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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 3:6

 

 

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Whosoever abideth in him - By faith, love, and obedience.

Sinneth not - Because his heart is purified by faith, and he is a worker together with God, and consequently does not receive the grace of God in vain. See on 1 John 3:3; (note).

Hath not seen him - It is no unusual thing with this apostle, both in his gospel and in his epistles, to put occasionally the past for the present, and the present for the past tense. It is very likely that here he puts, after the manner of the Hebrew, the preterite for the present: He who sins against God doth not see him, neither doth he know him - the eye of his faith is darkened, so that he cannot see him as he formerly did; and he has no longer the experimental knowledge of God as his Father and portion.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Whosoever abideth in him - See 1 John 2:6. The word here employed ( μένων menōn) properly means to remain, to continue, to abide. It is used of persons remaining or dwelling in a place, in the sense of abiding there permanently, or lodging there, and this is the common meaning of the word, Matthew 10:11; Matthew 26:38; Mark 6:10; Luke 1:56, “et saepe.” In the writings of John, however, it is quite a favorite word to denote the relation which one sustains to another, in the sense of being united to him, or remaining with him in affection and love; being with him in heart and mind and will, as one makes his home in a dwelling. The sense seems to be that we have some sort of relation to him similar to that which we have to our home; that is, some fixed and permanent attachment to him. We live in him; we remain steadfast in our attachment to him, as we do to our own home. For the use of the word in John, in whose writings it so frequently occurs, see John 5:38; John 6:56; John 14:10, John 14:17; John 15:27; 1 John 2:6, 1 John 2:10, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 2:17, 1 John 2:27-28; 1 John 3:6, 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:12-13, 1 John 4:15-16. In the passage before us, as in his writings generally, it refers to one who lives the life of a Christian, as if he were always with Christ, and abode with him. It refers to the Christian considered as adhering steadfastly to the Saviour, and not as following him with transitory feelings, emotions, and raptures.

(See the supplementary note at Romans 8:10. We abide in Christ by union with him. The phrase expresses the continuance of the union; of which see in the note as above. Scott explains, “whoever abides in Christ as one with him and as maintaining communion with him. ‹)

It does not of itself necessarily mean that he will always do this; that is, it does not prove the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, but it refers to the adherence to the Saviour as a continuous state of mind, or as having permanency; meaning that there is a life of continued faith in him. It is of a person thus attached to the Saviour that the apostle makes the important declaration in the passage before us, that he does not sin. This is the third argument to show that the child of God should be pure; and the substance of the argument is, that “as a matter of fact” the child of God is not a sinner.

Sinneth not - There has been much difference of opinion in regard to this expression, and the similar declaration in 1 John 3:9. Not a few have maintained that it teaches the “doctrine of perfection,” or that Christians may live entirely without sin; and some have held that the apostle meant to teach that this is always the characteristic of the true Christian. Against the interpretation, however, which supposes that it teaches that the Christian is absolutely perfect, and lives wholly without sin, there are three insuperable objections:

(1) If it teaches that doctrine at all, it teaches that all Christians are perfect; “whosoever abideth in him,” “whosoever is born of God,” “he cannot sin,” 1 John 3:9.

(2) this is not true, and cannot be held to be true by those who have any just views of what the children of God have been and are. Who can maintain that Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob; that Moses, David, or Job; that Peter, John, or Paul, were absolutely perfect, and were never, after their regeneration, guilty of an act of sin? Certainly they never affirmed it of themselves, nor does the sacred record attribute to them any such perfection. And who can affirm this of all who give evidence of true piety in the world? Who can of themselves? Are we to come to the painful conclusion that all who are not absolutely perfect in thought, word, and deed, are destitute of any religion, and are to be set down as hypocrites or self-deceivers? And yet, unless this passage proves that “all” who have been born again are absolutely perfect, it will not prove it of anyone, for the affirmation is not made of a part, or of what any favored individual may be, but of what everyone is in fact who is born of God.

(3) this interpretation is not necessary to a fair exposition of the passage. The language used is such as would be employed by any writer if he designed to say of one that he is not characteristically a sinner; that he is a good man; that he does not commit habitual and willful transgression. Such language is common throughout the Bible, when it is said of one man that he is a saint, and of another that he is a sinner; of one that he is righteous, and of another that he is wicked; of one that he obeys the law of God, and of another that he does not. John expresses it strongly, but he affirms no more in fact than is affirmed elsewhere. The passage teaches, indeed, most important truths in regard to the true Christian; and the fair and proper meaning may be summed up in the following particulars:

(a) He who is born again does not sin habitually, or is not habitually a sinner. If he does wrong, it is when he is overtaken by temptation, and the act is against the habitual inclination and purpose of his soul. If a man sins habitually, it proves that he has never been renewed.

(b) That he who is born again does not do wrong deliberately and by design. He means to do right. He is not willfully and deliberately a sinner. If a man deliberately and intentionally does wrong, he shows that he is not actuated by the spirit of religion. It is true that when one does wrong, or commits sin, there is a momentary assent of the will; but it is under the influence of passion, or excitement, or temptation, or provocation, and not as the result of a deliberate plan or purpose of the soul. A man who deliberately and intentionally does a wrong thing, shows that he is not a true Christian; and if this were all that is understood by “perfection,” then there would be many who are perfect, for there are many, very many Christians, who cannot recollect an instance for many years in which they have intentionally and deliberately done a wrong thing. Yet these very Christians see much corruption in their own hearts over which to mourn, and against which they earnestly strive; in comparing themselves with the perfect law of God, and with the perfect example of the Saviour, they see much in which they come short.

(c) He who is born again will not sin finally, or will not fall away. “His seed remaineth in him,” 1 John 3:9. See the notes at that verse. There is a principle of grace by which he will ultimately be restrained and recovered. This, it seems to me, is fairly implied in the language used by John; for if a person might be a Christian, and yet wholly fall away and perish, how could it be said with any truth that such a man “sinneth not;” how that “he doth not commit sin;” how that “his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin?” Just the contrary would be true if this were so.

Whosoever sinneth - That is, as explained above, habitually, deliberately, characteristically, and finally. - Doddridge. “Who habitually and avowedly sinneth.”

Hath not seen him, nor known him - Has had no just views of the Saviour, or of the nature of true religion. In other words, cannot be a true Christian.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 John 3:6

Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not

The secret of sinlessness--our abiding in Christ--the seed of God abiding in us--our being born of God

I.
These texts (1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:9) do not teach either the doctrine of perfection or that other doctrine which is apt to usurp its place--the doctrine that God sees no sin in His people, or that what would be sin in others is not sin in them.

II. There is another mode of dealing with the statements before us which I cannot feel to be satisfactory. It is to limit their comprehensiveness, and to understand the apostle as speaking, not of sin universally, but of sin more or less voluntary and presumptuous. According to this view, one abiding in Christ cannot sin deliberately, intentionally, knowingly. Is that true? Was it true of David? Or of the man in Corinth who was excommunicated for incest, and, upon repentance, restored?

III. It may help us out of the difficulty if we first look at the statements before us in the light, not of what we are now by grace, but of what we are to be in the future state of glory. It will be true then that we sin not; it will be impossible for us then to sin. What will make it impossible for us to sin? Simply our abiding in Christ, our being born of God, His seed abiding in us. Let me remind you that this impeccability lies in the will--the seat of it is the will. It is because, in the state of glory, my will is made “perfectly and immutably free to do good alone,” that my will is, or that I myself am, incapable of doing evil. And if it is your will that is to be thus free--free, as His will is free, to do good alone, and therefore incapable of an evil choice, then your impeccability must be, if I may say so, itself voluntary; voluntarily accepted and realised.

IV. Let me try to bring out more clearly this principle as one that must connect the future with the present. Why is it that in heaven, my will being free as God’s will is free, I can no more sin than He can sin? What answer would John give to that question if you could put it to him now? As thus: “In whatever sense, and with whatever modifications, thou didst, in thy experience when here, find that to be true which thou hast so emphatically put--as the test, apparently, of real Christianity--it is all true of thee there, where thou art now! How is it so? Why is it so?” “Because I abide in the Son of God, and God’s own seed abides in me, as being born of God”--is not that his reply? What other reply can he give? Then, does it not follow that it is an impeccability that may be realised on earth? For the causes of it are realised on earth; first, your abiding in the Son of God; secondly, your being born of God so as to have His seed abiding in you.

V. Viewed thus in the light of “what we shall be,” and of the bearing of what we shall be on what we are, John’s statements assume a somewhat different aspect from what they are apt to wear when taken by themselves. They become not one whit less solemn, but greatly more encouraging. For one thing, you may now regard them as describing a precious privilege, as well as imposing a searching test. They show you the way of perfect holiness; how you are to be righteous even as Christ is righteous; even as God is righteous.

