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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 3:15

 

 

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer - He has the same principle in him which was in Cain, and it may lead to the same consequences.

No murderer hath eternal life - Eternal life springs from an indwelling God; and God cannot dwell in the heart where hatred and malice dwell. This text has been quoted to prove that no murderer can be saved. This is not said in the text; and there have been many instances of persons who have been guilty of murder having had deep and genuine repentance, and who doubtless found mercy from his hands who prayed for his murderers, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do! It is, however, an awful text for the consideration of those who shed human blood on frivolous pretences, or in those wars which have their origin in the worst passions of the human heart.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer … - That is, he has the spirit of a murderer; he has that which, if it were acted out, would lead him to commit murder, as it did Cain. The private malice, the secret grudge, the envy which is cherished in the heart, is murderous in its tendency, and were it not for the outward restraints of human laws, and the dread of punishment, it would often lead to the act of murder. The apostle does not say that he who hates his brother, though he does not in fact commit murder, is guilty to the same degree as if he had actually done it; but he evidently means to say that the spirit which would lead to murder is there, and that God will hold him responsible for it. Nothing is missing but the removal of outward restraints to lead to the commission of the open deed, and God judges people as he sees them to be “in their hearts.” What a fearful declaration, then, is this! How many real murderers there are on the earth besides those who are detected and punished, and besides those open violators of the laws of God and man who go at large! And who is them that should not feel humbled and penitent in view of his own heart, and grateful for that sovereign mercy which has restrained him from open acts of guilt - for who is there who has not at some period of his life, and perhaps often, indulged in feelings of hatred, and envy, and malice toward others, which, if acted out, would have led to the commission of the awful crime of taking human life? Any man may well shudder at the remembrance of the secret sins of his own heart, and at the thought of what he would have been but for the restraining grace of God. And how wonderful is that grace which, in the case of the true Christian, not only restrains and checks, but which effectually subdues all these feelings, and implants in their place the principles of love!


