John 1:12
But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God--
Sermon for Christmas DaySusannah Winkworth John 1:12
Receiving Christ, and the Result of itD. Young John 1:10-12
Christ Rejected and AcceptedJ.R. Thomson John 1:10-13
The Rejected and Received SaviourB. Thomas John 1:11, 12
A New Year's GuestC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:12-14
Adoption and JustificationDr. Guyse.John 1:12-14
Believing is Receiving ChristJ. H. Wilson.John 1:12-14
Christ Must be ReceivedH. W. Beecher.John 1:12-14
Comfort for the DyingR. Besser, D. D.John 1:12-14
Faith and its Attendant PrivilegesC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:12-14
Faith is ReceivingC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:12-14
Man's Part in the AdventBishop Huntington.John 1:12-14
Not of BloodTholuck.John 1:12-14
Not of the Will of ManJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 1:12-14
Privileges of AdoptionJohn 1:12-14
Receivers and SonsJohn 1:12-14
Receiving Christ and Becoming SonsS. Martin.John 1:12-14
Receiving the LightJ. Edmond, D. D.John 1:12-14
Reception of Christ Our Introduction into SonshipH. Bonar, D. D.John 1:12-14
Sonship More than AdoptionJ. Calross, D. D.John 1:12-14
St. John's First View of Christ the Key to His GospelW. G. Blaikie, D. D.John 1:12-14
That Act by Which We Do Effectually Apply Christ to Our Own SoulsJohn 1:12-14
The Being Born of Blood and of God ConsideredLange.John 1:12-14
The Connection Between Receiving Christ and Becoming SonsC. C. Tittman, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Grace of Christ to Those Who Received HimA. Beith, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Higher GenerationH. W. Watkins, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Honour of AdoptionC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:12-14
The NewP. Schaff, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Simultaneity of Faith and RegenerationBishop Ryle.John 1:12-14
The Spirituality of ReligionJ. Parker, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Three Negations IllustratedG. Cornish.John 1:12-14
The Treasure UnreceivedSunday School ChronicleJohn 1:12-14
Three Great NegationsJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 1:12-14

These words bring under our notice a most interesting subject - the great subject of the first fifteen verses of this chapter, viz. the coming of the Son of God, the manifestation of the Eternal Word in the flesh. We have here one of the peculiar aspects of his coming in order to carry out the great scheme of human redemption. We have Jesus here -


1. This is a special coming. He was in the world before and after his Incarnation. But here we have a special description of his manifestation. "He came." He had to do with the Jewish nation for ages, but no previous movement of his could be accurately described in this language. He came now physically, personally, and visibly.

2. This is a special coming to his own. His own land - the land of Palestine; his own people - the Jewish nation. He came to the world at large, but came through a particular locality. He came to humanity generally, but came through a particular nation. This was a necessity, and according to pre-arrangement. The Jewish nation were his own people:

(1) By a Divine and sovereign choice. They were chosen out of the nations of the earth to be the recipients of God's special revelations of his will, the objects of his special care and protection, and the special medium of his great redemptive thoughts and purposes. There was a mutual engagement.

(2) By a special covenant. God entered into a covenant with them by which they were his people, to obey and serve him; and he was their God, to bless and save them.

(3) By special promises. The central one of which was the promise of the Messiah and the blessings of his reign. This promise permeated every fibre of their constitution, and became the soul of their national and religious life.

(4) By a special training. They were divinely disciplined for ages for his advent. They were taught to expect him, and trained to receive him, and, under this training, their expectation grew into a passion. The Messianic idea was fostered among them by a long and careful training, by promises, by the occasional appearance of "the Angel of Jehovah," who was doubtless no other than the Eternal Word himself. They were trained by special privileges, revelations, and protection; by an economy of ceremonial rites and sacrifices, which all pointed to the Messiah as coming. In the light of these facts he was their own Messiah. and they were his own people; and it was necessary, as welt as natural, that he should come to his own. There was a special attraction and affinity felt on his part, and there ought to be on theirs. Had he appeared in any other land than that of Israel, or identified himself with any other nation than the Jewish, he would not have come according to the volume of the book written of him. But there were the most cogent reasons, the fittest propriety, and the most absolute necessity that he should come to his own, and he came.

3. This was a special coming to all his own. Not to some, but to all. Not to a favoured class, but to all classes - rich and poor, learned and unlearned. The unlearned and poor being the large majority of the nation as well as the world, he identified himself rather with them; for he could reach the higher classes better front below, than the lower classes from above. He taught all without distinction, offered the blessings of his coming to all without the least partiality, and invited all to his kingdom by the same road, viz. repentance and faith.

