details that the response to the light, to Jesus, must be a loving response to His word, not simply an emotional response.
Pett amplifies this when he concludes, For to be the children of God means being ‘perfect, even as He is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48), something which can only be found by response to Jesus, by belief and trust in Him. This takes us back to the definition provided yesterday of believe, pisteuo, where the last part of the definition was to commit (to trust), put in trust with.
Continuing to look at verses 12-13, Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God, it should be pointed out that all who did receive Him is simply another way of saying and emphasizing those who believed in His name. Ellicott’s Commentary tells us, To them that believe on his name … explains what receiving Him means. A bit later Ellicott enlarges on this by writing, To “believe on” is one of St. John’s characteristic words of fuller meaning. To believe is to accept as true; “devils believe and tremble” (James 2:19). To believe in is to trust in, confide in. To believe on, has the idea of motion to and rest upon: it is here the going forth of the soul upon, and its rest upon, the firm basis of the eternal love of the eternal Spirit revealed in the Word. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible adds, To as many as received him – The great mass; the people; the scribes and Pharisees rejected him. A few in his lifetime received him, and many more after his death. “To receive him,” here, means to “believe” on him. This is expressed at the end of the verse.
As for the remainder of the verses, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God, we become children of God by adoption. The Father adopts us when we believe on His Son’s name. God gave this privilege or right, as Barnes’ Notes tell us, only to those who believe on him. All others are the children of the wicked one, and no one who has not “confidence in God” can be regarded as his child. No parent would acknowledge one for his child, or approve of him, who had no confidence in him, who doubted or denied all he said, and who despised his character. Yet the sinner constantly does this toward God, and he cannot, therefore, be called his Son. We may consider this harsh until we remember Romans 5:8, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Thus, we now know the importance of believing and believing in His name and the grace we receive upon believing.