|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-5 True love for the people of God, may be distinguished from natural kindness or party attachments, by its being united with the love of God, and obedience to his commands. The same Holy Spirit that taught the love, will have taught obedience also; and that man cannot truly love the children of God, who, by habit, commits sin or neglects known duty. As God's commands are holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous, but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly. Self-denial is required, but true Christians have a principle which carries them above all hinderances. Though the conflict often is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he will rise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, except believers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, to the customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.
Verse 4. - Reason for the preceding statement: the opposition which causes the difficulty is already overcome. Nothing, however, is gained by transferring the full stop from the end of verse 3 to the middle of verse 4, any more than from the end of verse 2 to the middle of verse 3. The punctuation of the Authorized Version and the Revised Version is to be preferred. It is the world that hinders obedience to God's commandments and makes them seem grievous. But everywhere God's children πᾶν τὸ γεγεννημένον, as in John 6:37, 39; John 17:2) conquer the world, and that by means of faith. The aorist ἡ νικήσασα marks the victory as already won and complete: "the victory that hath vanquished the world is this - our faith."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For whatsoever is born of God,.... Which may be understood either of persons born; of God; or of the new creature, or principle of grace wrought in them, particularly faith hereafter mentioned, which is an heaven born grace, the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit: this
overcometh the world; the god of the world, Satan; the lusts which are in the world; false prophets gone forth into the world; and the wicked men of the world, who by temptations, snares, evil doctrines, threatenings, promises, and ill examples, would avert regenerate ones from observing the commands of God; but such are more than conquerors over all these, through Christ that has loved them:
and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. The Arabic and Ethiopic versions read, "your faith"; great things, heroic actions, and wonderful victories, are ascribed to faith; see Hebrews 11:33; which must not be understood of the grace itself, as separately considered, but of Christ the object of it, as supported, strengthened, assisted, and animated by him: and then it does wonders, when it is enabled to hold Christ, its shield, in its hand, against every enemy that opposes.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. For—(See on 1Jo 5:3). The reason why "His commandments are not grievous." Though there is a conflict in keeping them, the sue for the whole body of the regenerate is victory over every opposing influence; meanwhile there is a present joy to each believer in keeping them which makes them "not grievous."
whatsoever—Greek, "all that is begotten of God." The neuter expresses the universal whole, or aggregate of the regenerate, regarded as one collective body Joh 3:6; 6:37, 39, "where Bengel remarks, that in Jesus' discourses, what the Father has given Him is called, in the singular number and neuter gender, all whatsoever; those who come to the Son are described in the masculine gender and plural number, they all, or singular, every one. The Father has given, as it were, the whole mass to the Son, that all whom He gave may be one whole: that universal whole the Son singly evolves, in the execution of the divine plan."
the world—all that is opposed to keeping the commandments of God, or draws us off from God, in this world, including our corrupt flesh, on which the world's blandishments or threats act, as also including Satan, the prince of this world (Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
this is the victory that overcometh—Greek aorist, "… that hath (already) overcome the world": the victory (where faith is) hereby is implied as having been already obtained (1Jo 2:13; 4:4).
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