1 John 3:23
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 John 3:23-24. And this is his commandment, That we should believe, &c. — Namely, all his commandments: in one word, That we should believe and love — In the manner and degree which he hath taught. This is the greatest and most important command that ever issued from the throne of glory. If this be neglected, no other can be kept; if this be observed, all others are easy. And he that keepeth his commandments — That thus believes and loves; dwelleth, or abideth in him — In Christ Jesus, or in God the Father; and he — Christ, or the Father; in him — This seems to be an allusion to our Lord’s words, John 14:23; If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. That is, in this way we obtain fellowship with the Father, as well as with the Son; yea, the most intimate acquaintance, friendship, and communion, and are thereby made unspeakably happy; and hereby we know that he abideth in us — That we have this intimate union and communion with him; by the Spirit which he hath given us — The Spirit of adoption and regeneration, witnessing with our spirits that we are his children, and producing in us love, joy, and peace, holiness and happiness. 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 this is his commandment - His commandment, by way of eminence; the leading, principal thing which he enjoins on us; the commandment which lies at the foundation of all true obedience.

That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ - See the notes at Mark 16:16. Compare John 16:1; Acts 16:31.

And love one another ... - This follows from the other, and hence they are mentioned as together constituting his commandment. Notes, John 13:35.

23. Summing up of God's commandments under the Gospel dispensation in one commandment.

this is his commandment—singular: for faith and love are not separate commandments, but are indissolubly united. We cannot truly love one another without faith in Christ, nor can we truly believe in Him without love.

believe—once for all; Greek aorist.

on the name of his Son—on all that is revealed in the Gospel concerning Him, and on Himself in respect to His person, offices, and atoning work.

as he—as Jesus gave us commandment.

Thus briefly is comprehended the whole of our duty towards God in Christ, and one another, in a like summary as that, Ecclesiastes 12:13. And this is his commandment,.... Having mentioned the keeping of the commandments of God, the apostle proceeds to show what they are; that they are faith in Christ, and love to one another; which two are reduced to one, because they are inseparable; where the one is, the other is; faith works by love.

That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ; Christ is the object of faith, and he is no, as he is Jesus, a Saviour; faith deals with him as such, and will have no other Saviour but he: and now to believe in him, is not merely to believe that he is the Son of God, the true Messiah, the Saviour of the world, that he is come in the flesh, has suffered, and died, and rose again from the dead, is ascended into heaven, and is set down at the right hand of God, makes intercession for his people, and will come again to judge the quick and dead; but it is to go forth in special and spiritual acts upon him, such as looking at him, coming to him, venturing on him, trusting in him for life and salvation, committing all into his hands, and expecting all from him. And this is called a "commandment", and comes under the notion of one; not that it is properly a law, or belongs to the law; for faith in Christ Jesus is a fruit of electing grace, and a blessing of the covenant of grace; it is the free gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit, and is peculiar to the elect of God, and sheep of Christ; and so cannot belong to the law of works; but, as the Hebrew words, and both signify any doctrine, and instruction in general; see Psalm 19:7; so the word here used designs an evangelical doctrine, a divine instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Gospel, which declares that he that believes in Christ shall be saved; and so the word is used for a doctrine in this epistle, 1 John 2:7; and that of the next command or doctrine, which follows,

and love one another as he gave us commandment; that is, as Christ taught and instructed his disciples, John 13:34.

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 John 3:23. With this verse, which—as the statement of the substance of God’s commandments—is most closely connected with the preceding, begins a new leading section, indeed the last in the Epistle, inasmuch as in ἵνα πιστεύσωμεν τῷ ὀνόματι κ.τ.λ. a new element of the development of ideas appears, by which the sequel is not merely “prepared for” (Ebrard), but is dominated.

καί is not explicative, but simply copulative.

αὕτη refers to the following ἵνα, which here also does not merely state the purpose (Braune), but the substance.

ἡ ἐντολὴ αὐτοῦ] The singular is used, because the manifold commandments in their inner nature form one unity: this is especially true of the two commandments of faith and love, here mentioned. From the fact that faith is described as an ἐντολή, it must not be inferred that it is not a work of God in man, but it certainly follows that neither can it be accomplished without the self-activity of man.

The phrase πιστεύειν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ υἱοῦ κ.τ.λ. only appears here; in chap. 1 John 5:13 the preposition εἰς is used instead of the dative; so also in John 1:12; John 2:23; John 3:18, etc.; by the dative the ὄνομα of Christ is indicated as the object of devoted, believing trust;[249] “to believe on the name of Christ” is, however, identical with “to believe on Christ,” inasmuch as in the name the nature of Him who is spoken of is expressed; comp. Meyer on John 1:12. Grotius quite erroneously: propter Christum sive Christo auctore Deo credere.

While faith is the fundamental condition of the Christian life, brotherly love is the active proof of the living character of the faith; the two things cannot be separated from one another; hence it follows here: ΚΑῚ ἈΓΑΠῶΜΕΝ ἈΛΛΉΛΟΥς,[250] which as the effect is distinguished from πιστεύειν as the cause; ΚΑΊ is therefore copulative and not epexegetical (as Frommann thinks, p. 591).

The subordinate clause: ΚΑΘῺς ἜΔΩΚΕΝ ἘΝΤΟΛῊΝ ἩΜῖΝ, is best referred to ἈΓΑΠῶΜΕΝ ἈΛΛΉΛΟΥς, inasmuch as it is not God (Estius, Bengel, Sander) but Christ that is to be regarded as the subject; by καθώς (“in proportion as”) the quality of love is indicated: it must correspond to the commandment of Christ; Myrberg: Non modo amandum est, sed etiam vere et recte amandum.

[249] Weiss has been at pains to show that πιστεύειν in John does not include the clement of trust; in this, however, he is wrong, because even where the element of conviction prevails in the use of the word, this must not be identified with the theoretical belief, which is a mere act of the understanding, but it includes as an essential element the immediate trust of the words or of the person to which the πιστεύειν refers; in the phrase: πιστεύειν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰ. Χρ., the ethical meaning of the verb is so much the more to be recognised, as the denial of it necessitates also a weakening of the idea ὄνομα.

[250] Frommann (p. 200) wrongly concludes from this passage and 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:19, in which the obligation to love is expressed, that being born of God is conditioned by love, as the free act of man, “by which He keeps His independent personality and freedom towards God” (!), nay, even is produced by it (p. 205).1 John 3:23. Cf. our Lord’s summary of the commandments in Matthew 22:34-40 = Mark 12:28-31, and observe the apostolic narrowing of τὸν πλησίον σου (cf. Luke 10:29-37) to ἀλλήλους, i.e. τούς ἀδελφούς (see note on 1 John 2:9). τῷ ὀνόματι, see note on 1 John 2:12.23. And this is his commandment] Or, And His commandment is this; see on 1 John 1:5. Here the singular is right: the various commandments, especially the two here named, faith and love, are summed up as one whole. This verse is the answer to those who would argue from the preceding verses that all that is required of us is to do what is right; it does not much matter what we believe. Not so says the Apostle. In order to do what is right it is necessary to believe: this is the first step in our obedience to God’s commands.

that we should believe] For ‘that’ (ἵνα) see on 1 John 1:9 : here perhaps it merely “gives the nature and contents of the commandment, not the aim” (Jelf).

believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ] More accurately, believe the Name of &c. It is not the precise phrase used 1 John 5:13, John 1:12; John 2:23; John 3:18 (πιστεύειν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα), a construction of which S. John is very fond, but a phrase which occurs nowhere else in N. T. (πιστεύειν τῷ ὀνόματι), a construction similar to that in 1 John 4:1, 1 John 5:10. The former is the stronger expression, marking the more permanent trust and repose; but in such a phrase as this there cannot be much difference between ‘believing’ and ‘believing on’. ‘To believe His Name’ means to believe all that His Name (here given with solemn fulness) signifies and implies; His Divinity, His Sonship, and His office as Mediator, Advocate and Saviour.

and love one another] ‘Faith if it have not works is dead’ (James 2:17): hence the necessity for adding ‘and love one another’, which of course means love ‘in deed and truth’ (1 John 3:18). ‘And’ here is not epexegetic: it adds something fresh, giving active love as the necessary effect of living faith. ‘Love’ is in the present tense of what must be continual.

as he gave us commandment] Or even as (to mark the difference between καθώς and ὡς). ‘He gave’ refers to Christ, just mentioned; and this limits ‘commandment’ to ‘love one another’ (John 13:34; John 15:12; John 15:17): moreover love rather than faith is the subject of this portion of the Epistle. ‘To give commandment’ is a phrase which in N. T. is peculiar to S. John (John 11:57, John 12:49, John 13:34): it occurs in Demosthenes.1 John 3:23. Τῷ ὀνόματι) on the name. Comp. Hebrews 6:10.—καθὼς, as) This particle belongs to the verbs, we should believe and love.[12]

[12] ἡμῖν, to us) This pronoun, though expressed in the Germ. Vers., is regarded by the margin of both Greek Editions as spurious.—E. B.

ABC Vulg. Memph. Lucif. Add ἡμῖν: so Lachm. Tisch. omits it, with inferior authorities.—E.Verse 23. - And his commandment is this (comp. verse 11), that we should believe the Name, etc. "Do not forget," St. John would say, "what the full scope of his commandment is. It is not exhausted by loving the brethren; we must also believe in his Son: and the one implies the other." What is the meaning of "believing the Name πιστεύειν τῷ ὀνόματι? We can believe a document (John 2:22; John 5:47), or a statement (John 5:47; John 12:38), or a person (John 10:37, 38); but how can we believe a name? By believing those truths which the name implies: in the present case by believing that Jesus is the Saviour, is the Messiah, is the Son of God. To produce this belief and its consequence, eternal life, is the purpose of St. John's Gospel (John 20:31); it is also the will of God (John 6:40), and the command of his Son (John 14:1). This belief will inevitably produce as its fruit that we "love one another [present tense of what is habitual], even as Christ gave us commandment" (John 13:34; John 15:12, 17). Throughout the Epistle, and especially in this passage (verses 22-24), the references to Christ's farewell discourses in the Gospel are frequent. Here the main ideas of those discourses are represented - obedience to the Divine commands, particularly as to faith and love; promised answer to prayer, abiding in God; the gift of the Spirit (see on 1 John 4:5). Believe on the name (πιστεύσωμεν τῷ ὀνόματι)

See on John 1:12; see on 1 John 1:7.

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