1 John 3
Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
1 John 3:1. Δέδωκεν, hath given) not only hath destined and conferred, but also hath displayed.—τέκνα Θεοῦ, sons of God) What is greater than God? what relationship is nearer than that of sons?κληθῶμεν, should be called) should be so, together with the title: which appears empty to the world.—διὰ τοῦτο, on this account) A consequence, as 1 John 3:13. The word, behold, is to be opposed to the world, which despises the righteous.—ἡμᾶς, us) who are like God. [But if those who have no regard for God hold thee in any account, there is reason for thee to feel alarmed about thy state.—V. g.]

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2. Ἀγαπητοὶ) beloved by me, because the Father loves us.—νῦν) now, at present. The antithesis is, not yet. In this verse it must be especially seen, what words are to be pronounced with a fuller sound: now, not yet, what, like Him.—τέκνα, sons) This is repeated from 1 John 3:1.—τί ἐσόμεθα) what we are about to be further, by the power of this sonship. This what, by Epitasis [see Append.], suggests something unspeakable, contained in the likeness of God, which so exalts the sons of God, that they become as it were gods.—οἴδαμεν) we know, in general.—φανερωθῇ, shall be manifested) The same word occurs, ch. 1 John 2:28.—ὅμοιοι αὐτῷ, like Him) God, whose sons we are.—ὅτι, since) From beholding comes resemblance, 2 Corinthians 3:18; as the whole body, the countenance, and especially the eyes of those who behold the sun, are sunned.—ὀψόμεθα, we shall see) Sight includes in its notion all the other kinds of senses.—αὐτὸν, Him) God.—καθώς ἐστι, as He is) that is, manifestly.

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
1 John 3:3. Τὴν ἐλπίδα, hope) He has treated of faith, and he will treat of it again: in the next place, he will treat of love; now he speaks of hope.—ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, in Him) in God.—ἁγνίζει, purifieth) This mention of holiness is appropriate after speaking of sight, which is delighted with purity.—ἐκεῖνος, He) Jesus Christ: 1 John 3:5.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
1 John 3:4. Ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, he that committeth sin) There is an antithesis to this in, he that doeth righteousness, 1 John 3:7. Ποιεῖν is to do, to exercise.—καὶ, also) by that very fact.—τὴν ἀνομίαν, iniquity) ἀνομία, iniquity, has a somewhat more dreadful sound, especially in the ears of those who greatly esteem the law and will of God, than ἁμαρτία, sin. From the law is the knowledge of sin. There is a kindred expression, ch. 1 John 5:17, all unrighteousness is sin. A crooked line is seen of itself; but it is more conspicuous when compared with the ruler. By this expression the philosophical [notion of] sin is most befittingly refuted.—καὶ, and) Nay indeed, not only is the nature (principle) of sin closely connected with that of iniquity, but it is the same. Thus καὶ, and, ch. 1 John 5:4, and γὰρ, for, ch. 1 John 5:3.—ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία, sin is iniquity) Sin is the subject, inasmuch as the whole discourse treats of it. The antithesis is, He that doeth righteousness is righteous: he that doeth righteousness, is not considered ἄνομος, unrighteous, but he has the testimony and praise of righteousness: 1 John 3:7, comp. with Galatians 5:23; 1 Timothy 1:9.

And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
1 John 3:5. Ἐφανερώθη, was manifested) in the flesh.—τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, our sins) inasmuch as they are especially displeasing to Him.—ἄρῃ, He might take away) John 1:29, note.—ἐν αὐτῷ, in Him) The sentence, He is righteous, 1 John 3:7, has reference to this.

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
1 John 3:6. Οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει, sinneth not) In him the good of righteousness is not overcome by the evil of sin.—οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν) hath not seen Him in spirit; although perhaps, as to personal appearance, he hath seen Him in the flesh: or even, though he hath seen Him in spirit, at the very moment of sin he becomes such, as though he had never seen Him in any way.—οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτὸν, nor known Him) in truth; although perhaps he hath formerly known Him personally. Light and knowledge produce likeness to God: 1 John 3:2.

