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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

1 John 3

 

 

Verses 1-3

1 John 2:29 to 1 John 5:12. The Characteristics of God's Children.

1 John 2:29 to 1 John 3:3. Because God, made known to us in Christ, is righteous, those who claim to be His children must be like Him, with a goodness which the world does not understand and which at Christ's manifestation will be perfected.

1 John 2:29. (read mg.) connects most naturally with the argument that follows. "He" in "he is righteous" ought, in view of 1 John 2:28, to refer to Christ, whilst "begotten of him," according to general NT usage, should mean "begotten of God." The somewhat loose use of the pronoun is an illustration of the ease with which John's thought passed from God to Christ and vice versa, the identity between them being regarded as so complete.

1 John 3:1. knew him not: an echo of John 17:25.*

1 John 3:2 b. We shall be changed by beholding (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18); seeing Christ we shall pass into His likeness. Christ is the type after which all God's children are to be fashioned.


Verses 4-12

1 John 3:4-12. To commit sin is a breach of God's law, a frustration of God's work of redemption, and the manifestation of a principle which betrays kinship with the devil. A man begotten of God will be in moral affinity with God, for which reason righteousness and brotherly love will characterise him.

1 John 3:4. sin is lawlessness: i.e. not the absence of law, but opposition to it. Law does not cease to exist for the Christian, and all opposition to it, so far from being morally unimportant, is rebellion.

1 John 3:5. he was manifested: i.e. at His Incarnation. Righteous Himself, the work of Christ is to make us righteous too (cf. 1 John 3:8).

1 John 3:6. sinneth not: i.e. habitually, this sense being conveyed by the Gr. tense. Occasional acts of sin are not excluded, as we may infer from 1 John 2:1 f.

1 John 3:8. from the be ginning: as in 1 John 1:1, the remotest period of time of which we have any conception.

1 John 3:9. Paul speaks of our being "risen with Christ," and, therefore, of our duty to reproduce Christ's moral perfection. John prefers to speak of conversion as a new birth, the entrance into us of a new vital principle whose product must be in accord with its essential nature.

1 John 3:10. he . . . brother: a return to the teaching of 1 John 2:9 f.

1 John 3:12. as Cain was of the evil one: John has been teaching that each man has a moral ancestry as well as a physical one. We are not told either here or elsewhere the condition which made Cain's works evil and Abel's righteous.


Verses 14-24

1 John 3:13-24. The hatred of the world is to be expected, but within the Christian brotherhood there must be love, manifesting itself in deeds of self-sacrifice in imitation of Christ's love. If we possess this spirit we shall be able to silence inward misgivings as to our standing before God, because we obey Him in that we believe in Christ and love one another. Such obedience ensures His indwelling, attested by the gift of His Spirit.

1 John 3:14. The teaching is the same as in 1 John 2:9 f., except that the metaphor has been changed, and the soul's lack of correspondence with its spiritual environment is described as death.

1 John 3:15 a. An echo of Matthew 5:21 f.

1 John 3:16. In Christ and His Cross love at length found a perfect manifestation, and human conduct in consequence was given a new standard.

1 John 3:19 b, 1 John 3:20. A true parallelism would be obtained and difficulties in the original relieved if, in harmony with several minor MSS., "because" was omitted in 1 John 3:20 b. The rendering would then be: "We shall reassure our heart before Him, because, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart." In any case the teaching is that God knows us and all the conditions of our life better than we ourselves do. Hence there will be occasions when God will not endorse the condemnation we pass upon ourselves. "Heart" is here almost equivalent to "conscience."

1 John 3:23. name is in this and kindred phrases almost equivalent to "revealed nature," so that to "believe in the name of Christ" is to commit ourselves to Christ as He stands expressed in the Gospel.

1 John 3:24. hereby: i.e. by the inward activity of His Spirit; the word refers to the close of the verse. The Holy Spirit has been given by Christ to His Church, and has been bestowed on each individual believer.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 John 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-john-3.html. 1919.

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