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I. 11Ὃ ἦν ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ a Luke 24.39.
Pet. 1. 16.
b John 1. 1, 2.
In like manner, the Apostle St. Paul, in writing on the same subject to the Hebrews, does not begin the Epistle with any mention of himself or of them; but withdraws himself and them from the eye of the reader, and displays Christ.
In the language of the commencement of this Epistle, and in that of the Gospel, St. John appears to revert to the opening words of the Old Testament. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. i. 1). There was the beginning of the visible world. St. John had described in his Gospel the spiritual Genesis. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him." (John i. 1-3.) And now in his Epistle he begins with Him Who had no beginning, but is and has been from Eternity.
8 àкnкóaμev] what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes. Having declared the eternal pre-existence of Christ, St. John next proceeds here, as in his Gospel, to assert the reality of His Humanity. See John i. 1-14.
S. Clement of Alexandria (Adumbrat. p. 1009) observes, that "this Epistle begins with a spiritual proem, following that of the Gospel of St. John, and in unison with it." He therefore supposed the Epistle to have been written after the Gospel. See above, p. 98, note.
80eaσáμela] what we looked at: spectavimus, as a léaμa or spectaculum; attracting and riveting our attention. See John i. 14; iv. 35; the word deãoda is applied to the action of the Apostles gazing at our Lord ascending into heaven, Acts i. 11. καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν] and our hands did handle, or feel. Observe the aorist. He refers to his own act and that of the Apostles after the Resurrection, in obedience to Christ's words, "Handle Me, Feel Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have." (Luke xxiv. 39.) Here therefore is an addition to the statement concerning the humanity of the Everlasting Word. He had a true body, and the same body before and after His Resurrection; and we felt that Body.
The harmony subsisting between the beginning of St. John's Gospel and that of his Epistle, in declaring the doctrines of the Pre-existence, Divinity, and Creative Power of the Everlasting WORD, and of His Incarnation,-in opposition to the Heretics of Apostolic times, who denied those doctrines,- -was observed also, in ancient times, by Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, in Eusebius, vii. 25.
8 v à' àрxîs] That which was from the beginning (cp. 2 Thess. ii. 13). A statement directed against the false doctrines of those who said, as the Ebionites did, that Jesus was a mere man ; or, as the Cerinthians, that he was merely inhabited by Christ as a spiritual emanation for a time.
Here then is a reply to the false teaching of the followers of Simon Magus and the Docete, who said, that our Lord's human body was a visionary phantom. This notion is confuted by St. John's scholar, S. Ignatius (ad Smyrn. c. 1 and c. 2), who says that οἱ ἄπιστοι λέγουσιν αὐτὸν (i. e. Christ) τὸ δοκεῖν πεπονθέναι, aurol tò dokeîv övtes, where see Bp. Pearson's note, p. 433, Jacobson, and ibid. c. 3, where S. Ignatius relates that our Lord said to St. Peter and others after His Resurrection, " λάβετε, ψηλαφήσατέ με, καὶ ἴδετε, ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ δαιμόνιον ἀσώματον,” καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτοῦ ἥψαντο, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν, κρατηθέντες τῇ σαρκὶ aỷтOû, KaÌ Tŷ пveúμari, c. 4, and c. 5, and ad Trall. c. 10, and c. 11; and cp. S. Polycarp, ad Philipp. c. 7, and S. Irenæus, 20.
On the word nλapar, see Gen. xxvii. 12. 21, 22, and Dean
TEрl TOû AbYou Tĥs (wns] concerning the Logos, or Word, of Life; that is, concerning the Word, whose essential quality is Life. For in Him is the Life, He "is the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John i. 4; xiv. 6). He is "the Resurrection and the Life" (John xi. 25).
This appears to be a prophetic protest against those false Teachers, who separated the Life (wh) from the Logos, and made them to be like two Emanations or Æons, distinct from, and subordinate to, the only-begotten Son of God; as was done by some Gnostic Teachers. See Irenæus, i. 1, and cp. Waterland, vol. v. p. 183.