II. AS REJECTED BY THE MAJORITY. "And his own received him not." A few received him; but they were exceptions, and they received him individually, not nationally; as sinners and aliens, and not as his own. So complete was the rejection that it is a sad truth, "his own received him not." Their rejection of him:

1. Was a sad dereliction of duty. A duty they owed to their God and Defender; a duty most sacred, important, and obligatory. A duty for the performance of which they had been chiefly chosen, specially blessed, preserved, and prepared for ages; but when the time came, they sadly failed to perform it. "His own received him not."

2. Was most inexcusable. It is true that they knew him not to be the Son of God, the promised Messiah. This is stated by the apostle. But this is not a legitimate excuse; they ought to know him. They had the most ample advantages; they were familiar with his portraits as drawn by the prophets, and he exactly corresponded. His holy character, his mighty deeds, and his Divine kindness were well known, and even confessed by them. They had the mightiest proofs of his Messiahship and Divinity. So that they had no excuse for their ignorance, and consequently no excuse for their rejection.

3. Was cruelly ungrateful. Ingratitude is too mild a term to describe their conduct. It was cruel. Think who he was - the Son of God, the Prince of Life, their rightful King, their promised and long expected Messiah, come to them all the way from heaven, not on a message of vengeance as might be expected, but on a message of peace and universal good will, to fulfil his gracious engagement and carry out the Divine purposes of redeeming grace. Leaving out the graver charge of his crucifixion, his rejection was cruelly ungrateful and ungratefully cruel. "His own received him not."

4. Was most fatal to them. They rejected their best and only Friend and Deliverer, who had most benevolently come to warn and save them - come for the last time, and their reception of him was the only thing that could deliver them socially and spiritually; but "his own received him not." This proved fatal to them. There was nothing left but national dissolution and ruin, and that was soon the case; and they are the victims of their own conduct to this day. To reject Jesus is ultimately fatal to nations as well as to individuals.

5. Was most discouraging to him. To be rejected, and to be rejected by his own - by those who it might be expected would receive him with untold enthusiasm. Better be rejected by strangers and spurned by professed foes, - this would he expected; but to he rejected by his own is apparently more than he can bear. And not satisfied with leaving him an outcast in his own world, they banish him hence by a cruel death. What will he do? Will he be disheartened, leave with disgust, and hurl on the world the thunderbolts of vengeance? No; but stands his ground, and tries his fortune among strangers, according to ancient prophecy, "He shall not fail, nor be discouraged," etc.

III. AS RECEIVED BY SOME. "But as many as received him," etc. He was received by a minority - a small but noble minority. With regard to the few who received him we see:

1. The independency and courage of their conduct. They received him, though rejected by the majority, which included the most educated and influential. It is one thing to swim with the tide, but another to swim against it. It is easy to go with the popular current, but difficult to go against it. This requires a great independency of action and decision of character. Those who received Jesus at this time did this - they received "the Despised and Rejected of men." They accepted the Stone rejected, and rejected of the builders. This involved admirable independency of conduct and courage of conviction.

2. The reward of their conduct. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power," etc.

(1) The closest relationship to God. His children: children first, then sons; the seed first, then the ripe fruit.

(2) The highest honour that men can enjoy. Children of God.

(3) This is the gift of Christ. "To them gave he power," etc. This word means more than power; it means right as well - power first, then right. Men had neither to sonship, but Christ gave both. The fact is patent - he gave the power. The title is good - he gave the right.

(4) This is the gift of Christ consequent upon receiving him. "But as many as received him, to them," etc. And to none else. But to as many as received him he gave the power. There was not a single failure, not a single exception. They received the Son of God, and became themselves the children of God in consequence. They were not disappointed, but had reasons to be more than satisfied with their choice, and more than proud of their unexpected and Divine fortune. If Jesus were disappointed in his own, those who received him were not disappointed in Jesus - only on the best side; for "to them gave he power," etc.

3. The explanation of their conduct. How did. they receive him while the majority rejected him? How came they possessed of such a high honour - to become the children of God? The answer is, "They believed on his Name." It was by faith. We see:

(1) The discerning power of faith. Faith has a discerning power; it can see through the visible to the invisible, through the immediate present to the distant future. In this instance, faith saw through the outward the inward; through the physical it saw the Divine; through the outward humiliation and poverty it discovered a Divine presence. In "the Man of sorrows" faith saw the Son of God, and in "the Despised and Rejected of men" the Saviour of the world.

(2) The receptive power of faith. Jesus was received by faith. Faith saw, recognized, and consequently received, him as the Messiah. God speaks, faith listens; God offers, faith accepts.

(3) The regenerative and transforming power of faith. "They became the sons of God." How? By the given power of Jesus in connection with faith. Christ gave himself as a Divine Seed; faith received, appropriated, and nursed him so as to result in a Divine regeneration and birth. Faith transforms its object into its possessor; so that the believer in the Son of God becomes the son of God himself. This is a Divine process from beginning to end, in which faith - a Divine gift - plays a prominent part.

(4) Faith in Christ produced the same result in all. "As many as received him," etc. No matter as to position, education, or character.


