1 John 3

Listen to 1 John 3
1 See 1what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called 2children of God; and so we are. The reason why 3the world does not know us is that 4it did not know him.
2 Beloved, we are 5God's children 6now, and what we will be 7has not yet appeared; but we know that 8when he appears[a]9 we shall be like him, because 10we shall see him as he is.
3 And everyone who 11thus hopes in him 12purifies himself as he is pure.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; 13sin is lawlessness.
5 You know that 14he appeared to 15take away sins, and 16in him there is no sin.
6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; 17no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
7 Little children, 18let no one deceive you. 19Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
8 20Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was 21to destroy the works of the devil.
9 22No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's[b] seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, 23nor is the one who 24does not love his brother.

Love One Another

11 For 25this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, 26that we should love one another.
12 We should not be like 27Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? 28Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, brothers,[c]29that the world hates you.
14 We know that 30we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
15 31Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that 32no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 By this we know love, that 33he laid down his life for us, and 34we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
17 But 35if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet 36closes his heart against him, 37how does God's love abide in him?
18 Little children, let us not 38love in word or talk but in deed and 39in truth.
19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;
20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
21 Beloved, 40if our heart does not condemn us, 41we have confidence before God;
22 and 42whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and 43do what pleases him.
23 And this is his commandment, 44that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and 45love one another, 46just as he has commanded us.
24 47Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,[d] and God[e] in him. And 48by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

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1 John 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

The apostle admires the love of God in making believers his children. (1,2) The purifying influence of the hope of seeing Christ, and the danger of pretending to this, and living in sin. (3-10) Love to the brethren is the character of real Christians. (11-15) That love described by its actings. (16-21) The advantage of faith, love, and obedience. (22-24)

Verses 1-2 Little does the world know of the happiness of the real followers of Christ. Little does the world think that these poor, humble, despised ones, are favourites of God, and will dwell in heaven. Let the followers of Christ be content with hard fare here, since they are in a land of strangers, where their Lord was so badly treated before them. The sons of God must walk by faith, and live by hope. They may well wait in faith, hope, and earnest desire, for the revelation of the Lord Jesus. The sons of God will be known, and be made manifest by likeness to their Head. They shall be transformed into the same image, by their view of him.

Verses 3-10 The sons of God know that their Lord is of purer eyes than to allow any thing unholy and impure to dwell with him. It is the hope of hypocrites, not of the sons of God, that makes allowance for gratifying impure desires and lusts. May we be followers of him as his dear children, thus show our sense of his unspeakable mercy, and express that obedient, grateful, humble mind which becomes us. Sin is the rejecting the Divine law. In him, that is, in Christ, was no sin. All the sinless weaknesses that were consequences of the fall, he took; that is, all those infirmities of mind or body which subject man to suffering, and expose him to temptation. But our moral infirmities, our proneness to sin, he had not. He that abides in Christ, continues not in the practice of sin. Renouncing sin is the great proof of spiritual union with, continuance in, and saving knowledge of the Lord Christ. Beware of self-deceit. He that doeth righteousness is righteous, and to be a follower of Christ, shows an interest by faith in his obedience and sufferings. But a man cannot act like the devil, and at the same time be a disciple of Christ Jesus. Let us not serve or indulge what the Son of God came to destroy. To be born of God is to be inwardly renewed by the power of the Spirit of God. Renewing grace is an abiding principle. Religion is not an art, a matter of dexterity and skill, but a new nature. And the regenerate person cannot sin as he did before he was born of God, and as others do who are not born again. There is that light in his mind, which shows him the evil and malignity of sin. There is that bias upon his heart, which disposes him to loathe and hate sin. There is the spiritual principle that opposes sinful acts. And there is repentance for sin, if committed. It goes against him to sin with forethought. The children of God and the children of the devil have their distinct characters. The seed of the serpent are known by neglect of religion, and by their hating real Christians. He only is righteous before God, as a justified believer, who is taught and disposed to righteousness by the Holy Spirit. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. May all professors of the gospel lay these truths to heart, and try themselves by them.

Verses 11-15 We should love the Lord Jesus, value his love, and therefore love all our brethren in Christ. This love is the special fruit of our faith, and a certain sign of our being born again. But none who rightly know the heart of man, can wonder at the contempt and enmity of ungodly people against the children of God. We know that we are passed from death to life: we may know it by the evidences of our faith in Christ, of which love to our brethren is one. It is not zeal for a party in the common religion, or affection for those who are of the same name and sentiments with ourselves. The life of grace in the heart of a regenerate person, is the beginning and first principle of a life of glory, whereof they must be destitute who hate their brother in their hearts.

