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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 3:7

 

 

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;

Adam Clarke Commentary

Let no man deceive you - Either by asserting that "you cannot be saved from sin in this life," or "that sin will do you no harm and cannot alter your state, if you are adopted into the family of God; for sin cannot annul this adoption." Hear God, ye deceivers! He that doeth righteousness is righteous, according to his state, nature, and the extent of his moral powers.

Even as he is righteous - Allowing for the disparity that must necessarily exist between that which is bounded, and that which is without limits. As God, in the infinitude of his nature, is righteous; so they, being filled with him, are in their limited nature righteous.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Little children - Notes at 1 John 2:1.

Let no man deceive you - That is, in the matter under consideration; to wit, by persuading you that a man may live in sinful practices, and yet be a true child of God. From this it is clear that the apostle supposed there were some who would attempt to do this, and it was to counteract their arts that he made these positive statements in regard to the nature of true religion.

He that doeth righteousness is righteous - This is laid down as a great and undeniable principle in religion - a maxim which none could dispute, and as important as it is plain. And it is worthy of all the emphasis which the apostle lays on it. The man who does righteousness, or leads an upright life, is a righteous man, and no other one is. No matter how any one may claim that he is justified by faith; no matter how he may conform to the external duties and rites of religion; no matter how zealous he may be for orthodoxy, or for the order of the church; no matter what visions and raptures he may have, or of what peace and joy in his soul he may boast; no matter how little he may fear death, or hope for heaven - unless he is in fact a righteous man, in the proper sense of the term, he cannot be a child of God. Compare Matthew 7:16-23. If he is, in the proper sense of the word, a man who keeps the law of God, and leads a holy life, he is righteous, for that is religion. Such a man, however, will always feel that his claim to be regarded as a righteous man is not to be traced to what he is in himself, but to what he owes to the grace of God.

Even as he is righteous - See the notes at 1 John 3:3. Not necessarily in this world to the same degree, but with the same kind of righteousness. Hereafter he will become wholly free from all sin, like his God and Saviour, 1 John 3:2.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 John 3:7

Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous

The secret of sinlessness

The false teachers of John’s day held that one might reach in some mysterious way a height of serene, inviolable, inward purity and peace, such as no things without, not even his own actions, could stain.
In a less transcendental form, the same sort of notion practically prevails in the world. John meets it by bringing out in marked contrast the two opposite natures, one or other of which we must all share: that of God and that of the devil.

I. “He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as Christ is righteous.” It is clearly moral character that is here in question, not legal standing. The precise lesson taught, the great principle asserted, is that righteousness, moral righteousness, cannot possibly exist in a quiescent or inactive state; that it never can be a latent power or undeveloped quality; that wherever it is it must be operative. It must be working, and working according to its own essential nature. Moreover, it must be working, not partially, but universally; working everywhere and always; working in and upon whatever it comes in contact with, in the mind within and the world without. Otherwise, it is not righteousness at all; certainly not such as we see in Jesus; it is not “being righteous as He is righteous.”

II. As “doing righteousness,” through its being thus associated or identified with “being righteous as the Son is righteous,” proves our being “born of God”; so “doing sin” proves a very different relationship, a very different paternity. “He that committeth” or doeth “sin is of the devil”; for, by doing sin, he shows his identity of nature with him who is a sinner from the beginning. And it is upon identity of nature, proved practically, that the question of moral and spiritual parentage must ultimately turn. This phrase, “being of the devil,” as used here and elsewhere in Scripture, does not imply what in human opinion would be accounted great criminality or gross immorality. The sin which lost Satan heaven was neither lust nor murder. It was not carnal at all, but merely spiritual. It was not even lying--at least, not at first--though “he is a liar, and the father of it.” It was pure and simple insubordination and rebellion; the setting of his will against God’s; the proud refusal, at the Father’s bidding, to worship the Son. So “the devil sinneth from the beginning.” And when you so sin, you are of your father the devil. In order, then, to enter into the full meaning of John’s solemn testimony, it is not needful to wait till some horrid access of diabolic fury or frenzy seizes us. It is enough if “the tongue speaketh proud things,” or the heart conceives them. “Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?” Or, why are they not our own? May they not at least occasionally be our own--this once; for singing one vain song, or uttering one idle word, or joining in an hour’s not very profitable, but not yet very objectionable, talk? Is there any rising up in us of such a feeling as this, as if it were hard that we may not occasionally take our own way and be our own masters? It is the devil’s seed abiding in us; the seed of the devil’s sin, and of his sinful nature.

III. “But for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

On imitation of the obedience of Christ

I. What we are to understand by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

1. He was preeminently righteous in His moral sentiments. His mind was entirely free from pollution, and no unrighteous or unholy affection ever harboured there. He had the law of God in His heart, and it was His meal and His drink to do the will of His heavenly Father. By the original constitution of His nature, and the plenary inspiration of the Spirit, He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. His love to God was intense, rational, and pure, and His benevolence to man was without the slightest ingredient that could sully the purity and heavenliness of His motives.

