1 John 2:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.

New Living Translation
And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.

English Standard Version
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

Berean Study Bible
By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.

Berean Literal Bible
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we should keep His commandments.

New American Standard Bible
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

King James Bible
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Christian Standard Bible
This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands.

Contemporary English Version
When we obey God, we are sure we know him.

Good News Translation
If we obey God's commands, then we are sure that we know him.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands.

International Standard Version
This is how we can be sure that we have come to know him: if we continually keep his commandments.

NET Bible
Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments.

New Heart English Bible
This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And by this we sense that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
We are sure that we know Christ if we obey his commandments.

New American Standard 1977
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And in this we do know that we have known him if we keep his commandments.

King James 2000 Bible
And by this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

American King James Version
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

American Standard Version
And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments.

Darby Bible Translation
And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

English Revised Version
And hereby know we that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Webster's Bible Translation
And by this we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Weymouth New Testament
And by this we may know that we know Him--if we obey His commands.

World English Bible
This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments.

Young's Literal Translation
and in this we know that we have known him, if his commands we may keep;
Study Bible
Jesus Our Advocate
2He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. 4If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.…
Cross References
John 14:15
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

John 15:10
If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and remain in His love.

1 John 2:4
If anyone says, "I know Him," but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 2:5
But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him:

1 John 2:13
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.

1 John 3:6
No one who remains in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has seen Him or known Him.

1 John 3:22
and we will receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight.

1 John 3:24
Whoever keeps His commandments remains in God, and God in him. And by this we know that He remains in us: by the Spirit He has given us.

1 John 4:7
Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:13
By this we know that we remain in Him, and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit.

1 John 5:2
By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments.

1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome,

Revelation 12:17
And the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.

Revelation 14:12
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

Treasury of Scripture

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.


1 John 2:4-6 He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, …

1 John 3:14,19 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the …

1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has …

1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.

we know.

Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: …

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true …

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined …

if we.

1 John 3:22,23 And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, …

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his …

Psalm 119:6,32 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all your commandments…

Luke 6:46 And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

John 14:15,21-24 If you love me, keep my commandments…

John 15:10,14 If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as …

1 Thessalonians 4:1,2 Furthermore then we beseech you, brothers, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus…

Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation …

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right …

(5) The fourth inference from the doctrine that God is Light analyses more accurately the general expression of 1John 1:7, walking in the light. If Christ is, as in 1John 2:1-2, the Paraclete and Propitiation of the world, it becomes necessary to ascertain whether He is this to us; lest, when this salvation is offered, we condemn ourselves by rejecting it. The test is, "obedience to the commandments, especially in brotherly love."

(3) Hereby means, by what follows.

That we know him.--Rather, have known Him (so also in 1John 2:4, I have known Him); that we have not grasped a shadow, but have been in intercourse with the living God, who reveals Himself not through speculation, but through a true inward life of man.

If we keep his commandments.--Christ's--because of the reference to John 14:15. "Keep" like a precious heirloom, watching them against the inroads of our lower nature. (Comp. Matthew 19:17; Matthew 28:20; 1Timothy 6:14.) If each man's conscience was the standard of practice, confusion would again reign in morals as it reigned in the days of the Sophists at Athens. (Compare Plato's Republic, Bk. 2, Jowett's translation.) A code and an example fitted for all times and all circumstances have been given by our Lord.

(4) He that saith . . .--In particularising the general proposition according to his custom, St. John rejects the first person plural as shocking, unreal, and artificial, and throws the blasphemy on some third person. So "is a liar" is stronger than "we lie," and "we deceive ourselves;" in such a case the lie has entered thoroughly into the man's nature.

(5) But whoso keepeth his word.--The revelation of the will of God, looked at as a whole.

In him verily is the love of God perfected.--St. John has before his mind an ideal of a man so filled with the Spirit that in all things he embodies the will of God; the love that such a man has for God is indeed complete. But he knows that the best of the human race can only approach such an ideal in different degrees, at a great distance; and the perfection of the love which they bear to God will vary in the same degree. (Comp. 1John 2:15; 1John 3:17; 1John 4:12; 1John 5:3.) "In him verily;" rather, Truly in him. It is most emphatic, and refers back "the truth is not in him," in 1John 2:4.

Hereby know we that we are in him.--Comp. 1John 2:3 and 1John 1:6; without such a test there Could be no happiness in religion. "In him" implies that we are saved by His grace, surrounded by His love, inspired by His thoughts, partakers of His nature, filled by His Spirit, the dwelling-place of the Father and the Son, with certain access to the divine throne and certain answer to prayer, heirs of the heavenly kingdom.

(6) Ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.--Abiding in Him--in Christ--is an evident reference to John 15:4-11. In the terms of 1John 2:3-5 there is a double gradation: on the one hand, knowing Him, being in Him, remaining in Him; on the other, keeping His commandments, keeping His word, walking even as He walked. The last expression is the strongest of the latter three, as it views the Christian in action. The walk of Christ was the walk in the light (comp. 1John 1:7); divine love the secret spring developing itself in a new virtue for every variety of circumstance. In 1John 2:7-11 brotherly love is introduced as the special manifestation of this obedience that springs from the walk in the light. At a superficial glance it might have been thought that the personal address introduced a new paragraph; it is really only like the "Verily, verily," of our Lord, breaking in to emphasize a message to be brought directly home to the hearts of the readers. The life of obedience, the walk in light, is nothing else but the life of brotherly love: "This is my commandment, that ye love one another" (John 15:12; comp. also John 13:34-35).

