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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 3:21

 

 

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

Adam Clarke Commentary

If our heart condemn us not - If we be conscious to ourselves of our own sincerity, that we practice not deceit, and use no mask, then have we confidence toward God - we can appeal to him for our sincerity, and we can come with boldness to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. And therefore says the apostle,


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not - If we so live as to have an approving conscience - that is, if we indulge in no secret sin; if we discharge faithfully every known duty; if we submit without complaining to all the allotments of Divine Providence.

Then have we confidence toward God - Compare the 1 John 3:19; 1 John 2:28 notes; Acts 24:16 note. The apostle evidently does not mean that we have confidence toward God on the ground of what we do, as if it were meritorious, or as if it constituted a claim to his favor; but that we may so live as to have evidence of personal piety, and that we may look forward with a confident hope that we shall be accepted of him in the great day. The word here rendered “confidence” - παῤῥησίαν parrēsian- means properly “boldness;” usually boldness or openness in speaking our sentiments. See the notes at 1 John 2:28. The confidence or boldness which we have toward our Maker is founded solely on the evidence that he will graciously accept us as pardoned sinners; not in the belief that we deserve his favor.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Beloved, if our heart condemns us not, we have boldness toward God;

Whatever consolation may have been intended in the preceding verses, a greater consolation is promised for the Christian who will keep his conscience clean.


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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 3:21". "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

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not,.... Which must be understood, not of a stupidity of mind, as is in unregenerate men, who have no sense of sin, no sorrow for it, or remorse of conscience on account of it; or as is in them who are past feeling; having their consciences seared as with a red hot iron; such cannot be entitled to the advantages that follow; nor is it of persons the apostle speaks, but of himself, and Christians, the beloved of the Lord, and one another, who had an experience of the grace of God upon their souls, and made a profession of religion: nor does it design such a purity of heart and life in believers, as that their hearts do not smite, reproach, and condemn them for sin at any time, for such a state of perfection is not to be attained to and expected in this life; but rather a conscience purged by the blood of Christ, or an heart sprinkled from an evil conscience by that blood, which speaks peace and pardon, so that there is no more conscience of sin, for the removal of which that is applied; and this gives boldness and confidence at the throne of grace: though it is best of all to confine it to the case of brotherly love; for the sense is not, if our heart condemn us not of anything but of the want of brotherly love, or insincerity in it,

then have we confidence towards God; or with him, at the throne of his grace: such can draw nigh to him, and stand before him with an holy and humble confidence, when such as hate the brethren, as Cain did, in whom the apostle instances, and those that go in his way, cannot; whose heart condemned him, his conscience smote him, and he went from the presence of the Lord; but those that love the brethren have confidence of their relation to God; by this they know their regeneration, and by that their adoption, and so that they are the children of God; and can therefore draw nigh to God as their Father, and call him so; they can come with an holy boldness and intrepidity of mind before him, and use a παρρησια, "freedom of speech", with him; can tell him all their mind, pour out their souls unto him, and lay before him their case and wants; they have confidence of his power, faithfulness, and willingness to supply their need, and fulfil all his promises to them, and that their prayers will be heard, answered, and regarded by him in his own time.


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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.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we confidence toward God.

(21) A third effect also rises from the former, that in these miseries we are sure to be heard, because we are the sons of God: as we understand by the grace of sanctification which is only for the elect.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "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

Beloved — There is no “But” contrasting the two cases, 1 John 3:20, 1 John 3:21, because “Beloved” sufficiently marks the transition to the case of the brethren walking in the full confidence of love (1 John 3:18). The two results of our being able to “assure our hearts before Him” (1 John 3:19), and of “our heart condemning us not” (of insincerity as to the truth in general, and as to LOVE in particular) are, (1) confidence toward God; (2) a sure answer to our prayers. John does not mean that all whose hearts do not condemn them, are therefore safe before God; for some have their conscience seared, others are ignorant of the truth, and it is not only sincerity, but sincerity in the truth which can save men. Christians are those meant here: knowing Christ‘s precepts and testing themselves by them.


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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 3:21". "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

If our heart condemn us not (εαν η καρδια μη καταγινωσκηιean hē kardia mē kataginōskēi). Condition of third class with εαν μηean mē and present active subjunctive. The converse of the preceding, but not a claim to sinlessness, but the consciousness of fellowship in God‘s presence.

