1 John 3:10
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
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3:3-10 The sons of God know that their Lord is of purer eyes than to allow any thing unholy and impure to dwell with him. It is the hope of hypocrites, not of the sons of God, that makes allowance for gratifying impure desires and lusts. May we be followers of him as his dear children, thus show our sense of his unspeakable mercy, and express that obedient, grateful, humble mind which becomes us. Sin is the rejecting the Divine law. In him, that is, in Christ, was no sin. All the sinless weaknesses that were consequences of the fall, he took; that is, all those infirmities of mind or body which subject man to suffering, and expose him to temptation. But our moral infirmities, our proneness to sin, he had not. He that abides in Christ, continues not in the practice of sin. Renouncing sin is the great proof of spiritual union with, continuance in, and saving knowledge of the Lord Christ. Beware of self-deceit. He that doeth righteousness is righteous, and to be a follower of Christ, shows an interest by faith in his obedience and sufferings. But a man cannot act like the devil, and at the same time be a disciple of Christ Jesus. Let us not serve or indulge what the Son of God came to destroy. To be born of God is to be inwardly renewed by the power of the Spirit of God. Renewing grace is an abiding principle. Religion is not an art, a matter of dexterity and skill, but a new nature. And the regenerate person cannot sin as he did before he was born of God, and as others do who are not born again. There is that light in his mind, which shows him the evil and malignity of sin. There is that bias upon his heart, which disposes him to loathe and hate sin. There is the spiritual principle that opposes sinful acts. And there is repentance for sin, if committed. It goes against him to sin with forethought. The children of God and the children of the devil have their distinct characters. The seed of the serpent are known by neglect of religion, and by their hating real Christians. He only is righteous before God, as a justified believer, who is taught and disposed to righteousness by the Holy Spirit. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. May all professors of the gospel lay these truths to heart, and try themselves by them.In this the children of God are manifest ... - That is, this furnishes a test of their true character. The test is found in doing righteousness, and in the love of the brethren. The former he had illustrated; the latter he now proceeds to illustrate. The general idea is, that if a person is not truly a righteous person, and does not love the brethren, he cannot be a child of God. Perhaps by the phrase in this, using a pronoun in the singular number, he means to intimate that an important part of righteousness consists in brotherly love.

Whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God - In 1 John 3:7, he had said that "he that doeth righteousness is of God."

If that is true, then what he here affirms must be true also, that a man who does not righteousness is not of God. The general idea is the same, that no one can be a true Christian who is not in fact a righteous man.

Neither he that loveth not his brother - The illustration of this point continues to 1 John 3:18. The general sense is, that brotherly love is essential to the Christian character, and that he who does not possess it cannot be a Christian. On the nature and importance of brotherly love as an evidence of piety, see the notes at John 13:34-35.

10. children of the devil—(See on [2643]1Jo 3:8; Ac 13:10). There is no middle class between the children of God and the children of the devil.

doeth not righteousness—Contrast 1Jo 2:29.

he that loveth not his brother—(1Jo 4:8); a particular instance of that love which is the sum and fulfilment of all righteousness, and the token (not loud professions, or even seemingly good works) that distinguishes God's children from the devil's.

Upon what was said, he reduces all men each to their own family and father, concluding it manifest whither they belonged; i.e. he shows, upon the grounds before expressed, who do not belong to God and his family, leaving it thence to be collected, since two fathers and families divide the world, to which they must be reckoned; i.e. they belong not to God, and consequently to that worst of fathers, who first, in the general, do not righteousness; the devil being the first sinner, they are his descendants; and who next, particularly, love not their brethren, which most expressly demonstrates a diabolical nature.

In this the children of God are manifest,.... By regenerating grace, and not sinning, in the sense before explained, in consequence of it: adoption is an act of God's grace and sovereign will; it is secret in his own heart, and is secured in divine predestination, and in the covenant of grace, and is antecedent to regeneration: regeneration and faith do not make men the children of God, but manifest them to be so; adoption makes them the children of God, and entitles them to the inheritance; regeneration gives them the nature of the children of God, and makes them meet for it, and manifests their right unto it; not to the men of the world, but to themselves and other saints:

and the children of the devil; such as imitate him, do his will and his lusts, and are openly under his power and influence; these are distinguishable from regenerate persons, and the children of God, by their lives and conversations; so the people of the nations of the world are called, "the children of Samael", and the serpent, by the Jews (m), which are with them the names of the devil.

Whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God: that is, he does; not appear to be born of God, who does not by faith lay hold on the righteousness of Christ for his justification before God, and acceptance with him; and who does not do works of righteousness in faith from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God; for where regenerating grace is, there will be such graces and such practices:

neither he that loveth not his brother; for as he that loveth God, and Christ, and the brethren, appears manifestly to be born again, and to have passed from death to life, so he that does not is in darkness, in a state of unregeneracy, and walks and continues therein; for was he born again, he would be taught of God to love the saints; see 1 John 4:7.

