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16 ° ὅτι πᾶν τὸ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλ- ο Eccl. 5. 11. μῶν καὶ ἡ ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου, οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς, ἀλλὰ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου P.PS 80 10. ἐστί. 17 » Καὶ ὁ κόσμος παράγεται, καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία αὐτοῦ· ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα το τοῦ Θεοῦ μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.
18 4 Παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστί· καὶ, καθὼς ἠκούσατε ὅτι ὁ ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν· ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν. 19 τ Εξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν, ἀλλ ̓ οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν· εἰ γὰρ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν, μεμνή
16. éπiðνμía тns σаρкós] the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life, its self-vaunting and ostentation (see Rom. i. 30. Tim. iii. 2. James iv. 16), are not of
The carnal Appetite, Covetousness, and Pride, these were the things by which the Devil endeavoured to overcome Christ at the Temptation; and these are the things, in which Christ conquered Satan, and has taught us to conquer him. These also were the things, which specially characterized those Gnostic deceivers, the filthy dreamers, against whom the Apostle warns his disciples. See above on 2 Pet. ii. 10. 18; and below, Jude 8. 16.
18. παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν] Children, it is the last time. Do not therefore be deceived by those Teachers who now propound new doctrines. The Son of God has been revealed in the last time (see on Heb. i. 1. Acts ii. 17. 1 Pet. i. 20). The Gospel which he has preached is God's last message to men.
not to look for any new revelation. Whatever is new, is false. They therefore who now bring to you new doctrine are not followers of Christ, but of Antichrist. See above on Gal. i. 8, 9.
καθὼς ἠκούσατε ὅτι ὁ ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται] as ye heard that Antichrist cometh (on this use of the present tense, see Matt. ii. 4), even now many Antichrists have arisen, whence we know that it is the last time, or season.
The coming of Antichrist is a sign of the last time; for the coming of Antichrist is to be followed by the coming of Christ. "Venit Antichristus, et supervenit Christus," S. Cyprian, Ep. 58. But how long "the last time" will be, it is not for us to know (see Acts i. 7). Time, which may seem long to us, is but an hour to God (see 2 Pet. iii. 8). Hence St. John uses the word Epa, hour, here. It may seem long now, but when it is past, it will seem only like a watch in the night (Ps. xc. 4).
B, C omit the article & before àvтíxpiσTos, but it is found in A, G, K, and the majority of cursive MSS., and Theophyl., and Ecumen. See also ii. 22.
(1) St. John alone uses the word Antichrist, and he uses it only in his Epistles, where it occurs five times (ii. 18 twice, 22; iv. 3. 2 John 7). It is never used by him in the Book of Revelation.
The word 'AvTi-XPOTOS signifies one who opposes Christ: ἐναντίος τῷ Χριστῷ (Theophylact); "Christi rebellis (Tertullian, Præscr. c. 4); " contrarius Christo" (Augustine); see Lücke, p. 190. Huther, p. 105, and Dean Trench, Synonyms N. T. xxx. pp. 120-125.
Every one who sets himself against Christ, is an Antichrist he may, or may not, set himself in the place of Christ. Cp. Wetstein, p. 717, and Suicer on the word 'Avtí-xpiσtos, i. p. 390. It is not necessary that he should do so, in order to be an Antichrist. And indeed the character assigned by St. John in his Epistles to Antichrist properly so called, is one of open hostility to the Divinity and Humanity of Christ; but is not one of assumption of His attributes.
The general opinion of the Fathers was that a personal Antichrist would appear a short time before the second Coming of Christ. See Irenæus, v. 25. 30, Stieren; p. 437-452. Grabe. S. Hippolytus, de Christo et Antichristo, pp. 1-36, ed. Lagarde. Origen c. Cels. vi. p. 499, and in Matt. xvii. S. Chrysostom in Matt. xvii. S. Hilary in Matt. xx. S. Cyril. Hieros. Cat. xi. S. Greg. Nyssen in Eunomium, Orat. xi. S. Jerome in Dan. vii. and xi., and Quæst. xi. ad Algasiam. S. Augustine in Ps. ix. ; de Civ. Dei xx. c. 19; c. 20. S. Gregory, Moral. in Job xi. 9; xiv. 11; xx. 25. Homil. vii. and xxix. in Evangelia.
This opinion, commended by such authorities, is entitled to respectful attention; but it is our duty to be circumspect in the acceptance of any interpretations of unfulfilled prophecy. See on John xxi. 23, and note on 2 Pet. i. 20, whence it appears that even the inspired Prophets were not able to interpret their own prophecies. See also below, on Rev. xvii. 1.
St. John's argument is this, It is the last time (pa), and as ye heard that Antichrist cometh (i. e. in the last time), and as ye see that many Antichrists are already come, therefore we know that this is the last time.
St. John therefore recognizes the fulfilment of the prophecy concerning the coming of Antichrist, in the appearance of
Cor. 7. 31. James 10. & 4. 14.
1 Pet. 1. 24.
q Matt. 24. 5, 24. Acts 20. 29.
2 Thess. 2. 3.
r Ps. 41. 10. Acts 20. 30.
many Antichrists who are already come. He therefore appears here to represent Antichrist as an incorporation of those who set themselves against Christ. Cp. Ecumen. in iv. 3. Damascen. de Orthod. fide, iv. 27. And this opinion is confirmed by what he says (v. 22), "this man is the Antichrist, he that denieth the Father and the Son." See also iv. 3, and 2 John 7.
