1 John 5:14
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
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1 John 5:14-15. And this is the farther confidence — Παρρησια, boldness; that we have in, or with, him, that if we ask any thing — See on Matthew 7:7; according to his will — His revealed will, (for his word shows us what things we may lawfully ask,) he heareth us — Not only observes and takes notice of our petitions, but favourably regards them, and will assuredly grant them if he sees, and as far as he sees, that it will be for our present and eternal good to have them granted: see 1 John 5:15. Archbishop Tillotson supposes that this refers particularly to the apostles. “But so few of the apostles could be concerned in this advice of St. John, and there are so many promises of the answer of prayer scattered up and down in the Old and New Testaments, that I,” says Dr. Doddridge, “would by no means thus confine the interpretation.” The truth is, with regard to all spiritual blessings, such as illumination of mind, remission of sins, the divine favour, adoption into God’s family, regeneration and sanctification through his Holy Spirit, grace to help us in time of need, and eternal life, we may be sure God will grant them, if we ask them sincerely, importunately, perseveringly, and in faith, complying, in the mean time, through his grace, with the conditions or terms, on our complying with which God hath suspended the accomplishment of his promises of these blessings, namely, repentance toward him, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the truths and promises of his gospel. But with respect to temporal blessings, as we do not know how far it would be good for us to receive them, we must ask them with entire submission to the divine will, persuaded that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, other things, that he knows to be needful and useful, shall be added unto us; and that he who gives grace and glory, will withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly. And if we know that he heareth us, we know — Even before the event, (for faith anticipates the blessings,) that we have the petitions that we desired of him — And when they are received, we know they are given in answer to our prayers. The meaning of this is, that God’s hearing is not in vain; but that, as he hears in general, so he will grant in due time, and in his own way, those particular mercies which we ask of him.

5:13-17 Upon all this evidence, it is but right that we believe on the name of the Son of God. Believers have eternal life in the covenant of the gospel. Then let us thankfully receive the record of Scripture. Always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord. The Lord Christ invites us to come to him in all circumstances, with our supplications and requests, notwithstanding the sin that besets us. Our prayers must always be offered in submission to the will of God. In some things they are speedily answered; in others they are granted in the best manner, though not as requested. We ought to pray for others, as well as for ourselves. There are sins that war against spiritual life in the soul, and the life above. We cannot pray that the sins of the impenitent and unbelieving should, while they are such, be forgiven them; or that mercy, which supposes the forgiveness of sins, should be granted to them, while they wilfully continue such. But we may pray for their repentance, for their being enriched with faith in Christ, and thereupon for all other saving mercies. We should pray for others, as well as for ourselves, beseeching the Lord to pardon and recover the fallen, as well as to relieve the tempted and afflicted. And let us be truly thankful that no sin, of which any one truly repents, is unto death.And this is the confidence that we have in him - Margin, "concerning." Greek, "toward him," or in respect to him - πρὸς αὐτὸν pros auton. The confidence referred to here is that which relates to the answer to prayer. The apostle does not say that this is the only thing in respect to which there is to be confidence in him, but that it is one which is worthy of special consideration. The sense is, that one of the effects of believing on the Lord Jesus 1 John 5:13 is, that we have the assurance that our prayers will be answered. On the word "confidence," see the notes at 1 John 3:21; 1 John 4:17.

That, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us - This is the proper and the necessary limitation in all prayer. God has not promised to grant anything that shall be contrary to his will, and it could not be right that he should do it. We ought not to wish to receive anything that should be contrary to what he judges to be best. No man could hope for good who should esteem his own wishes to be a better guide than the will of God; and it is one of the most desirable of all arrangements that the promise of any blessing to be obtained by prayer should be limited and bounded by the will of God. The limitation here, "according to his will," probably implies the following things:

(1) In accordance with what he has "declared" that he is willing to grant. Here the range is large, for there are many things which we know to be in accordance with his will, if they are sought in a proper manner - as the forgiveness of sins, the sanctification of the soul, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, comfort in trial, the needful supply of our wants, grace that we may do our duty, wisdom to direct and guide us, James 1:5, deliverance from the evils which beset us, the influences of his Spirit to promote the cause of religion in the world, and our final salvation. Here is a range of subjects of petition that may gratify the largest wishes of prayer.

(2) the expression, "according to his will," must limit the answer to prayer to what "he" sees to be best for us. Of that we are not always good judges. We never perceive it as clearly as our Maker does, and in many things we might be wholly mistaken. Certainly we ought not to desire to be permitted to ask anything which "God" would judge not to be for our good.