The clue to the right understanding of this proæmium, and of the other doctrinal portions of St. John's Epistles, is to be found in a reference to the errors of those false Teachers to whom St. John alludes as antichrists (ii. 18), who endeavoured to seduce his disciples (ii. 26; cp. iii. 7), and denied that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (iv. 1-3), and that Jesus is the Christ, and who denied the Father and the Son (ii. 22). See Tertullian, c. Marcion.; Præscr. c. 15, and c. 33. S. Jerome, Prolog. in Matt. S. Athanas. c. Arian. Órat. iii. vol. i. p. 539; and compare the remarks of Bp. Bull, Jud. Eccl. Cath. cap. ii. vol. vi. pp. 33-47, ed. Oxon. 1827, and above, Introduction to this Epistle, pp. 98103, and the preliminary note to 2 Pet. ii. 1, p. 86, and Dr. Waterland on the Trinity, ch. vi. vol. v. ed. 1823, where this subject is well treated with reference to this prooemium and other portions of this Epistle, as directed against Ebion, Cerinthus, and the Docete; and cp. Dr. Burton, Bampton Lectures, Lect. vi. p. 168.
The preposition repl, concerning, defines the subject of the whole sentence, and has a connexion with awayyéλλoμev in v. 3. On this use of repì, cp. ii. 26; v. 9, 10. 1 Thess. i. 9.
2. Kal ǹ (wǹ épavepúbn] and the Life was manifested. St. John uses kal to introduce a parenthesis here, as in the beginning of his Gospel (i. 14). The word épavepwon had been employed by St. Paul in the same sense as here, with reference to the Incarnation; see on 1 Tim. iii. 16. St. John saw the pavépwois, or Epiphany of the Life, when he beheld Christ raising Lazarus and others from the Dead, and when he saw Christ risen from the Grave, by His own power, according to His own Word, John ii. 19; and he heard Him say, "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (John xi. 25); "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (xiv. 6); "I am He that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore (Rev. i. 18).
This verse is parenthetical: cp. Winer, § 63.
c John 17. 21.
1 Cor. 1. 9.
d 2 John 12.
e John 1. 49.
& 8. 12. & 9. 5.
& 12. 35, 36.
1 Tim. 6. 16.
James 1. 17.
f Heb. 9. 14.
1 Pet. 1. 19. Rev. 1. 5.
ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον, ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα, καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν,—3 c ὃ ἑωρά-
5€ Καί ἐστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία, ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν, καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία.
6 ̓Εὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶ. μεν, ψευδόμεθα, καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν.
11’Ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν, ὡς αὐτὸς ἔστιν ἐν τῷ φωτὶ, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ ̓ ἀλλήλων, καὶ τὸ αἷμα ̓Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ Υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας.
τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον] the Life eternal : said in opposition to those Heretics who denied the eternal pre-existence of Christ. Dr. Waterland, v. p. 188.
Tрds Toy Патépa] with the Father. There is no exact equivalent in English to pòs here; its meaning is best explained by St. John's own words, & Aóyos ν πрds тÒν εòv, i. e. united to God and ever abiding in and with Him. John i. 1, where see note.
and of their superior spiritual knowledge, and communion with
κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ ̓ ἀλλήλων] we have communion with
καὶ τὸ αἷμα ̓Ιησοῦ] and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. Some MSS., e. g. B, C, and Versions omit Xpiorov, but it is found in A, G, H, and in most Cursives, and the Syriac and Vulg., and it imparts completeness to the doctrinal statement here, which declares that Jesus is the Christ in—against the Cerinthians-and that He is the Son of God— against the Ebionites--and that He shed His blood on the crossagainst the Simonians and Doceta—and that it cleanseth from all sin-against those who deny pardon on earth to deadly sin after Baptism (see on Heb. vi. 4)—and it cleanseth us if we walk in the light-against the antinomian Gnostics, who changed the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 4), and alleged that a man might walk in darkness, and yet be clean from all guilt of sin.
Tertullian (de Pudicitiâ, c. 18) cites this passage from v. 5, and part of ch. ii. 1, and connects it with v. 16, expounding it in somewhat a Montanistic sense; to which he had been tempted by the vicious use made by some of God's grace in Christ.