The same is the doctrine of St. John's scholar, S. Polycarp, in the only passage of the Epistles of the Apostolic Fathers, where the word Antichrist is found. "Whosoever doth not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is Antichrist." Polycarp, Philipp. c. 7.
This is also in accordance with St. Paul's prophecy concerning the "Lawless One or "the Man of Sin," which represents a form of evil, displaying itself in a continuous series of persons, who are, as it were, incorporated and personified in one: see the note above on 2 Thess. ii. 3-12.
In like manner, it seems that the word Antichrist represents a succession of persons in different times, animated by a spirit of violent hostility to Christ. So Lange, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Bengel, who says. Where St. John speaks of Antichrist, or the Spirit of Antichrist (iv. 3), he signifies the enemies of the truth united together-"sub singulari numero omnes mendaces et veritatis inimicos innuit "-that is, he comprises in this term all the enemies of the Christian truths which he is inculcating.
It is however consistent with such a proposition to believe, that the Spirit of Antichristianism may develope and consummate itself eventually in some extraordinary personal antagonism to Christ. Time, the great Interpreter of Prophecy,—will show.
(2) It has been supposed by some, that Antichrist, as described by St. John in his Epistles, is the same Power as that which is delineated by St. Paul as "the Man of Sin."
But in interpreting the prophecies of Scripture, care must be taken to adhere to the language of Scripture. The assumption of identity where it does not exist has been a fruitful source of error. St. Paul never uses the word "Antichrist ;" and the attributes of Antichrist and those of the Man of Sin, as described by St. John and St. Paul respectively, do not correspond accurately to each other.
In the character of Antichrist, St. John describes an Infidel opposition to Christ, an open, impious denial of the Father and of the Son. There is nothing secret, no Mystery, there. But in the description of the Man of Sin, or the Lawless One, St. Paul represents a MYSTERY (2 Thess. ii. 7), something secret and sacred; a spiritual power, working miracles, and sitting in the Church of God. See above, on 2 Thess. ii. 3–12.
It is by no means impossible that the two Powers, described by the two Apostles respectively, may eventually coalesce. Time will show. But the Apostolic descriptions of them are definite and distinct; and it is the duty of an Expositor of Scripture not to "be wise above what is written" (1 Cor. iv. 6), and to compare spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor. ii. 13), and not to confound things which are dissimilar, especially in the interpretation of Prophecy; lest the benefit be lost which might otherwise be derived from its warnings, and from the evidence it affords to the truth of the Gospel.
Further, there is reason to believe that St. Paul in his Prophecy (in the second chapter of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians) is describing the same power as that which is described by St. John in another place, viz., in the Book of Revelation; where the word Antichrist never occurs. There is a remarkable similarity of features and language in those two descriptions: see Rev. xvii. 5. 7, compared with St. Paul's words, 2 Thess. ii. 7; and Rev. xiii. 12, 13 with 2 Thess. ii. 9; and Rev. xvii. 8. 11 with 2 Thess. ii. 3; and Rev. xiii. 4. 8 with 2 Thess. ii. 4; and see the notes below on Rev. xvii. 7, 8.
The resemblances between those two descriptions of St. Paul and St. John strengthen the belief that they refer to the same power; and they also confirm the argument derived from the discrepancies in the other descriptions which have just been mentioned, that the powers delineated by them are not the same.
19. ¿¿ μŵv ¿¿ñλav] They went out from us, but they were not of us.
s Ps. 45. 8. & 133. 2.
John 14. 26. & 16. 13. Heb. 1. 9. t ch. 4. 3.
2 John 7.
κεισαν ἂν μεθ ̓ ἡμῶν· ἀλλ ̓ ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶ πάντες ἐξ ἡμῶν.
ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐκ οἴδατε τὴν ἀλήθειαν, ἀλλ ̓ ὅτι οἴδατε αὐτὴν, καὶ ὅτι πᾶν ψεῦδος ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἔστι. 22' Τίς ἐστιν ὁ ψεύστης, εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀρνούμενος ὅτι Ἰησοῦς οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀντίχριστος, ὁ ἀρνούμενος τὸν Πατέρα καὶ
οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ Χριστός;
The many Antichrists here described are the Heresiarchs of St. John's age. He says that they went out from us; and this was specially applicable to the father of the Gnostics, Simon Magus, who was baptized by St. Philip the Deacon at Samaria (see on Acts viii. 9-18), and who is called an Antichrist by the ancient Fathers; see S. Cyril. Hierosol., Catech. vi. p. 53, and Dr. Hammond here, and Tillemont, Hist. Eccles. ii. p. 19.
The same was true of another Heresiarch of the same age, Ebion, to whom Tertullian applies St. John's words. In his Epistle, St. John calls them Antichrists, who deny that Jesus is come in the flesh, and that Jesus is the Son of God. The former proposition is denied by Marcion, the latter by Ebion: see Tertullian, Præscr. Hæret., c. 33.
St. Jerome affirms that St. John directed this censure also against another Heresiarch of the Apostolic age, Cerinthus, who arose within the Church and opposed the Apostles (see on Acts xv. 1), and of whom there is an historical record, that he was personally known to St. John at Ephesus; and that when St. John had gone into a bath there, and heard that he was within it, he quitted it immediately, saying. "Let us depart, lest the bath fall on us, now that Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is there." See S. Irenaus iii. 3. Euseb. iii. 20. Theodoret, Hær. Fab. ii. 3. Cerinthus made a distinction between Jesus and Christ.
