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-1. This is the message. Here the common reading is, Tayyeλia, the promise. But our tranflators have juftly followed the reading of above thirty MSS. and feveral ancient verfions, which have here αγγελία ayys the message. Or they have fuppofed, that sayyelia may be tranflated a message. For it is plain, that the apoftle is not speaking of a promife, but of a message.
2. Which we have received from him, and declare to you. The initiated into the heathen fellowships gloried in their mysteries, or hidden doctrines, as the only effectual means of purifying the foul from ignorance and error, But the real tendency of thefe myfteries was to corrupt the minds of the initiated, with falfe notions of the objects of their worship, and of the duties of morality: for which reafon they were always communicated under the feal of the greatest fecrefy. See pref. to Ephefians fect. 7. paragr. 4. The Chriftian myfteries, or doctrines, being of a very different nature, and having a real tendency to enlighten the foul, the apoftles publifhed them to all mankind: particularly that great doctrine concerning the nature of God, which was delivered to them by Chrift as a meffage from God himself, namely, That God is light, He is righteousnefs, goodness and truth; and in him is no darkness at all, no ignorance, nor error, nor evil of any nd. See the following note 3. Moreover, he is the fource of all the knowledge, truth, and goodness exifting in the univerfe. This important doctrine, having been delivered by the living word, as a meffage from God himfelf to the apoftles, their declaration of it, was thereby rendered more folemn and certain. Thus it appears, that while the minds of the heathens were utterly corrupted by the reprefentations given of their gods in the myfteries, the initiated in the fellowship of Chrift, had in their myfteries, that is in the preaching of the word and in the facraments, the highest ideas given them of the holiness and other perfections of God; and were taught to afpire after the greatest fanctity of manners, by imitating him.
This meffage concerning God, fo folemnly declared by the apostle, may have been defigned likewife as a condemnation of the impure doctrines and practices of the Nicolaitans, and other heretics, who in
the firft age, endeavoured to feduce the faithful to commit idolatry, lewdness, and other impurities.
3. That God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. Light being the pureft of all material fubftances, and that which, by means of the eye, conveys to the mind pleasures more grateful, and more various, than thofe communicated by the other fenfes, it is fitly used, meta.. phorically, to denote knowledge and virtue. Wherefore, when we are told that God is light, it fignifies not only that he is infinite in knowledge, and poffeffed of all moral perfection, without the leaft mixture of evil, but that the contemplation of his nature and perfections is as pleasant to the minds of his rational creatures, as light is to the eye. On the other hand, darkness admitting all manner of mixtures, and concealing every thing from our view, and being extremely unpleasant as well as hurtful, is ufed with propriety to denote ignorance, error, and moral evil or vice, which of all things are the most deftructive of our rational nature. Hence the devils, the most immoral beings in the univerfe, and the greatest promoters of ignorance and wickedness, are ftyled, Ephef. vi. 12. are ftyled, Ephef. vi. 12. The rulers of the darkness of this world: and their kingdom is called, Luke xxii. 53. and Col. i. 13. The power of darkness: And the idolatrous heathen their fubjects, who were converted to Chriftianity, are faid Ephef. v. 8. to have been formerly darkness, but now light in the Lord. So likewife the Jews converted to Chrift, are called, Col. i. 12. Saints in the light.-Bengelius thinks the apoftle, by calling God light, means to tell us, that God is to the eye of the mind what light is to the eye of the body.-Eftius in his note on this verfe fays, the Manicheans held that God is a light vifible to the bodily eye: and that Chrift is the vifible fun which we behold.
Ver. 6. If we fay. This is an expreffion repeatedly ufed by John ;: the meaning of which according to Bengelius is, If we endeavour to perfuade ourselves and others.
Ver. 7.-- 1. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light. The apostle doth not fay, as he walketh in the light, but as he is in the light, to fhew that God is effentially and perfectly holy.
