1 John 3:15
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
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1 John 3:15. He, I have just said, who loveth not his brother, abideth in death; is void of the life of God: for whosoever hateth his brother — And there is no medium between loving and hating him; is — In God’s account; a murderer — Every degree of hatred being a degree of the same temper which moved Cain to murder his brother. And no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him — But every loving believer hath. For love is the beginning of eternal life. It is the same in substance with future felicity and glory. The word ανθρωποκτονος, here rendered murderer, is by Macknight translated a manslayer, who, as he observes, differs from a murderer as manslaughter differs from murder: adding, “The hatred of one’s brother may be the occasion, by accident, of putting him to death. For he who indulgeth hatred to his brother, lays himself open to the influence of such passions as may hurry him to slay his brother. So our Lord tells us, in his explication of the precept, Thou shalt not kill, Matthew 6:21. For he mentions causeless anger and provoking speeches as violations of that command, because they are often productive of murder.”3:11-15 We should love the Lord Jesus, value his love, and therefore love all our brethren in Christ. This love is the special fruit of our faith, and a certain sign of our being born again. But none who rightly know the heart of man, can wonder at the contempt and enmity of ungodly people against the children of God. We know that we are passed from death to life: we may know it by the evidences of our faith in Christ, of which love to our brethren is one. It is not zeal for a party in the common religion, or affection for those who are of the same name and sentiments with ourselves. The life of grace in the heart of a regenerate person, is the beginning and first principle of a life of glory, whereof they must be destitute who hate their brother in their hearts.Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer ... - That is, he has the spirit of a murderer; he has that which, if it were acted out, would lead him to commit murder, as it did Cain. The private malice, the secret grudge, the envy which is cherished in the heart, is murderous in its tendency, and were it not for the outward restraints of human laws, and the dread of punishment, it would often lead to the act of murder. The apostle does not say that he who hates his brother, though he does not in fact commit murder, is guilty to the same degree as if he had actually done it; but he evidently means to say that the spirit which would lead to murder is there, and that God will hold him responsible for it. Nothing is missing but the removal of outward restraints to lead to the commission of the open deed, and God judges people as he sees them to be "in their hearts." What a fearful declaration, then, is this! How many real murderers there are on the earth besides those who are detected and punished, and besides those open violators of the laws of God and man who go at large! And who is them that should not feel humbled and penitent in view of his own heart, and grateful for that sovereign mercy which has restrained him from open acts of guilt - for who is there who has not at some period of his life, and perhaps often, indulged in feelings of hatred, and envy, and malice toward others, which, if acted out, would have led to the commission of the awful crime of taking human life? Any man may well shudder at the remembrance of the secret sins of his own heart, and at the thought of what he would have been but for the restraining grace of God. And how wonderful is that grace which, in the case of the true Christian, not only restrains and checks, but which effectually subdues all these feelings, and implants in their place the principles of love! 15. hateth—equivalent to "loveth not" (1Jo 3:14); there is no medium between the two. "Love and hatred, like light and darkness, life and death, necessarily replace, as well as necessarily exclude, one another" [Alford].

is a murderer—because indulging in that passion, which, if followed out to its natural consequences, would make him one. "Whereas, 1Jo 3:16 desires us to lay down our lives for the brethren; duels require one (awful to say!) to risk his own life, rather than not deprive another of life" [Bengel]. God regards the inward disposition as tantamount to the outward act which would flow from it. Whomsoever one hates, one wishes to be dead.

hath—Such a one still "abideth in death." It is not his future state, but his present, which is referred to. He who hates (that is, loveth not) his brother (1Jo 3:14), cannot in this his present state have eternal life abiding in him.

That life into which the regenerate are begotten, is nothing else than the beginning or first principle of eternal life, John 4:14, whereof they cannot but be destitute who hate their brethren; a thing so contrary to the Divine life, nature, and image, and which makes the person affected with it, in the temper and habit of his mind, a very murderer. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer,.... A soul murderer, as the Ethiopic version renders it; not only of himself, for every sinner, by sinning, wrongs and destroys his own soul; but of his brother whom he hates: he is a murderer of him in his heart, even as he that lusts after a woman hath committed adultery with her in his heart, out of which arise murders, as well as adulteries; it is not only taking away life, but also causeless anger, malice, and hatred, that is a breach of the sixth command; see Matthew 5:21;

and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him; he has not the grace of life, or the beginning of eternal life in him; he has no meetness for it, being unregenerate; and no right unto it, being unrighteous; nor has he the earnest and pledge of it, being destitute of the Spirit of God; all which a regenerate man has, and has them abiding in him: not but that the sin of murder may be forgiven; a man guilty of it may truly repent, and have pardoning grace applied unto him, and enjoy eternal life, through the grace of the Spirit, and the blood and righteousness of Christ; but without these he is so far from having eternal life, that he is not only punishable with a corporeal death, according to the laws of God and man; but he is exposed unto, and will die the second, or an eternal death.

