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WHOSOEVER believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whosoever loveth him that begot loveth him also that is begotten 2 by him. Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and 3 keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and 4 his commandments are not grievous. For who-testimony in himself: he who believeth not
Testimony given to Christ. Son of God? This is he who came by water 6 and blood, even Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth testimony, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear testi- 7 mony, The Spirit, and the Water, and the 8 Blood: and these three agree in one. If we 9 receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater: for this is the testimony of God which he hath testified of his Son. He to who believeth on the Son of God hath the
soever is born of God overcometh the world: and this giveth us victory over the world, even 5 our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the
God maketh him a liar; because he believeth not the testimony which God hath testified of his Son. And this is the testimony, that God 11 hath given to us everlasting life, and this life
Obedience the proof of love.
I JOHN V.
A. D. 90. He that loveth God loveth his children; he keepeth his commandments; Jesus is able to save us, and to hear our prayers for ourselves and others.
CHAP. V. 7. 。 in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and world, are not agreeable to the word of God, nor adapted to the wants and feelings of a lost perishing sinner. Those teachers are of God, who adhere to his word, explain and enforce it alone, and not their own corrupt notions; and God's children will hear them, how. ever they may be opposed by the proud, covetous, and self-indulgent men of the world. With assurance John could say, "We are of God. He that knoweth God heareth us;" and some may yet be confident that they are of God, from their doctrine, temper, and conduct being agreeable to the word of God, and from the humbling sanctifying effects of their ministry.
2. What motives to humble, holy, brotherly love, does the apostle here state and urge! God is love; and the whole work of salvation is the display of it. It originated in the love of the Father, was effected by the love of the Son, and is applied by the love of the Spirit. In every part of this stupendous work love reigns and triumphs. Jesus is the gift of love, "his nativity was the birth of love, his sermons
CHAP. V. 1-3. Him that begol, &c. They love him because of his love to them, and will love those who have been begotten by his truth and Spirit, to a resemblance of himself; and to be, as they are, his children; and their love to the brethren is proved genuine, when it arises from the love of God, exemplified by keeping his commandments, and these to all children are not grievous, but agreeable and pleasing.
4, 5. Whosoever, &c. John uses the neuter gender, says Macknight, to denote all kind of persons, male or female, Jew or Gentile, bond or free; but that it is often used for the masculine is certain.--And this giveth, &c. I conceive it better to render clearly then to retain the idiom of the text.Who is he, &c. That overcomes temptations, despises carnal pleasures, and even worldly possessions, and is ready to suffer even death, but he that believeth Jesus to be the Son of God, and the glorious Saviour of all that trust in him.
6-8. This is the who, &c. Came as the Messiah, and Son of God, and claimed to be so. Hence this coming does not refer to his coming in the flesh, and being born into the world, but to the beginning of his ministry, when he was baptized in Jordan, and when the Father testified he was his beloved Son, &c. Thus he came, and was attested to be the Son of God by water; and so
these three are one. And there are three that bear testimony on earth. Griesb. the words of love, his miracles the wonders of love, his tears the meltings of love, his crucifixion the agonies of love, and his resurrection the triumph of love." And how undeserved is this love. "Not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins;" and by faith in him we obtain remission, and live. We have not indeed seen God, nor can see him; but our faith in his word works by love to him. And by this we can assure ourselves that we know him and are born of him. And how ought we to love one another? To lay ourselves out in every way possible to promote the welfare of our christian brethren, is our bounden duty; and in the discharge of it, we cannot fail to experience," that he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God in him." In this way our love will increase, and be perfect, and we shall be delivered from all slavish and tormenting fears; and our holy confidence of standing in the day of judgment will be established. And how desirable is it to have such confidence, for it will yield peace.
he was by the shedding of his blood on the cross, as in that event prophecies were fulfilled, and as at his trial he declared himself to be the Son of God, and during his crucifixion God bore testimony to him in the miracles wrought, and by his resurrection. I omit, with Griesbach and most critics, verse 7, as a marginal gloss, introduced from some Latiu writers, and supported by scarcely any authority of the Greek copies.—Three that bear, &c. The Spirit by his astonishing gifts, the ordinance of baptism solemnly appointed by Christ as emblematic of moral purity, and the Lord's supper, as being a commemora tion of his shed blood. Now these three agree in the testimony they bear to Jesus as the Son of God.
