1 John 3:1-6
Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not…
I. LOOK AT THE RESULT OR PURPOSE OF THIS LOVE, AND WE SHALL BE THE BETTER PREPARED TO UNDERSTAND ITS "MANNER." What "manner" of love is this, in transforming those who were once so unlike Him? Love prompted Him to adopt them; and after they are adopted He has peculiar delight in them. What "manner" of love is this, that the fallen should at length have a place in His bosom which the unfallen can never occupy! Still more, a glorious destiny awaits them. When the years of minority are expired the children are taken home to the household on high, where the whole family form one unbroken and vast assemblage. The extraordinary love of the Father is also seen in the entire circuit of discipline which has been arranged for His children. And will not such a child be content in any circumstances? What is good for him his Father will give him. As much of temporal blessing will he get as he can improve.
II. THE SINGULARITY OF THE DIVINE AFFECTION.
1. And first, the love that leads a man to call a child his own, which is not his by natural descent, has not such a "manner" about it. For when among men a child is adopted, it is usually because the adopter thinks it worthy of his regard; because there is something in its features or character that pleases him. But no such motive could prompt the Divine affection, for we are utterly lost and loathsome before Him.
2. Again, if one adopts a child, it is commonly because himself is childless, or his hearth may have been desolated by war or disease. He longs to have some object near him on which to expend his attachment. But Jehovah had myriads of a flourishing progeny — uncounted hosts of bright intelligences, who have never disobeyed Him. But the present condition of the sons of God is veiled and incomplete. "Therefore," the apostle adds, "the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." The mission of the Son of God was spiritual, was too ethereal for the coarse vision of the world to detect, or its sordid heart to admire. Its great ones, and not its good ones, divide among themselves the world's homage. Not that the world is able to ignore Christianity. But it admires it not for itself but for its splendid results — for the beneficial effects, in the form of patriotism and philanthropy, which it has produced. It is not Wilberforce the saint, but Wilberforce the queller of the slave trade, that men admire. The dignity and prospects of the sons of God are not of a secular and visible nature. "The world knoweth them not." But should this ignorance on the part of the world dispirit you? By no means. Your case is not solitary. It did not recognise the Son of God. "Now are we the sons of God." Despite of this non-recognition on the part of the world, we are the sons of God. The reality of our adoption is not modified by the world's oblivion of it. It may be undiscovered by others, but our own experience gives ourselves the full assurance of it. But noble as is our present condition, our ultimate dignity surpasses conception. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." Even though we now revel in the Divine favour, yet such transcendent felicity is scarcely a premiss to reason from as to the glory of our ultimate heritage. There is so much about us that clogs and confines us — so deep is the shadow that earth throws over the children of God that any inference as to coming freedom and glory is all but an impossibility. Such being the present eclipse of our sonship, there is the less wonder that "the world knoweth us not." Their aim is to be as like Him as they can be here, in the hope that they shall be perfectly like Him hereafter.
(John Eadie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.