2. He was righteous, not only in His moral sentiments, but also preeminently righteous as it regarded His moral actions. From the perfection of His knowledge He knew intuitively both what was good and what was evil; but His heart never consented to what was evil, and His will led him invariably to choose the good and reject the evil. He endured a severer series of temptation than any other human being that ever appeared in the world. He had no other motive to direct His moral conduct but the glory of God, and the desire of advantage to the bodies and the souls of men. The only ambition by which He was actuated was the noble, the generous, the Godlike ambition of doing good.

II. We can only lay claim to that designation in so far as our sentiments and actions correspond with his. In one very important respect there is certainly a vast difference between even the holiest of men and our Lord Jesus Christ. From the native rectitude of His will He could do nothing that was evil; but, alas! we are naturally prone to evil; and how, then, it may be asked, can we be righteous, even as He was righteous? But we ought ever to recollect theft this is not a natural, but a moral inability; it is not so much the want of power as the want of inclination, and this will never excuse us before the tribunal of Almighty God. We know what is good, and what the Lord requires of us; but we too often voluntarily follow after, and do that which is evil. (D. Stevenson.)

The importance of works

The words “he that doeth righteousness,” instruct us that there is a righteousness which we can do. We are elsewhere taught that there is a righteousness which we cannot do (Psalms 14:1; Psalms 14:3; Romans 3:10). The righteousness, in the sense of which none are righteous, is either a natural righteousness, we all, by nature, being inclined to evil, or it is an independent righteousness, or it is a meritorious righteousness, or else it is the legal righteousness, the righteousness of perfect obedience, and “in many things we offend all.” But the righteousness which we can do is very extensive and precious. We can be so far righteous as to render to God, according to the best of our poor abilities, the honour and worship due to Him; we can believe in Him, fear Him, pray to Him, give Him thanks, honour Him with our substance, delight in His ordinances and commandments; we can avoid the wilful commission of sin, we can cause our light so to shine before men that seeing it they may be led to glorify our heavenly Father. Now our text affirms of those who practise such righteousness--first, that they are righteous; and, secondly, that they are righteous as Christ is righteous.

I. He that doeth righteousness is righteous. Some would object to the use of this language in reference to any human being. They think that human nature is so inevitably depraved that no terms except those of the most debasing import are applicable to any works which proceed from it, even in its regenerate state. But however partial some may be to such distressing views of human nature, the Scriptures do not authorise them. They unequivocally state the fact of man’s depravity, but they confine themselves to general declarations of the same, such as “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” without attempting to fix the degree of our common corruption--a forbearance which it would be wise in all to imitate.

II. He is righteous even as Christ is righteous. The apostle appears to mean that, as Christ’s righteousness was His own personal righteousness, and not by imputation, so that righteousness which is by faith shall be accounted the believer’s personal, which, through the meritorious obedience of Christ, shall avail to final justification. (A. Williams, M. A.)

Sin and its destruction

I. “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” The word rendered “committeth,” implies continued action. It is expressive of a habit rather than of an act. It assumes that the sinner is under the influence of Satan. His power over the body and the physical faculties of the mind is fearfully exposed in the history of demoniacal possessions in the gospel narrative. There is evidence no less clear and irresistible of his influence over moral principles. “The lusts of your father ye will do,” “the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience.” There is, more, however, in the expression of the text. It implies that not only are sinners subject to Satan, but that they are employed by him to aid him in influencing others to evil.

II. The devil sinneth from the beginning. “From the beginning” must be explained of a limited period, and refers probably to the commencement of the present dispensation. His conduct toward our first parents is the model of what he has ever done toward their descendants. And it is deserving of notice how those whom he does succeed to influence are made to resemble him. As he does to them, so do they to others. They are seduced by Satan and they become seducers. They are deceived by him, and they try to deceive others. Such is the progress of sin. It knows no limit. Once set in motion, it continues with accelerated pace to pursue its course. At the same time we are reminded by the view of sin and Satan now before us, that there is no effectual restraint put upon iniquity, nor any reformation produced by all the sorrow and suffering which it entails. True, the opportunity of indulgence may be withdrawn, and then the sin is not committed, or a partial and temporary change may be produced. But mere suffering can effect no more. The Spirit of God alone can heal the malady.

III. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” The work of Christ is a full counterpart to that of Satan. (J. Morgan, D. D.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 John 3:7". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-john-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous:

In this verse, there is a strong suggestion that some of the false teachers who were troubling the church of that era were teaching that one could be saved without living a pure and godly life. Deceitful arguments to the same effect are current in our own times; and there has never been, perhaps, a period of church history when such deceitful heresies were not skillfully advocated. What John said here is: "Make no mistake about it, living the Christian life is the one and only proof of a person's being a Christian."