1. The minority are often right, and the majority wrong. It was so on the plain of Dura, in Babylon, and so here.

2. The minority, generally, are the first to accept great truths; the majority reject them. Think of scientific, reforming and redemptive truths. The Jewish nation rejected the Saviour; a few received him.

3. It is better to be with the minority when right, than with the majority when wrong. They have truth and right, and will ultimately win all to their way of thinking. The few that received Jesus are fast gaining ground. The Saviour of the minority win soon be the Saviour of all.

4. We should be very thankful to the minority for receiving the Saviour. Humanly speaking, they saved the world from eternal disgrace and ruin - from sharing the fate of those who rejected him.

5. We should be infinitely more thankful to the Saviour that he did not leave the world in disgust and vengeance when rejected by his own. But inspired by infinite love, he turned his face to the world at large, stood by the minority, and the minority stood by him. The river of God's eternal purposes cannot be ultimately checked. If checked in one direction, it will take another, and the result will be more glorious. Christ comes to us every day. Do we receive him? Our obligations are infinite. - B.T.

As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.
I. These verses DESCRIBE THE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE OF ST. JOHN. In this point of view the order of time is different from the order of the statements. The several steps are these —

1. The apprehension of the glory of Jesus,

2. The receiving Him and believing on His name.

3. The effect of the power to become sons of God.This agrees with the actual experience of the evangelist.

1. He sees Jesus as pointed out by the Baptist. But where was the glory?

(1)That of "the Lamb of God."

(2)The revelation of grace and truth in him. God's infinite love, holiness, justice: His own self-sacrifice.

2. He goes home with Jesus and gave himself up to His gracious influences, believed on His name.

3. What followed we know. He became a son of God.


1. It serves to account for the subordinate place which miracles and Christ's external life generally hold in it. John's grand purpose, as marked by his own experience, was to illustrate the self-commending glory of Christ as the Word and only-begotten of the Father, that those who had never seen Him with the eye of sense might come to the blessedness of those who had not seen and yet had believed.

2. It serves to account for the prominent place which the inner life of Christ and the manifestation of His Sonship-glory occupies here. The two grand pivots on which the Gospel turns are Christ the LIGHT, and Christ the LIFE. Christ the Light, revealing the Father and all that concerns the Father; Christ the Life, communicating by the Spirit a new life to men so as to make them God's sons. Its twofold purpose is to set forth Christ as the Incarnate Word and Only Begotten, full of grace and truth; and also the reception of Christ, the believing on His name as the commencement of the new life of sonship. Thus it is that so much prominence is given to Christ's relation to the Father on the one hand, and to the fellowship of Christ with His people on the other.

3. From these considerations we see the groundlessness of the objections against the Johannian authorship of the Gospel. Given John's conversion, as here shadowed forth, and his warm, fervid nature, his life of Jesus could not well have been any other than it is.

III. THE MORE GENERAL RELATIONS OF THE SUBJECT, as setting forth the essential glory of Christ and the glory communicated to all who, by receiving Him, become sons of God.

1. What is the connection between the two? That there is a connection is seen in the difference between John and his companions and the mass of the Jews. The one perceived His glory, the other saw it not. To the one He appeared a miserable pretender, to the other the Eternal Son. Moreover they recognized in Him the Saviour that taketh away the sins of the world. They received Him, and then the standing and spirit of sonship became theirs.

2. How is it that this view of Christ's glory is followed by such effects?(1) By such means we see our emptiness, guilt, and misery.(2) But He invites us to Him, tells us of His fulness, pardon, grace, asks us to receive Him and let Him put forth His power.(3) Must we not welcome Him? The blessed change is wrought in the very act of seeking it.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

I. CHRIST WHO HAS COME INTO THE WORLD SEEKS ADMISSION TO THE HEART as a lawful and everlasting tenant. The Christ in the book, in the creed, in the church, effects but little for us. Christ in the heart becomes all our salvation and desire.


1. There is a natural sonship pertaining to all men; for we are all His offspring.

2. There is a special, redemptive, restored sonship bestowed on those who receive Christ.

3. All that pertains to this sonship is supernatural. Adam was not a son by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, but by the will of God; and a restored son is as marvellous a creation as Adam.

III. THIS SONSHIP INVOLVES A NEW BIRTH AND ELEVATION TO THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE POSITION. There is nothing higher than being admitted to sonship with God. What we want is not some new spiritual dignity, but the recognition of this exalted condition.


1. Faith in receiving. Christ comes into the believer. Christ without does not save, but Christ within.

2. Faith is evidenced by the opening of the eyes to see the glory of Christ, and the affiliation to God which follows.


1. The power and the will are of God. Ascribe to Him the wisdom and the glory.

2. The Christ whom we receive is God's "unspeakable gift."

3. Faith and its attendant privileges are by power bestowed by God.

(S. Martin.)