See also the important testimony of S. Irenæus (iii. 18, Grabe), who cites this passage (vv. 18–22), and applies it to the Gnostic Teachers of that age who arose within the Church, viz., Simon, Ebion, and Cerinthus. Cp. Estius here, p. 1217. Dr. Hammond here, p. 828. Bp. Bull, Ind. Eccl. Cathol. ii. 6, p. 44. Dr. Waterland on the Trinity, vol. v. chap. vi. p. 187, and above, Introduction to this Epistle, pp. 98-101.
If μeμevýкeισav av] they would have remained with us. they had been really of us-living and sound members of the mystical body of Christ-they would have continued in it. Continuance is an essential condition of vitality. He who quits the Church proves himself to be an unsound member of it; nemo sapiens nisi fidelis; nemo Christianus, nisi qui ad finem perseveraverit." Tertullian, Præscr. 3.
This saying of the Apostle gives no countenance to the predestinarian notions of final perseverance. The terms here used, viz., going out, and abiding, are significant of free will.
àλλ' ïva paveрwowow] they went out-i. e., their going out was permitted-in order that they might be manifested that they are not all of us. The emphatic word is φανερωθῶσιν, and the use of k-denoting origin from, and appurtenance to-may be illustrated by 1 Cor. xii. 15, öтɩ oùк eiμl xeìp, oùк eiμì èк TOû σώματος, and see below, iii. 12, Καὶν ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἦν. Compare the words of St. Paul (1 Cor. xi. 19), "There must also be heresies among you, in order that they, who are approved, may be made manifest among you;" where the conjunction va, as here, marks the design of God in permitting Heresies and Schisms to exist (cp. note above on 2 Cor. iv. 7), and suggests the uses which the faithful ought to make of heresies and schisms. Cp. Tertullian, Præscr. 3, where he cites these words of St. John.
A special benefit accruing from the going out of these Heretics, and from their overt opposition to the doctrine of Christ, and from the public manifestation of them to the world in their true character (as Simon Magus was made manifest in his opposition to St. Peter at Rome. Euseb. ii. 15. S. Cyril, Catech. c. vi. Arnobius, ii. p. 50. Maxim. Taurin., Hom. 54, p. 231. S. Epiphan. hær. 21. Philastr. c. 29. Tillemont i. p. 76), was this, that the Heathen were thus disabused of their notion, that the Christian Church herself was identified with these Heretics, and was accountable for their erroneous teaching and profligate living. St. Peter says, that through them the Way of Truth would be evil spoken of (2 Pet. ii. 2); and Theodoret asserts (hær. fab. ii. præf.) that "the Teachers of those heresies (such as Simon Magus and Cerinthus, whom he specifies) "were called Christians, and that many persons imagined that all Christians were guilty of their enormities,"
Some expositors suppose that où Távτes here is equivalent to
none: cp. Matt. xxiv. 22. But this appears to be an incorrect rendering, and is not authorized by the ancient Interpreters.
St. John says that their going out was the proof that they are not all of us: cp. 2 Thess. iii. 2. They all pretend to be of us, and the Heathen confound them with us. But their secession from us, and opposition to us, clearly prove that they are not all of us. Some false teachers there are still, who propagate heresies in the Church. They are Tares in the Field, but as long as they are in the field, it is not easy to distinguish them from the wheat. They are not of us, but they are not manifested as such by going out from us. But the going out of those who have left us, and who resist us, is a manifest token to all men, that they and their associates are not all of us, as they profess to be, and as the heathen suppose them to be; and as even some of the brethren in the Church imagine that they are, and are therefore deceived by them. By their going out they are manifested in their true light; and by their opposition to us Truth is distinguished from Error, and Error from Truth.
20. ὑμεῖς χρίσμα ἔχετε] ye have an unction from the Holy One, Who is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows. See Heb. i. 9. Cp. Bp. Pearson on the Creed, Art. ii. p. 178. His unction flows down on you His members, and therefore, when a name was to be given to the disciples to distinguish them from all others, they were called Christians. Acts xi. 26.
Ye have a chrism from the Christ. They, the heretical teachers, are members of Antichrist.
Ye are anointed in Him Who has consecrated you with His unction, and made you kings and priests to God. Rev. i. 6.
This language of St. John is the more remarkable, because it is addressed to raidía, pueruli, children. Children have an unction from the Holy One, in their Baptism, when they were made members of Christ. "Eam unctionem spiritualem habent pueruli, namque cum baptismo conjunctum erat donum Spiritûs Sancti" (Bengel), and in their Confirmation, called xpíois TeλEWTIK. See Bp. Wilson here.
Kal oidαTE Távтa] and ye know all things. Ye, even though children in age, are the true Gnostics, for ye know Christ; whereas they who pretend to know every thing are mere babes. Cp. John xiv. 26. They, the so-called Gnostics, pretend to knowledge and to teach you; but they know nothing, and walk in darkness, v. 11. See above, I John ii, 3, and below, vv. 21. 27 of this chapter, and on Jude 5.
This language is adopted by St. John's scholars, S. Ignatius and S. Polycarp, in their Epistles, &v oùdèv λavbávei vμâs. Ignat. ad Eph. 14. "Nihil vos latet," Polycarp, ad Phil. 12.
22. Tís éσTIV & Vevoτns] who is the liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? Who is the liar? Who is the Antichrist, in whom the lie, of which St. John speaks, is summed up? Who is he, that has that character, as distinguished from, and opposed to, those who hold the Truth? On this sense of the definite article, see on John iii. 10; xviii. 10; and Winer, § 18, p. 97. Compare the words of Tertullian, maintaining from these words of St. John the doctrine of the Trinity, against Praxeas, c. 27.