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 John 3:15

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him

Sin measured by the disposition, not by the act

These are harsh words, some will say, and many will deny that they are just.
“I hate such a one, it is true, but I would not harm him for the world. There is surely a wide interval between the feeling of rancour, or even the bitter lasting quarrel, and the act of Cain who was of that wicked one and slew his brother.” As for the spirit of the words it is enough to say at present that they proceed from the apostle of love, and that, if true, they ought to be known. Moreover, if you find fault with him, you must find the same fault with Him from whom he learnt his religion (
Matthew 5:28). But besides this, our feeling that we are incapable of this or that sin is not to be entirely trusted (2 Kings 8:13-15). So too our great poet portrays to us a man, loyal, upright hitherto, conscious of no secret treachery, into whose mind the infernal powers sent the thought, that he, now Thane of Cawdor, should be king hereafter. The thought ripened into a wish, the wish into a plan: he murdered his king, when asleep and a guest under the protection of the rights of hospitality, and from this dark beginning he waded on through blood, to retain what he had grasped, until he worked out his own ruin. The apostle says not that all hatred will end in murder--far from it--nor that all hatred is equally intense and equally reckless, nor that hatred which bursts out into great crime may not imply a worse state of soul than such as remains within, and does no obvious harm to others. Nor does he intend to confine the murderous quality to positive hatred. Want of love, hardened selfishness, acting on calculation with no rage or wrath in it, may be as deadly, as murderous, as malignity or revenge. The apostle teaches us in these words that evil lies in the heart, and that the evil there, which meets with some temporary or some lasting hindrance, differs not in kind from that which is ripened by opportunity. It may be forever dormant as far as the notice of man is concerned. It may never burst forth into the poisonous flower of wicked action, yet the hatred within and the hatred in the wicked action are one and the same, one quality runs through both. The powder that is explosive and the powder that explodes do not differ. It is just as we measure the power of a flood by its breaking down a dam or transporting heavy masses to a distance. There are restraining influences which secure human society from the explosion of injurious passions, so that such a crime as murder, common enough, if you gather up all the instances of it in a year, will excite wonder and awe in the place where it is committed. We know that fear of consequences, conscience, respect for public opinion, pity, are as permanent and universal as sin itself is, and that they are the dam and banks which keep the stream of unregulated selfishness from sweeping over society. Yet though we call the crime extraordinary, whenever it occurs we trace it back to some principle or habit. The man who committed homicide was subject to great fits of rage which he took no pains to restrain, or his natural heat was increased by strong drink, or he had such a covetous temper that he was tempted by it into robbery and murder. All this is obviously just. But with all this, we have a right to say, that the limit to which a passion, such as hatred or lust, leads, is a fair measure of its general power. We apply to the strength of hatred, or some other evil passion, the same measurement which we apply to the capacities of the mind. A man of genius seems at one time to be inert and without, creative power: at another, he will produce a poem or a picture that the world admires. We measure his genius by his best productions, by what he does in the most favourable circumstances, not by the vacancy of his dreamy or inactive hours, where thought is gathering strength for a new flight. Why not judge of sin, and especially of hatred, after the same fashion? The justness of the apostle’s words is shown by the awful quickness with which resolutions are sometimes taken to commit great crimes. We flee into crime as if the dogs of sinful desire were on us, and we sought the outward act as a relief from the agitation and war within the soul. So strange do some such historical crimes appear, that they look like the sway of destiny. A divine Nemesis, or Ate, urged the man into self-ruin. The tragedy of life was not accomplished by his own free will. And when the deed is done, unthinking men will ascribe it to the force of circumstances, as if circumstances could have any effect, independently of the passion or selfish desire itself. And the criminal himself may think that he was hardly a moral agent in the deed; that his own power of resistance was destroyed by temptation against his will; or, that others, the most respectable men in his society, would do the same. To all of which, we reply, that the consent of his soul was his sin; that his sin was weakness; that if he had wanted strength really, and prayed for it, it would have come down out of heaven, and that whether others would have acted like him or not is a point of no importance. There was in London, a few years since, a German tailor, who was, probably, not more dissolute than hundreds of others in such a vast city, a mild, inoffensive man, whom nobody thought capable of dark deeds of wickedness. He found himself in a car of an underground railroad in company with a wealthy man. They were alone, and yet, as the cars had a number of stopping places in their five or six miles’ course, every few minutes a new passenger might come into their compartment. They were alone, I say, for a passenger had left them, and the door was shut. Now, in the interval of three or four minutes, this man had murdered the wealthy man by his side, had seized his purse and watch, and in the hurry taken his hat by mistake, and had left the train the instant it reached the next station. He fled to America, was seized on his landing, was found to have the dead man’s hat and watch, was handed over to the English authorities, carried back, tried, and sent to his execution. How terrible was this speed of crime! No whirlwind or waterspout, no thunder cloud flying through mid-heaven could represent its swiftness, and yet here there was nothing unaccountable, nothing monstrous. He himself had been no prodigy of sin, nor was he now. The crime was an epitome of his life, a condensed extract of his character. And again, the apostle’s principle is vindicated by the rapid deterioration which we often observe in the lives of particular men. It seems as if they had only covered up their sins before, as if an evil life could not begin, all of a sudden, but the habits of sin must have been suppressed, perhaps, for a long period. But it is not so. They have not grown suddenly worse, but some natural motives, which swayed them before, have given way to other natural motives which were for a time counteracted. Self-indulgence was counteracted by prudence or by conscience, hatred was kept down or shut up in the breast by public opinion. Meanwhile changes of life, more liberty of action, greater means of self-gratification, new forms of society, new sentiments and opinions, make the road of temptation leading to outward sin easier. According to this view of man, there is nothing strange when hatred culminates in murder, there is no new principle injected, there is, in reality, no sudden worsening of the character. It is natural, not monstrous or morbid, that he who indulges hatred in his heart should yield, when he is tempted to manifest it in the life. The deed is the expression of the feeling, as words are of thoughts. I add, again, that if in any given case it were certain that sinful affections would be suppressed and be prevented from going out into sinful deeds, the apostle’s principle would still be true. The spirit of the extreme crime is in the unblamed malice or the unobserved envy. It is neutralised, as the oxygen of air is by nitrogen. The two in mechanical union form an innocuous atmosphere, and yet we know that oxygen alone would be a principle of death. So hate in the heart is a deadly affection though counteracted, and although it may be always counteracted.

1. I wish to remark, first, that sin deceives us until it comes into manifestation. Men are apt to think that they are good enough, because no indications of a corrupt character are shown in their lives. And then, when the time of trial comes and they yield, they excuse themselves because temptation is so strong and so sudden. In neither case does their moral judgment conform to the true state of things. Principle means that which will stand the test, when native characteristics which were on its side have turned against it. The measure of principle is the strength of resistance to attacks of temptation, and if hatred or lust is a cherished feeling of the heart, there is no possibility of resistance when circumstances turn so as to favour sin.

2. Sins committed by others may fairly suggest to us what we ourselves can do, and so in a certain sense we may be humbled by them, when we apply them as the measuring line of the deep possibilities of sin within ourselves. It was no cant when John Bradford said, as he saw a man going to Tyburn to be hanged for crime, “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” He did not magnify his sins, and liability to great sins, in order to magnify the grace of God, but he magnified the grace of God, because he felt and found within himself the same sinful nature which he saw in the unworthiest. He read himself in the history of his fallen and guilty brother.

3. Finally, we see what an uncompromising principle love is. One may say with truth love hates malevolence, hates all that is opposed to itself in the feelings or the manifestations of the inner life. Love is an element of a strong character which views men as they are in all their sins, which feels no favour towards the principles by which the worldly, the selfish, the proud are governed. And thus as it looks on moral evil in all its deformity, it can feel intense pity towards the blind in sin, the misguided, the fallen, the unworthy, and is ever ready to sacrifice its own interests for their good. (T. D. Woolsey.)

