1 John 5:15
And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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 if we know that he hear us - That is, if we are assured of this as a true doctrine, then, even though we may not "see" immediately that the prayer is answered, we may have the utmost confidence that it is not disregarded, and that it will be answered in the way best adapted to promote our good. The specific thing that we asked may not indeed be granted, (compare Luke 22:42; 2 Corinthians 12:8-9), but the prayer will not be disregarded, and the thing which is most for our good will be bestowed upon us. The "argument" here is derived from the faithfulness of God; from the assurance which we feel that when he has promised to hear us, there will be, sooner or later, a real answer to the prayer.

We know that we have the petitions ... - That is, evidently, we now that we "shall" have them, or that the prayer will be answered. It cannot mean that we already have the precise thing for which we prayed, or that will be a real answer to the prayer, for

(a) the prayer may relate to something future, as protection on a journey, or a harvest, or restoration to health, or the safe return of a son from a voyage at sea, or the salvation of our souls - all of which are "future," and which cannot be expected to be granted at once; and,

(b) the answer to prayer is sometimes delayed, though ultimately granted. There may be reasons why the answer should be deferred, and the promise is not that it shall be immediate. The "delay" may arise from such causes as these:

(1) To try our faith, and see whether the blessing is earnestly desired.

(2) perhaps it could not be at once answered without a miracle.

(3) it might not be consistent with the divine arrangements respecting others to grant it to us at once.

(4) our own condition may not be such that it would be best to answer it at once.

We may need further trial, further chastisement, before the affliction, for example, shall be removed; and the answer to the prayer may be delayed for months or years. Yet, in the meantime, we may have the firmest assurance that the prayer is heard, and that it will be answered in the way and at the period when God shall see it to be best.

15. hear—Greek, "that He heareth us."

we have the petitions that we desired of him—We have, as present possessions, everything whatsoever we desired (asked) from Him. Not one of our past prayers offered in faith, according to His will, is lost. Like Hannah, we can rejoice over them as granted even before the event; and can recognize the event when it comes to pass, as not from chance, but obtained by our past prayers. Compare also Jehoshaphat's believing confidence in the issue of his prayers, so much so that he appointed singers to praise the Lord beforehand.

In the latter, in that, or somewhat equivalent, or better; for if he determine that thing to be best for us, all circumstances considered, we shall have it; if he determine otherwise, (supposing we pray according to his will), we desire it not: for every one intends good to himself, when he prays for any thing, not hurt. And God answers his children according to that general meaning of their prayers, not always according to the particular (which may be often a much mistaken) meaning. According whereto, supposing the thing would be really and in truth hurtful, (and God’s judgment is always according to truth), they constructively pray to be denied it; and the denial is the equivalent, nay, the better thing than what they particularly prayed for; and so they truly have their petitions: see 1Jo 3:22. Nor can any be understood to pray according to God’s will as the rule, if it be not to his glory as the end, as the order and connexion of petitions shows in that admirable platform prescribed by our Lord himself. And is it possible to be the sense of any one that hath a sincere heart in prayer, that God would gratify him against himself? Therefore that latitude allowed the apostles, John 14:13,14 15:16 16:23, &c., must be understood to respect the service of the Christian interest, and is to be limited thereby, as some of the expressions show. And if we know that he hear us,.... As it may be assured he does hear and answer all such persons that ask according to his will:

whatsoever we ask, we know, or are assured,

that we have the petitions that we desired of him: for as it is the nature of that holy confidence, which believers have in God, to believe whatever they ask according to his will, in general, shall be grappled, so every request in particular; yea, before the mercy desired, or the favour asked for is conferred, they are as sure of having it in God's own time and way, as if they now had it in hand and fact.

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 John 5:15. καὶ ἐὰν οἴδαμεν. By the indicative after ἐάν (see on this, Winer, p. 264; VII. p. 277; Al. Buttmann, p. 191 ff.) this knowledge is emphasized as something undoubtedly belonging to the believer; differently 1 John 5:16 : ἐάν τις ἴδῃ.

ὅτι ἀκούει ἡμῶν, ὅ ἐὰν (ἂν) αἰτώμεθα] Resumption of what was previously stated.

οἴδαμεν, ὅτι κ.τ.λ.] In the certainty that God hears us lies also the certainty: ὅτι ἔχομεν τὰ αἰτήματα ἃ ᾐτήκαμεν ἀπ ̓ (παρ ̓) αὐτοῦ.

ἔχομεν is neither = λαμβάνομεν, nor is the present put for the future (Grotius); the present is rather to be kept in its proper meaning; the believer always has that for which he has asked God (κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ); he has God, and in Him all things.

τὰ αἰτήματα are the res petitae (Lorinus).

ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ from its position is not to be connected with ἔχομεν, but with ᾐτήκαμεν; comp. Matthew 20:20; Acts 3:2; differently chap. 1 John 3:22 : λαμβάνομεν ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ.1 John 5:15. An amplification of the second limitation. “We have our requests” not always as we pray but as we would pray were we wiser. God gives not what we ask but what we really need. cf. Shak., Ant. and Cleop. i. ii.:—

“We, ignorant of ourselves,

Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers

Deny us for our good; so find we profit,

By losing of our prayers”.

Prayer is not dictation to God but ἀνάβασις νοῦ πρὸς Θεὸν καὶ αἴτησις τῶν προσηκόντων παρὰ Θεοῦ (Joan. Damasc. De. Fid. Orthod., iii. 24). Clem. Alex.: “Non absolute dixit quod petierimus sed quod oportet petere’.15. if we know that he hear us … we know that we have] The one certitude depends upon the other: if we trust God’s goodness, we are perfectly certain that our trust is not misplaced. Comp. ‘All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them’ (Mark 11:24). ‘Whatsoever we ask’ belongs to the conditional clause.

that we have] Not merely that we shall have: our prayers are already granted, although no results may be perceptible. ‘Everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth’ (Matthew 7:8).

that we desired of him] Better, that we have asked of Him: it is the perfect tense of the same verb as is used in ‘whatsoever we ask.’ Comp. Matthew 20:20. ‘Of Him’ or ‘from Him’ (ἀπ' αὐτοῦ) can be taken with ‘that we have’.1 John 5:15. Ἐὰν οἴδαμεν) if we know. Ἐὰν sometimes takes an indicative, of past time; and it does so here to give strength.—ἔχομεν, we have) even before the event itself (comp. 1 Samuel 1:17-18); and we know that the event itself is not from chance, but obtained by prayers.Verse 15. - The point is not, that if God hears our prayers he grants them (as if we could ever pray to him without his being aware of it); but that if we know that he hears our prayers (i.e., trust him without reserve), we already have what we have asked in accordance with his will. It may be years before we perceive that our prayers have been answered: perhaps in this world we may never be able to see this; but we know that God has answered them. The peculiar construction, ἐάν with the indicative, is not uncommon in the New Testament as a variant reading. It seems to be genuine in Luke 19:40 and Acts 8:31 with the future indicative, and in 1 Thessalonians 3:8 with the present. Here the reading is undisputed. Of course, οἴδαμεν is virtually present; but even the past tenses of the indicative are sometimes found after ἐάν (see Winer, pages 369, 370; see also Trench, 'On the Authorized Version of the New Testament,' page 61). Whatsoever we ask

The whole phrase is governed by the verb hear. If we know that He heareth our every petition.

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