9. The testimony of men, &c. As we do in judicial affairs, and as the law enjoined, Deuter. xix. 15.; the testimony of God is more deserving our regard. Now what I have stated is the remarkable testimony God has given, and is yet giving concerning his Son Jesus Christ.
10-13. Hath the testimony in himself. His own faith in Christ produceth such a change in his temper, hopes, and conduct, that by these he has the same testimony in himself as the Spirit, water, and blood bear; but he who believeth not the testimony God hath borne to him maketh God a liar, treats him as one, and must answer for it.—This is the testimony. The great truth
1 JOHN V.
Jesus is the true God.
12 is through his Son. He that hath the Son He that hath the Son | death: I do not say that one should ask conhath this life; and he that hath not the Son of cerning it. (All unrighteousness is sin :) and 17 13 God hath not this life. These things I write to there is a sin not unto death. We know that 18 you who believe on the name of the Son of God, whosoever is born of God sinneth not: but he who is born of God keepeth himself, and the that ye may know that ye have everlasting life. And this is the confidence which we have Evil One toucheth him not. And we know 19 in him, that, if we ask any thing according to that we are of God, and the whole world lieth 15 his will, he heareth us. And, if we know that under the Evil One. And we know that the 20 he heareth us, whatsoever we ask, we know Son of God is come, and hath given us an that we have the petitions granted which we understanding, that we may know him that 16 ask of him. If any man see his brother sin is true, and we are in him that is true, in his a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, Son Jesus Christ; This is the true God, and and God shall give him life; for such I say the eternal life. My children, keep yourselves 21 as sin not unto death. There is a sin unto from idols. Amen.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER V. 1. We may learn that true genuine faith in Christ springs from regeneration; and that while all who are born of God, believe on the strongest evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, and the almighty and all-sufficient Saviour, those who are not born of him, either deny the truth or have a mere dead and unprofitable faith. Real believers" show their faith - by their works." They love God, and all those in whom they see his moral image, as his children; and they prove their love to God, by their steady obedience in keeping his commandments. And however And however ignorant and impenitent sinners may think his precepts and commands to be, as cords and fetters to restrain them, and boldly violate them; believers approve them as holy, just, and good, and find that in keeping them there is great reward. In the exercise of faith in the testimony, the promise, the power, and the love of God, and by the influence of the Holy Spirit, they obtain a final victory over the world, over its anares, temptations, smiles, and frowns; but as long as they live they are to be maintaining the combat, and to be faithful to death, that they may receive the crown of life. Let us then inquire whether our faith is gaining us daily victories over the world, or whether it is yielding to this enemy?
testified in revelation to us, and which is founded on Christ's being the Son of God and the Saviour, that God hath given, &c.—That hath the Son, &c. By faith in him, hath this life begun and secured by the promise; but he that hath not the Son, that does not believe on him, &c. ; and my design in writing these things is, that ye believers may know that ye have everlasting life.
14, 15. We have in him. Either in God, verse 11, or in the Son of God, the immediate antecedent.-Any thing, &c. The power of working miracles, the gift of wisdom, healing diseases, &c. What follows seems to limit these verses to the things mentioned more immediately; but yet it is now a truth, and ever will be, that when we ask what is agreeable to his will, and ask in a proper manner, he will hear us.
16, 17. Not unto death. A sin which hath brought on the sinner some disease as a punishment, but which the Spirit revealeth to any one, is not unto death, he may pray for him, and he shall be miraculously restored to health. James v. 14, 15. 1 Cor. v.5, 11, 30. 1 Tim. i. 20, and notes.There is a sin unto death. Speaking evil of the miraculous works of the Spirit, as the Jews did; aggravated apostacy, final impenitence, and unbelief.—————All unrighteousness, &c. Any act of disobedience is sin, and deserves death, but there is a sin, which does not deserve death to be inflicted in a public, judicial manner. Such 3 m 2
13. and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. Griesb.