I. These two things are connected IN RESPECT OF GOD; it is the will of God that all should believe in Christ, and He has appointed the mediation of Christ as the channel through which all should receive salvation, and all that is necessary for its attainment.

II. These things are connected IN RESPECT OF CHRIST: for, in consequence of what He has done, all may become the sons of God, and, may be enriched with all the blessings of His grace.

III. They are connected IN RESPECT OF MEN: all who would obtain salvation must receive Jesus Christ as the only Saviour.

(C. C. Tittman, D. D.)


1. No man can do this in the darkness of natural ignorance. If we know not His nature and offices we do not take, we mistake Christ. The receiving act of faith, then, is guided by knowledge.

2. This receiving of Christ implies the assent of the understanding to the truths of Christ in the gospel — His Person, offices, incarnation, satisfaction — which assent, although it is not saving faith, is its groundwork. This is more than conjecture or opinion, it is belief.

3. This also implies hearty approbation, liking, and estimation; yea, the very acquiescence of our souls in Christ as the most excellent remedy for wants, sins, and dangers (1 Peter 2:7). There are two things in Christ which must gain the approbation of the soul.(1) That it can find nothing unsuitable to it in Christ as it does find in the best creatures — no weakness, pride, inconstancy, or passion. He is the altogether lovely.(2) That it can find nothing wanting in Christ necessary or desirable. In Him is the fulness of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

4. It consists in the consent and choice of the will; and this is the opening of the heart and stretching forth of the soul to receive Him (see Christ's complaint, John 5:40, and Ephesians 1:19).

5. The respect that this act of acceptance has unto the terms upon which Christ is tendered to us in the Gospel. Faith answers the gospel offer, as the impress on the wax does the engraving on the seal (1 Corinthians 15:11). There is no receiving Christ but on His own terms.(1) He is offered sincerely and really, and is received with a faith unfeigned (1 Timothy 1:5).(2) He is offered entirely, and is received in all His offices as Christ Jesus the Lord (Acts 16:13).(3) He is offered exclusively, and the soul singly relies on Him (Acts 4:2; 1 Corinthians 3:11), and not partly on His righteousness and our own.(4) He is offered freely as the gift, not the sale of God (John 4:10; Isaiah 55:1.; Revelation 22:17). So the believer comes to Him with an empty hand.(5) He is offered orderly. First His Person, then His privileges (Romans 8:32), so the believer does not marry His portion first.


1. The faith which gives the soul right and title to spiritual adoption, with all the privileges and benefits thereof, is true saving faith.

2. That only is saving faith which is in all true believers, in none but true believers, and in all true believers at all times.

III. THE EXCELLENCY OF THIS ACT OF FAITH (2 Peter 1:7; James 2:5; John 6:29).

1. Considered qualitatively it has the same excellency that all other precious graces have. It is the fruit of the Spirit. It is singled out to receive Christ. As it is Christ's glory to be the door of salvation, so it is faith's glory to be the golden key that opens that door.(1) It is the bond of our union with Christ (Ephesians 3:17).(2) It is the instrument of our justification (Romans 5:1).(3) It is the spring of our spiritual peace and joy (Romans 5:1; 1 Peter 1:8, 9).(4) It is the means of our spiritual livelihood and subsistence. Take away faith and all the others die (Galatians 2:20).(5) It is the great scope and drift of the Gospel to get men to believe. The urgent commands aim at this (1 John 3:23; Mark 1:14, 15; John 12:36). Hither, also, look the great promises and encouragements (John 6:35-37; Mark 16:16). The opposite sin of unbelief is everywhere threatened (John 16:8, 9; John 3:18, 35).


1. For information: If there be life in receiving Christ, there must be death in rejecting Him.

2. If faith be accepting Christ, then there are fewer believers among professors than were thought to be, and more believers than dare conclude themselves such.

3. Those who have the least degree of saving faith, have cause for ever to admire the bounty of the grace of God to them therein (Ephesians 1:3).

4. For examination:(1) The antecedents of faith — illumination (Acts 26:18); conviction (Mark 1:15); self-despair (Acts 2:37); vehement and earnest cries to God for faith.(2) The concomitants of faith — seriousness (Acts 16:29); humiliation (Ezekiel 16:63; Luke 8:38); a weary condition (Matthew 11:28); a longing condition.(3) The consequents of faith — evangelical meltings (Zechariah 12:10); love to Christ, His ways, and His people (Galatians 5:6); heart purity (Acts 15:9); obedience (Romans 16:26).

5. For exhortation:(1) What is in Christ whom you are to receive?(2) What is the offer of Christ by the gospel?(3) What is in the rejecting of that offer?

(J. Flavel.)

I. THE HONOUR. To become sons of God not merely by adoption, but by generation (Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:1). On our side is sonship, on God's Fatherhood. Sonship is —

1. Higher;

2. Nearer;

3. More blessed;

4. More glorious than — creaturehood. There is sonship in the angels, in unfallen man; but this is beyond these. As —

(1)Introducing us into a more intimate intercourse;

(2)Making us partakers of the Divine nature.

