Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:The Third Inference.—Reconciliation and Redemption
1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man 2sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he1 is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins2 of the whole world.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Connection.—Luther is prepared to call him a theologian who is able to show the consistency and agreement of this passage. He agrees however with Augustine, who says: “Et ne forte impunitatem videretur dedisse peccatis, quia dixit: fidelis est et Justus, qui mundet nos ab omni iniquitate, et dicerent jam sibi homines: peccemus, securi faciamus, quod volumus, purgat nos Christus,—tollit tibi malam securitatem et inserit utilem timorem. Male vis esse securus, solicitus esto; fidelis enim est et justus, ut dimittat nobis delicta nostra, si semper tibi displiceas et muteris, donec perficiaris. Ideo quod sequitur? filioli.—Sed forte surrepit de vita humana peccatum, Quid ergo fiet? Jam desperatio erit? Audi. Si quis, inquit, peccaverit, etc.” So Bede, Calvin, Calov, Düsterdieck. [Alford thinks that there is more in the connection than this: “It is not corrective only of a possible mistake, but it is progressive—a further step taken in the direction of unfolding the great theme of this part of the Epistle, enounced in 1John 1:5. The first step for those walking in the light of God was, that they should confess their sins: the next and consequent one, that they should forsake them, and agreeably to their new nature, keep His commandments. This verse introduces that further unfolding of our subject, which is continued, and especially pressed as regards the one great commandment of love, in our 1John 2:3–11.”—M.]. The difficulty lies not so much in the sequence of ideas as in the ethical relation and agreement of the points under consideration, viz.: the grace of God and reconciliation through Christ, the universality and power of sin and man’s wrestling with it. On the one hand, the aid of God and Christ must neither make us disheartened in the struggle with sin, nor render us confident that we are sure to have it, and, on the other, the power of sin must not terrify us as if all were in vain.
1JOHN 2:1a. Call to the contest. My little children.—Thus “tum propter ætatem suam, turn propter paternam curam et affectum” (Hornejus), and because he was their spiritual father (Gal. 4:9), and as John called out to the lapsed youth (Euseb. H. E. III, 23); τὶ με φεύγεις, τέκνον τὸν σαυτοῦ πατέρα; Lorinus (“Diminutiva nomina teneri ac blandientis sunt amoris signa”). So 1John 2:12, 28; 3:18; 4:4; 5:21, only μου is certain, but in 1John 3:18, it is uncertain. Here, just in view of the danger, the most tender and heartfelt love is awake.
These things write I.—The Plural ταῦτα (not τοῦτο), has respect, not to a particular point, but to the whole in its vital harmony. We should be eager for the contest with sin, because God is light; because walking in the light is the preservative of our fellowship with God, and the means of deriving the benefits of the blood of Christ; because we must not deny having sin, and because God will gladly rid us of it.
That ye sin not.—This is the design of his writing. Sinning applies to particular sins, not to small faults and inadvertencies only which would properly be no sins; they might, gradually fall even into mortal sin (1John 5:16). It is neither = peccatis manere (Socinus, Episcopius), still less = to continue unbaptized (Löffler).
1JOHN 2:1b. The aid. And if any man sin [better: and if any one sin.—M.].—Not an antithesis (Vulg. δὲ), but simple copulation (καὶ); since even in zeal against sin there ever recurs the indubitable case of sinning (ἐάν τις cf. the note on 1John 1:6). [ἐὰν simply admits the possibility of sinning—M.]. Both fighting against sin and sinning, go always together. The reference is general, and hence the apostle continues in the Plural. But the apostle does not affirm an inward necessity, that it must be so, as Calvin supposes: nam fieri non potest, quin peccemus; it may be so in fact, but the conditional particle must not be turned into a causal. Socinus also disfigures the thought; “si quis peccat, i.e., post Christum agnitum, et professionem nominis ipsius adhuc in peccatis manet, necdum resipuit.” The note of time and the intensification of the thought, are purely arbitrary; “for, on the one hand, a true Christian may sin, but he cannot remain in sins, and on the other, to one remaining in sins Christ is not the παράκλητος” (Huther). “If any one sin—not with the wilfulness of sin, but in spite of the will of his mind, which says no when sin is present.” (Besser).
We have an advocate with the Father.—On παράκλητος see Lange on John 14:16 Vol. IV. p. 311 sq. [German edition.—M.]. The word has here undoubtedly a Passive sense, viz.: advocatus, orator, causæ patronus (Luther, Vormund), intercessor. Its application to Christ, although its application in the Gospel, is limited to the Holy Spirit (Jno. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7), is anticipated in the first of these passages by the words ἄλλος παράκλητος; Christ is also Paraclete, the Holy Ghost only another Paraclete; this is clear from the context. [“Christ is the real παράκλητος, the Holy Ghost His substitute” Huther.—M.]. Here Christ is παράκλητος πρὸς τὸν πατέρα (cf. on 1John 1:2), there the Holy Ghost is μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. The Holy Ghost carries on the work of Christ in His followers, the world with its threatenings notwithstanding, but Christ pleads the cause of His followers before God the Father, interceding for them with Him, even as Heb. 4:14–16; 7:25–28; 8, 1sqq.; Col. 9:24, relate to a transaction between the Father and the Son. The ὑπερεντυγχάνειν of the Holy Ghost, Rom. 8:26, is a different matter, and does not affect the difference marked by John. The apostle says Father, not God, because the new relation into which those who are reconciled through Christ have been translated, is assumed as already existing; hence not only because the Son intercedes with Him, but because He intercedes for believers who, through Him, have become τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ (1John 3:1, 2). The activity of the Paraclete is ἐντυγχάνειν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25).—Ἔχομεν indicates two things. 1. The Plural, as in 1John 1, 6 sqq., denotes the general character of the intercession and the universal want of Christians of such an intercessor. Augustine’s note is capital: “Non dixit: habetis, nec: me habetis dixit, sed et Christum posuit, non se, et habemus dixit, non habetis. Maluit se ponere in numero peccatorum, ut haberet advocatium Christum, quam ponere se pro Christo, advocatum et inveniri inter damnandos superbos.” [The same Father says in the same connection after the words cited at the head of this section under Connection: “Ille est ergo advocatus: da operam tu ne pecces: si de infirmitate vitæ subrepserit peccatum, continuo vide, continuo displiceat, continuo damna; et cum damnaveris, securus ad judicem venies. Ibi habes Advocatum: noli timere ne perdas causam confessionis tuæ. Si enim aliquando in hac vita committet se homo disertæ linguæ et non perit: committis te verbo et periturus est?”—M.]. 2. The Present indicates that the intercession is continued and permanent in its operation.
Jesus Christ the Righteous.—Δίκαιος is evidently put in antithesis to the still sinning children of God, and is not=ἅγιος, innocens et sanctus (a Lapide), but His sinlessness and holiness as manifested in His life, “righteous, unblemished and sinless” (Luther). While the sense of bonus, lenis suggested by Grotius is too weak here, as also in 1John 1:9, that given by Ebrard=δικαιῶν, says too much, and is incorrect, because it is not the province of the intercessor to δικαιοῦν, and that of Bede, who says, “justus advocatus, injustas causas non suscipit,” is equally inadmissible, because δίκαιος is not the adjective belonging to παράκλητον. Nor can it be taken in the sense of “fidelis et verax” (Socinus), like πίστος 1John 1:9. It corresponds exactly with the description of the interceding High-priest, Heb. 7:26; cf. 1 Pet. 3:18. Moreover here, where we have neither χριστὸν alone, nor υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, but χριστὸν, preceded by ’Ιησοῦν, with emphatic force, the reference is not to the λόγος ἄεαρκος, but to the λόγος ἔνσαρκος, who has shed His blood (1John 1:7). For both in Heb. 7:25 sqq.; 4:14 sqq., and Rom. 8:34, the intercession of Christ is connected with His suffering on the Cross, as part of His high-priestly work and office. If Grotius supplies, and on the strength of 1John 5:16; Gal. 6:1; 2 Cor. 2:6, puts after ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ “Et se ecclesiæ regendæ sanandæque tradiderit” remarking, “non dicit: habet ille advocatum, sed ecclesia habet, quæ pro lapso precatur,” and “preces ecclesiæ Christus more advocati deo patri commendat,” (Jno. 16:26,) it is not a Spiritu Sancto, sed a Grotiana audacia, as Calov expresses himself. The Plural ἔχομεν does not involve the idea of the Church, but designates rather every individual, even the most advanced Christian, for every one is the object of our holy Saviour’s intercession. And this very thing is the comfortable help vouchsafed to those who fight against sin.—All this shows that Christ, who died for us and is now at the right hand of the Father, is our Advocate pleading the cause of every Christian with the Father, provided that, clearly and profoundly conscious of his guilt, he appear before God as a penitent, and fight manfully against the sin in his heart. Christ, as the Sinless and Righteous One, lays before the Father the supplication of the penitent sinner, supported by His intercession, and as He has died for him on the cross, as He has wooed and drawn him to Himself to walk in light, so He desires to preserve him therein, and to aid him towards the attainment of sanctification, in the continued activity of an advocate in glory, even as He did intercede for His followers in the days of His humiliation (Jno. 17:9; Luke 22:32; 23:34).
1JOHN 2:2. The assurance. And He is the Propitiation, for our sins.—Καὶ is here the simple copula, which adds a further particular, and, therefore, neither=quia (a Lapide), nor=nam (Beza). This particular relates to the Person of the Intercessor (καὶ αὐτος=et ipse, idemque) and is of perpetual validity and operation (ἐστὶ), like and parallel to the preceding ἔχομεν παράκλητον. The word ἱλασμὸς occurs only here and in 1John 4:10, and there also connected with περὶ ἀμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν. The verb ἱλάσκεσθαι is also found in a Passive sense, Luke 18:13: ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ, where the reflexive sense is not wholly quiescent; be (become thou) mercifully disposed, suffer thyself to be mercifully disposed, it is consequently ἵλεων γενέσθαι, propitium fieri. Or with the obliteration of the reflexive force peculiar to the Middle, it has an Active sense, e.g., Heb. 2:17: ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ, to atone, expiate for the sins of the people, expiare. In classical Greek ἱλάσκεσθαι denotes only propitium facere aliquem, indicating the attempt of the pagan sacrifices to reconcile God. In Holy Scripture, and especially in the New Testament, God is not reconciled by us, but reconciles, as we learn from the instructive passage, 2 Cor. 5:18, 19, cf. Col. 1:20; Eph. 2:16. Man is καταλλαγείς, God only καταλλάξας, ἀποκαταλλάξας ἑαυτῷ, εἰς αὐτόν. In Clement Rom. we find already ἐξιλάσκεσθαι τὸν θεόν, but it does not occur in a canonical writing. The Socinians have not overlooked this. Schlichting says: “Non est ergo cur quispiam ex hac placandi voce concludat, deum a Christo nobis fuisse placatum” (see Delitzsch, Note on Heb., p. 97). The same view is very distinctly contained in our parallel passage, 1John 4:10: αὐτὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς καὶ ἀπέστειλεν τὸν υἱόν αὑτοῦ ἱλασμὸν περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, God the Father has constituted the propitiation by sending there for His Son. He Himself is the propitiation, which comprises the High-priest and the sacrifice. For according to Kühner 1, §. 378, p. 418, ἱλασμὸς denotes “the intransitive relation of the stem verb.” It is, therefore, neither=ἰλαστήρ (Grotius, al.), for He is also the propitiatory sacrifice, nor=ἱλαστήριον (Bengel, Lücke, de Wette al.), for He is the Agent accomplishing the propitiation (or expiation). As He is the Light of the world, the Truth, the Life, the Way in Himself, and not only has, shows or brings it, so He is Himself the Propitiation; it is “really existing in His Person” (Düsterdieck); He is “not the Reconciler or Propitiator through something external to Him, but through Himself” (Lücke). Thus He is called our ἁγιασμός, 1 Cor. 1:30; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21.—Nor is He ἱλασμὸς θεοῦ, but περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν. The sins are the points with which the propitiation is concerned, to which it has reference (περί); neither substitution is mentioned here, nor the manner and means how this propitiation is accomplished and brought about. John evidently designates church-members by ἡμῶν (fidelium, as Bengel explains the word); he writes to Christians, not to Jews. The sequel also simply contrasts Christians and non-Christians. Bengel justly observes with reference to 1John 5:19: “quam late patet peccatum, tam late propitiatio.” On that account the apostle adds:
Yet not for ours only, but also for the whole world.—Here is simply oratio variata. He might have said: ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τῶν ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου, joining what precedes with ἁμαρτιῶν, or connecting before with ἱλασμός, οὐ περὶ ἡμῶν δὲ μόνον, which would answer to the conclusion as it stands. See Winer p. 599; [also Appar. Crit. 1John 2:2, 2.—M.]. A similar variation is found Heb. 9:7. The point is, therefore, not breviloquence (Ebrard), nor the supplying of τῶν (Grotius, de Wette, Düsterdieck). Nor was it because of the evil inhering in the κόσμος, since it is equally applicable to Christians (contrary to Huther). The Apostle’s design was manifestly to show the universality of the propitiation, in the most emphatic manner, and without any exception. This renders any and every limitation inadmissible. We must not except with Calvin the reprobos, because of predestination; it is rather the double decretum absolutum which is here excluded. Neither is it admissible to take κόσμος as ecclesia electorum per totum mundum dispersa (as Bede does), nor to explain it of the heathen only (Oecumenius, Cyrillus, Hornejus, Semler, Rickli). In like manner we must not think only of the apostle’s age, but rather of the totality of unbelieving mankind in general (Spener, Paulus, de Wette, Lücke, Sander, Neander, Düsterdieck, Huther). As in 1John 1:7, the work of Christ extends to all the sins of His people, so it extends here to the sin of the whole world, without distinguishing between contemporaneous and successive generations (Baumgarten-Crusius), or finding here any reference to the difference between sufficientia and efficacia. This renders it also perfectly clear that while Christ is the Paraclete of believing penitent Christians only, His propitiation has respect to, and is sufficient for all men in general. The idea of παράκλητος is, therefore, not wider than and including ἱλασμὸς, as Bede supposes [“advocation habemus apud patrem qui interpellat pro nobis et propitium eum ac placatum peccatis nostris reddit.”—M.]; or, vice versa, ἱλασμὸς is not the wider idea including παράκλητος (de Wette, Rickli, Frommann); the two ideas are rather cöordinate, yet so that παράκλητος, pre-supposes ἱλασμὸς; Christ has made a propitiation sufficient for all men. He is Himself the propitiation, and would fain appear before the Father as the Paraclete of all men. There are two different parts of the Redeemer’s work, each having its real mode of action and effect, but of course in an ethical life-sphere.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The frontiers of Christianity.
Systems which, like Pelagianism, do not acknowledge the necessity (ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ) or like Manichaeism with its fundamental dualism, deny the possibility (ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε) of redemption, if the question bears on the objects of redemption, and systems which, like Ebionism, deny the Divinity (δίκαιον), or in the opposite case, like Docetism, the humanity (’Ιησοῦν) of the Redeemer, if the question bears on the subject of redemption; such systems are wholly foreign to Christianity.
2. Of Christ.
a. Sinlessness and holiness is the fundamental trait of His Being. He requires neither an expiation nor the help of an advocate, but He makes the one and accords the other.
b. His work on earth is indicated by His being ἱλασμὸς περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν—καὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου. This implies,
α. As He is δίκαιος, and according to 1 Cor. 1:30: σαφία—δικαιοσύνη τε καὶ ἁγιασμὸς καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις, so He is Himself, so there is existing in Him, also ἱλασμός; and beside Him and without Him there is no propitiation for our sins.
β. As He only is δίκαιος, and all men ἄδικοι, so it is He only who has made and does make a propitiation for all men; this affirms the universality of the only ἱλασμὸς.
γ. The atonement extant relates to the sins which violate the majesty of God, disturb the holiness of the order of His Kingdom, and are the products of an enmity to the Glorious One, so that they arouse the reaction of the ὀργὴ; and therefore, as distinguished from καταλλαγή, reconciliation which bears on sinners and creates a disposition, reconciliatio, ἱλασμὸς is to be taken in the sense of atonement, propitiation [or expiation] expiatio, and as regulating a disturbed relationship. Expiation renders quiescent the ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ, whereas reconciliation allays the enmity of man in his ἁμαρτία, cf. Nitzsch, System § 135.
δ. The effect of the ἱλασμὸς is that he, whose sins are expiated, ceases to belong to the κόσμος, but not irresistibly, nor by a physical process, but only as a real beginning and supporting foundation, on which we must take our stand, and progress, in order that the καταλλαγή may ensue, and that we may become partakers thereof; in our ethical demeanor we must do our part whenever occasion and aid are afforded us, otherwise we shall lose the ground of salvation, the beginning of blessedness, and the receptivity for the same. But our passage is silent as to the manner how it is done; even the αἶμα (1John 1:7) is tacitly pre-supposed. Nor may an inference respecting substitution be drawn from this passage, as Nitzsch (System, p. 284) has done.
η. Christ is and remains the ἱλασμός—both for all sins and the sins of all, and for all ages and generations; His atonement is permanent in its operativeness. Not only in a general way, but the individual, every individual, is the object of expiation and reconciliation. This passage teaches the predestination of the salvation of all men.
c. His work in heaven is indicated by παράκλητος πρὸς τὸν πατέρα; which imports,
α. That it concerns a work after His entrance into His original glory, consequently that which the glorified Redeemer does for us in heaven; He is not only a historical person and power, whose influence is felt for centuries, like Luther and his reformation, and the Greeks with their civilization, but He is an ever living person above, and at the same time in the world’s history.
β. Jesus, the Christ, is consequently the Paraclete, not only as to His Divine, or as to His human nature, but in His Divine-human person in its glory with the Father.
γ. This work concerns our need of help remaining after our expiation and reconciliation effected by Him on earth, which need of help consists in our repeated sinning anew, and the consequent peril threatening anew our filïal relation to God the Father effected by him; He desires “to cancel again the effects of our sins on our relation to God,” (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis 11, 1, p. 545), on the object of this work, are “believers still sinning in their walk in the light” (Huther), and that without any exception.
δ. This work of the exalted Redeemer is an intercession for Christians belonging to Him in faith; it is a real work of the Lord, since He not only silently waits for the effects of His reconciliation, but is actively engaged in pressing His merit with the Father, and that, as a vocalis et oralis intercessio. Our passage excludes all the intercessions of Romanism, those of the Virgin Mary, and of all the saints, who, as well as St. John, stand in need of intercession. See Conf. Aug. XXI., Apol. XXI. 10, sqq. For the saints are not deprecatores, still less propitiatores, ut orent, non tamen invocandi. It also dismisses the “grossly sensuous view” combated by Calvin when he says: “nimis crasse errare eos, qui patris genibus Christum advolvunt, ut pro nobis oret;” the intercessio is not humilis. But it is equally false to regard it as only symbolical, as nuda interpretiva (per ostensa merita), as Bede does, or only as the continuing effect of the work of redemption consummated by Christ in His death (Baumgarten-Crusius). Unfounded is the view of Köstlin (Lehrbegriff, pp. 31, 192), who understands παράκλητος to denote the eternal High-priest, who does not pray, but, as the Father for His sake loves also those who believe in Him, directly excludes intercession, because Jno. 16:26 expressly deprecates ἐρωτᾷν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα περὶ ὑμῶν. The intercession of the Paraclete, which contemplates the perfection of believers and their preservation in the Sonship, must be well distinguished from the asking intercession of the High-priest, which contemplates the acceptance of the Sonship, cf., Lange on John 16:26, Vol. 4, p. 343, n. 16. [German edition, M.].
3. Of Christians.
a. Sinfulness continues even in the most advanced Christians, and manifests itself in the constant recurrence of particular sins.
b. The warfare against sin, however, is earnestly insisted upon. John does not say whether it is possible to a believer not to sin; nor does he say that he must sin (Calvin: “nam fieri non potest, quin peccemus”), but demands that Christians should strive not to commit sin. The Apostle’s love of the Church (τεκνία μου) constrains him to charge them not to sin, because those who sin not, keep themselves, (τηρεῖ ἐαυτὸν, 1John 5, 18) preserve their sonship with God and their regeneration (1John 3, 6, 9). He views sin as man’s ruin and ungodliness.
c. The Christian requires no other human mediator, or priest; he has become spiritual himself, and no longer secular, himself a priest and not a layman. These antitheses vanish to those who live in faith in Christ the Redeemer, do every thing through Him and for His sake, and refer every thing to Him.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Sin should not be denied, but fought and conquered. Seek with Jesus the Sinless One for true humility in the knowledge of thy sin, and thou wilt find with Him the right courage to overcome thy sin. As thy perception of sin grows more keen, thy sensibility even of the most secret and most trifling sin more acute and delicate, thy sorrow for sin more profound, thy struggle with it more desperate, so thy perception of the Saviour’s life and work will also grow more keen, thy hearing of God’s still small voice more acute, thy joy over the cleansing power of His word and work more profound, the Lord’s victory over thee and thy triumph with Him more certain. Although a man sanctify himself, he still sins. It is Jesus Christ, the Righteous, in His glory, who prays for the fallen, for an unrighteous world, that cannot forgive and forget any thing that judges and condemns. The demand not to sin is not devoid of consolation, if we do sin; but he only that strives to satisfy the demand will be satisfied with the consolation. Never forget that Christ has expiated sin, and that He had to expiate it, and thou wilt take a serious view of sin.
AUGUSTINE:—“Ibi habes advocatum, noli timere, ne perdas causam confessionis tuœ. Si enim aliquando in hac vita committit se homo disertæ linguæ et non perit, committis te verbo et periturus es?”
LUTHER:—The righteousness of Jesus Christ is on our side; for the righteousness of God is ours in Jesus Christ.—It is a certain fact, that thou art a part of the world: lest perchance thy heart might deceive thee and say: “The Lord died for Peter and Paul—not for me!”
STARKE:—Teachers should deal with their hearers as a father deals with his children; but then the hearers should so demean themselves that such a course is possible.—Whoso serves the Church of Christ with his writings, should examine himself as to the motive which prompts him; if he does unite with the motive of ambition or covetousness, it is sin to him; but if his motive is really and truly the glory of God, and he desires to make his gifts useful to men, it is well-pleasing to God.—Blessed consolation! Christ is our advocate and spokesman, who has taken our cause in hand! Rejoice, ye tempted ones! there is no danger. Our Saviour claims His right.—
HEUBNER:—The Christian promises of grace are holy and not designed to abet idleness; they are not given to careless and hardened sinners, but to sorrow-stricken, contrite and penitent sinners.—Here is expressly taught Christ’s intercession for His people. It is of infinite value before God, because it is the intercession of the Righteous, of the perfectly Holy One, who may dare to intercede with God.
[CRANMER, ABP.:—“Christ was such an High Bishop, that He, once offering Himself, was sufficient by one effusion of His blood to abolish sin unto the world’s end. He was so perfect a Priest, that by one oblation He purged an infinite heap of sins, leaving an easy and ready remedy for all sinners, that His one sacrifice should suffice unto all men that would not show themselves unworthy, and He took unto Himself not only their sins, that, many years before were dead and put their trust in Him, but also the sins of those, that until His coming again, should truly believe His gospel. So that now we may look for none other Priest or sacrifice to take away our sins, but only Him and His sacrifice. And as He dying once was offered for all, so, as much as pertained to Him, He took all men’s sins unto Himself.”—M.].
[CHURCH HOMILIES:—“All men are God’s creation and image, and are redeemed by Christ.”—M.]
[BEVERIDGE:—“If any man’s sins be not pardoned—it is not for want of sufficiency in Christ’s sufferings, but by reason of his own obstinacy or negligence in not performing the conditions required for applying the sufferings of the human nature in Christ unto his own particular person. For seeing that that death, which was threatened to all mankind in the first Adam, was undergone by the whole nature of man in the second: hence all particular persons comprehended under that general nature, are capable of receiving the benefit of those sufferings, if they will but apply them rightly to themselves.”—M.].
[BARROW:—“The whole world is here mentioned in contradistinction from all Christians to whom St. John speaketh in this place: that the whole world of which he says below, that it ‘lieth in wickedness.’ Ch. 5, 19. In this and in various other places, where Jesus is called the Saviour of the world, that the world, according to its ordinary acceptation, and as every man would take it at first hearing, doth signify the whole community of mankind, comprehending men of all sorts and qualities, good and bad, believers and infidels; not, in a new unusual sense, any special restrained world of some persons, particularly regarded or qualified, will, I suppose, easily appear to him, who shall, without prejudice or partiality, attend to the common use thereof in Scripture, especially in St. John, who most frequently applieth it as to this, so to other cases or matters.”—M.].
[NEANDER:—“What now is the practical significance of this truth, that Christ, the Holy, is our ever-abiding Advocate with the Father? To this perpetual mediation through the living Christ, to His ever-abiding priesthood for those who are reconciled to God through Him, corresponds the ever-remaining need of mediation in believers, their constant dependence, upon the priesthood of Christ, in union with whom they are a generation consecrated to God. Under every feeling of sin and infirmity, in all their temptations and conflicts, they may securely trust in their indissoluble union with this Divine human Personage, who Himself has felt all their necessities, and is near to them in the intimate sympathy of perfect love. Moreover, their whole inward and outward Christian life, flowing as it does from this sense of continual need of redemption, will take its character from this ever-continuing mediation of Christ, and their own conscious connection therewith.”—M.].
[1JOHN 2:1. BUNYAN, JOHN: The work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate, clearly explained and largely improved, for the benefit of all believers. Many editions.
CHARNOCK, STEPHEN: The Intercession of Christ. Works, 8, p. 1.
FULLER, A.: Christianity the Antidote to presumption and despair. Sermons, 326.
HOOK, W. F.: Jesus Christ the Righteous. Sermons, 307.
1John 2:1. 2. CRISP, T.: Sermons, 2, pp. 251–386.
Revelation of grace no encouragement to sin.
The faithful Friend at the bar of justice.
Christ’s advocateship for all the elect.
Christ’s righteousness only dischargeth the sinner.
The act of believing is not our righteousness.
Faith the fruit of union.
Christ alone our Mercy-seat.
BEVERIDGE, BP.: The satisfaction of Christ explained. Works, 4. 162.
SEABURY, BP.: The atonement of Christ. Disc. 2. 113. M.].
[1John 2:2. καὶ αὐτὸς—ἐστι. “And He is Himself.” Lillie: “Here the emphatic or exclusive force of αὐτὸς is important. He is the only propitiation for sin. The penitent may trust the Advocate who, righteous Himself, died for him. Such an Advocate God will hear.” The emphatic force is retained by Tyndale, Cranmer, Geneva (he it is that); Syr. Latin versions except Castal. (ipse), German (the same); French vss. (c’est lui qui) Bengel (ipse. Hoc facit epitasin. PARACLETUS valentissimus, quia ipse PROPITIATIO).—Lachmann following A. B. Vulg. places ἐστι before ἱλασμός.—M.]
[German: “But also for the whole world.” Winer, p. 599, specifies this clause as an instance of oratio variata, pointing out that in περἰ τῶν ἀμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου, instead of the last words περὶ τῶν ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου, or instead of the first περὶ ἡμῶν might have been used.—M.]
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.5. Mark of the walk in the light. Obedience to the commandments of God, especially brotherly love
3And hereby we3 do know that we know4 him, if we keep5 his commandments. 4He that saith,6 I know7 him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected8: hereby know we that we are in him. 6He that saith he abideth in him 7ought himself also so9 to walk, even as he walked. Brethren,10 I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.11 8Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you;12 because the darkness is past,13 and the true light now shineth. 9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in14 darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.15 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that16 darkness hath blinded his eyes.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The Connection. The call to the contest with gin on the ground of the Saviour’s antecedent propitiation and lasting intercession is connected with this section of the mark of the true knowledge of and fellowship with God, as that of vital Christianity: see whether thou really art the object of the intercession of the Sinless One with Him who is Light! The mala securitas and the utilis timor move the Apostle to set this section with the given marks of a true Christian into close connection with the immediately preceding section of the atonement for the sins of the whole world, and namely, as a link in the chain of thoughts depending on 1John 2:5.: “That God is Light.” His object is to excite a salutary, moral seriousness of purpose in his readers; their obedience to the commandments of God, and especially their practice of brotherly love are given to them as tokens by which they may determine whether they are really in God’s kingdom of grace. He warns, therefore, “against the false security of a show-Christianity,” and guards his churches “against false confidence and carnal security” (Neander); similar are the views of the greater number of commentators, from Episcopius and Calov down to Düsterdieck, who, however, confines himself to pointing out the dependence of this section also on the leading thought in 1John 1:5, 6, while the former take too narrow views of the connection with 1John 2:1, 2. The copula καὶ denotes the close connection and appurtenance of the sequel to the preceding section. Hence it is not correct to make here the beginning of a new section, (Sander: “Having thus far spoken of the proofs of salvation, he now proceeds to exhort his readers to its preservation”), or to connect with 1John 1:5, 6 (Huther).
Obedience to the commandments of God is the general characteristic of true Christianity, (1John 2:3–6).
1JOHN 2:3. And hereby we know.—John uses ἐν τούτῳ in order to refer to the sequel, as here, 1John 3:16, 19, 24; 4:9, 10, 13, 17; 1John 2:2, or to the preceding, as in 1John 2:5; 3:10; the reference is generally plain from the context. In the former case the Apostle is wont to indicate the mark whereby we know, by the addition of the preposition ἐκ (4:13), or by ὅτι (1John 3:16, 19; 4:9, 10), or ἵνα (1John 4:17), or ἐὰν (1John 2:3, 5), or ὅταν (1John 5:2), according as he wants to supply either “a really existing, historically given and objectively sure token” (Düsterdieck), on one only ideally existing and described as possible or conditional. The Apostle, who lays a strong emphasis on knowing, understands to express in writing the different shades of thought with the same nicety and correctness. [“John uses the formula ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν first as referring the demonstrative pronoun back to what has gone before, as e.g. in our 1John 2:5, and in 1John 3:10. If, however, the demonstrative pronoun in this or a like formula, looks onward, and the token itself, with the circumstance of which it is a token, follows, he expresses this token variously and significantly, according to the various shades of meaning to be conveyed. Sometimes the token implied in the demonstrative, follows in a separate sentence, as in 1John 4:2; sometimes the construction is slightly changed, and the sentence begun with ἐν τουτῳ is not regularly brought to a close, but continued in a new and correlative form; e.g. 1John 3:24, where ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν is taken up by ἐκ τοῦπν. And this way of expression is closely parallel to that where ὅτι completes the construction begun with ἐν τούτῳ. So 1John 3:16, 19; 4:9, 10, 13. In these cases the full objective reality of the token, as a fact, is set forth. It is an undoubted fact that He has given us of His Spirit, that He has sent His Son: and from these facts our inference is secure to the other facts in question, that He abideth in us, etc. But in other passages we find instead of this ὅτι an ἵνα, 1John 4:17, or an ἐὰν, as here, John 13:35, or ὅταν, 1John 5:2. This ἐὰν, ὅταν, mark the token implied in ἐν τούτῳ as one not actually existent, an historical or objectively certain fact; but as a possible contingency, something hypothetically and conditionally assumed: in other words as ideal.” Düsterdieck, pp. 172, sq.—M.]. He is concerned with the fact,
That we have known Him.—The context must determine who is meant by αὐτὸν, God the Father or Christ; the reason must be sought in the section itself, where in 1John 2:3–6 we have first the repeated forms αὐτοῦ, αὐτῷ and αὐτὸν and once ἐκεῖνος, 1John 2:6. As the latter evidently denotes Christ, so the former applies with equal certainty to God the Father. Hence it was not the immediately preceding verse in which Christ is spoken of, which induced the Apostle to use αὐτὸν and to understand thereby the Father, but rather the all-controlling thought, “God is Light,” 1John 1:5.—So Bede, Oecumenius, Erasmus, Lücke, Jachmann, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Brückner, Düsterdieck, Huther, Ebrard. It is referred to Christ by Augustine, Episcopius, Grotius, Luther, Calov, Wolf, Lange, Sander, Neander. Socinus and Calvin are undecided. The word γινώσκειν, occurring twice in juxtaposition, bears each time substantially the same meaning: to know. But to know God is not a matter of the understanding only, a knowledge, a knowing, but matter of the whole man; it is an inward life, both matter of the will and of the mind; an entering into, a perceiving in order to be penetrated thereby, in order to receive it in receptivity. The object of this knowing becomes the substance of him that knows; the nature of the object of our knowing determines His coming near us and entering into relationship with us. God cannot be known without Himself; it is. only by converse with Him that He allows Himself to be known (Oecumenius; συνεκράθημεν αὐτῷ), Clarius “societatem habemus cum eo.”); the knowledge of God presupposes and promotes life-fellowship with Him. This last particular is also intimated by the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν; the real fact of having known Him is described as finished, attended by an after-effect and still further development in continued and ever-growing knowledge; it is parallel κοινωνίαν ἔχειν μετ̓ αὐτοῦ, 1John 1:6. Col. 3. “Inward affinity of life, real appurtenance is the unconditional pre-supposition both of knowing and loving; for only those in affinity with each other know and love each other” (Düsterdieck). We, the Christians, renewed in Christ, created to His image, are those who know. Hence it is false to take γινώσκειν like the Hebrew יָרַע in the sense of to love (Carpzov, S. G. Lange), or only as a theoretical understanding of Divine truth (Socinus, Episcopius); nor may we intermingle knowledge and love, and regard the latter as essential to the former (Bede, Oecumenius, Lücke), although knowledge is conditioned by love (de Wette).—[It is not mere theoretical knowledge, but vital, experimental knowledge flowing from God, being received into the heart, and His influencing our thoughts, our will and our actions.—M.].
