1 John 3

Children of God Love One Another

1 See [a]1how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called 2children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because 3it did not know Him.
2 4Beloved, now we are 5children of God, and 6it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He 7appears, we will be 8like Him, because we will 9see Him just as He is.
3 And everyone who has this 10hope fixed on Him 11purifies himself, just as He is pure.
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and 12sin is lawlessness.
5 You know that He 13appeared in order to 14take away sins; and 15in Him there is no sin.
6 No * one who abides in Him 16sins; no * one who sins has seen Him or 17knows Him.
7 18Little children, make sure no one 19deceives you; 20the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
8 the one who practices sin is 21of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. 22The Son of God 23appeared for this purpose, 24to destroy the works of the devil.
9 No * one who is 25born of God 26practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot * sin, because he is born of God.
10 By this the 27children of God and the 28children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who 29does not love his 30brother.
11 31For this is the message 32which you have heard from the beginning, 33that we should love one another;
12 not as 34Cain, who was of 35the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because 36his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if 37the world hates you.
14 We know that we have 38passed out of death into life, 39because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
15 Everyone who 40hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that 41no * murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 We know love by this, that 42He laid down His life for us; and 43we ought to lay down our lives for the 44brethren.
17 But 45whoever * has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and 46closes his heart against him, 47how does the love of God abide in him?
18 48Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and 49truth.
19 We will know by this that we are 50of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him
20 in whatever * * our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
21 51Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have 52confidence before God;
22 and 53whatever * we ask we receive from Him, because we 54keep His commandments and do 55the things that are pleasing in His sight.
23 This is His commandment, that we 56believe in 57the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as 58He commanded * us.
24 The one who 59keeps His commandments 60abides in Him, and He in him. 61We know by this that 62He 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 62

  • 1. John 3:16; 1 John 4:10
  • 2. John 1:12; John 11:52; Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:2, 10
  • 3. John 15:18, 21; John 16:3
  • 4. 1 John 2:7
  • 5. John 1:12; John 11:52; Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:1, 10
  • 6. Romans 8:19, 23
  • 7. Luke 17:30; Colossians 3:4; 1 John 2:28
  • 8. Romans 8:29; 2 Peter 1:4
  • 9. John 17:24; 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • 10. Romans 15:12; 1 Peter 1:3
  • 11. John 17:19; 2 Corinthians 7:1
  • 12. Romans 4:15; 1 John 5:17
  • 13. 1 John 1:2; 1 John 3:8
  • 14. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-20; 1 John 2:2
  • 15. 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:29
  • 16. 1 John 3:9
  • 17. 1 John 2:3; 3 John 11
  • 18. 1 John 2:1
  • 19. 1 John 2:26
  • 20. 1 John 2:29
  • 21. Matthew 13:38; John 8:44; 1 John 3:10
  • 22. Matthew 4:3
  • 23. 1 John 3:5
  • 24. John 12:31; John 16:11
  • 25. John 1:13; John 3:3; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 5:1, 4, 18; 3 John 11
  • 26. 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 3:6; 1 John 5:18
  • 27. John 1:12; John 11:52; Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:1, 2
  • 28. Matthew 13:38; John 8:44; 1 John 3:8
  • 29. Romans 13:8f; Colossians 3:14; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 John 4:8
  • 30. 1 John 2:9
  • 31. 1 John 1:5
  • 32. 1 John 2:7
  • 33. John 13:4; John 15:12; 1 John 4:7, 11f, 21; 2 John 5
  • 34. Genesis 4:8
  • 35. Matthew 5:37; 1 John 2:13
  • 36. Psalms 38:20; Proverbs 29:10; John 8:40, 41
  • 37. John 15:18; John 17:14
  • 38. John 5:24
  • 39. John 13:35; 1 John 2:10
  • 40. Matthew 5:21; John 8:44
  • 41. Galatians 5:20; Revelation 21:8
  • 42. John 10:11; John 15:13
  • 43. Philippians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:8
  • 44. 1 John 2:9
  • 45. James 2:15
  • 46. Deuteronomy 15:7
  • 47. 1 John 4:20
  • 48. 1 John 2:1; 1 John 3:7
  • 49. 2 John 1; 3 John 1
  • 50. 1 John 2:21
  • 51. 1 John 3:2
  • 52. 1 John 2:28; 1 John 5:14
  • 53. Job 22:26; Matthew 7:7; Matthew 21:22; John 9:31
  • 54. 1 John 2:3
  • 55. John 8:29; Hebrews 13:21
  • 56. John 6:29
  • 57. John 1:12; John 2:23; John 3:18
  • 58. John 13:34; John 15:12; 1 John 2:8
  • 59. 1 John 2:3
  • 60. John 6:56; John 10:38; 1 John 2:6, 24; 1 John 4:15
  • 61. John 14:17; Rom 8:9, 14, 16; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 1 John 4:13
  • 62. 1 John 2:5

Footnotes 13

1 John 3 Commentaries

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