(1) 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. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
People spend their lives chasing after a name that will bring them a measure of honor or notoriety. They want to be associated with a “name” university, a “name” team, a “name” company; wear clothing with a certain “name” label; drive a “name” automobile; or marry into a certain family “name.” Yet, the greatest name that anyone could possibly bear has come to us unbidden. Thus, John is exhorting his readers to remember their privileges in bearing that awesome name. Chrysostom, a fourth-century Catholic archbishop, counseled parents to give children scriptural names, urging them to tell the children stories about the person who bore that name so that, as they matured, they would have something to live up to.
Is there a paradox in what John writes? We know that in order to see God, we need to be like Him. Carnally, we think that to be like Him, we need to see Him. God says that seeing Him is not necessary, as He has chosen to conduct His purposes for man through faith in His Word. He has revealed what He is by His names and by the life of Jesus Christ. By faith, we can emulate Him through His Spirit. If we saw Him in the flesh, our curiosity would likely be satisfied, or we would be so overwhelmed by His perfection that we would give up. That is how human nature works. God’s way of faith is better.
Malachi 3:16, provides wise counsel befitting the times in which we live: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.” The people described here are pictured as meditating for the purpose of praising, imitating, and passing on their thoughts to each other. They looked for God’s good hand in every area of their lives.
David exclaims in Psalm 34: 1-3: “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.