Ye who are true Christians have an unction from the Holy One; ye are God's anointed ones; ye are even called xpiσrol, by virtue of your union with Christ (see Ps. cv. 15); ye make up one body in Christ, see on Gal. iv. 19; and Rev. xii. 5. They are artí-XPLOTO, they make up one body of Antichrist. Cp. Bp. Pearson, Art. ii. pp. 190 −196.
oûtés ÉσTI ¿ àνTíxploтos] This (i. e. he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ) is the antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son. Cerinthus and his followers denied that Jesus was the Christ, dividing Jesus from Christ; and they denied the Son, because they did not acknowledge that Jesus was personally united with the Word, the Eternal Son of God; nor that the Word was the only-begotten of the Father; and so they disowned the divine Sonship of Jesus and Christ, and thus they denied the Father and the Son. See S. Irenæus, iii. 18, Grabe, and Dr. Waterland, v. p. 188, and above, Introduction, p. 100.
Ebion denied the divinity of Jesus. Simon Magus affirmed that he himself was the Father and the Son in different manifestations, and he denied the reality of Christ's humanity. See above on 2 Pet. ii. 1, and Bp. Pearson on the Creed, Art. iii. p. 301, note. Thus they were Antichrists, denying the Father
and the Son.
Ye are members of Christ, ye are one body in Him. Ye
John 15. 23.
ch. 4. 15.
John 14. 26.
τὸν Υἱόν. 23 " Πᾶς ὁ ἀρνούμενος τὸν Υἱὸν οὐδὲ τὸν Πατέρα ἔχει· ὁ ὁμολογῶν τὸν μ Luke 13. 9. Υἱὸν καὶ τὸν Πατέρα ἔχει. 24 Ὑμεῖς οὖν ὃ ἠκούσατε ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς ἐν ὑμῖν μενέτω. τι. 12. Ἐὰν ἐν ὑμῖν μείνῃ ὁ ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς ἠκούσατε, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν τῷ Υἱῷ καὶ ἐν τῷ Πατρὶ μενεῖτε. 25 Καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἣν αὐτὸς ἐπηγγείλατο ἡμῖν, τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον. 26 Ταῦτα ἔγραψα ὑμῖν περὶ τῶν πλανώντων ὑμᾶς. 27 * Καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ x Jer. 31, 33, 34. χρίσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε ἀπ' αὐτοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν μένει, καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ἵνα τὶς διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς· ἀλλ ̓, ὡς τὸ αὐτὸ χρῖσμα διδάσκει ὑμᾶς περὶ πάντων, καὶ ἀληθές ἐστι, καὶ οὐκ ἔστι ψεῦδος, καὶ καθὼς ἐδίδαξεν ὑμᾶς, μενεῖτε ἐν αὐτῷ. 28 * Καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ· ἵνα ὅταν φανερωθῇ ἔχωμεν παῤῥησίαν, κ. Mark 8. 33. καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 29 2Ἐὰν εἰδῆτε ὅτι 2 ch. 3. 7, 10. δίκαιός ἐστι, γινώσκετε ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται. ΙΙΙ. 1 4 Ιδετε, ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ Πατὴρ, ἵνα τέκνα Θεοῦ κληθῶμεν· διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς, ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν. ̓Αγαπητοὶ, νῦν τέκνα Θεοῦ ἐσμεν· καὶ οὔπω ἐφανερώθη τί ἐσόμεθα. Οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἐὰν φανερωθῇ, ὅμοιοι αὐτῷ ἐσόμεθα· ὅτι ὀψόμεθα αὐτὸν
ch. 3. 2.
a John 1. 12.
b Isa. 56. 5.
John 1. 12.
3 Καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἔχων τὴν ἐλπίδα ταύτην ἐπ ̓ αὐτῷ ἁγνίζει ἑαυτὸν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστι. 4 Πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν καὶ τὴν ἀνομίαν ποιεῖ· καὶ ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία· 5 4 καὶ οἴδατε ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ἐφανερώθη, ἵνα τὰς ἁμαρτίας
are one man in Him (see John xvii. 11. 21. 1 Cor. x. 17); they are members of Antichrist, and make one body in him: they are the Antichrist. See on v. 18.
They are called Antichrists, who fall away from the Church of Christ, and teach what is false concerning Christ, in order to be leaders in Heresy. Didymus.
23. πᾶς ὁ ἀρνούμενος τὸν Υἱόν] Every one who denieth the Son hath not even the Father, because the essence of a Father is to have a Son; and if the filial relation of Jesus Christ to God is denied as it is denied by these Antichristian teachers-the paternity of the Father is denied also. See above, Introduction, p. 100.
The words of the Apostle here manifestly refer to the dogmas of Cerinthus and Ebion. Bp. Bull, Jud. Eccl. ii. sect. 5.
ὁ ὁμολογῶν ἔχει] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. These words are printed in italics in the Authorized English Version; but they are found in the text of the oldest Greek MSS., e. g. A, B, C, and in many Cursives, and in Clement, Origen, Athanasius, Cyril, in the Syriac, Vulgate (many MSS.), and Arabic Versions: and are received by Griesb., Scholz, Lach., Tisch.
25. τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον] On the apposition, see Phil. iii. 18. 2 Cor. x. 13. Winer, § 59, p. 469, note on John viii. 25. 28. καὶ νῦν, τεκνία] and now, my little children, abide in Him. He returns to the general term of address, little children (see ii. 12), and assures all his spiritual children that they have no need of learning any new doctrine (see vv. 21-27), but it is their duty to abide stedfast in the old. See Jude 3, and Rev. ii. 24.