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

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:8. Ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου, of the devil) as a son: 1 John 3:10. The word born is not however here employed, nor seed, but works. For from the devil there is not generation, but corruption.—ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, from the beginning) from the time when the devil is the devil. He seems to have kept his first estate but a very short time.—ἁμαρτάνει, sins) An abbreviated expression: that is, has sinned from the beginning, and is the cause of all sins, and still goes on sinning: he sins (with guilt becoming heavier from day to day), and induces others to sin: he is never satiated.[8] The because in 1 John 3:8 is in antithesis to the because in 1 John 3:9.—εἰς τοῦτο, for this purpose) The devil does not make an end of sinning: to destroy sin, is the work of the Son of God.—τὰ ἔργα, the works) which are most contorted [perverse], and to unravel which, was an occasion worthy of the Son of God.

[8] But this the great sinner shall be shut up, in the abyss, as in a prison; then, in fine, punishment shall be inflicted on him in the fire.—V. g.

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1 John 3:9. Ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ, doth not commit sin) The sentiment is immediately increased in weight: and he cannot sin. To each proposition its own because is added: to the one, in respect to the seed, or the regenerate man; to the other, on the part of God Himself.—σπέρμα αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει, his seed remaineth in him) In him who is born of God, there remaineth the seed of God, that is, the word, with its peculiar efficacy, 1 Peter 1:23; Jam 1:18; although sin often endeavours, by a furious attack, to overthrow the regenerate. Or rather, it may be taken in this sense: the seed of God, that is, he who is born of God, abideth in God. Σπέρμα, born. Such persons are truly זרע אלהים, the seed of God, Malachi 2:15.—οὐ δύναται, he cannot) The possibility of his sinning is not absolutely denied; but this is affirmed, that the new birth and sin cannot exist together. Thus, how can he, Acts 4:20, compared with Revelation 2:2; Acts 4:20. The matter is, as in the case of an abstemious man, who cannot drink wine, and in various kinds of antipathy (i.e. natural aversion). Gataker has made this elegant paraphrase: The regenerate man does not sin: he proposes to himself, as far as possible, a life free from sin; nor does he ever spontaneously give himself up to sin. And if at any time, contrary to the purpose of his mind, he shall have offended, he neither rushes headlong into sin, nor does he continue in it; but having acknowledged his error, he immediately returns in haste to his former course as soon as, and as far as, he is able.—Posth., ch. 33; where he adds the similitude of the magnetic needle, which always points to the pole, is easily turned aside from this direction, but always reseeks the pole.—ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ γεγέννηται, is born of God) The former words, of God, have greater emphasis in the pronunciation; and this being observed, it is plain that the same thing is not proved by the same, the beginning of the verse being compared with the words here at the end of it.

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
1 John 3:10. Ἐν τούτῳ, in this) This is to be referred to the preceding words.—καὶ ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν, and he who does not love) A transition from the genus, or the whole to a part.

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
1 John 3:11. Ἀγγελία, the announcement) An appellation most characteristic of Gospel liberty [as contrasted with, the bondage which the law gendereth]. He never applies this appellation to the law.

Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
1 John 3:12. Οὐ καθὼς) not as. An ellipsis. See ch. 1 John 2:27, note.—Κάϊν, Cain) The Scripture speaks more mildly respecting Adam himself, than respecting Cain and persons like him.—ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ, from the Evil One) Afterwards πονηρὰ, evil. It is antithetical to, of God, 1 John 3:10.

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
1 John 3:13. Ἀδελφοί μου, my brethren) In this one passage only he calls them brethren, in antithesis to the world without, and in his repeated mention of the brethren. At other times he says, beloved, my dear children, ch. 1 John 2:7, 1 John 3:12.—μισεῖ, has in hatred) as Cain hated even his brother, [viz. with a murderous hatred: for its bad works are reproved by your righteous works.—V. g.]

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
1 John 3:14. Μεταβεβήκαμεν, we have passed) We had therefore been in death.—ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου, from death) spiritual.—εἰς τὴν ζωὴν, into life) spiritual, and also eternal: in the following verse. The language again is reciprocal: we are in life, and life is in us; 1 John 3:15.—ὅτι, because) A judgment [a criterion drawn] from the effect.—μένει, abides) is as yet.

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
1 John 3:15. Ἀνθρωποκτόνος, a murderer) as Cain. All hatred is an attempt against life: but life [spiritual] does not assail life [physical]. He who hates his brother desires either that his brother or himself should not live. Hence duels.[9]—μένουσαν, abiding) Eternal life is in very deed in him who believes and loves.