Even as he is righteous ... This is possible only through perfect unity with and identification with Christ who is truly righteous. Nothing short of the perfect righteousness of Christ can ever save any one. Let every man decide, therefore, if he will dare to appear before God in judgment clad in his own personal righteousness alone, or if he will deny himself and be baptized "into Christ," thereby becoming a participant in that righteousness which alone is sufficient and efficacious.


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 3:7". "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

Little children, let no man deceive you,.... Neither by these doctrines, nor by wicked practices, drawing into the belief of the one, or into the performance of the other; suggesting, as the Gnostics did, that knowledge without practice was enough, and that it was no matter how a man lived, provided his notions of the Gospel were right:

he that doeth righteousness, is righteous; not that any man is made righteous by the works of the law, or by his obedience to the law of works, for this is contrary to the express word of God; and besides, the best righteousness of man is imperfect, and can never constitute or denominate him righteous before God; and was he justified by it; it would not only lay a foundation for boasting in him, which ought not to be, but would make the death, the sacrifice, and righteousness of Christ, to be in vain; men are only made righteous by the righteousness of Christ, which be has wrought out which is revealed in the Gospel, and received by faith, and which God imputes without works; so that he that doeth righteousness is he that being convinced of the insufficiency of his own righteousness, and of the excellency and suitableness of Christ's righteousness, renounces his own, and submits to his; who lays hold upon it, receives it, and exercises faith on it, as his justifying righteousness; and, in consequence of this, lives in a course of holiness and righteousness, in opposition to, and distinction from one that commits sin, or lives a sinful course of life; which, though it does not make him righteous in the sight of God, yet it shows him to be righteous in the sight of men, and proves that faith to be right which lays hold on the righteousness of Christ, by which he is truly righteous:

even as he is righteous; as Christ himself is righteous; and so the Syriac version reads; not as personal, or as he is personally and essentially righteous as God; but as mystical, every member of his body being clothed with the same robe of righteousness the whole body of Christ is, and indeed justified by the same righteousness that he as Mediator was, when he rose from the dead, as the representative of his people: moreover, as Christ showed himself to be righteous as man, by doing good, so believers in him, by imitating him, and walking as he walked, show themselves to be good and righteous, like, though not equal to him; for as a tree is known by its fruits, so is a good man by his good works, and a righteous man by doing righteousness; and as good fruit does not make a good tree, but shows it to be good, so good works do not make a good man, nor a man's own righteousness make him a righteous man, but show him to be so.


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

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

(7) Another argument of things joined together: He that lives justly, is just, and resembles Christ that is just, and by that is known to be the Son of God.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-john-3.html. 1599-1645.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Let no man lead you astray (μηδεις πλανατω υμαςmēdeis planātō humas). Present active imperative of πλαναωplanaō “let no one keep on leading you astray.” See 1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:26. Break the spell of any Gnostic charmer.

He that doeth righteousness (ο ποιων την δικαιοσυνηνho poiōn tēn dikaiosunēn). “He that keeps on doing (present active participle of ποιεωpoieō) righteousness.” For this idiom with ποιεωpoieō see 1 John 1:6; 1 John 3:4.

He (εκεινοςekeinos). Christ as in 1 John 3:5.


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 3:7". "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

Little children

See on 1 John 2:1.

Deceive ( πλανάτω )

Rev., better, lead astray. See on 1 John 1:8.

Doeth righteousness

See on 1 John 3:4, and compare 1 John 2:29. Note the article τὴν , the righteousness, in its completeness and unity. Not merely doing righteous acts. “In his relation to other men he will do what is just; and in his relation to the gods he will do what is holy; and he who does what is just and holy cannot be other than just and holy” (Plato, “Gorgias,” 507).


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "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

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

Let no one deceive you — Let none persuade you that any man is righteous but he that uniformly practises righteousness; he alone is righteous, after the example of his Lord.


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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 3:7". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-john-3.html. 1765.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

7.] Little children, let no one deceive you (it does not seem that any particular false teacher is here in St. John’s view; but he alludes to all who would sever ethical likeness to God from the Christian life): he that doeth righteousness ( τὴν δ., perhaps as being abstract, but more probably because the righteousness spoken of is but one, and that God’s: the righteousness which is His) is righteous, even as He (here apparently, God, notwithstanding the apparent parallel of ἰησοῦν χριστὸν δίκαιον in ch. 1 John 2:2; for we are by this saying, as by that in 1 John 3:3,—where see note,—referred back to the great Source of our spiritual birth, ch. 1 John 2:29, and our likeness to Him insisted on: ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ἔγνωκεν τὸν δίκαιον, καὶ δίκαιός ἐστιν ὡς καὶ ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν, τουτέστιν ὁ θεός) is righteous.