Verses 16-21 Here is the condescension, the miracle, the mystery of Divine love, that God would redeem the church with his own blood. Surely we should love those whom God has loved, and so loved. The Holy Spirit, grieved at selfishness, will leave the selfish heart without comfort, and full of darkness and terror. By what can it be known that a man has a true sense of the love of Christ for perishing sinners, or that the love of God has been planted in his heart by the Holy Spirit, if the love of the world and its good overcomes the feelings of compassion to a perishing brother? Every instance of this selfishness must weaken the evidences of a man's conversion; when habitual and allowed, it must decide against him. If conscience condemn us in known sin, or the neglect of known duty, God does so too. Let conscience therefore be well-informed, be heard, and diligently attended to.

Verses 22-24 When believers had confidence towards God, through the Spirit of adoption, and by faith in the great High Priest, they might ask what they would of their reconciled Father. They would receive it, if good for them. And as good-will to men was proclaimed from heaven, so good-will to men, particularly to the brethren, must be in the hearts of those who go to God and heaven. He who thus follows Christ, dwells in Him as his ark, refuge, and rest, and in the Father through him. This union between Christ and the souls of believers, is by the Spirit he has given them. A man may believe that God is gracious before he knows it; yet when faith has laid hold on the promises, it sets reason to work. This Spirit of God works a change; in all true Christians it changes from the power of Satan to the power of God. Consider, believer, how it changes thy heart. Dost not thou long for peace with God? Wouldst thou not forego all the world for it? No profit, pleasure, or preferment shall hinder thee from following Christ. This salvation is built upon Divine testimony, even the Spirit of God.

Cross References 48

  • 1. 1 John 4:10; John 3:16
  • 2. John 1:12
  • 3. [1 John 4:17]
  • 4. John 16:3; John 17:25
  • 5. [See ver. 1 above]
  • 6. Romans 8:15; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 1:5
  • 7. [Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17]
  • 8. 1 John 2:28
  • 9. Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:11; Philippians 3:21; 2 Peter 1:4
  • 10. John 17:24; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 22:4
  • 11. Romans 15:12
  • 12. 2 Corinthians 7:1
  • 13. [1 John 5:17; Romans 4:15]
  • 14. Hebrews 9:26; See 1 John 1:2
  • 15. [Isaiah 53:11, 12]
  • 16. See 1 Peter 2:22
  • 17. 1 John 2:4; 1 John 4:8; 3 John 11
  • 18. 1 John 2:26
  • 19. 1 John 2:29
  • 20. Matthew 13:38; John 8:44
  • 21. Hebrews 2:14; [Genesis 3:15; Luke 10:18; John 16:11]
  • 22. 1 John 5:18
  • 23. 1 John 4:8
  • 24. 1 John 4:20, 21
  • 25. 1 John 1:5; 1 John 2:24
  • 26. See John 13:34
  • 27. Genesis 4:4, 8; Hebrews 11:4; Jude 11
  • 28. Psalms 38:20; Proverbs 29:10
  • 29. John 15:18; John 17:14
  • 30. John 5:24
  • 31. Matthew 5:21, 22
  • 32. Galatians 5:21; Revelation 21:8
  • 33. See John 15:13
  • 34. [Philippians 2:17]
  • 35. James 2:15, 16
  • 36. Deuteronomy 15:7
  • 37. [1 John 4:20]
  • 38. Ezekiel 33:31; Ephesians 4:15
  • 39. 2 John 1; 3 John 1
  • 40. [1 Corinthians 4:4]
  • 41. 1 John 5:14; [Job 11:15; Job 22:26; Romans 14:22]
  • 42. See Matthew 7:7
  • 43. John 8:29
  • 44. John 6:29; [Acts 18:8]
  • 45. ver. 11
  • 46. [1 John 2:8]
  • 47. [John 6:56; John 14:20; John 15:4, 5; John 17:21]
  • 48. 1 John 4:13; Romans 8:9

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or when it appears
  • [b]. Greek his
  • [c]. Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated "brothers") refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God's family, the church; also verses 14, 16
  • [d]. Greek him
  • [e]. Greek he

1 John 3 Commentaries