God is all powerful - even unto salvation.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
As John explains in the prior verses, Jesus is the Son of God and thereby the Creator of the world. For four thousand years, He has interacted with, provided for, and protected this world and especially the Jews. He has made Himself known in too many ways to count. He has reminded mankind time and again of His goodness and power. Yet, when He came and stood among the world and His people, they did not recognize Him nor receive Him.
John uses a bit of hyperbole when he uses the word “world.” Figuratively, it means all people in a general sense, but not absolutely all people. Otherwise, there would be some contradiction between verses 10-11 and 12-13. Surely, he is implored a bit of hyperbole when he wrote that there are some who did receive him. The word “world” has an exaggerated meaning or at least it is used in a general sense (certainly not all of the people on earth saw Jesus).
Still, there is a sense that maybe John is not exaggerating. Maybe he does mean to include all people. Maybe he does mean that all people didn’t and don’t receive Jesus. If that were true, then he would have made some sort of explanation here in these verses. Maybe this is relating to the deadness of humans. We are all dead in our sins and incapable seeking God unless He first draws us (Rom. 3:11). There might be a hint of utter depravity here since verse 13 speaks of sovereign grace.
In verses 12 and 13, John defines the elect in two ways. It is those who received himand those who believed in his name. The world is described by those who “did not know him” and those who “did not receive him” (Jn. 1:10-11). The contrast is clear. This second group, mentioned in verse 12 accepted Jesus personally, intellectually, and publicly. They were those who believed Him to be who He said He was and they did not deny that before others. They welcomed Him and expressed a trust in who He was. His name refers to all that is true about Him. So it is said that they believed in His name.
It is not necessarily that they received him, but how they received him that may suggest John’s deeper meaning of the text. He wrote that it was by God’s power. He is omnipotent – even unto salvation. If He came to save some then some will be saved regardless of their deadness to him. In latter part of verse 12, John wrote that he gave [them] the right to become children of God. This is the adoption of sons and daughters to the Kingdom of God. When sinners believe and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, they are adopted spiritually by God.
John hangs on that point for one more verse. He wrote that those who were born, that is born again as God’s children, were not born of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. This is an explanation of sovereign grace. We understand the birthing process. Children are born from the womb of a woman and of the seed of man. They are born of human blood. Spiritually, these children are dead in their sins. They are fleshly and temporal. And finally they are born by the will of man. That is to say that humans decide and reproduce. The natural descent of us all is man. We are born of man and by man’s will.
These people who received Jesus, who believed in His name, were born again as children of God and not children of man. They have a new descent. They are of God. It was of His blood and of His will. He decided and He used His power to bring some to belief. Those who are born again spiritually are born of God and for this reason, they are children of Him.
Therefore, John might have used hyperbole when he mentioned the world rejecting Jesus, but maybe he wasn’t. Paul wrote about this saying that “none [are] righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:10-12).
Sinners are utterly depraved and have no hope in their own flesh. Their will is dead and cannot seek God. And these sinners, this world that John speaks of, are no different from us. We are the world. We are all sinners who are hopeless if left to our own power. But John wrote about the power of God. It was God who had the power to adopt some. It was and is He who can regenerate our heart and make us His children. If we receive Jesus, just like those few John described, then we have been reborn by the power of God.
God is omnipotent – even unto salvation.