1 John 2:29 – 3:10
Children of God
29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him.
1See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God. 10The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters
John’s readers know that Jesus is righteous, and thus they should know that those who do right are born of him – But they are called Children of God, out of God’s abundant love, given them through and in Christ. If the world does not recognize that, it is because it did not recognize Jesus. Calling them “Beloved” (the Greek is agapatoi) the author says that those to whom he writes are God’s children now – and then he talks about the life with Christ after his coming – what “we will be has not yet been revealed” but this much he knows, when Christ returns they will be like him, and will see him as he is. This is a passage included in the liturgy for a funeral – it is a word of comfort.
In the meanwhile, those who commit sins become outlaws, yet Jesus was revealed to take away our sin. Notice that the author continues to move back and forth in this dichotomy – those in Christ are saved from sin, but all of us have sinned. Now he adds to the contrast – those who continue to sin are children of the devil, rather than children of God, who is righteous. Those who have been born of God, he now says, cannot sin, because of the Spirit within them. And they can tell who is born of God and who is born of the devil by the way the live. The Spirit of God enables his children to love – and in the second half of this chapter we will see that the author has one definition of doing right – it is loving God and loving one another.