ἵνα μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ] in order that we may not be driven to shame from Him, and by Him, at His Coming; as He Himself says in the Gospel that the wicked will be. Mark viii. 38. On this force of and, see Winer, § 47, p. 332. Cp. the use of ἀπὸ in Ecclus. xxi. 22, and of ἐκ in Rev. xv. 2.
29. ἐὰν εἰδῆτε] if ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one who hath been born of Him is righteous. If ye know (εἰδῆτε), as a doctrine of the Christian faith, that He is righteous, ye are sure by analogical inference, from your own personal experience and cognizance (γινώσκετε), that whoever has been really born of Him, whosoever is His genuine offspring, is also righteous; and consequently ye are sure, that the Gnostic teachers and their votaries, who profess to be children of Christ, and yet live ungodly lives, assert what is false. See below, iii. 7-9, ὁ ποιῶν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστι, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν, κ.τ.λ.
On the distinction between the words εἰδέναι and γινώσκειν, see above, ii. 3.
Some Expositors render yváσKeтe by know ye, in the imperative mood; but this seems to be inconsistent with St. John's declaration above, vv. 20, 21.
CH. III. 1. ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν] what kind of love hath the Father given to us; to us, who were enemies to Him, Rom. v. 10. Col. i. 20, 21. 1 John iv. 10. Bp. Pearson, Art. i. p. 51.
ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς] the world knoweth us not. Do not therefore be surprised and dismayed, that you are hated and persecuted by it, see v. 13, and cp. our Lord's words, John xv. 19; xvi. 33.
2. ἐὰν φανερωθῇ] when He shall be manifested ; i. e. Christ. On this use of ἐκεῖνος, see ii. 6, and ep. Col. iii. 4. The nominative to φανερωθῇ is contained in αὐτῷ, and ep. v. 5, ἐκεῖνος (i. e. Christ) εφανερώθη, and v. 8, ἐφανερώθη ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ. ὅμοιοι αὐτῷ ἐσόμεθα] we shall be like Him. See Phil. iii. 21. Col. iii. 4.
ὀψόμεθα αὐτόν] we shall see Him appearing. οἱ ὄπτομαι, see note on John xvi. 16. Rev. i. 7. We shall then see Him as He is; that is, as God as well as Man, in all His glorious attributes of perfect holiness and love. We shall see His face (see Rev. xxii. 4), and therefore we know that we shall be like Him; for only they who are like Him will have the beatific vision of God. Matt. v. 8. 1 Cor. xiii. 12; xv. 49. 2 Cor. iii. 18. Col. iii. 4.
Let us therefore so live, that when He shall come again, we may be able to behold Him, as He is, in all the fulness of His grace and glory. Cassiodor.
The editions generally have ἐστί; but ἔστι, he is, or exists, in His own essence, seems preferable, as more emphatic.
3. ἐπ ̓ αὐτῷ] upon Him, Christ Jesus, Who is our hope (1 Tim. i. 1). He is only the foundation, upon which our hope is built. Cp. Rom. xv. 12, and Heb. vi. 18, and the words of one of St. John's disciples, "Let us cleave continually to our Hope, which is Christ Jesus." S. Polycarp, Ep. ad Phil. 8.
ἁγνίζει ἑαυτόν] halloweth Himself, as Christ is holy. Cp. John xvii. 19. 24, and Rom. xii. 1. 1 Pet. i. 16. Every one who hath the hope of beholding Him, halloweth himself, as He is holy; for “ without holiness no man shall see (ὄψεται) the Lord,”
Heb. xii. 14.
4. ἀνομίαν] lawlessness; for where there is no law, there is no sin. See Rom. iv. 15, and cp. Bp. Pearson, Art. x. pp. 670, 671. Bp. Sanderson, iv. 74. 94. 190.
"Every one who worketh sin, worketh also lawlessness." This assertion is directed against the Ebionites (see Irenaus, p. 103, Grabe) and Cerinthian Gnostics, who professed a reverence for the Law of God. St. John argues, that it is vain for them to allege that they revere the Law, when they commit sin. Therefore, let them not deceive you by this allegation, see v. 7.
5, 6. καὶ οἴδατε] and ye know that He was manifested in order to take away our sins (see John i. 29), and in Him sin does not exist. Every one that abideth in Him sinneth not; does not live in sin; does not allow himself in the wilful and habitual practice of sin. See below, v. 9, and Bp. Wilson here: every one that sinneth hath not seen Him, nor known Him.
e ch. 2. 4. & 4. 8. ἡμῶν ἄρῃ· καὶ ἁμαρτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστι.
3 John 11.
f ch. 2. 29.
& ver. 10.
g Gen. 3. 15. John 8. 44.
h1 Pet. 1. 23. ch. 5. 18.
i ch. 4. 8.
k John 13. 34. & 15. 12.
6 Πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρ τάνει· πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν, οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν.
7 · Τεκνία, μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς· ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστι, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν. 8 8 Ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ Διαβόλου ἐστίν· ὅτι ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς ὁ Διάβολος ἁμαρτάνει. Εἰς τοῦτο ἐφανερώθη ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἵνα λύσῃ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Διαβόλου. 9 * Πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ, ὅτι σπέρμα αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει, καὶ οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ γεγέννηται. 10 1’Ἐν τούτῳ φανερά ἐστι τὰ τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τὰ τέκνα & ó τοῦ Διαβόλου. Πᾶς ὁ μὴ ποιῶν δικαιοσύνην οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ· 11 * ὅτι αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἠκούσατε ἀπ ̓
ch. 1. 5. & 2. 7. ver. 23.