(3) the expression must limit the petition to what it will be "consistent" for God to bestow upon us. We cannot expect that he will work a miracle in answer to our prayers; we cannot ask him to bestow blessings in violation of any of the laws which he has ordained, or in any other way than that which he has appointed. It is better that the particular blessing should be withheld from us, than that the laws which he has appointed should be disregarded. It is better that an idle man should not have a harvest, though he should pray for it, than that God should violate the laws by which he has determined to bestow such favors as a reward of industry, and work a special miracle in answer to a lazy man's prayers.

(4) the expression, "according to his will," must limit the promise to what will be for the good of the whole. God presides over the universe: and though in him there is an infinite fulness, and he regards the wants of every individual throughout his immense empire, yet the interests of the whole, as well as of the individual, are to be consulted and regarded. In a family, it is conceivable that a child might ask for some favor whose bestowment would interfere materially with the rights of others, or be inconsistent with the good of the whole, and in such a case a just father would of course withhold it. With these necessary limitations the range of the promise in prayer is ample; and, with these limitations, it is true beyond a question that he does hear and answer prayer.

14. the confidence—boldness (1Jo 4:17) in prayer, which results from knowing that we have eternal life (1Jo 5:13; 1Jo 3:19, 22).

according to his will—which is the believer's will, and which is therefore no restraint to his prayers. In so far as God's will is not our will, we are not abiding in faith, and our prayers are not accepted. Alford well says, If we knew God's will thoroughly, and submitted to it heartily, it would be impossible for us to ask anything for the spirit or for the body which He should not perform; it is this ideal state which the apostle has in view. It is the Spirit who teaches us inwardly, and Himself in us asks according to the will of God.

Viz. according to his will, not negatively, as it only doth not forbid our praying for, or enjoying, such and such things, but positively, i.e. according to his will signified:

1. By his commands, i.e. when the matter of our prayers is some spiritual good thing, which was before the matter of our duty; as when we pray for grace to enable us to be and to do what he requires us, as far as our present state will admit.

2. By his promises, which are more absolute and particular in reference to things of that nature, Matthew 5:6 Luke 11:13.

In reference to things of an inferior nature, of a conditional tenor; or more general, the things promised coming under the common notion of good things, not in themselves only, but for us, in present circumstances; which, whether they be or no, he reserves to himself the liberty of determining, and doth only promise them, if they be; and so we are only to pray for them; for that is praying, according to what signification he hath given us of his will, in such cases. And so we are always sure to be heard in the former case, in the very particular kind, about which his will is expressly made known beforehand.

And this is the confidence that we have in him,.... Either in God, to whom prayer is made; or in the Son of God, through whose blood and righteousness believers in him have confidence with God at the throne of grace; they can come with boldness and intrepidity, and use freedom and liberty of speech, as the word here used signifies; especially when they have the Spirit of Christ with them, and are under the sprinklings of the blood of Christ, and have a comfortable assurance of being heard and answered; and this is what the Jews call , "the consideration", or "attention of prayer" (s), which they explain thus;

"after a man has prayed, he judges in his heart that the holy blessed God will give him his reward, and will do everything needful for him, and will hear his prayer, because he has prayed with intention;''

but this is much better expressed, and upon a much better foundation, by our apostle here:

that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us; to ask anything according to the will of God, is to ask, as to matter, what, and in a manner which, is agreeably to it; by which is meant, not his secret will, or his purposes and decrees, which are unknown, though, so far as these are made known, they are not to be prayed against, for they can never be made void; and therefore, when God had declared it as his purposing will, that the Israelites in the wilderness should not enter into Canaan's land, and that he had rejected Saul from the kingdom, in these cases it would have been wrong for Moses to have prayed for the one, or Samuel for the other; 1 Samuel 16:1; and though no one person is to be excluded from our prayers on the account of the decree of reprobation, since no man can certainly be known to be a reprobate; yet it does not become us to pray for the conversion and salvation of reprobates in general, since this would be contrary to the decree of God: and such purposes which God has declared by prophecy he has purposed in himself, as the conversion of the Jews, the bringing in the fulness of the Gentiles, the destruction of antichrist, and the glory of the Gospel church, for these we should pray that God would hasten them in his own time, and we are sure of being heard; but the revealed will of God is here intended, by which it appears that all grace is laid up in Christ, and all spiritual blessings are with him, and that the covenant of grace is ordered in all things, and full of the sure mercies of David, and of exceeding great and precious promises; all which are treasured up for the benefit and use of the people of God; and if, therefore, they ask for any grace, or supply of grace, for any spiritual blessing or mercy laid up in Christ, in the covenant, or in any of the promises, they ask that for matter which is according to the will of God, and which they may be assured they shall have, sooner or later: and to ask in a manner agreeably to his will, is to come in the name of Christ, and make mention of his righteousness, and ask for his sake; to put up all petitions in faith, with fervency, in sincerity, and uprightness; with reverence, humility, and submission to the divine will, and with importunity; and such askers God hears, even so as to answer, and grant their requests in his own time, though not always in theirs; in some cases sooner, in others later, according to his infinite wisdom, and in his own way, which is always the best, though not in theirs, as in the case of the Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:7. The Alexandrian copy and the Ethiopic version read, "if we ask anything according to", or in his name: that is, of Christ, and which agrees with John 14:13.

