"The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil." (John 7:7)
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)
This lesson is the third in the series on "Christians and the World" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2). This lesson explains why the world hates Jesus and his disciples. This lesson also explains the scriptural basis for joy when Jesus' disciples (that is, we who believe in him) encounter the world's hatred.
Consider. Have you experienced the world's hatred because you are Christ's disciple? Do you see the world's opposition to yourself or to Christians in general as a cause for joy?
Definitions. Let's revisit the definition of "the world" from the first lesson in this series, "Biblical Definition of the World" (Ref. 1). The Greek word for "the world" in the New Testament is kosmos. In the New Testament, and particularly in the Gospel of John, kosmos is used in five ways:
The main scriptures for today's lesson, John 7:7 and John 15:18-19, refer to the fourth definition above for "the world." In these verses in the Gospel of John, "the world" refers to "people who are hostile to Christ and to Christ's followers." Pulpit Commentary provides a more formal sense of "the world" in John's gospel, "unregenerate humanity, humanity without grace, apart from God" (Ref. 3).
Next, let's look at the definition of the Greek word for hate. The Greek word for hate used in John 7:7 and John 15:18-19 is miseó (pronounced mis-eh'-o) (Ref. 4). Miseó means "to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; hence, to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another" (HELPS Word-studies - Ref. 4). Note that according to this definition, hate involves making a choice. We see the same Greek word used for hate throughout the New Testament, for example, Matthew 5:43-44, Mark 13:13, Luke 16:13, John 3:19-20, Romans 7:15, 1 John 2:11, and Revelation 2:6.
Yes, the world hates Jesus. When Jesus spoke to his brothers he said, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify [bear witness, give evidence] of it, that its deeds [works] are evil" (John 7:3-5, John 7:7, Ref. 5, Ref. 6, brackets added). Examples of evil deeds that Jesus pointed out to his adversaries include unbelief (John 8:23-24) and hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13-15, 23). Jesus also told his adversaries that their father was the devil (John 8:44). That is why his opposers hated Jesus. American theologian Albert Barnes wrote, "This was the main cause of the opposition which was made to him. He proclaimed that men were depraved, and the result was that they hated him" (Ref. 7, Ref. 8).
When Jesus spoke to his brothers in John 7:5 they did not believe in him. They were of the world. The world does not hate its own. However, there is good news. Redemption is possible through Christ (John 3:16). James, one of Jesus' brothers, later became a believer in Jesus and a pillar of the early church (Galatians 2:9, Acts 15:13). (Jesus' brothers actually were his half-brothers since Mary was their mother - refer to Matthew 13:55.)
Yes, the world hates Jesus' disciples. During the evening before his death, Jesus spoke many comforting words to his disciples (John chapters 14, 15, and 16). Jesus was preparing them for his departure and for the hatred and persecution they would face. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).
In John 15:19, Jesus gave two reasons why the world hates his disciples:
Jesus gives his disciples (including we who believe in him and follow him) joy despite the world's hatred.
Apply. Pray for yourself and those Christians in the world who are facing the world's hatred, opposition, and persecution. Pray for yourself and those Christians to remain joyful and to have God's peace in the face of the world's hatred. "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (Jesus, John 16:33).
2. Ref. 2 begins on the next line
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:16-17)
This lesson is the second in the series on "Christians and the World." This lesson focuses on God's offer of salvation and eternal life to the world through Christ.
Consider. Have you heard of God's offer of salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ? Have you accepted God's offer?
What is God's offer? God offers the world salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus. John 3:16-17 tells us, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."
To whom does God make the offer? God offers salvation and eternal life to all the people of the world. There are no exclusions. There is no "asterisk." There is no asterisk that says you are excluded from God's offer because you are * (fill in the asterisk). The Apostle Paul wrote that God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God's offer is available to you.
Even though God has made salvation and eternal life available to the world, not all people will be saved. Some people hear God's offer and reject it. Some people have not heard the gospel message; however, they reject what God has revealed to them already through the creation. "That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20). God has promised that all who seek him will find him (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Why does God make the offer of salvation and eternal life? Because God loves the world. God loves all the inhabitants of the world including people who do not know and love Christ and people who are hostile to Christ (John 3:16, Ref. 2).