This verse has absolutely nothing to do with the sense which the R.-Cath. expositors have endeavoured to extract from it, “adversus hæreticos hodiernos, simili ratione populum seducentes, cum negant per bona opera quemquam justum esse coram Deo,” Est., and so Lyra, Corn.-a-lap., and Tirinus. But this is altogether to invert the proposition of the Apostle, who is reasoning, not from the fact of doing good works to the conclusion that a man is righteous, but from the hypothesis of a man’s being a child of God, born of Him and like Him, to the necessity of his purifying himself and doing righteousness. And in doing this, he ascribes the ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην to its source, and the ποιεῖν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν to its source: the one man is of God, the other is of the devil. As Luther well says (in Düsterd. h. l.), “good works of piety do not make a good pious man, but a good pious man does good pious works.… Fruits grow from the tree, not the tree from fruits”).


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

7.He that doeth righteousness The Apostle shews here that newness of life is testified by good works; nor does that likeness of which he has spoken, that is between Christ and his members, appear, except by the fruits they bring forth; as though he had said, “Since it behooves us to be conformed to Christ, the truth and evidence of this must appear in our life.” The exhortation is the same with that of Paul in Galatians

“If ye live in the Spirit, walk also in the Spirit.”
(
Galatians 5:25)

For many would gladly persuade themselves that they have this righteousness buried in their hearts, while iniquity evidently occupies their feet, and hands, and tongue, and eyes.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-john-3.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

righteousness

"Righteousness" here, and in the passages having marginal references to this, means the righteous life which is the result of salvation through Christ. The righteous man under law became righteous by doing righteously; under grace he does righteously because he has been made righteous Romans 3:22.

(See Scofield "Romans 10:3")


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Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 1 John 3:7". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/1-john-3.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

Ver. 7. Let no man deceive you] As if you might pass e coeno in coelum; fly to heaven with dragon’s wings; dance with the devil all day, and sup with Christ at night; live all your lives long in Delilah’s lap, and then go to Abraham’s bosom when you die. These are the devil’s dirt daubers that teach such doctrine, his upholsterers that sew such pillows, Ezekiel 13:18.

He that doth righteousness is righteous] Provided that he do it from a right principle. For otherwise men may naturally perform the outward act of righteousness, and yet not be righteous persons; as Ahab humbled himself. Alexander the Great, when he had killed Clitus, was troubled in conscience, and sent to all kinds of philosophers (as it were to so many ministers) to know what he might do to appease his conscience and satisfy for that sin. Uriah, that brought in the altar of Damascus, is called "a faithful witness," Isaiah 8:2, true to his word; yet no man looketh upon him as righteous. It is not, saith a reverend man, in divinity as in moral philosophy, where iusta et iuste agendo simus iusti, by doing righteous things and righteously we are made righteous; but we have esse to be first, and then the operari, &c., the work, the habit, and then the act.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". 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 3:7. He that doeth righteousness, He who practiseth righteousness; and so 1 John 3:8-9 he who practiseth sin. The scriptures frequently represent him as the righteous man, who habitually and constantly, internally and externally, practiseth righteousness. The verse may be thus paraphrased: "My dear littlechildren, let no one deceive you on this important matter by vain words, with whatever pomp, or solemnity, or plausibility, they may be attended. A Being, himself immutably holy, can never dispense with the want of holiness in his reasonable creatures. He that practiseth righteousness is righteous, even as he himself is righteous: it is his own image, and hemust invariably love and delight in it; and must as invariably abhor sin, as utterly contrary to his nature." This is an obvious interpretation of the phrase; and is very necessary to avoid an indulgence of the most extravagant kind. For certainly it is not every one who performs some one just or righteous action, that can be denominated righteous; nor can any man be entitled to that character, who does not in the main course of hislife, practise universal righteousness. Aristotle has a passage much to the same purpose with this of St. John: "Then shall a man be righteous, first, if he does the things which are righteous, and knows what he does; secondly, if he does them freely, or out of choice;thirdly, if he continues firmly and constantly in that course of action." St. John, by introducing this verse with let no man deceive you, intimated that the matter was of vast importance, and there was danger of their bring deceived by the false teachers in this particular.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". 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

As if the apostle had said, "Let no man deceive you by making you believe that a right faith may consist with an unrighteous life, for only he that doeth righteousness is righteous."

Note here, 1. That there is a twofold doing of righteousness.

1. In a legal sense, which stands in an exact obeying and fulfilling the law; and thus there is none righteous, no not one.

2. In an evangelical sense, a walking uprightly, according to the rule of the gospel, conscientiously avoiding all known sin, and performing every commanded duty; it is not a single action, but a constant course of holy actions, that denominates a person holy; a righteous man makes righteousness the business of his life; his daily care is how to please God in all he does.