2. We are taught how firmly and securely we may rest on the testimony of God given in his word, and by the work of the Spirit in the heart. Whatever respects the counsels of God, the invisible world, the way in which he will show mercy to sinners, can only be understood in a revelation divinely attested, and received by faith. These are things which neither the visible universe nor our reason can ever discover, prove, and demonstrate; and unless we receive the testimony of God respecting them, we must remain wholly ignorant, be without compass to guide, and hope to animate us. But blessed be God for the testimony he has given to his Son, at his baptism, on the holy mount and on the cross, and by the effusion of the Spirit of truth. And all who believe have an inward testimony to the truth, from its effects on their own hearts. It has become the power of God to their salvation; the means of instructing, sanctifying, and comforting them, through the power of the Spirit. But can any have this testimony who do not believe God's word? Assuredly not. Since then God tesifies that he has given us everlasting life in his Sou, and that he who hath the Son bath life, but that he who hath not the Son hath not life, let us use all diligence to obtain assurance of our interest in Christ, and in this great promised blessing, everlasting life.
are all the failures of good men, which they feel and lament, and such are many committed in ignorance and unbelief; for those who are out of the church God will judge hereafter.
18, 19. Sinneth not. Does not sin a sin unto death ; but through divine influence he keepeth himself, and the Evil One hath no power over him, so as to induce him to commit such a sin, and he is not delivered over to him. I Tim. i. 20.We know, &e. Are born of him, belong to him, and obey him; but the world, the wicked of every class, lieth under the Evil One, under his power and dominion, willingly serving him,
20, 21. Know him that is true. Some would refer this to the Father; but the following clauses limit it to his Son Jesus Christ, as they appear evidently to be in apposition, and the last explanatory. "We are in him that is true, in his Son, &c." This or He is the true God, as one with the Father, and the person I before mentioned as the Word of Life, and as the “Everlast¡ng Life," which was with the Father. Ch. i. 1,2. This appears to me the obvious, the natural construction and sense of the text. That the Jews understood our Lord by calling himself the Son of God, to mean that he was God, is eertain; and that his reasoning in reply did not tend to refute this, but rather to establish it may be seen, John x. 30-38.
THE SECOND EPISTLE
FROM the epistle itself it appears that the female to whom it was written, was a person of rank and wealth. She had embraced and nobly professed the faith; and was distinguished for her liberality, and kind attention to the ministers of the word and the disciples of Jesus. She probably lived in some city of Asia at no great distance from Ephesus, as John hoped soon to see her. The design of this letter was to guard her against false teachers and their heresies.
A. D. 91. He exhorteth her and her children to perseverance in love and faith, and to avoid those seducers who brought not the true doctrine of Christ
THE elder to the lady Electa and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but all those likewise who know the truth; 2 Because of the truth which abideth in us, and 3 shall be with us for ever. Grace, mercy, and peace be with you, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
I rejoiced greatly that I found some of thy children walking in the truth, according as we have received a commandment from the Fa5 ther. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as writing a new commandment to thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we 6 love one another. And this is love, that we
1-3. The elder, &c. Peter gave himself the same title; and it is remarkable that John never mentions his own name in any of his writings. He must have been now very aged. To the lady Electa. Some understand Electa as an appellative, signifying the chosen or excellent lady; but from the article and Greek usage it is clearly a proper name.In the truth. Whom I love as a christian who knows and believes the truth, and whom all such love; and because ye profess the truth which abideth in us, and shall be in us. Grace, mercy, and peace, &c.
4. I found some of, &c. I met with some of them, and from conversation, I learnt with joy that they were sound in the faith, and walking according to it, as we preach conformably to the divine command.
5, 6. Not a new commandment, &c. Not one never enjoined before, but oue coeval with the gospel. John ii. 8, and John viii. 34.—This is love. 1 John v. 3.
walk according to his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. For 7 many deceivers are gone forth into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ did come in the flesh. Such an one is a deceiver and an antichrist. Take heed to yourselves; that we 8 lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever 9 transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, hath both the Father and the Son. If any one come unto you, and 10 bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, nor wish him success; For he 11 who wisheth him success, is a partaker of his evil deeds.
Having many things to write to you, I would 12
7. Many deceivers, &c. False teachers, pretending to divine inspiration. 1 John iv. 1, &c.- -Did come in, &c. Denying his incarnation, and of course his sufferings and death; and thus destroying, as far as possible, the foundation of a sinner's hope. Every such teacher is a deceiver and the enemy of Christ.
8. Take heed to, &c. Guard against such men, lest departing from the faith you be led away with the error of the wicked, and we lose the fruits of our labour among you; but on the other hand, so act that both you and us may receive an ample and full reward.
9. Hath not God. Hath not his favour, hath not him as reconciled and a father; but he who abideth in the doctrine of Christ, hath both an interest in the love of the Father and the Son. 1 John ii. 23, &c.