(m) Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 34. 2.

{9} In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, {10} neither he that loveth not his brother.

(9) The conclusion: by a wicked life they are known who are governed by the Sprit of the devil: and by a pure life who are God's children.

(10) He begins to commend charity towards the brethren as another mark of the sons of God.

a1John 3:10 a concludes the development of the thought with the sharp antithesis of the children of God and the children of the devil.

ἐν τούτῳ is by most commentators justly referred to the preceding, inasmuch as in 1 John 3:9 the characteristic sign of the τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ, and in 1 John 3:8 that of the τέκνα τοῦ διαβόλου, are stated. Some commentators, however (a Lapide, Grotius, S. Schmidt, Spener, Episcopius, Ebrard, etc.), refer it to what follows; but as in this only the one part of the antithesis is resumed, this reference is found to necessitate an arbitrary supplement; the explanation of a Lapide is clearly quite erroneous: hae sunt duae tesserae et quasi duo symbola filiorum et militum Dei, sc. justitia et caritas.

φανερά ἐστι] The εἶναι ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ, and equally the εἶναι ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου, are in their principle internal, and therefore concealed: it is by the different ποιεῖν that the different nature is disclosed; comp. Matthew 7:16.

The expression: τὰ τέκνα τοῦ διαβόλου, nowhere else in the N. T. except in Acts 13:10 : υἱὸς διαβόλου, is easily explained from 1 John 3:8; comp. also John 8:44. Sander supposes a distinction between these and the children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3; while the latter name signifies all who are not born again, the latter only signifies those among them “who despise the grace offered to them in Christ, and wantonly set themselves against it.” This is, however, incorrect; as the whole conduct of men falls under the contrast of ἁμαρτάνειν and οὐχ ἁμαρτάνειν, so the distinction of τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ and τέκνα τοῦ διαβόλου, that is based on it, equally embraces the whole of humanity (see also Braune). Socinus accordingly with justice says: Ex Apostoli verbis satis aperte colligi potest, quod inter filios Dei et filios Diaboli nulli sint homines medii.

1 John 3:10 b. Transition to the section on brotherly love.

πᾶς ὁ μὴ ποιῶν δικαιοσύνην] refers to 1 John 3:7, and further to chap. 1 John 2:29; the meaning of ποιεῖν δικαιοσύνην is here the same as there; only that the idea δικαιοσύνη is indicated by the article as definite and restricted; comp. 1 John 3:8 : τὴν ἁμαρτίαν; 1 John 3:9 : ἁμαρτίαν.

οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ] = οὐκ ἔστιν τέκνον τοῦ Θεοῦ.

καὶ ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὑτοῦ] Calvin correctly says: hoc membrum vice expositions additum est. The ἀγάπη is not a part of the δικαιοσύνη (Bengel, Spener, Lange, Neander, Gerlach), still less something different from the δικαιοσύνη, which must be connected with it (Rickli), or even forms an antithesis to it (Socinus[217]); but it is the essence and nature of the δικαιοσύνη (so also Braune[218]), or rather the ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗ itself in reference to the brethren; comp. Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14; Colossians 3:14; 1 Timothy 1:5; John 14:15. Besser: “brotherly love is the essence of all righteous life;” it is related to ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗ just as to the ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ ΚΑΘῺς ἘΚΕῖΝΟς ΠΕΡΙΕΠΆΤΗΣΕ, chap. 1 John 2:6. Ebrard erroneously tries to prove from the ΑὙΤΟῦ which is added that ἈΔΕΛΦΌς = Ὁ ΠΛΗΣΊΟΝ, Luke 10:36, and is therefore used differently from 1 John 2:9-11, 1 John 4:20-21, for that John in this relative sentence passes on to the love of Christians towards one another is quite clear from 1 John 3:11; the ΑὙΤΟῦ only shows that, though in the foregoing the antithesis between the regenerate and the unregenerate is quite generally stated, this is for the special consideration of Christians. It is incomprehensible that the view, according to which John in this section speaks of Christian brotherly love (i.e. the love of Christians towards one another), is in antagonism with Matthew 5:44; 1 Corinthians 4:12 (according to Ebrard). The coordinating καί is epexegetical = “namely;” it is unnecessary to supply οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τ. Θ.

[217] While Socinus understands by δικαιοσύνην ποιεῖν juste vivere ex praescriptione Mosaicac legis et ipsius humanae rationis, he explains ἀγάπη as the transcendent Christian virtue of sacrifice for the brethren.

[218] Ebrard and Myrberg object to this, that it may be true of love to God only, but not of love to the brethren; but Christian brotherly love is, according to John, certainly identical with love to God, for the Christian loves his brother as one who is born of God.