But St. John himself affirms, that he declares the all-sufficient efficacy of Christ's cleansing blood, not in order that any one may sin, or be at ease when he has sinned, but in order that men may not sin (ii. 1); inasmuch as no less a sacrifice than the death of the Son of God was required to propitiate the offended justice of God for sin (see below on ii. 2, and iv. 10); and no less a price than His blood, to ransom us from the bondage of Satan, to which we were reduced by sin. Thus he shows the heinousness of sin in God's sight; and displays the ingratitude of those who continue in sin, which cost the Son of God such bitter sufferings. He says that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us; that is, it is ever cleansing us from all sin: that blood which was shed once for all on the cross for the sins of the World, is always being effectually applied to individuals, in the washing away of the guilt of original sin by the Sacrament of Baptism; and in the cleansing of them from actual sin, on the condition of their faith and repentance, in the administration of the Sacrament of His
This statement is made in opposition to those false eachers, who separated Jesus from Christ, as Cerinthus did, and said that the Logos was the Son of the Only-begotten, but was not the Only-begotten of the Father; and that the Logos was a separate Eon, estranged from God. Cp. Greg. Nazian. Orat. xliv. Dr. Waterland, v. pp. 181. 188, and Tillemont, ii. p. 17.
3. Ewрákaμev] what we have seen a word here repeated thrice, for greater assurance of the truth of the reality of Christ's Humanity, in opposition to the Docete; and of His distinct Personality. See Tertullian, c. Praxeam, c. 15.
καὶ ὑμῖν] to you also. Elz. omits the kal, which is in
A, B, C.
καὶ ἡ κοινωνία] and our communion is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ; a declaration of the truth against those who divided Jesus from Christ, and who denied His Divine Sonship, and rejected the doctrine of the Incarnation of the Son of God, by virtue of which He dwells in us (John i. 14), and we have communion with Him and with the Father. Not one of these false Teachers acknowledged that the Word was made Flesh. S. Irenæus, iii. c. 11. See Introduction, p. 100.
The dè, but, in this clause, is not to be unnoticed. The kal, and, adds something, and the dè is slightly adversative. Cp. 2 Pet. i. 5. The sentence may be thus paraphrased, And, remember, our communion is not like an ordinary human association, and much less like an heretical association, but our communion is even with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. So glorious is it!
4. kal taûta ypápoμer] and we write these things to you, order that your joy may be filled up to the full. The TAhpwua Xápiros, or fulness of grace (John i. 16), flowing from the Everlasting Word, in whom dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead (Col. i. 19), brings with it a λhpwua xapas, a fulness of joy, very different from that fictitious Apwμa, plenitude, or fulness, imagined by the Gnostics, and peopled by them with visionary Eons, into which, according to them, the spiritual men, such as they deemed themselves, would be received hereafter. See Irenæus, i. 6; iii. 11, and above, note on John i. 16. Col. ii. 9.
Observe the perfect tense, wenλnpwuérn, indicating that the joy will be filled up, and will continue so to be. See note below, iii. 9.
5--7.] On the antithetical character and rhythmical structure of these sentences, see above, Introduction, p. 105.
5. ἡ ἀγγελία] the message. So A, B. G, K, and Griesb., Scholz, Lach., Tisch. Elz. has ǹ wayyeλía.
8 Oeds pûs Earw] God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all: a sentence opposed to the error of most of the Gnostics, who asserted the existence of two hostile Deities, one a God of Light, the other of Darkness. S. Irenæus, i. 25. 28, Grabe. Theodoret, Hæret. fab. prooem. S. Epiphan. Hær. xxvi. Cp. Ittig, Hæres. p. 34, and note above, John i. 5, and Bp. Andrewes, iii. pp. 371-376. Almost all the Gnostics adopted the theory of Dualism, derived from the Magians, and afterwards developed by the Marcionites and Manichæans.
6. eàr elπwuer] if we say - as many of the Gnostics do-that we have communion with Him, and if we walk in darkness, we lie. They alleged that, by reason of the spiritual seed in them,
8 ± ̓Εὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν, καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια και 1 Kings 8. 46. ἐν ἡμῖν οὐκ ἔστιν.
9 . Ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστι καὶ δίκαιος ἵνα ἡμῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας, καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας.
10 ̓Εὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν, καὶ ὁ αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν,
II. 1 · Τεκνία μου, ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε.
Καὶ ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα, Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον, 2' καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστι περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν· οὐ περὶ ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου.
3 Καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν, ὅτι ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτὸν, ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν.