VI. Taking this view, I confess I do not feel so much concern as otherwise I might feel about reconciling such strong statements as that one abiding in Christ sinneth not, or that one born of God cannot sin, with the acknowledged and lamented fact that he does sin. John has dealt with that fact already, and told us how to deal with it. It is not his business here to be making allowance for it. For indeed it is most dangerous to be considering the matter in that light or on that side at all. It is almost sure to lead, first to calculations, and then to compromises fatal to singleness of eye and the holy ambition that ought to fire the breast--calculations first about the quantity and quality of the residuum of old corruption which we must lay our account with finding in the purest God-born soul, and then compromises under the sort of feeling that, as the proverb says, what cannot be cured must be endured. Let a few practical inferences be suggested.

1. I think the texts teach, or imply, the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, the impossibility of their either wholly or permanently falling away from a state of grace.

2. The texts teach very plainly that this doctrine, whatever may be its practical use and value in its right place, and when turned to legitimate account, cannot give to any man security in sin, cannot make him safe when he is sinning, when he is committing sin or transgressing the law.

3. John’s true design and purpose is to put you in the way of not sinning, of its being impossible for you to sin. (R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

The inadmissibility of sin

This paragraph goes to show that the practice of sin is out of the question for a believer in Christ. Sin has no place whatever in the Christian life, according to the proper view and conception of it. We observe five distinct reasons alleged by the apostle for this conclusion.

I. First he makes out, in verses 2 and 3, that on purity depends our future glory. This is the starting point of his denunciation of sin. John and his readers are “now,” in this present life, the “children of God.” The manner of their future existence is not revealed. One thing “we know,” that it will be a God-like state. We want to see God, for we are His children. And we are told that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” Then we must be holy. Now the pattern of God-likeness for us is Jesus the Son of God. We will, therefore, conform ourselves to Him. Everyone who longs to see God, and has seen Jesus Christ, knows now what he must be like in order to attain the vision. So he “purifies himself, as He is pure.” The apostle does not tell us here how this purity is to be gained. He says one thing at a time. He wants to convince us that such purity is indispensable. Observe, by the way, the word which John uses here for pure. It is hagnos, which elsewhere and commonly means chaste (2 Corinthians 11:2; Titus 2:5). It signifies the delicate purity of virgin thoughts and an uncontaminated mind (comp. Revelation 14:4), the opposite of sensuality and carnality; the purity of one in whom the animal and earthly are refined and transformed by the spiritual--as in Jesus.

II. Now St. John proceeds from the positive to the negative, from enjoining holiness to denouncing sin. And of his prohibitions this is the first: sin is illegal. So he puts it, with concise energy, in verse 4. This seems to you, perhaps, a commonplace; because you have behind you many ages of Christian teaching. Not so with John’s readers. Most of them had been Pagans, taught to think that if they kept the ceremonial rules of religion, and the laws of the state as sanctioned by religion, the gods were satisfied with them, troubling themselves no further about men’s conduct or the condition of their souls--that, in fact, private morals are one thing, law and religion quite another. Some of them had, probably, been Pharisaic Jews, accustomed to observe strictly the letter of their sacred law, while they found means, by all manner of evasions, to indulge in gross wickedness. Now the apostle traverses this position in verse 4. He deepens our conception of sin and broadens our conception of law, while he makes them coincide and cover the same ground, when he says, “Sin is lawlessness.” The law of God is all-embracing, all-penetrating; it touches every part of human nature and conduct. We have no business to do anything or think anything that is in the least degree ungodly. Every sinner is a rebel and an outlaw in God’s creation. This is the first and fundamental condemnation--the constitutional objection to sin, as we may call it.

III. In the next place, sin is unchristian. Here again we must put ourselves in the position of the readers, who had to learn things of God that He has been teaching us and our fathers for centuries. “He was manifested that He might take away sins”--not “our sins,” but “sins” in the most unlimited sense (compare 1 John 2:2). This our apostle had learnt from his first master, the Baptist, who pointed him to Jesus with the words, “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!” That great manifestation, the appearance of the Son of God in human flesh, was God’s demonstration against sin. Christ’s one object was to destroy it; and we can only “abide in Him” on the understanding that we have done with it too. Nor must we deceive ourselves by thinking that “righteousness” consists of good frames and feelings--we must “do righteousness” (verse 7). This apostle had known his Master on earth more intimately than anyone besides. And in this one word he describes the character of Jesus, and says of Him what could be said of no other child of Adam: “In Him sin does not exist.” Elsewhere he calls Him “Jesus Christ the righteous,” “the pure,” “the true.” To “take away sins,” to “cleanse us from all sin” (1 John 1:7), is with John a summary term for the abolition of moral evil. The Lord Jesus carries our sins right away and discharges us from them. Herein lies the glory and the fulness of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus--it destroys sin root and branch, in its guilt and power, its burden on the conscience, and its dominion over the heart. It is a hard saying, that of verse 6: “Whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him nor known Him!” The interpreter needs to walk warily, lest with this sentence he should break some bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax in the heart of one who loves the Lord and yet has to mourn his many failures and shortcomings. The apostle writes here, and in verses 4 and 6, in the Greek present participle, which describes a continuous act or habit of sin: “everyone that sinneth” signifies everyone who lives in sin, or every sinner; and “everyone that doeth sin” means everyone whose life bears this fruit and yields sin for its product and result. The apostle is not thinking of the case of men weak in faith or “overtaken in some trespass.” Once to have seen the Lord Jesus, as John had seen Him, is enough to make any other ideal of life impossible. If you have “seen Him,” then you have fallen in love with holiness, once and forever. For you to put up with sin any more, or be at peace with it, is a thing impossible.

IV. Once more, St. John gives us to understand that sin is diabolical (verse 8). The righteous Son of God has come forth to be the leader of the sons of God, who are saved by His blood and abide in His righteousness. For the doers of sin there is another leader and pattern: “He that doeth sin is of the devil.” Every act of wrong-doing is an act of assistance to the enemy of God and man; it is an act of treason, therefore, in the professed servant of God, the soldier of Christ Jesus. Every such act helps in its degree to prop and maintain the great fortress of evil, the huge rampart raised in this world against the holy and almighty will of God, which Scripture calls sin.

V. Finally, St. John comes round again to what he had said at the outset: sin is unnatural in a child of God (verse 9). The two sentences of verse 9 amount to saying: First, as a matter of fact, the child of God does not sin; secondly, as a matter of principle, he cannot sin. Concerning “everyone that is begotten of God,” the apostle asserts, “sin he does not commit.” There is a master influence, a principle of Divine life and sonship, which produces the opposite effect, a “seed” that bears good fruit of righteousness instead of the old evil fruit of unrighteousness. This “seed of God abiding” in the believer is surely, according to John’s way of thinking, the presence of the Holy Spirit, that which he called in 1 John 2:27 “an anointing from the Holy One dwelling in you,” the chrism (anointing) which makes men Christians. Of the same grace he writes in 1 John 3:24 : “In this we know that He dwells in us, from the Spirit which He gave us.” And St. Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit, given to believers in Christ, is at once the seal of their sonship to God and the seed of moral goodness; for he speaks of the manifold forms of Christian virtue as “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23), that excludes “the works of the flesh.” For “these are contrary one to the other, so that you may not do the things you would; the Spirit lusts against the flesh”--it desires and effects what the flesh most disliked. Sin is done away not by mere negation and repression, but by the counterworking of a positive and stronger principle. The ground is so filled with the good seed that weeds have no room to grow. To a child of God, to the new nature, the new tastes and dispositions of the man “born of the Spirit,” sin becomes a moral impossibility. It is wholly repugnant to that “Divine nature” of which he now partakes (2 Peter 1:4). What shall we say, then, to the notorious fact of sin in believers? Some have shamelessly declared that their sin is no sin, for they are “born of God,” and therefore “cannot sin” 1 St. John would infallibly draw, for such men, the opposite conclusion--that, seeing they thus sin, they are not born of God, they “lie and do not the truth.” The fact must be admitted, but not for a moment allowed. Sin is an alien and monstrous thing to the regenerate; its detection in the heart must cause to a child of God the deepest pain and shame. Its actual commission, even for a moment, is a fall from grace, a loss of the seal of sonship, only to be retrieved by prompt repentance and recourse to the all-cleansing blood. Christianity can make no concession to sin, no compromise with it in any shape or form, without stultifying itself and denying its sinless, suffering Lord. (G. G. Findlay, B. A.)

Abiding in Christ the remedy against sin

As the Venerable Bede wrote long ago, “Quantum in Eo manet, tantum non peccat” (“In so far as he abideth in Him, thus far he sinneth not.”)

Christian purity

This deliverance does not imply the annihilation of the reward tendency to sin, so that we shall no longer find it in us as a force against which we have to watch and to contend. For, if Christ, by His own presence and power in our hearts, gives us complete and constant victory over the hostile force within us, so that it no longer consciously moulds our acts, or words, or thoughts, we are already saved from all polluting power of sin. A tendency to evil which is every moment trodden underfoot will cause us no spiritual shame. (J. A. Beet, D. D.)

Centrifugal and centripetal forces

This exposition may be illustrated by a far reaching analogy found in the solar system. The motive force in a planet at any moment, which force is an accumulation of its previous motion, would, if the attractive force of the sun were withdrawn, carry the planet from its orbit and to ruin. Whereas, if the inherent force were removed, the planet would fall into the sun, thus losing its individual existence. But under the combined influence of these two forces, each exerting its full influence every moment, the planet moves on its appointed path, preserving its individuality, yet subordinate to a body immensely greater than itself. So we move in absolute devotion to Him from whom we receive light and life and all things. (J. A. Beet, D. D.)

