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1 John 3.11-18

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A.    This is the same message!

1.      “because (for) this is the message which you heard from the beginning” – John once again emphasizes the unchanging nature of the true gospel.  It is the same message that Jesus brought.  It is the same message that the apostle’s preached.  It is the same message that you first heard that brought about your salvation.

2.      1:5 = summary of Christian Theology (the truth)

3.      3:11 = summary of Christian Ethics (the result)

B.     2:9-11

1.      John already states “the one hating his brother does not remain in Him”

2.      Here John begins to deepen this concept


A.    A negative example (Cain)

B.     Cain was “from the evil one”

1.      Here John communicates Cain’s connection with the “evil one” in the same way that he speaks of the believer’s connection with “God.”

2.      4:4,6; 5:4,18,19 – “from God”

C.     “he butchered his brother” - John mentions Cain’s actions first as emphasis because a person’s actions is what he is focusing on at this point.

D.    “and for what reason did he butcher him?” - With a question John seeks to move to what underlies the actions.

E.     Two inseparable reasons:

1.      Cain’s works were evil ( associated with “the evil one”/”the Devil”)

2.      Abel’s works were righteous (pleasing to God)

F.      It was because Cain’s works were not pleasing to God while his brother gained acceptance that Cain responded by living out his (envy, jealousy, and eventual hatred).


A.    “brothers” – In this case John addresses his readers as “brothers” instead of “beloved or children” (the only time this occurs in 1 John).  It seems that John does so because of the subject at hand – the love for our brothers, whom we ourselves are one of.

B.      “Do Not Be SURPRISED!” (It’s nothing new and it’s not going to change)

C.     This true to life illustration of Cain provides us with the reasoning behind the world’s rejection (hatred) of believers.

D.    The world’s works (in general) are not acceptable to God while the works of believers are.

E.     This reality always has and always will bring the response of envy, jealousy, and eventual hatred upon believers.


A.    “We know” – here is one more cause for confidence in our relationship with God.

B.     We can have confidence that we no longer reside in the realm of death/darkness (where all of us were at one time) and now have crossed over into the realm of life/light . . .because:

1.      We love the brothers (other believers)

2.      As believers we do not find ourselves envious or jealous of other believer’s righteous works, but rather, we rejoice along with them.

3.      If we find ourselves resenting, envious, or jealous of others acceptance with God, it may indicate the truth that we remain in death/darkness.


A.    John picks up the hatred/murder relationship that existed in the life of Cain and makes the connection to the lives of present day believers.

B.     Cain’s hatred resulted in an action that destroyed his brother rather than seeking his brother’s good.

C.     “Everyone” (without exception) who goes on hating his brothers is a murderer (even if he doesn’t actually commit the crime). - See Matthew 5:21-22

D.    Most of us (including John’s readers) don’t have much trouble understanding that a murderer evidences an unbelieving heart (eternal life does not abide in him).  John appeals to this knowledge to drive home the truth that hatred evidences the same thing

**It is not necessarily the one time act that is view here although Cain’s act was a one time thing.  What is view is the hating heart.


A.    “By this we have come to know THE love”(roughly – by this we have come to know what love is) – John is getting ready to explain how believers are to interpret “love.”

1.      “THE LOVE” – John’s expression here is not indicating love in general, but rather a specific love. 

a)      This is not expressed in English translations but has significance in the original text. 

b)      The use of or absence of the definite article is much more significant in Greek than it is in English.  It is “the” love.  The love that is of God and that will be in the heart of the true believer.

c)      The significance of love is not the use of agape (a?ap?) as opposed to philos (f????).  It is the presence of the definite article “the.”

d)     An English example would be the difference between “a friend” and “the friend”.  “A friend” could be any friend, “The friend” is a specific person though not necessarily named.  A president could refer to any number of presidents while THE president would be understood as George W. Busch.

B.     “that one (Jesus) laid down His life on behalf of (for the sake of) us” - The kind of love John is talking about here is the kind that reveals itself by setting aside personal desires and risks itself for the sake of (on behalf of) another’s good.

C.     This indicates that one is willing to give up one’s own life so that another might live.

D.    “Love must be prepared to meet the needs of others whatever the cost in self-sacrifice.” (The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Epistles of John, by I. Howard Marshall, p. 194)


A.    In this verse John clarifies v. 16.  We might be tempted to make a theoretical confession that we would give up our lives for the sake of another, but for most of us this in reality will never happen.  If that be the case, then how does this verse more practically apply to all believers?

B.     John goes on to explain that “laying down one’s life” may not mean in death, but rather setting aside our own wants and needs (in a sense, putting our life on hold) to satisfy the needs of others.

C.     “Whoever might have the life of the world” – “life of the world” here means possessions and goods of life in this world.  This is pointing to those of us who have the ability to feed and clothe ourselves as well as obtain anything else we might desire.

D.    “and beholds his brother having a need” – this point is straight forward.  It is a reality we face everyday.  Who among us cannot name someone who has a need that they cannot meet on there own?

**In the previous context the term “brother” indicates another believer.  While this may still remain, it would not be pushing the text too far to include anyone that we see in need.

E.     “and might shut his bowels (affections) from him” – Otherwise, instead of choosing to have compassion we choose to look the other way.

F.      “how can the love of God remain in him?” – Is it possible for one with the love of God abiding in him (a believer) to act in this way?  John indicates not!


A.    John concludes this section with a general action summary – “Children, DO NOT love in word nor tongue (speech) but in deed and truth.”

1.      Notice the return to the personal address “children” – John returns to the concept of a father speaking to his children.

2.      This address prepares the way for the command that follows (DO NOT . . .).

B.     “word and tongue” represent the same concept.  The “word” and the process by which it is issued.

C.     “deed and truth” represent action, but not just any action.  Even action can be taken on behalf of another for the wrong reasons and for ultimately selfish motives.  John extends this concept by adding “and truth.”  This represents a genuine action that stems from the very nature of what truth is which ultimately stems from God Himself.

D.    The addition of “and truth” is picked up in the next verse (19) tying this section together with the next.

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