Notes on 1 John 3:18-24
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Again referring to the importance of practical love, not simply expressing wishes, but meeting needs. Note how John separates loving in “word” and in “tongue”; the distinction is not specified.
He also encourages love to be in deed, actually doing something; and in truth, as opposed to false love or perhaps, love with strings attached.
Could love requiring something in return be true love?
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, (then) have we confidence toward God.
John now speaks of assurance in our hearts. He says that if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things, but if our heart does NOT condemn us, we have confidence towards God. This does not speak of salvation—all people were condemned already (John 3:18)—but the context of showing love to our brethren. There is a difference between willing to show assistance, love, etc., up to the limits of one’s resources; and being unwilling to become involved.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
In this verse, John gives a reason for answered prayer: the requester is keeping God’s commandments and is doing thing that are pleasing in God’s sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
John repeats the emphasis about loving God and one another. This is an important lesson even today!
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
This speaks of the believer dwelling in the Lord and vice versa. John may be paraphrasing 2 Corinthians 1:22, where Paul spoke of the Holy Spirit being the “earnest”. One dictionary definition is “anything that gives pledge, promise, or indication of what is to follow (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/earnest#)” much like “earnest money”.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)