If we keep His Commandments.—The verb τηρεῖν, probably connected with τέρας, [more probably with τήρος, a watch, M.], a sign, denotes properly to pay attention, to observe, ἄνεμον (Eccl. 11:4), τὴν φυλακὴν (Acts. 12:6), the beloved disciples (Jno. 17:11, sqq.), τὴν ἐνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος (Eph. 4:3), ἐαυτόν (1 Jno. 5:18). Hence to preserve [keep in safety] [observare, servare) from loss, danger, injury. Fear, selfishness, hatred or love may be the motives of such preserving; the object of τηρεῖν enables us to infer the motive. His commandments=the commandments of God the Father; for the reference to Christ here is valid not so much because He gave commandments as because He kept them (cf. 5:6). To keep the commandments is not the same as ἐν φωτὶ περιπατεῖν (1John 1:7), but an indispensable part of it, and moreover a distinct, cognizable part of the greater, wide and profound whole, and as a sign or token peculiarly fitted to mark a conclusion. The commandments of God are clear, simple, well-defined; the expression of His will, given as much for His glory as for our salvation, evidences of His holy love, of His sanctifying compassion, and of His salutary righteousness; they answer to His Being, and in like manner to the nature of His Law, and particularly to the nature of His creatures. If they originate in the love of God, the motive of obedience to them must also be the love of God, who gave them, and the love of themselves as the gifts of His love. But the words themselves do not warrant the opinion of Augustine and Bede, that John insists here upon love. He only demands the unexceptional keeping of the commandments of God, and by the use of the Article and the Plural (τὰς ἐντολὰς), excludes any and every arbitrary selection. He lays down a sure and infallible token; and the erroneous view just stated proves it to be such. But he does not lay down this keeping as a fact by the use of ὅτι, but as a supposition by ἐὰν; with this agrees also the choice of the word τηρεῖν instead of ποιεῖν (which is likewise conditioned by the words of our Lord in Matth. 28:20: τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμηνυμῖν). We cannot do, but only keep the commandments of God. And even this is very limited, unsatisfactory, liable to frequent and manifold interruptions. Least of all can it be John’s meaning (according to 1John 1:8–10) to suppose Christians capable of fully keeping and practising the commandments of God. But notwithstanding all the shortcomings of obedience to the commandments of God, and despite all the imperfections and sins of Christians and their life, there still remains a sharp contrast between those who remember the commandments of God to do them (Ps. 103:18), and those who do not mind them at all, or only know them. However great may be the difference of believers among themselves, their knowledge of God and their obedience to the commandments of God will be reciprocally related, and the latter will always remain a sure token of the former, which cannot be a fact in the life of Christians without the latter. On that account the Apostle, as is his wont, (as in 1John 1:8, 9), gives prominence to the opposite with a progression in the thought and by way of explanation. [Huther thinks it note-worthy that John never designates the Christian commandments by νόμος, a term used by him only with reference to the Mosaic code of laws, but mostly by ἐντολαί (only occasionally λόγος θεοῦ, or χριστοῦ); nor by the verb ποιεῖν (except in Rev. 22:14), but τηρεῖν. Paul uses the term τηρεῖν ἐντολήν only at 1 Tim. 6:11; it occurs besides in the N. T. at Matth. 19:17 (cf. 1John 28:20). M.].
1JOHN 2:4. He that saith I have known Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar.—The progression in the development and unfolding of the thought lies in the Singular, which sets it forth not as indefinitely general, but as general and true in its application to each individual. It lies moreover in the negative form, so that we may and must not only infer the knowledge of God from the keeping of God’s commandments, and from other facts as well, but that the keeping of the Divine commandments, obedience, cannot and must not be wanting where there is a knowledge of God, which deserves that name. The words “he is a liar,” moreover, are intensive and stronger than “he lies” (1John 1:6), or “he deceives himself” (1John 1:8). Not a single act, but his whole nature and being, is thus designated; the lie reigns in him. There may first of all be wanting self-examination in the light of divine truth, or it may be self-deception and unconscious hypocrisy, but the conscious lie will follow; one desires to appear more than one is. The further particular,
And the truth is not in him, gives emphatic prominence to the status, the emptiness of such a person, cf. ad. 1John 1:8, in Exegetical and Critical.
1JOHN 2:5, similar to 1John 1, 8–10, in antithesis with 1John 2:4, refers back to 1John 2:3, δὲ, but progressing both in the subject-clause and in the predicate-clause.
But whoso keepeth His word; literally: “but whoso keepeth of Him the word.”—Τηρῇ, keepeth, stands emphatically first, so αὐτοῦ precedes τὸν λόγον, and λόνον instead of the manifold λόνον, in order to mark the unity. “Præcepta multa, verbum unum,” observes Bengel, and a Lapide correctly says: “Dicit verbum ejus in singulari, quia præcipue respicit legem caritatis: enimceteras omnes in se comprehendit.” Hence ὁ λόγος is not the synonym of αἱ ἐντολαί (Huther), nor the comforting message of the gospel, nor the requirement of faith, but the revelation of the will of God as a unit, or the revelation of His commandments in their relation as a unit to His purpose of grace (Ebrard). As this sentence corresponds with “if we keep His commandments” (1John 2:3), and is more definite by the pron. rel. than is the other sentence by ἐὰν, so the ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτὸν is parallel with ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται. It matters not how much we distinguish knowledge and love, and warn against their being confounded, they are nevertheless intrinsically connected and correlatives: “Amor præsupponit cognitionem” [says Grotius, which Huther admits, and adds M.]: “Cognitio præsupponit amorem.” Both are true. From this it is evident both that we must apply αὐτὸν, 1John 2:3, to God the Father, and that ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ must denote our love of God (as 1John 2:15; 3:17; 4:12; 1John 2:3.) The knowledge of God and the love to God must correspond with each other. This is the view of the majority of commentators, viz.: Bede, Oecumenius, Luther, Beza, Lorinus, Socinus, Grotius, S. G. Lange, Lücke, Jachmann, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Brückner, Neander, Huther, Düsterdieck, and others. Others (Flacius, S. Schmid, Calov, J. Lange, Bengel, Sander), understand the love of God to us (as in 1John 4:9, 10), first in opposition to the Romish exposition of the meritorious perfectio caritatis nostræ aut operum nostrorum, and secondly on account of τετελείωται, which, they say, cannot be predicated of our love. But neither is it “the love commanded by God” (Episcopius) in which we have to exercise ourselves, nor the relation of reciprocal love between God and man, the communio, societas and conjunctio, mutua amicitia et conjunctio (Ebrard following several commentators, chiefly [German] Reformed), nor “the love of God in us, comprising both God’s love to us, through which, and our love to God, in which we live.” (Besser.) The explanation of τετελείωται, is perfected, perfect, is difficult. We have no right to dilute the word with Beza, as if John were speaking not of perfecta caritas, but of an adimpleta caritas, without all show and hypocrisy, so that the reference were only to sincere love and τελειοῦν were only mettre en exécution [to put into execution.—M.]. Nor can it be right to hold with Socinus and his successors, the rationalists, that the reference is to a relative perfection adapted to the powers of man, because ὰληθῶς prohibits such an interpretation. It signifies, as in 1John 4:12, 17, 18, perfected, has become perfect. “John supposes the case that somebody really keeps the word of God, and from this ideal stand-point says with the fullest right that such a keeping of the Divine commandments evidences a perfected love to God in practice (cf. Lücke). The more the ideal keeping of the sentence becomes apparent to us, so much the more do we perceive in it a paracletical power, an incentive to the realization of that ideal, a holding up of Christian duty, ὀφείλει, 1John 2:6.” (Düsterdieck). Calvin says: “Si quis objiciat, neminem unquam fuisse repertum, qui deum ita perfecte diligeret, respondeo, sufficere, modo quisque pro gratiæ sibi datæ mensura ad hanc perfectionem adspiret. Interim constat definitio, quod perfectus dei amor sit legitima sermonis ejus observatio. In ea nos progredi sicut in notitia proficere decet.” But Huther is perfectly right in his strictures of Calvin’s view which approaches that of Socinus, who says: “Esther autem perfectio ista caritatis in Deum et obedientia præceptorum ejus ita intelligenda, ut non omnino requiratur, ne ei quicquam deesse possit, sed tantum ut ejusmodi sit, qua Deus pro sua ingenti erga nos bonitate contentus esse voluit.”—M.]. “Where the word of God is perfectly fulfilled, there the love to God is perfect; perfect love shows itself in perfect obedience. It is certainly true that the Christian at no moment of his life has reached this perfection, but is always only growing in that direction. John, however, does not refer to that here.” The Apostle now quickly subjoins the concluding thought: Hereby (not “by the perfection of love” (Socinus), but “by obedience to the commandments of God,” Huther, Ebrard; for this thought concerning, obedience as the token of the knowledge of God and of life-fellowship with Him governs this whole thought-complex) we know that we are in Him. ’Εν αὐτῷ ἐσμέν is the final and summary expression of ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν, 1John 2:3, and of κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ̓ αὐτοῦ, 1John 1:6, of the inward life-fellowship of Christians with God. It is more than man’s dependence on God in virtue of his inward relation to Him (as in Acts 17:28). As having known Him is not without being in Him, obedience of His commandments must stand as the mark of the knowledge of God, while the love of God [i.e., our love to God, M.] must supervene. What is said here amounts therefore to more than the explanation given by Grotius: “Christi ingenii discipuli sumus.”
1JOHN 2:6 is the final and full conclusion of this section.
He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk.—First: “Synonyma, cum gradatione: ILLUM NOSSE, IN ILLO ESSE IN ILLO MANERE, cognitio, communio, constantia,” (Bengel); then ἐντολὰς τηρεῖν, τὸν λόγον, περιπατεῖν καθὼς ἐκεῖνος. ’Εν αὐτῷ, particularly by the side of ἐκεῖνος (Jesus), and different from it, evidently denotes God the Father, and not Christ, as maintained by Augustine, Wolf, Neander, al., although the recollection of μένειν, the favourite expression of Jesus, which occurs ten times in John 15:4–11, may have influenced the language of the Apostle in this passage; at all events, the abiding spoken of in the Gospel is also connected with a reference to the commandments. “Being and abiding in God denote one and the same fellowship with God. The latter term merely superadds the description of its permanence and continuance, which is not contained in the former.” (Frommann.)
Ought (ὀφείλει) does not designate a mark or sign, but only the obligation.
So to walk even as He walked.—(i.e. Christ). This walking is not a mark or sign, which exists or might exist, or given as a touchstone to determine the Christianity of individuals, but simply designates the duty and obligation of Christians, as the disciples of Christ. Nor is it consequently a moment of abiding or being in God, a part thereof, but a goal to be reached, and a problem to be solved by every Christian, with the obligation of which none may dispense. So (οὕτως) to walk as Christ walked—is a requirement, compliance with which involves constant learning and ceaseless labour. The reference to Christ by καθὼς ἐκεῖνος occurs several times in this Epistle, 1John 3:3, 7; 4:17.
As He walked points neither to particular traits in the life of Christ, e.g. prayer for His enemies (Augustine), contempt of the world and its pleasures, and patience in sufferings (Bede), nor, as in 1 Pet. 2:21, sqq., to His self-humiliation and suffering, nor only to His perfect obedience of the commandments of God, nor to His doing only; but it is the concrete representation of walking in the Light (1John 1:7), of the Divine life in Christ, whose essence and kernel is love. So that Paul may even exhort us to imitate, copy, follow God (Eph. 5:1,) and to walk in love (1John 2:2). But this must not be confined to the inward disposition, but must have an adequate expression in all our doings, in our whole conduct, at every step of our life; hence περιπατεῖν. John and his mysticism are certainly not afflicted with sentimentalism. The emphatic οὕτως can hardly be dispensed with here [See Appar. Crit. 1John 2:6, note 7.—M.].
Brotherly love in particular is now specified as a mark of true Christianity (1John 2:7–11).
1JOHN 2:7. Beloved, so in 1John 3:2, 21; 4:1, 7, 11; in the last two passages it is particularly connected with the commandment of brotherly love. Beloved of God the Father in Christ, whom they ought to follow in that they walk in love to the brethren, as He did. [Huther: “Such an address does not necessarily indicate a new paragraph, but it bursts forth also in cases when the matter in question is to be brought home to the hearts of readers or hearers; which is the case here.”—M.].
I write not a new commandment to you.—The whole context, both what immediately precedes and what follows, requires us to regard this ἐντολή as a commandment, even as the commandment of brotherly love. The consideration of 1John 2:6 teaches first that ὀφείλει constrains us to hold fast to the meaning of ἐντολή, commandment, and secondly exhorts us to walking after Christ; while 1John 2:9 treats of love to the brethren. The latter is the definite and explicit declaration of what is implied in the former. It is improper to say that the reference here is to the different commandments; the commandment, to walk after Christ, and the commandment, to love the brethren; the two commandments are not alongside one another, but inside one another, and so that the latter is included in the former, not vice versa, that consequently the former is more general and less definite than the latter, whereas the latter is particular and clearly defined [i.e. Walking after Christ is the general, loving the brethren the particular.—M.]. A separation is impossible here; nor must 1John 2:7–11 be subdivided as if 1John 2:7, 8 treated of something different from. 1John 2:9–11. That which is stated in such explicit and definite terms in the second half, with reference to the first half of the whole section, must be already contained and intimated in the first half. The argument proceeds from the formal, as given in the walk of Christ, to the material which is contained therein. The connection is supported by the Apostle’s mode of treatment. For in 1John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 21, he uniformly passes from general precepts to the commandment of love. Jno. 15:13, 17, and particularly 1John 13:34, present an analogy, and supply the basis for this part of the Epistle. 2 Jno. 4–6 is the perfect parallel passage which specifies walking in truth, walking after His commandments, walking in the new comandments, which we had from the beginning, and which they had heard. The corresponding points here are walking in the light, walking as He walked, after the commandments of God, in love of the brethren. But the reference cannot by any means be to walking after Christ per se in 1John 2:6, because just there the ἐντολὴ is described as ὁ λόγος ὅν ἡκούσατe. The commandment given is therefore, not Christ’s walk which is seen, but His Word, which is heard; the commandment was not only given in acts, but spoken in the word. Of course we must not understand ὁ λόγος as designating the Gospel which is preached, and make it the ἐντολή. Lastly, the general grammatical usage forces us to take ἐντολή [in its usual sense—M.] as commandment, and not in the sense of doctrine or truth, as Flacius, Calov, J. Lange, Rickli, Ebrard understand it. We ought therefore to agree with Augustine, Bede, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Luther, Calvin, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Neander, Sander, Huther and Düsterdieck, who understand the commandment of brotherly love, and not with expositors like Beza, Socinus, Episcopius, Lücke, Frommann and others, who hold that the commandment applies only to walking after Christ. [It is doubtful whether Braune’s view of the relation between walking after Christ and loving the brethren is correct. It strikes me that the case is stated with greater lucidity and correctness by Huther, who says with reference to the two views of the commentators: “These two views seem to be opposed to each other, but they are opposed only when it is assumed that John’s design was to specify a particular commandment in contradistinction from other commandments. But that assumption is erroneous: the commandment to keep the commandments (or the word) of God after the pattern of Christ, or to walk in the Light, is none other than that of loving one’s brother. From 1John 1:5, onwards John does not refer to different commandments, but to a general commandment of the Christian life, which flows from the truth that God is Light. The reference is to this commandment when John, in order to bring the matter right home to the hearts of his readers, says: οὐκ ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν, so that ἐντολή does not refer to a commandment he is about to specify, but to the commandment he had already specified before (however, not in 1John 2:6 only), and which he is about to define more clearly in the sequel as its concrete substance.” This view Huther pronounces in agreement with that of Düsterdieck: “The solution of the riddle is … that the holy commandment to walk as Christ did walk, is fully and essentially contained in the commandment of brotherly love.” “We encounter here the view that as the whole exemplary life of Christ is contained in His love of us, so our whole walk in the Light is substantially nothing else than following after Christ in this full brotherly love.”—M.].
The words “not a new commandment” are explained by what follows:
But an old commandment, which ye had from the beginning; this old commandment is the word which ye heard.—The commandment, therefore, is not new, but old, because the readers do not only now learn to know it by his writing, (γράφω), but because they have it already, and had it from the beginning. It is also said how they did receive it; they had heard it, that is, it had been announced to them. This renders it necessary to refer ἀπ̓ ἀρχῆς to the beginning of Christianity, and the Christian standing of the readers; for the beginning, as far it concerns their life, cannot be anterior to their time, but must coincide with their life and the time when it was announced to them. So, also, 1John 2:24; 1John 3:11; 2 Jno. 5, 6. Ye can never mean majores vestri (Grotius), but designates the readers themselves, the Church, to whom the Epistle is addressed. Nor is there room for a distinction between Jewish Christians who had it already formerly, and Gentile Christians who had only heard it by the preaching of the Gospel, as Wolf draws it, and for saying that the beginning in the case of the former denotes what is written in the Old Testament by Moses (Flacius, Clarius), and that in the case of the latter the beginning dates even from the creation, written in their heart and conscience (the Greeks, fully corresponding with what Luthardt, on free-will, p. 12, sq., 22, observes as a characteristic of the Greek Church which is fond of connecting Christianity with the sphere of the universally human as contradistinguished from the Latin Church, which prefers to give prominence to the specific newness of the Christian, Baumgarten-Crusius, Credner). But we must not say that ἀπ̓ ἀρχῆς bears precisely the same meaning as in 1John 1:1; 2:13, 14; 3:8, since the meaning is determined by the context, which points here to the beginning of the Christian life. This is the view of most commentators, viz,: Calvin, Beza, Socinus, Episcopius, Lange, Rickli, Lücke, de Wette, Sander, Neander, Besser, Düsterdieck, Huther and al.—The Article in the addition (ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ παλαιά) marks once more, the age of the commandment which had already been indicated by the antithesis (οὐκ-καινήν, ἀλλὰ παλαιάν). It is called straightforth ὁ λόγος, because, as all ἐντολαὶ run together in the one ἐντολὴ, as this one ἐντολὴ runs through and fills the whole λόγος, the evangelical ὰγγελία: “We should love one another as Christ has loved us;” wherefore ὁ λόγος is not the chief substance of the word, but the word itself. As εἵχετε meant that they had, knew and used the commandment, so ὴκούσατε adds how they came to possess it: by the preaching of the Apostles. The addition is, therefore, not a correction of γράφω, as if John wanted to say: it is not I that give it to you now while I am writing, but you have heard it long ago of Christ (Baumgarten-Crusius), [for ὴκουσάτε has no immediate relation to γράφω, but to εἵχετε.—M.].
1JOHN 2:8. Again I write unto you.—Πάλιν indicates a close connection with the preceding verse, rendered unmistakable by the repetition of the same word in the same form: γράφω, 1John 2:7,—πάλιν belongs to the verb (Lücke, de Wette), although ἐντολὴν καινὴν stands before γράφω, and signifies again, once more, a second time, and Erasmus, with whom most commentators agree here, is not wrong in saying (against Huther): “et contrarietatem declarat et iterationem,” because πάλιν is used by Homer and Hesiod in the sense of back, backward, and against, πὰλιν ἐρεῖν to gainsay [i.e., say against—M.], but in Herodotus and Attic, and later writers generally, it bears almost the exclusive signification of again, once more, anew; but Erasmus errs when he adds: “hic non repetitionis sed contrarietatis est declaratio;” it is here corrective and epanorthotic (Beza, Episcopius, Calov, Wolf, Lücke, al.).—Τράφω, both here and in 1John 2:7, denotes the present act of the Apostle, and has its ordinary, literal sense, not=I prescribe (Baumgarten-Crusius), nor does the Accusative following γράφω admit the construction=I write of, concerning the commandment.
[As] a new commandment, which thing is true in Him and in you.—[Knapp’s paraphrase πάλιν (ὡς) ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν (τοῦτο) ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθές is the basis of as bracketed in the text.—M.].—This is a further proof of the close connection of this verse with 1John 2:7; John adheres to what he had just said, writes still on the same point, and it is, therefore, simply impossible to make 1John 2:8 begin a new paragraph, as does Ebrard. The clause ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς relates to the preceding matter, as is evident from the relative pronoun, and cannot be connected with the following clause introduced by ὅτι, as Ebrard thinks. The Neuter forbids our regarding it as a relative clause belonging to καινὴ ἐντολὴ, as maintained by Düsterdieck, who assumes a constructs ad sensum, and says that “the real substance of ἐντολὴ is declared to be true, both in Christ and in the readers,” but this would require ἡ—ἀληθής (Lücke), and “the thing required by ἐντολὴ is nothing else but the ἐντολὴ itself” (Ebrard). We must take it rather as coördinated with ἐντολὴν καινὴν, and construe it like ἐντολὴν καινὴν, as the object of γράφω. The above-mentioned paraphrase of Knapp is the most simple construction, although we must not attach to the inserted ὡς the meaning of “tanquam si nova esset,” as Knapp does, for then it could not be called a new commandment; yet both the Apostle and our Lord Himself describe it by the epithet new (Jno. 13:34); ὡς, moreover, denotes the reality (Rom. 15:15, and elsewhere), and is well adapted to being supplied, in order to point out the right explanation.—But we have to begin with the explanation of ὅ ἐστιν, which stands emphatically first; the reference is consequently to that, which is—in Him and in you. Αὐτός by the side of ὑμῖν denotes a person, so that ἐν αὐτῳ is not=per se ac simpliciter (Socinus), and the context requires its being explained of Christ and not of God (Jachmann, who is then compelled to understand ἀληθὲς in connection with ἐν αὐτῷ, in a different sense from the same word in connection with ἐν ὑμῖν; in God it has its reason, in you it has its evidence). There is no reason why the preposition should be rendered respectu, in respect of, or by (which something may be known, identified as true, de Wette); it simply means: in or with Christ and you. At the same time ἀληθὲς bears of course the sense of real, as in Acts 12:9 [i.e., it denotes actual reality (Huther, Meyer)—M.]. The sentence, moreover, must not be torn to pieces after the manner of Erasmus, Episcopius and Grotius: “quod verum est in illo, id etiam in vobis verum est, esse debet.” But brotherly love evidenced in the walk is true in Christ the Head and in the readers of the Epistle, as the members of His Body. No matter how great the difference of that reality may be, it is still there [is actually, really extant.—M.]. This stands as a new commandment, and, therefore, John writes it thus. He considers the ἐντολὴ as the main point, places it first, and then predicates of it that it is new, after having previously called it old.—He called it old from the stand-point of the present with regard to the former entrance into Christianity, which took place long ago; he describes as new that which is true in Christ and His people, and sees first in Him what is now also in His people, what Christ required of His followers as a new commandment (Jno. 13:34), and from this stand-point, from their entrance into Christianity and their fellowship with Christ, he, like the Lord Himself, calls this a commandment which is new. The Apostle consequently does not refer here to the permanent duration of the commandment of brotherly love, which requires to be constantly inculcated anew (Calvin: “perpetuo vigere,” Socinus, Knapp, al.), nor to man’s new birth (Augustine, Bede, al.). It is new by the very words added by Christ Himself in Jno. 13:34: “καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς,” as He has proved it in fact, and as he does effect and operate it in His people. [Huther: “The sense is: that which is already true, i.e., a reality, in Christ and in you, to wit: the τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ θεοῦ (cf. Jno. 15:10, where Christ says of Himself: ἐγὼ τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ πατρός μου τετήρηκα), I write to you as a new commandment,” and then he adds in a foot-note, “It is manifestly not more surprising that John sets up before his readers anew as a commandment that which has already become a reality in them, than that he announces to them truths, of which he says himself that they know them already.”—M.].
Because the darkness passeth away and the true light shineth already.—This sentence answers the question: Why does the Apostle write as a commandment which is new that which is true in Him and the readers of the Epistle? Hence ὅτι is simply causal, because; and this whole sentence corresponds exactly with the preceding (Düsterdieck, Huther). ̔́Οτι, consequently, is not merely dependent on ἀληθές or ἐντολή (Socinus, Bengel, Ebrard), so that it has declarative force=that; the point is not to prove that the light shineth and that the darkness passeth away, nor could that be the substance of a commandment. Nor can we divide (with Lücke and Brückner) the sentence that the commandment of walking in the light manifests itself as new in Christ (in whom the true light has appeared), and in the readers (in whom this light diffuses itself and shines already, scattering the darkness), and refer the former to ἐν αὐτῷ, which is not said at all, or to τὸ φῶς φαίνει, and the latter to ἐν ἡμῖν or ἡ σκοτία παράγεται. We have no occasion or warrant for doing so. The antitheses ἡ σκοτία and to τὸ φῶς ἀληθινόν must be taken in an ethical sense, and denote the sinful and the holy, as the elements in which one lives and walks; and this construction is rendered necessary by the subsequent verses and the whole context. Both are opposed to each other, but they exist alongside each other, increasing or decreasing (παράγεται—ἥδη φαίνει). The former consequently does not denote the economy of the Old Testament or paganism, which indeed were never without light, nor the latter only the person of Christ, as in John 1:9 (Oecumenius, Bengel), nor “Christus una cum doctrina ejus et effectus fide et caritate” (Lange); for the expression has a wider reach. The σκοτία denotes the whole power and sphere of the ethical life, separate from communion with God (the Light in Whom there is no darkness), still fighting against the Light, but evermore condemned (Jno. 3:19), constantly overcome and consuming itself; but the Light, which is God (1John 1:5), embraces whatever belongs to His Kingdom, and keeps believers in communion with Himself (Düsterdieck). The Light is called τὸ ἀληθινόν, which is not only real (ἀληθὲς), but the true light answering to the real truth, embracing and effecting the real truth. (Ibid.) [Eternal, essential Light, of which earthly light is only a transitory image.—Huther, Neander.—M.]. So Luke 16:11; 1 Thess. 1:9. It is just the life of the Lord, wherein is that which shines, bursts and shines forth with ever increasing strength; this real Being is the Light, the true Light (John 1:4). In παράγεται we have first of all to preserve the Present form. The Vulgate renders falsely “tenebræ transierunt;” so do Luther, “is past,” Calvin [and E. V. “is past”—M.]. It is unnecessary to construe it passively with Besser, Sander, Bengel, (traducitur, commutatur, ita ut tandem absorbeatur); it is Middle, like παράγει, 1 Cor. 7:31 (so Oecumenius, Wolf, Lücke, de Wette, Düsterdieck, Huther): it is passing away, vanishing, disappearing. With this corresponds ἤδη φαίνει, said of the Light, it shineth, shineth already, not now (Luther, E. V.); the darkness makes room for the light, the light begins already to break through. [Huther, who adds, “so that neither the darkness is entirely past, nor the light entirely established.”—M.]. The transition from the reign of darkness to that of the Light is thus indicated and referred to the future, when the conflict thus begun will end in the full victory of the Light. Hence in the words ὅ ἐστιν ἐν ὑμῖν John expresses not so much an encomium on his church, as a declaration of his joy in the continued working and the commencing and progressing victory of the Lord and His Kingdom. From this point of view the reading ὑμῖν only can be received as authentic, as bringing out the true sense of the passage in an undiluted form, which would certainly be awakened by the reading ἡμῖν, and lessen the Apostle’s pure rejoicing over his church, as the work of Jesus Christ. [Rickli: “John says this in relation to the time in which they live, and during which the great work of the Lord took a wondrously rapid course of development. The true Light, the Lord in His perfect revelation of Divine truth, shines already;—already the great morning dawns for mankind. When the Lord returns, then will be the full day of God. This revelation … believers go to meet.—M.].
1JOHN 2:9. He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother.
For the form cf. 1John 2:4, for the thought see 1John 1:6, 7. Φῶς here denotes neither Christ (Spener), nor the Church (Ebrard: “The Church of those in whom the fact ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἤδη φαίνει has become an άληθές”); for since to τὸ φῶς, 1John 2:8, denotes the holy, the sphere of the Divine life, no other sense can be admitted here. The Apostle regards as his brother particularly the believer in Christ, as γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (1John 5:1); the love of the brethren, as the children of a loved Father, rests on the love of God, who has regenerated them (1John 5:1; 3:10.). Likewise in the Gospel (Jno. 3:16; 15:12, sq.; 13:34; 20:17; 21:13); St. Peter also gives φιλαδελφία in the same sense (1 Pet. 1:22, sq.), and actually distinguishes it from ἀγαπὴ which he takes in the sense of φιλανθρωπιά (2 Pet. 1:7), (Luther, common love). “Ipsa appellatio amoris causam continet (Bengel). Whether ἁδελφὸς denotes elsewhere an actual brother or a cousin, Jno. 7:3, 5 [see my article “Are James the son of Alphæus and James the brother of the Lord identical,” in Princeton Review, January, 1865—M.], or members of the same nationality, Acts 23:1, or=ὁ πλησίον, ὁ ἕτερος, (Matth. 18:35; 7:3; Luke 6:41; Jas. 4:11), the context must always determine the sense, and the context here refers decidedly to Christian fellowship. Hence Grotius is wrong: “sive Judæum, sive alienigenam; fratres omnes in Adamo sumus”), as well as Calov and Lange [who give a similar exposition.—M.]. It is improper to take μισεῖν as “post habere, minus diligere, non colere” (Bretschneider); it means to hate; but it is not specified here to which degree of hatred he has come to whom reference is made; it is left undecided whether his hatred be germinating and initial, or mature and fully developed. Not even the faintest degree or colouring of hatred can be compatible with this ἐν τῷ φωτὶ εἷναι. That saying and this hating are so little in agreement, and this hating imports so much more than that saying, that John continues, saying,
Is in the darkness until now—in sin, in the atmosphere of the sinful, until now, yet, at this hour, this very moment. But along with all this severity and profound earnestness which insists upon one thing or the other, runs the intimation of a hope of return. [Huther: “Like φῶς and σκοτία, μισεῖν τὸν ἀδελφόν and ἀγαπᾶν τὸν ἀδελφόν mutually exclude each other. They are two diametrically opposed biasses of life; a man’s doings belong either to the one or to the other; that which does not belong to the sphere of the one, appertains to that of the other. Each denial of love is hatred, each conquest of hatred is love.” Düsterdieck:—“Nothing can be more shallow and weak as compared with the ethics of the whole Scripture. All the truth, depth, and power of Christian ethics rest on the ‘aut … aut,’ so distinctly insisted on by St. John. On the one side is God, on the other the world: here is life, there is death; here love, there hate, i.e. murder; there is no medium. In the space between, is nothing. Life may as yet be merely elementary and fragmentary. Love may as yet be weak and poor, but still, life in God and its necessary demonstration in love, is present really and truly, and the word of our Lord is true: “He that is not against me is with me,” Luke 9:50; and on the other side, the life according to the flesh, the attachment to the world, and the necessary action of this selfishness by means of hatred, may be much hidden, may be craftily covered, and with splendid outer surface; but in the secret depth of the man, there where spring the real fountains of his moral life, is not God but the world; the man is yet in death, and can consequently love nothing but himself, and must hate his brother; and then the other word of the Lord is true, “He that is not for me is against me,” Luke 9:23. For a man can only be either for or against Christ, and consequently can only have either love or hate towards his brother.”—M.].
1JOHN 2:10. He that loveth his brother, abideth in the light, and a stumbling-block is not in him.—Not only an antithesis to 1John 2:9, but also a progression in the argument: μένει, for every thing depends on the abiding which must be the result of being cf. 1John 2:6. The sentiment is prepared in ἕως ἄρτι 1John 2:9 by the fine allusion that hatred of the brother and being in the darkness, must be overcome, and that being in the light and in love must be maintained. Hence we cannot say with Ebrard: “The exercise of brotherly love is of itself a means of strengthening and confirming the new life; from brotherly fellowship there flow for the new man refreshing and quickening streams of his faith.” But the love of the brother acts and moves within the sphere of light, not without growth which strengthens itself there; the impelling power is that which evinces itself in brotherly love, faith in the Father, faith in the Only Begotten of the Father, who gives us the power to become the children of God. He that loves his brother ever grows more firmly rooted in holiness, the kingdom of light; growth takes place in brotherly love, but brotherly love does not produce it; He only produces it who produces fellowship with Himself and the love of the brother. John knows only aut—aut, hating or loving: “ubi non amor est, odium est, cor non est vacuum” (Bengel). The sentence, σκάνδαλον ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἕστιν fully corresponds with 1John 2:4; ἐν τούτῳ ἠ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν. The comparison of these two verses facilitates the understanding of our passage, τὸ σκάνδαλον, or ὁ σκάνδαλος (Hesychius) is [the rendering of the LXX, M.] for מִכְשׁוֹל or מוֹקֵשׁ properly ἐμπόδισμος, σκανδάληθρον (τὸ ἐν ταῖς μυάγραις), προσκόμμα; hence βάλλειν, τιθέναι σκάνδαλον. So λίθον προσκόμματος, πέτρα σκανδάλου Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:7; cf. Is. 8:14; 28:16; Rom. 14:13. It is always a stumbling against, an offence given, but it is left undefined whether it is given with or without guilt. Christ Himself, the Crucified One, is 1 Cor. 1:23: Ἰουδαίοις σκάνδαλον. The guilt of the σκάνδαλον may reside in him to whom it is given, who takes it, who is offended at it and falls. Here it is said: ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν. In him, who loves his brother and abides in the Light, in the holy, is not σκάνδαλον, is not that which offends, gives offence, causes himself or others to stumble and fall, such as envy, suspicion, want of sympathy, harshness of judgment, pride—all σκάνδαλα to himself and also to others. “Qui fratrem odit, ipse sibi offendiculum est et incurrit in se ipsum et in omnia intus et foris; qui amat expeditum iter habet. Bengel. This seems also to be the exposition of Düsterdieck, who says: “Occasion of stumbling and falling, the lust of the flesh is still extant in believers, but they are always sure of the virtue of the blood of Christ which hallows and increasingly removes every σκάνδαλον (1John 1:7, sqq.). It is inadmissible to explain ἐν αὐτῷ=αὐτῳ, as Grotius does (Esther metonymia et ἐν abundat; sensus: ille non impingit. Ps. 119:165), or de Wette (with him [for him] there is no offence), or Neander (there is no offence with him, he himself does not stumble) or to explain αὐτῷ with Lücke and Sander of the external sphere of life, because in the case of Christians σκάνδαλα lie in the world, not in himself. What Vatablus says is only half true; nemini offendiculo est; the same applies to Johannsen: “he gives no offence; Ebrard: “there is nothing in them whereby they give offence to the brethren; and Huther, “there is nothing in him which becomes an offence to himself:” the reference to others has also been given by Calov, Jachmann, that to himself by Bede, Luther and Calvin.
