In verse 16, John teaches that we can know love by observing the way Jesus lived His life. He sacrificed His life for us by laying it down each day, as well as in death, setting us an example to follow in our relations with the brethren. In verse 17, he provides a practical illustration of a way we can lay down our life in love. Then, in verse 18, he encourages us not merely to agree with truth but to take action to meet a brother's need.
Verse 19 begins to show the effect of devoted sacrifice to this way of life. The persuasive power of knowing we are doing the right things inspires assurance, confidence, and satisfaction; we feel a positive sense that we are right with God. He then explains that, when these are not produced—but instead we feel guilt and condemnation because we know we are not doing well, and our concern for not being perfect overwhelms us—we need to go to God for forgiveness because He will forgive.
Verse 21 is a subtle encouragement to repent, to turn from our self-centeredness so we can be at peace with God and within ourselves. Verse 22 discloses the positive effect of laying down our lives in sacrifice for our brethren by devotedly keeping the commandments: answered prayers. Living by faith and displaying it through a life of sacrificial love is the theme of verse 23, and finally, in verse 24, he reveals another positive effect: to know absolutely that He lives in us and we in Him. Our lives revolve around faith in this knowledge.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Four): The Peace Offering
When name is used in this way, it does not mean "the word by which a person is called," but rather "the whole nature or character of the person" as far as we know it or understand it. This is why the proverb says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1; see Ecclesiastes 7:1).
"Our help is in the name of the LORD" (Psalm 124:8). David, the psalmist here, does not mean that our help lies in the fact that God is called Yahweh. This name contains nothing magic in it at all. David means that our help is in His love, in His mercy, in His power, in His promises. It is in the things that have been revealed to us as parts of His nature, of His attributes, and of His character—and whether or not we have faith in them.
So then, to "believe in the name of Jesus Christ" means to believe in the nature and the character of Jesus Christ. It means to believe that He is the Son of God and that He stands in relation to the Father in a way that no other person in the universe ever has or ever will. It means that He can perfectly reveal the Father to us. It means that we believe He is the Savior, the High Priest, the Mediator and Intercessor, and our soon-coming King. It means that we believe that through Him we have entrance into God's presence—not just entrance to Him, but actually, fellowship with Him.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Fellowship
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 John 3:23: