1 John 3:24
And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
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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 he that keepeth his commandments ... - See the notes at John 14:23.

And hereby we know that he abideth in us - That is, this is another certain evidence that we are true Christians. The Saviour had promised John 14:23 that he would come and take up his abode with his people. John says that we have proof that he does this by the Spirit which he has given us. That is, the Holy Spirit is imparted to his people to enlighten their minds; to elevate their affections; to sustain them in times of trial; to quicken them in the performance of duty; and to imbue them with the temper and spirit of the Lord Jesus. When these effects exist, we may be certain that the Spirit of God is with us; for these are the "fruits" of that Spirit, or these are the effects which he produces in the lives of men. Compare the notes at Galatians 5:22-23. On the evidence of piety here referred to, see the notes at Romans 8:9, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:16. No man can be a true Christian in whom that Spirit does not constantly dwell, or to whom he is not "given." And yet no one can determine that the Spirit dwells in him, except by the "effects" produced in his heart and life. In the following chapter, the apostle pursues the subject suggested here, and shows that we should examine ourselves closely, to see whether the "Spirit" to which we trust, as furnishing evidence of piety, is truly the Spirit of God, or is a spirit of delusion.

24. dwelleth in him—The believer dwelleth in Christ.

and he in him—Christ in the believer. Reciprocity. "Thus he returns to the great keynote of the Epistle, abide in Him, with which the former part concluded" (1Jo 2:28).

hereby—herein we (believers) know that he abideth in us, namely, from (the presence in us of) the Spirit "which He hath given us." Thus he prepares, by the mention of the true Spirit, for the transition to the false "spirit," 1Jo 4:1-6; after which he returns again to the subject of love.

He that keepeth his commandments, i.e. he whose whole soul is thus formed to obediential compliance with the Divine will,

dwelleth in him; hath most intimate union with God in Christ; which is evident by that Spirit given to us, which hath effected both that holy frame, and that union: see John 14:23.

And he that keepeth his commandments,.... Attends to those instructions and declarations concerning faith in Christ, and love to the brethren, and acts according to them:

dwelleth in him, and he in them; that is, he dwells in Christ, and Christ dwells in him; the same is said of believing in Christ under the figurative expressions of eating his flesh, and drinking his blood; see Gill on John 6:56;

and hereby we know that he abideth in us; or dwelleth in us, as before,

by the Spirit which he hath given us; which if understood of private Christians, as the preceding verses incline to, the sense is, that union to Christ, and the continuance of it, or his indwelling as a fruit of union, and the permanency of that, are evidenced by the Spirit of God; who is given in consequence of union and relation to Christ, as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, of faith and love, of adoption, and as the earnest of the heavenly inheritance; but if of the apostles and ministers of the word, it may regard the gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed on them, fitting them for their work and office, and who is a spirit of truth, and not of error; and by having and enjoying these, they knew that Christ abode in them, and had reason to believe, according to his promise, that he would be with them, and with his ministering: servants in succession, to the end of the world; and this sense seems to be encouraged by the former part of the following chapter.

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the {f} Spirit which he hath given us.

(f) He means the Spirit of sanctification, whereby we are born again and live to God.

1 John 3:24. After the apostle has mentioned the substance of the divine commandment, he describes the keeping of it as the condition of fellowship with God, and states the mark whereby the Christian knows that God is in him.

καί is the simple copula, not = itaque; τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ is a resumption of the ἡ ἐντολὴ αὐτοῦ of 1 John 3:23; the plural is used because the commandment is described as containing two elements; αὐτοῦ = τοῦ Θεοῦ, not Χριστοῦ (Sander, Neander, Besser).

ἐν αὐτῷ μένει κ.τ.λ.] The mention of fellowship with God, which consists in this, that we abide in God and God abides in us,[251] is explained by the purpose of the Epistle.