II. THE GIVER OF IT. Christ Himself; elsewhere it is the Father. All gifts are in Christ's hands — living water and bread of life, Himself, sonship. This right or power of sonship He purchased for us; for those who had no right, or power, or title.


1. Receiving Him — doing the reverse of what Israel had done; accepting and owning Him for all that God announced Him to be.

2. Believing on His name, i.e, Himself.


1. Not of natural descent.

2. Not by natural generation.

3. Not by human adoption.

4. But of God (James 1:18).

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

The grace appears in —


1. Christ offers Himself, and we welcome and receive Him. The first acting of true faith is to accept Himself; not merely the special benefit He brings.

2. We exercise implicit confidence in Him. We have a right knowledge of Him; rejoice in His character; accept and hide Him in our hearts.

3. In the form in which Jesus is proclaimed in the Gospel, His saved ones receive and believe in Him. "So we preach; so ye believed." There is a correspondence between the Gospel and faith of the same kind as that between the seal and the wax.

(1)Christ is offered sincerely, and He must be accepted with a faith unfeigned.

(2)He is offered exclusively, and must be accepted as the sole basis of our hope.

(3)He is offered as a gift; we must not attempt to merit Him.

4. The actual committing of our all to Christ When we receive Him. What is the saving act of faith?

(1)Not assent, although that must be a part of it.

(2)Not assurance, although that will follow it.

(3)But acceptance of Him and confidence in Him.


1. The saved are by nature the children of wrath; but in His person God is reconciled towards them.

2. Having reconciled them, He makes them sons — co-heirs with Himself.

3. Of Him also is the comfort and dignities of sonship.

III. THE CHANGE WROUGHT IN THEM WHO RECEIVE HIM, to which their accepting Him is ascribed.

1. A new form of existence — a new birth; all things have become new.

2. This change is

(1)not by natural inheritance;

(2)nor by the operation of the natural will;

(3)nor the fruit of superior endowment or acquisition;

(4)but of God, by the office and operation of the Spirit.

(A. Beith, D. D.)

I. THE RECEPTION. A true reception of Christ for every man alike is of three parts.

1. Belief that He is what He says He is. For any messenger the first condition of acceptance is that He be found to be what He claims to be — much more the Saviour of mankind.

2. Sympathy. A plenipotentiary, an agent, a purely mental operator does not need this. But the moment you include a moral purpose, spiritual influence, there must be common feeling and assimilation. Interests must be felt to be identical. Loyalty must bind the subject to his king. Enthusiasm must mount at the leader's name. If Christ's purpose was to fill human hearts with love, we cannot be His without loving Him.

3. Service: not compulsory, but that which love disdains to call service. In the hungry, sick, ignorant, etc., the Lord makes new advent to your heart every week; and Christ will not be received till everybody within our reach is made, somehow, better by our faith in Him.

II. THE BLESSING. Servants and creatures we were before, and, in a sense — but not the full and glorious sense — children of God. Now sons of God, a royal line, conquerors, sufferers rejoicing in the midst of temptation. Born now, their immortal seed remained in them.


1. By giving up the dearest preference that hurts the simplicity and humility of their faith.

2. In the New Testament, Christian instruction, prayer, doing God's will; and counting faith, not doubt, the glory, and power, and joy of man.

3. In the communion of His body and blood.

(Bishop Huntington.)

The text in connection with Matthew 25:35. Suggested by the motto on a new year's card.

I. A STRANGER TAKEN IN. House-room is a larger gift than refreshment at the dour. We must not be satisfied with benefactions to His representatives. Notice three strange things.

1. That He was in the world and the Maker of it, and yet a stranger.(1) When born in the Bethlehem of His father David, there was no room for Him in the inn.(2) Soon there was no room in the village itself, whence He had to flee into Egypt, a stranger in a strange land.(3) On His return, there was no room among the mass of the people. Jew and Gentile proved how truly He was a stranger. All this a sadly singular thing; and yet we need not wonder, for how should a wicked and selfish world know Jesus or receive Him.

2. That we should be able to receive the Lord Jesus as a stranger. He has gone to glory, but we can yet receive Him.(1) By owning Him when and where believers are few and despised.(2) By showing brotherly kindness to a poor saint.(3) By holding fast His faithful Word when its doctrines are in ill-repute.(4) By taking up our cross where Christ's precepts are disregarded, His day forgotten, and His worship neglected.(5) By receiving the gift of spiritual life. Profession is abundant, but the secret life is rare.

3. That Christ will deign to dwell in our hearts. This is a miracle of grace, yet the manner is simple enough.(1) A humble, repenting faith opens the door, and Jesus enters.(2) Love shuts to the door with the hand of penitence, and holy watchfulness keeps out intruders.(3) Meditation, prayer, praise, and obedience, keep the house in order.(4) And then follows the consecration of our whole life as His people.

