1 John 2:11
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
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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.But he that hateth his brother - The word here used would, in this connection, include both the mere absence of love, and positive hatred. It is designed to include the whole of that state of mind where there is not love for the brethren.

Is in darkness - 1 John 2:9.

And walketh in darkness - He is like one who walks in the dark, and who sees no object distinctly. See the notes at John 12:35.

And knoweth not whither he goeth - Like one in the dark. He wanders about not knowing what direction he shall take, or where the course which he is on will lead. The general meaning is, that he is ignorant of the whole nature of religion; or, in other words, love to the brethren is a central virtue in religion, and when a man has not that, his mind is entirely clouded on the whole subject, and he shows that he knows nothing of its nature. There is no virtue that is designed to be made more prominent in Christianity; and there is none that will throw its influence farther over a man's life.

11. is in darkness … walketh—"is" marks his continuing STATE: he has never come out of "the darkness" (so Greek); "walketh" marks his OUTWARD WALK and acts.

whither—Greek, "where"; including not only the destination to which, but the way whereby.

hath blinded—rather, as Greek aorist, "blinded" of old. Darkness not only surrounds, but blinds him, and that a blindness of long standing.

Hath no principle to guide or govern him, but what is common to the unregenerate world, so that his whole life is a continual error; nor doth he understand or consider the tendency of his course, being still under the power of an affected darkness, that makes his eyes, or understanding, of no more use than if he were quite blind, or had none at all. So weighty and important is the precept which he had to lay down, 1Jo 2:15, of not loving the world, &c., that he introduces it with the solemnity of a most pathetic preface, contained in these three following verses, wherein he applies himself severally to the distinct orders and ranks into which Christians were capable of being reduced, the matter being of common and equal concernment to all of them. And he speaks suitably to the condition and state of each, such things as whereby he might most effectually insinuate with them, and oblige them deeply to consider what he had to say; doubling also his application to each of them, out of the earnestness of his intention and endeavour to fasten the exhortation upon them which was to follow.

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness,.... As is before expressed in 1 John 2:9, to which is added,

and walketh in darkness; he goes on in it, and takes delight in it, as dangerous and uncomfortable as it is:

and knoweth not whither he goeth; he cannot discern between good and evil; he puts darkness for light, and light for darkness; he sees not what is before him, nor what stumblingblocks lie in the way; he is not aware of the snares, pits, and traps he is in danger of falling into; nor does he know and consider what these paths of darkness, of sin, and ignorance, and infidelity, lead unto, even unto utter darkness, where is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth: and the reason is,

because that darkness hath blinded his eyes; either Satan, the god of this world, who blinds the minds of them that believe not, and who is darkness itself, and the cause of darkness in himself and in others, and one of whose names this was with the Jews (e); See Gill on Luke 22:53; or that natural darkness which sin has brought upon the understanding, and has blinded the eyes of it, called the blindness of the heart, Ephesians 4:18, so that a man under the power of it is ignorant of himself, and knows not that he is blind and miserable; is a stranger to the way of peace, and life by Christ, and knows not what he is about, and where he is, or whither he is going, and what his end will be.

(e) Yalkut Simconi, par. 2. fol. 44. 4.

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
1 John 2:11. St. John recognises no neutral attitude between “love” and “hatred”. Love is active benevolence, and less than this is hatred, just as indifference to the Gospel-call amounts to rejection of it (cf. Matthew 22:5-7). Observe the climax: “in the darkness is, and in the darkness walketh, and knoweth not where he is going”. ἐτύφλωσεν, aor. of the indefinite past, where we would use the perf. (cf. Moulton, Gram, of N. T. Gk., i. pp. 135 ff.). The penalty of living in the darkness is not merely that one does not see, but that one goes, blind. The neglected faculty is atrophied. Cf. the mole, the Crustacca in the subterranean lakes of the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky.

Observe how St. John emphasises and elaborates the old-new commandment “Love thy brother,” reiterating it, putting it negatively and positively.

11. is in darkness and walketh in darkness] The darkness is his home and the scene of his activity. ‘The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble’ (Proverbs 4:19).

knoweth not whither he goeth] Literally, where he is going: the adverb (ποῦ) is properly one of rest, ‘where’, and not of motion, ‘whither’. But in S. John this adverb is often joined with verbs of motion, and in particular with the verb used here (ὑπάγειν): John 3:8; John 8:14; John 12:35-36; John 14:5; John 16:5; John 7:35. Elsewhere in the N.T. the construction occurs only Hebrews 11:8. Perhaps both rest and motion are included; ‘knoweth not where he is and whither he is going’: i.e. neither knows his sin nor the direction in which his sin leads him. It is perhaps a little too definite to explain with S. Cyprian (On Jealousy and Envy, XI.), “for he is going without knowing it to Gehenna; in ignorance and blindness he is hurrying to punishment.” Comp. John 12:35, which is almost word for word the same as this, forming another point of contact between Gospel and Epistle.

because that darkness hath blinded] Or, because the darkness hath blinded. It is literally ‘blinded’, not ‘hath blinded’, of what took place once for all some time ago: but this is just one of those cases where it is the Greek idiom to use the aorist, but the English idiom to use the perfect; and therefore the Greek aorist should be rendered by the English perfect. ‘Blinded’ must not be weakened into ‘dimmed’: the verb means definitely ‘to make blind’ (John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Animals kept in the dark, e.g. ponies in coal-mines, become blind: the organ that is never exercised loses its power. So also the conscience that is constantly ignored at last ceases to act. The source of the metaphor is perhaps Isaiah 6:10 : comp. Romans 11:10.

Before proceeding further let us briefly sum up the Apostle’s line of argument thus far. ‘God is light. Christ is that light revealed. The life of Christ was a life of obedience and a life of love. In order, therefore, to have fellowship through Him with God believers must obey and love. The state of things in which this is possible has already begun. Therefore I write to you a command which is both old and new; walk in the light by imitating the love of Christ.’ In this manner he lays the foundations of Christian Ethics. The last three verses (9–11) shew that the special aspect of walking in light which is referred to in the commandment which is at once old and new is love: and if this be so, we can hardly doubt that in calling it ‘a new commandment’ he has in his mind Christ’s farewell words, John 13:34; ‘A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.’ The latter half of the verse is, therefore, the special interpretation of ‘ought himself also to walk even as He walked’.

It is not easy to determine whether the division which follows (1 John 2:12-28) is best regarded as a subdivision of the first main portion of the Epistle, or as a co-ordinate portion. In favour of the latter view are these facts: 1. The idea of light which runs through the whole of the division just concluded (1 John 1:5 to 1 John 2:11), and which is mentioned six times in it, now disappears altogether. 2. The Epistle now takes a distinctly hortatory turn. The first part lays down principles: this part gives warnings and exhortations. 3. The Apostle seems to make a fresh start: 1 John 2:12-14 read like a new Introduction. In favour of making this part a subdivision of the first main division it may be urged:—1. Though the idea of light is no longer mentioned, yet other ideas to which it directly led, love, the truth, abiding in God, still continue: the parts evidently overlap. 2. The hortatory turn is only a partial change of form occurring merely in 1 John 2:15; 1 John 2:28. In the intermediate verses the aphoristic mode of expression continues. 3. The quasi-Introduction in 1 John 2:12-14 no more constitutes a fresh division than the similar addresses in 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:7.

On the whole it seems best to consider what follows as a subordinate part of the first main division of the Epistle. Thus far we have had the Condition and Conduct of the Believer considered on its positive side. We now have the negative side—What Walking in the Light excludes.

1 John 2:11. Ὁ δὲ μισῶν, but he who hates) A direct opposition. Where there is not love, there is hatred; the heart is not empty.—ποῦ, where) and whither.—ἐτύφλωσε, has blinded) Darkness not only surrounds him, but has also blinded him.

Verse 11. - Note the alternation: verse 10 is the antithesis of verse 9, and verse 11 of verse 10, repeating and enlarging verse 9. Note also the climax effected by the gradual increase of predicates: in verse 9 one, in verse 10 two, in verse 11 three. The brother-hater has darkness as his habitual condition and as the atmosphere in which he lives and works; and long ago (aorist) the continual darkness deprived him of the very power of sight, so that he is in ignorance as to the course he is taking. Cf. "They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness" (Psalm 82:5); "The fool walketh in darkness" (Ecclesiastes 2:14). "St. John scouts all the pretences of men to illumination which do not involve the practical acknowledgment of brotherhood. A man may say he is in the light as much as he pleases; but to be in the light implies that he is able to see his brethren, and not to stumble against them" (Maurice). 1 John 2:11Is - walketh - whither

The condition of him who hates is viewed as related to being, action, and tendency.

He goeth (ὑπάγει)

Or, is going. See on John 6:21; see on John 8:21.

Hath blinded (ἐτύφλωσεν)

For the image see Isaiah 6:10. See on closed, Matthew 13:15. Compare John 1:5, and see note on κατέλαβεν, overtook; John 11:35, John 11:40. The aorist tense, blinded, indicates a past, definite, decisive act. When the darkness overtook, it blinded. The blindness is no new state into which he has come.

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