Who is a murderer

Nothing reveals the gulf that separates ancient from modern history more clearly than their respective estimates of human life. If, for instance, you read an account of how Rome built up and consolidated her conquests, you will shudder at the terrible track of blood that marked her advance. Nor was this so much to be wondered at. For what was there to surround or invest man as such with reverence? And there was one thing that stood fatally in the way of any lofty conception of humanity possessing the mind of the ancient world. That was the institution of slavery. Nor was there any restraint laid upon the prevailing violence by the fear of a righteous judgment to come. Here modern history has acknowledged a new stream of influence, which has come to us through Christianity, as that again received it from an older source. The opening pages of the Old Testament teach us that man was made in the image of God, and on this ground inculcate respect for human life under the most terrible of all possible penalties: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” The New Testament enforces the same lesson. Man is not only the bearer of the Divine likeness, but the object of the Divine love--a love which has given and spent itself wholly for him. It is impossible the world should receive such teaching as this without being impressed by the awful sanctity of human life. To mutilate the image of God, to cut some poor soul short of its allotted time for penitence, is not only a crime against society, an unspeakable wrong against the victim slain, but a sin against God whose prerogatives have been usurped and His authority defied. But what really is this of which we stand in such natural and wholesome awe? What makes the sin so sinful? Not merely the taking of a life. It is the motive or intention with which the deed is done, the deliberate and savage hate which has leaped beyond the barriers of restraint, and refused to be satisfied except with blood, that invests it with such an atmosphere of horror. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” But is not this to confound feeling with action in a somewhat dangerous and hasty way? If he who hates has already incurred the guilt of murder, may he not argue that the overt act can make him no worse than he has already become? But this is not to be inferred from the words of my text. Christianity does not say that a wicked thought is in all respects equal to a wicked deed. If it did so, it would set itself at variance with the instincts of our own nature, and utterly confuse our moral consciousness. But what it does say is, that the guilt is identical in kind though it differs in degree; that in moral character they are essentially the same, though they differ in the amount or depth of their immorality. We need to look below the surface and test ourselves by what we find there. “The world is still deceived with ornament.” Appearances are still allowed to betray into a false security. When you look at the smiling slopes of Vesuvius, at the hamlets nestling in its hollows, the matchless beauty of the bay with all her loveliness sleeping at its feet, you can scarcely conceive of the wild torrent of destruction that poured from its sides two thousand years ago. But the occasional rumble, the dense columns of ascending smoke, the tremor of the quaking earth, remind you that the mighty monster is awake, and may again let loose the vials of his wrath. So we are misled by the smooth and superficial gilding of our modern civilisation. Education has spread, refinement is more general, a fashionable craze for culture is abroad, order is steadily and sternly maintained--not so much from the love of order, as because the complex and delicate machinery of life could not otherwise be kept at work. Some outbreak of communism, some sudden delirium of lawlessness, some startling and appalling crime, shows the diseases of the world have not been cared, nor the forces of evil destroyed. The germs that breed them, the passions that explode into all sorts of excess, are still in our midst. It is the same also with ourselves. We are strongly tempted to take too much for granted, to conclude there are certain things of which we are quite incapable. We are blinded by the fact that our position protects us from certain temptations, or so weakens their force, they cannot pierce the armour of our respectability. Nay, self-interest may so range us on the side of right, as to put us practically beyond their reach. But if we may escape temptations from which our position secures immunity, we may fall into others to which perhaps it especially exposes us. If it is often difficult for us to do wrong, just because so many fences close us in, and a hundred eyes would be witnesses of our shame, it is always easy to cherish the sinful feeling or desire. We may even compensate for our exclusion from the field of open transgression by giving the reins to a loose and wandering, an unhallowed and impure, imagination. And how many there are who would shrink with terror from the overt act, who rarely suspect they conceal the seeds and roots of it within themselves! Now what does all this show?

1. That crime is not to be removed by external remedies alone. The house may be swept and garnished, and the evil spirit apparently expelled; but if another and a better occupant do not take his place, and keep him out, he will return, as the parable tells us, and the last state will be worse than the first.

2. But if something more drastic than external remedies are needful, what is to be done? Will the spread of education and enlightenment so refine the taste, that it will reject the grosser forms of indulgence? Alas! experience proves that some of the most brilliant periods of history have been the most corrupt, and that the seat of the disease lies too deep to be reached by such a cure. The truth is, that all our earthborn experiments carry with them the defect attaching to their source. They are short sighted, or one sided, and where they see most clearly and impartially they only confess their impotence, and give up the problem in despair. But while Christianity has so unerringly detected the spring of all human misery, and exposed it in its undisguised malignity, it has also revealed an effectual cure. It brings with it a salvation which is no mere experiment or assault upon the outworks of our foe, but which goes straight to the root of the matter. It embraces our whole nature--spirit, soul, and body--and advances from this centre to claim and occupy every province of life. And to apply this to ourselves. If you do not feel that you need a Divine power brought to bear upon your heart, have you ever really examined the true moral character of your daily life? Have you considered what the unforgiving and uncharitable temper, the selfish and impure desire, really mean--that they are straws which show how the wind blows, symptoms of a fatal disorder, which is not to be banished by passing moods of penitence, or the postures of worship? Be assured there is only one thing that can save a man, and that is that grace of Christ which, where sin has abounded, has much more abounded, which forgives us when we come to Him, and cleanses us from all unrighteousness, shedding abroad within us that love which is the fulfilling of the law. (C. Moinet, M. A.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 John 3:15". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-john-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