St. John's meaning here is illustrated by the language of his disciple, S. Ignatius. "No one who professeth faith, sinneth; and no one who hath love, hateth. They, who profess themselves Christians, will be manifested by what they do." S. Ignatius, ad Ephes. 14; and this is the sense assigned to St. John's words by S. Jerome in Jovinian. ii. c. 1, and contra Pelagianos, i. c. 3.
Here then is another caution against the Gnostic Teachers, who professed to believe in Christ, and pretended to superior knowledge of divine things, and yet indulged themselves in the commission of sin, and denied Him by their evil lives. Cp. Titus i. 16. 2 Tim. ii. 19; iii. 5.
7. TEKvía] my little children, let no one deceive you as these Gnostic teachers endeavoured to do. Cp. ii. 26, These things I write concerning those who are endeavouring to deceive you." Here is the clue to the interpretation of these verses, which cannot be understood without reference to their tenets and practices. See the next note, and the formula μh λavãobe, James i. 16.
ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην] he that worketh righteousness is righteous, like as He (Christ) is righteous: a sentence directed against those deceivers, such as the followers of Simon Magus, who said that they could please God without righteousness; and that, whatever might be the case with others, who had not their spiritual gnosis, they themselves had no need to work righteousness, but that they would be saved by grace, whatever their works might be. "Liberos agere quæ velint; secundùm enim ipsius (Simonis) gratiam salvari homines, sed non secundùm operas justas." S. Irenæus, i. 20, Grabe. S. Hippolytus, Philos. p. 175. Epiphan. hær. xxi. Theodoret, hær. fab. i. c. 1, who testifies that on the presumption of the indefectibility of special grace within themselves, they fell into all kinds of lasciviousness.
8. ὁ ποιῶν τ. ἁμαρτίαν] he that worketh, or maketh sin ; ποιῶν, a strong word describing habitual design and actual habit of life, not an occasional lapse on the road, but a wilful and presumptuous self-surrender to sin, as a trade or profession; like that of Ahab, "who sold himself to work wickedness." 1 Kings xxi. 25.
εἰς τοῦτο ἐφανερώθη] for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil. A third argument against these Gnostic deceivers, who are doing the work of the Devil (v. 8), and opposing the purpose of the Advent of Christ, and thus proving themselves to be Antichrists. This use of the word Ave, applied to the destruction of what is evil, is found in the Epistle of St. John's scholar, S. Ignatius, to St. John's Church of Ephesus (ad Eph. i. 3), λúeтαι Ŏλe@pos, ἐλύετο πᾶσα μαγεια (ibid. c. 19).
9. πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ] Every one who hath been born of God doth not work sin, doth not work it as his habitual work, où Tоieî, see v. 8; "doth not knowingly live in sin" (Bp. Wilson), because His seed (God's) abideth in him: a sentence directed against the deceivers who called themselves an elect seed, and incapable of sin. Cp. Irenæus, i. 12; Grabe, p. 31. Cp. note above, i. 7; below on Jude 19.
Observe the perfect yeyevvnμévos, indicating that the filial state, which commenced when he was first regenerate, continues; cp. Winer, § 40, p. 243; above, 1 Cor. xv. 4. 2 Cor. i. 15; v. 17. Col. i. 16; and see the next note; and below, v. 18.
καὶ οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν] and he cannot be a sinner, because he hath been born of God.
The supposed difficulty in this passage is to be removed by due attention to the tenses used. Such attention would have preserved the Church from much erroneous teaching and profitless controversy.
St. John uses the perfect tense here: he does not say yevvhen, he was born; but yeyéventai, he hath been born, and the life given him at his birth abides in him. See the preceding note.
Observe also he uses here the present infinitive, not the aorist. He says, où dúvaтai àμарráve, i.e. he cannot be a
sinner. He does not say, où dúvatai åμapteîv, he cannot fall into sin, by ignorance, error, and infirmity. Such an assertion would be inconsistent with the whole tenor of Scripture, for in many things we offend all (James iii. 2), and with St. John's own doctrine in this Epistle, where he says, If we say that we have not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just in order to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," i. 8, 9.
On this difference of the present infinitive and aorist infinitive, see Winer, § 44, pp. 296, 297, and Stallbaum there quoted, p. 295. Thus, for example, ToTeûσai is to make a profession of faith, or an act of faith, at a particular time; but moтeve is to believe, to be a believer; dovλevoal is to do an act of service; δουλεύειν, to be a slave; οὐδεὶς οἰκέτης δύναται δυσὶ Κυρίοις dovλeve, no servant can be a slave to two masters: so aμapteiv is to commit a sin, but åμaptávew is much more than this, it is to be a sinner.
He that hath been born of God, and liveth as a son of God, cannot be a sinner. It is inconsistent with the essential conditions of his spiritual birth, by which he is dead to sin. It is contrary to the nature which he has as a child of God. This is well expressed by Didymus here, who says, "St. John does not assert that the man who has been born of God will never commit sin; but he asserts that he does not work sin-Non scriptum est non peccabit, sed non peccatum facit; non idem est peccare et peccatum facere; a child of two days old, by reason of his natural childhood, cannot sin, but a child of God cannot be a sinner."
Therefore, they who commit sin, on the plea, that being elect children of God, they must be saved, whatever they do, contravene the fundamental law of their existence, and disinherit themselves. See this plea handled by St. Paul, Rom. vi. 1—4.