Note, 2. That it is the duty of every Christian, that would not be deceived as to his spiritual state and condition, to try himself by this infallible mark and rule of trial: He that doth righteousness is righteous; he that doth not righteousness is not of God.

Christian, enquire not so much what thy affections are, what thy desires are, what thy joys and comforts are, as what thy actions are; not what thy peace is, but what thy paths are: For God doth not measure men's sincerity by the tides of their affections, but by the constant bent of their resolutions, and the general course and tenor of their conversation; He that doth righteousness, is righteous, and only he.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". 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 3:7. While the apostle would reduce the specified antithesis to the last cause, and thereby bring it out in all its sharpness, he begins the new train of thought, connected, however, with the preceding, after the impressive address τεκνία (or παιδία), with the warning directed against moral indifferentism: μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς, which, as Düsterdieck rightly observes, is not necessarily founded on a polemic against false teachers (Antinomians, for instance); comp. chap. 1 John 1:8.

ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην, δίκαιός ἐστι καθὼς κ. τ. λ.] with ποιεῖν τὴν δικ., comp. chap. 1 John 2:29. From the connection with the foregoing we would expect as predicate either: ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν κ. τ. λ. (1 John 3:6), or ἐν αὐτῷ μένει (1 John 3:5); but it is peculiar to John to introduce new thoughts and references in antithetical sentences. By the subordinate clause καθὼς ἐκεῖνος (i.e. χριστὸς) δίκαιός ἐστι he puts the idea δίκαιος in direct reference to Christ, so that the thought of this verse includes in it this, that only he who practises δικαιοσύνη has known Christ and abides in Him; for he only can be exactly καθὼς χριστός (i.e. in a way corresponding to the pattern of Christ) who stands in a real fellowship of life with Him. It is incorrect, both to interpret, with Baumgarten-Crusius: “he who is righteous follows the example of Christ,” and also to take δίκαιος = “justified,” and to define the meaning of the verse thus: “only he who has been justified by Christ does righteousness.”(209)

There is this difference between the two ideas: ποιεῖν τὴν δικ. and δίκαιον εἶναι, that the first signifies the action, the second the state. The reality of the latter is proved in the former. He who does not do righteousness shows thereby that he is not righteous.(210)


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". 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 3:7. ΄ηδεὶς πλανάτω, let no man lead you astray) He deceives, who thinks that he can be accounted righteous without the deeds of righteousness.—[ δίκαιός ἐστι, is righteous) Deuteronomy 6:25.—V. g.]


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". 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

This caution implies the zealous endeavour of the seducers of that time, to instil their poisonous doctrine and principles of licentiousness; and his own solicitude, lest these Christians should receive them, and be mischiefed by them. Whereas therefore they were wont to suggest, that a merely notional knowledge was enough to recommend men, and make them acceptable to God, though they lived never so impure lives; he inculcates, that only they that did righteousness, viz. in a continued course, living comformably to the rules of the gospel, were righteous; and that they must aim to be so,

even as he is righteous; not only making the righteousness and holy life of Christ the object of their trust, but the pattern of their walking and practice.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-john-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

1 John

PRACTICAL RIGHTEOUSNESS

1 John 3:7.

The popular idea of the Apostle John is strangely unlike the real man. He is supposed to be the gentle Apostle of Love, the mystic amongst the Twelve. He is that, but he was the ‘son of thunder’ before he was the Apostle of Love, and he did not drop the first character when he attained the second. No doubt his central thought was, ‘God is Love’; no doubt that thought had refined and assimilated his character, but the love which he believed and the love which he exercised were neither of them facile feebleness, but strong and radiant with an awful purity. None of the New Testament writers proclaims a more austere morality than does John. And just because he loved the Love and the Light, he hated and loathed the darkness. He can thunder and lighten when needful, and he shows us that the true divine love in a man recoils from its opposite as passionately as it cleaves to God and good.

Again, John is, par excellence, the mystic of the New Testament, always insisting on the direct communion which every soul may have with God, which is the essence of wholesome mysticism. Now that type of thinking has often in its raptures forgotten plain, pedestrian morality; but John never commits that error. He never soars so high as to lose sight of the flat earth below; and whilst he is always inviting us and enjoining us to dwell in God and abide in Christ, with equal persistence and force he is preaching to us the plainest duties of elementary morality.

He illustrates this moral earnestness in my text. The ‘little children’ for whom he was so affectionately solicitous were in danger, either from teachers or from the tendencies native in us all, to substitute something else for plain, righteous conduct; and the Apostle lovingly appeals to them with his urgent declaration, that the only thing which shows a man to be righteous--that is to say, a disciple of Christ--is his daily life, in conformity with Christ’s commands. The errors of these ancient Asiatics live to-day in new forms, but still substantially the same. And they are as hard to kill amongst English Nonconformists like us as they were amongst Asiatic Christians nineteen centuries ago.