1JOHN 2:11 concludes this section in antithesis to 1John 2:10, taking from that antithesis that which helps the further development of the thought.
But he that hateth his brother is in the darkness and walketh in the darkness.—Here we find περιπατεῖν ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ, superadded to εἶναι ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ 1John 2:10. The latter denotes the status or habitus (Sander), or affectus (Grotius) the disposition, state, the former the actus, operation; so also de Wette and others. “Both the being (the assumption) and the doing (the consequence) of the unloving belong to the darkness; cf. Gal. 5:25” (Huther). “He that hateth his brother, both as to his person and as to his walk, belongs to the darkness, the sphere of the sinful” (Ebrard). Closely connected with this is:
And he knoweth not where he goeth to—answering to the σκάνδαλον ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἕστιν, 1John 2:10. The particle ποῦ, where, not whither, denotes rest; ὑπάγειν however is not to go, but to go away to, to go to; the word describes a calm walking, not a mere moving to and fro, but a progressive moving towards an end or goal. So Jno. 3:8; 8:14; 12:35; also Jno. 7:35; ποῦ—πορεύεσθαι; 1John 20:2, 13; ποῦ ἔθηκαν. The unloving man sees and knows not which way he is going; he walks with darkened eyes on a dark way. Luther (“they fancy that they are going to rest and glory, and yet go to hell”); and Cyprian (“it nescius in gehennam, ignarus et cæcus præcipitatur in pœnam”) look at the extreme goal, but we should not lose sight of the immediate consequences of a selfish and unloving being and walking. The matter is so very important, that the Apostle substantiates his statement, saying:
Because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.—Τυφλοῦν, to blind, to make blind must not be changed into “surrounding with darkness,” or diluted by a tanquam (Lücke and others). The unloving man himself is dark, and the darkness is in him, in his eyes, not only round about him. Jno. 12:40; cf. Is. 6:9, sq.; Matth. 13:14, sq.; and N. pp. Acts 28:26, sq.; also 2 Cor. 4:4.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Here we see quite plainly the different sides of the Christian life; γιγνώσκειν θεόν, τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρεῖν, τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ τηρεῖν, αʼλήθεια, ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ, ἐν αὐτῷ εἶναι, μένειν, appear as correlates. The dogmatical and the ethical are in one another. The ethos is contained in the dogma, waiting to be delivered in the life; the ethos rests on the dogma as on a root; both are inwardly related to each other, refer to each other, belong together, may be distinguished, but not separated; the one without the other falls to ruin or runs to waste. Christian knowledge loses experience, clearness, sharpness of outline, assurance, and breadth, without a life of Christian morality; Christian morality loses unity, depth, endurance, joyfulness, grace and beauty, if not founded on Christian knowledge. If it is affirmed concerning him who, while disobeying the commandments of God, still makes his boast of the knowledge of God, that the truth is not in him, and concerning him who loving his brother, abides in the light that offence is not in him (1John 2:4. 10), it is evident that the ἀλήθεια and the σκάνδαλον cannot be made to agree, and that the former is also an immoral thing.
2. Since John makes τὰς ἐντολὰς and τὸν λόγον τηρεῖν perfectly parallel, and regards the Law with its particular commandments, and the revelation of God in His word as a unit, and contemplates the love of God as growing and maturing toward perfection by the obedient observance of the same, the presumption is that the same loving Will of God has revealed itself both in the Law and in the Gospel, and that man’s love of God lives on, ought and has to live on the wholesome food of both. But this decidedly excludes any and every meritoriousness of obedience and of good works; just as in the Gospel faith in the love of God does not constitute a merit, so in the law obedience to the loving Will of God is not a merit. Obedience is simply a sign and mark of the Christian life begun on the foundation and in the efficiency of the reconciliation accomplished by Christ. Our only merit before God is Christ, and beside Him no man can have any merit before God.
3. John does not in any way countenance the doctrine of the Council of Trent (Sess. VI., chap. 16) that “the justified are able fully to satisfy (plene satisfacere) the divine law by means of works wrought in God” [Nihil ipsis justificatis amplius deesse credendum est, quo minus plene illis quidem operibus quæ in Deo sunt facta, divinæ legi pro hujus vitæ statu satisfecisse.—M.], because he does not speak of that which has an historical existence, but of that which is to become a reality; he refers not to actual reality, but to ideal reality. On this account the words of John rather sustain Luther’s paradox: “The righteous sins in every good work mortaliter, at least venialiter”—or Schleiermacher’s translation of it: “even in our good works there is something in consequence of which we stand in need of forgiveness for them.” Though [Roman] Catholicism debase the Law and blunt its requirements in order to exalt man, we are bound to exalt the Law, though man be debased and humbled, since the case as put by John is and remains only ideal truth, Christ alone being the exception, whom alone all are bound to follow.
4. The unity and difference of the characteristics of the Old and New Testaments appears in one point, namely, the commandment of brotherly love. This commandment is valid in either sphere; it derives in both spheres its origin from God; it has the same meaning in both, and is one in both, the old [commandment] which remains. But in virtue of Christ’s example in His love of the brethren, it is more lucid, attractive, powerful, comprehensive and pure in the New than in the Old. It is new only in that which the Person of Christ has added thereto in His personal love; He is the new, which has been superadded to the old commandment.
5. The Perfect τετελείωται, 1John 2:5, evidently denotes no historical truth, since the historical is marked by ἡ σκοτία παράγεται, τὸ φῶς ἤδη φαίνει. But these Presents indicate the assurance of victory and the joyfulness of hope with which that Perfect is anticipated. It signifies: “the whole power and sphere of the ethical life, separate from communion with God, (the Light in whom there is no darkness), still fighting against the Light, but evermore condemned, constantly overcome and consuming itself” (Düsterdieck), both in respect of the great totality of the world, and in respect of individual persons.
6. The progress in evil to perdition, and in good to the salvation of eternal life, is inward. The hidden life of the children of God has been commenced by the Forerunner; walking after Him, it grows in them, daily increasing in completeness, so that salvation, pursuant to divine appointment, is the consequence of a holy life on earth. But disobedience and unlovingness exert a reaction on the unloving, which forms their inward being and operates their perdition, which, in its turn, is also the result of their conduct here on earth.
7. As Christ is the principle of ethical life (1John 2:6), and love the principle in Him, as in the λόγος and the Law, so the love of Him, of God and of the brethren, must be the principle of obedience and of ethical life. Ultimately every thing concurs in brotherly love, which is the mark, while the love of God is the principle, the love of the loving God the fountain of all inward, Christian and godly life.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1. What is to be investigated? Whether you know God; and the knowledge of God is not without fellowship with God. The question is not knowledge concerning and about God, not having heard and learned certain truths relating to Him, but the being and abiding in Him (1John 2:3, 5, 6). You are intimate only with those between whom and yourself there is habitual intercourse. Otherwise you have only a more distant and superficial acquaintance, but never an intimate knowledge.
2. Why it should be investigated? Without God you are in darkness, without Him you walk in darkness, you become more and more darkness yourself, you run to ruin, and perish at last in the darkness of condemnation; you reach the point that you hate, and are hated, hateful and abominable (1John 2:9, 11). But with and in God you are in the light, you walk in the light, and light and truth and love are in you, you become more and more light, love in truth grows more perfect, and all offence will be put away from you (1John 2:4, 5, 11).
3. How it should be investigated? Look after your obedience to the commandments of God (1John 2:3, 4), more especially after the old and yet new commandment of the love of the brethren (1John 2:7–11), and see whether you walk after the Lord Jesus (1John 2:6). He that keeps the commandments of God in thought, in word and in deed, keeps himself; he that observes the commandments of God, preserves himself.
AUGUSTINE:—Christ says not, learn of me to create the world, to work miracles, to raise the dead, but that I am meek and lowly in heart.
LUTHER:—The commandment of love is a short commandment and a long commandment, one commandment and many commandments, it is no commandment and all the commandments. Short and one it is of itself, and soon mastered as to its meaning; but long and manifold in point of practice, for it is the sum and chief of all commandments. And it is no commandment at all in respect of the works, for it has no special work of its own by name; but it is all the commandments, because the works of all the commandments are and should be its works. The commandment of love therefore abrogates all the commandments and yet establishes all the commandments; and all this in order that we may know and learn thus much: no commandment and no work is to be kept and binding, but in as far as it is the demand of love.
SPENER:—There is a vast difference between living and dead knowledge; the one flows from the revelation of Jesus Christ (Jno. 14:21), from the Holy Ghost, and is therefore the operation of God; the other flows from reason, and consists in man’s imagination; the latter knows only what people are wont to say of God, the former ascertains the mind of God; the one is a knowledge like that which I have of a man, concerning whom I have heard something, the other like that of one with whom I have had converse; the one is a feeble light, letting in only a beam into the understanding, the other is a heavenly light which fills and irradiates the whole soul, and in which we should walk.—It is a great consolation that God gives us a sure test, whereby we may be assured of our faith and consequently of our participation in the reconciliation of Christ, a test moreover which we may use also in a state of temptation, when the sense of faith is wanting.—Saying that we know God, amounts to nothing. Simon the sorcerer gave out that himself was some great one, but was not (Acts 8:9); some say that they are Jews, and are not (Rev 3:9); but confession demands first of all a believing heart.—The imitation of Christ is not something that is left to our option, or only incumbent upon certain people desirous of attaining unto a peculiar perfection, but it is the universal obligation of all those who are in Christ Jesus, and is therefore binding on the high and on the low, on the clergy and on the laity, on men and women, in every manner and walk of life.—Teachers should treat their hearers as brethren, and use the paternal power within such limits, as never to forget their brotherly equality (Philem. 10:16). No condition of life gives to a man the liberty to hate his brother; but in whatsoever condition a man may be, he is never and in no wise permitted to hate his neighbour; and although he have occasionally to hurt him, as e.g., the authority of the land, which has to punish the wicked, yet must such condign punishment flow from love, as in the case of others so in his case, and be administered with a compassion that would, if it were able, rather withhold the severe remedy, just as a physician, moved by love, yet because of urgent necessity, will amputate the arm or leg of a patient.—There is no lack of offences in the world; let every one take care not to give offence, nor condemn others, but judge every thing in love. He that hateth his brother knows not the injury he inflicts upon himself, and into what misery he precipitates himself; for whereas he thinks that he loves himself and for his own interest, honour or pleasure, hates his neighbour, even as selfishness is the cause of all hatred, he hates himself most of all, when he fancies that he is loving himself (John 13:9).
LANGE:—The true followers of Christ have not a transient faith, but they are firm and steadfast like a branch in the vine, a bough in the tree, a house on its foundation. The duties of common love towards every man are these: 1. Intercession for the promotion of his conversion; 2. friendly admonition and correction at convenient seasons; 3. the careful avoidance of whatever may deter him from the practice of good; 4. the diligent warding-off of his loss under all circumstances; 5. kindly demeanour in words, manner and works. The duties of particular love towards believers are partly the same, partly those which are necessary to the maintenance of intimate brotherly converse and spiritual affinity.
STARKE:—A piece of coin stands the test; lead betrays itself that it is not silver, and brass that it is not gold. Perhaps by sound? No, by the streak; and this is to keep the commandments of Christ. Have a care, my soul. The loss of the fraud is thine own.—Faith worketh by love (Gal. 5:6); wherefore the faith, whence no good works do proceed, is only dead faith (Jas. 2:17, 26).—The perfection of believers’ love of God consists in that it is honest, sincere, pure, undivided, upright, faithful and without hypocrisy, lacking neither a truly divine impulse nor holy ardour, neither true reverence of God, nor ardent zeal for and towards God, although as yet unable to take and hallow all the thoughts of the mind, or to present all its powers as an offering of love to God.—As we know that a branch which bears good fruit is truly in the vine (for were it otherwise how could it bear fruit?) so we may surely say of a man that does truly good works, that he is truly planted in Christ.—Come hither, ye that refuse to believe that it is necessary to be pious. Christ is your Forerunner! Do as He did! Look upon His example. Arbitrary choice and presumptuous conceit pave the road to hell.—It is a great comfort that our Christian doctrine is sure and established, not liable to change and to be presented now in one way, now in another, but remains always the same, because God, who has wisdom and truth, is its Author, and needs not at any time to change that which He has given us once for all. Examine thyself, O man! who art thou? The child of God, or of the devil? Consider only whether thou lovest or hatest thy neighbour? If thou lovest him in deed and in truth, thou art in the light and in God’s; but if thou hatest Him and showest thy hatred either outwardly in works, or concealest it inwardly in thy heart, and withdrawest thyself from Him, then thou hast a sign that thou art in darkness and the devil’s. Tremble at thyself, and amend thy ways!
HEUBNER:—To know Christ is to know, experience and delight in Him as our Friend and Saviour, and to enjoy His grace and fellowship. The mark of it is the keeping of His commandments, vital, active Christianity. Works are not the ground of justification, but a mark to ourselves, whether justifying faith is in us, and whether we are justified; because Christ when He gives Himself to us, never gives Himself half but entire; to whom He becomes justification, to them He also becomes sanctification. We may therefore conclude backwards, to whom He has not yet become sanctification, to them also He has not yet become justification.—The assertion of justifying faith and want of holiness, fidelity and conscientiousness, constitutes a contradiction and makes the assertor a liar.—In those who keep the words of Christ, we may plainly see that they have really tasted the forgiving love of God, that it has carried captive their hearts and filled them with love to God.—Hatred, selfishness, is a state of darkness because the lightsome knowledge of God, of the love of Christ is still wanting, because it has not yet penetrated and illuminated the heart, because therefore the soul also is still in a dark, rent state, at discord with itself, without seeing the gracious countenance of God which renders us light, and, as it were, resplendent of countenance.—He knows not 1, how far this evil, unloving mind may carry him, and 2, what will be his end, what his reward,—exclusion from the kingdom of light.
NEANDER:—Believing aright in John’s sense, is a matter of life.—His commandments are only separate traits in which His life-forming word develops itself.—As genuine love can evidence itself only in the observance of Christ’s word, so there are different degrees of the manner how this love has more or less interpenetrated the life of men.—He Himself is in His commandments, and they also are only separate parts of His self-revelation.—The life of every believer should be only a peculiar representation of the image of Christ, the original of the new and glorified humanity.—Either love or hatred of the brethren; love which is ready for any sacrifice, or selfishness that may also pass into hatred; even as Christ indicates only the two fundamental biasses: to serve God or the world.
BESSER:—Would I know whether I know God, I must not examine my knowledge but my walk; and would I know whether thou knowest God, I do not ask that which thy mouth may have to say of Him, but that which thy life does testify of Him.—Just in the sense of John we read in the Epistle to Diognetus: There is neither life without knowledge, nor right knowledge without the true life.—It is characteristic of love that it would do nothing to grieve but every thing to please the Beloved, surrendering its will and weal, its honour and life to the Beloved; His pleasure is its pleasure; what displeases Him, it hates.—The motto of St. Francis was: “Tantum quisque scit, quantum operatur.”—Cursed be all science that cannot stand the test of the commandments of Jesus Christ!—This indisputable ought (1John 2:6), is at the same time a blessed may to John and to all who have John’s mind [That is, the duty is to them a blessed privilege, which they receive with grateful hearts.—M.].—When the pagans looked with amazement on the love of the early Christians, and exclaimed: “See how these Christians love one another, and are ready to die for one another,” when the mark of Christians was described in the words: “They love each other even before they know each other,” then there shone the resplendent light before which darkness recedes. Would that this day, when it comprises already a much longer period of light, there could be found no Christian Church, in whose new walk that is not truth and reality which John writes to the Christians as an old commandment.
[SECKER:—If we keep His commandments, 1John 2:3. Whosoever doth so, though imperfectly, yet sincerely and humbly, hath nothing to fear. Whosoever doth not, hath nothing to hope. Strong feelings of joyful assurance may be given to the pious from above as a present reward; and strong feelings of vain presumption may lead on the wicked, secure and triumphant, to their final destruction. Very reasonable terrors from consciousness of their guilt, may torment, the bad beforehand; and very unreasonable ones, from constitution or the suggestions of Satan, may assault the good. Therefore we are to judge of our condition by none of these things; but by the Scripture rule, fairly interpreted: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous; he that committeth sin is of the devil” 1 Jno. 3:7, 8.—M.].
[BARROW:—(1John 2:5). If a man perform any good work not out of the love to God, but from any other principle or any other design (to please himself or others, to get honour or gain thereby) how can it be acceptable to God, to whom it hath not any due regard? And what action hath it for its principle, or its ingredient, becomes sanctified thereby, in great measure pleasing and acceptable to God; such is the work and value thereof. It is also the great commandment for efficacy and influence, being naturally productive of obedience to all other commandments; especially of the most genuine and sincere obedience; no other principle being in force and activity comparable thereto; fear may drive to a compliance with some, and hope may draw to an observance of others; but it is love, that with a kind of willing constraint and kindly violence carries on cheerfully, vigorously and swiftly, to the performance of all God’s commandments.
(1John 2:6): “To abide in Christ, to be in Christ, to put on Christ and reciprocally Christ’s being in us, living, dwelling, being formed in us, and the like expressions, occurring in Holy Scripture, do not denote any physical inherence, or essential conjunction between Christ and us, such as those who affect unintelligible mysteries, rather than plain sense, would conceit; but only that mutual relation accruing from our profession of being Christ’s disciples, our being inserted into His body, the Church, being governed by His laws, partaking of His grace, with all the privileges of the Gospel, relying upon His promises, and hoping for eternal salvation from Him. By virtue of which relation we may be said, in a mystical or moral manner, to be united to Him, deriving strength and sustenance from Him, as the members from the head, the branches from the tree, the other parts of the building from the foundation, by which similitudes this mysterious union is usually expressed in Scripture; in effect, briefly, to be in Christ, or to abide in Christ implieth no more, but our being truly in faith and practice Christians; so that the meaning of St. John’s words seemeth plainly and simply to be this. Whosoever pretends to be a Christian, that is, to believe the doctrine and embrace the discipline of Christ, ought to walk, that is, is obliged to order the whole course of his life and actions, as Christ walked, that is, as Christ lived and conversed in the world; or, it is the duty of every one professing Christianity to conform his life to the pattern of Christ’s life, to follow His example, to imitate. His practice.—M.].
[HORNE:—(1John 2:6). No one can fail to see that the life of Christ was designed as a pattern for His followers, who considers how admirably it is calculated for that purpose. We meet not here with legendary tales of romantic austerities, ecstasies and abstractions, tending only to amaze and embarrass the consciences of men with unprofitable and unnecessary scruples, but we behold a life, which though holy and without spot or blemish from beginning to end, was conducted after the manner of men, and so as to be imitable by them; being passed into the midst of civil society, and in the exercise of all those lovely graces, by which that is preserved and improved, sweetened and sanctified. And we should find it the best compendium of morality, the most perfect and unerring rule whereby to direct ourselves in all cases, if we would only ask our own hearts, before we enter upon an action, how the blessed Jesus would behave in our circumstances. A conscience, but moderately informed from the Gospel, would seldom perhaps give a wrong determination.—M.].
[BURKITT:—(1John 2:7). The commandment of love might be called an old commandment, as being a branch of the law of nature, and a known precept of the Jewish religion: although in other respects it might be called a new commandment, because urged from a new motive, and enforced by a new example.—M.].
[CLARKE:—There is a saying in Synopsis, Sohar, p. 94, n. 51, that may cast some light on this passage: “That way in which the just have walked, although it be old, yet may be said to be new in the love of the righteous.”
(1John 2:11). Love prevents him from giving any offence to his neigbour, and love prevents him from receiving any from his neighbor, because it leads him to put the best construction on every thing. Besides, as he walks in the light, he sees he stumbling-blocks that are in the way, and avoids them; every part of his path being illuminated. Many fall into sin because they do not see the snares that are in their way; and they do not see the snares because they either have not received, or do not abide in the light.—M.].
[PYLE:—Wherefore it is an effect of the most malicious prejudice and stupid ignorance of plain truth, for any man to profess himself a true disciple of Christ, while he harbours revengeful thoughts and uncharitable principles towards other men. On the contrary, a kind behaviour and tender disposition towards all our brethren is one of the best instances of Christian perfection, and secures us from all the scandal and mischievous effects of a censorious and persecuting temper.—M.].
[NEANDER:—(1John 2:8). Thus, too, John contemplates Christ as Himself the true light, holding the same relation to the spiritual as the sun to the natural life. What he here says then is this: With those who have been so long attached to Christianity, the darkness proceeding from their former heathen state is passing away, and the true light is now breaking. Now, he says,—meaning their present in contrast with their former state of heathenism, or while still affected by its remaining influence. The light derived from Christ, the true Light, was already banishing the former darkness—they were becoming constantly more and more enlightened. So Paul says to his readers, Rom. 13:11 sqq., that now their salvation is nearer than when they believed, that the end of the night approaches, the day of the Lord draws near. It is, therefore, true, both with reference to Christ, the true Light which has dawned upon their souls, and with reference to believers who have received this light and been illuminated thereby, that this fundamental law of Christianity now verifies its character as the new command. To those who live in the light of Christ, who have become at home in the new world of Christianity, the old commandment now, in contrast with the former state of darkness, presents itself in new glory as the new command. In new power must it be revealed to their hearts, that BROTHERLY LOVE constitutes the essence of the Christian life, is the essential mark of fellowship with Christ.—M.].
[WORDSWORTH:—Christian Praxis is the test of Christian Gnosis.—True Christians are the genuine Gnostics.—The Gnostics pretended to have light, to have special illumination; but their light is a false light, it is the light of wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness” (on 1John 2:8).—M.].
[1JOHN 2:4. SMALRIDGE, BP.: Disobedience to the commandments of God, a mark of unbelief. Sermons, 199.
1JOHN 2:5. DWIGHT, T.: His example. Theology, II. 359.
1JOHN 2:6. FLAVEL, JOHN: Imitation of Christ in holiness. 2 Serm. Works II. 299.
BARROW, Is.: Abiding in Christ to be demonstrated by walking in Christ. Serm. Works II. 362.
1JOHN 2:8. ALFORD, H.: The shining light. Hulsean Lecture, 1842. 1.—M.].
[1John 2:3. German: “And hereby we know;” the emphatic do know in E. V. suggests an idea foreign from the text.—M].
[German: “That we have known him.” Lillie: “Have attained to this knowledge.” Where knowledge is spoken of merely as present, γνώσκω, or οἶδα is used, not ἐγνωκα. See John’s epistles passim.—E. 1John 2:1John 2:13, 14; 1John 3:6; 4:16; 2 John 1., and generally elsewhere.”—M.].
Cod. Sin. has φυλάξ̇ωμεν for τηρῶμεν; which is, however, given as well. The future by no means suits the Apostle’s thought.
1John 2:4. A. B. Cod. Sin. al. insert ὅτι before ἔγνωκα. John usually employs the oratio indirecta with the infin., as in 1John 2:6. 9; 1John 1:6, or temp, fin. with ὅτι, as in 1John 1:8, 10. The oratio directa with ὅτι occurs only in one other place, 1John 4:20. It is difficult to understand why ὅτι should have been introduced here from there. [Rather: ὅτι was possibly omitted by later transcribers, on account of the difficulty it presented.—M.].
[German: “I have known Him,” ἔγνωκα see above on 1John 2:3, note 2—M.].
[1John 2:5. German: “In such an one the love of God is truly perfected.” Lillie: “Truly in this man hath the love of God been perfected.”—M.].
[1John 2:6. C. Cod. Sin. insert οὕτως before περιπατεῖν. There is no reason why it should be inserted, although it might have seemed superfluous to some. [It is wanting in A. B. Vulg.—M.] It renders the thought very emphatic.
[1John 2:7. German: “Beloved” M.] ὰδελφοί, Oecum, Mill, Wetstein, is weakly supported; ἀγαπητοί is manifestly the correct reading [A. B. C. Cod. Sin. Syr. Vulg. Griesb. Bengel, al. sustain it.—M.].
[German omits the words “from the beginning,” at the close of the verse. The corresponding ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς, omitted by A. B. C. Sin. al., are cancelled by Lachm., Tischend., Buttm., Theile.—M.].
[1John 2:8. ὐμῖν, B. C. Cod. Sin., although the more difficult reading, is better authenticated than ἡμῖν (A.)
 σκιά instead of σκοτία lacks the weight of authority, and is clear as to its tendency or origin from the contrast between the economy of the Old and New Testaments.
German: “Passeth away,” παράγεται. The Present should by all means be retained. German: already, ἥδη, better than now.—M.].
[1John 2:9. German: “The darkness,” ἡσκοτία, both here and below in 1John 2:11. The omission of the Article in E. V. obscures the sense.—M.].
[1John 2:10. German: “An offence” or “stumbling-block is not in him.”—M.].
[1John 2:11. German: “The darkness;” “because that darkness” (E. V.) is perplexing and ambiguous, better retain the more correct rendering, “because the darkness,” ὅτιἡ σκοτία. German: “where he goeth to.”—M.].
I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.6. Consolatory warning against the love of the world
12I write unto you, little children, because your sins are17 forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.18 I write19 unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him20 that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.21 If any man love the world, the love of the Father22 is not in 16him. For23 all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof:24 but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The structure of 1John 2:12–14.—The six members are evidently divided into two triads: the thrice repeated Present γράφω, and the thrice-repeated Aorist ἔγραψα, as well as the address τεκνία, πατέρες, νεανίσκοι joined to the Present, and παιδία, πατέρeς, νεανίσκοι joined to the Aorist, clearly intimate as much. The sentences subjoined by ὅτι exhibit the same correspondency, and confirm this arrangement. This has to be proved by the exegesis.
The addresses, 1John 2:12–14. Τεκνία must be taken here in the same sense as in the other passages of the Epistle where it occurs, 1John 2:1, 28; 3:18; 4:4; 5:21. It applies to all readers, the whole Church, and should not be made to designate a particular age (as has been done by Erasmus, Socinus, J. Lange), or a peculiarly near relation to the author. The diminutive form is chosen for the sake of intimacy and cordiality, and is indicative of the paternal relation and advanced age of the Apostle. The addition μου, 1John 2:1, may have a still more intimate sound, but there is no want of intimacy here or in 1John 3:18; 4:4; 5:21, although μου is wanting. It is altogether parallel to ἀγαπητοί, 1John 2:7; 3:2, 21; 4:1, 7, 11, or to παιδία, 1John 2:18; 3:7, (var lect.). Although παιδία is thus rarely used, nevertheless it is used, and, if we take it here=τεκνία, it is used thrice. Hence there is no reason whatsoever why παιδία, 1John 2:13, should not be applied to the whole Church, but, like πατέρες and νεανίσκοι, be understood to designate a particular age (with Calvin, Luther, Calov, Sander, Neander, Besser, Ebrard, al.), and to disturb the harmony of the structure of this group of sentences. Particularly as the comprehensive παιδία, little children, offered a more natural sequence to πατέρες and νεανίσκοι than τεκνία, little sons. The order in which τεκνία and παιδία occur, forbids their being referred to a particular age, for either νεανίσκοι, πατέρες would have to follow, or πατέρες, νεανίσκοι to go before. Hence τεκνία and παιδία must be construed as denoting the general address, and πατέρες and νεανίσκοι the specialization of church-members, πατέρες describing those of maturer years (πρεσβύτεροι, γέροντες, heads of families, the more experienced), and νεανίσκοι those younger in years. This is the view of most commentators. Augustine’s view, according to which the Apostle refers throughout to the same persons, only designating them by different names from different points of view, is consequently untenable; he says: “filioli, quia baptismo neonati sunt, patres, quia Christum, patrem et antiquum dierum agnoscunt, adolescentes, qui, fortes sunt et validi;” nor must we refer, with a Lapide, the different addresses to a “triplicem Christianorum in virtute gradum; pueri enim repræsentanti incipientes et neophytos; juvenes proficientes, senes perfectos.” Similar explanations are given by Clement, Oecumen., Grotius (with reference to 1 Cor. 13:11, 12; Heb. 5:13; Eph. 4:13, 14) and others.
The tenses of the otherwise clear verb, γράφω and ἔγραψα, 1John 2:12–14, present great difficulties. It is clear that ὅτι does not denote the substance of his present or former writing. John writes not that their sins are forgiven, and that they have known the Father, that they have known Him that is from the beginning, that they have overcome the wicked one, that they are strong, that the word of God abideth in them, all this he does not write, and has not written to his church, but other things. Hence ὅτι can only be taken as a causative particle; it denotes the reason and cause of his writing, and must be rendered “because.” It is self-evident that ὅτι, if translated “because” once, must be translated thus throughout, in all the six consecutive places where it occurs, and not be rendered with Luther the first, fifth and sixth time “that,” and the second, third and fourth time “for” (=because).—Socinus, Schott, Sander, Neander translate “that;” Calvin, Beza, Lücke, de Wette, Huther, Düsterdieck, al. “because;” while Erdmann gives to ὅτι a declarative meaning in the first three sentences, without determining whether it should be construed objectively and causatively in the last three sentences. I write—simply defines the act of writing: I write just now what I write, because—. The object is the Epistle, even this Epistle. Now, if John, after this thrice-repeated γράφω signifying this Epistle, says again three times, ἔγραψα, the reference cannot be to the Epistle, neither to the preceding exhortations (Grotius), nor to the first chapter (Calov), neither in respect of the thrice-repeated ἔγραψα to 1John 1:5–7; 1:8–2. 2, 3–11 and γράφω to 1John 2:15–17; 18–27; 2:28–3:22 (Rickli and Lücke), nor so that the reference is general, the Aorist denoting that part of the Epistle which is already written, the Present the part as yet unwritten, but in process of development [the very act of writing, i.e., the Epistle itself.—M.] (so de Wette, Brückner, Huther) nor can the reference be to 1John 2:12, 13, as if the apostle had said “I write, and I have written, it is a settled thing” (J. Lange, Neander, Sander, Ewald, Heubner, Bengel [“innuit commonitionem firmissimam”), nor are Beza and Düsterdieck any more satisfactory, who suppose the Present to indicate the present stand-point of the Apostle, his present act of writing, and the Aorist to describe the standpoint of the readers after they had received the Epistle, when, of course, it was written;—all these explanations are so many attempts whose very forced and artificial character shows them to be mere make-shifts, which, even in their more simple forms, do not remove the appearance of trifling, and explain as little the position of the Present relating to what follows before the Aorist relating to what goes before, as that the author by this change of tense tears asunder that which he has written from that which he is about to write, both of which belong together as one. If we are thus constrained to think of another writing, we must not think of a previous Epistle (Michaelis), but of the Gospel (Socinus, Lange, Schott, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ebrard, Hoffmann), to which this Epistle is not only nearly related in the exordium, but also in its very kernel and essence. Cf. Introduction, § 8, 3. The consciousness of the importance of the Gospel he had written, fully justifies in the Epistle the threefold repetition of ἔγραψα in consideration of the reasons relating to different groups of persons in the Church, and warranting such repetition; nor can it be thought singular that he had no other reasons (ὅτι) for having written the Gospel than those for writing the Epistle. Nor may an objection be raised to the Apostle’s not specifying the object either of ἔγραψα or γράφω, and his not describing the writing to which he refers, because both the Gospel and the Epistle were in the hands of the readers, and enabled them both to find the necessary explanation, and to prevent possible misunderstanding. [The peculiarly involved statement of Braune renders it desirable to supply the English reader with a more lucid account of the views he advocates. Γράφω, denotes the present act of writing, not only the particular sentence in which that word occurs, but the present Epistle; ἔγραψα, a writing already written, finished and complete in the hands of the readers of the Epistle, to which they might refer; and that writing was the Gospel, which would clear up every doubt, remove every difficulty, and furnish a commentary on the statements and exhortations contained in the Epistle. It must be confessed that this is, on the whole, the most simple and satisfactory solution of a very knotty question, although that advocated by de Wette, Brückner and Huther is not so trifling as Braune, echoing the words of Ebrard, asserts. Said authors explain ἔγραψα of that part of the Epistle which the Apostle had already written, and γράφω of the immediate act of writing, that is, to the Epistle in general; in their view it is proper that John should begin with γράφω while his reference to the part already written by ἔγραψα may be explained by the fact that that part (especially 1John 1:5–2:11) contains the fundamental principles of the subsequent exhortations and developments. Personally we prefer the view of Braune, but many readers will, doubtless, incline to that set forth by Huther and others.—Ebrard gives the following synopsis of, the two triads:
TRIAD THE FIRST.
