1 John 2:21
I have not written to you because you know not the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
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1 John 2:21-23. I have not written unto you — In the manner I have done; because ye know not the truth — In which case I must have entered largely into the discussion of this matter; but, on the contrary, I have contented myself with these short intimations; because ye know it — Approve of and embrace it, and I am desirous to confirm you in the knowledge of it; and because no lie is of the truth — No false doctrine can proceed from, or agree with, that gospel which you have embraced; in other words, that all the doctrines of these antichrists are irreconcilable to it. Or perhaps the doctrine, contrary to that which was taught by the apostles, may be called a lie, because the teachers who propagated such doctrines knew them to be false, especially the doctrines which they propagated concerning the person and actions of Christ. They, therefore, in particular are called ο ψευστης, the liar, as in the next clause. Who is the liar — The false teacher foretold to come before the destruction of Jerusalem; but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ — Who is guilty of that lying but he who denies the truth which is the sum of all Christianity? That Jesus is the Christ, that he is the Son of God, that he came in the flesh, is one undivided truth; and he that denies one part, in effect denies the whole. He is antichrist — He deservedly bears that name; that denieth the Father and the Son — Denies God to be the Father of Christ, by denying Christ to be his Son. Or who, in denying the Son, denies the Father also. He denies the Son directly, and by consequence denies the Father, who testified by a voice from heaven that Jesus was his Son, and by all the miracles which Christ wrought. Whosoever denieth the Son — Even the only-begotten and eternal Son of God, either in his person, his natures, offices, or merits. The same hath not the Father — Has no interest in him as his Father, since that is obtained only through Christ; and, consequently, he hath not communion with the Father. But he that truly and believingly acknowledgeth the Son, hath communion with the Father also — The last clause of this verse, in our English Bible, is printed in italic letters, to show that it is not in the common Greek copies. Beza, however, hath inserted it in his edition of the Greek Testament, on the authority of some ancient MSS., and of the Syriac and Vulgate versions. Mill also, on this verse, mentions a number of MSS. which have this clause. Estius reckoned it genuine, as did Doddridge, who says, “It is to be found in so many good MSS. that I cannot but believe it made a part of the original, by whatever accident it was omitted in some early copy, to which, as it seems, too much regard has been paid.”2:18-23 Every man is an antichrist, who denies the Person, or any of the offices of Christ; and in denying the Son, he denies the Father also, and has no part in his favour while he rejects his great salvation. Let this prophecy that seducers would rise in the Christian world, keep us from being seduced. The church knows not well who are its true members, and who are not, but thus true Christians were proved, and rendered more watchful and humble. True Christians are anointed ones; their names expresses this: they are anointed with grace, with gifts and spiritual privileges, by the Holy Spirit of grace. The great and most hurtful lies that the father of lies spreads in the world, usually are falsehoods and errors relating to the person of Christ. The unction from the Holy One, alone can keep us from delusions. While we judge favourably of all who trust in Christ as the Divine Saviour, and obey his word, and seek to live in union with them, let us pity and pray for those who deny the Godhead of Christ, or his atonement, and the new-creating work of the Holy Ghost. Let us protest against such antichristian doctrine, and keep from them as much as we may.I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth - You are not to regard my writing to you in this earnest manner as any evidence that I do not suppose you to be acquainted with religion and its duties. Some, perhaps, might have been disposed to put this construction on what he had said, but he assures them that that was not the reason why he had thus addressed them. The very fact that they did understand the subject of religion, he says, was rather the reason why he wrote to them.

But because ye know it - This was the ground of his hope that his appeal would be effectual. If they had never known what religion was, if they were ignorant of its nature and its claims, he would have had much less hope of being able to guard them against error, and of securing their steady walk in the path of piety. We may always make a strong and confident appeal to those who really understand what the nature of religion is, and what are the evidences of its truth.

And that no lie is of the truth - No form of error, however plausible it may appear, however ingeniously it may be defended and however much it may seem to be favorable to human virtue and happiness, can be founded in truth. What the apostle says here has somewhat the aspect of a truism, but it contains a real truth of vital importance, and one which should have great influence in determining our minds in regard to any proposed opinion or doctrine. Error often appears plausible. It seems to be adapted to relieve the mind of many difficulties which perplex and embarrass it on the subject of religion. It seems to be adapted to promote religion. It seems to make those who embrace it happy, and for a time they apparently enjoy religion. But John says that however plausible all this may be, however much it may seem to prove that the doctrines thus embraced are of God, it is a great and vital maxim that no error can have its foundation in truth, and, of course, that it must be worthless. The grand question is, "what is truth;" and when that is determined, we can easily settle the inquiries which come up about the various doctrines that are abroad in the world. Mere plausible appearances, or temporary good results that may grow out of a doctrine, do not prove that it is based on truth; for whatever those results may be, it is impossible that any error, however plausible, should have its origin in the truth.