9. TIOTÓS EOTI] He is faithful in fulfilling His promises of
Hence it appears that the Church of Rome, in its new dogma of the Immaculate Conception, ascribing sinlessness to the blessed Virgin Mary, is chargeable with this sin among others, that it imputes falsehood to God. Cp. notes above on Matt. xii. 48. Acts xx. 27. Gal. i. 8, 9. Rom. viii. 3.
he does not give encouragement, or afford security, to the future
On the meaning of the word waρákλnтos, a word only used
CH. II. 1, 2. TEKvía μov] My little children. An address of endearment;-" diminutivum, amoris causâ." (Bengel.) It is not expressive of littleness in them, but of his tender love toward them; a love like that of a Mother for her offspring, Cp. John xiii. 33, and St. Paul's words, Gal. iv. 19. This term of endearment is used seven times in this Epistle, ii. 1. 12. 28; iii. 7. 18; iv. 4; v. 21. And this appellation Teкvía μov, "my little children," is addressed to all St. John's hearers and readers of every age. Cp. Bengel here, and below on ii. 12. It comes with special propriety from him who was now aged, and survived all the Apostles; who said to his fugitive scholar, rí ue peuуEIS, TÉKVOV Toy σEаνтоû патépa; (Clem. Alex. ap. Euseb. iii. 23,) and whose often-repeated sermon in the Church was filioli, diligite alterutrum (S. Jerome in Galat. vi.).
a Rom. 8. 34.
1 Tim. 2. 5.
Heb. 7. 24, 25.
This doctrinal statement concerning Jesus Christ our Advocate with the Father, is made by St. John in opposition to the tenets of the Cerinthians and others,-especially in Asia, St. John's province,-who invoked Angels as Mediators between God and Man, and thus derogated from the dignity of Christ our only Mediator and Advocate. 1 Tim. ii. 5. See above on Col. ii. 18. Lest any should become careless by hearing that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin, the Apostle quells their presumption and inspires them with fear. God is faithful and just to forgive you your sins, if you grieve over your sins, and confess and repent of your sins. My little children, he adds, I write these things unto you, in order that ye may not sin. But if, through human infirmity, ye have been betrayed into some sin, ye may not therefore despair. No. Ye have an Advocate with the Father. First, then, take heed that ye do not sin; and if ye have fallen into sin, condemn yourselves, and fly to your Advocate, cry to Him. He will plead for you to the Judge. S. Augustine, Tract. i. on this Epistle, in the third volume of S. Augustine's Works the Benedictine Edition.
John 4. 42.
Rom. 3. 25.
2 Cor. 5. 18.
ch. 4. 10, 14.
I write these things, not in order that you may presume on
"Observe the tense of the verb here; he does not say èáv Tis
Observe St. John's meekness. He had lain in the bosom of Jesus, and had imbibed heavenly mysteries from His mouth; but he humbleth himself. He does not set himself apart from sinners, and represent himself as their advocate, but he puts himself in the number of sinners, and says, 66 we have an Advocate with the Father." S. Augustine.
Compare the words of St. James, iii. 2, "In many things we all offend," and Bp. Andrewes, v. 430.
Observe avròs here, emphatic, as used in the nominative. He Himself, He and He alone, is the propitiation for our sins: see above, Matt. i. 21; viii. 17: here i. 7; ii. 6.
On ἱλασμὸς, “a propitiatory sacrifice implying offence and indignation in God, Who was to be appeased (Bengel), see Rom. iii. 25. Eph. i. 7. Heb. ii. 17, and the note below on iv. 10.
On the use of repl, for, on account of, see on Gal. i. 4.
St. John says, that Christ Himself is the propitiation for
St. John here declares the doctrine of Universal Redemption through Christ. "Quam latè peccatum, tam latè propitiatio" (Bengel). Sin was universal in its extent, and the sacrifice is universal in its application. Here therefore is a strong assertion of the doctrine of Universal Redemption, against Calvinistic error. Cp. above, Heb. ii. 9. 1 Tim. ii. 4, and 2 Pet. ii. 1.
3. Kal Ev TOÚTY VIVάσkoμev] And by this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commandments. We may infer our knowledge of Him from our obedience to Him. Christian Praxis is the test of Christian Gnosis. A condemnation of the heretical presumption, and licentious depravity of the Gnostics. As is well said here by Bengel, St. John here censures those
c ch. 1. 6. & 4.20.
d John 13 35. & 14. 21, 23.
ch. 4. 12, 13.
e John 15. 4, 5.
