Called to Be God’s Children

1 John 3:1 in the New International Version reads:

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

I thought the word “called” here made an interesting study. In the Greek it is “kaleo” (καλεο), which has many meanings. I plunged into BibleWorks to find this definition: “1) to call 1a) to call aloud, utter in a loud voice 1b) to invite 2) to call i.e. to name, by name 2a) to give a name to 2a1) to receive the name of, receive as a name 2a2) to give some name to one, call his name 2b) to be called i.e. to bear a name or title (among men) 2c) to salute one by name.”

It is my thinking that, in this verse, the word “called” stirs multiple images. I know when I read it I first read it as “2a) to give a name to”. But through further reflection and prayer I felt compelled to see it also in the sense of “invite”. Indeed, the Spirit invites us (maybe even compels us) to be children of God. I know that grammatically it is missing the “to be”, as in “called to be children of God”. Nevertheless, it seems to me the implication is still there.

This word “kaleo” has been variously translated in the Bible in different ways, and it can be helpful to see the ways and the number of times it has been used. Here is what BibleWorks reveals: “call(14), called(98), calling(2), calls(7), give(m)(1), invite(2), invited(15), invited guests(1), invites(1), name given(1), named(2), so-called(1), summoned(2).”

This is just a little bit of technical background for the sermon this Sunday (15 April 2018) at the First Presbyterian Church of Alpena. The sermon title is “Called to Be God’s Children”.

BibleWorks, by the way, is a great research tool for understanding the Bible in its original lanuages.