Counteracting sin

Similarly, we carry in our bodies chemical forces which would destroy us were they not neutralised by the presence of animal life. Yet, in spite of these forces, the body may be in perfect health. For the neutralising power is sufficient to preserve us. Just so the presence of Christ in our hearts holds back our inborn tendencies to evil, aggravated as they are by personal sin, and preserves us from all corruption. Thus does He save His people from their sins. (J. A. Beet, D. D.)


Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 John 3:6". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-john-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither knoweth him.

From what John had already stated in 1 John 1, we know that he had no intention here of contradicting himself with any teaching to the effect any one having committed sin was in no sense a Christian. Many of the scholars assure us, based upon the Greek verbs used here, that "sinneth" in this context means "leads a life of sin."

Abideth in him ... This is the key to the sinlessness of Christians, since their sins are forgiven continually through the power of the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). It is only in such a sense as this that any child of God was ever sinless.


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 3:6". "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 abideth in him,.... As the branch in the vine, deriving all light, life, grace, holiness, wisdom, strength, joy, peace, and comfort from Christ; or dwells in him by faith, enjoys communion with him as a fruit of union to him; and stands fast in him, being rooted and grounded in him, and abides by him, his truths and ordinances, takes up his rest, and places his security in him, and perseveres through him:

sinneth not; not that he has no sin in him, or lives without sin, but he does not live in sin, nor give up himself to a vicious course of life; for this would be inconsistent with his dwelling in Christ, and enjoying communion with him:

whosoever sinneth; which is not to be understood of a single action, but of a course of sinning:

hath not seen him, neither known him; that is, he has never seen Christ with an eye of faith; he has never truly and spiritually seen the glory, beauty, fulness, and suitableness of Christ, his need, and the worth of him; he has never seen him so as to enjoy him, and have communion with him; for what communion hath Christ with Belial, or light with darkness, or righteousness with unrighteousness? 2 Corinthians 6:14, nor has he ever savingly known him, or been experimentally acquainted with him; for though he may profess to know him in words, he denies him in works.


Copyright Statement
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 3:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever h sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

(h) He is said to sin, that does not give himself to purity, and in him sin reigns: but sin is said to dwell in the faithful, and not to reign in them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "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

He reasons from Christ‘s own entire separation from sin, that those in him must also be separate from it.

abideth in him — as the branch in the vine, by vital union living by His life.

sinneth not — In so far as he abides in Christ, so far is he free from all sin. The ideal of the Christian. The life of sin and the life of God mutually exclude one another, just as darkness and light. In matter of fact, believers do fall into sins (1 John 1:8-10; 1 John 2:1, 1 John 2:2); but all such sins are alien from the life of God, and need Christ‘s cleansing blood, without application to which the life of God could not be maintained. He sinneth not so long as he abideth in Christ.

whosoever sinneth hath not seen himGreek perfect, “has not seen, and does not see Him.” Again the ideal of Christian intuition and knowledge is presented (Matthew 7:23). All sin as such is at variance with the notion of one regenerated. Not that “whosoever is betrayed into sins has never seen nor known God”; but in so far as sin exists, in that degree the spiritual intuition and knowledge of God do not exist in him.

neither — “not even.” To see spiritually is a further step than to know; for by knowing we come to seeing by vivid realization and experimentally.


Copyright Statement
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 3:6". "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

Sinneth not (ουχ αμαρτανειouch hamartanei). Linear present (linear μενωνmenōn keeps on abiding) active indicative of αμαρτανωhamartanō “does not keep on sinning.” For μενωmenō (abide) see 1 John 2:6; John 15:4-10.

Whosoever sinneth (ο αμαρτανωνho hamartanōn). Present (linear) active articular participle like μενωνmenōn above, “the one who keeps on sinning” (lives a life of sin, not mere occasional acts of sin as αμαρτησαςhamartēsas aorist active participle, would mean).

Hath not seen him (ουχ εωρακεν αυτονouch heōraken auton). Perfect active indicative of οραωhoraō The habit of sin is proof that one has not the vision or the knowledge (εγνωκενegnōken perfect active also) of Christ. He means, of course, spiritual vision and spiritual knowledge, not the literal sense of οραωhoraō in John 1:18; John 20:29.


Copyright Statement
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 3:6". "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

Abideth

Compare John 15:4-10. To abide in Christ is more than to be in Him, since it represents a condition maintained by communion with God and by the habitual doing of His will. See on 1 John 2:6.

Sinneth not

John does not teach that believers do not sin, but is speaking of a character, a habit. Throughout the Epistle he deals with the ideal reality of life in God, in which the love of God and sin exclude each other as light and darkness.

Seen - known

The vision of Christ and the appropriation of what is seen. Rev., correctly, knoweth.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "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 abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Whosoever abideth in communion with him, by loving faith, sinneth not - While he so abideth. Whosoever sinneth certainly seeth him not - The loving eye of his soul is not then fixed upon God; neither doth he then experimentally know him - Whatever he did in time past.


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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 3:6". "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

Whosoever sinneth; that is, willingly and habitually.


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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-john-3.html. 1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

6.] The connexion see above. Every one that abideth in Him ( μένει ἐν αὐτῷ is not to be weakened down, with Semler, Episcopius, al., by any rationalistic interpretation as “credere in Christum,” “Christi discipulum esse:” still less as Œc., does ἀνενδότως τὰς ἀρετὰς μετιών express ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων. Grot. is better this time,—“qui vero amore Christo conjungitur;” but this is not enough. This a man might be to an earthly friend: but could not be said ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν. See the sense expanded in the note on ch. 1 John 2:24. Nothing short of personal immanence in the personal Christ will satisfy the words: a living because He lives, and as receiving of His fulness) sinneth not (nor again is this to be tamed down, as has been done by far more and better interpreters than in the last case, by making it mean “does not persist in sin;” so Luther, “does not allow sin to reign over him”—so Hunnius: and similarly Socinus, Episcopius, Calvin, Beza, the Schmidts, Calov., J. Lange, Bengel (“bonum justitiæ in eo non separatur a malo peccati”), Sander, al. Against all such the plain words of the Apostle must be held fast, and explained by the analogy of his way of speaking throughout the Epistle of the ideal reality of the life of God and the life of sin as absolutely excluding one another. This all the best and deepest Commentators have felt: so Augustine and Bed(44), “in quantum in ipso manet, in tantum non peccat.” The two are incompatible: and in so far as a man is found in the one, he is thereby separated from the other. In the child of God is the hatred of sin; in the child of the devil, the love of it; and every act done in virtue of either state or as belonging to either, is done purely on one side or purely on the other. If the child of God falls into sin, it is an act against nature, deadly to life, hardly endured, and bringing bitter repentance: it is as the taking of a poison, which if it be not corrected by its antidote, will sap the very springs of life. So that there is no real contradiction to ch. 1 John 1:8-10, 1 John 2:2, where this very falling into sin of the child of God is asserted and the remedy prescribed. The real difficulty of our verse is in that which follows); every one that sinneth hath not seen Him, neither hath known Him (here it seems to be said that the act of sinning not only “in tantum” excludes from the life in God and Christ, but proves that that life has never existed in the person so sinning. That this cannot be the meaning of the Apostle, is evident from such passages as ch. 1 John 1:8-10, 1 John 2:2, and indeed from the whole tenor of the Epistle, in which the νῦν τέκνα θεοῦ ἐσμέν occurs in combination with μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς and the like: whereas if the above view were correct, the very fact of πεπλανῆσθαι not only would cause them to cease from being τέκνα θεοῦ, but would prove that they never had been such. If then this cannot be so, what meaning are we to put upon the words? First observe the tense in which the verbs stand: that they are not aorists but perfects: and that some confusion is introduced in English by our perfect not corresponding to the Greek one, but rather partaking of the aoristic sense: giving the impression “hath never seen Him nor known Him:” whereas the Greek perfect denotes an abiding present effect resting on an event in the past. So much is this so, that ἔγνωκα, and many other perfects, lose altogether their reference to the past event, and point simply to the abiding present effect of it: ἔγνωκα is the present effect of a past act of cognition, = “I know.” In the Greek perfect, the present predominates: in the English perfect (and in the German still more), the past. Hence in very many cases the best version-rendering of the Greek perfect is by the English present. And so here, without for a moment letting go the true, significance of the tense, I should render, if making a version, “seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.” But manifestly such an interpretation would be philologically insufficient, and would only be chosen as the less of two evils, and as bringing out that side of the Greek perfect which, besides being the prevalent one, is less liable to mistake than the other. In exegesis, we must take in not merely the absence of such sight and knowledge in the present state of the sinner, but the significance of such present failure as regards the past: that his sight and knowledge are so far annulled as to their validity and reality. In fact, we get to much the same declaration as that in ch. 1 John 2:19, εἰ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν, μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθʼ ἡμῶν: and their very going out shewed that they were not (all are not) of us: so here: the cutting off by an act of sin of the sight and knowledge of Christ, shews, and shews in proportion as it prevails, unreality in that sight and knowledge.