II. THE STRANGER MAKING STRANGERS INTO SONS. The moment Christ enters the heart, we are no more strangers and foreigners, but of the household of God.

1. He adopts us and puts us among the children.

2. The designation of sons brings with it a birth, with the actual condition of sons.

3. Living, loving, lasting union seals our sonship.

4. This union creates in us a likeness to God. A small window will let in the great sun; much more will Jesus let in the life, light, and love of God into our souls, making us like God.

III. HAVING RECEIVED JESUS AS A STRANGER, WE FEEL A TENDERNESS HENCEFORTH TOWARDS ALL STRANGERS; for we see in their condition some resemblance to our own. When Christ is in us, we search out opportunities of bringing prodigals, strangers, and outcasts to the great Father's house.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. Under what notion should we receive Christ? As our Mediator. (Isaiah 61:3-4).(1) Our Prophet, receiving His doctrine as delivered by Himself (Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 2:2, 3); by His prophets and apostles (Hebrews 1:1; Matthew 10:40); by His ministers (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20; Hebrews 4:11, 12).(2) Our Priest (Hebrews 7:23-26); and so we must believe —

(a)His satisfaction for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 2:2), to the justice and law of God (Galatians 3:13);

(b)His intercession for our souls (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24).(3) Our King (Psalm 110:1, 9): so we must —

(a)acknowledge His sovereignty (Matthew 28:18);

(b)obey His laws (Luke 6:46; John 14:15);

(c)submit to His penalties (Colossians 3:24, 25).

2. How should we receive Him?

(1)Penitently (Acts 2:36).

(2)Willingly (Psalm 110:3).

(3)Affectionately (Luke 14:26).

(4)Constantly (Revelation 2:26).

(5)Only (Acts 4:12).


1. In what sense? Not by generation, but regeneration (John 3:31).(1) Man lost the favour of God (Romans 5:19).(2) The Son undertakes his redemption —

(a)by becoming man;

(b)by dying, whereby He purchases all believers to Himself, to be members of His body (1 Corinthians 6:20; Titus 2:14);

(c)and so from Himself the dead conveys His own spirit unto them (Titus 3:5, 6).(3) The Spirit regenerates and makes them new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).(4) Being new creatures, they are received into the favour of God (Romans 8:15), and made His sons (Romans 8:14).

2. With what privileges?(1) Privative. They are freed from the slavery of sin (Romans 6:14); from., slavish fears (Romans 8:15); from the curse of the law (Galatians In. 13).(2) Positive.

(a)They have access to God (Galatians 4:6).

(b)They are interested in God's providence (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 6:18).

(c)They rejoice in God (Philippians 4:4).

(d)God rejoices over them (Zephaniah 3:17).

(e)Their glorious inheritance is assured (Colossians 1:12, 18).

(f)This inheritance is witnessed to them here (Romans 8:16, 17), and sealed (Ephesians 4:30), whereof they now have the pledge (Ephesians 1:13, 14).

3. How known?

(1)By prayer (Galatians 4:6).

(2)Obedience (1 Peter 1:14, 15).

(3)Parity (2 John 3:9).

(4)Conformity to the Divine image (Romans 8:29).

(5)Faith (Song of Solomon 3:26).USES.

1. See the honour of believers.

2. Live like the sons of God.

(1)By despising the world.

(2)By patiently enduring all chastisements (Hebrews 12:6-9.

(3)By longing to come to your inheritance in heaven (Psalm 42:1, 2).

(Bishop Beveridge.)

I. FAITH MAKES THE GRANDEST OF DISTINCTIONS AMONG MEN. "He came to His own, and His own received Him not" — that is one company; "but as many as received Him" — that is another.

1. There are many distinctions among men — rich and poor, governors and governed, teachers and taught. But these will pass away. The grand distinction, which will out-last all time, is that of faith or the want of faith.

2. This distinguishing faith is —(1) A receptive faith; one which accepts Christ by confiding, trusting, and depending on Him.(2) Faith in His name, as —

(a)The Word: receiving His messages from the Father.

(b)The Life: receiving His vitality in spirit.

(c)The Light: seeing all things in the light of Christ..

3. This distinction is one which obliterates all others. If a chimney-sweep receives Christ, he is a child of God; so is an emperor — but not the one more than the other.


1. There is a distinction here between son and servant. The believer ceases to be a slave, and becomes a child; and yet he becomes a servant. Christ was first His Father's Son, and then His servant; so we, being sons, have the joy of serving our Father.

2. We are also sons by likeness — miniatures, and sometimes caricatures, yet resemblances.

3. We are sons, in having the privilege of free access to our Father.

III. FAITH IS THE EVIDENCE OF THE GRANDEST EXPERIENCE. Every believer is a regenerate man. It is of no use to attempt to mend the old nature. A man brought his gun to be repaired. The gunsmith told him it wanted a new stock, lock, and barrel. That looked like making a new one. You must begin de novo. Baptism cannot regenerate; nor blood, the natural way of birth; nor man's carnal will, nor his best will; but God, who, as the Creator, newcreates the soul.


