by Mike Ratliff
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 (NASB)
1 Ἴδετε ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ πατήρ, ἵνα τέκνα θεοῦ κληθῶμεν, καὶ ἐσμέν. διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς, ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν. 2 ἀγαπητοί, νῦν τέκνα θεοῦ ἐσμεν, καὶ οὔπω ἐφανερώθη τί ἐσόμεθα. οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἐὰν φανερωθῇ, ὅμοιοι αὐτῷ ἐσόμεθα, ὅτι ὀψόμεθα αὐτὸν καθώς ἐστιν. 3 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἔχων τὴν ἐλπίδα ταύτην ἐπʼ αὐτῷ ἁγνίζει ἑαυτόν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστιν. 1 John 3:1-3 (NA28)
In ancient Greek ἁγνός or hagnos, which is translated as “pure” in v3 in the NASB (above), originally carried a religious meaning that spoke of ritual cleanness, chastity, and even virginity. The same basic concept was also true in the Septuagint. However, in the New Testament, the idea of ritual purity was no longer the point, and rightly so. The New Testament deals with reality, not ritual. Being a Christian is not just about how we act, but who we are. It all started, of course, with the Lord Jesus. As 1 John 3:3 declares, “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Because Christ was pure (without sin), we also are pure and, therefore are to live pure.
Let us look at 2 Corinthians 11:2:
2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 2 Corinthians 11:2 (NASB)
2 ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς θεοῦ ζήλῳ, ἡρμοσάμην γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἑνὶ ἀνδρὶ παρθένον ἁγνὴν παραστῆσαι τῷ Χριστῷ· 2 Corinthians 11:2 (NA28)
While the term pure (ἁγνὴν) virgin (παρθένον) might seem like ritual, it is actually quite real. The setting of the verse is Paul’s desire that the Corinthian believers (and by application all believers) would remain pure from false doctrine. He pictures this by comparing the church to a bride and Christ to the bridegroom. Just as the bride is to remain pure before the wedding, the believer is to remain pure as he or she awaits the coming of Christ. False teaching is everywhere, and it is vital that we remain pure.
This verse is also a great encouragement to both young ladies and young men to remain pure for marriage. Success or failure in marriage often hinges on this. If a person remains pure before marriage, he or she will better understand “the covenant of companionship” that marriage is (Malicai 2:14). But if one is impure before marriage, there is a greater chance that he or she will be impure after marriage. Fidelity is non-existent in many marriages today often because of the sexual attitudes that were held before marriage.
There is much in the world that is impure and that will taint the Christian. We each must take care to keep ourselves pure. To that end, Paul further challenges us all to think on things that are pure (Philippians 4:8).
Soli Deo Gloria!