Verse 23: Whoever Has the Son Has the Father
No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
Foreseeing the confusion and deceptions that his disciples would face, John speaks plainly to ensure that we understand that whoever denies the Son of God also denies the Father.
“No one who denies the Son has the Father”: the human intellect is easily deceived by things that appear to be wisdom – although we rarely admit how gullible we really are – and our Father knew this great and terrible deception was coming; here the Holy Spirit identifies the claim to know the Father apart from the Son as a Satanic lie coming from the Antichrist.
No one seeks God (Rom. 3:11); the incarnate God sought us (Luke 19:10).
“Whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also”: to gain the Father we must come through the Son:
John 6:44-46 (CSB) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to me—46 not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father.
Whoever believes that “we will all be taught by God”, must necessarily believe that anyone who has listened to and learned from the Father will come to Christ because it is the Father who draws them through the Son:
Hebrews 1:2-3 (CSB) In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe, through him. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Therefore, we believe that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature; by him alone we can know the Father. All other paths of enlightenment lead to deception and idolatry.
What does it mean to “acknowledge” Christ?
The basic meaning of the word “ὁμολογέω” (homologeō), means “to publicly acknowledge something in a pledge”, a concept our Lord elaborated on this in greater detail:
John 14:23 (CSB) If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
1st Peter 3:21-22 (CSB) Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not as the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
“Love in Christ” is our covenant with God by which he makes his home in the hearts of those who have made the pledge of a good conscience towards God in baptism with faith towards the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know that whoever loves Christ will keep his word because the Father has made his home within them; and we know that those who nullify and reject his commandments do not have the Father living in them. They are bankrupt of all godliness because of the disobedience of their unbelief.