{15} Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

(15) A confirmation: Whoever is a murderer, is in eternal death: he who hates his brother is a murderer, therefore he is in death. Thereupon follows the other side: He that loves his brother has passed to life, for indeed we are born dead.

1 John 3:15. πᾶς ὁ μισῶν] instead of the preceding: μὴ ἀγαπῶν; not loving and hating are one and the same thing:[226] for pure indifference is not possible to the living human soul.

ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἐστί] This word (except only in John 8:44, used of the devil) does not signify the murderer of the soul, whether one’s own or one’s brother’s, but the murderer in the strict sense. Every one who hates his brother is a murderer, not merely inasmuch as hatred sometimes leads to murder, but because by his nature he is inclined to the destruction of his brother, and if he does not attain this object is only hindered from it by other opposing forces. As in the moral life it is not the outward act in itself, but the intention, that is of consequence, every one who lives in hatred towards his brother must by the moral consciousness (or by God, Drusius, Hornejus) be regarded as a murderer; comp. Matthew 5:21 ff., Matthew 5:27-28.

Hence it is clear that the real thought of the apostle is missed when μισεῖν is here limited to the odium perfectum (Hornejus). Baumgarten-Crusius erroneously denies that ἈΝΘΡΩΠΟΚΤΌΝΟς refers to Cain, 1 John 3:12; this reference is clearly patent.

ΚΑῚ ΟἼΔΑΤΕ] de Wette: “whence? from the Christian consciousness in general.”

ὍΤΙ Πᾶς ἈΝΘΡΩΠΟΚΤΌΝΟς Κ.Τ.Λ.] He who takes his brother’s life cannot and must not retain life himself, his life decays in death; that is the order appointed by God; comp. Genesis 9:6. Accordingly he who in his heart murders his brother, cannot be in possession of the life which dwells in the heart, i.e. of “eternal life.” By ζωὴ αἰώνιος we are to understand the same thing as in 1 John 3:14 was described by the simple word ΖΩΉ; and ἜΧΕΙ is to be retained as the actual present; erroneously a Lapide: non habebit gloriam vitae.

The adjective ΜΈΝΟΥΣΑΝ Lücke, with whom Sander agrees, appealing to the parable of the unmerciful servant, explains by the fact that John is speaking to Christians who already had some part in eternal life. But the expression Πᾶς Ὁ ΜΙΣῶΝ shows that John is here speaking quite generally, and, indeed, in order to confirm the preceding thought: Ὁ ΜῊ ἈΓΑΠῶΝ ΜΈΝΕΙ ἘΝ Τῷ ΘΑΝΆΤῼ; it must therefore be the condition of those who form the ΚΌΣΜΟς (to whom also the mere nominal Christians belong), of those accordingly who have no part in the ΖΩῊ ΑἸΏΝΙΟς, that is stated. By ΜΈΝΟΥΣΑΝ is therefore not suggested the loss of a previously possessed good; just as little as in the corresponding passage, Gospel of John 5:38 : τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, where also the meaning is not that those addressed have previously had the word of God, for this is distinctly denied in John 5:37. The ΜΈΝΟΥΣΑΝ is rather explained by the fact that he alone really has the ΖΩῊ ΑἸΏΝΙΟς in whom it abides (comp. chap. 1 John 2:19); ΜΈΝΕΙΝ expresses here also, according to John’s usus loquendi, the idea of being in a strengthened degree, and may accordingly be used quite apart from any reference to the previous state; μένουσαν is to be connected with ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ; he has not the life abiding, i.e. surely and firmly existing, in him.[227]

[226] Wrongly Nicol. de Lyra: odisse pejus quam non diligere.

[227] It is incorrect to say, with Braune: “by μένουσαν the existence of eternal life from baptism, etc., is indicated,” since in the context there is no reference whatever to baptism, instruction, etc., and the advantage resulting therefrom. Weiss artificially explains: “John supposes the case of a person having eternal life, and now goes so far as to say that even such an one may not have it permanently at least, but may be in the condition of losing it if by hating his brother he becomes a murderer;” such a case John would not and could not at all assume. Very strange is Ebrard’s interpretation: “supposing that the murderer had at the time the ζωὴ αἰώνιος in him (which, however, according to ver. 9, is not possible in the full (!) sense), yet this would not remain in him, he would again fall away from the ζωή (which just for this reason could not be genuine),” as well as his assertion that ζωὴν αἰών. is here used without the article, because John could not ascribe to him who is not a true child of God “the eternal life,” but “eternal life,” i.e. powers of the future world. Comp. against this, 1 John 5:13.1 John 3:15. An echo of the teaching of Jesus. See Matthew 5:21-22 and cf. Smith, The Days of His Flesh, pp. 96–98.15. Whosoever hateth his brother] Or, Every one that hateth his brother: see on 1 John 3:4. Quite as a matter of course S. John passes from not loving to hating. The crisis caused in the world by the coming of the light leaves no neutral ground: all is either light or darkness, of God or of the evil one, of the Church or of the world, in love or in hate. A Christian cannot be neither loving nor hating, any more than a plant can be neither growing nor dying.