TRIAD THE SECOND.
1. τεκνία=all readers.
1. Children (in point of age).
3. Young men.
3. Young men.
and Wordsworth (who, however, does not discuss the details of his arrangement, and carries the series down to 1John 2:28) makes a series of seven, closed by an eighth, the octave of the first, with a symbolical reference to the number seven and eight. His arrangement is this:
γράφω ὑμῖν, τεκνία, 1John 2:12.
γράφω ὑμῖν, πατέρες, 1John 2:13.
ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, πατέρες, 1John 2:14.
γράφω ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, 1John 2:13.
ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, 1John 2:15.
ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, παιδία, 1John 2:13.
παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστί, 1John 2:18.
καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ, 1John 2:28.
This arrangement is more curious than valuable or logical, and merely added to complete the catalogue of representative views begun above. M.].
The reasons of the Apostle’s writing 1John 2:12–14.
First series, 1John 2:12, 18b.
1JOHN 2:12. I write unto you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you.—The Perfect ἀφέωνται (See Winer, Grammar, § 14, 3, p. 98, on the form of this word) points to the forgiveness of sins, mentioned 1John 1:8, sqq.; 2:1, 2, as a completed fact, which, as a ground whereon they stand, as a sphere wherein they move, as a benefit they have received, has and is to have on them and the rest of their life a lasting effect and an efficient power. [The forgiveness of sins is the ground of the Christian life.—M.]. Vulg., Augustine and Calvin render falsely “remittuntur,” so Luther, “are forgiven you,” [and E. V.—M.] For His name’s sake. The reference is not to Him who forgives sins, God the Father, but to Him, for whose sake the Father forgives; that is Christ; for διὰ with the Accusative is not per, through (instrumental), but propter, on account of, for the sake of, indicating the ground of the forgiveness of sins, and here, where the cordiality of the address (little children), and the direct application to the persons addressed (I write unto you, your sins have been forgiven you), are to be brought out, it denotes the objective ground, rendered subjective: since His name is with you, in you and among you; His name is He Himself and what He is, but revealed and known, believed and confessed; hence=since ye have believed on Him, confess and invoke Him, individually and collectively, and since He has manifested Himself and may yet further manifest Himself as ἱλασμὸς, παράκλητος; consequently for Christ’s sake in you. Thus we might combine with Neander the explanation of Düsterdieck, who insists with the majority of commentators on the objective ground of the forgiveness of sins, and that of Luther, who understands the subjective ground. [Neander says: “He comforts them with the assurance of sins forgiven through the mediation of Christ. For the name of Christ are their sins forgiven; that is, for the sake of what Christ is as the Son of God and the Son of Man, the divine-human Redeemer—it being as such that they invoke Him as their Mediator.”—M.].
1JOHN 2:13a. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.—Ὁ άπ̓ ἀρχῆς, according to 1John 1:1 and the context, can only signify Christ, with reference to His eternal, Divine Nature; for the ἀρχή reaches beyond the beginning of time and of the world, into God’s eternal life, and must not be weakened into “initium novi fœderis et evangelii patefacti” (Socinus). Grotius and a Lapide, without all contextual sanction, explain “novistis Deum, qui Senex dierum,” Dan. 7:9; 13:22. Ἐγνώκατε consequently denotes only the more profound understanding of the nature and eternal glory of Christ, spiritual knowledge, and not personal acquaintance, not even on the part of some (Bengel: “vivebant patres eo tempore, quo Christus in terris fuerat conspiciendus, et eorum nonnulli eum et facie et fide, omnes fide cognorant”) so the ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα, 1John 2:13c must on no account be explained of personal acquaintance. Nor does this exhortation warrant the idea that the Fathers, the aged, love to hear and talk of old things, and that to them, in particular, knowledge ought to belong. (The Greek Fathers, Augustine, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Neander). But more profound knowledge in general, and knowledge of Jesus Christ, His Person and work in particular, is peculiarly suited to the calmness and experience of old age.
1JOHN 2:13b. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.—While young men are exposed to the power of temptation in respect of the world, both within and without, they have also fresh vigor and courage to fight against and overcome the wicked one, τὸν πονηρόν, the devil, who is thus designated in the N. T. in general (Matth. 13:19, cf. 28, 38, sq.; Eph. 6:16); and in this Epistle in particular (1John 3:12; 5:18 sq.) Carpzov: “Viris fortibus et robustis tribuitur supra fortissimum et robustissimum victoria.” But we must not narrow the idea with Bengel, who says: “Insigne quoddam specimen virtutis a juvenibus, quibus scribit, exhibitum, cujusmodi erat constantia confessionis in persecutione Domitiani, itemque reditus juvenis illius, quem apostolus summa mansuetudine a lactrocinio ad pœnitentiam reduxit, suavissime descriptus a Clemente Al. lib. quis dives salv. c. 42, ab. Eusebio H. E., lib. 3, cap. 20 et a Chrysostomo, Paræn. 1 ad Theodorum lapsum, cap. 11. We may think of it, but take it in the widest reach. That which John says to all, the τεκνίοις, that their sins have been forgiven, applies indeed to all, and it does not apply exclusively to the fathers, that they have known the Lord, or exclusively to the young men, that they have overcome the wicked one; for it may be that there are fathers who have just gained the victory, and young men who have acquired profound knowledge; but besides the general truth of the forgiveness of sins, those particular affirmations are admirably distributed among the different classes, and only possible and real on the condition of that general declaration. “Christian life-truth is essentially one; in whichever direction its riches may be developed, or to whichever relations it may be applied, all these different exhortations and instructions are always of one casting, resting on one foundation, and animated by one spirit” Düsterdieck). But John has a particular word, a word of peculiar application for the whole Church, as well as for the separate groups and individuals.
Second series, 1John 2:13c–1John 2:14.
1JOHN 2:13c.—I have written unto you, little sons, because ye have known the Father. To know the Father, that is, to know God as our Father, to cast deeper looks into the peace-thoughts of His heart concerning us, into the holy Love which is His Being, is possible only in the more intimate converse with Him which He opens in the forgiveness of our sins and our reconciliation. The child, with its child-like ways and mind, with its humility, attachment, diligence, teachableness and receptivity, is nearer to God than an adult. Here also apply the words, “Become as little children” Matth. 18:3. It is easy to see that we have here the parallel of the clause, “Because your sins have been forgiven you;” adoption and forgiveness of sins interpenetrate each other, and more than mere correlates. He now writes to the fathers precisely the same thing as before:
1JOHN 2:14. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning.—His object is not to write something else; for he has rightly divided the word.
I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.—“Alii juvenes corpore, vos fide.” (Bengel). Matth. 12:29; Luke 11:21, sq.; Heb. 11:34. It is the strength of the Spirit for the combat and victory, the strength of their own spirit, and derived from the Spirit of God, given from above, through and with the adoption and the forgiveness of sins. The ἀγγελία (1John 1:5). with the ἀλήθεια 1John 1:6,8; 2:4), in the word of God, (1John 1:10; 2:2,5,7), creates and moves this vital strength and vital courage for the combat. Hence ἰσχυροί ἐστε is immediately followed by καἱ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν μένει. Ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ, therefore, does not denote Christ, although He is the centre and star of that word. The word of God, with its eternal power, must not only be brought to them, but it must have entered into them and remain in them; then it happens: καὶ νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν. The strength is grounded on the word of God, which abides in them (μένει), and in virtue of this strength they have overcome the devil [the thought belongs to Huther—M.]; the decisive battle, of course, has been fought by Jesus Christ, but His people ought to follow up His victory by continuous warfare, and gain further triumphs in their heart and sphere of life, cf. Jno. 16:33. A retrospective view of the preceding verses, assigning the reasons for the Apostle’s writing and having written, characterizes the readers as possessing not a small degree of Christian knowledge and ability, and the writings in question as taking for granted such a degree of Christian culture. While we may therefore think of the Epistle and the Gospel, we cannot say with Ebrard that the Gospel is wholesome and pleasant food for the little ones (παιδία), but that the Epistle can be understood by adults only. Now has been laid down an important and sure foundation for the subsequent warnings and exhortations (Luther, S. Schmid, Episcopius, Bengel, Lücke, de Wette, Düsterdieck, al.): You have received and acquired so much, and succeeded so well, that you ought to progress, and not to retrograde! You stand in life-fellowship with God—do not dissolve it!
The warning. 1JOHN 2:15a. Love not the world, neither the things in the world. The correct exposition of the whole depends on the meaning of ὁ κόσμος, which signifies according to Suidas: εὐπρέπeιαν, τὸ πᾶν, τάξιν, τὸ πλῆθος, or according to Hesychius: κάλλος and then the beautiful fabric of the material universe. “Quem κόσμον Græci nomine ornamenti appellaverunt, eum nos a perfecta absolutaque elegantia mundum” (Plinius. H. N. 2, 3). The LXX do not apply the word κόσμος, strictly taken, to the universe. In the New Testament we find it used in all these senses, 1 Pet. 1:3=εὐπρέπεια, τάξις; Acts 17:24; Jno. 21:25; 17:5; Matth. 24:21; Rev 12:8; 17:8=τὸ πᾶν, and especially by John in the Gospel 1John 1:9; 11:9; 12:19; 18:36; 1 Jno. 2:2; 4:1,3,9,14.=the creation of the earth, especially of the world of man (Düsterdieck)=τὸ πλήθος. Now the difference between οὖτος ὁ κόσμος=τὰ κάτω and τὰ ὃνω (Jno. 8:23), which is at the same time the opposite of both, makes κόσμος to denote the whole kingdom of sin and death, inimical to God, under Satan its prince, and more particularly the world of man as fallen away and estranged from God (Jno. 12:31; 14:30; 16:11, 1 Jno. 4:4; 5:19; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:11, sq.). But all this without the faintest trace of dualism. For the κόσμος, as originally created by God, was very good (cf. Gen. 1:31, with Jno. 1:3, 10), but became evil and is the object of redeeming love (Jno. 3:16; 1 Jno. 2:2; 4:14), so that the children of the world become the children of God in their faith in Christ and His Word (Jno. 1:12; 12:45–50); there is no man who is not first born flesh of the flesh, and yet born spirit of the spirit may not and should not become the child of God (Jno. 3:6; 1 Jno. 3:9, 14),—Now the sum-total of this earthly kingdom of evil is alternately applied in a real sense to the earthly sphere in general, and in a personal sense to the world of man, sinful, and abiding in sin; and these two conceptions frequently and easily play the one into the other. The present passage must be interpreted by the usus loquendi current in the N. T., and we must “lay down the rule that κόσμος bears the same meaning in all the three verses, so intimately connected together” (Düsterdieck). We cannot say with a Lapide “omnibus hisce modis” (i.e. three different meanings: “1. homines mundani, in his proprie est concupiscentia; 2. orbis sublunaris, in hoc mundo proprie et formaliter non est concupiscentia; sed in eo est concupiscentia materialis i.e. objectum concupiscibile: 3. ipsa mundana vita vel concupiscentia in genere): omnibus hisce modis mundus hic accipi potest et Johannes nunc ad unum, nunc ad alterum respicit; ludit enim in voce mundus.” Points of support necessary to the right explanation of our passage are these: κόσμος is the opposite of God, it is a whole consisting of various parts and members, it is easily the object of love: it has a life, but lacks permanence and endurance. Hence it is evidently the earthly sphere of life, especially as filled with the world of man and opposing God, whose real side often alternates or concurs with its personal side; as applied to things, we have to think not so much of trees, flowers, mountains and stars as of whatever forms part of and constitutes the world of man, such as rank or dignity, possessions and gifts of the mind and of the body and such like. Consequently the κόσμος must not be taken as the sum-total of transient creatures as far as they are natural things as Lücke (sum-total of all sensuous manifestations, exciting sensuous pleasure), with whom we must rank, de Wette, Brückner, or J. Lange (systema totius mundi), Neander (the world and worldly things), and others construe the word. But equally objectionable is the interpretation which makes κόσμος=the evil inhering in the world, as given by Greek authors (ἡ κοσμικὴ φιληδονία καὶ διάχυσις), Luther (=the world, i.e. ungodliness itself, human passions according to which man does not rightly use the creature), Calvin (omne genus corruptionis et malorum omnium abyssum), Morus (malum morale) Semler (vulgata consuetudo hominum, res corporeas unice appetentium), Erdmann (totus complexus et ambitus mali), Ebrard (τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ=kinds of sinful living, thinking and demeanor e.g. covetousness, ambition, sensuality.—M.]). Lastly, we must not limit the application of κόσμος to “the heathen world” (Lange), “the mass of ordinary men” (Oecumenius: ὁ συρφετὸς not συνφυτός, as Braune corrects M.] ὄχλος, ὅς οὐ τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχει ἀγάπην ἐν ἑαυτῷ; Calov.: homines dediti rebus hujus mundi), “the major part of men” (Grotius: humanum genus, secundum partem majorem, quæ in malis actionibus versatur), “to that part of the world which constituted the anti-christians” (Storr, Socinus). Cf. Düsterdieck and Huther ad loc. [the latter giving all the passages cited by Braune.—M.].—Now while John, according to the Lord, urges love, notwithstanding Jno. 3:16: οὕτως ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον he says here: μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον. There is a difference, if the Lord our Saviour and Redeemer, who is above the world, loves, or if we love that are of the world, needing salvation, although salvable. To love is to surrender oneself; God surrenders Himself in order to save, overcome and glorify; the creature can only surrender itself to the world to be ruined, swept along and carried off. The creature is forbidden to enter into intimate and vital communion, or entire life-fellowship with that sphere of humanity which has fallen away from God. The Saviour does it in order to save from it those who suffer themselves to be seized by Him.—Μηδέ=but not even, or no, not even. The Apostle consequently draws a sharp distinction between τὸν κόσμον and τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, the whole or the general, and the particular or the specific. You are not even to love a particular, a specific part of the κόσμος; one may be fascinated by this thing, another by that, it all amounts to the same; the love of the world is there where we find the love of the particular or of one particular in the world, be it the gold of the earth, which is highly valued among men, or human wisdom, or honour with men, or power and dominion, or only influence of a less degree and in a limited sphere.—This warning is obviously addressed to all, the πατέρες and νεανίσκοι. “Omnibus hæc generaliter ecclesiæ filiis scribit” (Bede). It is not said to the children only (Oecumenius); for παιδία and τεκνία, denote the whole church (see above); nor to the young men only (Bengel, Sander, Besser), although it follows the last address. The next verse, which is purely general, as well as the import of this warning, require us to understand it as being universal in its application.
The reasons. 1John 2:15b–17.
First reason. 1John 2:15b, 16. If any one love the world, the love of the Father is
not in him.—“Unum cor duos tam sibi adversarios amores non capit.” (Bede) “Contraria non sunt simul” (Bengel). Since ὁ κόσμος is the object of love, since the Apostle is concerned with the love of the world and the heart of man which loves, ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς is of course our love of the Father; for the love of the Father is not incompatible with the love of the world (Jno. 3:16). Hence ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς denotes neither “amor Patris erga suos et filialis erga Patrem” (Bengel), nor “the love of God toward us” (Luther II., Calov.), nor the “caritas quam Pater præscribit” (Socinus). We have here the same antithesis which is noted in Matth. 6:24: θεῷ καὶ μαμωνᾷ δουλεύειν, Rom. 8:5 (σάρξ and πνεῦμα), 1John 2:7 (φρόνημα τῆς σαρκός ἔχθρα εἰς θεόν); 2 Cor. 6:15 (Χριστὸς and Βελίαρ); Jas. 4:4 (ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ and in this Epistle 1John 1:5 (φῶς and σκοτία). This is the reason of the warning against the love of the world; the love of the world is incompatible with the love of God, as our Father; the love of the world cannot consist with the sonship of God. [Christians are the children of God, God is their Father; their vocation is to love their Father, not to love the world.—M.]. This is explicitly brought out in
1JOHN 2:16. Because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. The connection of this verse with the one preceding by ὅτι=because, compels us to emphasize πᾶν; for, because there is nothing in the world, the κόσμος, which is of the Father, the love of the world is utterly incompatible with the love of the Father.—Πᾶν τὸ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ is evidently not identical with τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ (1John 2:15); the Singular denotes the transition from the particular to the unit: what is in the world is conceived as a whole, a totality comprehending the particular; hence the reference is not to objects only, as all those maintain who make it identical with τά ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ (although Ebrard’s exposition correctly adverts to particular forms of demeanour, and Düsterdieck speaks of a “transformation of the conception of the objects of the love of the world into the conception of subjective love itself and its essential modes of representation”); still less to persons (“omnes mundi dilectores non habent nisi concupiscentiam” Bede); but as Huther excellently puts it: “All that which constitutes the substance, i.e. the essence of the κόσμος, its inward life, which animates it.” The apposition indicates the nature of πᾶν τὸ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, and shows how we are to take, and what is the true import of these words. The apposition has obviously respect to life-manifestations in the world of man; the whole, the sum and substance, the totality of those life-manifestations in the God-forsaken world of man, is not of God, but without, and opposed to God. In dealing with the difficulty connected with the exposition of the apposition: ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν καὶ ἡ ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου, we have to remember that all the three clauses must be taken as coördinated, and that the Genitive must be construed alike in all three cases. The three ideas are placed in juxtaposition by καί. Hence Düsterdieck errs in making ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκὸς the principal idea governing ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν and ἀλοζονεία τοῦ βίου. This is confirmed by the explanation of the separate ideas. In ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν we have evidently the Genitive of the subject; it cannot mean: lust after the eyes. We have therefore three times the Genitive of the subject. In ἐπιθυμια τῆς σαρκός the Genitive of the subject is analogous to the idea: ἡ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ (Gal. 5:17), and to the grammatical usage of the N. T., where, with the exception of 2 Pet. 2:10, the Genitive connected with ἐπιθυμία always denotes the subject; but σάρξ denotes here what it signifies elsewhere, e.g. in Eph. 2. 3 (ἐπιθυμίαι τῆς σαρκὸς.) 1 Pet. 2:11 (αἱ σαρκικαὶ ἐπιθυμίαι), the desire, the lust of the flesh, as suggested by the antithesis of πνεύματι ἄγεσθαι, ἐν πνεύματι περιπατεῖν. Limitations like those of Augustine (“desiderium earum rerum quæ pertinent ad carnem, sicut cibus et concubitus et cætera hujusmodi”), Grotius, Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander and Besser, who agree with him, or those of Brückner, who suggests “carnal lust in the strict sense,” Bengel (“ea quibus pascuntur sensus qui appellantur fruitivi: gustus et tactus,) Gerlach (“every kind of the lust of enjoyment”) and Ebrard (“sexual enjoyments”)—are not in agreement with the context and more or less arbitrary. Only the limitation required by the coördinated ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν is justifiable; but even this is an ἐπιθυμία, and as such equal to the former, yet not τῆς σαρκὸς, but τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν. This ἐπιθυμία must not be subordinated to the former (as is done by Lücke, de Wette and Düsterdieck), but it is coördinated with it. Nor must the Genitive be taken at once subjectively and objectively: “the lust of the eyes, and at the same time that, wherein as the sensuous-worldly, the eyes delight themselves” (Brückner). The lust of the eyes has respect to seeing, consequently the lust to see, and to see that which is the object of such lust. Hence Spener explains correctly: “all sinful lust which seeks for enjoyment in the very seeing,” and so does Huther: “the desire of seeing that which is unseemly, and the sinful gratification afforded by seeing it.” Hence it must not be restricted to “omnis curiositas in spectaculis, in theatris” (Augustine, Neander); nor is it sufficient to say with Calvin: “tam libidinosos aspectus comprehendit, quam vanitatem, quæ in pompis et inani splendors vagatur.” Nor may it be referred with Bengel to “ea, quibus tenentur sensus investigativi, oculus sive visus, auditus et olfactus.” Nor must extraneous ideas be added thereto, so as to make it denote a desire of possession excited by sight (Rickli), or straightforth πλεονεξία (Luther, Socinus, Grotius, Lorinus, Wolf, Baumgarten-Crusius, Gerlach, al.), or even “the whole sphere of the desires of selfishness, envy, covetousness, hatred and revenge” (Ebrard). Thus the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes are arbitrarily distinguished from each other or rather confounded, since the former is taken as sensuality and the latter as covetousness, or vice versa. The eyes, instruments of the senses, are preëminently the ministering members of the life of the soul and the spirit: here is flesh, become transparent, whereby surrounding objects and manifestations produce impressions on the life of the soul, and the soul requires insight of them. As the Scripture draws a distinction between grass and the flower of grass, and understands thereby the flesh and the glory of the flesh (1 Pet. 1:24: σὰρξ ὡς χόρτος and πᾶσα δόξα αὐτῆς ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου), and thus points beyond the nearest sphere of carnal life to the life-sphere of the soul, so we may distinguish the ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκός from the ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν in such manner that the former denotes absolute, purely sensuous lust, and the latter lust which through the instrumentality of the soul, points to the spiritual sphere of life. It is noteworthy that as Peter subjoins the words (1John 2:25) “τὸ δὲ ῥῆμα τοῦ θεοῦ μένει εῖς τὸν αἰῶνα,” so John has almost the identical addition: “ὁ δἐ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ μένει εἰς αἰῶνα.” Hence the former includes all the desires of possession and enjoyment, of covetousness and sensuality, of vulgar or refined form, while the latter embraces the desire which longs for, seeks and finds gratification in social intercourse and the manifestations of social joys, in works of art down to the rude outbreaks of festal joy.—To this is now added as a third καὶ ἡ ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου. While ἐπιθυμία refers twice to acquisition, ἀλαζονεία has respect to spending. The noun occurs, besides this place, in the N. T. only at Jas. 4:16: ἐν ταῖς ἀλαζονείαις ὑμῶν, the adjective in Rom. 1:30, after, and in 2 Tim. 3:2, before ὑπερήφανος. In classical Greek it signifies arrogance and vaunting, with the secondary idea of untruthfulness and boasting about one’s rank or wealth. In James it evidently denotes the outbreaks of that arrogance which overlooks the vanity and nothingness of earthly happiness, and boastingly confides in it. The ἀλαζών is the vain braggart at whom and with whom one may perhaps smile; the ὑπερήφανος is the haughty man, who is irritable and injurious; the one recognizable in the national character of the French, the other in that of the English. The Genitive τοῦ βίου, of the life, with reference to sustenance and necessaries, as is evident from 1John 3:17; Mark 12:44; Luke 8:14, 43; 15:12, 30; 21:4; 2 Tim. 2:4, designating occasionally personal property (living), indicates the side on which this braggart arrogance does and is wont to appear, as well where there is little or great abundance as where it is merely coveted and want is concealed; braggart arrogance is wont to appear in connection with bodily sustenance and necessaries. Augustine: “Jactare se vult in honoribus, magnus sibi videtur, sive de divitiis, sive de aliqua potentia.” Bengel: “Ut velit quam plurimus esse in victu, cultu, apparatu, suppellectili, ædificiis, prædiis, famulitio, clientibus, jumentis, muneribus, etc., Rev 18:12. Chrysostomus appellat τὸν τῦφον τὸν βιωτικὸν et τὴν φαντασίαν τοῦ βίου.” Examples occur in Gen. 11:2–4; 1 Chron. 22:1, sqq.; Eccles. 2:1, sqq.; Ezek. 28:12–19; Dan. 4:27; Rev 17:4–6; 18, 4–7. So Lücke, Sander, Besser and Huther; Neander, Gerlach and Düsterdieck may be included in this category. Hence it is not correct to restrict the meaning to ambition, superbia, ambitio (Cyrillus, Socinus, al.).—We should hold with Bengel that: “Non coincidunt cum his tribus tria vitia cardinalia, voluptas, avaritia, superbia: sed tamen in his continentur.” The hypothesis that this trinity contains, a complete indication of all the forms in which evil is apt to manifest itself, has become traditional, and goes so far that Bede following Augustine said: “Per hæc tria tantum cupiditas humana tentatur; per hæc tria Adam tentatus est et victus; per hæc tentatus est Christus et vicit.” A Lapide actually discovered in them the correlatives of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity answering to the three primariæ virtutes, continentia, caritas, humilitas [which according to Huther are closely connected with the three monastic vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.—M.]. The majority of practical expositors have followed this track with various modifications, even Pascal (Pensées, 28, 55) says: “libido sentiendi, sciendi, dominandi.” Lücke very rightly opposed this interpretation and maintained that the point in question did not relate to cardinal vices, but to the chief forms (Brückner; “leading Masses”) of worldly-mindedness. These, as Bengel observes, sustain an intimate relation to one another: “Etiam ii, qui arrogantiam vitæ non amant, tamen concupiscentiam oculorum sectari possunt, et qui hanc superarunt, tamen concupiscentiam carnis persæpe retinent: hæc enimprofundissima et communissima, apud minores, medioximos et potentes: apud eos etiam, qui abnegationem sui colere videntur; et rursum, nisi vincatur, ab ea facile progreditur homo ad concupiscentiam oculorum, ubi materiam habet; et ab hac ad superbiam vitæ, ubi facultatem habet; tertioque includitur secundum, secundo primum.” Thus ambition is ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκός only in so far as it wants to cast others in the shade, it is ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλ μῶν as far as it aims at recognition and marks of recognition, and it is ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου as far as it is indulged in the consciousness of position and wealth, and in every form there are degrees of intensiveness and coarseness. The same holds good of avarice, voluptuousness and the love of pleasure. We have here by no means a complete catalogue of the biasses and forms of manifestation of evil. Unlovingness specified above (1John 2:2–11) and mendacity mentioned below (1John 2:18–20) although connected with this [trichotomy M.], are not contained in or denoted by it. Hence Luther, followed by Sander, rightly observes: “These three particulars are not of the Father: 1. Hatred of the brethren. 2. The three idols of the world. 3. False and corrupt doctrine.—The terms ἐκ τοῦ πατρός, ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου εἶναι denote origin and indicate similarity, congruity and connection. This is the profound truth that nothing is esteemed with God except His own Image; whatever is to have respect to Him, to belong to Him, to be, and able to be united with Him, must come from Him; 1John 2:29; 3:7 sqq.; 4:2 sqq.; 7 sqq.; 5:1 sqq.; Jno. 8:44. So Düsterdieck, Huther, and Ebrard in opposition to de Wette [Paulus and Baumgarten-Crusius—M. ], who deny the reference to origin and restrict the application of the terms to congruity and similarity. The antithesis, intensified by the repetition of ἐστί “is not of the Father, but is of the world” marks with peculiar pointedness the world as the source of ungodliness. The world will not tolerate any thing that does not derive its being from it or belongs to it. We see therefore how God and the world are just here opposed to each other, irreconciled and irreconcilable; both are inflexible and neither can yield the place to the other. [Düsterdieck: “Through our whole Epistle runs the view which is also manifest in the Gospel of St. John, that only the mind which springs from God is directed to God. He who is born of God, loves God, knows God, does God’s will. God Himself, who first loved us, viz. in Christ His incarnate Son, begot in us that love which of moral necessity returns again to the Father, and of like necessity embraces our brethren also. This love is hated by the world, because it springs not from the world. It depends not on the world, any more than that perverted love which springs from the world and is directed towards the world, the lust of the flesh, etc., can be directed to the Father or to God’s children. So that John grasps in reality down to the very foundations of the moral life, when he reminds his readers of the essentially distinct origin of the love of the world, and the love of God. The inmost kernel of the matter is hereby laid bare, and with it a glimpse is given of the whole process of the love of the world and the love of God, even to the end; and this end is now set forth expressly with extraordinary power.”—M.]. But
The second reason: 1John 2:17.
And the world passeth away and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.—The world can only be taken here in the same sense as in the preceding verses, viz.: the world of man fallen away from and opposing God, which is a power, and as a power awes many, but does and has great things. But what is true of the σκοτία, 1John 2:8, applies also to it: παράγεται, it passeth away, it is passing away and disappearing; the sense must not be limited to the transitory world, to be destroyed in the judgment (Bede: “mundus transibit, quum in die judicii per ignem in meliorem mutabitur figuram, ut sit cœlum novum et terra nova”), nor must the term be so construed as to express the consciousness of the approaching advent of Christ and the judgment of the κόσμος connected with it (Luther, with reference to 1John 2:8;18: ἐσχάτη ὥρα). It is, in effect, the uninterruptedly peculiar nature and destiny of the world (Oecumenius: “τὰ κοσμικὰ ἐπιθυμήματα οὐκ ἔχει τὸ μένον τε καὶ ἑατὼς, τὰ δὲ κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ διακρῆ καὶ διαιωνίζοντα (Düsterdieck: “because of its alienation from God, doomed to passing away, to death”). The antithesis μένει requires and confirms this view. Although Düsterdieck distinguishes his view, according to which he finds here more permanently valid axiomatic truths concerning the course of the love of God or the love of the world, from that of Oecumenius, who gives prominence to the properties of the love of the world and of the obedience to the commandments of God, the two views ought really to be combined thus: it fares with the world according to its nature, and the nature of the world agrees with its passing away. And as it passes away, so also passes away its lust, the lust which inheres in it, emanates from it, and governs it. Hence αὐτοῦ is the Genitive of the subject, as maintained by most commentators; it cannot mean lust after it or in it, as if αὐτοῦ were the Genitive of the object (Lücke, Neander, Sander, Besser, al.). Of course, the lust of the world refers also to the world and the things and manifestations in it, and not to God and the riches of His Kingdom. If the whole, the world, belonging to death, passes away, then also its parts, the life that is in it, its separate manifestations and exhibitions of life in individuals, must pass away. This makes one thoroughly loathe the love of the world—the ἀγαπᾷν τὸν κόσμον. Who wants to seize and hold as the object of his love that which is perishable, doomed to death and perpetual defeat? The clause ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ supplies not only an antithesis, but affirms that the ἐπιθυμία τοῦ κόσμου does not the will of God, that the ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρός shows and verifies itself in the ποιεῖν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, even as unfolded in 1John 2:3, sqq., that the child does not trifle with the will of the Father, for the Father is God. To such applies the μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, the antithesis of παράγεται, he abides therefore unto, into eternity, sharing and assured of the imperishable and beatific life: redeemed from θάνατος, from the σκοτία, he gains φῶς, ζωὴ αἰώνιος. [Huther: “The destiny of the κόσμος is θάνατος, that of the children of God ζωὴ αἰώνιος.”—M.]. This antithesis points to the fact that the παράγεται of the world will sooner or later have run its course, and that the world will have ceased to exist. Most singular and arbitrary is the opinion of Ebrard, who says that “αἰὼν is the æon which will gloriously begin with the visible establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on earth,” and that consequently ὁ ποιῶν–εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα signifies that “he that does the will of God will abide until then, until the Kingdom of Christ is established, and be suffered to witness the victory of Christ’s Kingdom.” The addition, “quomodo et deus manet in æternum,” found in several Latin translations, but not in Jerome’s, is rather remarkable.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The gift of the forgiveness of sins (1John 2:12), which is, at the same time, the gift of adoption, [of being made the child of God—M.], 1John 2:13c, establishes a relationship which must verify itself in corresponding conduct, in the way of sanctification. God has taken the initiative, but man must seize it and hold fast, keep and verify it in striving after more profound knowledge, and in struggling for the peace of victory. On the gift of the forgiveness of our sins, and on that of our adoption with the Father, rest the more intimate knowledge of Christ, the victorious fight against Satan, and the enjoyment of the fruits of victory. In the fellowship with the Father and the Son are given us life, light, forgiveness, truth, wisdom, and understanding, and victory over the world and the devil. The victory of Christ (John 16:33) is the presupposition of all true victories, and His victory must continue in ours. John grounds the duties of Church members on the high privileges and immunities of the Christian state, and makes gratitude the principle of morality.
2. The peace-work of profound meditation and mature knowledge in men can only take place and prove successful if preceded by the struggles and triumphs of young men [i.e., the man must have passed through the discipline of the young man.—M.]. Great purity and integrity are indispensable to the clear perception and more thorough knowledge of the glory of Christ, of His Person, His Word, and His work. True knowledge presupposes life in fellowship with the Person known; it is a living reality and not a mere dogmatical formula (concerning the Person of Christ). Nothing but fighting against Satan will facilitate our knowledge of the eternal glory of Christ.
3. The κόσμος is diametrically opposed to God, and the heart of man cannot combine the love of the world and the love of the Father; the latter cannot thrive because of the former, or the former must be overcome, and disappearing, yield the place to the latter in the course of its growth and development. Where the life of [emanating from—M.] God is extant there may still be the world, but its power must be broken, it must wane more and more, and its still surviving remainder must recede before increasing and waxing knowledge and joy. Worldly life and godly life are not only two different biasses, but two opposite inclinations, incompatible and destroying each other.