John here skipped a point or two in his argument, but it is nevertheless evident anyway. "His full argument is: where love is not, there is hatred; where hatred is, there is murder; where murder, there can be no eternal life."[37] An argument like this is squarely founded upon the teachings of the Master who equated the deprecatory word, the contemptuous epithet, and anger in the heart against a brother, with murder (Matthew 5:21-22).

ENDNOTE:

[37] W. N. Sinclair, op. cit., p. 485.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-john-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer,.... A soul murderer, as the Ethiopic version renders it; not only of himself, for every sinner, by sinning, wrongs and destroys his own soul; but of his brother whom he hates: he is a murderer of him in his heart, even as he that lusts after a woman hath committed adultery with her in his heart, out of which arise murders, as well as adulteries; it is not only taking away life, but also causeless anger, malice, and hatred, that is a breach of the sixth command; see Matthew 5:21;

and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him; he has not the grace of life, or the beginning of eternal life in him; he has no meetness for it, being unregenerate; and no right unto it, being unrighteous; nor has he the earnest and pledge of it, being destitute of the Spirit of God; all which a regenerate man has, and has them abiding in him: not but that the sin of murder may be forgiven; a man guilty of it may truly repent, and have pardoning grace applied unto him, and enjoy eternal life, through the grace of the Spirit, and the blood and righteousness of Christ; but without these he is so far from having eternal life, that he is not only punishable with a corporeal death, according to the laws of God and man; but he is exposed unto, and will die the second, or an eternal death.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

(15) A confirmation: Whoever is a murderer, is in eternal death: he who hates his brother is a murderer, therefore he is in death. Thereupon follows the other side: He that loves his brother has passed to life, for indeed we are born dead.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-john-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

hateth — equivalent to “loveth not” (1 John 3:14); there is no medium between the two. “Love and hatred, like light and darkness, life and death, necessarily replace, as well as necessarily exclude, one another” [Alford].

is a murderer — because indulging in that passion, which, if followed out to its natural consequences, would make him one. “Whereas, 1 John 3:16 desires us to lay down our lives for the brethren; duels require one (awful to say!) to risk his own life, rather than not deprive another of life” [Bengel]. God regards the inward disposition as tantamount to the outward act which would flow from it. Whomsoever one hates, one wishes to be dead.

hath — Such a one still “abideth in death.” It is not his future state, but his present, which is referred to. He who hates (that is, loveth not) his brother (1 John 3:14), cannot in this his present state have eternal life abiding in him.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-john-3.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

A murderer (αντρωποκτονοςanthrōpoktonos). Old compound (Euripides) from αντρωποςanthrōpos (man) and κτεινωkteinō (to kill), a man-killer, in N.T. only here and John 8:44 (of Satan).

No (πασουpās- ουδειςou). According to current Hebraistic idiom = μενουσανoudeis as in 1 John 2:19, 1 John 2:21.

Abiding (μενωmenousan). Present active feminine accusative predicate participle of menō “a continuous power and a communicated gift” (Westcott).


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-john-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Murderer ( ἀθρωποκτόνος )

Manslayer. Only here and John 8:44, of the devil.

Hath eternal life, etc.

The contrast is suggestive between the sentiment embodied in this statement and that of Pagan antiquity respecting murder, in the Homeric age, for instance. “With regard to the practice of homicide, the ordinary Greek morality was extremely loose … . Among the Greeks, to have killed a man was considered in the light of misfortune, or, at most, a prudential error, when the perpetrator of the act had come among strangers as a fugitive for protection and hospitality. On the spot, therefore, where the crime occurred, it could stand only as in the nature of a private and civil wrong, and the fine payable was regarded, not (which it might have been) as a mode, however defective, of marking any guilt in the culprit, but as, on the whole, an equitable satisfaction to the wounded feelings of the relatives and friends, or as an actual compensation for the lost services of the dead man. The religion of the age takes no notice of the act whatever” (Gladstone “Homer and the Homeric Age,” ii., 436).


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The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-john-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

He, I say, abideth in spiritual death, is void of the life of God. For whosoever hateth his brother, and there is no medium between loving and hating him, is, in God's account, a murderer: every degree of hatred being a degree of the same temper which moved Cain to murder his brother.