1. Notice the inconceivable honour. All others pale before it.

2. The safety.

3. The happiness.

4. The duties. There is an old French proverb which says, "nobility obliges." There is an obligation on nobles. If you are a son of God, you must act like one.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is the empty cup placed under the flowing stream; the penniless hand held out for the heavenly alms.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The sonship is not effected in virtue of a mere act of adoption on the part of God. A child may be taken out of the family to which he originally belonged, and be planted in another; he may get a new name; he may be trained to forget that he had other birth; he may be made heir to great estates; he may be as dearly loved and as tenderly cared for as if he were own child to those who have adopted him: but the fact remains that he is really the child of another, and nature may prove too strong for the new bonds, and he may pine for his native home, and at length go back to it. The "sons of God," however, are sons by birth, for such is the significance of the word here used, having not only a new name and position, but also a new life. It is not simply that they are called sons; they are sons, partakers of the Divine nature, with a filial relationship, and a filial resemblance to the eternal God. The sonship is already established in fact and in principle, though it awaits its full manifestation hereafter (1 John 3:1, 2).

(J. Calross, D. D.)

When Philip Melanchthon was dying, he said aloud and distinctly to his surrounding friends, "I have those words of John concerning the Son of God, my Lord Jesus Christ, before me continually: 'The world received Him not; but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.'"

(R. Besser, D. D.)

Suppose you were in a dark room in the morning, the shutters closed and fastened, and only as much light coming through the chinks as made you aware it was day outside. And suppose you could say to a companion with you, "Let us open the windows, and let in the light." What would you think if he replied, "No, no; you must first put the darkness out, or the light will not enter"? You would laugh at his absurdity. Just so we cannot put sin out of our hearts to prepare for Christ's entering; we must open and take Him in, and sin will flee; fling the window open at once, and let Christ shine in.

(J. Edmond, D. D.)

I have heard of some fine gentleman in London, dressed in all his best, walking out in the park. He had a poor old father who lived in the country, add who came up dressed in his rustic raiment to see his son. As the son was not at home when the father reached the house, he went into the park to find him. Now the fine gentleman did not absolutely disown his father, but he went out of the park at a pretty sharp trot, for fear anybody should say, "Who is that country fellow you were talking with?" He did not like to own his father, because he was a labourer. We could not thus wonder if the glorious Lord refused to own us. There is such a come-down from the loftiness of His holiness to the depth of our faultiness. But yet He has such love, such a manner of love, that He bestows upon as this honour, that we should be openly called the sons of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Sunday School Chronicle.
A nobleman once gave a celebrated actress a Bible, telling her at the same time that there was a treasure in it. She, thinking he meant religion, laid the Bible aside. She died, and all she had was sold. The person who bought the Bible, on turning over its leaves, found a £500 note in it. Poor creature! had she read the book, she might not only have found the note, but the "pearl of great price."

(Sunday School Chronicle.)

There is dew in one flower and not in another, because one opens its cup and takes it in, while the other closes itself, and the drops run off. God rains His goodness and mercy as wide-spread as the dew, and if we lack them, it is because we will not open our hearts to receive them.

(H. W. Beecher.)

He comes to your door. He wants to get in. He knocks. He waits. Is not that wonderful? I was lately visiting that part of the country where our beloved Queen stays when she comes to Scotland. She visits among the poor. I saw some of the cottages to which she is in the habit of going. In the house of one of her servants I saw her own likeness, and the likenesses of several of her family — all gifts from themselves. You say, What kindness! what condescension! And so it is: But what would you think if I told you — what I am glad I cannot tell you, for it would not be true — that when they saw the Queen coming, they locked their doors and pretended to be out, and kept her standing knocking at the door, refusing to let her in, though she came to speak kindly to them and to do them good? You would say, Surely the people must not be in their right mind. And yet that is just what King Jesus does — Queen Vietoria's King. He comes to your door to bless you, to save you. He says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Most people keep Him out, and will not have anything to do with Him. They say, "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways." Opening the door to Him, saying, "Come in, Lord Jesus, come in" — taking Him to our heart, and only fearing lest He should ever go away again — is believing. The believing heart is the heart that has let in Jesus, and in which he dwells (Ephesians 3:17).

(J. H. Wilson.)

By adoption, God gives us —

1. A new name (Numbers 6:27; Revelation 3:12).

2. A new nature (2 Peter 1:4). Whom God adopts He anoints; whom He makes sons, He makes saints.

3. A new inheritance (Romans 8:17). When the Danish missionaries in India were translating a catechism, with some of the convetted natives by their side, and when they came to a part where it was said of Christians that they were the sons of God, one of the natives, startled at so bold a saying, as he thought it, said, "It is too much; let us rather translate it: 'They shall be permitted to kiss His feet.'"