4. It is not in point of space that we must flee from the world, but it is with reference to ethical principles that we must shun it, without loving it, turned away from it, to prevent our dying and perishing in and with it; some one thing may so effectually lay hold of one or another as to sweep him along with the fearful destruction of the whole κόσμος.
5. The definite superiority of the divine to the worldly may be gathered from the transitoriness of the world. Here is “afforded a vista through the whole process of the world’s history, as well as of the love of God, right on to the end” (Düsterdieck), and at the same time an insight into the biography of individuals.
6. He that has separated himself from God, has estranged himself from Him, falls into the power of death; the world contains death in the love of itself. None but those who love the Father have the life; yet none love the Father but those who have and with true fidelity keep His word. But there exists no eternal kingdom of evil, the principially dualistic predisposition to evil, but only a condition which has become so, from which any and every man may and shall be redeemed, who does not offer any resistance.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The gift of the forgiveness of sins sets us the task of fighting against the destroyer, and acquiring the knowledge of the Saviour. The gift of the forgiveness of sins is sonship with God and the knowledge of the Father. Holy Scripture directs us first to the knowledge of sin, then to fight against and overcome the wicked one, and lastly to acquire the knowledge of the God-man. Holy Scripture addresses first children—that is to say, the children of God; the word of God is the word of the Father to His children; the word of God calls all, whom it addresses, children, because He is the Father of all. Young men and fathers cannot go beyond this child-ship [I retain this Germanism in this place in order to render the thought more perspicuous; neither the word sonship nor adoption conveys the precise shade of thought.—M.]. No age of life can or may desire to surpass the stage of childhood before God. The life-truth of the Gospel is only one, emanating from one Spirit, resting on one foundation, consisting in one Spirit, but like the sun, shedding its illuminating and vitalizing beams in all directions: away with all false individualizing and all dry moralizing! He that loves not the world in God as the object of redemption to its salvation, loves it only without God to his own perdition. The world, which thou lovest, reacts more on thee than thou art able to influence it; thou wilt sooner become worldly through it, than it will become Christian through thee. Shun not the world, but love it not; be not afraid of it, but be afraid of thy love of it.
BODMER:—John the Apostle survived twelve Roman emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasianus, Titus, Domitianus and Nerva; great expectations and hopes were entertained of each one of these lords of the world, but all failed in the case of the best of them: instead of healing, they inflicted wounds, and many came to a miserable end.
GERSON:—Amor habet vim uniendi, si terram amas, terrenus es; si deum, divinus.
SPENER:—Every age should diligently cultivate the virtue becoming it before others, which is especially done by each particular age applying its natural gifts to the growth of life (understanding in the case of the old, strength in the case of young men, simplicity in the case of children).—Those who have overcome Satan as young men, may afterwards truly and fully know Christ as fathers, while those who have served him do not easily attain such knowledge, which is a kind of reward of grace.—The word of God does not only come to us, but abides also in us, and consequently is not a dead or passing sound—That which does not abide forever is not worthy of our love; for God has created, appointed and called us unto eternal things.
STARKE:—Preachers should particularly urge obedience to the commandments of God, and renunciation of the love of the world on the plea of the grace of God in the forgiveness of sins, as a more powerful incentive than considerations founded on the Law.—Although you have conquered the devil once, he will return and assault you with sevenfold strength to rob you of your crown. Therefore, ye warriors of Jesus, grow not secure, but think that your task is not done with one well-fought battle.—O the deluded souls that fancy that it is the privilege of their rank to use the world at their pleasure, to lead a worldly and carnal life, and to be good Christians for all! They will terribly deceive themselves, for the mere name is not sufficient.—Christians, would you love the Father, you must content yourselves with the necessaries of the body, bridle your eyes, and lead a life of simplicity.—The world and its lusts pass swiftly away, like an arrow cuts through the air, like smoke blows away, like a river flows along, like a bird flies past, like a sound dies away. What folly to set one’s hope and pleasure on such changeable and transitory things!—It is well, but not enough to know the will of God, we must do it in the strength of God, with all diligence, at all times, in all things, if we would abide forever.—It is a great mercy of God that He accepts our poor, imperfect doing, provided it be done with a childlike heart, as the doing of His will—None can do the will of God without denying his own will, for the will of God and corruptible self-will are utterly opposed to each other.
HEUBNER:—Fathers are spiritual adults, matured Christians; they have known Christ, the Son of God, from personal experience, made proof of His power, or He has been fully formed in them (Eph. 4:13; 1 Thess. 2:7, 11; Heb. 5:14). The image of Christ has a feeble and tender beginning in childhood; it continues growing in youth, but does not attain perfect clearness with open face until manhood. No warrior can go beyond this: Christ and His knowledge excel all perfection. We have here the case of souls that long since have acquired forgiveness and cleansing from their sins, overcome the wicked one, stood severe trials and hard conflicts, in victory have been planted in the likeness of Christ’s death, and made experience of the power of His resurrection. As fathers they possess spiritual generative powers. They are the mellow old wine. They are called τέλειοι, they are the nearest friends of the Lord, His intimates, that have a better understanding of His counsel: but, although thus highly raised by God, they never divest themselves of their childlike disposition. The sense of redemption in Christ, true poverty of spirit, voluntary and constant self-denial and strong love are their characteristics. But they still stand in need of instruction and caution (an old Christian had been victorious in the fight for thirty-nine years, but was overcome in the fortieth year.) They must fight senectute contra senectutem. They have more works than words. They are engaged in ceaseless intercessions for all the people of God, and gather riches for the children (2 Cor. 12:14). But they must he very careful not to usurp an authority and power, in virtue of which they require others blindly and unconditionally to follow and agree with them; the moment they fall into this snare they cease to be fathers, and become the destroyers of the Christlike spirit in the children.—Young men are those who are still engaged in active warfare, and have to fear most the assaults of the flesh, the world and the devil; they ought to have begun to taste the better delights [of religion] and should overcome Satan. Hence they are always prepared for the battle. He that has become a true child of God must not care for the age of youth. Can any one, by anxious care, add one cubit unto his stature [age]? He that preserves that which he has, to him shall be given more; the process of growth is imperceptible (Mark 4:28). They ought to have the spirit of power and vigilance; as valiant soldiers they must always be at their post, warring against the enemy. Their dangers are rashness, undue ardor, temerity and negligence. They must have work to do, they must destroy Babylon, but abstain from all things, and fight faithfully unto death. They must not be discouraged in the first ardor of their zeal, for that first ardor may lose its intensity. Their strength will be in proportion to their allowing their strength quietly to strike root; even Christ walked in silence and retirement during His youth, and John was in the wilderness. They must learn to enter into the mystery of godliness, abstain from their doing in order that God may work in them, that thus they may resist the πονηρός, the spoiler, who comes from without and forces his way into them, and would fain seize the youthful warriors. Hence they need circumspection and weapons (Eph. 6).—Children are beginners in Christianity who have already tasted the paternal love of God, who receive from the Father more tokens of love, as it were, more caressing. But they must be truly born of God, have a new mind, the Spirit of adoption whereby they cry Abba, Father. Their general characteristics are these: a childlike disposition, lowliness, obedience, sincerity, joyfulness. Their childlike failings are: credulity, carelessness, rashness, inconstancy, or even wandering from the simplicity in Christ. They are strongly attached to the sweet taste of grace. They require oversight, guidance, nursing, care, keeping; they require milk until they are able to take stronger food and grow. (Here we may refer to the choral divisions among the unitas fratrum: children, older boys, single brethren, single sisters, the chorus of married people, widowers and widows, to the incipientes, proficientes and profecti of the Moravians, and to the analogies of paganism, Plato de legg. II., where the chorus of boys, of young men to the age of thirty, of men to the age of sixty, used fascinatingly to implant the true and the good into the minds of the people in songs, and Plutarch lacon. instit. according to which, among the Spartans, old men used to sing: “Once we were vigorous youths;” men, “We are so; if thou desirest it, try;” and the boys, “Some day we shall even be better”).—Love is the noblest power in man, which he ought not to waste on unworthy objects, but he ought to love God only.—The world is set before men to try them, whether they will lay hold of it or of heavenly things.—The objects of our desires, as far as they are creatures, are not evil in themselves (1 Tim. 4:4; 1 Cor. 10:26), but the passionate desire of them is evil, and of the evil spirit. The excusatio of worldlings is: “it is natural, it is innocent.” That is to lay the responsibility of sin on God.—Worldly-mindedness and religion are incompatible. There are, indeed, many degrees of this worldly-mindedness and fondness of worldly pleasures, but this much is certain: 1. Those in whom this fondness is strong and supreme, to whom non-gratification causes anger and a blank, are without the divine life. 2. Every worldly pleasure, though indifferent of itself, becomes sin if it leads astray from God, and has to be enjoyed without God. 3. In proportion to the growth of religion is the decrease of a mind and taste for worldly lusts, and vice versa.—It is disgraceful in clergymen [Germ. Geistliche, a technical term for clergymen, of which the English divines is the nearest approximation, or we may also say “spiritual and secular,” but, of course, without any reference to the Roman Catholic use of these terms—M.], who ought to be the opposite of the worldly, to exhibit worldliness in the bias of their mind and conversation.—What comes of the transitoriness of the world and of the things which lust desires? What harm does it do to the worldly? 1. Even in respect of this earthly life it is painful and humiliating to take pleasure in enjoyments which are wholly idle and transient, and leave behind them nothing that is refreshing or ennobling, but, perhaps, something that will fill the mind with gloom, paralyze and deject the spirit—a melancholy blank. 2. This holds good still more in respect of the life to come. The objects will cease, but not the desire, which will then lack the instruments and means of its gratification. Painful condition. Such a soul will then behold itself in its miserable emptiness and vileness. Therefore consider the transitoriness and consequences of every sinful lust. (Oriental saying: The treasures of the world are so constituted that they will deprive thee of life, if thou gatherest them).—
NEANDER:—It is not part of the nature of the love of God that we must retire from the world and worldly things, but rather that we should use them according to the purpose which God has assigned to all men, to His glory.
BESSER:—The forgiveness of sins is the bread on which the great and the small, Apostles and malefactors, the wise and the illiterate, kings and beggars (kings as beggars, and beggars as kings), live in the kingdom of God, even as the fourth and fifth petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are significantly joined together by and.
JOHANN BUGENHAGEN’S motto was: “Si Christum bene scis, satis est, si cetera nescis: si Christum nescis, nil est, si cetera discis.”
LEO THE GREAT:—There are two kinds of love from which proceeds every lust according to its kind: man, who cannot exist without love, loves either God or the world.
SPENER.—This either—or is an established thing which will never yield the place to an as well—as. To contribute one cent to ungodliness is as much as to give up to it the whole. St. Bernard calls pride the arch-artificer of fraud, and the true fountain of vice, the tinder of sin, the rust of virtues, the moth of holiness, the beguiler of hearts, that turns medicine into poison, and cordials into stupefying draughts. A soul has nothing in eternity but what it has gathered in time.
NITZSCH:—The principal question of the divine word addressed to fathers: Do you know Him that is from the beginning? Let us consider: 1. Why this question is peculiarly suited to the aged? The excellency and glory of old age is experience, its natural avocation to gather and to have gathered it, its supreme requirement, to have wisdom by and in experience. How much more important is it to have seen and felt a thing, to have shared its suffering, than merely to have heard of it! 2. Which knowledge does it speak of? The First and the Last has been revealed in the centre of history, He by whom and for whom all things consist; time has become conscious of eternity. Humanity has been raised from profound misery to high glory. This knowledge compensates the eye for every unavoidable want of light, supplies the solution of many riddles, finds the kernel of many experiences, marks the holy line of human effort, cherishes the sweet hope of beholding [God], and thinks well done that which God doeth. 3. The great monition and the glorious consolation contained therein. Many things improve by age, but not the fundamental error, erring from God. Self-will and unbelief do not break spontaneously by mere events; the secret will of the natural man grows to a fearful height and resoluteness; rather die in sins than present oneself blind and naked, miserable and poor before the only Mediator, the Conqueror on the cross. Do you still know Him, do you know Him again? Be overcome and ye shall conquer; His knowledge rejuvenates you like eagles, makes you wise, and crowns all knowledge and experience with faith in the eternal words. The monition of the divine word to young men that they have overcome the wicked one. Regard it—1, as a congratulation on their participation in the victory of Christ, but also as a threefold test-inquiry of the reality of their Christianity. After the victory of Christ, the time of the mere doubtful struggle between the death and life of mankind, the time of invincible sin, of the immeasurable progress of corruption, belongs to the remote past. If you fear already, or are still afraid in this world, be of good courage and know that you enter into a reconciled world, and stand in eternal peace, and partake of a happiness and liberty that have not to be fought for and devised, but may be seized and enjoyed in true faith. But here you have to inquire after faith in this word,—since the tendency prevails not to believe that which was believed by the fathers; many, all believe to indemnify themselves for childlike faith with the conceits of the unvanished beauty of the world, of the power of the mind of man and of the innocence and goodness of the heart of man,—to inquire after the knowledge of this truth, after the decision and conversion of the heart, whether that will reigns supreme which says, How should I do this great evil and sin against my God? whether you are consciously or unconsciously under the jurisdiction of the prince of this world, and unfitted for the true work of your calling. … 2. As a call to resistance, and at the same time as a promise of assistance. This bears on your bravery, your honour, your independence, ye that are in such hurry to be men. There are many adversaries from without that reappear again and again; fight the invisible battles in your souls. It is good for a man to have worn the yoke in his youth, but how much better this yoke; thus you will gain a clear and pure view of your future, thus you spend the time of your transitory youth for the purpose of securing eternal youth, thus you care to-day for to-morrow and ever, even unto the judgment; all things are yours.
Hast thou broken with the world? 1. Art thou perhaps still wholly entangled in its lust? 2. Art thou convinced that it is impossible to love God and the world at the same time? 3. Dost thou daily fight victoriously against the lust of the world tempting thee?
What is the Christian’s relation to the world? 1. He knows that its lust, without any exception, is sin (1John 2:16), and such sin as is incompatible with the Christian profession (1John 2:15), and on this very account 2. He shuns and flies it (v.15).
Consider how little the love of the world comports with sincere conversion towards God. 1. The latter imposes renunciation of the world and its lust as a necessary condition. 2. It affords strength for overcoming the world. 3. And is itself a continued combat with the temptations of the world.
The infamy of a Christian being the slave of worldly lust. 1. He thereby enters the service of worldly vanity, 2. becomes the enemy of God, and 3. will perish with the world (L. in “Gesetz und Zeugniss” for 1860).—
[EZEKIEL HOPKINS:—1John 2:15. “For these things (Pleasures, Riches, Honours), though they make a fair and gaudy show, yet it is all but show and appearance. As bubbles, blown into the air, will represent great variety of orient and glittering colours, not, as some suppose, that there are any such really there, but only they appear so to us, through a false reflection of light cast upon them: so truly this world, this earth on which we live, is nothing else but a great bubble blown up by the breath of God in the midst of the air, where it now hangs. It sparkles with ten thousand glories: not that they are so in themselves, but only they seem so to us through the false light by which we look upon them. If we come to grasp it, it breaks and leaves nothing but wind and disappointment in our hands: as histories report of the fruits that grow near the Dead sea, where once Sodom and Gomorrah stood, they appear very fair and beautiful to the eye, but if they be crushed, turn straight to smoke and ashes.”
There is nothing in the world vain in respect of its natural being or of God the Creator—but all the vanity that is in worldly things, is only in respect of the sin and folly of man. [Augustine: “Utendum est hoc mundo, non fruendum; ut invisibilia Dei, per ea quæ facta sunt, intelligantur; hoc est, ut de temporalibus æterna capiantur.”—M.].
The vanity of the world appears in:
1. That all its glory and splendour depend merely on opinion and fancy.
2. In its deceitfulness and treachery. It is not only vanity, but a lying vanity.
3. As all things in the world are lying vanities, so are they all vexatious. “Uncertain comforts but most certain crosses.”
4. A little cross will embitter great comforts—another mark of the vanity of the world.
5. The longer we enjoy any worldly thing, the more flat and insipid doth it grow.
6. All the pleasure of the world is nothing else but a tedious repetition of the same things.
7. The world can stand us in no stead, when we have the greatest need of support and comfort.
8. All things in the world are vain, because they are unsuitable.
The soul is spiritual and immortal, worldly things are material and perishable.
Its wants are spiritual—but the world supplies only material wants.
9. The vanity of the world appears in its inconstancy and fickleness and—
10. In that it is altogether unsatisfactory.—M.].
[BARROW:—The world is an enemy, an irreconcilable enemy to our salvation. The World, that is, the wicked principles, the bad customs, the naughty conversation and example which commonly prevail here among men; alluring to evil and deterring from good; the cares also, the riches, the pleasures, the glories of the world, which possess or distract the minds, satiate and cloy the desires, employ all the affections and endeavours, take up the time of men; all in the world which fasteneth our hearts to earth, and to those low transitory things; or which sink them down toward hell and which detain them from soaring toward heaven.
The world passeth away and the desire (ἐπιθυμία) thereof; whatever seemeth most lovely and desirable in the world is very flitting; however, our desire and our enjoyment thereof must suddenly cease. Imagine a man, therefore, possessed of all worldly goods, armed with power, flourishing in credit, flowing with plenty, swimming in all delight (such as were sometime Priamus, Polycrates, Crœsus, Pompey) yet since he is withal supposed a man, and mortal, subject both to fortune and death, none of those things can he reasonably confide or much satisfy himself in; they may be violently divorced from him by fortune, they must naturally be loosed from him by death; the closest union here cannot last longer than till death us depart; wherefore no man upon such account can truly call, or, if he consider well, heartily esteem himself happy; a man cannot hence receive profit or content from any labour he taketh under the sun. (Eccles. 1:3 sqq.)—M.].
[On ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου 1John 2:16. “It was a pertinent discourse of Cineas, dissuading Pyrrhus from undertaking a war against the Romans. Sir, saith he, when you have conquered them, what will you do next? Then Sicily is near at hand, and easy to master.—And what when you have subdued Sicily? Then we will pass over to Africa and take Carthage, which cannot long withstand us.—When these are conquered, what will be your next attempt?—Then we will fall in upon Greece and Macedon and recover what we have lost there.—Well, when all are subdued, what fruit do you expect from all your victories? Then we will sit down and enjoy ourselves. Sir, replied Cineas, may we not do it now? Have you not already a kingdom of your own? and he that cannot enjoy himself with a kingdom, cannot with the world.” Plutarch in Vita Pyrrhi.—M.].
[PYLE (1John 2:12–14):—The cautions I here give you ought to be equally regarded by all degrees of Christian professors. The new converts and younger Christians are to consider themselves as newly put into a state of salvation, the pardon of sin, and the favour of God, through Jesus Christ; and to endeavour to confirm themselves in it by the careful practice of true Christian virtue. Such as are come to more maturity in their profession and are in the strength and vigour of their age, have a great advantage, and ought to employ the utmost of that vigour in resisting the strongest temptations of the devil, and perfecting their conquest over him and all his wicked instruments. And the aged Christians cannot but have so dear a knowledge of God, and the revelation of His will by Jesus Christ, during the long season from their first conversion, that it would be utterly inexcusable for them to be wanting in their essential duties or be drawn from them by the false teachers.—M.].
[1JOHN 2:12. SIMEON, C., The different growth and privileges of God’s children. Works xx. 393.
1JOHN 2:13. 14. MARSHALL, N., Peculiar temptations attending every stage of life, with the special advantages and counter-motives that are found in each, considered particularly with regard to old age.
The temptations that most endanger our first stage of life, with the duties most incumbent upon us in that early period, and the motives to discharge them.
Peculiar temptations treated in reference to such as are in the bloom and vigour of life. Sermons, i1John 2:433, 459, 485.
1JOHN 2:15. FULLER, THOS., An ill match well broken off. Joseph’s party-coloured coat.
1JOHN 2:15–17. BOSSUET, Traité de la Concupiscence. Œuvres, xi1John 2:26.—M.].
[1John 2:12. ἀφέωνται, Perf. Pass. formed after the Perfect Active ἀφέωκα, here and Matth 9:2:5; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20, 23; 7:47; Syriac=remissa sunt, “HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN YOU” more correct than E. V. “are forgiven you.”—M.]
[Cod. Sin. reads τὸ πονηρόν.—M.]
1John 2:13. ἔγραψα, A. B. C., Cod. Sin. The reading γράφω is without critical authority, and opposed to the ructure of this series of sentences.
1John 2:14. τὸ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς in B., which might allude to 1John 1:1, is evidently a slip of the pen, since the same Codex reads τὸν in 1John 2:13.
[1John 2:15. μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ=nor the things in the world, more correct than “the things that are in the world” E.V.—M.]
τοῦ πατρὸς, B. [G. K.] Cod. Sin.; the best verss. Fathers [Oec. Theophyl.—M.]. The reading Θσοῦ A. C. must yield the place to the former authorities, and to the context 1John 2:16.
[1John 2:16. ὅτι=because, so German.—M.]
[1John 2:17. αὐτοῦ after ἐπιθυμία, although wanting in A. and cancelled by Griesbach; is the true reading. The difficulty readily accounts for the omission.—M].
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.7. Warning and consolation against Anti-Christ
DESCRIPTION OF HIS FORERUNNERS, WHOSE APPEARANCE POINTS TO THE LAST TIME (1John 2:18–23). EXHORTATION OF THE FAITHFUL TO STEADFASTNESS IN THEIR ASSURANCE OF POSSESSING THE TRUTH AND ETERNAL LIFE (1John 2:24–28).
18Little children, it is the last time25, and as ye have heard that26 antichrist27 shall come, even now are28 there many antichrists; whereby29 we know that it is the last time30. 19They went out from us31, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt32 have continued33 with us: but they went out34, that they might be 20made manifest that they were35 not all of us. But36 ye have an37 unction from the Holy One, and ye38 know all things39. 21I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth40. 22Who is a41 liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He42 is antichrist, that 23denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever43 denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father44: [but] he that acknowledged the Son hath the Father also45. 24Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning46. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father47. 25And this is the promise that he48 hath promised us49, even eternal life50. 26These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you51 27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you52, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same53 anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth54, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him55. 28And now, little children, abide in him; that when56 he shall appear57, we may have58 confidence, and not be ashamed before him59 at his coming.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The connection. The groundwork on which this portion of the Epistle rests is contained in the individualized addresses (1John 2:12–14), introducing both warning and consolation against the love of the world (1John 2:15–17), as well as in the subsequent warning and consolation against antichrist (1John 2:18–28). As the former particularly connected with the final clause νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν whose kingdom is ὁ κόσμος, so this connects with ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπ̓ ἀρχῆς, τὸν πατέρα, ὁ λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν μένει. The opening words ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν in the sequel (1John 2:18) connect also with ὁ κόσμος παράγεται (1John 2:17). This portion which began (1John 1:5 sq.) with the Light-Being of God and the Light-walk of believers, concludes with a warning against the lie which is directed against the fundamental pillar of eternal truth, the glory of Christ. and an exposure of its attempt to annihilate the promise of eternal life. The address παιδία, 1John 2:18, applies to all the readers of the Epistle, and requires us to consider the sequel addressed to the whole Church (contrary to Bengel). It is incomprehensible that Ebrard on account of the peculiarly childlike character of this section should hold the opinion that the reference is only to the little ones, to children.
The last hour, 1John 2:18. This important and difficult idea, which is liable to many interpretations and has been variously understood, can only be understood and explained with reference to the whole usus loquendi current and the sum-total of clear views on the subject contained in the New Testament. It is not sufficient to refer the reader to Lange on Matth. 24., Moll on Heb. 1:1, and Fronmüller on 1 Pet. 1:5. 20. Compare particularly Riehm, Lehrbegriff des Hebräerbriefs, pp. 72 sqq.; 204 sqq., and Düsterdieck ad loc.—The representation of two ages of the world is rooted in the Old Testament idea בְּאַחֲרִית חַיָּמִים which constantly recurs in prophetical passages, beginning with the blessing of Jacob (Gen. 49:1), especially in Jeremiah, denotes “the most distant future, beyond which the eye cannot penetrate” (Hitzig on Mich. 4:1), and is therefore well rendered by “in the end of the days.” The prophets use it almost exclusively to denote the Messianic times. The LXX. translate it ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις (Is. 2:2), ἐπ̓ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν (Gen. 49:1), ἐπ̓ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν (Numb. 24:14), ἐπ̓ ἐσχάτῳ τῶν ἡμερῶν (Deut. 4:30), ἔσχατον τῶν ἡμερῶν (Deut. 31:29). Hence comes primarily the talmudical and rabbinical idea of the עו̇לָם הַזֶה and the עוֹלָם הַבּא; inside these two ages of the world are the יְמוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ, the days of the Messiah, the Messianic age proper, which is alternately counted with either age of the world, and consequently may be either after or before the end of the days, or the end of the days itself. The Lord Himself distinguishes ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι from ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι (Matth. 12:30), ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ from ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ (Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30); and this distinction, as well as Luke 20:34, sq. (οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου γαμοῦσιν—οἱ δὲ καταξιωθέντες τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐκείνου τυχεῖν καὶ τῆς ἀναστάσεως τῆς ἐκ νεκρῶν) show most plainly that the earthly development-period of the kingdom of God preceding the second coming of Christ in glory, and beginning with the first coming of Christ in the flesh, belongs to the first age of the world, and that the future time is the time of the completed kingdom of God. According to this ἡ ἐσχάτη ἡμέρα (Jno. 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48) is the day of the resurrection of the dead and the judgment, the last day of the first age of the world and the transition to the second. The turning-point between both ages of the world is the time of Christ’s return to judgment (Matth. 13:39 sq.; 49; 24:3; 28:20). Thus Paul also contrasts ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ with ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι, and the sufferings τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ with the μέλλουσα δόξα (Rom. 8:18), and describes Christians as living ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:12. 13). The ἔσχαται ἡμέραι in which there shall come καιροὶ χαλεποὶ (2 Tim. 3:1), and the ὕστεροι καιροί (1 Tim. 4:1), like the αἰῶνες οἱ ἐπερχόμενοι (Eph. 2:7), denote the period immediately preceding the second coming of Christ. While, according to Paul, Christians still live outwardly in the first age of the world, yet are they ethically beyond it and the character of this present age of the world is described by him as tainted with immorality and alienation from God, Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 2:6. 8; 3:18; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:10. He regarded also the present age of the world as running on towards its end since the first coming of Christ; hence he speaks of τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων (1 Cor. 10:11) having set in. We have not to inquire here whether he regarded the second coming of Christ to be near at hand.—Peter considers his time as the ἔσχαται ἡμέραι (Acts 2:17) and laid the first coming of Christ ἐπ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρώνων (1 Pet. 1:20 cf. 1John 2:5: ἐν καιρφ͂ ἐσχάτῳ or τῶν ἡμερῶν, 2 Pet. 3:3 cf. Jude 18).—So also James: (5:13: ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις).—In the Epistle to the Hebrews also the close of the first age of the world is described as beginning with the first coming of Christ (1John 1:1), but the συντέλεια τῶν αἰώνων denotes the turning-point of the two ages of the world, 1John 9:26, and this turning-point is more particularly described as found in the sacrificial death of Christ on account of its important consequences (1John 10:14; 11:39. 40), since that which is eternal, is now extant (Χριστὸς–ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν 1John 9:11; cf. 5:14; 10:1. 18; 6:5; 12:22). The beginning of the new time has set in, but only the ideal and objective beginning; since the αἰὼν μέλλων as to the δύναμις is already extant in the redeemed, but will not enter into ἐνέργεια until the second coming of Christ (1John 13:14), so that the first age of the world still continues outwardly and that consequently our time is only a transition-period; with respect to the ethical sense of these ideas we have here the point of contact between the Epistle to the Hebrews and the views of Paul.—John’s ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν must be understood as lying within the limits of these views. The use of ὥρα instead of ἡμέρα, the day which with God is equal to a thousand years (Ps. 90:4; 2 Pet. 3:8), indicates a peculiar feature, and the absence of the Article leaves it undefined. We have to think of a period of time belonging to the last days or last times which exhibits their character in a concentrated form, and since the ἐσχάτη ἡμέρα in the Gospel adverts particularly to the κρίσις, the reference seems to be to peculiarly critical manifestations. If now we have to translate: “it is the last hour,” the reference to the antichrist and the antichrists is in admirable keeping with the announcements of the coming of false prophets and teachers for the purpose of temptation and trial, so that in them there already takes place a separation of true believers from false believers. Cf. Matth. 24:24 sqq.; 1 Tim. 4:1 sqq.; 2 Tim. 3:1 sqq.—Hence ὥρα is neither=the season of the year, the wintry season of the world (Scholiast II), nor ἐσχάτη=χειρίστη (Oecumen., Schöttgen: tempora periculosa, pessima et abjectissima, Carpzov and others), which is also forbidden by 2 Tim. 3:1. Bengel’s explanation that it denotes the last hour of John’s old age (ultima, non respectu omnium mundi temporum, sed in antitheto puerulorum, ad patres et juvenes), is a singular make-shift in order to guard John from the error that his prediction of the last hour had not been fulfilled. Nor can ἐσχάτη ὥρα designate the time immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem (Socinus, Grotius), for the last time is not to be taken with such chronological precision. Nor is there any warrant for the assertion of Huther, that John wrote with presentiment of the second coming of Christ (an assertion based on what is said 1John 2:8 of the σκοτία and 1John 2:17 of the κόσμος, that they παράγεται which simply marks the transitory character inhering in the σκοτία and the κόσμος), since he writes only under the impression and with a sense of the transitoriness of the powers of this first age of the world, and that he indicates thereby the nearness of Christ’s second coming (Lücke, Neander, Baumgarten-Crusius, Gerlach, Ebrard, Huther). Hence we may say with Düsterdieck that “John did not wish to supply a chronological but only a real definition” [that is, one relating simply to the object—M.], which is clearly indicated by ἐὰν φανερώθῃ (1John 2:28), since ὅταν is hardly the true reading there. “The prophetical substance of the Apostolical declaration is true,” “the extension of the time from the real beginning (the destruction of Jerusalem, which does not disconcert John, and of the import of which, with reference to the history and the judgment of the world, his mind is fully made up), to the actual end of beings” denotes rather no measure at all than one that is too short. The first Messianic transition-period inaugurated by the Saviour in the form of a servant, governed by Him and terminating the first age of the world is the ἐσχάτη, during which men pass through peculiar troubles, perils and conflicts on to the promised advent of the second world-age of glory. In this transition-period there are however peculiar hours of development, one of which had come when John wrote his Epistle. The term ἐσχάτη ὥρα has therefore to be taken in a prophetical and eschatological sense; it has moreover an important bearing on the history of Christ’s kingdom and constitutes a historical reference to the second coming of Christ as the commencement of the second world-age, but not a chronological reference to the time when the second coming is to take place.—Noteworthy is Calvin’s explanation: ultimum tempus, in quo sic complentur omnia, ut nihil supersit præter ultimam Christi revelationem, and with reference to the absence of the Article also that of Besser: the time before a special revelation of the judicatory glory of Christ prefiguring the last hour before the universal final judgment.—
The Antichrist and the Antichrists, 1John 2:18.
1. The word ἀντίχριστος occurs only here, 1John 2:22; 4:3 and 2 Jno. 7. and its meaning has to be ascertained first philologically and then exegetically.
2. ἀντὶ may mean both hostility and substitution. In the former case it denotes the antagonist of Christ, the antichrist, in the latter the pretender-Christ or pseudo-Christ. Thus ἀντίτυπος is a τύπος set in opposition to another τύπος, and ἀντίλυτρον a λύτρον, paid or given for something; so ἀντίθεος in Homer, denotes godlike, but other authors use it in the sense of adverse to the gods; one and the same word may then be used in both senses; but no word can have both meanings in one and the same place; hence we must not endeavour to combine the ideas of anti-Christ and pretender-Christ as Huther maintains (“the enemy of Christ, who, under the lying appearance of being the true Christ, endeavours to destroy the work of Christ”), although it must be conceded that the enemy of Christ appears at the same time with the pretension of being able to supply His place, of becoming His substitute, and that the pretender-Christ does occupy His place in hostility to Him. But the ἀντίχριστοι manifestly cannot be taken in this double sense. And still less allowable is it with Sander first to attach to the word in the Singular the sense of pseudo-Christ and mimic of Christ, and then immediately afterwards to make the Plural designate the enemies of Christ. We cannot get on purely philological considerations beyond the possibility of taking the word in one or the other of said senses.
3. We have to hold fast the fact that the word denotes persons. This is required of the Plural ἀντίχριστοι in 1John 2:19: ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν, οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν, μεμενήκεισαν μεθ̓ ἡμῶν. But if the ἀντίχριστοι are persons, then ἀντίχριστος must also be a person, for this is required by ἔρχεται. Hence Bengel’s exposition is incorrect: “Sive id vocabulum phrasis apostolica, sive sermo fidelium introduxit, Johannes errores, qui oriri possent, prævisurus, non modo antichristum, sed etiam antichristos vult dici; et ubi antichristum vel spiritual antichristi vel deceptorem et antichristum dicit, sub singulari numero omnes mendaces et veritatis inimicos innuit. Quemadmodumque Christus interdum pro christianismo (where?), sic antichristus pro antichristianismo sive doctrina et multitudine hominum Christo contraria dicitur. Antichristum jam tum venire, ita assentitur Johannes, ut non unum, sed multos, id quod amplius quiddam et tristius esse censet, antichristos factos esse doceat. Sæpe totum genus eorum, qui bonam aliquam aut malem indolem habent, singulari numero cum articulo exprimitur (Matth. 12:35; 18:17. 29.). Igitur antichristus SIVE anti-christianismus ab extrema Johannis œtate(see above: the last hour=old age!) per omnem sæculorum tractum se propagavit et permanet, donec magnus ille adversarius exoritur. This view is adopted by Lange, Baumgarten-Crusius, Besser and others.