is a murderer] Or, as most of the earlier Versions, is a manslayer. The word (ἀνθρωποκτόνος) occurs only here and John 8:44. The mention of Cain just before renders it certain that ‘murderer’ is not to be understood figuratively as ‘soul-destroyer’. Human law considers overt acts; God considers motives. The motives of the hater and of the murderer are the same: the fact that one is, and the other is not, deterred by laziness or fear from carrying out his hatred into homicidal action, makes no difference in the moral character of the men, though it makes all the difference in the eyes of the law. This is only applying to the sixth commandment the principle which the Lord Himself applies to the seventh (Matthew 5:28).

ye know that no murderer] Once more (1 John 3:14) the Apostle appeals to their consciousness as Christians (οἴδατε): it is not a matter of experience gradually acquired (γινώσκετε), but of knowledge once for all possessed. He who is a murderer at heart cannot along with the deadly spirit which he cherishes have eternal life as a sure possession. Comp. ‘Ye have not His word abiding in you,’ John 5:38. S. John of course does not mean that hatred or murder is a sin for which there is no forgiveness. But ‘the soul that sinneth, it shall die’; and the sin of which the special tendency is destruction of life is absolutely incompatible with the possession of eternal life. ‘But for … murderers … their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death’ (Revelation 21:8). Here, as elsewhere, S. John speaks of eternal life as something which the Christian already has, not which he hopes to win: comp. 1 John 5:13; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47; John 6:54, &c. Eternal life has nothing to do with time, and is neither lost nor gained by physical death: see on John 11:25.—The form of expression in this verse is similar to 1 John 2:19, being literally, every murderer hath not, instead of ‘no murderer hath’.1 John 3:15. Ἀνθρωποκτόνος, a murderer) as Cain. All hatred is an attempt against life: but life [spiritual] does not assail life [physical]. He who hates his brother desires either that his brother or himself should not live. Hence duels.[9]—μένουσαν, abiding) Eternal life is in very deed in him who believes and loves.

[9] Whereas ver. 16 desires us to lay down our life for the brethren, duels require one (awful to say!) to risk his own life rather than not deprive another of his life. This is the part of desperate insanity, far removed from bravery. We may suppose that the devil himself wonders how men, bearing also the Christian name, can have fallen so low. It is to be lamented that the men of chief authority in the world, with all the power that has been entrusted to them by God, either are not able, or not willing, to suppress duels. One single atrocity of this kind has power to involve in the direst guilt before God the whole human race, the whole assembly of Christians, or a whole camp of soldiers.—V. g.Verse 15. - As in 1 John 4:20, St. John passes at once from not loving to hating, treating the two as equivalent. He takes no account of the neutral ground of indifference. He that is not for his brother is against him. Indifference is hate quiescent, there being nothing to excite it. Love is the only security against hate. And as every one who does not love is potentially a hater, so every hater is potentially a murderer. A murderer is a hater who expresses his hatred in the most emphatic way. A hater who does not murder abstains for various reasons from this extreme way of expressing his hate. But the temper of the two men is the same; and it is obvious (οἴδατε "ye know what needs no evidence") that every murderer is incapable of possessing eternal life. It is the murderous temper, not the act of homicide, that excludes from eternal life. St. John, of course, does not mean that murder is an unpardonable sin; but he shows that hate and death go together, as love and life, and that the two pairs are mutually exclusive. How can life and the desire to extinguish life be compatible? It is very forced to interpret ἀνθρωποκτόνος as either "destroyer of his own soul," or "destroyer of the hated man's soul," by provoking him to return hate for hate. Murderer (ἀθρωποκτόνος)

Manslayer. Only here and John 8:44, of the devil.

Hath eternal life, etc.

The contrast is suggestive between the sentiment embodied in this statement and that of Pagan antiquity respecting murder, in the Homeric age, for instance. "With regard to the practice of homicide, the ordinary Greek morality was extremely loose.... Among the Greeks, to have killed a man was considered in the light of misfortune, or, at most, a prudential error, when the perpetrator of the act had come among strangers as a fugitive for protection and hospitality. On the spot, therefore, where the crime occurred, it could stand only as in the nature of a private and civil wrong, and the fine payable was regarded, not (which it might have been) as a mode, however defective, of marking any guilt in the culprit, but as, on the whole, an equitable satisfaction to the wounded feelings of the relatives and friends, or as an actual compensation for the lost services of the dead man. The religion of the age takes no notice of the act whatever" (Gladstone "Homer and the Homeric Age," ii., 436).

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