I. So let me try just to insist, first of all, on that thought that doing righteousness is the one test of being a Christian.

Now that word ‘righteousness’ is a theological word, and by much usage the lettering has got to be all but obliterated upon it; and it is worn smooth like sixpences that go from pocket to pocket. Therefore I want, before I go further, to make this one distinct point, that the New Testament righteousness is no theological, cloistered, peculiar kind of excellence, but embraces within its scope, ‘whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are fair, whatsoever things are of good report’; all that the world calls virtue, all which the world has combined to praise. There are countries on the earth which are known by different names to their inhabitants and to foreigners. The ‘righteousness’ of the New Testament, though it embraces a great deal more, includes within its map all the territories which belong to morality or to virtue. The three words cover the same ground, though one of them covers more than the other two. The New Testament ‘righteousness’ differs from the moralist’s morality, or the world’s virtue, in its scope, inasmuch as it includes our relations to God as well as to men; it differs in its perspective, inasmuch as it exalts some types of excellence that the world pooh-poohs, and pulls down some that the world hallelujahs and adulates; it strips the fine feathers of approving words off some vices which masquerade as virtues. It casts round the notion of duty, of morality, of virtue, a halo, and it touches it with emotion. Christianity does with the dictates of the natural conscience what we might figure as being the leading out of some captive virgin in white, from the darkness into the sunshine, and the turning of her face up to heaven, which illuminates it with a new splendour, and invests her with a new attractiveness. But all that any man rightly includes in his notion of the things that are ‘of good report’ is included in this theological word, righteousness, which to some of you seems so wrapped in mists, and so far away from daily life.

I freely confess that in very many instances the morality of the moralist has outshone the righteousness of the Christian. Yes! and I have seen canoe-paddles carved by South Sea Islanders with no better tools than an oyster-shell and a sharp fish-bone, which in the minuteness and delicacy of their work, as well as in the truth and taste of their pattern, might put to shame the work of carvers with better tools. But that is not the fault of the tools; it is the fault of the carvers. And so, whilst we acknowledge that Christian people have but poorly represented to the world what Christ and Christ’s apostles meant by righteousness, I reiterate that the righteousness of the gospel is the morality of the world plus a great deal more.

That being understood, let me remind you of two or three ways in which this great truth of the text is obscured to us, and in some respects contradicted, in the practice of many professing Christians. First, let me say my text insists upon this, that the conduct, not the creed, makes the Christian. There is a continual tendency on our part, as there was with these believers in Asia Minor long ago, to substitute the mere acceptance, especially the orthodox acceptance, of certain great fundamental Christian truths for Christianity. A man may believe thirty-nine or thirty-nine thousand Articles without the smallest intellectual drawback, and not be one whit nearer being a Christian than if he did not believe one of them. For faith, which is the thing that makes a man a Christian to begin with, is not assent, but trust. And there is a whole gulf, wide enough to drown a world in, between the two attitudes of mind. On the one side of the gulf is salvation, on the other side of the gulf there may be loss. Of course, I know that it is hard, though I do not believe it is impossible, to erect the structure of a saving faith on a very, very imperfect intellectual apprehension of Scripture truth. That has nothing to do with my present point. What I am saying is that, unless you erect that structure of a faith which is an act of your will and of your whole nature, and not the mere assent of your understanding, upon your belief, your belief is impotent, and is of no use at all, and you might as well not have it.

What is the office of our creed in regard to our conduct? To give us principles, to give us motives, to give us guidance, to give us weapons. If it does these things then it does its work. If it lies in our heads a mere acceptance of certain propositions, it is just as useless and as dead as the withered seeds that rattle inside a dried poppy-head in the autumn winds. You are meant to begin with accepting truth, and then you are meant to take that truth as being a power in your lives that shall shape your conduct. To know, and there an end, is enough in matters of mere science, but in matters of religion and in matters of morality or righteousness knowing is only the first step in the process, and we are made to know in order that, knowing, we may do.

But some professing Christians seem to have their natures built, like ocean-going steamers, with water-tight compartments, on the one side of which they keep their creed, and there is no kind of communication between that and the other side where their conduct is originated. ‘Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous.’

Again, my text suggests conduct and not emotion.