Boldness toward God (παρρησιαν προς τον τεονparrēsian pros ton theon). Even in prayer (Hebrews 4:16). See also 1 John 2:28.


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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 3:21". "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

Beloved

The affectionate address is suggested by the preceding thought of tormenting self-accusation.

Confidence ( παῤῥησίαν )

Rev., boldness. See on 1 John 2:28.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "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

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

If our heart condemn us not — If our conscience, duly enlightened by the word and Spirit of God, and comparing all our thoughts, words, and works with that word, pronounce that they agree therewith.

Then have we confidence toward God — Not only our consciousness of his favour continues and increases, but we have a full persuasion, that whatsoever we ask we shall receive of him.


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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 3:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-john-3.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

21If our heart condemns not I have already explained that this refers not to hypocrites nor to the gross despisers of God. For how muchsoever the reprobate may approve of their own lives, yet the Lord, as Solomon says, weigheth their hearts. (Proverbs 16:2.) This balance of God, by which he tries men, is such, that no one can boast that he has a clean heart. The meaning, then, of the Apostle’s words is, that then only we come in calm confidence into God’s presence, when we bring with us the testimony of a heart conscious of what is right and honest. That saying of Paul is indeed true, that by faith, which relies on the grace of Christ, an access to God with confidence is opened to us, (Ephesians 3:12;) and also, that peace is given us by faith, that our consciences may stand peaceably before God. (Romans 5:1.) But there is not much difference between these sentences; for Paul shews the cause of confidence, but John mentions only an inseparable addition, which necessarily adheres to it, though it be not the cause.

Here, however, arises a greater difficulty, which seems to leave no confidence in the whole world; for who can be found whose heart reproves him in nothing? To this I answer, that the godly are thus reproved, that they may at the same time be absolved. For it is indeed necessary that they should be seriously troubled inwardly for their sins, that terror may lead them to humility and to a hatred of themselves; but they presently flee to the sacrifice of Christ, where they have sure peace. Yet the Apostle says, in another sense, that they are not condemned, because however deficient they may confess themselves to be in many things, they are still relieved by this testimony of conscience, that they truly and from the heart fear God and desire to submit to his righteousness. All who possess this godly feeling, and at the same time know that all their endeavors, how muchsoever they come short of perfection, yet please God, are justly said to have a calm or a peaceful heart, because there is no inward compunction to disturb their calm cheerfulness.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-john-3.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

Ver. 21. Then have we confidence] Sincerity is the mother of serenity, Sine qua, tranquillitas omnis tempestas est, without which saith serenity is all a storm. Isidore. Uprightness hath boldness. It is not a peace, but a truce, that the wicked have; such a storm will befall them as shall never be blown over. Israel is the heir of peace, Galatians 6:16; Isaiah 32:17.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 John 3:21. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, Though the expression is negative in the text, it must imply somewhat positive; namely, that conscience should upon examination acquit us. St. John is speaking here notof Jews, Heathens, Infidels, hypocrites, or vicious persons; but of himself, and other real Christians, who were experimentallyacquainted with the pure gospel, and might easily examine their hearts and lives thereby. If such, upon a careful examination, find a divine conformity to the rules of the gospel in their tempers and lives, they may be satisfied that their present state is good, and may with pleasure expect Christ's second coming. The philosophers have disputed much about tranquillity of mind; nevertheless there is nothing which can truly render our minds quiet, easy, and satisfied, but a just persuasion of the love of God toward us.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-john-3.html. 1801-1803.

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

1 John 3:21. In this verse the apostle states the case of our heart not accusing (or condemning) us. We can understand it thus, that what he previously observed has happened, namely, that in the consciousness that we are of the truth, we have induced our heart to refrain from its accusation against us. Then this thought does not stand to the preceding one in the relation of antithesis (as if in this verse a different case was contrasted with the case stated in 1 John 3:20), but in that of continuation;(247) but it is more correct to suppose that the apostle is here speaking of a relationship which is different from that indicated in 1 John 3:20, and that he is not regarding the question whether the non-condemnation has never taken place at all, or has been only brought about by persuasion. That two sentences may stand to one another in the relation of antithesis even without the antithetical particle, is proved by chap. 1 John 1:8-9.