As regards the relation of the words themselves, ἑώρακεν and ἔγνωκεν; some, with whom Düsterd. in the main agrees, hold that there is no perceptible difference: but that the latter word fixes and specifies the necessarily figurative meaning of the former: οὐδέ being simply copulative (= οὔτε). Lücke would understand ὁρᾷν of knowledge obtained by historical information, which matures and completes itself into γινώσκειν (edn. 3); taking οὐδέ also merely as copulative. But this seems hardly according to St. John’s practice, who uses ὁρᾷν either of bodily sight (John 1:18, 1 John 1:1, &c., &c.),—or of an intuitive immediate vision of divine things, such as Christ has of the Father and heavenly things (John 3:11; John 3:32; John 6:46; John 8:38),—or of spiritual intuition gained by knowledge of Christ and the divine life (John 14:7; John 14:9; 3 John 1:11)and there can be little doubt that this last is the meaning here: as Sander; and thus οὐδέ will retain its proper exclusive and climacteric force: ὁρᾷν is a further step than γινώσκειν: a realization of Christ’s personality and of the existence of heavenly things which is the result of spiritual knowledge: and thus the sinner “hath not seen Him, nor yet known Him”).


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

6Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him. According to his usual manner he added the opposite clause, that we may know that faith in Christ and knowledge of him are vainly pretended, except there be newness of life. For Christ is never dormant where he reigns, but the Spirit renders effectual his power. And it may be rightly said of him, that he puts sin to flight, not otherwise than as the sun drives away darkness by its own brightness. But we are again taught in this place how strong and efficacious is the knowledge of Christ; for it transforms us into his image. So by seeing and knowing we are to understand no other thing than faith.


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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-john-3.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

STEADINESS OF GROWTH

‘Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.’

1 John 3:6

Some time or another all of us have met professing, earnest Christians who said that they never sinned, who said, ‘My conversion was so real, so true, that I never sin.’ This verse seems to suggest that a true Christian, one who abides in Christ, never sins, but if we look beneath the surface we shall see its true meaning.

I. Duality of nature.—We have a duality of nature. We who have been baptized, who have put on Christ, have a Divine nature, and also, alas! a poor fallen nature, natures which are as different as white from black, natures which again and again are in bitter antagonism, in conflict. St. Paul, whose Christianity, whose conversion, whose sonship no one in the world could question, acknowledged this duality of natures when he said, ‘For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.’ Now, here it seems to me is the explanation of St. John’s words. We know that St. John never regarded a Christian as one who did not sin. He knew that the converted soul sinned, yet he also said that the converted, the regenerate man, the baptized, the son of God, as such in his Divine nature could not possibly sin. As long as a man abides in Christ sin is an impossibility. When he loses his temper, when he says that sharp thing about somebody else, when he is a little bit insincere, then he turns his back, he blots out his vision; for the moment he knows not Christ, he acts as a poor fallen man, not as a son of God, not as a regenerate being, not in his Divine nature, but as a child of Adam. Is not that true? Is not sin impossible so long as there is true communion with God? As long as I look at Christ, as long as I keep my eyes towards Him, as long as I am conscious of His presence in me, as long as I am true to Him and remember my Divine nature, I cannot sin. But the very word trespass means a leaving for the moment, a separation from God.

II. Steady growth in grace.—If our Churchmanship is real then there must be steady growth.

(a) The growth must be in power over our weaker self.—Step by step we should prove stronger in temptation within and without. Gradually our better nature—that is our Divine nature, the nature that we receive from the Father—should be gaining the mastery and pressing down the lower nature.

(b) The way to do this is to practise the presence of Christ. The way is by abiding in Him, not merely when we bow before the altar in His own great service of Holy Communion, not merely in that religious world of holy duties and holy things, but outside, amid the hard, busy, often cold, workaday world, in the city, in the hospital ward, in the workshop.

(c) The very purpose of our abiding in Christ at the Eucharist must be that we may carry that presence back into the world. We know how sometimes when we fix these natural eyes upon some object, and then we close our eyes or even look at other objects, still we see that object on which we have been intent. So should it be as we focus our spiritual vision upon Christ: we should carry back into the city, back into our homes, back into all our difficult world Christ Himself.

—Rev. D. G. Cowan.

(SECOND OUTLINE)

ABIDING IN CHRIST

What is true of all Christ’s followers? It is that they do not, cannot sin, in the sense of habitually indulging in sin; sinning without protest and struggle and sincere prayer against sin.

I. They that abide in Christ cannot be in opposition to the great end of His mission and work.—That was to destroy sin, to make all pure and wholesome and lovely.

II. They that abide in Christ cannot be at variance with His spirit and character.—Two cannot walk together except they be agreed. A man cannot live in that abode of perfect sinlessness, in the presence of that pure and holy being, and yet let the current of his life flow in the polluted channels of sin. He must quit sin or Christ.

III. The more intimately a man abides in Christ, the nearer will his actual life be brought into accordance with the ideal of Christian living.—‘Beholding as in a glass His glory, we shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’

Illustration

‘To “abide in” Christ implies having come to Him in faith, having believed on Him to the saving of the soul. And all true coming has in it the intention of abiding. It is preparatory to abiding. It is no true coming at all if there is the underlying notion of simply coming to receive a boon and then going. We have not come if, in intention and desire and resolution in God’s strength, we have not taken up our abode. He that abides in Christ “sinneth not.” A little before the same writer says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” “Sinneth” means settling down in sin, living lives without struggle and declared war against sin.’


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-john-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Ver. 6. Sinneth not] Sin may rebel, it cannot reign in a saint. He sinneth not sinningly; there is no way of wickedness in him, Psalms 139:23-24, he loves not sin, he lies not in it, but riseth again by repentance, and is restless till that be done, and done to purpose.


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". 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 3:6. Whosoever abideth in him, "Hence it plainly follows, that whoever abides in him by vital and influential union and communion with him, like a branchin the vine (John 15:5.), does not commit sin: he that sinneth, has no realizing view of him by faith: his views and knowledge of him have been so superficial, as that they deserve not to be mentioned, since they have not conquered the love and prevalence of sin, and brought the man to a holy temper and life."


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". 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

That is, "Whoever lives in sin, and goes on in a course and trade of sinning, is the servant and slave of sin; and although his reason condemns him, his conscience boggles at it, and his will is something averse to it, yet if he yields his members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, he is the servant of sin; and whatever his pretence may be, he has no right knowledge of Christ, nor any true faith in him; for whosoever abideth in him thus, sinneth not."

Learn hence, That the sincere Christian, so far as he is in Christ, and by faith united to him, and is taught and ruled by him, sinneth not; that is, he makes it his constant care and continual endeavour to shun and avoid all sin.

2. That such persons as go on in a course of sin, let their pretences to Christianity be what they will, they never had any experimental knowledge of Christ, no fellowship or communion with him; nor can ever hope to be happy in the fruition and enjoyment of him: Whosever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.


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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". 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 3:6. πᾶς ἐν αὐτᾷ (i.e. χριστῷ) μένων] refers back to the exhortation in 1 John 2:27; μένειν, not merely = inesse, expresses close fellowship.

οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει] John hereby states the abiding in Christ and sinning as irreconcilable opposites; still it is not his meaning that the believing Christian does not sin any more at all, or that he who still sins is not in Christ, for in 1 John 1:8-10, 1 John 2:1-2, 1 John 3:3, he clearly enough expresses that sin still clings to the Christian, and that he therefore needs constantly both the forgiving and saving grace of God and the intercession of Christ, as well as self-purification. The solution of the apparent contradiction must not be sought by giving the word ἁμαρτάνειν here a meaning different from what it has elsewhere (e.g. = persistere in peccato; or with Capellus = sceleratum esse, or = to commit peccata mortalia); nor even by appealing to the apostle’s ideal mode of conception (de Wette, Düsterdieck; substantially also Weiss and Brückner(205)), for “John has here to do with real cases, and wants to indicate to us the marks by which it may be known whether a man loves the Lord or not, whether he is a child of God or of the wicked one” (Sander), as is clear from φανερά ἐστι, 1 John 3:10; but only in the fact that the Christian, who is a τέκνον θεοῦ, bears the contradiction in himself that he, on the one hand, it is true, still actually sins, but, on the other hand, is also actually free from sin—so free from it that he cannot sin (1 John 3:9); he has actually broken with sin, so that in his most inner nature he is in the most decided opposition to it; yet at the same time he finds it in himself, and indeed in such a way that he still actually sins (chap. 1 John 1:10), but inasmuch as he confesses it, and experiences the forgiving and saving love of the faithful God towards him (chap. 1 John 1:9), and with all earnestness practises the ἁγνίζειν ἑαυτόν, it ever loses more and more its power over him, and thus it results that it is no longer sin, but opposition to it (as something foreign to his nature), that determines his conduct of life; and hence the apostle may with perfect justice say, that he who abides in Christ does not sin (so also Braune(206)), which is quite the same as when Paul says: εἴ τις ἐν χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδού, γέγονε καινὰ τὰ πάντα (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The antithesis expressed in the first clause is even more sharply brought out in the second, inasmuch as John does not say: πᾶς ἁ΄αρτάνων οὐ ΄ένει ἐν αὐτῷ, but: οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτόν, οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν.