ΚΑῚ ἘΝ ΤΟΎΤῼ ΓΙΝΏΣΚΟΜΕΝ] ἘΝ ΤΟΎΤῼ is referred by Lücke and Ebrard to the preceding, namely to ΤΗΡΕῖΝ ΤᾺς ἘΝΤΟΛᾺς ΑὐΤΟῦ; but thus there results a superfluous thought, for with the connection which according to the apostle exists between the keeping of God’s commandments and God’s abiding in us, and which he has expressed in the first half of the verse, it is plainly superfluous to say once more that we know the latter by the former; it is, besides, contradicted by the following ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς, which has induced Lücke to assume a combination of two trains of thought and an ambiguity of ἘΝ ΤΟΎΤῼ,[252] and Ebrard arbitrarily to supply with ἐκ τ. πνεύματος the words “we know;” Düsterdieck, de Wette, Erdmann, Braune, etc., refer ἐν τούτῳ to ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος, so that according to the apostle it is from the πνεῦμα which is given to us that we know that God is in us if we keep His commandments; comp. 1 John 4:12-13, where the same connection of ideas occurs. The change of the prepositions ἐν and ἐκ is certainly strange, but does not render this interpretation “impossible” (Ebrard); for, on the one hand, the form: “ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν,” is too familiar to the apostle not to have suggested itself to him here; and, on the other hand, by ἐκ the πνεῦμα is indicated as the source from which that γινώσκειν flows; besides, the construction with ἐκ appears also in chap. 1 John 4:6.

By πνεῦμα is here to be understood, just as by χρῖσμα in chap. 1 John 2:20, “the Holy Ghost,” who lives and works in the believer, but not, with Socinus, the disposition or the love produced by Him; or, with de Wette, “first of all the true knowledge and doctrine of the person of Jesus.” With this verse the apostle makes the transition to the following section, in which, with reference to the false teachers, the distinction is made between the πνεῦμα τοῦ Θεοῦ and the πνεῦμα which is not ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ.

[251] When Weiss defines the abiding or being of God in him who keeps His commandments, in this way, that God who is known, or the knowledge of God, is the determining principle of his spiritual life, this seems “to weaken the powerful realism of John’s conception;” yet Weiss guards himself against this when he says that he does not in any way diminish the divine causality in the act of regeneration, but only means thereby that God accomplishes this act by means of His revelation in Christ, which must be accepted into knowledge.

[252] The two thoughts which Lücke considers as combined here are—(1) that we in the keeping of God’s commandments know that we are in fellowship with Him, and (2) that the τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολάς is nothing else than the expression and operation of the Divine Spirit.—It is plainly quite mistaken for Paulus to regard ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος as the subject belonging to μένει.

1 John 3:24. τὰς ἐντ. αὐτ., “the commandments of God,” resuming 1 John 3:22. Cf. 1 John 4:15. ἐκ, the assurance is begotten of the Spirit; see note on 1 John 2:21. οὗ for , by attraction to the case of the antecedent (cf. Luke 2:20; Revelation 18:6). ἔδωκεν, “gave,” i.e., when first we believed. For the thought cf. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14; also Romans 8:15-16.

24. And he that keepeth his commandments] This looks back to the same phrase in 1 John 3:22, not to the conclusion of 1 John 3:23, which is parenthetical. Therefore ‘His’ means God’s, not Christ’s.

dwelleth in him] Better, abideth in Him: it is S. John’s favourite word, which occurs twice in this verse (see on 1 John 2:24). “Let God be a home to thee, and be thou a home of God” (Bede). This mutual abiding expresses union of the strongest and closest kind: comp. 1 John 4:13; 1 John 4:16; John 6:56; John 15:4-5. S. John once more insists on what may be regarded as the main theme of this exposition of Christian Ethics; that conduct is not only not a matter of indifference, but is all-important. We may possess many kinds of enlightenment, intellectual and spiritual; but there is no union with God, and indeed no true knowledge of Him, without obedience: comp. 1 John 1:6, 1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:6; 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:6-7; 1 John 3:9. ‘He that willeth to do His will shall know’ (John 7:17).

and hereby] Or, and herein, as in 1 John 3:16; 1 John 3:19, 1 John 2:3; 1 John 2:5, 1 John 4:9-10; 1 John 4:13; 1 John 4:17, 1 John 5:2. This probably refers to what follows; but the change of preposition in the Greek, a change obliterated in both A. V. and R. V., renders this not quite certain. S. John writes, not ‘hereby we know … by the Spirit’ (which would place the connexion beyond a doubt), but ‘herein (ἐν) we know … from (ἐκ) the Spirit’.

we know] Literally, we come to know; it is a matter of Christian experience.

by the Spirit] Better, from the Spirit: this is the source from which the knowledge is derived. This is the first mention of the Spirit in the Epistle, although He is alluded to in 1 John 2:20.

which he hath given us] Or, which He gave us. The verb is aorist, not perfect; and though this is a case where the English perfect might represent the Greek aorist, yet as the Apostle probably refers to the definite occasion when the Spirit was given, the aorist seems better. This occasion in S. John’s case would be Pentecost, in that of his readers, their baptism. Thus in our Baptismal Service we are exhorted to pray that the child “may be baptized with water and the Holy Ghost”; and in what follows we pray, “wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost”; and again, “give Thy Holy Spirit to this infant, that he may be born again”: after which follows the baptism.

It would be possible to translate ‘by the Spirit of which He has given us’, a partitive genitive, meaning ‘some of which’ as in Macbeth, I. iii. 80,

“The earth hath bubbles as the water has,

And these are of them”.

And in Bacon’s Essays, Of Atheisme, “You shall have of them, that will suffer for Atheisme, and not recant”. But the Greek genitive here is probably not partitive but the result of attraction. S. John commonly inserts a preposition (ἐκ) with the partitive genitive (2 John 1:4; John 1:24; John 7:40; John 16:17; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 11:9; comp. John 21:10). Tyndale here translates ‘Therby we knowe that ther abydeth in us of the sprete which He gave us’, making ‘of the Spirit’ (= a portion of the Spirit) the nominative to ‘abideth’; which is grammatically possible, but scarcely in harmony with what precedes. The change from Tyndale’s rendering to the one adopted in A. V., and (with change of ‘hath given’ to ‘gave’) in R. V. also, is due to Coverdale.

Once more (see note between 1 John 2:28-29 and on 1 John 3:10) we are led to a fresh section almost without knowing it. In the last six verses of this chapter (19–24) the transition from verse to verse is perfectly smooth and natural; so also in the previous six verses (13–18). Nor is the transition from 1 John 3:18 to 1 John 3:19 at all violent or abrupt. By a very gradual movement we have been brought from the contrast between love and hate to the gift of the Spirit. And this prepares the way for a new subject; or rather for an old subject treated from a new point of view. Like the doublings of the Maeander near which he lived, the progress of the Apostle at times looks more like retrogression than advance: but the progress is unmistakable when the whole field is surveyed. Here we seem to be simply going back to the subject of the antichrists (1 John 2:18-28); but whereas there the opposition between the Holy Spirit in true believers and the lying spirit in the antichrists is only suggested (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 2:27), here it is the dominant idea.

1 John 3:24. Ἐκ τοῦ Πνεύματος, from or by the Spirit) This is the first mention of the Holy Spirit in this Epistle, in accordance with the Divine economy here, as also in the Gospel of John, John 14:1-3; John 14:26. And in this verse there is a kind of transition to the discussion respecting the Holy Spirit, which follows immediately in the beginning of ch. 4. It is given to us by the Spirit, and it is the Spirit which is given.

Verse 24. - We are again in doubt as to whether αὐτοῦ and αὐτός refer to God the Father or to Christ. The former seems better on account of verse 22; but the latter may be right (John 14:15; John 15:5). Compare the conclusion of the first main division (1 John 2:24-28). In this (or, hereby) probably refers to what follows; the ἐν does not disprove this, in spite of the ἐκ which follows. St. John has combined two constructions: "In this we know... in that" ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν... ὅτι, as in verse 16; and "From this we know... from" ἐκ τούτου γινώσκομεν... ἐκ τοῦ; comp. 1 John 4:6. From the Spirit which he gave us. "He" is probably the Father (John 14:16, 17), and the aorist ἔδωκεν refers to the special occasion of Pentecost. Hitherto St. John has mentioned only the Father and the Son; now the Spirit also (alluded to in 1 John 2:20, 27) is introduced by name as a witness and test of the truth. The sentence forms the transition to the subject of the next section (1 John 4:1-6), which is a sort of digression, the subject of love being mentioned in verse 7. This verse is said to have been a favourite with Spinoza.

1 John 3:24Abideth in Him and He in Him

"Therefore let God be a home to thee, and be thou the home of God: abide in God, and let God abide in thee" (Bede).


The first mention of the Spirit in the Epistle. Never found with Holy in the Epistles or Revelation.

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