[9] Whereas ver. 16 desires us to lay down our life for the brethren, duels require one (awful to say!) to risk his own life rather than not deprive another of his life. This is the part of desperate insanity, far removed from bravery. We may suppose that the devil himself wonders how men, bearing also the Christian name, can have fallen so low. It is to be lamented that the men of chief authority in the world, with all the power that has been entrusted to them by God, either are not able, or not willing, to suppress duels. One single atrocity of this kind has power to involve in the direst guilt before God the whole human race, the whole assembly of Christians, or a whole camp of soldiers.—V. g.

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:16. Τὴν ἀγάπην, love) the nature of love.

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
1 John 3:17. Τὸν βίον τοῦ κόσμου, the substance of the world) An instance of the figure Litotes: in antithesis to lives, 1 John 3:16.—κλείσῃ, shall shut) whether asked for aid, or not asked. The sight of the wretched at once knocks at the hearts of the spectators, or even opens them: then a man freely either closes his bowels of compassion, or opens them more fully. Comp. Deuteronomy 15:7.—τὰ σπλάγχνα, his bowels) Together with his bowels a man’s substance is also closed or opened.—ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ) that is, love towards God: ch. 1 John 4:20.—μένει, abides) He said that he loved God: but he does not now love: 1 John 3:18.

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:18. Λόγῳ) in idle word: it is opposed to in deed.—γλώσσῃ) by a pretending tongue: it is opposed to in truth.

And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
1 John 3:19. Ἐν τούτῳ, in this) Hence depends we know and shall tranquilize; and to this refers, since He is greater, 1 John 3:20.—ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας, of the truth) Of expresses the beginning or origin: Romans 2:8. For the truth makes love also true: 1 John 3:18.—ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ) before Him who knows all things in truth, we shall tranquilize our hearts in prayer: 1 John 3:22.—πείσομεν, we shall tranquilize) so that they shall cease to condemn. The same word is used, Matthew 28:14.—τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν, our hearts) The word συνείδησις, conscience, is used by Peter and Paul alone of the sacred writers: nor is it used in the Septuagint more than once, and that in another sense, Ecclesiastes 10:20. For the Hebrew לב is rendered καρδία, the heart, for instance, 1 Kings 2:44; 1 Kings 8:38. And so John nowhere uses the word συνείδησις, conscience; but here he implies it, in making mention of the heart: for it is the conscience which is tranquilized, and which condemns. Comp. Apparatus,[10] p. 588.

[10] Lachm. reads γνωσόμεθα, with ABC; Tisch. and Rec. Text, γινώσκομεν, with Vulg. alone of the oldest authorities. C Vulg. have τὰς καρδίας: so Tisch. and Rec. Text. B and corrected A Syr. and Theb. have τὴν καρδίαν: so Lachm—E.

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
1 John 3:20. Ὅτι ἐὰν) whatever: Colossians 3:23, note: nearly equivalent to ὅ ἐὰν, afterwards in 1 John 3:22. Whatever, or in whatever things, our heart shall condemn us, that we shall be able to tranquilize. Or rather, if you prefer to take ὅτι and ἐὰν separately, you will have to repeat because after the sentence, understanding I say, as is very often done.—καταγινώσκῃ, condemn) not respecting our entire condition, but respecting one or two failures or errors. This word is to be pronounced with emphasis: but in the following verse the emphasis falls upon the word heart.—ὅτι μείζων, because greater) Conscience is weak, and knows something of ourselves only, not without trembling; nor has it the ability to pardon: but God is great, knows all our affairs, present, past, and future, and those of all men; and has the right and the will of pardoning. This by itself does not yet tranquilize our hearts; but while the righteous acknowledge this very thing, and confess their faults, and appeal from conscience to God, who is greater than it, and endeavour in no matter to withdraw themselves from the omniscience of God, they attain to tranquility, ch. 1 John 1:9. See examples, Psalm 51:8, with the context; Psalm 32:5; Psalm 19:13; Psalm 90:8.—γινώσκει, knows) nor however does He condemn (καταγινώσκει). In the Greek there is a pleasant change[11] of the word.

[11] An instance of the figure Paregmenon, by which cognate words, both simple and compound, are joined together. See Appendix.

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
1 John 3:21. Μὴ καταγινώσκῃ, does not condemn) either as never injured, or as again appeased.—παῤῥησίαν, confidence) in asking. This is repeated, ch. 1 John 5:14-15. This confidence far excels that tranquility which is expressed by the verb πείσομεν, we shall tranquilize.

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
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.
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.

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.
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.

Gnomon of the New Testament by Johann Bengel

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