1 John 3:17

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

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1 John 3:17 in Other Translations

KJV
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
ESV
17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?
NLT
17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
MSG
17 If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
CSB
17 If anyone has this world's goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him-how can God's love reside in him?

1 John 3:17 Meaning and Commentary

1 John 3:17

But whoso hath this world's good
The possessions of this world, worldly substance, the temporal good things of it; for there are some things in it, which are honestly, pleasantly, and profitably good, when used lawfully, and not abused, otherwise they are to the owner's hurt: or "the living of this world"; that which the men of the world give up themselves to, are bent upon, and pursue after; or on which men live, and by which life is maintained, and preserved, and made comfortable in the present state of things; such as meat, drink, apparel, money, houses, lands The Ethiopic version renders it, "he that hath the government of this world"; as if it pointed at a person that is in some high office of worldly honour and profit, and is both great and rich; but the words are not to be restrained to such an one only, but refer to any man that has any share of the outward enjoyments of life; that has not only a competency for himself and family, but something to spare, and especially that has an affluence of worldly substance; but of him that has not, it is not required; for what a man distributes ought to be his own, and not another's, and in proportion to what he has, or according to his ability:

and seeth his brother have need;
meaning, not merely a brother in that strict and natural relation, or bond of consanguinity; though such an one in distress ought to be, in the first place, regarded, for no man should hide himself from, overlook and neglect his own flesh and blood; but any, and every man, "his neighbour", as the Ethiopic version reads, whom he ought to love as himself; and especially a brother in a spiritual relation, or one that is of the household of faith: if he has need; that is, is naked and destitute of daily food, has not the common supplies of life, and what nature requires; and also, whose circumstances are low and mean, though not reduced to the utmost extremity; and if he sees him in this distress with his own eyes, or if he knows it, hears of it, and is made acquainted with it, otherwise he cannot be blameworthy for not relieving him.

And shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him;
hardens his heart, turns away his eyes, and shuts his hand; has no tenderness in him for, nor sympathy with his distressed brother, nor gives him any succour: and this shows, that when relief is given, it should be not in a morose and churlish manner, with reflection and reproach, but with affection and pity; and where there is neither one nor the other,

how dwelleth the love of God in him?
neither the love with which God loves men; for if this was shed abroad in him, and had a place, and dwelt in him, and he was properly affected with it, it would warm his heart, and loosen his affections, and cause his bowels to move to his poor brother: nor the love with which God is loved; for if he does not love his brother whom he sees in distress, how should he love the invisible God? ( 1 John 4:20 ) ; nor that love which God requires of him, which is to love his neighbour as himself.

1 John 3:17 In-Context

15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:

Cross References 2

  • 1. Deuteronomy 15:7,8; James 2:15,16
  • 2. 1 John 4:20
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