(s) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 164. 2.

{14} And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

(14) Because we do not yet in effect obtain that which we hope for, the apostle combines invocation or prayer with faith, which he will have proceed from faith, and moreover to be conceived in such a way, that nothing is asked but that which is agreeable to the will of God: and such prayers cannot be useless.

1 John 5:14, as the preliminary καί shows, is not the beginning of a new section (contrary to de Wette); but the thought expressed here is in close connection with the foregoing, inasmuch as the παῤῥησία is an essential element of the ζωὴ αἰώνιος. As in chap. 1 John 3:21-22, so here also, παῤῥησία is the confidence which the believer experiences in the certainty that his prayer is heard.

αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ παῤῥησία does not mean: “hence arises also a happy spirit” (Ziegler), but “herein consists the confidence” (de Wette).

ἣν ἔχομεν πρὸς αὐτόν] αὐτόν does not refer to the Son, but to God; though God is not previously mentioned as the subject, yet He is nevertheless considered as the principal subject, as the One who gives life through the Son.

ὅτι] Lücke (with whom Ebrard agrees, with the incorrect remark that ὅτι does not depend on αὕτη, but simply on παῤῥησία) supplies before ὅτι: “that we have the confidence;” but the concise thought of the apostle is thereby weakened, and besides the παῤῥησία is itself this confidence (Düsterdieck).

ἐάν τι αἰτώμεθα κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ] By means of κατὰ τ. θέλ. αὐτοῦ, i.e. τοῦ Θεοῦ, prayer is more particularly defined as to its substance and character.

ἀκούει ἡμῶν] In chap. 1 John 3:22 it is put instead of this: λαμβάνομεν ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ.

ἀκούειν includes the idea of granting, which, however, is not brought definitely out until the following verse.

1 John 5:14. παρρησία, see note on 1 John 2:28. As distinguished from αἰτεῖν the middle αἰτεῖσθαι is to pray earnestly as with a personal interest (see Mayor’s note on Jam 4:3). The distinction does not appear here, since αἰτεῖν αἰτήματα (cognate accusitive) is a colourless periphrasis for αἰτεῖσθαι. A large assurance: our prayers always heard, never unanswered. Observe two limitations: (1) κατὰ τὸ θὲλημα αὐτοῦ, which does not mean that we should first ascertain His will and then pray, but that we should pray with the proviso, express or implicit, “If it be Thy will”. Matthew 26:39 is the model prayer. (2) The promise is not “He granteth it” but “He hearkeneth to us”. He answers in His own way.

14. And this is the confidence that we have in him] Better, And the boldness that we have towards Him is this: see on 1 John 1:5 and 1 John 2:28. For the fourth and last time in the Epistle the Apostle touches on the subject of the Christian’s ‘boldness.’ Twice he speaks of it in connexion with the Day of Judgment (1 John 2:28, 1 John 4:17); twice in connexion with approaching God in prayer (1 John 3:21-22 and here). In the present case it is with special reference to intercessory prayer that the subject is retouched. Thus two more leading ideas of the Epistle meet in this recapitulation, boldness towards God and brotherly love; for it is love of the brethren which induces us to pray for them.

according to his will] This is the only limitation, and it is a very gracious limitation. His will is always for His children’s good, and therefore it is only when they ignorantly ask for what is not for their good that their prayers are denied. Comp. S. Paul’s case, 2 Corinthians 12:9. ‘Heareth’ of course means that He hears and grants what we ask (John 9:31; John 11:41-42). Comp. ‘The desire of the righteous shall be granted’ (Proverbs 10:24).

1 John 5:14. Κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ, according to His will) A most just condition, of very extensive application. [The pronoun αὐτοῦ has reference to God.—V. g.]

Verse 14. - And the confidence that we have towards him consists in this. The thought of knowing that we have eternal life (verse 13) leads back to the thought of confidence before God in relation to prayer (1 John 3:21, 22). This idea is now further developed with special reference to intercession for others; a particular form of prayer which is in close connexion with another main idea in the Epistle - love of the brethren. 1 John 5:14Confidence (παῤῥησία)

Rev., boldness. See on 1 John 2:28; see on John 7:13. On have boldness, see on John 16:22.

We ask (αἰτώμεθα)

With a possible reference in the middle voice to asking for ourselves.

According to His will (κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ)

For the phrase compare 1 Peter 4:19; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11.

He heareth us (ἀκούει ἡμῶν)

Compare John 9:31; John 11:41, John 11:42. Hear is used in this sense by John only.

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