Now there is a type of Christian life which is more attractive in appearance than that of the hard, fossilised, orthodox believer--viz., the warmly emotional and fervent Christian. But that type, all experience shows, has a pit dug close beside it into which it is apt to fall. For there is a strange connection between emotional Christianity and a want of straightforwardness in daily business life, and of self-control and government of the appetites and the senses. That has been sadly shown, over and again, and if we had time one could easily point to the reasons in human nature, and its strange contexture, why it should be so. Now I am not disparaging emotion--God forbid--for I believe that to a very large extent the peculiarity of Christian teaching is just this, that it does bring emotion to bear upon the hard grind of daily duty. But for all that, I am bound to say that this is a danger which, in this day, by reason of certain tendencies in our popular Christianity, is a very real one, and that you will find people gushing in religious enthusiasm, and then going away to live very questionable, and sometimes very mean, and sometimes even very gross and sensual lives. The emotion is meant to spring from the creed, and it is meant to be the middle term between the creed and the conduct. Why, we have learnt to harness electricity to our tramcars, and to make it run our messages, and light our homes, and that is like what we have to do with the emotion without which a man’s Christianity will be a poor, scraggy thing. It is a good servant; it is a bad master. You do not show yourselves to be Christians because you gush. You do not show yourselves to be Christians because you can talk fervidly and feel deeply. Raptures are all very well, but what we want is the grind of daily righteousness, and doing little things because of the fear and the love of the Lord.

May I say again, my text suggests conduct, and not verbal worship. You and I, in our adherence to a simpler, less ornate and æsthetic form of devotion than prevails in the great Episcopal churches, are by no means free from the danger which, in a more acute form, besets them, of substituting participation in external acts of worship for daily righteousness of life Laborare est orare--to work is to pray. That is true with explanations, commentaries, and limitations. But I wonder how many people there are who sing hymns which breathe aspirations and wishes that their whole daily life contradicts. And I wonder how many of us there are who seem to be joining in prayers that we never expect to have answered, and would be very much astonished if the answers came, and should not know what to do with if they did come. We live in one line, and worship in exactly the opposite. Brethren, creed is necessary; emotion is necessary; worship is necessary! But that on which these three all converge, and for which they are, is daily life, plain, practical righteousness.

II. Now let me say, secondly, that being righteous is the way to do righteousness.

One of the great characteristics of New Testament teaching of morality, or rather let me say of Christ’s teaching of morality, is that it shifts, if I may so put it, the centre of gravity from acts to being, that instead of repeating the parrot-cry, ‘Do, do, do’ or ‘Do not, do not, do not,’ it says, ‘Be, and the doing will take care of itself. Be; do not trouble so much about outward acts, look after the inward nature.’ Character makes conduct, though, of course, conduct reacts upon character. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,’ and the way to set actions right is to set the heart right.

Some of us are trying to purify the stream by putting in disinfectants half-way down, instead of going up to the source and dealing with the fountain. And the weakness of all the ordinary, commonplace morality of the world is that it puts its stress upon the deeds, and leaves comparatively uncared for the condition of the person, the inward self, from whom the deeds come. And so it is all superficial, and of small account.

If that be so, then we are met by this experience: that when we honestly try to make the tree good that its fruit may be good we come full front up to this, that there is a streak in us, a stain, a twist--call it anything you like--like a black vein through a piece of Parian marble, or a scratch upon a mirror, which streak or twist baffles our effort to make ourselves righteous. I am not going, if I can help it, to exaggerate the facts of the case. The Christian teaching of what is unfortunately called total depravity is not that there is no good in anybody, but that there is a diffused evil in everybody which affects in different degrees and in different ways all a man’s nature. And that is no mere doctrine of the New Testament, but it is a transcript from the experience of every one of us.

What then? If I must be righteous in order that I may do righteousness, and if, as I have found out by experience {for the only way to know myself is to reflect upon what I have done}--if I have found out that I am not righteous, what then? You may say to me, ‘Have you led me into a blind alley, out of which I cannot get? Here you are, insisting on an imperative necessity, and in the same breath saying that it is impossible. What is left for me?’ I go on to tell you what is left.

III. Union with Jesus Christ by faith makes us ‘righteous even as He is righteous.’

There is the pledge, there is the prophecy, there is the pattern; and there is the power to redeem the pledge, to fulfil the prophecy, to make the pattern copyable and copied by every one of us. Brethren, this is the very heart of John’s teaching, that if we will, not by the mere assent of our intellect, but by the casting of ourselves on Jesus Christ, trust in Him, there comes about a union between us and Him so real, so deep, so vital, so energetic, that by the touch of His life we live, and by His righteousness breathed into us, we, too, may become righteous. The great vessel and the tiny pot by its side may have a connecting pipe, and from the great one there shall flow over into the little one as much as will fill it brim full. In Him we too may be righteous.

My friend, there are men and women who are ready to set to their seals that that is true, and who can say, ‘I have found it so. By union with Jesus Christ in faith, I have received new tastes, new inclinations, a new set to my whole life, and I have been able to overcome unrighteousnesses which were too many and too mighty for myself.’ It is so; and some of us to our own consciences and consciousness are witnesses to it, however imperfectly. God forgive us! We may have manifested the renewing power of union with Christ in our daily lives.