πᾶς ἁ΄αρτάνων is every one who leads a life in ἁ΄αρτία, and therefore has not come out of the κόσ΄ος into the number of God’s children;(207) such an one, says John, hath not seen, neither known αὐτόν, i.e. Christ. Lücke takes the perfects ἑώρακεν and ἔγνωκεν in present signification, the former in the meaning of “the present possession of the experience,” the latter in the meaning of “the present possession of previously obtained knowledge;” but this is not rendered necessary by the context, and hence the perfects are to be retained as such, although it must be admitted that John is considering the result as one that continues into the present. The meaning of the two verbs in their relation to one another is very differently explained; according to some commentators, ἑώρακεν signifies something inferior (Semler, Baumgarten-Crusius, Lücke in his 1st ed.), according to others, something superior (Socinus, Neander, Frommann, p. 223), to ἔγνωκεν; with the former view οὐδέ is taken as = “and still less,” with the latter as = “and not as much as;” both are incorrect, for a difference of degree is in no way suggested; yet the two expressions are not to be regarded as synonymous, so that ἔγνωκε would only be added to bring out the spiritual meaning of ἑώρακεν (Düsterdieck), for although οὐδέ can neither be necessarily “disjunctive” (Lücke, 1st ed.) nor “conjunctive” (Lücke, 2d ed.), yet the form of the clauses shows, inasmuch as the object is put along with each verb, that οὐδέ here has a stronger emphasis, and that John wanted to express by the two verbs two distinct ideas. In order to determine these, the original signification of the words must be retained; ὁρᾷν signifies neither “the mere historical knowledge of Christ” (Lücke), nor the perseverantia communionis cum Christo (Erdmann), and γινώσκειν signifies neither “the experience of the heart,” nor even “love,” but even here ὁρᾷν means to see, and γινώσκειν to know; but the seeing of Christ takes place when the immediate consciousness of the glory of Christ has dawned upon us, so that the eye of our soul beholds Him as He is in the totality of His nature; the knowing of Him when by means of inquiring consideration the right understanding of Him has come to us, so that we are clearly conscious not only of His nature, but also of His relation to us.(208)


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". 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 3:6. οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει, sinneth not) In him the good of righteousness is not overcome by the evil of sin.— οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν) hath not seen Him in spirit; although perhaps, as to personal appearance, he hath seen Him in the flesh: or even, though he hath seen Him in spirit, at the very moment of sin he becomes such, as though he had never seen Him in any way.— οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτὸν, nor known Him) in truth; although perhaps he hath formerly known Him personally. Light and knowledge produce likeness to God: 1 John 3:2.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". 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

By sinneth, he meaneth the same thing as afterwards by committeth sin: see 1 John 3:8,9. Seeing and knowing intend inward union, acquaintance, and converse; such as abode in him implies: see John 5:37 3 John 1:11.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". 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

6. πᾶς ὁ μένων. Every one that abideth. Here, as in 1 John 2:23; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:3-4; 1 John 3:9-10; 1 John 3:15; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:4; 1 John 5:18, it is well to bring out in translation the full sweep of the Apostle’s declaration. He insists that there are no exceptions to these principles.

οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει. The Christian sometimes sins (1 John 1:8-10). The Christian abides in Christ (1 John 2:27). He who abides in Christ does not sin (1 John 3:6). By these apparently contradictory statements put forth one after another S. John expresses that internal contradiction of which every one who is endeavouring to do right is conscious. What S. John delivers as a series of aphorisms, which mutually qualify and explain one another, S. Paul puts forth dialectically as an argument. ‘If what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me’ (Romans 7:20). And on the other hand, ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ (Galatians 2:20).

πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτ.… αὐτον. Every one that sinneth, hath not seen Him, neither knoweth Him. For ἑώρακεν see on 1 John 1:1, for ἔγνωκεν on 1 John 2:3. It is possible that S. John alludes to some who had claimed authority because they had seen Christ in the flesh. No one who sins, has seen Christ or attained to a knowledge of Him. What does S. John mean by this strong statement? It will be observed that it is the antithesis of the preceding statement; but, as usual, instead of giving us the simple antithesis, ‘Every one that sinneth abideth not in Him,’ he expands and strengthens it into ‘Every one that sinneth hath not seen Him, neither come to know Him.’ S. John does not say this of every one who commits a sin (ὁ ἁμαρτήσας), but of the habitual sinner (ὁ ἁμαρτάνων). Although the believer sometimes sins, yet not sin, but opposition to sin, is the ruling principle of his life; for whenever he sins he confesses it, and wins forgiveness, and perseveres with his self-purification.

But the habitual sinner does none of these things: sin is his ruling principle. And this could not be the case if he had ever really known Christ. Just as apostates by leaving the Church prove that they have never really belonged to it (1 John 2:19), so the sinner by continuing in sin proves that he has never really known Christ.—Seeing and knowing are not two names for the same fact: to see Christ is to be spiritually conscious of His presence; to know Him is to recognise His character and His relation to ourselves. For a collection of varying interpretations of this passage see Farrar’s Early Days of Christianity II. p. 434, note.


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"Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-john-3.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

6. Abideth in him—Christ, who is viewed here as the embodiment of his own atonement and doctrine; and to abide in him is to live in the full embodiment therein of our own being.

Seen him—By the divine spiritual vision; as in John 14:7; John 14:9; 3 John 1:11.

Known him—Become experimentally acquainted with him. The English perfect tense seems to the reader to deny that if a man now sins he ever possessed religion. “If he has lost it, he never had it.” But, as Alford well shows, the Greek perfect much more strongly emphasizes the present time than the English, and even sometimes loses the reference to the past and expresses the present only. We may add that Ezekiel (Ezekiel 33:13,) declares of the apostate that “all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered.” To the divine recognition he never has been righteous, just as (Ezekiel 33:16) to the divine eye the convert to righteousness has never been a sinner. In truth, however, John has no reference to an apostate; he is only strongly emphasizing the blindness of the sinner to Christ.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

If abiding in God equals being a Christian, as many interpreters believe, this verse appears to contradict what John wrote in 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10. There he said that Christians sin (cf. 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:15; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 5:16; 1 John 5:21). It also seems to contradict personal experience since genuine Christians do indeed sin.

The key to understanding this statement, I believe, lies in the other terms that John used in the verse: "abides," "has seen," and "knows." John used these words throughout this epistle to refer to a believer who is walking in intimate fellowship with God ( 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 2:10). Still does this view not contradict what John said about the depravity of sinners, even Christian sinners ( 1 John 1:8)? I believe John was claiming that when a Christian walks in close fellowship with God he does not sin. The abiding believer never repudiates God"s authority over him by doing anything that resists God"s law or will while he is abiding in Christ. If he does, his fellowship with God suffers; He no longer "knows" God in that intimate sense. He no longer "sees" God because he has moved out of the light into darkness.

"John is thus saying that (translating the Gr. literally) "everyone who lives in him (Jesus) does not sin"; and by this he means that an intimate and ongoing relationship with Christ (ho en auto menon, "the one who lives in him," using the present tense) precludes the practice of sin ..." [Note: Smalley, pp158-59. Cf. John 15:5.]

There was no sin whatsoever in Jesus Christ ( 1 John 3:5). He consistently abode in (obeyed) the Father (cf. John 14:9). The Christian who consistently "abides" in a sinless Person does not sin ( 1 John 3:6). If we could abide in Christ without interruption, we would be sinless. Unfortunately we cannot do that.

Some Christians have used this verse to support the theory that Christians are sinless and perfect. Scripture and experience contradict this position (e.g, 1 John 1:8-9; et al.). Others have used it to teach that a Christian does not habitually sin, but this too is contrary to experience and the same Scripture. Advocates of this second view usually support it with the present tense of the Greek verb (harmartanei) that they take to mean "keeps on sinning."

"In modern times a popular expedient for dealing with the difficulties perceived in 1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:9 is to appeal to the use of the Greek present tense. It is then asserted that this tense necessitates a translation like, "Whoever has been born of God does not go on sinning," or, "does not continually sin." The inference to be drawn from such renderings is that, though the Christian may sin somewhat (how much is never specified!), he may not sin regularly or persistently. But on all grounds, whether linguistic or exegetical, the approach is indefensible.

"As has been pointed out by more than one competent Greek scholar, the appeal to the present tense invites intense suspicion. No other text can be cited where the Greek present tense, unaided by qualifying words, can carry this kind of significance. Indeed, when the Greek writer or speaker wished to indicate that an action was, or was not, continual, there were special words to express this." [Note: Hodges, The Gospel . . ., pp58-59. See also Smalley, pp159-60; and Yarbrough, p183.]

"The perfect tense in Greek signifies a state of affairs. It is not concerned with the past occurrence of the event but with its reality, its existence." [Note: J. P. Louw, "Verbal Aspect in the First Letter of John ," Neotestamentica9 (1975):101.]