4. We have here before us a law of historical development, a fixed ordinance of the history of the kingdom. The point in question is the ἐσχάτη ὥρα and the marks by which it may be known; the reference is to ἀντίχριστος ἐρχεται and to ἀντίχριστοι γεγόνασιν, to that which has happened νῦν, to that which is still to be looked for and has been announced (ἠκούσατε):
And as ye have heard (through the announcement of the Apostles) that an antichrist cometh, even now have there come into existence many antichrists (καὶ νῦν–γεγόνασι).—It is by no means allowable to insert ita est before καθὼς ἠκούσατε (Bengel): nor must the Present ἔρχεται be put on a line with γεγόνασι, so that the antichrist now cometh and is present even as the others also have appeared; nor must ἔρχεται and γεγόνασι, made equal in point of time, be only so distinguished from each other that the former comes aliunde, while these have come ex nobis. Γεγόνασι, they are become, they have come into existence, denotes the antichrists as a historical product, on whom the surrounding powers operating in time have operated. Hence it is not equal to coeperunt esse (Erasmus) but to “they are become, they are existing.”—Ebrard incorrectly renders ἔρχεται=is future, although he correctly explains it by=will some day appear. The Future is implied in the idea of coming and the Present indicates the certainty of the event. [Huther: The Present ἔρχεται instead of the Future; it denotes the future as an event which is sure to occur.—M.]. Accordingly the ἀντίχριστοι exist before the ἀντίχριστος, who however is sure to follow them, and that which appears in the former, the προδρόμοις, only in an isolated, undeveloped and feeble form, is gathered together by the latter in his individual person, and developed in a powerful form. In the course of time malice will so surely become intensified and opposition to God and Christ will reach such a degree of development that the existence of many antichrists warrants the certain result of a future concentration and formation of this spirit in one person.
5. The ἀντίχριστοι come out of the Christian Church, they have themselves been Christians before (ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν 1John 2:19); the antichrist, in like manner, will of course come forth from the ranks of the Christians, he will also be a man. Hence ἀντίχριστος is not Satan himself (Pseudohippolytos, Theodoret); the idea of Satan becoming man is inexecutable, since the Eternal Word only, the Image of the Father, in which man has been created, can become man.
6. The antichrists deny that Jesus is the Christ (1John 2:22; 4, 3; 2 Jno. 7);) that He did not come in the flesh, that He is not the Son of God, that He is not of God (1John 4:14 sqq.; 5:5 sqq.; 5:20 sq.). The doctrine is the denial of the truth, the lie, they themselves are LIARS, and according to John 8:44, the children of the devil, of the father of the lie (1John 3:3–10). The Greeks strikingly observe: ὁ ψεύστης, ἐναντίος ὥν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ, ἥτοι τῷ Χριστῷ, ἀντίχριστός ἐστιν (Theophylact) and ὁ ψεύστης τὸ τοῦ διαβόλου ὄνομα (Scholiast II.). The antichrist and the antichrists are to be taken “as expressly connected with Satan” (Düsterdieck), and the two words here denote not substitution, but hostility to Christ exhibited in the form of eminent strength; the antichrist is pre-eminently the instrument and tool of Satan. Hence we have to exclude the exposition of Irenæus, Hippolytus, Cyrillus and others, that the antichrist was tentans semet ipsum Christum ostendere, and mimicking Christ.
7. The comparison of this passage with 2 Thess. 2:1 sq. (Hofmann, Heilige Schrift I., p. 307 sqq.) requires this explanation. The name ἀντίχριστος used by John corresponds with the description given by Paul, ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν ἥ σέβασμα, to denote his hostility with reference to his pretended ability to supply the place of God (ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσαι, ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἐστὶν θεός). John contrasts the πνεῦμα τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου with the πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ, while Paul calls him ὁ ἅνθρωπος τῆς ἀμαρτίας, ὁ ἅνομος, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπͅωλείας. His appearing also is preceded by an ἀποστασία, and he himself is the precursor of the παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, just as in John. But we must not overlook a difference belonging to this agreement. John speaks in a more general way, and uses less definite terms than Paul, who gives more distinct prominence to the person and approach of the dreaded and dreadful one; but he also refers to τὸ κατέχον and ὁ κατέχων as a power wielded by a living person, and specifies that for the benefit of the Church his progress will be arrested and his appearing delayed, thus pointing, like John, to a historical development.—Remembering all these particulars, we have, first of all, to reject those expositions which limit the application of the subject to a solitary historical fact or a single personage, and regard this statement of the Apostle in the light of a prophecy of a church-historical fact. Thus the Greek expositors, and many others (Augustine, Luther, Calvin, al.) after them apply it to heretics or heresiarchs, e.g., to Simon Magus, Cerinthus, Ebion, the Gnostics, to Basilides, Valentinus, and others, the Nicolaitanes (Rev 2:6), to Diotrephes (3 John 9.), Hymeneus and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17), and Grotius actually applies it to Barcochba, Calov to Mohammed, Luther (Art. Schm. tract. de pot. et prim. papæ, § 39; cf. Melanchthon, Apol. Art VII. VIII., § 23; XV. § 18) to the pope, and Roman Catholics to Luther. All this is purely arbitrary and unwarranted, and not only depreciates the word of prophecy, but actually deprives it of the prophetical element, as if it had ceased to be valid. Secondly, we have also to reject the modern exposition (both that of rationalistic commentators and that of Lücke, de Wette and Neander) which insists upon separating the idea, “that simultaneously with the development of Christianity, evil also would gradually increase in intensity, until having reached its culmination, it would be completely conquered by the power of Christ,” from the form as here indicated, and that the form, as the mere shell, might be dropped. On the contrary, both the idea and the form have to be held fast, for we have here the expression of a law ever recurring in historical manifestations which belongs to the development of the history of the Kingdom [of God] up to and until the end of the time of Messiah and the Church, and this expression is so clearly and distinctly asserted that John feels warranted to draw the emphatic conclusion: “whence we know that there is a last hour.” By the appearing of many antichrists we may know and infer thence (ὅθεν) as from a distinct premise, that there is an onward progress in the direction of Christ’s coming, which is preceded by the concentration of the antichristian element, thriving and luxuriating of course in different persons according to its different forms of manifestation. [On the different views of the antichrist see Lünemann on 2 Thess. 2:1–12; p. 204 sqq., and Düsterdieck ad locum; also Trench, Synonyms of the N. T., p. 145 sqq.—M.].
Relation of the Antichrists to the Church. First there is noted the fact that,
1JOHN 2:19. From us they went out.—The most natural and primary meaning of ἡμῶν is that it designates the Apostle and his readers, consequently the Church, which is addressed by παιδία, and to be understood in ἡκούσατε. The reference is neither to the Jews (Grotius, Rickli), nor to the Apostles only (Spener, Besser), nor only to the Church with exclusion of the children (Ebrard). Apart from the form ἐξῆλθαν, which in this very verb is by no means uncommon in the New Testament (Winer, pp. 86, 87), the sense is various: prodire, exire, egredi, secedere. Two ideas play into each other: origin and separation, coming out and going away. The nature of the ἀντίχριστοι who are engaged in the ἀποστασία, not μεμενήκεισαν μεθ’ ἡμῶν, requires us to translate secesserunt, evaserunt (Augustine, Bede, Erasmus, Lücke, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Huther). Prodierunt (Vulgate, al.) misapprehends the origin of the antichrists, and denotes origin only. ἐξῆλθαν does not point to their development and origin, but only to their separation, their apostasy, which ἐξ ἡμῶν requires us to regard as their apostasy from the Church; γεγόνασιν, to be sure, shows that they are within that Church from which they have now separated. This is brought out “by the emphatic position of ἐξ ἡμῶν before the verb” (Huther), for ἐξ ἡμῶν in connection with the verb ἐξέρχεσθαι merely denotes the circle, the fellowship from which they have separated. “John does not indicate the extent to which that formal separation has been carried; still ἐξῆλθαν implies that they had not only opposed the Apostolical doctrine (Beza: “ad mutationem non loci, sed doctrinæ pertinet”), but also those who, by the faithful preservation of the unadulterated Gospel, had proved themselves to be children of God”(Huther).
But they were not of us.—Εἶναι ἐξ ἡμῶν indicates the internal relation. Here the idea of origin combines with that of appertaining and affinity. ’Αλλὰ (Winer, pp. 462, 472, ἄλλα) denotes the strong opposition of ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν and ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν. While the former simply betokens external origin and coming out from, the latter indicates internal relationship; they were the former, not the latter; the aforesaid fact expressly denies this internal relation. Both origin (coming from) and relationship (affinity, appertaining to) are contained in εἶναι ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς, ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου (1John 2:16) and in ἐξελθεῖν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (Jno. 8:42; 16:28; while ἀπὸ θεοῦ, Jno. 13:3, and παρ̇ὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, 16:27, denote only the former.) [Augustine: Quandoquidem adhuc curatur corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et sanitas perfecta non erit nisi in resurrectione mortuorum; sic sunt in corpore Christi, quomodo humores mali. Quando evomuntur, tunc revelatur corpus: sic et mali quando exeunt, tunc revelatur ecclesia. Et dicit quando eos evomit atque projicit corpus, ex me exierunt humores isti, sed non erant ex me. Quid est, non erant ex me ? Non de carne mea præcisi sunt, sed pectus mihi premebant dum inessent.”—M.]. But John here sharply contrasts the two and excludes the one by the other, adding moreover,
For if they had been of us, they would have abode with us.—Consequently, they had been μεθ̓ ἡμῶν, they had belonged to the Christians, they had lived among and with the Christians, they were Christians outwardly and to be considered, as such. Although they had been μεθ̓ ἡμῶνͅ, they were not ἐξ ἡμῶν, for in that case they would have abode μεθ̓ ἡμῶν. On the very frequent omission of the augment in the Pluperfect see Winer, p. 85. On the dogmatical and ethical import of this passage, see below in Doctrinal and Ethical, especially sub. Nos. 4. 5.
But—that they might be made manifest, that not all are of us.—Here is an imperfect and involved construction. After ἀλλὰ we have of course to supply the thought suggested by the previous words: but they did not abide with us, that—(Huther, Winer, Grammar p. 333. where may be found the corresponding illustrations Jno. 13:18: ἐξελεξάμην, ἀλλ̓ (ἐξελεξάμην)ἵνα;—Jno. 15:25: μεμισήκασιν—,ἀλλ̓ (μεμισήκασιν)ἵνα—). In general γέγονε τοῦτο would have to be supplied, which would however depend on the context for its meaning, as in Jno. 1:8: ἀλλ̓(ἦλθεν) ἵνα—; 9:3: ἁλλ̓ (but he was born blind) ἵνα—. But de Wette has very correctly pointed out that two sentences are here interlaced, and Huther has rightly arranged them thus: 1, ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶν ἐξ ἡμῶν, 2, ἵνα φανερωθῇ ὅτι οὐκ εἰσί πάντες ἐξ ἡμῶν. The secession of the antichrists has, taken place and constitutes an event that does not take place without some providential design, an event in which God the Lord takes an active part both as Ruler and Judge, hence ἵνα, to the end that, in order that. The Apostle’s design is to mark a purpose and not a consequence, as Lange and Paulus maintain without any reason for their view. The purpose is first, that they shall manifest themselves as those who do not sustain to us an inward and ethical relation of kinship and appertainment, and secondly, that it shall become manifest in general that not all those who are in the Church and outwardly belong to it (μεθ̓ ἡμῶν, in ecclesia) do also belong to it inwardly (ἐξ ἡμῶν, de ecclesia). We have to connect οὐ πάντες in the sense of nonnulli; for if we were to connect οὐκ εἰσὶν so that the negation would belong to the predicate, John would have written οὐκ εἰσὶν ἐξ ἡμῶν πάντες, and we should be obliged to explain. “All are not of us,” or “none is of us.” In this case there would be something predicated of the antichrists, they would be the subject in πάντες. But this is not allowable on account of the position of the words. The meaning is rather: “Not all are of us, only some, although the majority are of us.” But this cannot be predicated of the antichrists; for they are not all true, living church members, none of them belongs truly to the Church. But their seceding furnishes actual proof that not all Christians (baptizati, vocati) are and remain real Christians (electi, fideles). “While in φανερωθῶσιν the seceders only are considered as the subject, the conception is enlarged in the clause ὄτι—ἡμῶν, and the Apostle declares in respect of the former, that in general not all who belong outwardly to the Christian Church, are really members of the same (Düsterdieck). It is not allowable to understand ού πάντες with Socinus in the sense of nulli: the connection is right, the explanation is wrong. [Wordsworth: “They all pretend to be of us, and the heathen confound them with us. But their secession from us, and opposition to us, clearly prove that they are not all of us. Some false teachers [or false brethren M.] there are still who propagate heresies in the Church. They are tares in the field, but as long as they are in the field, it is not easy to distinguish them from the wheat. They are not of us, but they are not manifested as such by going put from us. But the going out of those who have left us, and who resist us, is a manifest token to all men, that they and their associates are not all of us, as they profess to be, and as the heathen suppose them to be; and as even some of the brethren in the Church imagine that they are, and are therefore deceived by them. By their going out they are manifested in their true light; and by their opposition to us Truth is distinguished from Error and Error from Truth.”—M.].
Testimony of the gifts of believers. 1John 2:20. 21.
1JOHN 2:20. And you have ointment from the Holy One and know all things.—The address ὑμεῖς has regard to the readers, to the Church, from which the antichrists have seceded. They are referred to a gift: ἔχετε. This gift is χρῖσμα, unguentum, not unctio as explained by Vulgate, Augustine, Luther, de Wette, Sander, al. It is chrism. “Alludit appellatio CHRISMATIS ad ANTICHRISTI nomen” (Bengel). [They hare the chrism from Christ.—M.]. Thus John came to use this word which besides this place occurs only in 1John 2:27. In obedience to the command of God kings (1 Sam. 10:10; 16:13, 14; Ps. 45:8), priests (Ex. 29:7; 30:31) and. prophets (Is. 61:1) were anointed, and ointment is both figuratively, and in the ordered act itself, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Thus Christ is anointed (Acts 4:27) and that with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38), and thus Christians also are anointed. The chrism or ointment will have to be understood as the Holy Spirit and ὑμεις ἔχετε χρῖσμα reminds the readers of the great gift which makes them priests, kings and prophets, the γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἕθνος ἄγιον, 1 Pet. 2 9; cf. Ex. 19:6; Is. 43:20. 21. This gift of the Holy Spirit must not be made the “divinum beneficium cognoscendi ipsas res divinas, quatenus homini est opus” (Socinus), or the “auditio evangelii, institutio christiana” (Episcopius, Rosenmüller), or the “docendi auctoritas” (Sauler), or “the true tradition concerning Christ distinguished by its being primitive, originating with the Apostles and vitally propagated” (Köstlin, Lehrbegriff, p. 243), or the “caritas quæ diffunditur in cordibus nostris per spiritum sanctum” (Didymus). And this having is a gift ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀγίου, they have received what they have; hence 1John 2:27: τὸ χρῖσμα—ἐλάβετε. Christ is called ἀγνός 1John 3:3 and δίκαιος 1John 2:2; in Jno. 6:69 He is called: ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ, Acts 3:14: ὁ ἅγιος καὶ σίκαιος, Rev 3:7: ὁ ἅγιος ὁ ἀληθινός. The primary reference therefore seems to be to Christ who received the Spirit without measure (Jno. 3:34), and baptized with the Holy Ghost (Jno. 1:33) and sends Him from the Father (Jno. 15:26; Acts 2:33) and hence the idea is that the Χριστός makes the χριστούς.—̔Απὸ τοῦ ἁγίουconsequently denotes neither God the Father (Socinus, Episcopius, Rickli, Neander, Besser, al.) nor the Holy Ghost (Didymus, Grotius).—It must be remembered that nothing is said here of the time when they received this gift nor of the means by which it was conveyed to them, but we read simply: ἔχετε. Hence there is no warrant for finding here an allusion to baptism (Augustine, Bede, Oecumenius), and the inference of the ungenuineness of the Epistle from the supposition of an allusion to a usage connected with baptism introduced at a later period, is wholly unjustifiable (Baur). [The argument for an allusion to baptism, rests on the hypothesis that this whole section is addressed to παίδια, pueruli, children, who received the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their baptism; it is then by implication extended to adults, and the use of chrism in baptism, a practice which does not belong to the Apostolical Age, seems to have been occasioned by this passage. Bengel: “Eam unctionem spiritualem habent τὰπαιδία, pueruli: namque cum baptismo, quem susceperunt, conjunctum erat donum Spiritus Sancti, cujus significandi causa ex hoc loco deinceps usu receptum esse videtur, ut oleo corpora baptizatorum ungerentur.”—M.]. It is more allowable to connect with 1John 2:24 cf. 1John 2:18, and to refer to the preaching of the word of God (Düsterdieck). We read simply “ye have—! Thus John reminds his readers of an important and responsible gift from which they might derive comfort and enjoyment in opposition to the antichrists, but which they ought also to keep, use and show against these adversaries. Hence the thought is introduced by καἰ, as John is wont to do, without indicating an antithesis which is contained in the matter itself; his object being to develop his argument by way of comfort and exhortation. [It is doubtful whether there is even an adversative implication in the thought, for John surely did not want to inform his readers that because they had the χρῖσμα they were the opposite of the antichrists. I do not mean that ὑμεῖς is not antithetical, but doubt whether καὶ is intended to mark an emphatic antithesis; in which case the Apostle would most probably have used σὲ or dispensed with the particle altogether. So Huther.—M.]. There is no reason at all to discover here with Semler a “captatio benevolentiæ,” or with a Lapide an apology for the shortness of the Epistle; and still more objectionable is the view of Lange that “a certain anxious care is unmistakable which puts forth even rhetorical efforts;” nor is Calvin right in saying: “modeste excusat apostolus, quod eos tam sollicite admonet, ne putent oblique se perstringi, quasi rudes ignarosque eorum, quæ probe tenere debuerant.” The further particular
And know all things denotes the immediate gain they derive from this gift. Bengel rightly explains “et inde.” Πάντα is evidently neuter. The Syriac translates therefore falsely “omnes.” Although Calvin rightly says of πάντα: “omnia non universaliter capi, sed ad præsentis loci circumstantiam restringi debet,” we must not restrict it with Bengel to “ea, quæ vos scire opus est: hoc responso repellendi erant seductores.” Still less must it be applied with Estius to the Church, as knowing all things, whereas individual Christians know only implicite if they hold to the Church [He says: “Habetis episcopos et presbyteros, quorum cura ac studio vestræ ecclesiæ satis instructæ sunt in iis quæ pertinent ad doctrinæ christianæ veritatem.”—M.]. The reference, according to 1John 2:21 and agreeably to Jno. 16:13: to τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ὰληθείας ὁσηγήσει ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ πάσῃ cf. 1John 14:26) is rather to πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν (so Huther and most expositors). The sentence οἵδατε τὴν ἀλήθειαν, 1John 2:21 is wholly=οἴδατε τὰ πάντα.
1JOHN 2:21. I have not written unto you, because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it.—̔̓Εγραψα refers to the words immediately preceding 1John 2:19 [that is to what the Apostle had just said concerning the antichrists—M.], and not to the Gospel, as Ebrard arbitrarily asserts. Not ignorance or want of knowledge on the part of the Church induced the Apostle to write this Epistle, on the contrary it was their knowledge and ability to form a right judgment of what was transpiring among them which prompted him to indite this Epistle, anxious as he was to foster and stimulate the truth possessed by his Church. Lorinus: “non ut vos hæc doceam, sed ut doctos confirmem.”—̓Αλήθεια is “the truth as announced by the Apostles, determining the whole walk in the light of believers (1John 1:8; 2:4), begetting all love, giving life and founded on Christ (1John 2:23 sqq.). Whatsoever falls within the compass of this truth is the object of Christian knowledge, all this is known by believers” (Düsterdieck).
And that every thing which is lie is not of the truth.—Καὶ ὄτι is not connected with ἔγραψα: and because—as if indicating the motive which prompted the Apostle to write this Epistle, but the sentence depended on the second οἵδατε and is an object-sentence coördinated with αὐτήν: ye know it (the truth)—and that—.Thus render almost all commentators. Hence springs the question (1John 2:22) τίς ἐστιν ὁ ψεύστης; John assumes that they know who is the liar, as well as what and whence the lie is. Here εἶναι ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας denotes not only origin but also appurtenance conditioned and defined by the origin. Of course πᾶν—οὐκ must not be explained here as a Hebraism (Grotius and al.)= οὐδέν, since οὐκ evidently belongs to the predicate, but—every lie is not out of the truth, which, however, amounts to=no lie is out of the truth. The reference to the antichrists is plain and the sense manifest: every thing which is lie neither originates from the truth, nor can it remain with the truth; it is not matter of complaint or of surprise that the antichrists with their lies and denials are seceding. ψεύδος consequently is not only error, but the distinct opposite of the truth, nor is it the abstract put for the concrete, viz.: the false teachers (Lange). Our Lord Himself tells us whence the lie originates, it is from the devil (Jno. 8:44). The truth is from God and full of God, and therefore incompatible with any and every lie. [Diversity of origin renders the truth and the lie incompatibles. Christ is the truth (Jno. 14:6). Lorinus: “Lex vero non nisi verum sequitur et verum vero consonat.”—M.]. All knowledge and ability to form a right judgment of moral phenomena are founded on the χρῖσμα, the Holy Spirit, consequently on a gift, even the gift which begins with sanctifying the will and renewing the heart. Sanctification leads to illumination. This points to the powerful exhortation which accompanies the consolation.
The substance of the antichristian lie. 1John 2:22. 23.
VER 22. Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?—The interrogative form marks the vivacity with which John passes from the general abstract (πᾶν ψεῦδος) to the definite concrete (ὁ ψεύστης) as in 1John 5:4. 5. [Huther.] There is here surely no reference to children (Ebrard). Hence Bengel rightly explains: ὁ vim habet ad abstractum 1John 2:21=quis est plains: ὁ vim habet ad abstractum 21=quis est illius mendacii reus?” The Article is by all means to be retained (Luther translates wrongly: who is a liar? [also E. V.—M.]) and to be explained as bringing out with emphatic distinctness the idea “the liar κατ̓ ἐξοχήν i.e. he in whom the lie appears in concrete form= ὁ ἀντίχριστος” (Huther). It must not, however, be restricted to one individual besides whom there is none like him, but rather be taken generically or collectively with reference to the genus of antichristians, like ὁ νικῶν in 1John 5:5 (Düsterdieck); πᾶν ψεῦδος of course concentrates in him, if we exclude lies in other spheres, e.g. those of the natural sciences, history or jurisprudence; here we have to do with the sphere of religion, with church-life. All comparative explanations dilute the conception of the Apostle; under this head we may enumerate those of Calvin (“nisi hoc censeatur mendacium, aliud nullum haberi posse), Socinus (“mendacium quo nihil possit esse majus”), Grotius (“Quis potest esse major impostor?”), Episcopius (“enormitas mendacii”), J. Lange (“mendax præcipuus et periculosior?”), de Wette (“who deserves more the name of liar?”).—Huther very justly says that Baumgarten-Crusius has altogether missed the Apostle’s meaning in his explanation: “What is an erroneous doctrine, if not etc.”—In the sentence εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀρνούμενος, the term εἰ μὴ is=nisi, except; εἰ οὐ, si non would be inapplicable (Winer, p. 499) cf. 1John 5:5; Luke 17:18; Rom. 11:15, etc. The negative οὐκ in the sentence: ὅτι ̔Ιησοῦς οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ Χριστὸς might have been omitted, since it is preceded by ἀρνούμενος; but the affirmation of the liar is fully indicated, although it is couched in the form of a negation; this is in perfect agreement with the genius of the Greek language. Similar terms are found Luke 20:27; Gal. 5:17; Heb. 12:19; cf. Kühner, II. p. 410; Winer, p. 532 β. The essential feature and the height of the lie of the antichrist is this: Jesus is not the Christ, the Saviour promised by and come from the Father, the λόγος σὰρξ γενόμενος; this is the gnostic error which does not distinguish Jesus from Christ, but tears them asunder and thus constitutes the strongest antithesis to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The reference therefore is neither to the form of Jewish unbelief that Jesus is not omnium hominum patronus (Semler) nor to the two forms of heresy one of which denies that Jesus was the Eternal Word, and the other that the Eternal Word became flesh (Besser following Tertullian), [who says: de Præscript, c. 33: Joh. in ep. eos maxime antichristos vocat, qui Christum negarent in carne venisse et qui non putarent Jesum esse Filium Dei; illud Marcion, hoc Ebion vindicavit.”—Wordsworth, following Irenæus and Waterland, refers also to Cerinthus and his followers, who denied that Jesus was the Christ, dividing Jesus from Christ; and they denied the Son, because they did not acknowledge that Jesus was personally united with the Word, the Eternal Son of God; nor that the Word was the only begotten of the Father; and so they disowned the divine Sonship of Jesus and Christ; and thus they denied the Father and the Son.”—M.]. The reference is only to one lie.
This is the antichrist who denieth the Father and the Son.—̔Ο ἀντίχριστος here and ὁ ψεύστης in the preceding clause, are evidently identical, and for the very reason that the liar denies Christ [or as Huther puts it: the liar, who denies the identity of Jesus and Christ, is the antichrist.—M.]. John adds “a new particular, exhibiting the wholly fatal consequence of that antichristian lie,” (Düsterdieck) to this name in the following clause: ὁ ἀρνούμενος τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὸν υἱόν; here, to use the terse language of Luther, John knocks the bottom out of the barrel.—The antichrist denies also the Father. First he denies Christ and then proceeds to deny that He is the Son of and with the Father until he reaches the extreme position of denying the Father Himself. The Χρίστος belongs to history, to the economy of salvation. The idea υἱός reaches further, even down to the innermost Being of God; the denial of the Son violates the very Being of God, consequently the Father and thus far must it come with one who denies Christ. In Jesus appeared as Christ, as the Saviour of the world, the Son of the Father full of grace and truth, the Eternal Word which is from the beginning, and in the Son is manifested the Being of the Father, His Spirit and His Love, so that the knowledge of the Father is impossible without the knowledge of the Son. Hence he who denies Christ is led to the point that he has an ideal conception of God of his own making, an εἵδωλον, as Huther puts it, but not the true God, [Huther, to whom Braune is indebted for the thought, puts the logical sequence more lucidly than the latter; he says: He who denies the identity of Jesus and Christ, denies first the Son, for the Son is none other than ̔Ιησοῦς ό Χριστός (neither an Aeon called Christ who did not become man, nor Jesus who is not Christ, or according to Jno. 1:14, who is not the Logos); but whoso denies the Son, denies also the Father not only in as far as Father and Son are logically convertible terms, but because the Being of the Father manifests Itself only in the Son and because all true knowledge of the Father is conditioned by the knowledge of the Son, so that the God of those who deny the Son is not the true God, but a false creation of their own thoughts—an εἵδωλον.—M.].
1JOHN 2:23. Every one that denieth the Son, hath also not the Father [neither hath he the Father].—Here is the progression from denying (ἀρνεῖσθαι) to having (ἔχειν), and from the particular (ὁ ψεύστης) to the general (πᾶς).—’Αρνούμενος evidently cannot be without an object, so that we have to connect πᾶς ὁ ἀρνού,ενος τὸν υἱὸν, but not: every one that denieth hath not the Son also (hath not) the Father; neither ὁ ἀρνούμενος nor the immediately succeeding ὁ ὁμολογῶν can be independent subjects, and πατέρα joined to υἱὸν cannot be governed by ἔχειν as in 2 Jno. 9.—Ἁρνεῖσθαι τὸν υἱὸν signifies to disown the Eternal Word of the Father, the Logos (not only in Jesus who without the Logos is not and cannot be the Christ, but absolutely), and as such disowning implies not only mere ignorance or a limited understanding, but also infirmity and impurity of the heart and the will, it points to a separation of man from the Son of God, so that it becomes an οὺκ ἔχειν, and contains and operates an οὐκ ἔχειν 2 Jno. 9. It is therefore “habere in agnitione et communione (Bengel), a possession in vital fellowship (Düsterdieck); “habere in mente et fide, in ore et confessione” (a Lapide), “in faith and in love” (de Wette), “in knowledge, faith and confession” (Lücke). False are the expositions of Socinus (“non habere opinionem, quod Deus sit”), Grotius (“non cognoscere Deum seu quæ sit ejus voluntas erga humanum genus”), Episcopius and others.—Οὐδὲ emphatically denotes the further loss that one cannot separate oneself from the Son without giving up the Father. The Apostle now concludes affirmatively:
He that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.—On ὁμολογεῖν see above on 1John 2:9. It is an act of the inner life and of a more intimate fellowship. Cf. Matth. 10:32; Rom. 10:10. [Düsterdieck: “In the denial of the Son is involved necessarily the denial of the Father, since the Father cannot be known without the Son, and the Father cannot be received, believed on, loved, by any man, without the Son, or otherwise than through the Son, i.e. the Son manifested in the flesh, the Christ, which is Jesus. So that in John’s development of the argument there are three essentially connected points: denial of the Christ, of the Son, of the Father. The middle link of the chain, the denial of the Son of God, shows how the denial of the Father is of necessity involved in the denial of Christ. And the cogency of this proof is made yet more stringent by another equally unavoidable process of argument. The antichristian false doctrine consists mainly in a negation, in the denial of the fundamental truth, that Jesus is the Christ. But in this is involved the denial of the Essence of the Son as well as of the Father, and again in this denial is involved the losing, the virtual not having of the Son and of the Father. In the sense of John, we may say, taking the first and last steps of his argument and leaving out the intervening ones: He who denieth that Jesus is the Christ, hath not the Father. And this necessary connection between denying and not having is perfectly clear, the moment we understand the ethical character, the living realism of John’s way of regarding the subject. As (1John 2:23) we cannot separate the knowledge and confession of the Christ, the Son, the Father, from the having, the real possession of, the practical fellowship with, the actual remaining in the Son and the Father, so conversely, together with the denial is necessarily given the not having: together with the loss of the truth of the knowledge, the loss of the life which consists in that knowledge (Jno. 17:3). In such a connection, the confession of the truth is as essential on the one side, as the denial on the other. Each is the necessary manifestation of the belief or unbelief hidden in the heart. And this ὁμολογεῖν is not to be understood of the “confessio cordis, vocis et operis,” (Bede), but only as 1John 1:9, of the confession of the mouth (στόματι ὁμολογεῖται, Rom. 10:9, see Jno. 12:42). It is parallel with φέρεινδιδαχήν 2 Jno. 7. 10; and indicates the definite utterance of the doctrine which was made known by the Apostolic preaching, 1John 2:24.”—M.].
Paternal exhortation founded on promises, 1John 2:24. 25.
