|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:3-11 What knowledge of Christ can that be, which sees not that he is most worthy of our entire obedience? And a disobedient life shows there is neither religion nor honesty in the professor. The love of God is perfected in him that keeps his commandments. God's grace in him attains its true mark, and produces its sovereign effect as far as may be in this world, and this is man's regeneration; though never absolutely perfect here. Yet this observing Christ's commands, has holiness and excellency which, if universal, would make the earth resemble heaven itself. The command to love one another had been in force from the beginning of the world; but it might be called a new command as given to Christians. It was new in them, as their situation was new in respect of its motives, rules, and obligations. And those who walk in hatred and enmity to believers, remain in a dark state. Christian love teaches us to value our brother's soul, and to dread every thing hurtful to his purity and peace. Where spiritual darkness dwells, in mind, the judgment, and the conscience will be darkened, and will mistake the way to heavenly life. These things demand serious self-examination; and earnest prayer, that God would show us what we are, and whither we are going.
Verses 9-11. - Walking in the light excludes all hatred towards brethren, for such hatred is a form of darkness. These verses set forth in a variety of forms the affinity between love and light, hatred and darkness, and the consequent incompatibility between hatred and light. "Hate" μισεῖν is not to be watered down into "neglect" or "fail to love." St. John knows nothing of such compromises. Love is love, and hate is hate, and between the two there is no neutral ground, any more than between life and death, or between Christ and antichrist. "He that is not with me is against me." "Love is the moral counterpart of intellectual light. It is a modern fashion to represent these two tempers as necessarily opposed. But St. John is at once earnestly dogmatic and earnestly philanthropic; for the Incarnation has taught him both the preciousness of man and the preciousness of truth" (Liddon). Verse 9. - He that saith. For the fifth time St. John points out a glaring inconsistency which is possible between profession and fact (ἐὰν εἴπμεν, 1 John 1:6, 8, 10; ὁ λέγων, 1 John 2:4.9); cf. 1 John 4:20. In all these passages the case is put hypothetically; but in some of the Gnostic teaching of the age this inconsistency existed beyond a doubt. Is in darkness even until now. His supposing that hatred is compatible with light proves the darkness in which he is. Nay, more, it shows that, in spite of his having nominally entered the company of the children of light, he has really never left the darkness. "If ye loved only your brethren, ye would not yet be perfect; but if ye hate your brethren, what are ye? where are ye?" (St. Augustine).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He that saith he is in the light,.... Is in Christ the light, or has the true knowledge of the light of the Gospel, or is illuminated by the Spirit of God; for persons may profess to be enlightened ones, and not be so: wherefore the apostle does not say, he that is in the light, but he that says he is,
and hateth his brother; who is so either by creation, as all men are brethren, having one Father, that has made them, and brought them up; or by regeneration, being born of God the Father, and in the same family and household of faith; and so regards such who are in a spiritual relation, whom to hate internally, or not to love, is inconsistent with being in the light, or having faith, which is always naturally and necessarily accompanied with the heat of love; for as light and heat, so faith and love go together: wherefore, let a man's profession of light be what it will, if love to his brother is wanting, he
is in darkness even until now; he is in a state of nature and unregeneracy, which is a state of darkness and ignorance; he is under the power of darkness, and in the kingdom of Satan; who is the ruler of the darkness of this world; he ever was so from his birth; he never was called nor delivered out of it, but is still in it to this moment, and so remains. This seems to be very much levelled against the Jews, who make hatred of the brother in some cases lawful: for they say (d),
"if one man observes sin in another, and reproves him for it, and he does not receive his reproof, , "it is lawful to hate him";''
See Gill on Matthew 5:43.
(d) Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9-11. There is no mean between light and darkness, love and hatred, life and death, God and the world: wherever spiritual life is, however weak, there darkness and death no longer reign, and love supplants hatred; and Lu 9:50 holds good: wherever life is not, there death, darkness, the flesh, the world, and hatred, however glossed over and hidden from man's observation, prevail; and Lu 11:23 holds good. "Where love is not, there hatred is; for the heart cannot remain a void" [Bengel].
in the light—as his proper element.
his brother—his neighbor, and especially those of the Christian brotherhood. The very title "brother" is a reason why love should be exercised.
even until now—notwithstanding that "the true light already has begun to shine" (1Jo 2:8).
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