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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

1 John 3

 

 

Verses 1-24


The Righteousness of God and the Duties and Privileges of Sonship

1. The sons of God] RV 'children of God,' adding the words, 'and such we are.' The word translated 'children' here is characteristic of St. John, and implies community of nature, whereas the term 'sons' as used by St. Paul suggests the privileged condition of heirship.

2. Note changes in RV.

3. This hope] of being hereafter like God in Christ.

In him] RV 'set on him.' Purifieth himself] 'He who looks forward to becoming like God hereafter must strive after His likeness now' (Westcott).

6. Sinneth not] That the possibility of sinlessness in present experience is not taught here is clear from 1 John 1:8, 1 John 1:9. St. John's thought moves in the region of the ideal. The divine life and the life of sin are in idea mutually exclusive. Sin in the Christian is either involuntary or in acknowledged contradiction to the ruling principle of his life. The commission of it is to that extent a failure perfectly to abide in Christ.

8. He that committeth sin] RV 'he that doeth sin.' The present tense implies that which is habitual, which results from a ruling principle.

9. RV 'Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him.' The same principles of interpretation apply here as in the foregoing vv. A perfect realisation of the filial relationship to God excludes sin. His seed remaineth in him] The germinal principle from which his new life has sprung.

12. Cain] The typical example of hatred, inspired by the Evil One, and resulting in murder, the germ of which is hatred (1 John 3:15).

16. Hereby perceive we the love of God] RV 'hereby know we love,' i.e. what love is.

He.. we] The pronouns are emphatic.

17. This world's good] RV 'the world's goods,' lit. 'the world's life,' i.e. that which supports life.

19. Hereby] i.e. by loving in deed and truth.

20. In RV 1 John 3:19 ends with a comma, then follows, 'whereinsoever our heart condemn us; because God,' etc. God is greater] He is a more perfect judge. Are these words meant to inspire awe or to afford consolation? Is God regarded as more exacting or more merciful than conscience? Opinion is much divided. The contrast in 1 John 3:21 suggests the former alternative, but the whole context rather favours the latter. 'We shall then still our heart in whatsoever it may condemn us, because we are in fellowship with God, and that fact assures us of His sovereign mercy' (Westcott). 22. See 1 John 5:15.

24. The spirit which he hath given us] RV 'the Spirit which he gave us,' i.e. when we became Christians. The indwelling Spirit, from whom springs the Christian's love to God and man, is his assurance of fellowship with God. The test of having the Spirit of God, and not the spirit of Antichrist, is treated in the six following verses.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/1-john-3.html. 1909.

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