1 John 3:22
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
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3:22-24 When believers had confidence towards God, through the Spirit of adoption, and by faith in the great High Priest, they might ask what they would of their reconciled Father. They would receive it, if good for them. And as good-will to men was proclaimed from heaven, so good-will to men, particularly to the brethren, must be in the hearts of those who go to God and heaven. He who thus follows Christ, dwells in Him as his ark, refuge, and rest, and in the Father through him. This union between Christ and the souls of believers, is by the Spirit he has given them. A man may believe that God is gracious before he knows it; yet when faith has laid hold on the promises, it sets reason to work. This Spirit of God works a change; in all true Christians it changes from the power of Satan to the power of God. Consider, believer, how it changes thy heart. Dost not thou long for peace with God? Wouldst thou not forego all the world for it? No profit, pleasure, or preferment shall hinder thee from following Christ. This salvation is built upon Divine testimony, even the Spirit of God.And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him - If we are truly his children, and ask in a proper manner. See the notes at Matthew 7:7. Compare Mark 11:24; Luke 11:9; Luke 18:1 ff; John 14:13; John 15:7; 1 John 5:14. The declaration here made must be understood with these limitations:

(1) that we ask in a proper manner, James 4:3; and,

(2) that the thing asked shall be such as will be consistent for God to give; that is, such as he shall see to be best for us, 1 John 5:14. See the notes at this latter passage.

Because we keep his commandments - Not that this is the meritorious ground of our being heard, but that it furnishes evidence that we are his children, and he hears his children as such.

And do those things that are pleasing in his sight - As a parent is disposed to bestow favors on obedient, affectionate, and dutiful children, so God is on those who please him by their obedience and submission to his will. We can have no hope that he will hear us unless we do so live as to please him.

22. we receive—as a matter of fact, according to His promise. Believers, as such, ask only what is in accordance with God's will; or if they ask what God wills not, they bow their will to God's will, and so God grants them either their request, or something better than it.

because we keep his commandments—Compare Ps 66:18; 34:15; 145:18, 19. Not as though our merits earned a hearing for our prayers, but when we are believers in Christ, all our works of faith being the fruit of His Spirit in us, are "pleasing in God's sight"; and our prayers being the voice of the same Spirit of God in us, naturally and necessarily are answered by Him.

It is supposed, where there is that accord with God, that what was last, and is next after, said implies, there will be no disposition to ask any thing disagreeable to his will, or otherwise than as he hath expressed his will about the matter of prayer. And then,

whatsoever we ask, we receive, i.e. are as sure to receive it, in the kind or in equivalence, as if we had it, 1Jo 5:14.

Because we keep his commandments; i.e. this is the cause of our certainty, being the evidence of our state God-ward, Psalm 66:18,19; not of our receiving the things prayed for, which we only owe to his free promised mercy in Christ.

And whatsoever we ask we receive of him,.... According to his promise, Matthew 7:7; that is, whatever is asked according to the will of God, in the name of Christ, and for his sake, and in faith, nothing wavering, but believing in God, in his covenant and promises, for these are provisos in the case; and such as ask in this way may exercise an holy confidence that they shall receive; and indeed they do receive what they ask for; see 1 John 5:14;

because we keep his commandments; not that keeping the commands of God is the meritorious cause of receiving anything from him; for when men have done all they can, or are assisted to do, they are but unprofitable servants in point of merit: whatever is received from God, as it is in consequence of asking, so it is entirely owing to his own grace and favour, and for the sake of Christ; but keeping the commands of God is a necessary adjunct, or, as Calvin on the text calls it, an inseparable accident, or what necessarily belongs unto, and enters into the character of such, who are heard and answered by God, and receive at his hands; for there is a great deal of truth in what the Jews say to the blind man, John 9:31; and which may serve as a comment on these words:

and do those things that are pleasing in his sight; as keeping of his commandments is; not that these things ingratiate into the love and favour of God, or are the causes and conditions of it, for the love of God is prior to anything of this kind; nor are they the causes of men's acceptance with God, for the acceptance both of persons and services is only in Christ the beloved; but these things are what God approves of, when done in faith, from a principle of love, and with a view to his glory: and since he hears such persons that are worshippers of him, and do his will, and has promised good things to them; this is therefore a reason strengthening their confidence in him, that what they ask they shall receive.

{22} And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

(22) The conclusion, that faith in Christ and love one towards another are things joined together, and therefore the outward testimonies of sanctification must and do answer that inward testimony of the Spirit given to us.

1 John 3:22. By καί the following is closely connected with the preceding, inasmuch as it states what further happens when, in consequence of non-condemnation on the part of the heart, the παῤῥησία πρὸς τὸν Θεόν exists; it is not merely the consciousness of the hearing of our prayers, but it is this hearing itself.

ὃ ἐὰν αἰτῶμεν] is to be taken quite generally, and must not be spoiled by arbitrary limitations; the necessary limitation lies, on the one hand, in the subject itself: the child of God asks for nothing which is contrary to his Father’s will, comp. 1 John 5:14; and, on the other hand, in the παῤῥησία with which he prays; comp. Matthew 21:22; the contrary in Jam 1:6-7.

λαμβάνομεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ] i.e. τοῦ Θεοῦ. The present is not used instead of the future (Grotius); the subject is here not something future, but what constantly occurs in the life of believers. Augustine suitably says: Charitas ipsa gemit, charitas ipsa orat, contra hanc aures claudere non novit, qui illam dedit.

ὅτι τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ.] ὅτι is connected with the immediately preceding λαμβάνομεν, and states the ground of God’s manifestation of love in the hearing of prayer; this ground, which, however, is not to be regarded as the causa meritoria, is the childlike obedience of him who prays, wherein God recognises him as His child; the idea of obedience is expressed in two mutually co-ordinate sentences (similar to the Hebrew parallelism): τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ and τὰ ἀρεστὰ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ are synonymous;[248] by ΠΟΙΕῖΝ the obedience is specified as active; the second clause indicates that it consists, not in a slavish subjection to the commandment, but in a childlike fulfilment of that which is pleasing to God. In John 8:29, ἀρεστόν is construed with the dative; only in Acts 6:2; Acts 12:3 is the word besides found; similar is the expression: ἈΠΌΔΕΚΤΟΝ ἘΝΏΠΙΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ (1 Timothy 5:4).

[248] Meyer actually thinks that by ἀρεστά are meant the so-called consilia evangelica, by which ordinary Christians are not bound, but which are voluntarily undertaken by Christians who are specially holy!

22. This verse is so closely connected with the preceding one, that not more than a comma or semicolon should be placed between them. When a good conscience gives us boldness towards God our prayers are granted, for children in such relations to their heavenly Father cannot ask anything which He will refuse.

And whatsoever we ask] The ‘and’ is probably epexegetic, as in 1 John 3:20, and explains the special character of our boldness. See on 1 John 3:15.

we receive of him] The present is to be taken quite literally; not as the present for the future. It may be a long time before we see the results of our prayer; but it is granted at once. As S. Augustine says, ‘He who gave us love cannot close His ears against the groans and prayers of love’.

because we keep his commandment] This should certainly be plural, commandments: previous English Versions have the plural, and there seems to be no trace of a various reading, so that one suspects a misprint in the edition of 1611. ‘Because’ depends upon ‘receive’, not upon ‘have boldness’: we receive because we are loyal. This is in harmony with the Gospel and with Scripture generally: ‘We know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do His will, him He heareth’ (John 9:31); ‘The Lord is far from the wicked, but He heareth the prayer of the righteous’ (Proverbs 15:29; comp. Psalm 66:18-19; Job 27:8-9; Isaiah 1:11-15). For ‘keep His commandments’ see on 1 John 2:3.

do those things which are pleasing in his sight] Not the same as ‘keeping His commandments’: the one is obedience, which may be slavish, the other is love. We seem here to have another reminiscence of the Gospel (John 8:29): ‘Because the things pleasing to Him I always do’. Excepting Acts 6:2; Acts 12:3, the word for ‘pleasing’ occurs nowhere else in N. T. Comp. Hebrews 13:21; 1 Timothy 2:3.

Verse 22. - And (as a guarantee that this confidence is not baseless or misdirected) whatsoever we ask, we receive from him. Note the present tense: λαμβάνομεν, not ληψόμεθα. Whatever the child of God asks as such, he ipso facto obtains (John 15:7). This is the ideal condition of things; for the child of God cannot ask what displeases his Father. And we are his children "because we keep his commandments." The ὅτι must not be connected too closely with λαμβάνομεν, as if our obedience were the cause of God's hearing our prayers. Our obedience shows that we are such as can pray efficaciously. (For the parallelism, comp. Exodus 15:26; Isaiah 38:3.) 1 John 3:22We ask (αἰτῶμεν)

See on Luke 11:9.

We receive of Him (λαμβάνομεν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ)

On the form of expression, see on 1 John 1:5. For the thought, compare John 15:7.

We keep (τηροῦμεν)

See on 1 Peter 1:5. Note the combination of keep and do. Watchful discernment and habitual practice. Compare Psalm 123:2. The same combination occurs 1 John 5:2, 1 John 5:3, where instead of the first τηρῶμεν keep, read ποιῶμεν do.

Pleasing (ἀρεστά)

See John 8:29.

In His sight (ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ)

Compare ἕμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ before Him, or in His presence (1 John 3:19). In His sight "accentuates the thought of the divine regard. Compare John 7:37 and John 20:30" (Westcott).

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