"The perfect tense here is not intended to categorize a person as either saved or unsaved, since even believers sin ( 1 John 1:8). Instead, the statement is intended to stigmatize all sin as the product, not only of not abiding, but also of ignorance and blindness toward God." [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p136.]

If we were to translate 1 John 1:8 and 1 John 5:16, where the present tense also occurs, "do not continually have sin" and "continually sinning a sin" respectively, these verses would contradict 1 John 3:6. It would involve no self-deception to say that we do not continually have sin ( 1 John 1:8) since whoever is born of God does not continually sin ( 1 John 3:6). Furthermore if one born of God does not continually sin ( 1 John 3:1), how could a Christian see his brother Christian continually sinning ( 1 John 5:16)? Suppose we translated the present tense in John 14:6 the same way: "No one continually comes to the Father except through Me." This would imply that occasionally someone might come to God in another way. No orthodox translator would offer that as an acceptable rendering of John 14:6, and it is not acceptable in 1 John 3:6 either.

". . . it is not surprising that commentators have attempted to water down John"s teaching to refer merely to the believer"s freedom from habitual sin. But we must not misinterpret the text for pastoral reasons. Properly interpreted, the text remains a source of comfort." [Note: Marshall, p187.]

Another view takes John to mean that no one who abides in Christ has the power to sin, or, to put it positively, Christians who abide in Him have the power not to sin. [Note: Smalley, pp161-62 , 164 , 172.] Yet this is an idea that the reader must import into the verse. While it is true that Christians who abide in Christ have the power not to sin, this does not seem to be what John meant here. He seemed to link abiding and not sinning in a more direct cause and effect relationship.

1 John 3:4 sets forth the essential character of sin, 1 John 3:5 relates it to the person and work of Christ, and 1 John 3:6 relates it to the whole human race.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-john-3.html. 2012.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 John 3:6. This seems a stark contradiction of 1 John 1:8 to 1 John 2:2. (1) St. Augustine first limits the statement: “In quantum in ipso manet, in tantum non peccat,” and then narrows the idea of “sin” by defining it as “not loving one’s brother” (1 John 3:10). (2) St. Bernard (De Nat. et Dign. Am. Div. vi.) compares Romans 7:17; Romans 7:20 : “secundum hoc quod natus est ex Deo, id est secundum interioris hominis rationem, in tantum non peccat, in quantum peccatum quod corpus mortis foris operatur, odit potius quam approbat, semine spiritualis nativitatis quo ex Deo natus est eum interius conservante”. (3) Romanists limit “sin” to “mortal sin”. (4) Many commentators say that St. John is thinking only of the ideal. All these simply explain away the emphatic declaration. There is really no contradiction, and the Apostle’s meaning appears when account is taken of the terms he employs with accurate precision. In the earlier passage he says that there is indwelling sin in the believer. The sinful principle ( ἁμαρτία) remains, and it manifests its presence by lapses from holiness—occasional sins, definite, isolated acts of sin. This is the force ot the aorists, ἁμάρτητε, ἁμάρτῃ in 1 John 2:1. Here he uses the present ἁμαρτάνειν (varied by ποιεῖν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν) with the implication of continuance in sin. The distinction between present and aorist is well exemplified by Matt. 6 11: δὸς σήμερον as contrasted with Luke 11:3 : δίδου τὸ καθʼ ἡμέραν, and Matthew 14:22 : ἐμβῆναικαὶ προάγειν. The distinction was obvious to St. John’s Greek readers, and they would feel no difficulty when he said, on the one hand: ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παράκλητον ἔχομεν, and, on the other: πᾶς ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτόν. The believer may fall into sin but he will not walk in it. “Hath not seen Him,” because he is “in the darkness” (cf. 1 John 1:5-7).


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". 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 3:6. Whosoever abideth in union and fellowship with him — By loving faith; sinneth not — Doth not commit known sin, while he so abideth: whosoever sinneth — Transgresseth any known law of God; hath not seen him, neither known him — His views and knowledge of him have been so superficial that they deserve not to be mentioned, since they have not conquered his love of sin, and the prevalence of it, and brought him to a holy temper and life. Or he has not attained to, or has not retained, a spiritual, experimental acquaintance and communion with him. For, certainly, when a person sins, or transgresseth any known law of God, the loving eye of his soul is not fixed upon God; neither doth he then experimentally know him, whatever he did in time past. Macknight thinks it probable that “some of the heretical teachers, condemned by the apostle in this epistle, to make their disciples believe that their opinions were derived from Christ, boasted their having seen and conversed with him during his ministry on earth, consequently that they knew his doctrine perfectly. But the apostle assured his children that, if these teachers, who avowedly continued in sin, had ever seen or conversed with Christ, they had utterly mistaken both his character and his doctrine.”


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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-john-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Whosoever abideth in him, complying with his law, sinneth not; and whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, nor known him; that is, with such a knowledge as is joined with love. (Witham) --- Sinneth not; viz. mortally. See Chap. i. 8. (Challoner)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-john-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

abideth. Greek. meno. See p. 1511.

sinneth. App-128.

seen. App-133.

neither. Greek. oude.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "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 abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Christ's entire separation from sin implies that those in Him must also be separate from it.

Abideth in him - as the branch in the vine, by vital union, living by His life.

Sinneth not. So far as he abides in Christ, he is free from all sin. The ideal of the Christian. The life of sin and the life of God exclude one another, as darkness and light. In matter of fact, believers do fall into sins (1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10; 1 John 2:1-2); but all sins are alien from the life of God, and need Christ's cleansing blood, without application to which the life of God could not be maintained. He sinneth not so long as he abideth in Christ. He that falls into sin is a man: he that boasts of sin is a devil: he that grieves at sin is a saint (Fuller).

Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him , [ heooraken (Greek #3708)] - 'has not seen, and does not see Him.' The ideal of Christian intuitive knowledge is presented, John 10:4. All sin is at variance with the notion of one regenerated. Not 'whosoever is betrayed into sins has never seen, nor known' God; but in so far as sin exists, in that degree spiritual intuition of God doth not exist in him.

Neither - `not even.' To see spiritually is a further step than to know; for by knowing we come to seeing by vivid, experimental realization.


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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-john-3.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

Does not continue to sin. Both the TEV and the NIV bring out the fact that the Greek uses the present continuous tense. All Christians sin on the spur of the moment (1 John 1:8-10). But Christians do not purposely go on sinning continuously!!! See 1 John 3:9. But whoever continues. "The one who makes a habit of sin has never really seen Him, even though he may have seen Christ as a human being, and does not know either His character or His will, as the Holy One!"


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-john-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
abideth
2:28; John 15:4-7
whosoever
2,9; 2:4; 4:8; 5:18; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6; 3 John 1:11

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-john-3.html.

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

Abideth signifies a continuous life in Christ and not a wavering from side to side. Such a person sin-neth not which is akin to the word eommitteth as to its ending which will be explained at verse9. A person cannot abide in Christ until he first comes into Him, then if he continues in that relation it can be said that he is abiding in Him. By the same token if a man sinneth it is proof that such a person has not yet made his acquaintance with Christ. .


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Bibliography
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/1-john-3.html. 1952.

The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures

XXII. The Secret of Sinlessness—Our Abiding in Christ—The Seed of God Abiding in Us—Our Being Born of God

"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. . . Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth [abideth] in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."— 1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:9 (I reserve the exposition of the intermediate verses, because I think they can be best considered after we have as far as possible ascertained the sense in which it is said of believers in Christ that they do not and cannot sin.)

THESE strong statements—that one abiding in Christ does not sin, and that one born of God cannot sin;—are often perplexing, not to say distressing, to serious minds. How is it if I am forced to ask. I sin, every day, every hour, every moment, I may say, in thought or word or deed. Must I therefore conclude that I am not in Christ; not born of God? It is a real practical difficulty. Let us fairly grapple with it.

I. These texts do not teach, either the doctrine of perfection, or that other doctrine which is apt to usurp its place; the doctrine that God sees no sin in his people, or that what would be sin in others is not sin in them. When I say that this latter doctrine is apt to supplant the other, I do not mean that all who believe in the perfection or perfectibility of the saints on earth are antinomians. I speak simply of what I hold to be a strong tendency in the nature of things I am told that it is possible for a Christian to live without sinning; that he may be so sanctified as to be incapable of sinning; that such holiness is attainable; nay, that no one can be long a Christian without attaining it; that no one can be sure of his Christianity unless he has attained it. But I see in the most Christian of men, I feel in myself in my most Christian mood, much that is not easily reconcilable with this immaculate sinlessness, unless I can persuade myself that what looks very like sin is not really sin. I am tempted to do so; to defend, on the ground of Christian character, what otherwise Iwould give over to just condemnation; to stand up for the harmlessness in a believer of ways that would confessedly hurt or ruin the unconverted. And so I really open the door to those perversions of such texts as, "He that is spiritual is judged of no Prayer of Manasseh ," "To the pure all things are pure," which have wrought sad havoc with the plain morality of the Bible.

