We got a start on 1 John 3:1 yesterday, didn’t we? But we’re not done! There’s still more depths to explore!
Assignment: Pray as you start your study. Thank God for His revealed Word and His Holy Spirit that opens its meaning to us. Then head on over to Blueletterbible.org and see if you can remember how to get to the concordance page for 1 John 3:1. (Search on the verse and click on “Interlinear” in “Tools”.)
We’re going to start our study today with the phrase “hath bestowed”. Click on its Strong’s number.
If you look under “Outline of Biblical Usage”, you will see definitions of the phrase. Skim through those.
You can see that the original Greek word was used in several ways, but most of them center around freely giving something. This is what God did! He freely gave us His love. The NIV says He lavished it on us! One dictionary defines lavish with words like squander and bestow with profusion. No holding back here. When God gives, He gives generously and with joy (just like He wants us to).
Record in your notebook any insights you have gained about the words hath bestowed.
What is the evidence of God’s out-of-this-world love, freely, extravagantly lavished on us? What did He do?
He called us His children.
What happens when God speaks? Waters gather into seas. Stars begin to blaze. Plants appear. Stormy waters are suddenly still. When God says something, it is.
God calls us His children, so we are His children. By His word, things change!
This brings up the puzzling translation differences that we noted yesterday as we studied verse 1. When I went to Blueletterbible to decide which words to study in verse 1, I was surprised to find that the phrase, “And so we are,” (as it reads in my ESV) is not there! In fact, it’s not even in the King James Version or NKJV. A quick look at other translations showed that the NIV includes, “And that is what we are.” The NASB uses the phrase, “And such we are”.
So I headed to the commentaries to get some answers! Let’s look together at John Gill again, because he’s concise and easy to find. Open Biblestudytools.com.
- Click “Commentaries” in the “Library” drop-down menu. Find John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, and go to 1 John 3:1.
- Read the paragraph under “that we should be called the sons of God”. Gill helps explain why the phrase, “and so we are” appears in some translations.
It has to do with the different manuscripts used for translations. We won’t take time to debate one manuscript or translation over another in this study. That’s not our purpose here. But we will take a minute to note the reason why some manuscripts include this little phrase.
It is partly due to what the word “called” implies in Scripture. Notice what Gill says about God calling us His children:
“. . . it is not a mere name that is bestowed, but the thing itself in reality; and in the Hebrew language, ‘to be called’, and ‘to be’, are terms synonymous.
When God uses a word for something, it is that thing. When God calls us His children, that makes us His children. The inclusion of this little phrase underlines that truth. It helps us know that call and be are the same thing!
Gills goes on to point out the implications of this truth. We’ve done nothing to merit this new status. But Jesus did. Because He took our punishment, God can now call us His children, and so we are His children. God chooses to adopt us.
When a child is adopted, the parents are the ones who do the adopting. They claim the child as their own, and his life is forever changed. They accept the responsibility of his care, and he receives all the legal rights of sonship, by their choice. He doesn’t have to try to be their child; he already is because they have named him their child. He doesn’t decide that he would like parents, and then go through the legal proceedings to adopt them.
We become a child of God purely by the grace of God! He, in His great love, chose to adopt us! Think on this! Who becomes our Brother in this adoption? What is our inheritance as adopted children of God? With whom do we share this inheritance?
Wow. “From what country” is this kind of love!? And how will it affect the way we live? If we aren’t humbled and amazed at God’s extravagant love, we haven’t come to a true understanding of the gospel yet.
Write this verse out on a post-it note, 3 x 5 card, or bookmark and keep it someplace where you will see it over and over. Read it. Pray it. Memorize it. Believe it. It will make a difference in how you live.
For your children:
Read 1 John 3:1 together. Review what you learned yesterday. Then ask the children to tell you what gift God gave us according to this verse. What did He choose to call us?
Take some time to discuss the concept of adoption. If you know a family who has adopted children, use them as a real-life example. (Better yet, invite them over for lunch or dinner if you can. Or connect with Skype or FaceTime to get their story firsthand!)
Explain how a child is adopted. Who initiates the process? What makes the adopted child a member of his new family? What becomes his when he is adopted? Does his name change in any way after he is adopted?
Then explain how God adopts us. Read Galatians 4:4-5 in a translation they can understand. (I don’t usually use the New Living Translation for study, but its translation of this passage would be easy for children to understand. You can find it at Blueletterbible.org by searching on the reference, and then clicking “Bibles” in the “Tools” drop-down menu to the left of the verses.)
Explain how God chooses to adopt us, just like parents choose to adopt children. It is a gift — a gift of love that the Father has bestowed on us. He has chosen to call us His children, and that is what we are when we trust in His Son!
If we become God’s children, Who becomes our Brother? And how are we related to all the rest of God’s children? Then how should we treat each other? More on that in future lessons!