The word dúvauai here, as often, does not signify a physical, but a moral impossibility. They that are evil cannot speak good things. (Matt. xii. 34.) Christ could not do any miracle at Nazareth because of their unbelief. (Mark vi. 5.) How can ye believe, who receive honour one of another? John v. 44. Cp. John vii. 7; viii. 43; xii. 39; xiv. 17. Gen. xix. 22; note on Luke xvii. 1; and on Heb. vi. 4. Compare also what St. John himself says below, v. 18, "We know that every one who hath been born of God sinneth not: but he that was born of God keepeth himself, and the Wicked One toucheth him not."
St. John's meaning here, which is of a controversial and polemical character, and must be viewed in reference to the errors which he is refuting, is well illustrated by the words of his disciple, S. Ignatius, speaking to St. John's Church, "Let no one deceive you. They who are carnal cannot do the things which are spiritual; nor can they who are spiritual do the things which are carnal. Faith cannot do the works of Unbelief, nor can Unbelief do the works of Faith. The works which ye do in the flesh are spiritual, because ye work all your works in Jesus Christ." S. Ignatius, ad Eph. 8.
The notions of the Gnostic Teachers and their Votaries are thus described by Justin Martyr (c. Tryph. p. 370), “Ye deceive yourselves and such souls as are like you, who say, that although they are sinners, and if they have knowledge of God, God will not count their sin to be sin." Compare Epiphanius, hær. xxi. and xxvi.
10. κal & μ àɣanŵv] and he who loveth not his brother. This lack of love was noted by the earliest Christian writers as a distinguishing characteristic of these deceivers to whom St. John refers. Thus S. Ignatius says of them, "Observe those who are heterodox with regard to the grace of Christ, how contrary they are to the mind of God. They have no regard for love,-πepl ἀγάπης οὐ μέλει αὐτοῖς, they do not care for the widow, or the orphan, or the hungry, or the thirsty." And he adds as a remarkable characteristic, that they abstain from the Feast of love, the
Heb. 11. 4.
ἀρχῆς, ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους· 121 οὐ καθὼς Κάϊν ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἦν, καὶ 1 Gen. 4.8. ἔσφαξε τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ. Καὶ χάριν τίνος ἔσφαξεν αὐτόν; ὅτι τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ πονηρὰ ἦν, τὰ δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ δίκαια.
ὅτι m John 15. 18, 19.
& 17. 14.
Gal. 5. 21.
13 m Μὴ θαυμάζετε, ἀδελφοὶ, εἰ μισεῖ ὑμᾶς ὁ κόσμος. 14 η Ἡμεῖς οἴδαμεν μεταβεβήκαμεν ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου εἰς τὴν ζωὴν, ὅτι ἀγαπῶμεν τοὺς ἀδελφούς· ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν μένει ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ. 15 ° Πᾶς ὁ μισῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἀνθρωπο- ο Matt. 5. 21, 22. κτόνος ἐστί· καὶ οἴδατε ὅτι πᾶς ἀνθρωποκτόνος οὐκ ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον ἐν αὐτῷ μένουσαν. 18 Εν τούτῳ ἐγνώκαμεν τὴν ἀγάπην, ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἔθηκε· καὶ ἡμεῖς ὀφείλομεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν τὰς ψυχὰς θεῖναι. Rom. 17 4 Ὃς δ ̓ ἂν ἔχῃ τὸν βίον τοῦ κόσμου, καὶ θεωρῇ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ χρείαν 15.7. ἔχοντα, καὶ κλείσῃ τὰ σπλάγχνα αὐτοῦ ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ, πῶς ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ μένει 1 2 15. ἐν αὐτῷ ;
p John 3. 16. Rom.
& 15. 13.
Eph. 5. 2, 25. ch. 4. 9. q Deut. Luke 3. 11.
ch. 4. 20. & 5. 1.
r Ezek. 33. 31. 1 Pet. 1. 22.
18 : Τεκνία, μὴ ἀγαπῶμεν λόγῳ μηδὲ τῇ γλώσσῃ, ἀλλ ̓ ἐν ἔργῳ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ. 19 Καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας ἐσμὲν, καὶ ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ James 2. 15. πείσομεν τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν, 20 ὅτι ἐὰν καταγινώσκῃ ἡμῶν ἡ καρδία, ὅτι μείζων
holy Eucharist, because they did not believe in the reality of Christ's flesh; which was the heresy of Simon Magus and his followers. S. Ignatius ad Smyrn. 6. See S. Irenæus i. 20, Grabe, and cp. Dr. Waterland, viii. p. 31, ed. 1823.
12. οὐ καθὼς Κάϊν] not as Cain was of the wicked one, and slew his brother. Let it not be so with you. Be not ye imitators of Cain, whom some of these false teachers even extolled. See on Jude 11, and Theodoret, hæret. fab. i. 15, who testifies of some heresiarchs of sub-Apostolic times, that they asserted that Cain had been freed from the subjection to the higher power; and they asserted the same of Esau, Korah, and even the Sodomites, and Judas: and he says that in their practice of sins they invoked the names of Angels, to whom those sins were dedicated by them. Cp. Epiphan. hæer. xxxviii.
14. μεταβεβήκαμεν] we have passed from death unto life : and abide in life. On this use of the perfect, see v. 9, and compare John v. 24, "He that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life, and hath passed from death into life."
Elz. has τὸν ἀδελφὸν after ἀγαπῶν, but this is not in A, B, and is rejected by Lach., Tisch.