1JOHN 2:24. Ye, let that which ye have heard from the beginning, abide in you.—The sentence is anacoluthic. It is well explained by Theophylact: ἐκεῖνοι μὲν οὖν οὕτως ὑμεῖς δὲ ἃπερ ἠκούσατε ἀπ̓ ἁρχῆς—φυλάττετε παρ ἑαυτοῖς.—ὑμεῖς therefore must not be connected with ἠκούσατε, as if it were a mere transposition; there would be no reason whatsoever for such a connection and no reason or necessity for such an emphasis. So in 1John 2:27, and frequently. See Winer §. §. 28, 3; 64, 2. d. Kühner II, 156. Hence the explanations of Bengel (“antitheton, est in pronomine; ideo adhibetur trajectio”), de Wette (“ὑμεῖς is really the subject of the relative sentence, placed before”), and others are erroneous. Neither can ὑμεῖς be the pure Vocative (Ebrard, Paulus), nor be taken as an absolute Nominative (Myrberg).—The spurious οὐν after ὑμεῖς is not improper per se (Düsterdieck in opposition to de Wette with whom Huther agrees), for it is not an antithesis of what goes before, which is also assumed by Theophylact, because the preceding sentence closes affirmatively thus: ὁ ὁμολογῶν τὸν υἱὸν, καὶ τὸν πατέρα ἕχει; and this is the ground of the present exhortation.—On ὅ ἡκούσατε cf. 1John 2:7. John points to the apostolical announcement. ’Απ’ ἀρχῆς is more clearly defined by it (ex quo institui cœpistis in primis christianæ religionis rudimentis, Beza, so also Lücke and others). There is no necessity to think of the prima ecclesiæ nascentis tempora (Bede). The substance of ὅ, not ἅ, seems to be simple. But it is not enough to understand in general evangelium, Christi (Calvin), or the truth that Jesus is the Christ (Huther, Lücke), or θεολογούμενον τὸν χριστὸν (Theophylact), but we had better understand with Bengel (de patre et filio) the theologoumenon of the Father and the Son besides that fundamental truth (Düsterdieck), as indicated in the preceding verses.—̓Εν ὑμῖν μενέτω describes ἕχειν as a possession that has to be kept., The preposition must preserve its proper meaning; that which has been heard must “be in dwelling within as something that determines the life” (Neander). This meaning is also urged by the parallel passage Jno. 15:1–10, where μένειν appears as a favourite expression of our Lord. In the sentence immediately following it is indeed impossible to render ἐν, with. The same holds good here. Hence Theophylact’s παρὰ, and Luther’s with are false. The truth and doctrine as announced by the Apostles “is really to dwell in them, as a living power in their hearts” (Düsterdieck), and if that takes place, ἐὰν ἐν ὑμῖν μείνῃ ὅ ἀπ̓ ἀρχῆς ἡκούσατε,
If in you—emphatically placed first—abides that which ye have heard from the beginning, ye also shall abide in the Son and in the Father.—Bengel well observes: καὶ: vicissim. Düsterdieck hits the mark: “John denotes by the position of καὶ before ὑμεῖς the promised consequence which will correspond with the indicated destination while at the same time he makes prominent the fine turn contained in the thoughtful change of ἐν ὑμῖν μείνῃ and ὑμεῖς ἐν τῷ υὶῷ μενεῖτε.” The reciprocal effect of the Word abiding in you and of the Church abiding in Christ does not refer to the origin of the relation of the Church and of her conduct, but only to the further development of the same. But the expression and its order intimate that the word must first be brought, preached and explained, and then be heard, received and kept, and that it must have found in individual Christians an element in which it is vitally efficient, even as it is full of life, in order to enable them to have (ἔχειν) and to live in Christ as their element. ἐντῷ υίῷ stands naturally before καὶ τῷ πατρὶ because the Son is the Mediator of this life-fellowship. Hence Theophylact’s exposition, based on Jno. 17:2. 21: κοινωνοὶ αὐτοῦ ἔσεσθε, goes hardly far enough. The life of believers must really and essentially be rooted in God, derive nourishment, grow and mature to completeness from Him. Faith has not only brought news and intelligence and become acquainted with God, but has entered into personal intercourse with Him and carries away from Him the separate gifts, benefits and powers. The possession of this life is not left to the distant future, although the life is an eternal life, but the object of Christian hope in respect of its perfection and at the same time something present and the object of present experience; to speak with Calvin: deum se totum nobis in Christo fruendum dedit, not dabit (Düsterdieck). Besides the principal passage Jno. 15:1 sqq. the following places are very similar Jno. 6:56; 17:23; Gal. 2:20; 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 3:17. Hence the evaporating and diluting views of Grotius (“conjunctissimi Patri et filio eritis, summo eorum favore et amicitia fruemini”) Semler (“sitis certi, nobis patere omnem hanc felicitatem unice veram”) and others, as well as the scholastic, orthodox views of Schmid (“gratiosa filii et Patris inhabitatio”) and J. Lange (“unio cum deo mystica, communio cum eo jam inchoata, communicatio, per quam omnes regni divini dotes homini in usum sanctum et beatum contingunt”), are insignificant to bring out the mind and the thoughts of John in their living fulness.
1JOHN 2:25. And this is the promise which He hath promised us, the life eternal.—Αὕτη ἐστίν should be explained here as in 1John 2:23. 5:11. 14 where the same words occur in the same position or as in 1John 1:5: καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη; the reference is to the words which follow—τὴνζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον. The substance or object of ἐπαγγελία is qualified here by a Substantive, while the substance or object of ἀγγελία or ἐντολή or μαρτυρία or παῥῥησία in the other passages is indicated by a clause connected with ὅτι or ἵνα according to the context. Instead of the Accusative (ζωὴν), the Nominative (ζωὴ) ought to have been in apposition with ἐπαγγελία, but it was both attracted as apposition to the relative clause ἥν αὐτὸς ἐπηγγείλατο ἡμῖν annexed in the same case as ἥν. See Winer, p. 552 sq. Therefore manere in filio et patre is not the ἐπαγγελία and ἡ ζωὴ ἡ αἰώνιος not a pure apposition, so that the abiding itself is described as eternal life (SANDER, BESSER), but “the life eternal is the promise” (so Huther and most commentators). The ἐπαγγελία is promissio, consequently not res promissa (J. Lange, Estius), as if it were true contrary to the genius and usage of Greek to add ἥν—ἐπηγγείλατο. Αὐτὸς designates Him “who is the centre of this whole section” [Huther), that is Christ, and neither the Father (Hunnius), nor the Father through the Son (Socinus). But ἡ ζωὴ ἡ αἰώνιος, as the substance and object of the ἐπαγγελία of the Son, is not viewed as a gift remote from and subsequent to this promise, but as present and experienced, acquired and enjoyed wherever the pre-requisite of the promise is complied with, namely the abiding of the word in you. Where the promise applies, it is forthwith fulfilling itself. Therefore it is not said that we should acquire the life eternal, but that at which this promise is aimed is simply mentioned and connected by attraction with ἐπηγγείλατο.—Καὶ accordingly has here its ordinary force as copula, connecting this sentence with the one preceding, adding and explaining something implied, but not yet particularly mentioned in the preceding sentence; the reference is to something directly connected with abiding in God; καὶ therefore must not be taken αὶτιολογικῶς (Oecumenius) or as designating the further consequence of holding fast the Gospel (Lücke). Düsterdieck strikingly observes: “The present reality of eternal life in believers is no more annulled by the fact that it is not yet perfected in them than that inversely continued growth, a holy and fruitful development, and the final glorious perfection are excluded by its real possession.”
Conclusion, with repeated warnings and exhortations 1John 2:26–28.
1JOHN 2:26. These things I have written unto you concerning those who deceive you.—Here ταῦτα connected with ἔγραψα refers back to the preceding verses, and the object περὶ τῶν πλανώντων ὑμᾶς points back as far as 1John 2:18. The πλανῶντες ὑμᾶς are the antichrists, and denotes that they are dangerous per se, really and not only unsuccessfully dangerous, as is evident from 1John 2:19. [It is doubtful whether the reference to 1John 2:19 warrants the inference of their actual success in the case of those whom the Apostle is addressing. The deceivers themselves had seceded; that is all we can gather from 1John 2:19, and that they were anxious to deceive others we learn from this verse, but nothing is said of their having been successful in their endeavour—M.]. This is also intimated by the Accusative ὑμᾶς and 2 Jno. 8; Matth. 24:5, 11, 24. [This is certainly a singular conclusion, for ὑμᾶς indicates that they, the readers of the Epistle, the Church, are the object of the deceiver’s endeavours.—M.]. The word itself denotes an act, a continuing activity, and therefore more than a “studium, conatus,” “seducere conantibus” (Bengel, Huther). [See Apparat. Critic. 1John 2:26, note 27.—M.]. Hence the reiterated exhortation to fidelity.
1JOHN 2:27. And you—the ointment which ye received from Him, abideth in you, and ye have no need that any one teach you.—Thought, expression and construction, as in 1John 2:20, 21: καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ χρῖσμα—φυλάττετε=μένει ἐν ὑμῖν. From ὑμᾶς, 1John 2:26, the Apostle takes καὶ ὑμεῖς, and contrasting them with οἱ πλανῶντες, places said words emphatically in anteposition, for they would be too strongly emphasized if we were to connect them with the relative clause. cf. 1John 2:24. Tò χρῖσμα here, as χρῖσμα, 1John 2:20, is in the Accusative, but must not be connected with the relative clause, per trajectionem. The Article denotes what is known and what has already been mentioned. Ἐλάβετε distinctly marks their reception and points to a greater obligation than the previous reference to possession (ἔχετε, 1John 2:20). The gift is not without its task and work, here, under the impulse of gratitude. Ἀπ̓ αὐτοῦ of course designates Him round whom the Apostle’s thoughts revolve as round their centre, the same who is deseribed in ἀπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου, Christ, 1John 2:25. This verse proves that τοῦ ἁγίου, 1John 2:20, relates to Christ. (Huther). While the Future was used in 1John 2:24 (μενεῖτε), we have here the Present (μένει) in order to express the Apostle’s certain assurance (Huther) and to exhort at the same time to that which he does expect. Bengel (“Habet hic indicativus perquam subtilem adhortationem (conferendam ad 2 Tim. 3:14) qua fideles, a deceptatoribus sollicitatos, ita iis respondere facit: unctio in nobis manet: non egemus doctore: illa nos verum docet: in ea doctrina permanebimus. Vide quam amœna sit transitio ab hac sermocinatione ad sermonem directum versu sequenti“Manet in vobis: manebitis in Illo” correlata).—Καὶ, and because the Holy Spirit is and abideth in you (Bengel: et ideo), οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε, ye have no need whatever; thus is brought out here the αὐτάρκεια θεοδιδάκτων, and we have here a new particular, which was not expressed in 1John 2:20. The construction with ἵνα occurs also Jno. 2:25; 16:30.—Τοῦ διδάσκειν, Heb. 5:12. The Infinitive only, Matth. 3:14; 14:6; 1 Thess. 1:8; 4:9. This teaching is taken here not as a simple consequence, but as the end and aim because of the condition of the persons to be taught. Love prompts thereto, for love deems it its duty and cherishes the intention to teach. Hence the meaning is: “You are not at all in the situation that somebody should or ought to teach you” (Düsterdieck after Lücke and against Huther, who takes ἵνα in a weakened sense and thinks that it is simply used to indicate the object). Hence we may think also of Apostolical instruction, fraternal encouragement and (with reference to τις 1John 2:21) friendly teaching, perhaps that of the Apostle himself (Bengel, de Wette, Lücke, Düsterdieck). There is no occasion here to think of πλανῶν; so Semler, Spener, (τὶς=who asserts a new revelation), Sander, Gerlach, Besser. But with reference to πάντα 1John 2:20 and περὶ πάντων we must not restrict ἵνα διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς to instruction concerning the false teachers (as Lücke does), although that is included (Huther).—It is important to bear in mind that this passage does not hold out the least encouragement, or give support, to the vagaries of fanatics, because the Holy Spirit works on the basis of the word given and received, and does not communicate any thing new, but only imparts to believers clearer perceptions and views of that which they already have.
But as the ointment of Him teacheth you concerning all things, and is true and is not lie, and as it hath taught you, so abide in Him.—As we read τὸ αὐτοῦ χρῖσμα and not τὸ αὐτὸ χρῖσμα, it is only necessary to observe that Bengel (“idem semper, non aliud atque aliud, sed sibi constans, et idem apud sanctos omnes) finds here the unchangeableness, and Düsterdieck and others the identity of the chrism, which unceasingly teaches believers and which they have received from Him, the Christ; our reading brings out this identity and also reiterates its origin: [See Appar. Crit. 1John 2:27, note 29, where the other reading is advocated, according to which we render “the same ointment,” i.e., the identical χρῖσμα, ὃ ἐλάβετε.—M.].—The structure of this sentence presents peculiar difficulties. Ἀλλὰ introduces the antithesis μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ. While, on the one hand, the Apostle had assured them that they have no need of being taught by any one, because they have the Spirit reminding them of the words of the Lord and leading them into all truth, he now declares, on the other, and by way of antithesis, that they have need of abiding faithful with Him. Hence the words in parenthesis belong to the first ὡς, although the vivacity [of the Apostle’s diction] which never repeats without indicating some new feature, has occasioned various modifications. The exhortation: μένετε ἐν ἀυτῷ requires fidelity toward and steadfastness with Christ, as is unmistakable from the context and 1John 2:28. Erasmus explaining ἐν τῷ χρίσματι erroneously thinks of the Holy Spirit, and Baumgarten-Crusius of the doctrine of the Spirit, while Schottgen strikingly observes: “in Christo, quem Johannes semper in mente habet.” The motive for abiding with Christ is: τὸ αὐτοῦ χρῖσμα διδάσκει περὶ πάντων. Hence the context also recommends the well authenticated αὐτοῦ [the authorities on Braune’s own showing are all the other way; they stand thus: αὐτοῦ C. Sin (?) against αὐτὸ A. B. (?) G. K.—M.]; it is the ointment of the Holy Ghost from Him [αὐτοῦ], Christ, with [ἐν?] whom they are to remain; and this ointment teaches them concerning all things, as we read 1John 2:20: οἴδατε πάντα. But not only the extent of that concerning which they are taught of the Holy Spirit is the motive for his exhortation that they should abide with Him. The chief motive is the characteristic: καὶ άληθές ἐστιν. The χρῖσμα is called absolutely ἀληθὲς, implying of course that that also which it teaches, is true; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (Jno. 14:17), therefore He leadeth you also into all truth (Jno. 16:13). So Düsterdieck; also Lücke, de Wette, Brückner, Ebrard. There is no ground for restricting the reference to that which the χρῖσμα teaches, as do Oecumenius, Theophylact, Luther, Neander, Besser, Huther. The importance of the true essence and substance of the χρῖσμα occasions the additional clause which denies all lie: καὶ οὐκ ἐστὶν ψεῦδος, and lie is not, is not extant. John evidently here recurred to the thought expressed in 1John 2:21: πᾶν ψεῦδος ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἔστιν, and that there is no lie where the Spirit teaches. Now the Apostle resumes with the fuller form καθὼς that which he had begun with ἀλλ’ ὡς, and moreover, by way of reminding them that the Holy Spirit had taught them for some time: καθὼς ἐδίδαξεν ὑμᾶς. This Aorist after the preceding Present ought not to occasion any difficulty; and the καὶ before καθὼς instead of the ἀλλὰ before ὡς is readily accounted for by the one immediately preceding it; the sentence, thus resumed, connects with the testimony of the truth of the Spirit and His teaching; agreeably to which He has taught and teaches believers. Hence we should not divide the second clause of this verse. into two parts (with Luther, Calvin, Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, Brückner, Besser, Huther, and others), so that ἀλλ’ ὡς τὸ αὐτοῦ χρῖσμα διδάσκει ὑμᾶς is the first antecedent, and καὶ ἀληθές ἐστιν καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ψεῦδος its consequent, and again καὶ καθὼς ἐδίδαξεν ὑμᾶς is the second antecedent, and μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ its consequent. The explanation given by us is supported by Oecumenius, Theophylact, Lücke, de Wette, Neander, Düsterdieck, Ewald and others. [This applies only to the structure of the sentence, not to the exposition of the passage. As to the former we cannot but think that the one adopted by Huther and the many authorities who agree with him, is preferable to that of Braune, and on the following grounds: 1st, it assigns to περὶ πάντων its proper position, whereas in the former view is no relation whatsoever to μενεῖτε(μένετε) of the consequent; 2d, ἀλλὰ indicates that the Apostle is about to introduce an antithesis to οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε, a sentence in which the teaching of the χρῖσμα is to be described as exempting them from the necessity of another human teacher, and 3d, because the clause καὶ οὐκ ἔστι ψεῦδος added to ἀληθές ἐστι raises this thought above the character of a mere parenthetical and secondary observation, and stamps it as the leading thought. These are the grounds on which Luther, Calvin, Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, Brückner, Besser, Huther, and many more, deem it preferable to divide the whole into two clauses, and to take καὶ ἀληθές ἐστι καὶ οὐκ ἐστι ψεῦδος as the consequent of the first clause. “But as the anointing teaches you all things, so it is true and is no lie,” etc. (Luther).—M.].
The conclusion of the whole section, 1John 2:28.
1JOHN 2:28. And now, little children, abide with [in, ἐν] him.
Καὶ νῦν connects the exhortation, repeated on account of its great importance and already expressed as a hope and in confidence 1John 2:27, with the preceding verses. Καὶ νῦν occurs very often (Jno. 17:5; Acts 3:17; 4:29; 7:34; 10:5; 22:16; 2 Thess. 2:6), or καὶ νῦν ἰδοὺ (Acts 13:11; 20:22, 25), or νῦν οὖν (Acts 16:36; 23:15), on the other hand ἀλλὰ νῦν (Luke 22:36), νῦν δὲ (Jno. 8:40; 9:41; 15:22, 24; 18:36), but always so that out of the originally sentient description of the present there has sprung a certain logical significance in order to mark the consequences from a present situation, to draw an inference or conclusion, to annex the features involved in a given case or to denote an antithetical relation (Düsterdieck). Hence Paulus errs in rendering: “Even already now—as in opposition to the Parthian-magian doctrine, that union with God cannot take place except in the future kingdom of light.”—The seasonable address τεκνία frees the Apostle’s earnestness from all severity, and intensifies his exhortation as a paternal right, by reminding them of the fellowship of love as the consequence of his Apostolical discharge of duty. Repetitio est præcepti cum blanda appellatione, qua paternum erga eos amorem declaret” (Estius). It is inconceivable how Socinus applies the ἐν αὐτῷ not to Christ, but to Deus per Christum, and how Semler could hit upon this doctrine. Rickli, who explains 1John 2:27 of abiding in the confession that Jesus is the Christ, suggests here abiding in righteousness.—Now follows a reference to the judgment.
That if He shall be manifested we may have confidence and not be shamed away from Him at His coming.—Since ἐὰν and not ὅταν is the true reading, we have here not an intimation of the time, or the nearness of the time, but of the reality of the manifestation of Christ (Huther, Düsterdieck). Although the same word is applied to our Lord’s appearing in flesh, in the form of a servant (1John 3:5. 8. ἐφανερώθη), still it may be applied with equal propriety to the future manifestation of His glory as in Col. 3:4. That will be manifested which as yet is hidden. The Apostle now passes to the first person Plural: παῤῥησίαν σχῶμεν. He ever places himself under the laws (1John 1:6 sqq.; 2:2 sq.; 3:16, 18 sqq.) and promises (1John 3:1 sqq.; 21; 4:17; 5:11. 20), applicable to all without being able to exclude himself from the hope here presented (de Wette, Düsterdieck). Hence it is not from modesty (S. Schmid), nor because he would suffer loss if any members of his Church were falling away (Sander). Παῤῥησία is literally frankness, free-spokenness (Acts 4:13. 29. 31; 26:26; 28:31; 1 Thess. 2:2) then confident assurance with respect to all the threats and terrors of the judgment. The Vulgate translates fiducia, Luther properly freudig (vreidic i.e. free), Freudigkeit (vreidicheit i.e. freeness), which sheer ignorance has turned into joyful (freudig) and joyfulness (Freudigkeit). Compare Vilmar pastoral-theolog. Blätter 1861, Nos. 1. 2; Jütting, Biblisches Wörterbuch (1864) s. v.—A Strasburg edition of 1537, indeed, has already Freudigkeit, but the original word is Freydigkeit (Nürnberg ed. 1524), Freydigkeyt (Wittenberg ed. 1525), Freidigkeit (1530), and in a sermon on Jno. 4:16–21 he speaks of boldness (Trotz) in the last day. The Greek Scholiasts and Lexicographers explain the word by ἄδεια, ἐξουσία, ἡ ἐπὶ τοῖς κακίστοις εὔτολμος ἀπολογία. The ordinary antithesis is αἰσχύνεσθαι (Pro1John 2:13:5; Phil. 1:20) to be ashamed, to shame oneself or feel ashamed, so as to depart from Him the Judge. The preposition ἀπὸ therefore is not=ὑπὸ (Socinus), nor=coram (Luther, Ewald), nor both together (S. Schmid, Sander), but=away from (Calvin, Beza, de Wette, Düsterdieck, Huther); but it is necessary to retain the Passive and not the Middle, because we do not retire and withdraw ourselves, but are rejected and driven away. Cf. Matth. 25:41. It is impossible to agree with Erasmus, who says: “ut illum non pudeat nostri.”—Παρουσία occurs only here in John’s writings, but often elsewhere (Matth. 24.8, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19 etc.), corresponds with φανερωθῇ, and as φανερωθῇ answers to παῤῥησίαν ἔχειν so παρουσία answers to αἰσχύνεσθαι. All this, connected with ἵνα, constitutes a motive for abiding with Him, walking in the light, in fellowship with Him.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The unmistakable reference here to the immanent Trinity is theological in the strictest sense of the word. According to the final clause of 1John 2:22 and 1John 2:23 we have here a reference to a paternal relation with respect to the Son, and to a filial relation with respect to the Father existing above and before the world within the Godhead. The Son is not only a power or principle before He became personal in the Christ, but He is personal in virtue of his Being, the Son of the Father who is a Person, the Son who as the Image of the Father is also a Person. But He became a historical Person, a Person belonging to the history of man in the Christ who did appear in Jesus. See EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL.
2. The knowledge of God without the knowledge of Christ is impossible, because the knowledge of God is impossible without fellowship with God, which is solely the result of confession of Jesus the Christ.
3. Fellowship with God is not the act of men but the act of God through Christ. It begins in the word which is preached and heard, continues in the communication and reception of the Chrisma, the Holy Spirit, and it consists in the truth and in the constancy of faith and confession. The Word of Christ and the Spirit given of Him must first come to us and do His work and in us and then we shall be able to abide with Him in virtue of His power.
4. The question here is as to what constitutes the difference between esse in ecclesia and esse de ecclesia. As surely as these two conditions must be distinguished from each other, so certain it is that in point of fact they do coëxist alongside each other. SO CONFESS. AUG. Art. 8.: “Quid sit ecclesia?—in hac vita multi hypocritæ et mali admixti—; APOL. IV. de ecclesia §. 11: malos nomine tantum in ecclesia esse, non re, bonos vero re et nomine: Hieronymus enim ait: qui ergo peccator est aliqua sorde maculatus, de ecclesia Christi non potest appellari nee Christo subjectus dici.”—“Like tares they stood in the same field alongside the wheat (Matth. 13:23 sqq.) and had part in the divine manifestations of grace whereby the whole field is made fertile and the genuine wheat brought to ripeness. But they shewed themselves to be tares and by their seceding did execute on themselves the divine judgment. Augustine and Bede, with whom Luther agrees in his second exposition, also compare the antichrists with the evil humours of the body. The body of Christ also, so long as it is undergoing the process of being cured, that is so long as it has not attained to perfect health through the resurrection, has such noxious humours (quandoquidem adhuc curatur corpus ipsius et sanitas perfecta non erit nisi in resurrectione mortuorum; sic sunt in corpore Christi, quomodo humores mali). Their expulsion liberates the body and enables it to attain unto perfect health (quando evomuntur, tunc relevatur corpus). But this does not happen to keep up Bede’s figure, with the providential care of God” (Düsterdieck).
5. The present section cannot be pressed into the service of predestinarianism. Augustine, indeed, says with reference to this passage (de bon. perse1John 2:11, 8): “non erant ex nobis, quia non erant secundum propositum vocati, non erant in Christo electi ante constitutionem mundi—non erant prædestinati secundum propositum ejus, qui universa operatur.” So Calvin, Inst. III. 24, 7. But although Calvin the theologian [German “Dogmatiker,” not=dogmatist, i.e., one who is certain or presumes to say he knows, whether he be mistaken or in the right, but the teacher of a theological dogma—M.] cannot be corrected by Calvin the interpreter, yet Augustine the theologian can be corrected by Augustine the interpreter in his Tractat. ad h. 1., where he says: “DE VOLUNTATE SUA unusquisque aut antichristus, aut in Christo est; qui se in melius commutat, in corpore membrum est, qui autem in malitia permanet, humor malus est.” The Apostle distinguishes inward and true Christian fellowship from that which is only outward and in appearance; those who belong to the former are so thoroughly fettered in their believing and regenerated mind, that, as Lücke thinks, they can nevermore separate from that fellowship. It is, to use the striking language of the Oxymoron of Didymus, a voluntaria necessitas, but no contrarietas naturarum, although in the course of moral development there should arise a diversitas substantiæ.—The phrases οὐκ ἐξ ἡμῶν εἶναι and ἐξ ἡμῶν εἶναι used by the Apostle to denote simply the opposite results of the ethical life-process, which in the former case leads to ἐξελθεῖν and in the latter to μένειν μεθ’ ἡμῶν. But, as Augustine says, every Christian may become an antichrist, according as his will refuses to he determined to μένειν ἐν Χριστῷ, which beginning with the hearing of His word and advancing to πίστις εἰς αὐτόν, to childlike and unremitting trust and cleaving to Him, develops itself by ever determining guiding, strengthening, purifying and confirming the will, is a veritable history of the word heard with the outward ears and inwardly in the heart filling and conquering the heart until it has become wholly believing, but for all that may and does offer resistance at every point, so that it often does resist for some length of time and so undoes all its previous acquirements, that it often conceals unpardoned sins which may again draw it down or at least arrest its progress and bring it to the point that, unless it submit to being cleansed anew, it will apostatize and thus a Christian may become an antichrist, which is however of rare occurrence, because the eternal powers of the word of Christ and His Spirit are very strong and mighty and the heart of man has been created for and with special adaptation to said powers. Hence the universal experience that it is difficult to get to Christ through self-denying and world-renouncing penitence, but that it is even more difficult to get away from Christ through the denial of the conscience and of faith as well as of the word of Christ quickened in the conscience by faith,—and the Apostle speaks from this experience. But in all this there is neither predestination nor necessity, especially since the Apostle’s exhortation to abide leaves room for the possibility of their apostasy, as to the reality of which the Apostle confidently entertains no fear in the case of those who are vital Christians. Nor is it to be overlooked that John does not throw out the faintest allusion to the difference between the electi and vocati and the donum perseverantiæ. In the passage Heb. 6:4–6 the lapse of the truly regenerate (as is evident from their description) is supposed to be possible, but the re-conversion of such apostates only is said to be impossible, so that we ought to be afraid. [Huther: the words εἰ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν, μεμενήκεισαν ἄν μεθ’ ἡμῶν contain the idea that he who truly belongs to the Church will never leave it, but he that leaves it shows thereby that he did not truly belong to it. This confidence of the Apostle in the love of the Lord which keeps and preserves those who are His, and in the fidelity of those who have been redeemed by Him, seems to contradict the idea pre-supposed in Heb. 6:4–6, that they also who were once enlightened and had tasted of the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, can fall away. But John speaks here, as he does throughout his Epistle, absolutely, without any reference to the state of gradual development, from whence however it does by no means follow that he did not know it. The one circumstance that he exhorts believers, as such to abide in Christ, is sufficient to show that he does not wish to deny the possibility of their apostasy, all he is sure of, and rightly so, is this that he that does not abide, had never truly entered into fellowship with the Lord with his whole heart, but although he was touched by His love and felt somewhat of its power, he had not entirely abandoned and renounced the world.”—M.].
6. The Apostle here asserts a double law of historical development in its definite application to the development of the kingdom of God. “Evil by a gradual process of development culminates, then in the conflict between the kingdom of God and evil, the former develops itself, and at length, through a new coming of Christ in power, the kingdom of Christ is once more subdued.” (Neander). This is the one, and of the other the same author speaks thus: “In this respect also we shall see how the workings of one uniform law ever appear in the course of the development of the kingdom of God, that in good and evil there are certain individual personages constituting as it were, the centre and appearing especially as representatives of the conflicting principles, uniting and concentrating in themselves as one great whole, the fragments scattered in many individuals.” “When in the times before the Reformation the secularized Church under the secularized papacy, was especially instrumental under the cloak of Christianity to obscure and oppose true Christianity, people might believe that they saw in this the visible manifestation of antichrist, and Matthias of Janow, the Bohemian reformer before Huss, might suppose to have detected the effect of Satan’s craft in the circumstance that believers instead of identifying antichrist in the present, viz., the rule of the secularized Church and the sway of a superstition even unto the idolizing of the human, were beguiled into seeking it at some distant period.” The increasing revelation of the depths of evil in the world, runs therefore parallel to the development of the kingdom of God even up to its ultimate completion and both pass through personages in whom the former does concentrate. See also Düsterdieck: “The development of the Christian principle and that of the antichristian principle are reciprocally related. Christian truth cannot be revealed without forthwith exciting the contradiction of the darkness. The wheat and the tares grow together until they are ripe. The antichristian spirit works already in many antichrists; but the one antichrist is still future, still to come, and is only announced by his precursors. Although therefore the last hour has already come, yet its full close is still to come, viz., the real, personal advent of the Lord which will take place immediately after the appearance of the personal antichrist. But John did neither tell us when this antichrist would come nor give us a chronological clue to the exact time of the personal advent of Christ. In both respects he confines himself to the statement that the events are to take place.”—
7. Athough John in giving prominence to the marrow and vitalizing centre of Christianity, viz., to the belief that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, does not warrant us to undervalue the articulated confession of faith as a whole or as to its component parts, which are only developments of the pushing germ, he yet attaches, and for this very reason, the greatest importance to the faithfulness of abiding, the fides qui creditur, with reference to said centre.
8. His account of the χρῖσμα and its gifts, characteristically and emphatically adverts to the universal priesthood, indicating its origin and glory.
9. The “critical ability” (Düsterdieck) of Christians founded on the full knowledge or the truth, like the advancing knowledge of the truth itself, goes hand in hand with progressive holiness. The point throughout is not mere knowledge, tidings or information of a life in and of (from) God, but the actual possession and enjoyment of this life, the life itself and the personal converse of the human soul, with the living and revealed God; and it concerns man’s inmost and most profound being, which is neither the understanding nor the reason, but the will, and the point in question is not science but conscience.
10. It is only in the way of obedience to the word and will of God that man is able to keep and intensify fellowship with Him in order that he may become a partaker of the divine Being, the divine Nature. It is contrary to the will of God that man departs from the Being of God until he is wholly rejected.
11. The decision and the separation will not take place until the last, the last judgment; consider this.—
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See what time it is in the kingdom of God? 1. Hearken to the word which is preached (1John 2:18, 24); 2. be led by the Spirit whom thou hast received (1John 2:20, 27); 3. take note of the separations which take place in the Church (1John 2:19, 22); 4. hold fast to Jesus the Christ, who is the Son of the Father (1John 2:26, 28).—In all the separations in the Church be sure not to forget to decide.—In every separation the sorrow of having been deceived before is connected with the joy of
greater purity hereafter.—In the uncertainty as to who are true vital Christians take care lest thou lose the conviction that the vital Christian abides constant.—Act as Gideon did who encountering the Midianites numbering 135,000 with an army of 32,000 at the Lord’s bidding reduced the same by 22,000 and made a selection of 300 from the remaining 10,000 even as directed by the Lord, and then gained a glorious victory with them (Judg. 7).—The source of the anointing is the Holy Ghost, its pre-requisite regeneration, its power an assured conviction of the importance of the truth, its impulse an earnest desire to bring it home to the hearts of others; it was a protection from the hierarchism and episcopalianism of the 2d and 3d centuries. Is. 41:15 applies to it. [I should rather say in more strict agreement with the text that the chrism of the Holy Ghost from Christ is a sure protection from any and every form of spiritual secessionism, separatism and individualism.—M.]. Because of a sorrowful experience in the Church do not give up the joy of the glory of the Church.—Comparison of the ointment as the figure or symbol of the Holy Spirit: 1, its value; 2, its use in the anointing of kings, priests and prophets; 3, its power of strengthening and stimulating the spirit of life; 4, its influence on a life well-pleasing to God; 5, its far-spreading fragrance.—The fundamental doctrine of salvation is: Jesus is the Christ. 1, With it and in it we find our way into the rich heart of God and bring God into our poor heart; 2, in opposition to it we bring eternal ruin into our heart and ourselves into eternal ruin. Or, 1, By it you learn the corrupting false teachers; 2, in it the true and living Christian shows himself: 3, out of it you pass to the inheritance of God.—Do not drive Christ and His word from thy heart, or Christ will drive thee from His kingdom.—1John 2:28. Confirmation-address.
GREGORY:—“Nisi Spiritus Sanctus intus sit qui doceat, doctoris lingua extus in vanum laborat.”
AUGUSTINE:—“Cathedram in cœlo habet, qui intus docet.”
LUTHER:—It is dangerous and terrible to believe something against the uniform testimony, faith and doctrine of the universal holy Church, which has now thus held it unanimously in every place from the beginning these fifteen hundred years past.—Many a man has a paternoster round his neck and a rogue in his heart.
STARKE:—As the betrayer of Christ was one of His most intimate Apostles, so antichrist did not arise among Jews or Turks, but in the very midst of Christendom.—The Church remaineth not without offences of which that is not least that within her fold there arise men who hold false doctrine and apostatize from the known, truth; the tares do not grow by themselves, but in the midst of the wheat.—Constancy in good is an infallible sign of a true Christian, just as temporizing and changeableness indicate a false heart.—Christians are anointed, and their name should daily remind them of what they owe to God and their neighbour as spiritual kings, priests and prophets.—A teacher ought not to despise his hearers, for they also, if they believe, are anointed with the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of divine truths, although there may be differences in the measure of their anointing.—He also denies Christ the Saviour, who does not prove in deed that He is His Saviour who has indeed delivered him from the guilt and punishment of sin.—We have need to be especially on our guard against the denial of Christ which takes place, not only in words and in doctrine, but also in our life.—The word of God must remain in the whole man, and not only enter his understanding.—A Christian, an anointed one, that is his name, but also the greatest prerogative to divine wisdom, it opens to him the school in which the most learned are seated below on the bench of humility, who follow in the simplicity of their heart, who know all things, and ever learn what they know, love and do.—As is a king without a kingdom, a ruler without subjects, a general without soldiers, so is a Christian without the anointing. Because the last coming of the Lord will be terrible, we should be diligent to be so well prepared that we may be found worthy to stand before the Son of Man.—The day of our Lord’s coming may properly be called the believers’ day of honour, for they shall be manifested, declared righteous, and advanced to the full enjoyment of heavenly blessing.