II. There is another mode of dealing with the statements before us which I cannot feel to be satisfactory. It is to limit or restrict their comprehensiveness; and to understand the apostle as speaking, not of sin absolutely and universally, but of sin more or less voluntary and presumptuous, According to this view, one abiding in Christ and born of God does not and cannot sin deliberately, intentionally, knowingly. He may be overtaken in a fault; he may be compassed about with infirmities; he may have his occasional aberrations and failings. But he does not lay plans and go into evil with his eyes open.

Is that true? Was it true of David? Or of the man in Corinth who was excommunicated for incest, and upon repentance restored? Is it any relief to me, when I am staggered by the hard saying that the true Christian does not and cannot commit sin, to be told that it may be so modified as to mean that he does not and cannot sin voluntarily. Will that modification meet my case? Alas! no. For I dare not persuade myself that I never sin voluntarily. The saying excludes me, and tells against me, as much as ever. And then, is it safe to make such a distinction as this between two sorts of sin: and to make it for such a purpose as this? May it not again let in the notion of some evil being tolerable and venial after all in a child of God? Where and how is the line to be drawn?

III. It may help us out of the difficulty if we first look at the statements before us in the light, not of what we are now by grace, but of what we are to be in the future state of glory. It will be true then that we sin not; it will be impossible for us then to sin. What will make it true that we sin not? What will make it impossible for us to sin? Simply, our abiding in Christ; our being born of God; his seed abiding in us.

It is most important that we should endeavour to form some distinct idea of this feature or characteristic of heaven's holiness; its absolute inviolability; its being perfectly secure against the possibility of sin ever marring it. Saints in glory do not and cannot sin. Wherein consists this impossibility of sinning? Of what sort is it? Plainly it cannot be a merely physical or natural inability; it must be of a moral kind. It is not outward coercion or prevention; it is not enforced sinlessness, which would be no sinlessness at all. Neither is it sinlessness dependent on external circumstances; such as want of opportunity or absence of temptation. The impeccability is and must be an attribute of the inner man; of the saint himself, as perfectly sanctified in his whole nature. If in the heavenly world I am not to sin; to be incapable of sin that cannot be in consequence of any mere change in. my outward position; any mere translation from one locality to another, from one system of things to another. It was not his expulsion from Paradise that made Adam peccable, or capable of committing sin. He was so from the first in Paradise, for there he sinned. It is not his return to Paradise, nor his promotion to a Better state than that of Paradise, that will make him impeccable. His impeccability must be otherwise attained and secured.

It is true that change of place and of circumstances may do much; and it is a great change that is before us. "We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." It will, indeed, be a very different atmosphere that we breathe in heaven from what so often deadens, stupifies, and paralyses our Christian life on earth. We shall be there under other influences and in the midst of other companionships. No more is there any course of this world for us to walk after; no more any prince of the power of the air to intoxicate us with the poisonous vapour of his ungodliness; no more any children of disobedience, seducing us to have our conversation among them. It will, unquestionably, be a blessed relief. To be rid of Satan and of Satan's wiles; to be for ever quit of those worldly ways and habits around us here that are so apt to draw us into conformity with themselves; to be where there is no more any antagonism between what is and what ought to Be; to be where God is all in all;—it may well be imagined to be like "a bird escaping out of the snare of the fowler; the snare is Broken; and we are escaped!" "Oh! that I had wings like a dove, that I might flee away and be at rest!" "Woe is me that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!" But let me Beware. If I imagine that it is my being in heaven that is to make me pure and sinless, or render it impossible for me to sin, I am under a sad and most unsafe delusion. Let it be granted that then all I come in contact with will be holy, and all conducive to holiness; with "nothing to hurt or to destroy in all God's holy mountain." Still, place me there, continuing simply such as I am here; and not only is it not true of me that I cannot sin; but it is true of me that I cannot but sin. Evidently, therefore, its being impossible for me to sin in the future state, must depend upon something else than mere change of scene. And what follows? It must depend upon something that may be actually realised more or less perfectly here. It must depend upon what may be and must be realised here, in the inner spiritual history and experience of every child of God.

Let me remind you that this impeccability lies in the will; the seat of it is the will. It is because, in the state of glory, my will is made "perfectly and immutably free to do good alone," that my will Isaiah , or that I myself Amos , incapable of doing evil. (See Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter IX, "Of Free Will." In the state of glory, the will is still free: "neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined, to good or evil." But it is so thoroughly renewed as to be incapable of an evil choice, "being made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone.") And let me also remind you that sin, the sin which it will then be impossible for me to commit, is "the transgression of the law;" of the law of God which is the expression of his will. His will is perfectly and immutably free. His law is its free utterance; the free forth-going of his free will. Your impeccability,—its being impossible for you to sin,—is its being impossible for you to will otherwise than he wills; to think or feel otherwise than he does, as to that law of his which is his will. And if it is your will that is to be thus free; free, as his will is free, to do good alone; and therefore incapable of an evil choice; then your impeccability must be, if I may say Song of Solomon , itself voluntary; voluntarily accepted and realised. The position in which I find it impossible to sin must be attested by my own consciousness as a position that is freely and voluntarily mine.

Let me try to imagine myself as regards this matter in the heavenly state. I cannot sin. Why not? What hinders me? Is it that my hands are tied? Is it that my will is fettered? Am I not free? Yes; I am free as God is free. And therefore I can no more sin than God can sin. In the very same sense in which God cannot sin, I cannot sin. My will can no more go against his law than his own will can go against it. For why is it that God cannot sin?—that his will cannot go against his law? Is it not because the law is his will? Is it not because the law is his nature? Yes. The law is his will, his spontaneous will. And it is his nature; the very essence of his moral character and being is in his law. For the law is love; and God is love. The law is holy; and God is holy. He cannot sin, or transgress the law, because he cannot go against his own will, or against his nature. Sin in him, were the thought admissible, would be self-contradictory; suicidal. "He cannot deny himself." Now in heaven am I in this respect such as he is?—really, literally, absolutely such as he is? Yes, that is my heaven! It is my being thus like him when I see him as he is. When, clear from the darkness in which now he hides himself in a world that knows him not, his glory shines unclouded; then I "see him as he is" so as to be "satisfied when I awake with his likeness." It is the likeness of him who cannot sin.

IV. Let me try to bring out more clearly this principle as one that must connect the future with the present. Why is it that in heaven, my will being free as God's will is free, I can no more sin than he can sin? What answer would John give to that question if you could put it to him now? As thus;—"In whatever sense, and with whatever modifications, thou didst, in thy experience when here, find that to be true which thou hast so emphatically put,—as the test, apparently, of real Christianity,—it is all true of thee there, where thou art now! How is it so Why is it so?" "Because I abide in the Son of God, and God's own seed abides in me, as being born of God;" is not that his reply? What other reply can he give?

No doubt he may also say, "I am no more in a world that knows not God; exposed to its flattery or its rage. I have nothing now to apprehend from Satan's subtilty. I have laid aside the body of corruption that used to weigh me down. The lusts of the flesh solicit and trouble me no more. Evil propensities, the remains of my old original and inveterate depravity, are all thoroughly put away. Not a vestige of any root of bitterness remains in me; nor is there any exposure to trial or temptation from without." These are great and inestimable advantages. "But," he would add, "not one of them secures, nor do they altogether secure, my impeccability; or its being impossible for me to sin. Excepting only immunity from Satan's subtilty, man in Paradise enjoyed them all; and yet he was peccable; he sinned. Without any exception, the unfallen angels enjoyed them all; and yet they showed themselves peccable; some of their number fell. My heaven is no heaven at all, if in respect of this matter of my not sinning, or its being impossible for me to sin, I am no better off than Adam was in the garden, or the angelic hosts in their first estate. But I am better off. And what, you ask, makes me better off? My abiding in the Son of God, and having God's own seed abiding in me, as being born of him. First, I "abide in the Son of God" evermore, uninterruptedly; and therefore I see God as his Son sees him; I feel towards God as his Son feels. Secondly, as born of God, I have "his seed abiding in me," evermore, uninterruptedly; his seed, conveying me his nature, as truly as a plant's seed imparts its nature to its successor, or a man's seed imparts his nature to his child."

"These two causes combined," John might say, "ensure my not sinning; make it impossible for me to sin by transgressing the law. For, in virtue of the first, the law is to me what it is to the Son of God, the God-man; not merely an enforced rule; far less a yoke of bondage; but an inward principle also of free, spontaneous choice. It is within my heart, as it is within his. There can no more spring up in my heart than there can spring up in his, the slightest or faintest feeling of impatience under it, or of a longing to be without it or above it. And then, in virtue of the other, the law is to me what it is to God himself. It. is the expression of my nature, as it is of his. Being what I Amos , as born of him, his seed abiding in me, I can no more go against it than Hebrews , being what he Isaiah , can go against it himself."

Is this the secret of the saint's impeccability in heaven? Is it at all a true and fair account of his not sinning, of its being impossible for him to sin?