16. καὶ ἡμεῖς ὀφείλομεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν τὰς ψυχὰς θεῖναι] and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren: a remarkable saying on the duty of Christian Martyrdom. It was probably suggested by the seductive tenets of the false teachers (οἱ πλανῶν
TES, mentioned by St. John ii. 26; iii. 7), who courted popularity
in times of Persecution, by alleging that provided a man had knowledge of the doctrines of Christianity as delivered by them, and adopted their theories, it was not necessary for him to expose himself to any danger in the maintenance of the faith, much less to endure martyrdom, and to lay down his life for the brethren; but that he might freely associate with the heathen in their worship, and eat things offered to idols. This was particularly the doctrine of the Simonians (see Origen c. Cels. vi. p. 282. Euseb. ii. 13), and of the Nicolaitans (see Rev. ii. 15. S. Irenæus i. 23), and of the Cerinthians; see Philastr. hær. c. 36.
Tertullian wrote his book called Scorpiace against these notions, and he refers to this passage in St. John's Epistle, in proof of the duty of Martyrdom, c. 12.
Deivai] So A, B, C, and Lach., Tisch. The aorist is on other accounts preferable to the present, τιθέναι, the reading of Elz. See on v. 9.
The words seem to be imitated in the Epistle of the Church of Vienne and Lyons in Euseb. v. 1, speaking of a Christian Martyr, εὐδοκήσας ὑπὲρ τῆς τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἀπολογίας καὶ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ θεῖναι ψυχήν.
17. τὸν βίον τοῦ κόσμου] the world's good things. See Mark xii. 44. Luke xv. 12. Remark the contrast between Bíos and ζωή, and this world and the other. He who is not ready to bestow a part of the βίος τοῦ κόσμου in love to his brethren, has no reasonable hope of the ζωὴ αἰώνιος, mentioned v. 15.
καὶ κλείσῃ τὰ σπλάγχνα αὐτοῦ ἀπ' αὐτοῦ] and shutteth his bowels of compassion from him; which he ought to open to him. On the word σπλάγχνα, see Matt. ix. 36. Luke i. 78. 2 Cor. vi. 12. Phil. i. 8; ii. 1. Col. iii. 12. On the significancy of the preposition ἀπὸ here, cp. ii. 28. Rev. xv. 2.
This unmercifulness was a characteristic of these heretical teachers; see above, on v. 10, and cp. James ii. 15, 16. VOL. II.—PART IV.
18. τεκνία] Elz. adds μου. Not in A, B, C.
μηδὲ τῇ γλώσσῃ, ἀλλ ̓ ἐν ἔργῳ] nor in the tongue, but in deed. So the best MSS. and Edd. Elz. omits tỷ and èv.
19. καὶ ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πείσομεν τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν] and we shall assure our hearts before Him, in His sight, we shall satisfy them, and set them at ease, when we examine them, as in the presence of Him Who searcheth the hearts. On this use of πείθω cp. Matt. xxviii. 14. Acts xii. 20. Gal. i. 10. This assurance will be produced in us by the visible evidence of Love working in our lives. We may not reason from our hearts, and draw assurances from them as to the goodness of our lives; but the evidence which we see in our lives, when tested by the rule of God's law, may afford a comfortable assurance to our hearts; and such an assurance from our hearts will give us confidence towards God. See on Acts xxiii. 1. Rom. ii. 15.
When we find by experience that we love the brethren, not in word and in the tongue only, but in deed and truth, then we may assure our hearts before Him. If we forgive our brethren, we may be assured that God will forgive us. Cp. Bp. Andrewes, ν. 437.
The word heart here is equivalent to Conscience; as is observed by Bp. Sanderson (Lectures on Conscience, Lect. i. $3, vol. iv. p. 2), who remarks that the Hebrew language has no precise term for Conscience, but the Hebrew writers in the Old spirit (cp. 1 Cor. ii. 11), for Conscience. See Prov. iv. 23, Testament generally use either 11⁄2 (leb), heart, or TM (ruach), Keep thy heart, i. e., watch over thy conscience: cp. Prov. xviii. 15, and Eccl. vii. 22, " thy heart knoweth ;” i. e., “ scit conscientia tua;" and so St. John here uses the word heart; and cp. Bp. Taylor, Rule of Conscience, chap. i. art. 8, and Bengel here.
20. ὅτι ἐὰν καταγινώσκῃ] because,—if our heart condemn us, —this is, because (ὅτι) God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things. The condemnation, which our Conscience pronounces, derives its force from the greatness of God, Who is Lord of our Conscience, and knoweth all things.
A remarkable declaration concerning the office of Conscience. The power of human Conscience proceeds from divine Omniscience. Conscience is God's oracle in the human soul. Its verdicts receive their force from His Law, which regulates Conscience; and from His judgments, of which the sentences of Conscience are but a rehearsal. Conscience speaks to man; but it hearkens to God, Who is greater than our heart, or Conscience, and knows all things; and because Conscience listens to the voice of the Omniscient, and is the obedient minister of the Almighty Lawgiver and Everlasting Judge, Who alone can save and destroy (James iv. 12); therefore it is, that (öri) the judgments of Conscience have such weight.
Every man has received a Conscience from God, which acts as a Deputy and Vicegerent of the Almighty, and as a Preacher of His eternal Law, and as a Herald of His Judgments, and dictates what man ought to do, and calls him to a severe scrutiny for whatever he has done, and as a just Judge dispenses rewards and punishments, censures or approvals, according to the merits of men's actions, and rehearses to them the future verdicts of the Great Day of Assize.
The state of Conscience is this, that it is placed in the middle between God and man; as a servant to obey God, Who is greater Q