‘Even as He is righteous’--the water in the great vessel and the little one are the same, but the vase is not the cistern. The beam comes from the sun, but the beam is not the sun. ‘Even as’ does not mean equality, but it does mean similarity. Christ is righteous, eternally, essentially, completely; we may be ‘even as He is’ derivatively, partially, and if we put our trust in Him we shall be so, and that growingly through our daily lives. And then, after earth is done with, ‘we know that, when He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’

May we each, dear brethren, ‘be found in Him, not having our own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.’


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Bibliography
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/1-john-3.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Doeth righteousness; in his life.

Is righteous; in his character. The tree-a righteous character-is known by its fruit-doing righteousness.


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Bibliography
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

7. τεκνία. The renewed address adds solemnity and tenderness to the warning. From the point of view of the present subject, viz. the Divine parentage, he again warns them against the ruinous doctrine that religion and conduct are separable; that to the spiritual man no action is defiling, but all conduct is alike. The language implies that the error set before them is of a very grave kind: let no man lead you astray: see on 1 John 1:8.

ὁ ποιῶν. Not ὁ ποιήσας, any more than ὁ ἁμαρτήσας (1 John 3:6). It is he who habitually does righteousness, not he who simply does a righteous act. If faith without works is dead (James 2:17; James 2:20), much more is knowledge without works dead. There is only one way of proving our enlightenment, of proving our parentage from Him who is Light; and that is by doing the righteousness which is characteristic of Him and His Son. This is the sure test, the test which Gnostic self-exaltation pretended to despise. Anyone can say that he possesses a superior knowledge of Divine truth; but does he act accordingly? Does he do divine things, after the example of the Divine Son? S. John speaks of both the Father (1 John 1:9) and the Son (1 John 2:2) as δίκαιος; but here as elsewhere in this Epistle, it is best to take ἐκεῖνος as meaning Christ: see on 1 John 2:6 and 1 John 3:3.


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Bibliography
"Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-john-3.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

7. Let no man deceive you—An earnest warning against the Nicolaitan doctrinaries who taught that holiness is consistent with licentious deeds and open wicked life.

Doeth—The continuous present. Not he that merely once doeth, but who permanently practiseth righteousness is righteous.

There is no righteousness in the man that doeth not righteousness. By their fruits shall ye know them.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-john-3.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 John 3:7. An affectionate warning against Nicolaitan Antinomianism (cf. note on 1 John 1:6-7). The Apostle cuts away vain pretences by a sharp principle: a righteous character expresses itself in righteous conduct. Christ ( ἐκεῖνος) is the type. He was “the Son of God,” and if we are “children of God,” we must be like Him.


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-john-3.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Little children. App-108.

no man = no one. Greek. medeis.

deceive. See 1 John 2:26 (seduce).

doeth. See 1 John 2:29.

righteousness. App-191.

righteous. App-191. Compare 1 John 2:29.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "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

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

The same truth, with the addition that he who sins is, so far as he sins, "of the devil."

Let no man deceive you - as antimonians would.

Righteousness - `the righteousness' of Christ or God.

He that doeth ... is righteous. Not his doing makes him righteous, but his being righteous (justified by the He that doeth ... is righteous. Not his doing makes him righteous, but his being righteous (justified by the righteousness of God in Christ, Romans 10:3-10) makes him to do righteousness: an inversion common in familiar language, logical in reality, though not in form, as an Luke 7:47; John 8:47. Works do not justify, but the justified man works. We infer from his doing righteousness that he is already righteous (i:e., has the true and only principle of doing righteousness-namely, faith), and is therefore born of God (1 John 3:9); just as we say, The tree that bears good fruit is a good tree, and has a living root: not that the fruit makes the tree and its root good, but shows that they are so.

He - Christ.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "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

Let no one deceive you! "Do not let the false teachers fool you with their talk that merely believing will make you righteous even though you go on sinning!" Whoever does. "It is the one who makes a habit of doing what is right who has the same righteous character that Christ has!"


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-john-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
let
2:26,29; Romans 2:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 6:7,8; Ephesians 5:6; James 1:22; 2:19; 5:1-3
he that
Psalms 106:3; Ezekiel 18:5-9; Matthew 5:20; Luke 1:75; Acts 10:35; Romans 2:6-8,13; Romans 6:16-18; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11; 1 Peter 2:24
even
3; 2:1; Psalms 45:7; 72:1-7; Hebrews 1:8; 7:2; 1 Peter 1:15,16

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". "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

Little children is general and is used as explained at 1 John 2:1. They are again warned against being deceived which evidently refers to the antichrists who are mentioned in the preceding chapter. The first he stands for the faithful follower of Christ and the second he means Christ himself. Doeth and is righteous are

related and will receive some more light at verse9.


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Bibliography
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 3:7". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/1-john-3.html. 1952.

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