And no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him — But every loving believer hath. For love is the beginning of eternal life. It is the same, in substance, with glory.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-john-3.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Is a murderer; in the spirit and temper of his mind.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-john-3.html. 1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

15.] Every one that hateth his brother is a manslayer (in these words, (1) the ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν which preceded is token up by πᾶς ὁ μισῶν: shewing, as most Commentators have remarked, that the two are identical: the living spirit of man being incapable of a state of indifference: that he who has banished brotherly love has in fact abandoned himself to the rule of the opposite state. In the ethical depth of the Apostle’s view, love and hate, like light and darkness, life and death, necessarily replace, as well as necessarily exclude, one another. He who has not the one, of necessity has the other in each case. (2) He who hates his brother is stated to be an ἀνθρωποκτόνος. The example given, 1 John 3:12, shewed the true and normal result of hate: and again in the Apostle’s ethical depth of view, as in our Lord’s own (Matthew 5:21 ff., Matthew 5:27 ff.), he who falls under a state, falls under the normal results of that state carried out to its issue. If a hater be not a murderer, the reason does not lie in his hate, but in his lack of hate. “Quem odimus, vellemus periisse,” says Calvin. Some would make ἀνθρωποκτόνος mean, a destroyer of his own soul: so Ambrose (partly), precat. ad Missam: Lyra (not Corn.-a-lap., as Düsterd. implies), Tirinus. But this, as well as the view (Corn.-a-lap., al.) that it is the murder of his brother’s soul which is intended, “provocando eum ad iram et discordiam,”—errs by pressing the reference to the example of Cain above. Some again, as Sander, would interpret it by a reference to John 8:44, understood as pointing to the ruin of Adam by the Tempter. But as Düsterd. remarks (referring to a paper on John 8:44, by Nitzsch, in the Theolog. Zeitschrift, Berlin, 1822, Heft. 3, p. 52), far rather should we say that this passage throws back a light on that passage, and makes it likely that the case of Cain, and not that of Adam, is there referred to); and ye know that every manslayer hath not (is without the possession of) eternal life abiding in him ( οἴδατε, viz. by your own knowledge of what is patent, and axiomatic in itself. We must not fall into the error of referring the saying to the future lot of the murderer, as Bed(61), “Etsi hic per fidem inter sanctos vivere cernitur, non habet in se perpetuo vitam manentem; nam ubi retributionis dies advenerit, cum Cain …, damnabitur:” it regards his present state, and is another way of saying that he μένει ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ, 1 John 3:14. Eternal life, which abides in God’s children, which is the living growth of the seed of God in them, is evidenced by love: if the very crown and issue of hate, homicide, be present, it is utterly impossible that this germ of life can be coexistent with it; can be firmly implanted and abiding (cf. John 5:38) in the man.

Socinus (and Corn.-a-lap.) gives the syllogism contained in these verses thus: “nullus homicida habet vitam æternam in se manentem: verum qui fratrem suum odit est homicida: ergo qui fratrem suum odit, non habet vitam æternam in se manentem. Hoc syllogismo probat Apostolus eum qui non diligit fratrem suum manere in morte”).


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

15Is a murderer To stimulate us still more to love, he shews how detestable before God is hatred. There is no one who dreads not a murderer; nay, we all execrate the very name. But the Apostle declares that all who hate their brethren are murderers. He could have said nothing more atrocious; nor is what is said hyperbolical, for we wish him to perish whom we hate. It does not matter if a man keeps his hands from mischief; for the very desire to do harm, as well as the attempt, is condemned before God: nay, when we do not ourselves seek to do an injury, yet if we wish an evil to happen to our brother from some one else, we are murderers.

Then the Apostle defines the thing simply as it is, when he ascribes murder to hatred. Hence is proved the folly of men, that though they abominate the name, they yet make no account of the crime itself. Whence is this? even because the external face of things engrosses our thoughts; but the inward feeling comes to an account before God. Let no one therefore extenuate any more so grievous an evil. Let us learn to refer our judgments to the tribunal of God.


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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-john-3.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE SIN OF HATRED

‘Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.’

1 John 3:15

To hate sin is right. Sin is that which God hates. But God, Who hates the sin, loves the sinner; and even when He punishes, does not punish in haste. God is love; and they who are born of God live in love. The apostle of love in this verse presents the sin of hatred in a very vivid and very awful light.

I. The causes of hatred.

(a) Jealousy and envy lead to hatred. (Illustration from the Old Testament—Joseph’s brethren.)

(b) Pride leads to hatred. (Illustration—Haman and Mordecai.)

(c) The wicked often hate the good, because their goodness is a rebuke to such as are living in disobedience to the will of God. (Illustrations—Daniel and the Babylonians; Herodias and John the Baptist; the Jews and Paul; Jesus and His murderers.)

II. The consequences of hatred.—This disposition is not likely to lie hidden within the heart. It is a force which will surely produce results; a seed which will surely bear fruit. Plots, injuries, calumnies, assaults, are some of the results of hatred. But the text makes especial mention of murder. This is the greatest length to which hatred can go. Life is precious and sacred, because it is the breath of God Himself. An age, a state of society, in which murder is thought of lightly, is proved by that fact to be sunk in moral degradation. There are many who hate who do not murder; fear of civil penalties may deter them from this crime; but they may have it in their hearts to murder, they may wish a brother dead.