SPENER:—It is a great blessing that God does not allow the heavenly [?] deceivers to remain in the Church but overrules it that they are made known and we learn to be on our guard against them, that they must manifest themselves and make themselves known, whereby the danger is lessened and believers rendered more cautious and prompted to be diligent in prayer and to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.—Even those who truly believe and have made great advances in the faith, may be deceived, and therefore let those who think that they stand, take heed lest they fall. None but those who have the Holy Spirit and the anointing can be sufficiently on their guard against the lies of antichrist. All other knowledge is too weak by far to be able to withstand temptation and spiritual conflicts.
UHLHORN:—He only has God, who has Him as the Triune God. Let us only begin with what the Apostle puts in the middle, He that hath not the Son, neither hath he the Father, add that with which he begins, of the Son we can only know through the Holy Spirit, and conclude the statement in virtue of what the Apostle says, that the anointing cometh from Him who is holy: The Holy Ghost cometh from the Father and the Son.
LAVATER:—Every one who is not an evangelical Christian, does not believe in Jesus Christ, is an atheist.
HEUBNER:—A hostile power, an opposition to Christianity, has stirred from the beginning. And this is a recommendation of Christianity; a proof of the mighty power of Christianity against evil, which is terrible to the wicked one. The more the good raises itself the more also does evil bestir itself. Where God builds a temple, Satan is sure to build a chapel by the side of it.—It serves also to exercise and try the soldiers of Christ. Without an opposing power, the divine drama would be without life or interest.—Unbelief which pretends that the kernel and characteristics of Christianity are irrational, is a very important epoch in this history.—Who thought Christianity imperilled by the growth of antichrist would betray great weakness of heart and understanding and want of confidence. The Christian should rejoice at every further manifestation: the end is drawing nearer: the catastrophe in the kingdom of Christ is the point to which the eyes of Christians are longingly directed.—The enemies of Christianity draw nourishment from the Church: it is in their interest not to suffer themselves to be deprived of the name “Christian;” they would then accomplish less and be less dangerous.—The manifestation of all, the good as well as the bad, is the design of the Kingdom of God. The evil cannot long conceal or disguise itself or stand back: it only waits for the time of coming out. God wills it thus. The appearance of evil tries and purifies the Church. It is a refreshing relief to Christians to see the separation of the unclean.—A Christian is insured and protected from false teachers. He has the Holy Spirit 1. Who interpenetrates every thing like precious perfume, enters into every thing, and imparts to it fragrance and the breath of life—to his thinking, judging, feeling and willing. The Christian is thereby clothed with a royal and priestly dignity in the Kingdom of God (Rev 1:6). The anointing is the signature of the Christian. 2. The Spirit enables him to try, to identify the spirit of error, to judge; to such a Christian no false teacher can be dangerous.—The Christian has a fine sense of discrimination (sagax odoratus); he quickly perceives the essence and tendency of every doctrine; hence his Christian severity of judgment and his antipathy to syncretism.—Bad opinions, seductive principles among Christians, originate not in Christianity. The Church of Christ must not be charged with the evil that is in it.—He that will not know God in Jesus—where else will he know God?—There is no revelation of God which resembles the revelation in Christ; if one is not satisfied with this revelation, which revelation will satisfy him?—Whether they like or do not like it, neologians are obliged to assert that true Christianity was unknown before them; for what they now call Christianity is known to the whole antiquity.—The true Christian faith is immutable and needs no perfecting.—This faith is of the utmost importance; our eternal salvation depends upon it; it is not a useless, subtle question raised by the schools, but it concerns the promise of eternal life, and the virtue of this promise depends on the Person of Jesus; only if He is truly the Son of God He is able to promise and give eternal life. This must attach us strongly to the faith, and those who have felt the power of this faith, live and die for this faith.—Even anointed Christians stand in need of warning and admonition, because deceivers are never quiet and because within us there is not wanting that which meets them half-way.—Other gifts decrease in the course of time, the Holy Spirit does not decrease. Other frames of mind and tendencies of thought change, the Holy Spirit does not change. Yield to the promptings of the Spirit and be vigilant lest thou mistake thy own spirit for the Holy Spirit and be deceived. Be pure and meek.—Abiding with Christ and in Him in steadfastness of faith and faithful following Him is the more honourable, the more fall away from Him, and it is necessary, because our acceptance depends on it. If one becomes unfaithful to Christ, how can he appear before Him with joyfulness [confidence?]? That thought has an overwhelming influence on the heart of a Christian. How shall unbelievers appear before Him who to please the world leave Christ, and esteem the world’s honours more highly than the grace of Christ? How well it would be if all men would only examine themselves in all their judging and doing; could you act thus in the presence of Jesus? would you dare to say such and such a thing in the presence of Jesus? would you dare to maintain such an opinion before Him? If you are honest and conscientious according to your interpretation, so that He may not even blame you, why have you twisted my words after your liking?
BESSER:—It is the last hour. But those who read the history of the Church wrongly, and consider the time of her highest inward beauty and manifest power over the world to belong to an earthly future, will be inclined to suspect the holy Apostle, to have been in error for assuring us to have experienced the beginning of the last hour; those, on the other hand, who consider that the Sun of the Gospel shone in his brightest splendor, when in the preaching of the Apostles he came forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoiced as a giant to run his race from one end of the heavens back to the same end again and that there sounds through the whole history of the Church the sigh of the saints “Abide with us, Lord Jesus, for it is toward evening”—aye, that even her most glorious victories, like the victory of the Reformation, are only like the reflection of the setting sun on the darkening clouds,—those who see this cease to be surprised at what the Apostles tell us of the last hour and read the merciful cause of this prolonged duration of the last hour, prolonged for more than eighteen hundred years, in the words of the Apostle “the Lord is long-suffering to us-ward” (2 Pet. 3:9).—We must not only be on our guard against one antichrist, one great adversary and deceiver, but against a multitudinous progeny of the antichristian seed.—When somebody praised the sainted Oettinger shortly before his death, on account of his great wisdom, he replied with a smile: “Yes, I have learned many things; but the most precious knowledge I learned as a child in Luther’s Lesser Catechism, which comprises every thing which I desire to keep and carry away with me to the seeing face to face.”—A learner of the Catechism, that hath the Holy Spirit, is able so far to discover all errors which militate against the Gospel, that he is protected from deception and may immoveably stand on the foundation of his faith.—Neither the Jesus of the rationalists nor the Christ of the philosophers hurts the kingdom of Satan.—The antichrists showed themselves to be antitheists.—Declension begins with men’s loathing that which they have heard from the beginning (Rieger.)—Every true doctrine the assertion of which is assigned to the church during the time of her growth, is already contained in the treasury of Holy Scripture.
Johann Tauler had preached many a learned sermon when Nicolaus of Basle, the Waldensian, visited and told him: “You are a kind-hearted man and a great priest, but have not yet tasted in truth the sweetness of the Holy Spirit.” From that time Tauler sought the true Teacher in the Scripture and the cross, who teaches us more in one hour than all earthly teachers can teach us to the last day.
[WARBURTON:—The late appearance of antichrist was a doctrine so universally received in the primitive Church, that it was like a proverbial saying among them; and thence St. John takes occasion to moralize on the doctrine, and warn his followers against that spirit, which in after times was to animate “the man of sin.” “Little children,” says he, “it is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrists shall come, even now there are many antichrists: whereby ye know that it is the last time.” As much as to say, we are fallen into the very dregs of time, as appears from that antichristian spirit, which now so much pollutes the Churches; for you know it is a common saying, that antichrist is to come in those wretched days. The Apostle goes on to employ the same allusion through the rest of the Epistle; 5:22. 1John 4:3; 2 Jno. 7. Where we see the appellation “antichrist” is employed to signify an enemy of God and godliness in general, by the same figure of speech that Elias was designed in those times to signify a prophet, and Rachel, a daughter of Israel; and that in these times Judas is used for a traitor, and Nero for a tyrant. But as these convertible terms necessarily suppose that they originally belonged to persons of the like characters, who had them in proper, so does the name “antichrist” transferred by St. John to certain of his impious contemporaries, as necessarily suppose, that there was one who should arise in the latter times, to whom the title eminently belonged; as marked out in the prophecies by the proper name of antichrist.—M.].
[HURD’S two sermons on 1 Jno. 2:18, the one entitled “Prophecies concerning Antichrist,” the other “Prejudices against the doctrine of Antichrist,” are well worth reading, as they embody much of the literature on the subject.—M.].
[WHITBY:—To deny the Father here, is not to deny Him to be the true God, as the heathens did: but 1. to deny the truth of His testimony, see 1John 5:10; Jno. 3:33; 2. to deny the doctrine of the Father, or that doctrine which proceedeth from Him; “for He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God,” Jno. 3:34. Whence it is evident, that he who denieth the Son, cannot thus retain the true knowledge of the Father; Jno. 1:18; Matth. 11:27. By Him alone can we come acceptably to the Father, so as to have life; for “He is the Way, and the Truth and the Life,” Jno. 14:6. And by Him alone are we taught how to “worship the Father in spirit and in truth,” Jno. 4:23, 24. Hence Christ so often tells the Jews, they therefore wanted the true knowledge of the Father, because they knew not Him, Jno. 8:19; 14:7; 16:3.—M.].
[ABP. SHARP:—Abundance of fanaticism, enthusiasm and other mischiefs have been brought into the Church of Christ, by the misinterpreting and misapplying of those texts which speak of the gifts of the Spirit, which some men so understand as to make no distinction between the times then and the times now.—(Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; Jer. 31:34; 1 Jno. 2:27.)—Hence they conclude that in these days, which are the last days, the Spirit of God is poured upon all flesh, and that every one hath a right to expect immediate impulses and revelations, as to what he is to believe and to practise: that by this assistance of the Spirit, every brother may understand the mysteries of the Holy Scriptures, without the troublesome way of studying human learning; nay and may take upon himself the pastoral office, and become a guide and teacher of others, without any warrant from human authority, merely upon the impulse of the Spirit of God. These consequences have been drawn from these and such texts of Scripture: and so far have they been promoted and improved by several amongst us, that reason and prudence and all acquired learning, are rather accounted by them hinderances to the work of God’s Church, than any ways contributing to it. Nay, they are arrived to a pitch above the Scriptures themselves, which they look upon as a dead letter in comparison of the light within them, the witness, the anointing which they have received from above, which is the only measure with them of truth and falsehood, of good and evil. The colour, which these enthusiasts derive for this their notion from the letter of some passages of the Old and New Testament, would quite vanish, if they would but take care to distinguish between the effects of the Spirit, which belonged to the converting of the world, and those which were to be His constant permanent operations among such as were already Christians. There is no one will deny but the Apostles, and those in their times, had these inspirations, these revelations they speak of: and the texts, that they produce, are some of them plain proofs that those promises were made good. They did see visions, and were endowed with extraordinary talents of wisdom and knowledge, without human methods, and might expect particular impulses of the Holy Ghost upon occasions, where they wanted either light or direction; and all this was indeed little enough for the discharge of that great work they had upon their hands, namely, the bringing of the world over from Judaism and heathenism to Christianity. But that being done once, and the Gospel of Christ, and all things pertaining to it, being plainly left in writing by the Apostles or Apostolical men, as there would be from henceforward no need of those assistances of the Spirit, so it would be a vain thing to expect them. We are not to desire those immediate revelations, nor to expect that God should vouchsafe them, if we prayed for them. God hath declared all His will, that is necessary for us to know, by our Saviour and His Apostles: and the rules which they have given us, together with our own natural light and reason, and the other outward means and helps of instruction, which are every day at hand among us, are sufficient, abundantly sufficient, to guide and direct us, both as to belief and practice, through all the cases and emergencies that can ordinarily happen to us. And in extraordinary cases God will take care, some way or other, that we shall not be at a loss. And therefore to pretend to the Spirit in these days, either for preaching, or praying, or prophesying, or denouncing God’s judgments, or for any other thing, in such a way as implies immediate inspiration; or to set up a light within us, contrary to the light of reason, or different from the light of Scripture without us, is the extreme of folly, enthusiasm and madness.”—M.].
[The chrism is 1. a general gift, vouchsafed to all Christians;
2. not transient but permanent;
3. leads them into all truth;
4. moves them to the practice of all the precepts of Christ;
5. assures them of their Christian privileges; (children of God, members of Christ and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven);
6. teaches them in all things; they are therefore disciples and learners all the days of their life;
7. preserves their fellowship with the Father and with the Son; (abide).
8. and makes them the Temples of God.—M.].
 [1John 2:18. ἐσχάτη ὥρα=the last hour.—M.]
B. C. Sin. read ὅτι after ἡκούσατε. Esther lectio difficilior.
B. C. Sin. omit the Article before ἀντἱχριστος. In Sin. it is clearly a later addition. It would hardly have been omitted, had it been originally there. [Lachm. Tisch. Buttm. reject it.—M.]
 [German: “Even now have there come into existence” Lillie: “even now are there many become.”—M.]
 [German: “that there is a last hour.” Lillie: “that it is the last hour.”—M.]
 [1John 2:19. Better to retain the Greek order with German: “From us they went out.”—ἐξῆλθαν, A. B. C. Lach. Tisch. Buttm. Huther, is more authentic than ἐξῆλθον G. K., but less common.—M.]
[No doubt supplied by E. V. is arbitrary and unnecessary.—M.]
[No reason why μεμενήκεισαν should be rendered “continued,” since “abode” makes as good sense here as other forms of the same verb in other places. Better to render μένειν uniformly abide.—M.]
 [German: “but—that they might be made manifest,” i.e. nothing is supplied, although the context requires something to be supplied. E. V. supplies “they went out,” Beza, following the Syriac “egressi sunt ex nobis,” Wakefield: “this was done,” Newcome, “this hath come to pass,” Lillie “it was,” etc. See below in Exeget. and Critical.—M.]
 [German: “that not all are from us” better than the more inferential rendering advocated by Lillie “that none of them are of us,” and the less correct translation of E. V. “that they were not all of us.”
 [1John 2:20. German: “And.” There seems to be no necessity for “but,” although καί may here have slightly adversative force—M.]
 [German omits the Article before unction and renders “and ye have unction.”—M.]
 [German omits “ye;” B. omits καί before οἵδατε.—M.]
B. Sin read πάντες instead of πάντα, August. “Ut ipsi vobis manifesti sint.”
 [1John 2:21. German: “and that every thing which is lie is not out of the truth,” but the rendering of E. V. is a happy inferential translation of the Greek idiom.—M.]
 [1John 2:22. German: “who is the liar.” The Article is emphatic here and must be retained.—M.]
 [German: “This is the antichrist, who.” οὕτος has demonstrative force.—M.]
 [1John 2:23. German: “Every one that denieth;” omnis qui, Vulg. Aug. Calv. Bengel, and “every one that” Greenfield, Allioli, de Wette, Lillie.—M.]
 [German: “Hath also not the Father.” Better render with Rhemish and most foreign versions “neither hath he the Father.”—M.]
A. B. C. Sin. [Griesb., Scholz, Lachm., Tisch. Buttm. Wordsw. Lillie.—M.] have the final clause: “ὁ ὁμολογῶν τὸν υἱὸν καὶ τὸν πατέρα ἔχει,” and it is required by the parallel passage 2 Jno. 9 as well as by John’s fondness of antithesis. [ὁμολογῶν however should be rendered “confesseth” and not “acknowledgeth” as in E. V.—M.]
 [1John 2:24. German: “You, that which ye have heard from the beginning, let that abide in you.” In this rendering οὖν is left out; but the emphatic you, in the sense of as for you, is decidedly in favour of the German rendering; translate, “you, let that which ye have heard from the beginning, abide in you.”—A. B. C. Sin. Vulg. al. omit οὖν. M.]
 [German: “If that abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning, ye also shall abide in the Son and in the Father.” The three-fold rendering of μένω in one verse: “abide, remain, continue,” adopted in E. V. should by all means be avoided. Lillie calls this sacrificing of the simple beauty and force of the original to “a great number of good English” words an “unprofitable exuberance.”—M.]
 [1John 2:25. German: “And this is the promise which He Himself;” αὐτός. The reference seems to be to an oral promise.—M.]
A. C. Sin. read ἡμῖν. The context warrants the transition to the Plural.
 [German: “The eternal life.” The supplement in E. V. is hardly necessary, the Article is indispensable and the order “life eternal” seems preferable; see on the last point E. V. Matth. 25:46; Jno. 4:36; 17:3; Rhemish version, Wakef. Macknight, Berleburg Bible, and Lillie.—M.]
 [1John 2:26. πλανώντων ὑμᾶς, “who would deceive you.” “The context (1John 2:20. 21. 27) shows that this is a case of the Present ‘de conatu, i.e. an endeavour or purpose’ (Buttm. § 137. n. 10), and so it is generally understood.” Lillie.—M.]
 [1John 2:27. German: “And you—the ointment which ye received from Him, abideth in you.”—M.]
 τὸ αὐτοῦ χρῖσμα is the reading of C. Sin., many versions (Syr. unctio quæ est a Deo) and fathers instead of τὸ αὐτὸ χρῖσμα A. B. G. K. and the Greek fathers.—Cod. Sin. reads really πνεῦμα afterwards corrected into χρῖσμα [or χάρισμα]; B reads χάρισμα. [But both in point of authority and in point of sense to τὸ αὐτὸ χρῖσμα seems to be the right reading. German, following the less authentic reading, renders “but as the ointment of Him;” E. V. follows τὸ αὐτὸχρῖσμα.—M.]
[καὶ ἀληθές ἐστι=and is true, better than “and is truth” of E. V.—M.]
 The reading μένετε A. B. C. Sin. is on external and internal grounds preferable to μενεῖτε [G. K. al. Tisch.—M.]
 1John 2:28. A. B. C. Sin. read ἵναἐὰν instead of ἵνα ὅταν [G. K. Theoph. Oecum. Tisch.—M.]
 [German: “shall be manifested” decidedly preferable both for the sake of uniformity and on doctrinal grounds (“the agency and love of the Father in the second as well as the first coming of the Saviour” Lillie) to “when He shall appear” E. V.—M.]
 σχῶμεν.—B and Cod. Sin. give it as a correction of ἔχωμεν.
 German: “and not be put to shame away from Him in His coming.” Calvin: Pudefiamus ab ejus præsentiâ; Steph. ab eo discedamus pudefacti; Hammond: “Turned with shame from Him;” Green and Bloomfield: “shrink from Him with shame;” Peile: “put to confusion of face as being cast away from Him.” Wordsworth: “Driven to shame from Him;” Lillie: “Shamed away from Him at His coming.”—M.]
If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.III. PRINCIPAL PART THE SECIND
HE THAT IS BORN AGAIN (OUT) OF (THE BEING OF) GOD THE RIGHTEOUS (1JOHN 2:29) IS A MIRACLE OF HIS LOVE NOW AND HEREAFTER (1JOHN 2:1–3), IS BOUND BY HIS WILL (1JOHN 2:4–10A), ESPECIALLY TO PRACTISE BROTHERLY LOVE (1JOHN 2:10–18), IS BLESSED BEFORE HIM AND IN HIM (1JOHN 2:19–24), TRYING LIKE GOD THE FALSE SPIRITS (I1JOHN 2:1–6), HE ENJOYS THE LOVE OF GOD AND EXHIBITS BROTHERLY LOVE (1JOHN 2:7–21), HE TRIUMPHS OVER THE WORLD AND IS SURE OF ETERNAL LIFE (1JOHN 2:1–12).
1. The leading thought: He that is born again of God the Righteous doeth righteousness. 1John 2:29
29If ye know that he is righteous, ye know60 that61 every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.62
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The subject of δίκαιος is not specified. It has to be ascertained either from the connection with the preceding verses, or from the verse itself. On this point Sander very justly lays down the Canon: “If δίκαιος designates Christ, ἐξ αὐτοῦ refers to Him. But if the latter is impossible, that is, if ἐξ αὐτοῦ must be referred to God, δίκαιος also must designate God.” There is no formal connection of this verse with the preceding verses containing reference to Christ; it is the beginning of a new section. Hence this verse, standing alone, must be explained by itself, and the question of the subject has to be determined from an examination of the verse itself. Hence there is no warrant for an outward occasion of a reference to Christ, especially since the oneness of the Father and the Son, of God and Christ, is everpresent to the mind of John, so that he frequently and easily passes from the one to the other without a special indication of such transition. Nor can we gather from the word δίκαιος whether the reference is to Christ or to God, for it is applied to God in 1John 1:9 and to Christ in 1John 2:1. But ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται decides the point. The idea of γεννᾶσθαι ἐκ Χριστοῦ or τέκνα Χριστοῦ notwithstanding Spener’s reference to Is. 9:6; 53:10; Ps. 22:31, 110:3; Matth. 9:2; Jno. 13:33; Heb. 2:17 occurs nowhere. But γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ occurs 1John 3:9; 5:18 cf. 1John 2:1. 4; 1John 4:7; and τέκνα θεοῦ in the very next verse 1John 3:1 consequently: he is born of (out of) God. “Justus justum gignit” (Bengel). We have therefore the valid conclusion: God is righteous, he that is born of (out of) God doeth righteousness. [Like begets like.—M.]. Hence Christ is neither the subject of δίκαιος and ἐξ αὐτοῦ (a Lapide, Bengel, Rickli, Frommann, al.), nor Christ the subject of δίκαιος and God the subject of ἐξ αὐτοῦ (Storr, Lücke, Heubner al.); but God is the subject of δίκαιος and ἐξ αὐτοῦ (Neander, Köstlin, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Huther, al.).
1JOHN 2:29. If ye know that He is righteous.—Besides what has been said on δίκαιος at 1John 1:9; 2:1, we have further to add that if God is ἅγιος as to His Essence, He is δίκαιος as to His doing, and just because He is ἀγάπη (1John 4:16), His energizing Will aims at the revelation of His holiness in laws at once agreeable to the holiness of His Being and adjusted to the nature and destination of His creatures, for whose benefit they are enacted, showing how His words are to be kept and His promises to be fulfilled, and how those who obey Him are to be rewarded and those who disobey him are to be punished. Legislation, denunciation and promise, punishment and reward, redemption and the forgiveness of sins are the acts and exhibitions of His δικαιοσύνη, which is the energy of His holy love directed outwardly, or the energy of His love conjoined with His holiness. Accordingly there is no righteousness whatever outside of God, or separate from God and His energizing, so that He is not only the prototype and original, but also the primordial source of all human righteousness. This is an important object of Christian knowledge, which, whilst it may indubitably be presupposed in the case of all Christians, is not always and readily found in the desired strength and purity in individual Christians. Hence ἐὰν εἰδῆτε. The Apostle appeals to the consciousness of the Church, desiring not to teach anything new but to render their knowledge vital and fruitful. [Hollaz: “Justitia Dei est attributum divinum ἐνεργητικόν, vi cujus Deus omnia quæ æternæ suæ legi sunt conformia, vult et agit; creaturis convenientes leges præscribit, promissa facta hominibus implet, bonos remuneratur et impios punit.” M.].
Know ye.—Since it is grammatically correct (Kühner II., p. 550) that such a supposition may be followed either by the Imperative or the Indicative of a chief tense, especially of the Future, the prominent use of the Indicative Future, which is very nearly related to the Imperative, renders it highly probable that our γινώσκετε is the Imperative. Now since we read at 1John 5:15 (referred to by de Wette and Düsterdieck) ἐὰν οἴδαμεν—οἴδαμεν, but in the verse immediately succeeding 1John 3:1, ἴδετε (to which Huther calls attention), the latter consideration decidedly out-weighs the former and constrains us to take γινώσκετε in the Imperative. To this must still be added the sense of the verb and the verse. The verb γινώσκειν denotes an activity ever deepening, quickening and enlarging, the knowing (εἰδέναι) grows thus into experimental knowing (γινώσκειν). The truth is the object of all knowing, and the Christian shall be led into all truth, that is, he is to know thoroughly, to pass on from one point which he knows and whereof he has cognition, to another [and a deeper knowing and insight—M.], even by the aid of the Holy Spirit. If ye know that He is righteous, ye know not yet, but are to know that—. Hence we must not construe here in the Indicative (Beza, Bengel, Düsterdieck, Ewald, Neander and al.) but in the Imperative (Vulgate, Grotius, de Wette, Lücke, Ebrard, Huther and al.).
That also every one who doeth righteousness has been born (out) of Him.—Καὶ indicates the relation of appurtenance and congruity of the second to the first thought. It does not belong, however, to γινώσκετε, as if only expressing a logical relation (Düsterdieck): if ye know—then ye know also (Neander); but it belongs to the subject, πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν, and sets forth the relation of the two truths: God is righteous, and every one who doeth righteousness, is born of God. We have here to do with a real relation.—Ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην is he that has the δικαιοσύνη within himself and causes it to be operative in his walk, his works, his words, his conduct and thinking, in his judgment, attitude, bearing and appearance, to come forth and become perceptible in himself. Doing is here not a merely outward and isolated act but an activity continuous and connected, having as much respect to the inward as to the outward, the energy of something possessed inwardly, of a gift received, of a communicated nature and life. Ποιῶν is emphatic; righteousness must be done, and not only lauded, confessed, preached, known, felt and believed. It may be done as yet imperfectly, in weakness, under repeated interruptions, but every Christian must and does do righteousness, πᾶς “omnis et solus” (Bengel). Nor is it enough to do only some parts of this righteousness, respect must be had to the whole τὴν δικαιοσύνην. As to the nature of this δικαιοσύνη we have to think of the righteousness which comes from God, passes before Him, is His and His work. It is, therefore, a righteousness, Divine as to its kind, an effluence of God’s primordial righteousness, from God Himself. It manifests itself in obedience to the Divine commandments, in shunning sin, in striving after holiness, in love of the brethren, in the life and growth of faith; and although much be wanting in its full exhibition and its perfection lie far remote, still this is the righteousness here referred to. Compare ποιεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν 1John 1:6 and עָשָׂה צְדָקָה Gen. 18:19; Is. 56:1; Ps. 14:15.—This points to a powerful and specific cause and condition, without which ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην is impossible and inconceivable: ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται The Present ποιῶν, and the Perfect γεγέννηται denote the sequence; the first in order of existence is: to be born of (out of) God, the second, which is the effect and result of the former, is: to do the righteousness. Precisely this order was necessarily implied in the exposition of the substance of ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην.—As with regard to δίκαιος the turns δικαιοσύνη and ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην have to be taken in a full and living sense, so likewise the phrase ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεννᾶσθαι. The reference is consequently to a beginning life, a birth, a coming into existence (becoming) of something which did not or does not yet exist; not only a change or an improvement, but something altogether new—and that out of God. The sense of the preposition ἐξ also, has doubtless to be held fast; out of Him, that is out of God’s Self-own Holy Essence. “Nasci ex Deo est naturam Dei acquirere” (Luther) or “constituitur in quadam participatione supernaturali esse divini” (de Lyra), having received a new being or nature out of God (Spener), perfectly analogous to γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως, 2 Pet. 1:4.—Cf. Jno. 3:3, 5, 6; 1:12, 13; Tit. 3:6; Eph. 4:23, 24; Rom. 12:2; 1 Pet. 1:3, 23. There is a Divine seed (1John 3:9) in those who are born out of God; they have not become God, deified or absorbed in God or God absorbed in them, but only partakers of the Divine nature, germ-like, like new-born babes, so that a beginning has been made, but only a beginning, although the beginning of a life, Divine, coming from and leading to God, whose perfection is not wrought magically or by enchantment at one stroke, but is subject to the law of Divinely appointed growth. This birth out of God is a translation of man from death to life (1John 3:14), brings him to the Light of the world and gives him eternal life (1John 5:11, 20), and effects the blessed result that God is in us and we in Him (1John 4:15), as the children of God (1John 3:1, 2, 9,10), out of God (1John 3:10). But this is brought about by means of an ethical life-process (1John 3:9; 5:1). We become the children of God. But nothing is said here on this point, or on the mediation of Christ and faith in Him. We have therefore to set aside all expositions, which weaken the thought, like those of Socinus (“Dei similem esse”) and Rosenmüller (“Amari a Deo” and “beneficiis ab eo ornari,” or introduce a foreign element, like that of Hilgenfeld (a destiny and necessity of nature represented in gnostico-dualistic manner), and those which misapprehend or reverse the right order in making the doing of righteousness the condition of our adoption (Socinus, Episcopius, Semler, al.); the false relation also of doing righteousness to standing in the judgment (a Lapide, Emser, Estius) has to be excluded as irrelevant.—Lücke (2d ed.) says “properly one ought to have expected οτι πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐξ αὐτοῦ ποιεῖ τὴν δικαιοσύνην;” this is not correct although the thought is correct per se. John makes the perceptible and cognizable ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην a sure token of the hidden life of the inner man, which began with the birth out of God, of the adoption, of the life out of which death cannot destroy and which can glory against the judgment. The relation between γεγεννῆσθαι ἐκ θεοῦ and ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην is exactly like that between κοινωνίαν ἔχειν μετὰ θεοῦ and περιπατεῖν ἐν τῷ φωτί in 1John 1:6.
Connection with the preceding, and development in the sequel.—The rich and independent thought is the introduction to or the text of the next part. Its fundamental tone is δίκαιός ἐστι, parallel to φῶς ἐστι, which is a further confirmation of the presumption that God is the subject. It is impossible to restrict the notion δίκαιος by the side of the inference which is here drawn from it, to justitia judicialis. Hence we must not seek or find an internal reciprocal relationship between the judgment, (to which 1John 2:28 is supposed to refer, but of which nothing is said, the reference being simply to Christ’s Advent), and righteousness; we need not think of the judicial function of the Divine righteousness nor of our being able to stand before the righteous Judge only through doing righteousness. But John in concluding the first part with the strong consolation which on the ground of the walk in light, adverts with hopeful promise to the blessed destination of Christians, passes from the παῤῥησία in the Advent to the thought of the Sonship, of the hope, the glory and heritage of the children of God. This is the connection with what goes before. The next main part of the Epistle is analytically divided by the development of this idea of a glorious birth out of God.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. God’s attribute of righteousness is not only energetically active, but also communicative.
2. The import of regeneration should be laid hold of by its indispensable consequence; viz.: ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην, and even its nature defined as a beginning of a new, Divine life.
3. The vital power and root of a truly valid righteousness in our being and walking, lie not in man as he is, but only in God, and out of God only in man as he has become a Christian.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Determine [find out experimentally,—M.] what thou knowest.—Not only every gift of God is good and perfect, but both all the good, and all perfection are the gifts of Him, the Righteous one.—God gives and man—not only has but becomes [comes into existence.—M.].—God rules over thee and has His work in thee, that thou mayest become and remain His child.—Whatever is Divine prompts and impels the ethical, by which the Divine may be identified.—The cause of regeneration is the righteous God, and an ethical status is its mark and sign.
SPENER:—No man has by nature the power to do right or to work righteousness, but it comes only from his regeneration, from Christ, who makes us strong by regeneration and His dwelling in us.
LANGE:—The Gospel is careful with the law to connect the righteousness of faith with the righteousness of life and therein lies a true mark of a sincere evangelical preacher and a sincere evangelical hearer.
STARKE:—Believers are assured by their doing right, that, they have become the children of God by grace, that consequently they may joyfully appear before the judgment seat of God knowing that no Father will suffer his children to be put to confusion of face, and in this faith and undoubting hope they may joyfully take leave of this world.
BESSER:—The Apostle’s rejoicing over the present power of the children of God over sin is, as it were, a ladder on which he ascends to the glory that is still reserved for them; and the hope of this future glory impels him once more to charge his little children to use with all diligence the Christian virtue already accorded to them, uninfluenced by the seducers who pretended to be able to see the Lord without holiness.
[EZEK. HOPKINS:—Those who do God’s commandments, have a right of heirship and inheritance unto eternal life. For they are born of God and therefore heaven is their patrimony, their paternal estate: for the Apostle saith “Every one that doeth righteousness is born of God,” and if they are born of God then according to St. Paul’s argument Rom. 8:17: “If children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ,” who is the “heir of all things.” The trial of thy legitimacy, whether thou art a true and genuine son of God will lie upon thy obedience to His commands, for “in this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil; whosoever is born of God does not commit sin … and whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” 1 Jno. 3:9. 10. Now if by our obedience and dutifulness, it appears, that we are indeed the children of God, our Father will certainly give us a child’s portion; and that is no less than a kingdom. So saith our Saviour Luke 12:32; “Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”—M.].
 [1John 2:29. German: “If ye know that He is righteous, know ye.” The Imperative is found in the margin of E. V., Wicl. Tynd. Cranm. Rhemish, Syriac, Latin (except Pagn. Beza), German, Dutch, Italian and French versions, and adopted by the authorities cited below in Exeget. and Crit.—M.]
 καὶ after ὅτι and before πᾶς is the reading of A. C. Sin., many cursives and versions. “Cujus addendi nulla causa erat; ex Johannis vero usu est.” (Tischendorf, who omits it in his 7th edition). [If καὶ is genuine it serves “to mark the congruity of the inference and the premise,” as Ebrard observes.—M.]
 German: retaining καὶ: “that also every one that doeth the righteousness hath been born of Him.”—M.]