2. We have fellowship with one another. As the apoftle is fpeaking here, not of the fellowship which Chriftians have with each other, but with the Father and with his Son Jefus Chrift, fellowlip μετ' αλλήλων with one another, must mean fellowship or intercourfe between the head and the members of the community. This fellowship confifts in the Father's beftowing bleffings on us through the mediation of Chrift; and in our receiving thefe bleffings from the Father and the Son with thankfulnefs.-in fome MSS. the reading here is, μετ' αυτ8,
with him. But it makes no alteration in the fenfe.
3. And the blood of Jefus Chrift his Son cleanfeth us from all fin. As the apoftle in this paffage reprefents our being cleanfed from all fin as the effect of our walking in the light, it is evident that by our being cleansed from all fin, he doth not mean our being delivered from the power but from the punishment of fin; a bleffing which hath been procured by the blood or death of Chriftas a propitiatory facrifice. Accordingly Chrift's blood is faid, Heb. ix. 14. to cleanfe the confcience of finners from dead works; that is, from thofe fears which always accompany the confcioufnefs of having done works which deferve eternal death, Our actual deliverance however from punishment is not accomplished in the prefent life; but it is promifed in the gospel to all who walk in the light; and that is fufficient.-But there is a cleanfing from all fin, in another fenfe, which is begun in the present
life by the blood of Chrift, who having died to procure us the influences of the Spirit for fanctifying our natures, may he truly faid to cleanfe us from all fin by his blood. Of this cleanfing the apostle does not fpeak in this verfe, as was observed above: But he speaks of it ver. 9.
Ver. 8. If we fay that we have no fin, we deceive ourselves the apoftle declared in oppofition to the Nicolaitans and Simonians, who corruptly fancying that under the gofpel difpenfation no action whatever was forbidden, argued that they did not fin by any thing they were pleafed to do. As the cleansing of men from all fin, mentioned in the preceding verfe, doth not mean that believers are par doned and rendered perfectly holy in the prefent life, but only that the pardon of all their fins is attainable, and that the fanctification of their nature is begun and only gradually carrying on, the apoftle without contradicting himfelf, might affirm that whofoever faith he hath no fin, deceiveth himself. For, through the infirmity of human nature and the strength of temptation, the holieft fometimes fall into fin; but they quickly recover themselves by repentance: So that they do not continue in fin.-This text with chap. iii. 3. overthrows the Pelagian notion, that good men may live without fin; and that many good men have actually fo lived.
To If we fay that we have not finned, we make
him a liar, and his word is
not in us.
1ο Εαν έπωμεν ότι 8χ ἡμαρτηκαμεν, ψεύςην ποι μεν αυτόν, και ο λογο αυτ τε εκ εςιν εν ήμι.
Ver. 9. If we confefs our fins, he is faithful and juft fo that he can forgive. Here the apoftle fhews what is neceffary on our part for obtaining pardon through the blood of Chriít. We must confefs our fins to God. He mentions confeffion; not as if it were the only thing neceffary; but because it is the firft ftep towards repentance and reformation; and becaufe, if it is fincere, it will be followed with reformation,
View and Illuftration of the Doctrines and Precepts contained in this Chapter.
HE apoftle, in the preceding chapter, having mentioned the
fellowship of God and of his Son Jefus Chrift; alfo having thewed the obligation which lieth on all the members of that honourable fellowship, to imitate God and Chrift in their holinefs; and defcribed the benefits to be obtained by being in that fellowship, particularly the great benefit of being cleanfed from their fins through the blood of Chrift; he, in the beginning of this chapter, declared that he wrote these things to them, not to encourage them to fin, but to prevent them from finning. Yet if any one happened to fin, though furprise, or strong temptation, or weakness of understanding, he was not to despair of pardon, provided he repented, and did not continue in his fin; because we have an advocate with the Father, Jefus Chrift the just one, ver. 1.-who is the propitiation appointed of. God for the fins of the Jews, and not for theirs only, but for the fins of the whole world; fo that penitents of all ages and nations, may expect pardon through the merit of his death, ver. 2. Next it appears that the Nicolaitans, who like the Jews, (Rom. ii. 17.-20.) were great admirers of knowledge, not only inferred from Chrift's words, John xvii. 3. This is life eternal, &c. that the only thing neceffary to one's obtaining eternal