III. The sin of hatred.—It is a sin against God. It is a violation of God’s great commandment, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ It is utterly incompatible with love to God; for ‘he who loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God Whom he hath not seen?’

IV. The cure for hatred.

(a) Repentance. The evil must be acknowledged, confessed, and brought to God for pardon.

(b) Reconciliation. ‘Let not the sun go down upon thy wrath.’

(c) The subduing of hate by kindness. The best way to conquer hate is by showing love.

(d) The cultivation of the mind and spirit of the Master. Those who follow Christ will not take life from their brethren, but will be rather ready, if need be, to lay down their life for their brethren. Christ can change murderers into friends.


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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-john-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Ver. 15. Whosoever hateth his brother] Not to love then is to hate, as not to save a man is to kill him, Mark 3:4.

Is a murderer] Because he wisheth him out of the world, as Caracalla did his brother Geta, of whom he said, Divus sit, modo non sit vivus, I would he were in heaven or anywhere, so that I were rid of him. By like reason we may say that sin is God-murder; forasmuch as sinners are God haters, Romans 1:30, and could wish there were no God, that they might never come to judgment. The godly man, on the contrary, cries out with David, Vivat Deus, " Let the Lord live, and blessed be the God of my salvation," &c., Psalms 18:46.


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 John 3:15

The Peril of Unlawful Venture.

I. Self-control is a thing which we can perfectly well understand in its effects, in its sources, perhaps, not so well. In frail, unassisted man, self-control is a weak and poor safeguard against temptation. Passion and self-interest are too strong for it when it has nothing further to rely on than a man's own resolution and innate sense of right. But here God has been pleased to interfere, and to offer us the help of His grace to strengthen us in the conflict of life. His character as the Father of our spirits is pledged and committed to giving this grace and furnishing this strength to all that ask for it.

II. God's help is only to be looked for in God's ways, within those limits of serving Him and trusting Him which He has prescribed to all of us. Venture is lawful when we may fairly look, if God's mysterious providence does not interpose to prevent it, for a favourable issue of our labours. This is lawful venture, venture according to the ordinary course of God's providence, defeated and brought to loss only by His mysterious interposition. On the other hand, venture appears to me to be unlawful where no such reasonable prospect of success exists, where there is not, in God's ordinary course of providence, any connection existing between the means used for gain and the event upon which the gain depends. Take the case of one who wagers money on the issue of a matter over which he has not, even humanly speaking, any control. Such a one has no reason whatever to look for a prosperous issue to his venture in the common course of things. The awful name of a murderer clings by implication not only to him who hateth his brother, but to every man who surrenders himself to a pursuit in which he has not the secret of self-control, the fear of God, and the help of His grace.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iii., p. 339.


Reference: 1 John 3:16-18.—Homilist, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 590.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/1-john-3.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 John 3:15. Whosoever hateth his brother, is a murderer: That is, in the temper and disposition of his mind; or, hatred is one step towards murder. See Matthew 5:21; Matthew 22:27; Matthew 28:20. Inthe 6th commandment murder is forbidden; but the commandments are so to be interpreted, that every tendency towards the crime condemned, is in its proportion forbidden, as one step towards the crime, or one degree of it. Murderers, and all sinners, are condemned to the second death: not but that upon deep humiliation and unfeigned repentance, murderers may obtainmercy; witness the case of David: but the impenitent murderer, yea, even he who only hates his brother, has not the heavenly temper and disposition of mind, nor any title to eternal life; hath not eternal life abiding in him. There is a fifth reason for their cultivating love to the Christian brethren; namely, that hatred of them, or want of love to them, was one degree of murder, or one step towards it: and who would not be shocked at the thought of being a murderer!


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-john-3.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. The nature of the sin condemned, it is a secret sin of the heart, not an open sin of the life; he that hateth his brother, that is, in his heart, is a murderer, though he doth not smite him either with his tongue, or with his hand.

Learn hence, That sins of the heart are damning, as well as sins of the life; a man may be an adulterer in the sight of God, and yet never touch a woman, Matthew 5:28; an idolator, and yet never bow his knee to an image, Ephesians 5:5, a murderer, and yet never hurt his brother; if he hates him in his heart, it is recorded murder in God's account. What need have we to put up David's prayer, Cleanse thou me from my secret sins? Psalms 19:1

Observe, 2. The sad and deplorable condition of such as are guilty of this sin, namely, of murdering their brother by hatred in their hearts: He that hateth his brother, abideth in death, and hath not eternal life abiding in him, 1 John 3:14-15; that is he hath no spiritual life, nothing of the life of grace abideth in him, which is the seed and principle, the original and beginning of life.

Note thence, That the life of grace in the heart of a regenerate person, is the beginning and first principle of a life of glory, whereof they cannot but be destitute who hate their brother in their hearts. So much hatred in a man, so much death; and so much want of love, so much want of life.


