Memorizing Scripture

Verse for August 2007: Become Children of God

By Jerry Truex

For August 2007, we are memorizing John 1:12, which focuses on becoming children of God: 

John 1:12. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. (NRSV)

Children of God. In one sense, all human beings are children of God. In another sense, we must become children of God. We do not naturally follow the Word or Wisdom of God (Jn 1:1, 10-11).  In the ancient world of Jesus, being someone’s child meant being an apprentice of a certain parent. Thus, to be a child of God means becoming an apprentice or disciple of God’s Word or Wisdom.

Who received him. Not everyone accepts God’s Word or Wisdom (Jn 1:10-11), which is identified as Jesus in John 1:14. Yet some people receive him. The phrase, “who believed in his name,” explains what it means to receive Jesus.

Who believed in his name. To believe in his name means having faith in all that Jesus stands for and then to express that faith concretely, since believing and obeying are parallel (Jn 3:36). Faith is expressed by loving one another (Jn 13:34-35), keeping Jesus’ word (Jn 15:1-11), and doing justice (1 Jn 3:12).

He gave us. Being born of God is God’s doing, not ours. John 1:13 explains that becoming a child of God doesn’t happen by “blood” or “flesh” or “man”. John 1:13 is a sharp critique of human culture.

The phrase, “not born of blood,” uses the plural noun, “blood” (haimatōn), which represents the Hebrew idiom for bloodshed. Hence, children of God are not born out of bloodshed or violence.

The phrase, “not by the will of the flesh,” stresses an implicit contrast. The “flesh” (sarkos) opposes God and represents the world of human culture and corruption. Thus, children of God are not born of this world, but from another world that lies in sharp contrast to this one.

The phrase, “not by the will of man,” uses the singular noun, “man” (andros), which refers to a male or husband. In this way, patriarchal power is dismissed as irrelevant. Children of God are not born through the power of heredity, like the Roman overlords or Jewish leadership of Jesus’ time.

May the word of Christ dwell in you (Col 3:16).

Jerry Truex is the Pastor of the Mennonite Church of the Servant; instructor of Biblical Studies at AMBS-Great Plains.