1 Pet. 2. 21.
4 c ̔Ο λέγων, ̓́Εγνωκα αὐτὸν, καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ μὴ τηρῶν, ψεύστης ἐστὶ,
5 4 Ος δ ̓ ἂν τηρῇ αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον, ἀληθῶς ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ τετελείωται.
f ch. 3. 11.
2 John 5.
̓Εν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν, ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐσμέν.
σε Ο λέγων ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν, ὀφείλει, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησε, καὶ αὐτὸς οὕτως περιπατεῖν.
g John 1. 9.
‘ ̓Αγαπητοὶ, οὐκ ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν, ἀλλ ̓ ἐντολὴν παλαιὰν, ἣν εἴχετε ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς· ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ παλαιὰ ἔστιν ὁ λόγος ὃν ἠκούσατε ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς. : Πάλιν ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν, ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ries. 5. 5,8. ἡ σκοτία παράγεται, καὶ τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ἤδη φαίνει.
& 8. 12. & 13. 34.
& 15. 12.
R m. 13. 12.
who vaunted knowledge, and despised obedience. Cp. 1 Tim. vi. 20. 2 Pet. i. 5.
Hence the frequent occurrence of the word yvox in this Epistle, where it is found about twenty-five times; see ii. 4, 5. 13, 14. 18; iii. 16. 19, 20. 24; iv. 2. 6, 7, 8. 13. 16; v. 2. 20; and of olda, which occurs about twelve times: see ii. 20, 21; iii. 2.5 14, and passim. St. Peter repeats the word éniyywσis for a like reason; see 2 Pet. i. 2.
Throughout the Epistle St. John assures those who are trained in the saving verities of the Christian Faith, and who bring forth the fruits of Faith in holiness of life, that they know all things; they are the genuine Gnostics. Indeed, knowledge in the full Christian sense of the word implies love. See Didymus here, who observes that to " know the Lord" means in the language of Holy Scripture, "to fear, to love, to obey Him."
St. John also declares, that those persons, who vaunt knowledge, and pervert the truth of Christ, and do not keep His commandments, know nothing, but are blind, and walk in darkness. See ii. 11. 2 Pet. i. 9; and cp. Dr. Hammond here, p. 824.
The word yvwokw, signifying experimental knowledge, is distinguished from olda, which has a wider signification. The Gnostic heretics asserted it to be a duty, γινώσκειν πάντα, to have experimental knowledge of all things evil as well as good; see on i. 6: and they professed eidévai návтa, to have scientific knowledge of all things, however transcendental and mysterious. Compare below, ii. 29, as to the distinction between the two words, εἰδέναι and γινώσκειν.
ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν] if we keep His commandments. The word Tnpeiv, to keep, implies watchfulness, as an essential requisite for obedience.
5. Ev TOUT] by this we know that we are in Him. How do we know that we are in God? The answer is, by obedience.
6. ὁ λέγων ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν] he who saith that he abideth in Him. Observe the frequent occurrence of the word μévw, to abide, to wait with patience and perseverance,-in this and in the Second Epistle of St. John. It is repeated twenty-six times. The duty of abiding patiently in God, by faith and obedience in evil days, is characteristically inculcated by this beloved disciple, who survived his brother Apostles, and whose life was prolonged for near forty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, even to the age of a hundred years and more, and who, in days of persecution from without, and of rebuke and blasphemy from within (see v. 18), waited patiently and stedfastly as a faithful witness to the true faith in Christ's Incarnation and Godhead, and who had received a special charge from Christ to tarry (μévew) till He came, and took him to Himself. See above on John xxi. 22, 23. καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησε] as He walked. Observe the emphatic exeivos, He, spoken with feelings of reverence and adoration. "The Name" is the Name of Christ (3 John 7), the Way" is the Way of Christ (Acts ix. 2, and note, Acts xx. 25); so, in this Epistle, the pronoun HE, is CHRIST. See iii. 3. 5. 7. 16; iv. 17.
Mark also the use of the aorist, repieяáтnoe. Christ's walking was one act of undeviating obedience to God.