Justification is the act of God as a Judge, adoption as a Father. By the former we are discharged from condemnation, and accepted as righteous; by the latter, we are made the children of God and joint-heirs with Christ. By the one, we are taken into God's favour; by the other, into His family. Adoption may be looked upon as an appendage to justification, for it is by our being justified that we come to a right to all the honours and privileges of adoption.

(Dr. Guyse.)

Which were born
The children of God are born —

I. NOT OF BLOOD. Grace does not run on the lines of nature. Many beautiful and graceful things do come by gentle and noble blood, but not this. It needs a very narrow field of observation to convince us that no parent, however pious, can command the conversion of his children. Else why should there be in this world that bitterest spectacle of a pious parent's heart being broken by a wicked child!

II. NOT OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH. The expression relates to any desire which, ruling in a man's mind, might be supposed to lead him to some act whereby he should become a child of God, and the idea is utterly repelled. Every one who is a subject of the grace of God is so first passively, that afterwards he may be so actively. He is first acted upon by a will and power without him, and then he acts out that will and manifests that power.

III. Not of the will of man. Observe the steps. Not of parents, not of self, nor of any creature whatsoever. One man, indeed, may will the conversion of another; and if he clothe that will with prayer, if he offer that will with faith, and if he does all in his power to forward that will, God may give him that man's soul. But God never promises He will do this. A soul passes into the family of God and becomes an heir in the register of sons when he receives Christ, and only then.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

When it pleased God to bring Abraham and his family into covenant with Him, that family consisted of three classes of persons; first of all, there were his own children; secondly, there were those who were born of his men-servants and maid-servants; thirdly, there were those slaves, whom he purchased and adopted. All these three classes were admitted into covenant with God, by reason of their relation to Abraham. "Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, and circumcised them" (Genesis 17:23). Of these classes, Ishmael was born of blood, as being his own flesh and blood, as we say; those born of the flesh were the other children born in his house, not his own; and those born of the will of man were those who, having no right to his protection, being yet bought of his free will, acquired a right by purchase and adoption. To these three classes were the benefits of the first covenant confined.... The truth, which St. John here announces, is that to all who received the message of the Lord Jesus, all who believed on His Name and submitted to His ordinances, to all those He gave the same power, even to become sons of God (Genesis 3:16, 17; Romans 5:13).

(G. Cornish.)


II. In their essential DISTINCTION.

III. In their congenial CONNECTION.



I. The aristocracy of BIRTH.

II. The aristocracy of MONEY.

III. The aristocracy of MERIT.

IV. The aristocracy of FAME.

(P. Schaff, D. D.)

The blood through which the chyle is distributed to the different parts of the body is the seat of life, hence the connection between child and parents is called blood relationship; and in classic usage also we have the expression "to spring from the blood" — that is, from the seed of any one (Acts 17:26).


According to the teaching of some men, how is it? "I am a minister of God — I am a man — as a man I may will to take a child and baptize it, and I may will to baptize it by a certain hour of the clock; and just as I am going to baptize it, I may will to put it off till to.morrow; and when to-morrow comes, I may will that I will not baptize that child at all — for if baptized, the child may die. And so, according to the caprice of my will, the child is baptized at this hour, or at that, to-day, or to-morrow, or it is not baptized at all; and therefore, following the caprice of my will, and just according to my will, the child is inevit ably a child of God at this time of the clock, or at that time of the clock — to-day, or to-morrow, or the next day, or never at all." What, I ask, is this but to be "born of the will of man"?

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

We must be careful that we do not interpet the words "which were born" as if the new birth was a change which takes place in a man after he has believed in Christ, and is the next step after faith. Saving faith and regeneration are inseparable. The moment that a man really believes in Christ, however feebly, he is born of God. The weakness of his faith may make him unconscious of the change, just as a new-born infant knows little or nothing about itself. Bat where there is faith there is always new birth, and where there is no faith there is no regeneration.

(Bishop Ryle.)

This verse is most emphatically in the style of John. Never can he lose sight of the perfect spirituality of Jesus Christ's work. John shows the very religiousness of religion. Christianity is to him more than a history, more than an argument, more than a theology — it is a spiritual revelation to the spiritual nature of man. On the part of man it is to be not an attitude, but a life — the very mystery of his spirit, too subtle for analysis, too strong for repression, too divine to be tolerant of corruption.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

The result of receiving Him remains to be explained. How could they become "sons of God"? The word which has been used (ver. 12) excludes the idea of adoption, and asserts the natural relation of child to father. The nation claimed this through its descent from Abraham. But they are Abraham's children who are of Abraham's faith. There is a higher generation, which is spiritual, while they thought only of the lower, which is physical. The condition is the submissive receptivity of the human spirit. The origin of life is "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

(H. W. Watkins, D. D.)

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