God sent his Son Jesus because of God's divine love for the world. Even though mankind has sinned against God, disobeyed God, and turned away from God, God still has loved us. The Apostle Paul wrote, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). John, Jesus' disciple, wrote, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). The word, propitiation, means atoning sacrifice (Ref. 3).
Why is God's offer of salvation and eternal life necessary? Because through Adam, sin has come into the world and infects all people. Romans 5:12 tells us, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Without the treatment of Christ, the infectious disease of sin is fatal. That is why we need a Savior.
What is the salvation that God offers? John 3:17 tells us, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." The Greek word for saved in John 3:17 is sózó. Sózó means deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety) (Ref. 4). Ref. 5 defines salvation as "The deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus."
What is the eternal life that God offers? Eternal life is a free gift of God to those who believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). Eternal life begins when we put our faith in Jesus. As believers in Christ, eternal life continues with God after our physical death (John 11:25-26). Eternal life is the quality of life that results when we know Jesus Christ by experience, on a first-hand basis (John 17:3). For further information about eternal life, refer to "What is Eternal Life?" (Ref. 6)
What is the role of Jesus Christ in God's offer? God sent His Son Jesus to give his life sacrificially to pay the penalty for our sin. "And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). By paying the penalty for our sin with his life blood, Jesus has redeemed those who believe in (trust in and have faith in) him. The Apostle Peter wrote, "You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
God's offer of salvation and eternal life is conditional. Even though God unconditionally loves the world, there is one condition that God stipulates for mankind to accept his offer of salvation and eternal life - believing in (trusting in, having faith in) his Son Jesus. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, John 3:1-2).
Is there a penalty for rejecting God's offer? Yes. The Bible tells us, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:17-18). Jesus also stated, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
Why is God's offer the most important offer you will ever receive? Unlike what the world offers, God's offer of salvation and eternal life results in eternal life-giving benefits when you accept God's offer by believing in Jesus.
Apply. God offers you salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17). Have you already accepted the most important offer that you will ever receive? If yes, then praise God. If not, will you accept God's offer by thanking Jesus for forgiving your sins and then fully trusting in him by faith today?
1. Ref.1 begins on the next line
"He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (John 1:10)
This lesson is the first in the series on "Christians and the World." This lesson explains the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words for "the world" in the Old and New Testaments.
Consider. What does the expression, "the world," mean to you? Do you think of just the physical earth which God created? Or, do you think about the people of the world? Does the world described in the Bible include people who know Christ as well as those who do not know Christ?
"The World" - Old Testament Definition. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used most often for "the world" is tebel (pronounced as tay-bale'). "The world" (tebel) is the earth as moist and therefore inhabited (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Ref. 1). So, the word for "the world" in the Old Testament refers to the earth and by implication to the inhabitants of the earth (Ref. 1). The first mention of "the world" (tebel) in the Old Testament occurs in 1 Samuel 2:8. Tebel occurs 36 times in the Old Testament (Ref. 1).
The Old Testament describes "the world" in these four main ways:
"The World" - New Testament Definition. In the New Testament, the Greek word used most often for "the world" is kosmos. Kosmos means an "ordered system" (like the universe, creation) (Ref. 7). Kosmos also refers to the inhabitants of the world and to worldly affairs. Kosmos occurs 186 times in the New Testament (Ref. 7). "The world" (kosmos) occurs more often in the Gospel of John than in any other New Testament book (more than 70 occurrences in John).
The New Testament writers use "the world" (kosmos) in three main ways:
The Hebrew and Greek words for "the world" in both the Old and New Testaments include not only the physical world which God created but also the people of the world. Even though God loves all the people of the world, some people know and love Christ, and others do not know Christ. Some people are hostile to Christ and to those who follow Christ. I plan to discuss God's love for the world in the next lesson in this series.
Apply. John, Jesus' disciple, wrote about Jesus, "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him" (John 1:10). If you do not know Jesus Christ, put your faith and trust in him. Ask him to forgive your sins, and he will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Ask Jesus to come into your life. You and he will begin a new relationship and you will know him better each day. If you already do know Jesus, ask him to show you what steps you can take to help other people know him as their Savior and Lord.