7. ἀγαπητοὶ, οὐκ ἐντολὴν καινήν] Beloved (so the best MSS. and Editions. Elz. has ådeλpol), I write not a new commandment to you, but an old commandment, which ye had from the beginning. Do not listen to those false guides and Judaizing Teachers, who traduce the Gospel as a novelty; and who would limit the mercies of God, and the offices of Love, to their own sect or nation. The Christian Doctrine of Love of God, and of Love of all men in God, is the true doctrine from the beginning. Cp. Matt. v. 17. 2 John 5, "I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another." Cp. Clemens Alex. in Adumbrat. here, and Didymus, who say that Love is
the Law of God from the time of the Law and the Prophets, and even from the beginning of the world; and so S. Cyril in Catenâ, and Cassiodor., Complex. p. 127, and Ecumen., and Theophy lact, and Bp. Andrewes, v. 468, where he shows that the commandment of Love delivered in the Gospel is also in the Law of Moses and of Nature: it is in fact a necessary consequence of the Attributes of God Himself. And see Bp. Sanderson, iii. p. 315, and Dr. Hammond here.
8. máλiv] Again; said with some intimation of correction of what has been just spoken. In another respect the command. ment of Love to God, and of all men in God, is a new one, kawh, not véa (see on Eph. iv. 23, 24. Col. iii. 10), that is, it is made new, renewed, by Christ the second Adam, the Son of God, Who came from heaven to make all to be one new man in Himself (Eph. ii. 15), and Who has made all things new (2 Cor. v. 17. Rev. xxi. 5), and in Whom each of us is a new creature (Gal. vi. 15), and Who has given us the Holy Ghost in the Sacrament of the New Birth (John iii. 5), to renew us in the spirit of our minds (Tit. iii. 5), and Who is the Mediator of the New Covenant, and writes it by His Spirit in our hearts (Heb. viii. 8; ix. 15), and gives us a new name (Rev. ii. 17), and has made us citizens of the new Jerusalem (Rev. iii. 12; xxi. 2), and has encouraged us to look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. iii. 13), and has thus given us new obligations, new motives, and new powers, to fulfil the law of Love, and has displayed new measures of largeness in its fulfilment, by His own precepts and example.
Therefore, as St. John relates in his Gospel, our Lord Himself had said, A new commandment I give unto you, that one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. John xiii. 34.
ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν] which thing is true in Him (Christ) and in you.
What is it that is here declared to be true?
Not the commandment (evroλ); the difference of gender precludes that interpretation. Nor is it simply the substance of the commandment that is asserted to be true; but the substance of it as new. Cp. Lücke, 2nd edition, and Huther here.
This new life of love is not a deceit, as the novel knowledge of those is, who say that they know God, and yet do not keep His commandments, especially this great commandment of all-Love; and who therefore lie (see v. 4), and do not the truth (see i. 6). Cp. v. 27, where ἀληθὲς is put as here in contrast to the ψεῦδος, or lie, of the Gnostic pretenders to illumination, whose works of darkness belied their professions.
But this new life of Love to God and of Love to man in God is true, genuine, really and vitally subsisting, and visibly mani fested, and effectually energizing in Christ, Who is the New Man, and in you, who are new creatures in Him; in Him Who is the Head, and in you His Members; for Love is the element which knits all together in one another and in Him, and is therefore the bond of perfectness. Col. iii. 14.
ὅτι ἡ σκοτία παράγεται] because the darkness is passing away (see v. 17), and the true light already shineth. Therefore this old commandment which ye have from the beginning is, in a certain sense, new: it is renewed and restored in Christ and the Gospel; because the darkness of error and sin which usurped its place and clouded it over, is now passing by (wapdyera), being dispersed by the sunshine of the Gospel, as mists and clouds are by the sun's rays; and the light that is true shineth.
Observe the adjective aλnewòv, true, as opposed to what is counterfeit and false; see above on John xvii. 3, and below, v. 20. The Gnostics pretended to have light, to have special illumination; but their light is a false light, it is the light of "wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness" (Jude 13). The darkness is the darkness of the Old Man; the light is
9nὉ λέγων ἐν τῷ φωτὶ εἶναι, καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ μισῶν, ἐν τῇ
ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ μένει, καὶ σκάνδαλον ἐν
that of the New Man. As the Apostle says, "Ye were sometime
At your Baptism ye were enlightened (pwrloonTe. See on Heb. vi. 4; x. 32). Ye became children of Light (see on Eph. .8); ye were engrafted into Christ; and if any man is in Christ, says St. Paul, he is a new creature; the old things passed away (map0e); behold, all things are become new. See on 2 Cor. v. 17, which text affords an excellent comment on St. John's meaning here.