παῤῥησίαν ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν θεόν] states what occurs when the case exists which is mentioned by ἐάν; it is erroneous to explain παῤῥησίαν ἔχομεν = πείσομεν τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν; the same expression in chap. 1 John 2:28 and 1 John 4:17, and construed with πρός, chap. 1 John 5:14; the same construction in Romans 5:1 : εἰρήνην ἔχ. πρὸς τὸν θεόν. As the calming of the heart, so also confidence toward God, which is the subject here, is based on the fact that God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". 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 3:21. ΄ὴ καταγινώσκῃ, does not condemn) either as never injured, or as again appeased.— παῤῥησίαν, confidence) in asking. This is repeated, ch. 1 John 5:14-15. This confidence far excels that tranquility which is expressed by the verb πείσομεν, we shall tranquilize.


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". 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

But for their not condemning us, though the expression be merely negative, it must imply somewhat positive; for there are many whose hearts condemn them not, through ignorance of their rule, or oscitancy, self-indulgence, or neglect of themselves. But if after thorough search, with sincerity in the sight of God, our hearts do not condemn, but acquit us, as upright towards him, not willing to allow ourselves in any ill temper or practice, (such as, for instance, this of not loving, or neglecting, our brother),

then we have confidence (liberty of speech the word literally signifies, which well suits with what follows)

toward God; we have nothing to hinder or lie as a bar against us in our recourse to him.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-john-3.html. 1685.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

21. ἀγαπητοί. See on 1 John 3:2.

ἐὰν ἡ καρδία μὴ καταγ. An argument à fortiori: if before God we can persuade conscience to acquit us, when it upbraids us, much more may we have assurance before Him, when it does not do so. It is not quite evident whether ‘condemn us not’ means ‘ceases to condemn us,’ because we have persuaded it, or ‘does not condemn us from the first,’ because it had no misgivings about us. Either makes good sense. Καταγινώσκειν occurs elsewhere in N.T. Galatians 2:11 only, ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν. Comp. Sirach 14:2, ‘Blessed is he whose conscience hath not condemned him’ (οὐ κατέγνω).

παρρ. ἔχομεν. We have boldness: see on 1 John 2:28. The ‘then’ of A.V. is not needed. With πρὸς τὸν Θεόν here comp. ἀπρόσκοπον συνείδησιν ἔχειν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους (Acts 24:16). We approach Him boldly as children, not fearfully as criminals. Comp. 1 John 5:14. This is not the same as ‘persuading our heart before Him,’ but is a natural result of it. Comp. Romans 5:1.


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Bibliography
"Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-john-3.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

21. Condemn us not—Our self-complacency may, indeed, deceive us, and we may think our heart does not condemn when the heart is itself beguiled. While our own hearts condemn us not, the hearts and consciences of others may justly condemn us. And in 1 John 3:23-24 is given a test by which the assurance of the heart is tried. The love which is truth must wear the garb of deed and fulfilment of his commandments, otherwise vain is the appeal to our hearts.

Confidence toward God—We feel the full assurance of sin forgiven, of divine acceptance, of blessed communion, of a “title clear to mansions in the skies.”


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-john-3.html. 1874-1909.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

confidence. See 1 John 2:28.

toward. App-104.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "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

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

Beloved. There is no But contrasting the two cases, 1 John 3:20-21, because "Beloved" sufficiently marks the transition to the case of walking in full confidence of love (1 John 3:18). The two results of being able to "assure our hearts before Him" (1 John 3:19), and of 'our heart condemning us not' (of insincerity as to the truth in general, and LOVE in particular), are:

(1) confidence toward God;

(2) a sure answer to prayer.

John does not mean that all whose heart does not condemn them are therefore safe before God; for some have their conscience seared, others are ignorant of the truth: it is not sincerity, but sincerity in the truth, which saves men. Christians are meant: knowing Christ's precepts, and testing themselves by them.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "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

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
2:28; 4:17; Job 22:26; 27:6; Psalms 7:3-5; 101:2; 1 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 4:16; 10:22

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-john-3.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

If our heart does not condemn us. "If the fact that we love will quiet the fears of our hearts, even though we see our mistakes; how much more courage will we have in God's presence if we live so that our hearts do not condemn us!!! If our love shows itself in actions, we will have more courage when we go to God in prayer."


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". "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

This verse is virtually a repetition of the preceding one, except that it is considering a person who has carried out the teaching of practical love-


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Bibliography
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 3:21". 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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