1 John 3:10-22. This seetion treats of brotherly love as the substance of δικαιοσύνη, and is therefore most closely connected with the foregoing; it is the commandment of Christ (1 John 3:11), instead of which hatred reigns in the world (1 John 3:12-13); with love, life is connected; with hatred, death (1 John 3:14-15); in Christ we possess the ideal and example of love (1 John 3:16). True love consists not in word, but in deed (1 John 3:17-18); it produces firm confidence towards God, and obtains an answer to prayer (1 John 3:19-22).

1 John 3:10-12. The Evidence of Divine Sonship, viz., Human Brotherhood.

10. In this] These words, like ‘for this cause’ (1 John 3:1) refer to what precedes rather than to what follows: but here what follows is similar to what precedes, so that in any case ‘in this’ means ‘by doing or not doing righteousness’.

are manifest] A man’s principles are invisible, but their results are visible: ‘By their fruits ye shall know them’ (Matthew 7:16-20).

the children of the devil] The expression occurs nowhere else in N. T., but we have ‘son of the devil,’ Acts 13:10 : comp. ‘children of wrath’ (Ephesians 2:3), and ‘ye are of your father the devil’ (John 8:44). All mankind are God’s children by creation: as regards this a creature can have no choice. But a creature endowed with free will can choose his own parent in the moral world. The Father offers him the ‘right to become a child of God’ (John 1:12); but he can refuse this and become a child of the devil instead. There is no third alternative.

It was for pressing the doctrine that a tree is known by its fruits to an extreme, and maintaining that a world in which evil exists cannot be the work of a good God, that the heretic Marcion was rebuked by S. John’s disciple Polycarp, in words which read like an adaptation of this text, “I know thee for the firstborn of Satan” (Iren. Haer. III. iii. 4). And in his Epistle (VII. 1) Polycarp writes, “Whosoever does not confess the witness of the cross is of the devil”.

neither he that loveth not his brother] Here again note the way in which S. John’s divisions shade off into one another (see on 1 John 2:28-29). Doing righteousness, the mark of God’s children, suggests the thought of brotherly love, for love is righteousness in relation to others; ‘For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Galatians 5:14). Love suggests its opposite, hate; and these two form the subject of the next paragraph. Some editors would make the new section begin here in the middle of 1 John 3:10. It is perhaps better to draw the line between 1 John 3:12-13, considering 1 John 3:11-12 as transitional.

‘He that loveth not his brother is not of God’, for a child of God will love all whom God loves. This prepares us for the statements in 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:20-21.

1 John 3:10. Ἐν τούτῳ, in this) This is to be referred to the preceding words.—καὶ ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν, and he who does not love) A transition from the genus, or the whole to a part.

Verse 10. - The question whether "in this" ἐν τούτῳ refers to what precedes or to what follows is here unimportant, for both are similar in meaning; and "in this" may refer to both. "By their fruits ye shall know them." The children of God do righteousness, and not sin; the children of the devil do sin, and not righteousness. Of course, moral parentage is meant in both cases. Nothing here lends any countenance to the view that the writer is a dualist and inculcates two principles of existence - God and the devil. All, whether good or bad, are God's creatures (John 1:3); but while all are his children by creation, some become his children spiritually also, while others become the children of Satan. St. John's "teaching about the devil is not at all agreeable to those who dwell exclusively on the sunny aspects of the world and of life, and would shut their eyes to what is dark and terrible. They like to hear of a Being who is all-gracious and loving; the vision of one who is the enemy of all that is gracious and loving shocks them - they wish to suppose that it belongs to the world's infancy, and that it disappears as we know more" (Maurice). The expression, "the children of the devil," must not be confounded with the Hebraistic expressions, "children of perdition, children of darkness," "children of light, son of death," "son of perdition," etc. As so often, St. John not only restates the case in a new form, but adds a new thought to it - he that loveth not his brother. This forms the link with the next section (verses 13-24), on brotherly love. Of all failures in doing righteousness this is the most conspicuous - failing to love one's brother. And who is my brother? The answer is the same as to the question, "And who is my neighbour?" Mankind at large. The meaning cannot be limited to the children of God. Even τοὺς ἀδελφούς (verses 14, 16) does not exclude unbelievers, still less does τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ. This is confirmed:

(1) By the fact that the opposite case (verse 13) is the children of the world hating Christians; the true opposite of Christians loving Christians would be the children of the world hating one another.

(2) By the cited example of Christ (verse 16), who died for us when we were aliens from God. Of course, if the Christian must love all men, a fortiori he must love Christians. 1 John 3:10In this (ἐν τούτῳ)

See on 1 John 2:3.

Children of the devil (τέκνα τοῦ διαβόλου)

The only occurrence of the phrase. Compare Acts 13:10, and see John 8:44.


Here the article is wanting, compare 1 John 3:7. Righteousness is regarded, not in its completeness, but as bearing a particular character. It will be interesting to follow out the same distinction between the following words with and without the article: ἀμαρτία sin; ἀγάπη love; ζωή life; ἀλήθεια truth.

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