12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
This verse is a direct contrast to verses 10 and 11. Negative volition toward the Light was not universal; some embraced and welcomed Jesus as the Messiah.
The word “but” indicates a shift from those who rejected Christ as the Messiah in the previous verses. Some people “received” personally Jesus as the Messiah.
as many as received Him,
“As many as” refers to either Jew or Gentile, both then and now. “Receive” means to take hold of, obtain. Here it means to receive Christ personally.
to them He gave the right
Jesus gives all who welcome Him the “right” or authority to become children of God. They have the right to make a legitimate claim to be God’s children.
The word “gave” is a word of grace. It is something God gives and not something we earn. “Gave” is also emphatic in the Greek. Salvation is a gift from God.
The words “received” and “gave” happen simultaneously. At the moment we receive Christ, we become children of God.
to become children
“Become” indicates that those who became children of God became something that they were not before. What they were before was eternally lost in God’s eyes. We cannot become what we already are; we become something that we were not before. What we become is members in the family of God.
“Right” means authority. People who receive the Word have the legal right or authority to receive status with God.
of [out of] God,
This phrase “of God” shows that salvation is impossible without God’s involvement in the process. God supernaturally draws and convicts the sinner to believe on Jesus’ finished work of paying for our sins (Jn 12:32).
to those who believe in His name:
God equates “receive” and “believe” in this passage. Acceptance of a gift reveals our confidence in its reality. We take it as true and possess it as our own.
“Believe in” is to believe on. This grammar occurs 35 times in this gospel. This structure expresses very strong belief on or motion to the object of belief. This is more than faith in the historical fact of Christ; it is vibrant faith in Christ.
The phrase “believe in His name” is found only in the books John authored (2:23; 3:18; 1 Jn 3:23; 5:13). This means to believe on the Word to the full extent of His revelation as God.
God admits us into His family by our believing in the name of Jesus.
Some people attempt to make a sequential connection between, first, the new birth and then faith. This passage does not make a sequence connection at all. Those who receive the Word are identical with those born again.
To “receive” Christ is to “believe” in Christ. To believe in Christ is to receive Christ. When a person believes in Christ, God supernaturally installs him or her into the family of God. Thus the Holy Spirit equates “receive” and “believe” in our verse. Accepting a gift is an expression of our confidence in its truthfulness. We accept it as our own.
Being placed into the family of God is a supernatural work of God. Being born again gives us a new status before God; there is dignity in belonging to God’s family. There is a balance between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.
By owning the payment Jesus made for our sins, we have the legal right to possess eternal life. This is the difference between auditing the class for no credit and taking it for credit. There are many auditors in churches today. They have never known Jesus in any personal way.