Then does it not follow that it is an impeccability that may be realised on earth? For the causes of it are realised on earth; first, your abiding in the Son of God; secondly, your being born of God so as to have his seed abiding in you. And so far as they are realised on earth, they cannot but make it impossible for you to sin here, in the very same way in which, when realised perfectly in heaven, they will make it impossible for you to sin there. For they are causes whose efficacy does not at all depend on time or place or circumstances. They act here and now as they will act then and there. They make God's will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven.

V. Viewed thus in the light of "what we shall be," and of the bearing of what we shall be on what we are, John's statements assume a somewhat different aspect from what they are apt to wear when taken by themselves. They become not one whit less solemn but greatly more encouraging.

For one thing, you may now regard them as describing a precious privilege, as well as imposing a searching test. They show you the way of perfect holiness; how you are to be righteous, even as Christ is righteous,—even as God is righteous.

I suppose that it is your desire to be so; if it is not, you are none of Christ's, and are not children of God. Your earnest longing Isaiah , I assume, that you were placed in such circumstances, or that there were wrought in you such a frame of spirit, as would make it impossible for you ever to sin any more.

Well, if it is Song of Solomon , should it not be matter of satisfaction to you to be told that you have even now within your reach, realisable in your experience, the elements or conditions, so to speak, of that very state of things which you so warmly covet? John takes it for granted, that "having this hope in God;"—the hope that when "it does appear what you shall be," it will imply your being "like him whose children you are, because you shall see him as he is", "you purify yourselves even as his own Son is pure." And surely in that view he does you a kindness when he tells you how this purifying of yourselves as Christ is pure may become possible, even to the extent of its being as impossible for you as for him to commit sin or to transgress the law. He does no sin; he can do no sin; he cannot have a thought or wish to transgress the law. Why? Because he is the Son of God, his only begotten Song of Solomon , of one nature with the Father. Even when he takes your nature, he Isaiah , on that account, sinless and impeccable. And the good news here Isaiah , that you also are becoming impeccable in him. Of course, it is good news to you only if impeccability is really the object of your desire; your hope; your heaven. Is it so? Would it be heaven to you not to sin; to be incapable of sinning; to be so situated and so minded, that for you to sin would be as truly anti really an impossibility as for Christ or for God? Then these texts are for you. They let you into the secret of this impeccability; they show you wherein it consists. They set it before you, not as something to be reached some time, somewhere, somehow, in some other world, through some mysterious unknown processes to be gone through at death and the resurrection; but as what you may have experience of, and must have experience of, in this present world, and under this present dispensation of the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit makes you really one with the Son of God, so that, abiding in him, you par. take of his sonship; his filial relation to the Father and filial heart towards the Father. And the Holy Spirit also implants in you and puts within you the seed of God, the germ of God's own nature and God's own life, so that you are in very truth born of God. When thus in your adoption, rightly viewed, and in your regeneration, the Holy Spirit unites you to the Song of Solomon , and assimilates you to the Father;—when thus you abide in the Song of Solomon , in whose Song of Solomon -ship you share, and the seed of God your Father, of whom you are born, abides in you;—you have already, in present possession and for present use, all that is essential to impeccability.

VI. Taking this view, I confess I do not feel so much concern as otherwise I might feel about reconciling such strong statements as that one abiding in Christ sinneth not, or that one born of God cannot sin, with the acknowledged and lamented fact that he does sin. John has dealt with that fact already, and told us how to deal with it. It is not his business here to be making allowance for it. It would be beside his purpose altogether, and indeed against it, to be qualifying his high and bold appeal to honest aspirants after perfection, by concessions to those whose object would seem to be to ascertain, not how, and how far, perfection may be reached, but how far they may stop short of it. John has not any such Christians in his eye. Or if he has, it is to bring to bear upon them the whole artillery of these startling statements, in all their strictest and most literal force. They are to be solemnly warned that sin is absolutely incompatible with abiding in Christ and being born of God—all sin, any sin, every sin; that "whosoever sinneth hath not seen Christ, neither known him." To them John has nothing else to say. He cannot otherwise meet their question as to the extent to which sin, still cleaving to a child of God, may be admitted not to vitiate his title. For indeed it is most dangerous to be considering the matter in that light or on that side at all. It is almost sure to lead, first to calculations, and then to compromises, fatal to singleness of eye and the holy ambition that ought to fire the breast; calculations first, about the quantity and quality of the residuum of old corruption which we must lay our account with finding in the purest God-born soul; and then compromises, under the sort of feeling that, as the proverb says, what cannot be cured must be endured.

I beseech you to turn from that downward, earthward way of looking at this great theme; and to look upward and heavenward. I speak to you as believing you to be in earnest about purifying yourselves even as Christ is pure. I tell you that the gospel makes full provision for holiness; and no provision at all for sin. It contemplates, not your sinning, but your not sinning; nay, its being impossible for you to sin. If it did not, it would be no gospel to you. For you are weary of sinning; weary of finding it always so possible, so easy to sin. The risings of a rebellious spirit in you against God, and his will, and his law; your feelings of irksomeness, as if his commandments were grievous, his ways dark, his sayings harsh, his service hard, himself austere; are a continual grief to you. Well, may it not be some consolation, some encouragement, to know, that you have within you, if you will but stir up the gift that is in you, the elements of a holier and happier life? For these are indeed, when rightly considered, most precious assurances; "Whosoever abideth in Christ sinneth not;" "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for God's seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." Let a few practical inferences be suggested.

1. I think the texts teach, or imply, the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints; the impossibility of their either wholly or permanently falling away from a state of grace. I cannot understand statements so strong as "sinneth not," or "cannot sin," especially when taken in connection with the reasons given, "abiding in Christ;" "being born of God;" "the seed of God abiding in him,"—in any sense consistent with the idea of one who by faith has been united to Christ, and by adoption and regeneration made a child of God, proving ultimately a castaway. It may be quite true that it is not John's immediate design to dwell on that tenet. But nevertheless he uses words that seem very plainly to assume it. It is not easy to see how any one could be called upon to recognise in himself, as actually his now in possession and experience, the principle, if I may so speak, of impeccability, excepting upon grounds precluding the risk of his losing altogether his character and standing in Christ.

2. The texts teach however, very plainly, that this doctrine, whatever may be its practical use and value in its right place, and when turned to legitimate account, cannot give to any man security in sin; cannot make him safe when he is sinning, when he is committing sin or transgressing the law. When he is sinning, he can draw no assurance whatever from his "having seen and known Christ." Virtually, to all intents and purposes, he is exactly in the same position with one who "has not seen him, neither known him" ( 1 John 3:6). Never, at any moment, may I reckon on a past act of God towards me,—his calling me, justifying me, adopting me in his Son; or a past work of God in me,—his regenerating me by his Spirit;—as giving me any present confidence, if my present state is one of sin. Not only is this not right; I believe it to be impossible. I believe that no man ever yet felt himself secure in sinning now, on the ground of his having been brought to "see and know" Christ long ago. His feeling of security, in so far as he has such a feeling, does not really spring from that belief as to the past, but from ignorance now of Christ and of God; from present unbelief. For the present, he is an unbeliever, not seeing or knowing Christ; no better than if he had never seen or known him. The moment he comes again to believe, and has his eyes opened to see and know Christ; Christ looking on him when he is sinning as he looked on Peter;—security there is none; confidence there is none; only bitter weeping. He repents, and does the first works. He believes, as if he had never believed before. He realises again, as at the first, his abiding in Christ and God's seed abiding in him. Our sinning, therefore; our feeling it to be possible for us to sin; is in fact, and as a practical matter, absolutely incompatible with our abiding in Christ and being born of God. We are only really abiding in Christ, and consciously and influentially, if I may say Song of Solomon , born of God so as to have his seed abiding in us,—in so far as we do not sin,—in so far as we cannot sin.

3. For this, let me again remind you, is John's true design and purpose; it is to put you in the way of not sinning; of its being impossible for you to sin. It is to let you into the secret of sinlessness, of impeccability; that you may be successful in purifying yourselves as Christ is pure. Realise your abiding in Christ, your being born of God, his seed abiding in you. And realise all that, as you may realise it, not as what is to be in heaven; when it will appear what you shall be; but as what may be, and must be, and is on earth; even when "it doth not yet appear what you shall be." Do not imagine that you must wait till you get to heaven until you can know what it is not to sin; to be beyond the possibility of sinning. No doubt it is only in heaven that you can know that perfectly. But you may know something of it on earth. You need not imagine that if you know nothing of it on earth, you can know anything of it in heaven. For it is not, I repeat, any change of scene that will make you know it. Some have fancied that by getting out of the world into the wilderness they might come not to sin; nay, might get themselves into a state in which they could not sin. Away from society's pomps and vanities, its pleasures and vices, in the solitude of the desert, they have sought for immaculate and impeccable holiness; they have sought for it painfully, with tears and stripes. Alas! they have sought for it in vain. But you may find it, in the midst of all evil, if you seek it aright, in the way of abiding in Christ, and having God's seed abiding in you, as being born of him. And you will find it, if you apprehend the force of the Lord's own words: "As thou, Father, hast sent me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth."


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Bibliography
Candlish, Robert Smith. "Commentary on 1 John 3:6". The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rsc/1-john-3.html. 1877.

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