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The Epistles of John (Part 36): 1 John 4:9

by Stephen Hebert on Wednesday - 1 July 2009

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

This is the 36th part in an ongoing series on the epistles of John.

English Standard Version Nestle-Aland 27
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. ἐν τούτῳ ἐφανερώθη ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν, ὅτι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἀπέσταλκεν ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα ζήσωμεν δι᾿ αὐτοῦ.

Recall that previously we had spoken of God as love. Now the crazy idea begins to germinate:

The Love of God was made manifest…

What does this word, “manifest,” mean? Let’s allow the Oxford American Dictionary to help us out a bit:

manifest |ˈmanəˌfest|
adjective
clear or obvious to the eye or mind.

The verse goes on to tell us that this manifestation of the Love of God is otherwise known as God’s only son. I feel that the word “only” is inadequate to translate the greek μονογενής. Literally, the author is telling us that Jesus is the only one who is of the same kind or same class as God.

So, God manifests his love in the form of a man named Jesus — his unique son. Then, he sends this manifestation into the world so that we may live through him.

Question #1: What does it mean that he was sent into the world?

Jesus was a fully divine being. He and God are the same stuff. Yet, he humbled himself, made himself low, made himself into dust below the old man’s feet. Insanity! To think that the all-powerful God of the universe would allow his only son to assume such a lowly form is unthinkable! A Brahman has become untouchable! A King has been made a pauper…

Question #2: What does it mean to live through him?

God did this unthinkable act, lowered his only son from the status of divine to slime, for us. When Jesus conquered death on the cross, he conquered it for us; he paid the price that our Sin, our wickedness, deserved. In so doing, he freed us from death — therefore, we might live.

This is one meaning of “live through him.” There is another…

Every day we have the opportunity to choose God or choose ourselves. Every time we choose ourselves, a little piece of us is burnt on the altar of Me. As we continue to burn little pieces of ourselves, our true identity diminishes.

Jesus offers an end to this cycle. In him and through him we can remove ourselves from this fate. By choosing God, we stop sacrificing ourselves on the altar of Me in favor of the altar of He. The difference is that sacrifice to God is rewarded. The reward is a better understanding of who we are — the knowledge that we are created in his image. The reward is our true identity.

The other reward is authentic life. One of the travesties of Christian life, in my opinion, is the desire to get to heaven. I am sure that millions of people throughout the centuries have professed a faith in Jesus in order to hedge their bets and make sure that they did not receive eternal punishment in Hell. Is that any way to live?

Jesus offers us the opportunity to live fully in him here and now. He is offering us the chance to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth — that’s his mission! When we are working with God to accomplish his will, we are truly living. This is the sort of life that the manifested love of God offers to us.

Article Series - The Epistles of John

  1. The Epistles of John (Part 1): 1 John 1:1–4
  2. The Epistles of John (Part 2): 1 John 1:5
  3. The Epistles of John (Part 3): 1 John 1:6–7
  4. The Epistles of John (Part 4): 1 John 1:8–10
  5. The Epistles of John (Part 5): 1 John 2:1
  6. The Epistles of John (Part 6): 1 John 2:2
  7. The Epistles of John (Part 7): 1 John 2:3–6
  8. The Epistles of John (Part 8): 1 John 2:7–8
  9. The Epistles of John (Part 9): 1 John 2:9–11
  10. The Epistles of John (Part 10): 1 John 2:12
  11. The Epistles of John (Part 11): 1 John 2:13
  12. The Epistles of John (Part 12): 1 John 2:14
  13. The Epistles of John (Part 13): 1 John 2:15
  14. The Epistles of John (Part 14): 1 John 2:16
  15. The Epistles of John (Part 15): 1 John 2:17
  16. The Epistles of John (Part 16): 1 John 2:18
  17. The Epistles of John (Part 17): 1 John 2:19
  18. The Epistles of John (Part 18): 1 John 2:20
  19. The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21
  20. The Epistles of John (Part 20): 1 John 2:22
  21. The Epistles of John (Part 21): 1 John 2:23–25
  22. The Epistles of John (Part 22): 1 John 2:26–27
  23. The Epistles of John (Part 23): 1 John 2:28
  24. The Epistles of John (Part 24): 1 John 2:29
  25. The Epistles of John (Part 25): 1 John 3:1–3
  26. The Epistles of John (Part 26): 1 John 3:4–6
  27. The Epistles of John (Part 27): 1 John 3:7–10
  28. The Epistles of John (Part 28): 1 John 3:11–12
  29. The Epistles of John (Part 29): 1 John 3:13
  30. The Epistles of John (Part 30): 1 John 3:14-18
  31. The Epistles of John (Part 31): 1 John 3:19–22
  32. The Epistles of John (Part 32): 1 John 3:23–24
  33. The Epistles of John (Part 33): 1 John 4:1–3
  34. The Epistles of John (Part 34): 1 John 4:4–6
  35. The Epistles of John (Part 35): 1 John 4:7-8
  36. The Epistles of John (Part 36): 1 John 4:9
  37. The Epistles of John (Part 37): 1 John 4:10
  38. The Epistles of John (Part 38): 1 John 4:11-12
  39. The Epistles of John (Part 39): 1 John 4:13–14
  40. The Epistles of John (Part 40): 1 John 4:15
  41. The Epistles of John (Part 41): 1 John 4:16–17
  42. The Epistles of John (Part 42): 1 John 4:18–19
  43. The Epistles of John (Part 43): 1 John 4:20–21
  44. The Epistles of John (Part 44): 1 John 5:1
  45. The Epistles of John (Part 45): 1 John 5:2-3

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