21. but because ye know it, and that, &c.—Ye not only know what is the truth (concerning the Son and the Father, 1Jo 2:13), but also are able to detect a lie as a thing opposed to the truth. For right (a straight line) is the index of itself and of what is crooked [Estius]. The Greek is susceptible of Alford's translation, "Because ye know it, and because no lie is of the truth" (literally, "every lie is excluded from being of the truth"). I therefore wrote (in this Epistle) to point out what the lie is, and who the liars are. He prudently intimates his confidence concerning them, together with the pleasure he himself took (as any one would) in communicating the sentiments of holy truth to prepared, receptive minds; implying also, that any part of false doctrine doth so ill match and square with the frame of Divine truth, that judicious Christians may discern they are not of a piece. I have not written unto you,.... Either this epistle, or rather what particularly here regards those apostates from the truth, in order to shun them and not be deceived by them: the apostle here obviates an objection that he saw might be made upon what he last said, that they knew all things; and, if so, why then did he write the things he did, since they knew them before? to which he answers, that he did not write to them as to ignorant, but as to knowing persons:

because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it: the Father, who is the God of truth; Christ, who is truth itself; and the Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth; and the Gospel, which is the word of truth; and the Scriptures, which are the Scriptures of truth, and from whence truth is to be fetched, and by them to be confirmed and defended; and which, if they had not known, it would have been to no purpose for him to have written to them about the antichrists that were come into the world; and though they did know the truth, it was very proper to put them in remembrance of it, and to establish them in it, against these deceivers, which supposes former knowledge of it:

and that no lie is of the truth; either springs from it, or is according to it, but just the reverse. The apostle has respect to the errors and heresies of the above apostates, which were flagrant contradictions to the Gospel, and as distant from it as a lie is to truth; and of such lies, and of those liars, he speaks in the next verses. The Arabic version reads, "and that every liar is not of the truth".

{22} I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

(22) The taking away of an objection, He did not write these things to men who are ignorant of religion, but rather to those who know the truth well, yes so far that they are able to discern truth from falsehood.

1 John 2:21. οὐκ ἔγραψα ὑμῖν] does not refer to the whole Epistle (Beza), but to that which is said of the antichrists; comp. 1 John 2:26.[170]

ὅτι οὐκ οἴδατε τὴν ἀλήθειαν κ.τ.λ.] ὅτι = because (comp. 1 John 2:12-14); the apostle does not want to teach the anointed Christians for the first time the truth which was revealed in Christ, but he is writing to them because they know it; a Lapide: non ut haec vos doceam, sed ut doctos confirmem.

καὶ ὅτι πᾶν ψεῦδος κ.τ.λ.] This ὅτι is not co-ordinate with the preceding one, but is dependent on οἴδατε. Luther, correctly according to the sense: “but ye know it, and know that,” etc.

πᾶν ψεῦδος, quite generally, though with special reference to the antichristian doctrine; ψεῦδος: “not merely error, but lie” (de Wette)—the absolute antithesis of ἀλήθεια; Lange quite arbitrarily thinks that the abstract is here put for the concrete: “that no false teacher can be a genuine Christian.” It is incorrect to take πᾶνοὐ as a Hebraism = οὐδέν; οὐ belongs rather to the predicate.

ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἔστι] ἐκ here also indicates the source, and does not express merely the connection (de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius). Because the lie is not of the truth, so also it has no connection with it; Lorinus: ex vero non nisi verum sequitur, et verum vero consonat. Whence the lie, which is not ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας, originates, Christ says in John 8:44 : The truth is from God, who is Himself the truth; the lie from the devil, who is not in the truth.

