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1 John 3:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 See what sort of love the Father has given us, so that we should be called children of God; and such we are. That is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him.
See what sort of love. What love, in kind and in degree. In kind the most tender and the most ennobling, in adopting us into his family, and in permitting us to address him as our Father; in degree the most exalted, since there is no higher love that can be shown than in adopting a poor and friendless orphan, and giving him a parent and a home. Even God could bestow upon us no more valuable token of affection than that we should be adopted into his family and permitted to regard him as our Father. When we remember how insignificant we are as creatures, and how ungrateful, rebellious, and vile we have been as sinners, we may well be amazed at the love which would adopt us into the holy family of God, so that we may be regarded and treated as the children of the Most High. A prince could manifest no higher love for a wandering, ragged, vicious orphan boy found in the streets than by adopting him into his own family and admitting him to the same privileges and honors as his own sons; and yet this would be a trifle compared with the honor which God has bestowed on us.
The Father has given us. God, who is regarded as a Father or the head of the universe, considers us one of the family.
That we should be called children of God. That is, that we should be the sons of God—the word called being often used in the sense of to be. Adoption is the taking and treating a stranger as one’s own child. It is applied to Christians because God treats them as his children; he receives them into this relation, though they were by nature strangers and enemies. It implies,
(1) That we by nature had no claim on him;
(2) That therefore, the act is one of mere kindness—of pure, sovereign love;
(3) That we are now under his protection and care; and,
(4) That we are bound to manifest toward him the spirit of children and yield to him obedience.
For this, Christians are often called the sons of God. A father is a protector, counselor, and guide of his children. He instructs them, provides for them, and counsels them in time of perplexity. No relation is more tender than this. In accordance with this, God says he will be their protector, counselor, guide, and friend to his people. He will cherish toward them the feeling of a father; he will provide for them, he will acknowledge them as his children. No higher honor can be conferred on mortals than to be adopted into the family of God and to be permitted to call the Most High our Father. No rank is so elevated as that of being the sons and the daughters of the Lord Almighty. Yet, this is the common appellation by which God addresses his people. The most humble in rank, the poorest and ignorant of his friends on earth, the most despised among the people, may reflect that they are the children of the ever-living God and have the Maker of the heavens and the earth as their Father and their eternal Friend. How poor are all the honors of the world compared with this!
That is why the world does not know us. Does not understand our principles, the reasons for our conduct, the sources of our comforts and joys. The people of the world regard us as fanatics or enthusiasts; as foolish in abandoning the pleasures and pursuits which they engage in; as renouncing certain happiness for that which is uncertain; as cherishing false and delusive hopes in regard to the future, and as practicing needless austerities, with nothing to compensate for the pleasures which are abandoned. There is nothing that the lighthearted and carefree, the foolish, stupid, or unimpressive the ambitious, and the selfish less understand than they do the elements which go into the Christian’s character and the nature and source of the Christian’s joys.
Because it did not know him. Did not know the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, the world had no correct views of the real character of the Lord Jesus when he was on the earth. They mistook him for an enthusiast or an impostor, and it is no wonder that having wholly mistaken his character, they should mistake ours. They did not perceive or appreciate the excellency of his character, the wisdom of his plan, or the glory of his scheme of salvation. Their ignorance arose from not understanding the prophecies and an unwillingness to be convinced that God had truly sent Jesus of Nazareth. In Acts 3:17, Peter says that it was through ignorance that the Jews had put him to death. On the fact that Christians may be expected to be regarded and treated as their Savior was, see John 15:18–20. Comp. Matt. 10:24-25.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews