1 John 3:7
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 John

PRACTICAL RIGHTEOUSNESS

1 John 3:7.

The popular idea of the Apostle John is strangely unlike the real man. He is supposed to be the gentle Apostle of Love, the mystic amongst the Twelve. He is that, but he was the ‘son of thunder’ before he was the Apostle of Love, and he did not drop the first character when he attained the second. No doubt his central thought was, ‘God is Love’; no doubt that thought had refined and assimilated his character, but the love which he believed and the love which he exercised were neither of them facile feebleness, but strong and radiant with an awful purity. None of the New Testament writers proclaims a more austere morality than does John. And just because he loved the Love and the Light, he hated and loathed the darkness. He can thunder and lighten when needful, and he shows us that the true divine love in a man recoils from its opposite as passionately as it cleaves to God and good.

Again, John is, par excellence, the mystic of the New Testament, always insisting on the direct communion which every soul may have with God, which is the essence of wholesome mysticism. Now that type of thinking has often in its raptures forgotten plain, pedestrian morality; but John never commits that error. He never soars so high as to lose sight of the flat earth below; and whilst he is always inviting us and enjoining us to dwell in God and abide in Christ, with equal persistence and force he is preaching to us the plainest duties of elementary morality.

He illustrates this moral earnestness in my text. The ‘little children’ for whom he was so affectionately solicitous were in danger, either from teachers or from the tendencies native in us all, to substitute something else for plain, righteous conduct; and the Apostle lovingly appeals to them with his urgent declaration, that the only thing which shows a man to be righteous--that is to say, a disciple of Christ--is his daily life, in conformity with Christ’s commands. The errors of these ancient Asiatics live to-day in new forms, but still substantially the same. And they are as hard to kill amongst English Nonconformists like us as they were amongst Asiatic Christians nineteen centuries ago.

I. So let me try just to insist, first of all, on that thought that doing righteousness is the one test of being a Christian.

Now that word ‘righteousness’ is a theological word, and by much usage the lettering has got to be all but obliterated upon it; and it is worn smooth like sixpences that go from pocket to pocket. Therefore I want, before I go further, to make this one distinct point, that the New Testament righteousness is no theological, cloistered, peculiar kind of excellence, but embraces within its scope, ‘whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are fair, whatsoever things are of good report’; all that the world calls virtue, all which the world has combined to praise. There are countries on the earth which are known by different names to their inhabitants and to foreigners. The ‘righteousness’ of the New Testament, though it embraces a great deal more, includes within its map all the territories which belong to morality or to virtue. The three words cover the same ground, though one of them covers more than the other two. The New Testament ‘righteousness’ differs from the moralist’s morality, or the world’s virtue, in its scope, inasmuch as it includes our relations to God as well as to men; it differs in its perspective, inasmuch as it exalts some types of excellence that the world pooh-poohs, and pulls down some that the world hallelujahs and adulates; it strips the fine feathers of approving words off some vices which masquerade as virtues. It casts round the notion of duty, of morality, of virtue, a halo, and it touches it with emotion. Christianity does with the dictates of the natural conscience what we might figure as being the leading out of some captive virgin in white, from the darkness into the sunshine, and the turning of her face up to heaven, which illuminates it with a new splendour, and invests her with a new attractiveness. But all that any man rightly includes in his notion of the things that are ‘of good report’ is included in this theological word, righteousness, which to some of you seems so wrapped in mists, and so far away from daily life.

I freely confess that in very many instances the morality of the moralist has outshone the righteousness of the Christian. Yes! and I have seen canoe-paddles carved by South Sea Islanders with no better tools than an oyster-shell and a sharp fish-bone, which in the minuteness and delicacy of their work, as well as in the truth and taste of their pattern, might put to shame the work of carvers with better tools. But that is not the fault of the tools; it is the fault of the carvers. And so, whilst we acknowledge that Christian people have but poorly represented to the world what Christ and Christ’s apostles meant by righteousness, I reiterate that the righteousness of the gospel is the morality of the world plus a great deal more.

That being understood, let me remind you of two or three ways in which this great truth of the text is obscured to us, and in some respects contradicted, in the practice of many professing Christians. First, let me say my text insists upon this, that the conduct, not the creed, makes the Christian. There is a continual tendency on our part, as there was with these believers in Asia Minor long ago, to substitute the mere acceptance, especially the orthodox acceptance, of certain great fundamental Christian truths for Christianity. A man may believe thirty-nine or thirty-nine thousand Articles without the smallest intellectual drawback, and not be one whit nearer being a Christian than if he did not believe one of them. For faith, which is the thing that makes a man a Christian to begin with, is not assent, but trust. And there is a whole gulf, wide enough to drown a world in, between the two attitudes of mind. On the one side of the gulf is salvation, on the other side of the gulf there may be loss. Of course, I know that it is hard, though I do not believe it is impossible, to erect the structure of a saving faith on a very, very imperfect intellectual apprehension of Scripture truth. That has nothing to do with my present point. What I am saying is that, unless you erect that structure of a faith which is an act of your will and of your whole nature, and not the mere assent of your understanding, upon your belief, your belief is impotent, and is of no use at all, and you might as well not have it.

What is the office of our creed in regard to our conduct? To give us principles, to give us motives, to give us guidance, to give us weapons. If it does these things then it does its work. If it lies in our heads a mere acceptance of certain propositions, it is just as useless and as dead as the withered seeds that rattle inside a dried poppy-head in the autumn winds. You are meant to begin with accepting truth, and then you are meant to take that truth as being a power in your lives that shall shape your conduct. To know, and there an end, is enough in matters of mere science, but in matters of religion and in matters of morality or righteousness knowing is only the first step in the process, and we are made to know in order that, knowing, we may do.

But some professing Christians seem to have their natures built, like ocean-going steamers, with water-tight compartments, on the one side of which they keep their creed, and there is no kind of communication between that and the other side where their conduct is originated. ‘Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous.’

Again, my text suggests conduct and not emotion.

Now there is a type of Christian life which is more attractive in appearance than that of the hard, fossilised, orthodox believer--viz., the warmly emotional and fervent Christian. But that type, all experience shows, has a pit dug close beside it into which it is apt to fall. For there is a strange connection between emotional Christianity and a want of straightforwardness in daily business life, and of self-control and government of the appetites and the senses. That has been sadly shown, over and again, and if we had time one could easily point to the reasons in human nature, and its strange contexture, why it should be so. Now I am not disparaging emotion--God forbid--for I believe that to a very large extent the peculiarity of Christian teaching is just this, that it does bring emotion to bear upon the hard grind of daily duty. But for all that, I am bound to say that this is a danger which, in this day, by reason of certain tendencies in our popular Christianity, is a very real one, and that you will find people gushing in religious enthusiasm, and then going away to live very questionable, and sometimes very mean, and sometimes even very gross and sensual lives. The emotion is meant to spring from the creed, and it is meant to be the middle term between the creed and the conduct. Why, we have learnt to harness electricity to our tramcars, and to make it run our messages, and light our homes, and that is like what we have to do with the emotion without which a man’s Christianity will be a poor, scraggy thing. It is a good servant; it is a bad master. You do not show yourselves to be Christians because you gush. You do not show yourselves to be Christians because you can talk fervidly and feel deeply. Raptures are all very well, but what we want is the grind of daily righteousness, and doing little things because of the fear and the love of the Lord.

May I say again, my text suggests conduct, and not verbal worship. You and I, in our adherence to a simpler, less ornate and æsthetic form of devotion than prevails in the great Episcopal churches, are by no means free from the danger which, in a more acute form, besets them, of substituting participation in external acts of worship for daily righteousness of life Laborare est orare--to work is to pray. That is true with explanations, commentaries, and limitations. But I wonder how many people there are who sing hymns which breathe aspirations and wishes that their whole daily life contradicts. And I wonder how many of us there are who seem to be joining in prayers that we never expect to have answered, and would be very much astonished if the answers came, and should not know what to do with if they did come. We live in one line, and worship in exactly the opposite. Brethren, creed is necessary; emotion is necessary; worship is necessary! But that on which these three all converge, and for which they are, is daily life, plain, practical righteousness.

II. Now let me say, secondly, that being righteous is the way to do righteousness.

One of the great characteristics of New Testament teaching of morality, or rather let me say of Christ’s teaching of morality, is that it shifts, if I may so put it, the centre of gravity from acts to being, that instead of repeating the parrot-cry, ‘Do, do, do’ or ‘Do not, do not, do not,’ it says, ‘Be, and the doing will take care of itself. Be; do not trouble so much about outward acts, look after the inward nature.’ Character makes conduct, though, of course, conduct reacts upon character. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,’ and the way to set actions right is to set the heart right.

Some of us are trying to purify the stream by putting in disinfectants half-way down, instead of going up to the source and dealing with the fountain. And the weakness of all the ordinary, commonplace morality of the world is that it puts its stress upon the deeds, and leaves comparatively uncared for the condition of the person, the inward self, from whom the deeds come. And so it is all superficial, and of small account.

If that be so, then we are met by this experience: that when we honestly try to make the tree good that its fruit may be good we come full front up to this, that there is a streak in us, a stain, a twist--call it anything you like--like a black vein through a piece of Parian marble, or a scratch upon a mirror, which streak or twist baffles our effort to make ourselves righteous. I am not going, if I can help it, to exaggerate the facts of the case. The Christian teaching of what is unfortunately called total depravity is not that there is no good in anybody, but that there is a diffused evil in everybody which affects in different degrees and in different ways all a man’s nature. And that is no mere doctrine of the New Testament, but it is a transcript from the experience of every one of us.

What then? If I must be righteous in order that I may do righteousness, and if, as I have found out by experience {for the only way to know myself is to reflect upon what I have done}--if I have found out that I am not righteous, what then? You may say to me, ‘Have you led me into a blind alley, out of which I cannot get? Here you are, insisting on an imperative necessity, and in the same breath saying that it is impossible. What is left for me?’ I go on to tell you what is left.

III. Union with Jesus Christ by faith makes us ‘righteous even as He is righteous.’

There is the pledge, there is the prophecy, there is the pattern; and there is the power to redeem the pledge, to fulfil the prophecy, to make the pattern copyable and copied by every one of us. Brethren, this is the very heart of John’s teaching, that if we will, not by the mere assent of our intellect, but by the casting of ourselves on Jesus Christ, trust in Him, there comes about a union between us and Him so real, so deep, so vital, so energetic, that by the touch of His life we live, and by His righteousness breathed into us, we, too, may become righteous. The great vessel and the tiny pot by its side may have a connecting pipe, and from the great one there shall flow over into the little one as much as will fill it brim full. In Him we too may be righteous.

My friend, there are men and women who are ready to set to their seals that that is true, and who can say, ‘I have found it so. By union with Jesus Christ in faith, I have received new tastes, new inclinations, a new set to my whole life, and I have been able to overcome unrighteousnesses which were too many and too mighty for myself.’ It is so; and some of us to our own consciences and consciousness are witnesses to it, however imperfectly. God forgive us! We may have manifested the renewing power of union with Christ in our daily lives.

‘Even as He is righteous’--the water in the great vessel and the little one are the same, but the vase is not the cistern. The beam comes from the sun, but the beam is not the sun. ‘Even as’ does not mean equality, but it does mean similarity. Christ is righteous, eternally, essentially, completely; we may be ‘even as He is’ derivatively, partially, and if we put our trust in Him we shall be so, and that growingly through our daily lives. And then, after earth is done with, ‘we know that, when He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’

May we each, dear brethren, ‘be found in Him, not having our own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.’1 John 3:7-10. Little, or beloved children, let no man deceive you — In this important matter, by vain words, however serious and plausible they may seem to be. For a being, himself immutably holy, can never dispense with the want of holiness in his intelligent creatures. The apostle’s words imply, that some pretenders to inspiration had endeavoured to deceive the brethren, by teaching what the apostle here condemns. And as it is a solemn address of the apostle to the disciples, it shows the importance of the matter which it introduces. He that uniformly doeth, or practiseth, righteousness, in all the known branches of it, is righteous, even as, or because, he, Christ, is righteous — He is righteous after Christ’s example. The apostle speaks of that practical righteousness which is consequent on justification and regeneration, when, being created anew in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:10,) we have both inclination and power to maintain an unblameable conduct, and all good works. He that committeth sin — That knowingly transgresses God’s law, is a child, not of God, but of the devil; for the devil sinneth — That is, hath sinned; from the beginning — Was the first sinner in the universe, and has continued to sin ever since. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested — In our flesh, lived, and died, and rose again for us; that he might destroy the works of the devil — Namely, all error, sin, and misery. And will he not perform this for, and in, all that trust in him? The word; λυση, rendered destroy, properly means to dissolve, or demolish, and implies the demolition of that horrible fabric of sin and misery which Satan, with such art, industry, and malice, hath reared in this our world. Whosoever is born of God — Is truly regenerated by divine grace, through living faith, and received into the number of God’s children; doth not — Knowingly and voluntarily; commit sin; for his seed — The incorruptible seed of the word of God, (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18,) accompanied with his Spirit, (John 3:6,) or a divine principle of living, loving, and obedient faith; remaineth in him — Implanted in his inmost soul; and he cannot sin — It would be contrary to the nature of that divine principle which is implanted in him, that he should sin; that principle having not only manifested to him the infinite evil and destructive consequences of sin, but produced in him a fixed hatred to it, and given him power over it; because he is born of God — Is inwardly and universally changed. In this — Or by this mark; the children of God are manifest, &c. — It manifestly appears, to all who have understanding to judge in spiritual matters, who are the children of God and who are not, namely, by their committing or not committing known sin. Whosoever doeth not righteousness — Does not live a holy and righteous life; is not of God — Is not one of his true children; neither he that loveth not his brother — With such a love as the apostle proceeds to describe and insist upon. Here the apostle passes from the general proposition respecting universal holiness, to a particular branch of it, namely, brotherly love.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.Little children - Notes at 1 John 2:1.

Let no man deceive you - That is, in the matter under consideration; to wit, by persuading you that a man may live in sinful practices, and yet be a true child of God. From this it is clear that the apostle supposed there were some who would attempt to do this, and it was to counteract their arts that he made these positive statements in regard to the nature of true religion.

He that doeth righteousness is righteous - This is laid down as a great and undeniable principle in religion - a maxim which none could dispute, and as important as it is plain. And it is worthy of all the emphasis which the apostle lays on it. The man who does righteousness, or leads an upright life, is a righteous man, and no other one is. No matter how any one may claim that he is justified by faith; no matter how he may conform to the external duties and rites of religion; no matter how zealous he may be for orthodoxy, or for the order of the church; no matter what visions and raptures he may have, or of what peace and joy in his soul he may boast; no matter how little he may fear death, or hope for heaven - unless he is in fact a righteous man, in the proper sense of the term, he cannot be a child of God. Compare Matthew 7:16-23. If he is, in the proper sense of the word, a man who keeps the law of God, and leads a holy life, he is righteous, for that is religion. Such a man, however, will always feel that his claim to be regarded as a righteous man is not to be traced to what he is in himself, but to what he owes to the grace of God.

Even as he is righteous - See the notes at 1 John 3:3. Not necessarily in this world to the same degree, but with the same kind of righteousness. Hereafter he will become wholly free from all sin, like his God and Saviour, 1 John 3:2.

7, 8. The same truth stated, with the addition that he who sins is, so far as he sins, "of the devil."

let no man deceive you—as Antinomians try to mislead men.

righteousness—Greek, "the righteousness," namely, of Christ or God.

he that doeth … is righteous—Not his doing makes him righteous, but his being righteous (justified by the righteousness of God in Christ, Ro 10:3-10) makes him to do righteousness: an inversion common in familiar language, logical in reality, though not in form, as in Lu 7:47; Joh 8:47. Works do not justify, but the justified man works. We infer from his doing righteousness that he is already righteous (that is, has the true and only principle of doing righteousness, namely, faith), and is therefore born of God (1Jo 3:9); just as we might say, The tree that bears good fruit is a good tree, and has a living root; not that the fruit makes the tree and its root to be good, but it shows that they are so.

he—Christ.

This caution implies the zealous endeavour of the seducers of that time, to instil their poisonous doctrine and principles of licentiousness; and his own solicitude, lest these Christians should receive them, and be mischiefed by them. Whereas therefore they were wont to suggest, that a merely notional knowledge was enough to recommend men, and make them acceptable to God, though they lived never so impure lives; he inculcates, that only they that did righteousness, viz. in a continued course, living comformably to the rules of the gospel, were righteous; and that they must aim to be so,

even as he is righteous; not only making the righteousness and holy life of Christ the object of their trust, but the pattern of their walking and practice. Little children, let no man deceive you,.... Neither by these doctrines, nor by wicked practices, drawing into the belief of the one, or into the performance of the other; suggesting, as the Gnostics did, that knowledge without practice was enough, and that it was no matter how a man lived, provided his notions of the Gospel were right:

he that doeth righteousness, is righteous; not that any man is made righteous by the works of the law, or by his obedience to the law of works, for this is contrary to the express word of God; and besides, the best righteousness of man is imperfect, and can never constitute or denominate him righteous before God; and was he justified by it; it would not only lay a foundation for boasting in him, which ought not to be, but would make the death, the sacrifice, and righteousness of Christ, to be in vain; men are only made righteous by the righteousness of Christ, which be has wrought out which is revealed in the Gospel, and received by faith, and which God imputes without works; so that he that doeth righteousness is he that being convinced of the insufficiency of his own righteousness, and of the excellency and suitableness of Christ's righteousness, renounces his own, and submits to his; who lays hold upon it, receives it, and exercises faith on it, as his justifying righteousness; and, in consequence of this, lives in a course of holiness and righteousness, in opposition to, and distinction from one that commits sin, or lives a sinful course of life; which, though it does not make him righteous in the sight of God, yet it shows him to be righteous in the sight of men, and proves that faith to be right which lays hold on the righteousness of Christ, by which he is truly righteous:

even as he is righteous; as Christ himself is righteous; and so the Syriac version reads; not as personal, or as he is personally and essentially righteous as God; but as mystical, every member of his body being clothed with the same robe of righteousness the whole body of Christ is, and indeed justified by the same righteousness that he as Mediator was, when he rose from the dead, as the representative of his people: moreover, as Christ showed himself to be righteous as man, by doing good, so believers in him, by imitating him, and walking as he walked, show themselves to be good and righteous, like, though not equal to him; for as a tree is known by its fruits, so is a good man by his good works, and a righteous man by doing righteousness; and as good fruit does not make a good tree, but shows it to be good, so good works do not make a good man, nor a man's own righteousness make him a righteous man, but show him to be so.

{7} Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

(7) Another argument of things joined together: He that lives justly, is just, and resembles Christ that is just, and by that is known to be the Son of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 John 3:7. While the apostle would reduce the specified antithesis to the last cause, and thereby bring it out in all its sharpness, he begins the new train of thought, connected, however, with the preceding, after the impressive address τεκνία (or παιδία), with the warning directed against moral indifferentism: μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς, which, as Düsterdieck rightly observes, is not necessarily founded on a polemic against false teachers (Antinomians, for instance); comp. chap. 1 John 1:8.

ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην, δίκαιός ἐστι καθὼς κ.τ.λ.] with ποιεῖν τὴν δικ., comp. chap. 1 John 2:29. From the connection with the foregoing we would expect as predicate either: ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν κ.τ.λ. (1 John 3:6), or ἐν αὐτῷ μένει (1 John 3:5); but it is peculiar to John to introduce new thoughts and references in antithetical sentences. By the subordinate clause καθὼς ἐκεῖνος (i.e. Χριστὸς) δίκαιός ἐστι he puts the idea δίκαιος in direct reference to Christ, so that the thought of this verse includes in it this, that only he who practises δικαιοσύνη has known Christ and abides in Him; for he only can be exactly καθὼς Χριστός (i.e. in a way corresponding to the pattern of Christ) who stands in a real fellowship of life with Him. It is incorrect, both to interpret, with Baumgarten-Crusius: “he who is righteous follows the example of Christ,” and also to take δίκαιος = “justified,” and to define the meaning of the verse thus: “only he who has been justified by Christ does righteousness.”[209]

There is this difference between the two ideas: ΠΟΙΕῖΝ ΤῊΝ ΔΙΚ. and ΔΊΚΑΙΟΝ ΕἾΝΑΙ, that the first signifies the action, the second the state. The reality of the latter is proved in the former. He who does not do righteousness shows thereby that he is not righteous.[210]

[209] As there is no reference here at all to justification, there is no ground whatever for the assertion of a Lapide, that the thought of this verse forms a contradiction to the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith.—The interpretation of Lorinus, that ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικ. is = qui habet in se justitiam i. e. opus gratiae, videlicet virtutem infusam, is also plainly erroneous.

[210] Braune rightly proves, against Roman Catholics and Rationalists, that “the predicate is not first attained after what is expressed in the subjective clause has taken place,” and that rather “the predicate is immanent in the subject.”1 John 3:7. An affectionate warning against Nicolaitan Antinomianism (cf. note on 1 John 1:6-7). The Apostle cuts away vain pretences by a sharp principle: a righteous character expresses itself in righteous conduct. Christ (ἐκεῖνος) is the type. He was “the Son of God,” and if we are “children of God,” we must be like Him.7. Little children] From the point of view of the present section, viz. the Divine parentage, the Apostle again warns his readers against the ruinous doctrine that religion and conduct can be separated, that to the spiritual man all conduct is alike. The renewed address, ‘Little children’, adds solemnity and tenderness to the warning.

let no man deceive you] Better, as R. V., let no man lead you astray: see on 1 John 1:8. The word implies seduction into error of a grave kind.

he that doeth righteousness] As in 1 John 3:6, we have the present participle; he who habitually does righteousness, not merely one who does a righteous act. If faith without works is dead (James 2:17; James 2:20), much more is knowledge without works dead. There is only one way of proving our enlightenment, of proving our parentage from Him who is Light; and that is by doing the righteousness which is characteristic of Him and His Son. This is the sure test, the test which Gnostic self-exaltation pretended to despise. Anyone can say that he possesses a superior knowledge of Divine truth; but does he act accordingly? Does he do divine things?

even as he is righteous] As in 1 John 3:3, we are in doubt whether ‘He’ means the Father or Christ. It is the same pronoun (ἐκεῖνος) as in 1 John 3:3, but there is not here any abrupt change of pronoun. Here also it seems better to interpret ‘He’ as Christ (1 John 2:2), rather than God (1 John 1:9).1 John 3:7. Μηδεὶς πλανάτω, let no man lead you astray) He deceives, who thinks that he can be accounted righteous without the deeds of righteousness.—[δίκαιός ἐστι, is righteous) Deuteronomy 6:25.—V. g.]Verse 7. - St. John repeats his declaration with emphasis and fresh considerations; hence the repetition of the tender address (1 John 2:1), "Little children, let no one ever seduce you into the belief that character and practice can be separated. He that doeth righteousness is righteous; for a righteous man inevitably practices righteousness." There are always persons who endeavour to reconcile religion with moral laxity, and in St. John's day some Gnostics definitely taught that conduct was immaterial to the spiritual man, for no external acts could defile such. "The external acts," says St. John, "prove the man's spiritual character and origin. He that doeth righteousness is righteous and is of God: he that doeth sin is of the devil." Note the difference between "even as" in verses 3 and 7. There καθώς introduces a pattern as a fresh motive for self-purification; here it introduces a comparison. Christ is righteous, and his character produces nothing but righteousness; so also is it with the righteous Christian. Little children

See on 1 John 2:1.

Deceive (πλανάτω)

Rev., better, lead astray. See on 1 John 1:8.

Doeth righteousness

See on 1 John 3:4, and compare 1 John 2:29. Note the article τὴν, the righteousness, in its completeness and unity. Not merely doing righteous acts. "In his relation to other men he will do what is just; and in his relation to the gods he will do what is holy; and he who does what is just and holy cannot be other than just and holy" (Plato, "Gorgias," 507).

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