[170] Ebrard refers this ἔγραψα also arbitrarily to the Gospel of John.1 John 2:21. ἔγραψα, “I wrote,” may refer to the Gospel, which is an exposition of the Incarnation, ἡ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἔνσαρκος οἰκονομία (cf. note on 1 John 2:14); but more probably “aor. referring to the moment just past” (Jebb on Soph. O.T. 337). The aor. is appropriate. No sooner has he spoken of the antichrists than he hastens to reiterate his assurance of confidence in his readers. τὴν ἀλήθειαν, see note on 1 John 1:8. ἐκ, of parentage (cf. 1 John 3:8-10). His readers had only to be reminded of their experience (οἴδατε), and it would keep them from being led astray. An experience is an anchor to the soul in time of storm. “Tell me,” said the dying Cromwell to a minister, “is it possible to fall from grace?” “No, it is not possible.” “Then I am safe, for I know that I was once in grace” (Morley’s Oliver Cromwell, V. x.).21. I have not written] Literally, as in 1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 2:26, I wrote not, or, did not write: it is the aorist in the Greek. But (whatever may be true of 1 John 2:13-14) what we have here is almost certainly the epistolary aorist, which may be represented in English either by the present or by the perfect. ‘I have written’ probably does not refer to the whole letter, but only to this section about the antichrists; this seems clear from 1 John 2:26. ‘Do not think from my warning you against lying teachers that I suspect you of being ignorant of the truth: you who have been anointed with the Spirit of truth cannot be ignorant of the truth. I write as unto men who will appreciate what I say. I write, not to teach, but to confirm’. “S. John does not treat Christianity as a religion containing elements of truth, or even more truth than any religion which had preceded it. S. John presents Christianity to the soul as a religion which must be everything to it, if it is not really to be worse than nothing” (Liddon).

because ye know not the truth; but because ye know it, and that, &c.] There are no less than three ways of taking this, depending upon the meaning given to the thrice-repeated conjunction (ὅτι), which in each place may mean either ‘because’ or ‘that’. 1. As A.V.; because, … but because … and that. The A.V. follows the earlier Versions in putting ‘that’ in the last clause: so Wiclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, &c. 2. As R.V.; ‘because’ in each clause. 3. ‘That’ in each clause: ‘I have not written that ye know not the truth, but that ye know it, and that &c.’ This last is almost certainly wrong. As in 1 John 2:13-14 the verb ‘write’ introduces the reason for writing and not the subject-matter or contents of the Epistle. And if the first conjunction is ‘because’, it is the simplest and most natural to take the second and third in the same way. The Apostle warns them against antichristian lies, not because they are ignorant, but (1) because they possess the truth, and (2) because every kind of lie is utterly alien to the truth they possess. “There is the modesty and the sound philosophy of an Apostle! Many of us think that we can put the truth into people, by screaming it into their ears. We do not suppose that they have any truth in them to which we can make appeal. S. John had no notion that he could be of use to his dear children at Ephesus unless there was a truth in them, a capacity of distinguishing truth from lies, a sense that one must be the eternal opposition of the other” (Maurice).

no lie is of the truth] Literally, every lie is not-of-the truth: the negative belongs to the predicate (comp. 1 John 3:15). ‘Of the truth’ here is exactly analogous to ‘of the Father’ and ‘of the world’ in 1 John 2:16 and to ‘of us’ in 1 John 2:19. Every lie is in origin utterly removed from the truth: the truth springs from God; lying from the devil, ‘for he is a liar and the father thereof’ (John 8:44). See on 1 John 2:16.1 John 2:21. Ἔγραψα, I have written) He did that at the end of 1 John 2:13.—ὅτι, because) Thus 1 John 2:13, note. The address is very confirmatory: Be assured that ye know: comp. 1 John 2:3.—τὴν ἀλήθειαν) the truth, respecting the Son, and so respecting the Father: the verse cited above.—πᾶν ψεῦδος, every lie) The truth is altogether true, and nourishes no falsehood.Verse 21. - The first οὐκ belongs to ὅτι, not to ἔγραψα: I wrote to you, not because ye know not, etc. It does not mean "I omitted to write to you because ye know not." Whatever meaning we give to the aorists in verses 13, 14 need not be retained here. There is here no abrupt change from present to aorist. Moreover, verse 26 limits this ἔγραψα to the present section. What in verse 20 is spoken of as "all things" (assuming πάντα to be right) is here spoken of as "the truth." St. John writes to well-instructed Christians, to adults in the faith. It is precisely because they "know the truth" that he addresses them, especially to warn them against antichrists. We are in doubt whether καὶ ὅτι, depends upon ἔγραψα ("and because")or upon οἴδατε ("and that"). The former is better; it introduces a second reason for his writing. Some take ὅτι, in all three places as "that" after ἔγραψα: "I did not write to you and say that ye know not the truth, but that ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth." Every lie is fundamentally and ab origine ἐκ separate from the truth; and hence his readers will easily recognize lies and liars, for they know the truth. I have not written (οὐκ ἔγραψα)

Or, I wrote not. See on 1 John 2:13.

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