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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/1-john-3.html. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 John 3:15. πᾶς μισῶν] instead of the preceding: μὴ ἀγαπῶν; not loving and hating are one and the same thing:(226) for pure indifference is not possible to the living human soul.

ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἐστί] This word (except only in John 8:44, used of the devil) does not signify the murderer of the soul, whether one’s own or one’s brother’s, but the murderer in the strict sense. Every one who hates his brother is a murderer, not merely inasmuch as hatred sometimes leads to murder, but because by his nature he is inclined to the destruction of his brother, and if he does not attain this object is only hindered from it by other opposing forces. As in the moral life it is not the outward act in itself, but the intention, that is of consequence, every one who lives in hatred towards his brother must by the moral consciousness (or by God, Drusius, Hornejus) be regarded as a murderer; comp. Matthew 5:21 ff., Matthew 5:27-28.

Hence it is clear that the real thought of the apostle is missed when μισεῖν is here limited to the odium perfectum (Hornejus). Baumgarten-Crusius erroneously denies that ἀνθρωποκτόνος refers to Cain, 1 John 3:12; this reference is clearly patent.

καὶ οἴδατε] de Wette: “whence? from the Christian consciousness in general.”

ὅτι πᾶς ἀνθρωποκτόνος κ. τ. λ.] He who takes his brother’s life cannot and must not retain life himself, his life decays in death; that is the order appointed by God; comp. Genesis 9:6. Accordingly he who in his heart murders his brother, cannot be in possession of the life which dwells in the heart, i.e. of “eternal life.” By ζωὴ αἰώνιος we are to understand the same thing as in 1 John 3:14 was described by the simple word ζωή; and ἔχει is to be retained as the actual present; erroneously a Lapide: non habebit gloriam vitae.

The adjective ΄ένουσαν Lücke, with whom Sander agrees, appealing to the parable of the unmerciful servant, explains by the fact that John is speaking to Christians who already had some part in eternal life. But the expression πᾶς ΄ισῶν shows that John is here speaking quite generally, and, indeed, in order to confirm the preceding thought: ΄ὴ ἀγαπῶν ΄ένει ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ; it must therefore be the condition of those who form the κόσ΄ος (to whom also the mere nominal Christians belong), of those accordingly who have no part in the ζωὴ αἰώνιος, that is stated. By ΄ένουσαν is therefore not suggested the loss of a previously possessed good; just as little as in the corresponding passage, Gospel of John 5:38 : τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, where also the meaning is not that those addressed have previously had the word of God, for this is distinctly denied in John 5:37. The ΄ένουσαν is rather explained by the fact that he alone really has the ζωὴ αἰώνιος in whom it abides (comp. chap. 1 John 2:19); ΄ένειν expresses here also, according to John’s usus loquendi, the idea of being in a strengthened degree, and may accordingly be used quite apart from any reference to the previous state; μένουσαν is to be connected with ἐν αὐτῷ; he has not the life abiding, i.e. surely and firmly existing, in him.(227)


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-john-3.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 John 3:15. ἀνθρωποκτόνος, a murderer) as Cain. All hatred is an attempt against life: but life [spiritual] does not assail life [physical]. He who hates his brother desires either that his brother or himself should not live. Hence duels.(9)μένουσαν, abiding) Eternal life is in very deed in him who believes and loves.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-john-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

That life into which the regenerate are begotten, is nothing else than the beginning or first principle of eternal life, John 4:14, whereof they cannot but be destitute who hate their brethren; a thing so contrary to the Divine life, nature, and image, and which makes the person affected with it, in the temper and habit of his mind, a very murderer.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-john-3.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Is a murderer; in heart; he cherishes the feelings from which the outward act of murder proceeds. Love to real Christians on account of their religion, is evidence of love to Christ and acceptance with him; while hatred of them is Satan-like, and tends to envy, slander, persecution, and murder.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

15. πᾶς ὁ μισῶν. Every one that hateth. There is no exception. A man may call himself an enlightened believer, but if he has no love, οὐθέν ἐστι. See on 1 John 3:4. Quite as a matter of course S. John passes from not loving to hating. The crisis caused in the world by the coming of the light leaves no neutral ground: all is either light or darkness, of God or of the evil one, of the Church or of the world, in love or in hate. A Christian cannot be neither loving nor hating, any more than a plant can be neither growing nor dying.

ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἐστίν. Most of the earlier Versions render is a man-slayer. The word occurs only here and John 8:44. The mention of Cain just before renders it certain that ‘murderer’ is not to be understood figuratively as ‘soul-destroyer.’ Human law considers overt acts; God considers motives. The motives of the hater and of the murderer are the same: the fact that one is, and the other is not, deterred by laziness or fear from carrying out his hatred into homicidal action, makes no difference in the moral character of the men, though it makes all the difference in the eyes of the law. This is only applying to the sixth commandment the principle which the Lord Himself applies to the seventh (Matthew 5:28).