"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.' " (John 6:35)
"Christ shows that he is the true Bread; he is to the soul what bread is to the body." -- Matthew Henry (Ref. 1)
This lesson is the second in a series on the "I AM" statements of Christ. This lesson discusses Jesus' statement, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35).
Consider. Have you come to Jesus, the Source of sustenance and strength for your spiritual life?
God-provided bread from heaven. Jesus' Jewish listeners knew that God had provided bread from heaven (also called "manna") to the Israelites. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction' " (Exodus 16:4). The manna that God provided was essential for the Israelite's survival (Exodus 16:35). Note, however, at that time God did not provide the manna universally to all people. Exodus tells us that God provided the manna only for the Israelites, and the manna was temporary (Exodus 16:35). The people who ate the manna eventually died (John 6:49).
"I am the bread of life." In contrast with the manna that God provided temporarily to the Israelites, Jesus states emphatically, "I am the bread of life."
"He who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." Before the manna could benefit the Israelites, they had to eat it. In the same way, for Christ to provide us spiritual sustenance and eternal life, we must come to him and believe in him. When we come to Christ and believe in Christ, he alone satisfies the hunger and thirst of our souls (Matthew 5:6, John 7:37).
The Samaritan woman at the well responded to Jesus. She said, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw" (John 4:15). The multitude responded to Jesus when he described the bread of heaven (John 6:33). They said, "Lord, always give us this bread" (John 6:34).
Apply. What is your response to Jesus? Will you come to him and believe in him? Come to him, believe in him, and you will receive the bread of life that your soul craves.
"Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.' " (John 8:12)
"I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness." (John 12:46)
"Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God. One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more." -- Matthew Henry (1662-1714) (Ref. 1, Ref. 2)
This lesson is the first in a series on the "I AM" statements of Christ. This lesson discusses Jesus' statement, "I am the Light of the world" (John 8:12).
Consider. What does it mean to you that Jesus is the Light of the world? Do you have the Light of life?
God is Light. The teaching that God is Light begins in the Old Testament and continues through the New Testament. David wrote, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1). The prophet Micah said, "Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me" (Micah 7:8). The disciple John, wrote, "God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5).
God's Light purposely illumines mankind. Jesus' Jewish listeners would recall Exodus 13:21 - "The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night." The psalmist wrote, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). The author of 2 Samuel 22:29 tells us "For You are my lamp, O Lord; And the Lord illumines my darkness."
"I am the Light of the world." Jesus, the Eternal One, is the Light of the world because:
"He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness." Let's discuss this phrase in three parts:
a) "He who follows Me" - The Greek word for follow is akoloutheó, which means to join as a disciple (Ref. 5). In John 8:12, Jesus "likens himself to a torch which the disciple follows" (Ref. 5). Jesus frequently spoke about what it means to follow him as a disciple (for example, Luke 14:27).
b) "Will not walk" - The Greek word for walk is peripateó. Peripateó means (in the ethical sense) how I conduct my life (Ref. 6).
c) "In the darkness" - The Greek word for darkness is scotia (Ref. 7). Scotia has a dual meaning. In the literal sense, scotia (darkness) is the absence of daylight (John 6:17). In the figurative sense, scotia (darkness) is the state we are in before we believe in Christ, that is, a state of ignorance, guilt, and sin (Ref. 8).
Putting these three parts together - "He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness" means He who follows Me [Jesus] as a disciple will no longer conduct his life in a state of ignorance, guilt, and sin.
Note that Jesus also said, "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness" (John 12:46, italics added). Being in darkness is our (mankind's) default condition. Jesus has come so that when we believe in him, God the Father transfers us from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of the Son of God (Colossians 1:13).
"But will have the Light of life." Just as sight is a function of physical life, Christ is the Light for our spiritual life. John says, referring to Christ, "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men" (John 1:4). When we believe in Jesus Christ, the divine light of Christ continually shines in us, guiding us to life everlasting (Ref. 9).
Apply. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world? If not, then pray and put your trust in him today.
Are you a disciple of Christ? Are you following him?
Do you have the Light of life?
(Matthew Poole's Commentary on John 12:46)
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