(7) I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning--i.e., "I am preparing to give you a special direction, which has been implied already by the walk in light. If you look at it from the point of view of your first entrance into Christ's kingdom it is old, because it was the chief point of His moral teaching which you then heard. If you look at its effect in you it is new, because (1) it had never been taught so forcibly and clearly before Christ; (2) you are so imperfect that you are always liable to forget it; (3) your obedience to the command can never be complete, but will always require fresh growth; (4) it can never be permanent without continual renewal by Christ's presence." "Ye" is therefore his present Christian audience; "from the beginning" implies the time of their conversion; "the word" is here less wide than in 1John 2:6, and means rather Christ's teaching on this point. (Comp. 2John 1:5; Leviticus 19, Leviticus 18:24.)

(8) Which thing is true in him and in you.--The commandment might have hung in the air and remained "old," i.e., confined to the definite point of time of its promulgation, had it not been embodied for ever (1) in the living example of Christ during His life on earth; (2) in His active presence and power since His resurrection; (3) in the conduct and character of His people, radically renewed by His Spirit and continually growing after His image. (Comp. 1John 3:23; John 13:34.)

Because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.--Rather, is passing away; already shineth. Here he gives the reason why he announces as new what he says is already truly realised in Christ and in process of realisation in His people. A visible change, a notable renovation, is going on; the gross darkness that covered the face of the earth is being rent away in the circle of the apostolic preaching; the life of the Lord, which gleamed forth for three-and-thirty years in the cities and on the hill-sides of Judaea and Samaria and Galilee, is now bursting far and wide into ever-increasing brightness; wondrously quick is the spread of the rays of His glory; multitudes in every known land are gathered into His kingdom. Old things are passing away as the Apostle looks round, and all things are becoming new. (Comp. John 1:4-9; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:8; 1Thessalonians 5:4-5.)

Verses 3-6. - Thirdly, walking in the light involves obedience. Verse 3. - And herein we perceive that we know him, if we keep his commandments γινώσκομεν, we come to know, we recognize; ἐγνώκαμεν, we have come to know, we know). The token of our having this knowledge is stated hypothetically; not because, but if, we obey. To serve under another and obey him is one of the best ways of knowing his character. The knowledge is no mere intellectual apprehension, such as the Gnostic, postulated, but a moral and spiritual affection and activity. It is possible to know and hate (John 16:24). Again, the knowledge is not a mere emotional appreciation. Christianity knows nothing of piety without morality. To know Christ is to love him, and to love him is to obey and imitate him. By "keep" τῆρῶμεν is recant "keep the eye fixed upon, observe." And hereby we do know that we know him,.... Either the Father, with whom Christ is an advocate; not as the God of nature, and by the light of it, nor as the lawgiver and Judge of the whole earth, and by the law of Moses; but as the God of all grace, as a God pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin, as the Father of Christ, and as in him by the Gospel; and this not in a mere notional and speculative way, but with love and affection; not with fear and trembling, as devils know him, nor in theory, as formal professors and hypocrites, but with a knowledge, joined with hearty love of him, and cheerful obedience to him: or else Christ, the advocate and propitiation for sin; and him also, not with a mere notional knowledge of his person and offices, which carnal men and devils themselves have of him, but with that which is spiritual, special, and saving, being from the Spirit and grace of God; and regards Christ as a Saviour, as a propitiatory sacrifice for sin, and an advocate with God the Father; and by which he is approved as such, to the rejection of all other savours, sacrifices, and advocates; and is trusted, confided, and believed in as such, and affectionately loved, and that above all others, in sincerity and truth; and is readily obeyed in his word and ordinances; for where there is true knowledge of Christ, there is faith in him; and where there is faith in him, there is love to him, for faith works by love; and where there is love to him, there will be an observance of his commands; and this is here made the evidence of the true knowledge of him: for it follows,

if we keep his commandments; not the commandments of men, for the keeping of them arises from ignorance of God, and is a proof of it; nor the commandments of the ceremonial law, which are abolished, particularly circumcision, which is opposed to the keeping of the commandments of God, 1 Corinthians 7:19; but either those of the moral law, and which are more particularly the commandments of God the Father; the observance of which, though it cannot be with perfection, yet being in faith, and from love to God, and with a view to his glory, is an evidence of the true knowledge of him and of his will: or else those commandments, which are more especially the commandments of Christ Jesus; such as the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper, which are peculiar to the Gospel dispensation; and which being kept as they were delivered by Christ, and in his name and strength, and to his glory, without depending on them for life and salvation, is an argument and proof of the right knowledge of him; and particularly his new commandment of loving one another may be chiefly designed, that being what the apostle has greatly in view throughout this epistle; now let it be observed, that keeping of the commands of God, or Christ, is not the knowledge of either of them itself, for much may be done in an external way, yet neither God nor Christ be spiritually and savingly known; nor is it the cause of such knowledge, for that is owing to the Spirit and grace of God; but is an effect or consequence of spiritual knowledge, and so an evidence of it; hereby is not the knowledge itself, but the knowledge of that knowledge, that is, that it is true and genuine. 3. hereby—Greek, "in this." "It is herein," and herein only, that we know (present tense) that we have knowledge of (perfect tense, once-for-all obtained and continuing knowledge of) Him" (1Jo 2:4, 13, 14). Tokens whereby to discern grace are frequently given in this Epistle. The Gnostics, by the Spirit's prescient forewarning, are refuted, who boasted of knowledge, but set aside obedience. "Know Him," namely, as "the righteous" (1Jo 2:1, 29); our "Advocate and Intercessor."

keep—John's favorite word, instead of "do," literally, "watch," "guard," and "keep safe" as a precious thing; observing so as to keep. So Christ Himself. Not faultless conformity, but hearty acceptance of, and willing subjection to, God's whole revealed will, is meant.

commandments—injunctions of faith, love, and obedience. John never uses "the law" to express the rule of Christian obedience: he uses it as the Mosaic law.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.
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