Hence we see how natural is the transition to what follows in this place concerning the baptismal duties, consequent on the baptismal privileges, of all those who by their baptismal burial of the old man, and by their baptismal incorporation into the New Man, passed from the world of Darkness to that of Light.
10. kal σnávdaλov év aùtý oùK ČOTI] and there is no stumblingblock in him. A significant saying. Observe èv aùtê, in him. Whosoever hateth his brother, walketh in darkness, and carrieth his own stumbling-blocks in himself; he hath them in his own heart, in his own evil passions, envy, hatred, and malice. There fore he must fall: so to speak, he carries his fall along with him. As S. Cyprian well says (de Zelo, § 4), He who hates his brother is his own enemy. He is the enemy of his own soul. If you hate your brother he may avoid you, but you cannot fly from yourself. Wherever therefore you are, you have an adversary within you, you have an enemy always in your own bosom; but whosoever loveth his brother, abideth in the light, and there is no stumbling-block in him. He has the element of light around him, and he has no stumbling-block in him.
k ch. 3. 14.
11 * Ο δὲ μισῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ ἐστὶ, καὶ ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ περι-
1 Luke 24. 47.
Compare the prophetic declarations of Ezek. xiv. 3. These men have set up their idols in their own heart, and put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their own face; cp. v. 7. Idols and stumbling-blocks are usually external, and erected by others, but these men bring forth idols and stumbling-blocks for themselves out of their own hearts. So great is their sin and blindness.
The beauty and force of these expressions are obvious and the preposition év is to be taken in its literal sense; which is well expressed by Bengel : "he who hates his brother is a stumbling-block to himself. But he who loves, walks at ease and has a clear road before him."
12. γράφω ὑμῖν, τεκνία] I write to you, my little children, whom I have begotten in Christ (cp. note above, ii. 1). The word TeKvía, little children, is to be distinguished from the word raidía in v. 18.
Next this arrangement follows:
eighth, the octave of the first. Compare the note on the Beati-
Ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, πατέρες.
The word Teкvía describes the spiritual relation in which all
But the word raidía, children, describes their childhood as
This distinction may be marked in English by prefixing 'my" to the translation of TeKvía.
Observe now the order of the address here;
He first says, Tpápw vμîv, teкvía. This is the general address, applicable to all. They are all dear to him as his little children.
ὅτι ἀφέωνται ὑμῖν] because your sins have been forgiven
Thus the beloved disciple, the Apostle and Evangelist, St.
Accordingly, the Church of England says by the mouth of
σκοτίᾳ 1 1 Cor. 13.2.
ch. 3. 14, 15.
1 John 12, 35.
13. yрápw iμiv, raтépes] I write to you, fathers, because ye
St. John condemns those who under a pretence of know-
Παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστὶ, ν. 18.
Lastly, the series is summed up by the same address as that which began the series,--- καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ, ν. 28. Thus the whole series takes the form of seven, and is closed by an
St. John here begins with fathers; then descends to young men; and from them to children.
He declares the important truth, that the highest degree of knowledge to which Christian fathers can attain, is the knowledge of the everlasting Son. And the beginning of all knowledge in which all Christian children are to be instructed, is the knowledge of God as their Father. God the Father is the Original of all blessings which descend through God the Son, by God the Holy Ghost (see on 2 Cor. xiii. 13). His Name is first spoken in Baptism. That name begins the Creed. And every Christian soul, made God's child by adoption, cries Abba, Father (Gal. iv. 6), and all say with one voice," Our Father, which art in heaven." Matt. vi. 9.
Ypápa vμîv, veavíaкoi] I write to you, young men, because ye have overcome the Wicked one. This saying is also repeated (see v. 14), for the same reason as the former. "Flee youthful lusts," says St. Paul to his son in the faith when young (2 Tim. ii. 22); and divine grace triumphs in young men, when by its means they, young as they are, conquer the Old Serpent (Rev. xii. 9; xx. 2).