οἴδατε. Once more (1 John 3:14) the Apostle appeals to their consciousness as Christians: it is not a matter of experience gradually acquired (γινώσκετε), but of knowledge once for all possessed. He who is a murderer at heart cannot along with the deadly spirit which he cherishes have eternal life as a sure possession. Comp. ‘Ye have not His word abiding in you,’ John 5:38. S. John of course does not mean that hatred or murder is a sin for which there is no forgiveness. But ‘the soul that sinneth, it shall die’; and the sin of which the special tendency is destruction of life is absolutely incompatible with the possession of eternal life. ‘But for … murderers … their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death’ (Revelation 21:8). Here, as elsewhere, S. John speaks of eternal life as something which the Christian already has, not which he hopes to win: comp. 1 John 5:13; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47; John 6:54, &c. Eternal life has nothing to do with time, and is neither lost nor gained by physical death: see on John 11:25—The form of expression in this verse is similar to 1 John 2:19, being literally, every murderer hath not, instead of ‘no murderer hath.’ Omnis homicida non habet.


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"Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-john-3.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15. Hateth… murderer—In applying so trenchant an epithet as murderer, our apostle changes the phrase loveth not to hateth. The epithet is suggested by the case of Cain. The positive element of hate is initial murder; murder in kind, even when not in degree, So the love in the following verse is in contrast. This hate need only to be developed in its own kind to make the actual murder; just as the element of that love in its fulness produces a laying down of one’s own life for the brethren. Hate is the common element that makes the brotherhood of Cain. Thence come all the strifes, the murders, the wars of our depraved human life.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

"Every one" includes Christians. Murder is the ultimate outward expression of hatred (cf. Matthew 5:21-22). The key to the statement that concludes this verse is the words "abiding in him." John evidently meant that no Christian whose eternal life (i.e, Jesus Christ; 1 John 1:2) has control of him, who is walking in fellowship with God, will commit murder. Some believers have committed murder, but they were not abiding believers when they did so (cf. John 15:4).


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-john-3.html. 2012.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 John 3:15. An echo of the teaching of Jesus. See Matthew 5:21-22 and cf. Smith, The Days of His Flesh, pp. 96–98.


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-john-3.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 John 3:15. He, I have just said, who loveth not his brother, abideth in death; is void of the life of God: for whosoever hateth his brother — And there is no medium between loving and hating him; is — In God’s account; a murderer — Every degree of hatred being a degree of the same temper which moved Cain to murder his brother. And no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him — But every loving believer hath. For love is the beginning of eternal life. It is the same in substance with future felicity and glory. The word ανθρωποκτονος, here rendered murderer, is by Macknight translated a manslayer, who, as he observes, differs from a murderer as manslaughter differs from murder: adding, “The hatred of one’s brother may be the occasion, by accident, of putting him to death. For he who indulgeth hatred to his brother, lays himself open to the influence of such passions as may hurry him to slay his brother. So our Lord tells us, in his explication of the precept, Thou shalt not kill, Matthew 6:21. For he mentions causeless anger and provoking speeches as violations of that command, because they are often productive of murder.”


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-john-3.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

murderer. Greek. anthropoktonos, manslayer. Only here and John 8:44.

no = not (1 John 3:1) any.

eternal. App-151.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-john-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Hateth - "loveth not," 1 John 3:14 : there is no medium. 'Love and hatred, like light and darkness, life and death, necessarily replace, as well as exclude, one another' (Alford).

Is a murderer - because indulging that passion, which, if followed to its natural consequences, would make him one. '1 John 3:16 desires us to lay down our lives for the brethren; duels require one (awful to say!) to risk his own life, rather than not deprive another of life' (Bengel). God regards the inward disposition as tantamount to the outward act which would flow from it. Whomsoever one hates, one wishes dead.

Hath - such a one still "abideth in death." Not his future state, but his present is refuted to. He who hates (i:e., loveth not) his brother (1 John 3:14) cannot, in his present state, have eternal life abiding in him.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-john-3.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
hateth
Genesis 27:41; Leviticus 19:16-18; 2 Samuel 13:22-28; Proverbs 26:24-26; Matthew 5:21,22,28; Mark 6:19; Acts 23:12,14; James 1:15; 4:1,2
hath
John 4:14; Galatians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:23; Revelation 21:8

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-john-3.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

Whoever hates. "As a plant cannot be both growing and dying at the same time, so a Christian cannot be both loving and hating. When the light came into the world, it caused a crisis! There is no NEUTRAL GROUND!!!" Compare Matthew 5:21-22. Hate (lack of love ) is a serious matter!!!


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-john-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Cain slew his brother because he hated him, so that the poison of murder was in his mind before he talked with him. Others may have the same kind of hatred in their heart but do not have the opportunity of carrying it out. The Lord can read such a mind and hence will regard that man as a murderer. Ye know that no murderer. etc. The Old Testament condemned a murderer and required that he be punished with death ( Genesis 9:6 and many other passages). John is repeating the same condemnation except that he applies it to murderous intent as well as the actual deed.


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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 3:15". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/1-john-3.html. 1952.

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