1 John 3:2 MEANING

1 John 3:2
Verse 2. - Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest (or, it never yet was manifested) what we shall be. The emphatic νῦν is in opposition to οὔπω: our present state is known; our future remains still unrevealed. Again (1 John 2:27, 29), we are in doubt about the construction. What is the nominative to "shall be manifested" φανερωθῇ, "he" or "it"? The context is strongly in favour of "it," i.e., "if it shall be manifested what we shall be;" 1 John 2:28 seems to favour "he," i.e., "if Christ shall be manifested." The context must prevail. "Our future state is not yet made manifest. We know that on its manifestation we shall find ourselves like God." The two things will be contemporaneous. The 'Speaker's Commentary' quotes the following anecdote: "When some heathen converts to Christianity were translating a Catechism into their own language, they came upon 1 John 3:2. They stopped. 'No; it is too much,' they said; 'let us write that we shall be permitted to kiss his feet.'" Beware of inverting the meaning of the last clause, ὅτι, ὀψόμεθα κ.τ.λ.. It does not mean that the seeing God is a proof or sign of our being like him (Matthew 5:8), but the cause of our being like him: "We shall be like him, because we shall see him." God is light (1 John 1:5), and light is seen. In this life νῦν we cannot see the light of the Divine nature "as it is," but only as it is reflected; and the reflected light cannot transmit to us the nature of the Divine original, though it prepares us to receive it. Hereafter the sight, "face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12), of the Light itself will illuminate us through end through, and we shall become like it. Rothe takes "like him" to mean like Christ (Romans 8:16, 17, 29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; comp. John 17:24; Colossians 3:18); comp. Revelation 22:4; Revelation 1:7.

3:1,2 Little does the world know of the happiness of the real followers of Christ. Little does the world think that these poor, humble, despised ones, are favourites of God, and will dwell in heaven. Let the followers of Christ be content with hard fare here, since they are in a land of strangers, where their Lord was so badly treated before them. The sons of God must walk by faith, and live by hope. They may well wait in faith, hope, and earnest desire, for the revelation of the Lord Jesus. The sons of God will be known, and be made manifest by likeness to their Head. They shall be transformed into the same image, by their view of him.Beloved, now are we the sons of God,.... By adoption, secretly in God's predestination, and in the covenant of grace; and openly in regeneration, through faith in Christ, and by the testimony of the Spirit:

and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; though they are sons, they do not appear now as such, as they will do, when they shall be introduced into their Father's house, and into the many mansions there prepared for them; when Christ shall publicly own them as the children given unto him, and when they shall be put into the possession of the inheritance they are heirs of; besides, they will appear then not only to be kings' sons, but kings themselves, as they now are; they will then inherit the kingdom prepared for them, and will sit down on a throne of glory, and have a crown of righteousness, life, and glory, put upon them; and will appear not only perfectly justified, their sins being not to be found; and the sentence of justification afresh pronounced, and they placed out of the reach of all condemnation; but they will be perfectly holy and free from all sin, and perfectly knowing and glorious; they have a right to glory now, and glory is preparing for them, and they for that: and they are now representatively glorified in Christ, but then they will be personally glorified: now, though all this shall certainly be, yet it does not now manifestly appear; it appears to God, who calls things that are not as though they were and to Christ, whose delights were with the sons men, these children of God, before the world was, and saw them in all the glory they were to be brought to; but not even to angels, until they are owned and confessed before them; much less to the world, who do not know what they are now, and still less what they will be, seeing them now in poverty, meanness, under many reproaches, afflictions, and persecutions; and even this does not appear to the saints themselves, whose life is a hidden life; and that by reason of darkness, desertion, and diffidence, for want of more knowledge, and from the nature of the happiness itself, which is at present unseen:

but we know that when he shall appear; that is, Jesus Christ, who is now in heaven, and out of sight, but will appear a second time: the time when is not known, but the thing itself is certain:

we shall be like him; in body, fashioned like to his glorious body, in immortality and incorruption, in power, in glory, and spirituality, in a freedom from all imperfections, sorrows, afflictions, and death; and in soul, which likeness will lie in perfect knowledge of divine things, and in complete holiness;

for we shall see him as he is; in his human nature, with the eyes of the body, and in his glorious person, with the eyes of the understanding; not by faith, as now, but by sight; not through ordinances, as in the present state, but through those beams of light and glory darting from him, with which the saints will be irradiated; and this sight, as it is now exceeding desirable, will be unspeakably glorious, delightful, and ravishing, soul satisfying, free from all darkness and error, and interruption; will assimilate and transform into his image and likeness, and be for ever. Philo the Jew observes (k), that Israel may be interpreted one that sees God; but adds, , "not what God is", for this is impossible: it is indeed impossible to see him essentially as he is, or so as to comprehend his nature, being, and perfections; but then the saints in heaven will see God and Christ as they are, and as much as they are to be seen by creatures; God will be seen as he is in Christ; and Christ will be seen as he is in himself, both in his divine and human natures, as much as can be, or can be desired to be seen and known of him.

(k) De Praemiis. & Paenis, p. 917.

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