10, 11. Bring not this, &c. When christians or teachers went to places where they were not known, they usually had letters of commendation (2Cor.
REFLECTIONS UPON II JOHN. 1. Though not many noble or rich are called, yet there are some, and nothing adds more to their honour, than to be humble, consistent believers and servants of Christ. All who know and love the gospel, will love such as profess and adorn it; and will most cordially pray for, "grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love." What pleasure does it afford to ministers, to find any devoted to the Saviour, and employing their talents and influence in every way to promote his glory in the salvation of sinners. How useful may pious mothers be to their children, by their instructions, affectionate warnings, cautions, prayers, and example. And what delight must they experience when they see those of whom they travailed, whom they nursed with the tenderest affection and care, born of the spirit, led to believe on the Saviour, and honourably walki-g in the truth. In this case their natural union is cemented by divine love and grace, and they can joyfully hope for its everlasting continuance. O God, may the seed of thy servants be established before thee.
2. We are again admonished to abound in brotherly love, and to
iii. 1.;) and if not, they made some profession of their faith. Now if any one taught not as a christian or teacher this doctrine, "that Christ did come in the flesh," and that obedience to him in all things taught in the gospel is due, receive him not into your house, nor wish him success, &c. as this would in effect be approving of his errors, and becoming partakers with him in the guilt
and converse with them. our joy may be full. The children of thy cho- 13 sen sister salute thee. Amen.
adhere to the truth against all opposers. "By this shall all men know, said Jesus, that ye are my disciples, if ye have love to one another." This then is the test, the proof we are to give to the world, that we are the disciples of him, who so loved us as to give up himself to death for us, to redeem us to God by his blood. Faith in him, and love to his followers for his sake, will be our best security against the arts of deceivers, or the attacks of open enemies. Alas, how many stumble yet at the corner-stone which God has laid in Zion, and dishonour the Saviour by hostility to the testimony borne to his person, atonement, and glorious grace. What need is there for hearers to watch, and take heed to themselves lest they be ensnared, and thus ministers, teachers, and parents, lose the things which they have wrought? If such deceivers come, receive them not into your houses, nor wish them success; but abide in the doctrine of Christ, for it is a doctrine not only true, but holy in its influence; and through the knowledge of it, and faith in him whose doctrine it is, we shall be preserved from habitual transgression, and enjoy an interest in the Father and the Son.
of his evil deeds, and would expose you to dreadful punishment hereafter. 13. Of thy chosen sister, &c. From this it appears that the lady to whom John wrote had a sister, who resided with her family where John was; and who like her had embraced the gospel. As nothing is said respecting their busbands, we may infer that they were dead, or else continued heathens.
THE THIRD EPISTLE
THIS epistle is directed to Gaius, who, according to Lardner, was an enrinent christian who lived in some city of Asia not far from Ephesus The apostle speaks of shortly coming to him, which he could not have done had he lived at Corinth, or in some other distant place.
A. D. 91 He commends Gaius for his piety and hospitality to strangers and We therefore ought to receive such, that we 8
ministers; and complains of Diotrephes for his pride, while he bears testimony to good Demetrius.
might be fellow-labourers for the truth. 19 would have written to the church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, 10 if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, tattling against us with malicious words: and not content herewith, he receiveth not the brethren himself, and forbiddeth those that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, imitate not that which is evil, but 11 that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. Demetrius hath a good testimony from 12 all men, and from the truth itself: and we also bear him testimony; and ye know that our testimony is true.
I had many things to write, but I will not 13 with ink and pen write unto thee: But 14
THE elder to the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
Beloved, I wish that thou mayest prosper in all things and be in health, even as thy soul 3 prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and bore testimony of the truth which is in thee, according as thou walkest in 4 the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear 5 that my children walk in the truth. Beloved,
thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to 6 the brethren, and to strangers; Who have borne testimony of thy love before the church: whom if thou conduct on their journey in a manner becoming a servant of God, thou wilt 7 do well: Because for the sake of his name they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
24 And be in health, &c. From this it is inferred that this excellent man did not enjoy good bodily health; but he enjoyed what was better, prosperity of soul. When I heard of thy knowledge of the gospel, and of thy christian spirit and conduct, I greatly rejoiced, as nothing gives me more unfeigned pleasure than to hear that my children walk as becometh the truth.
5-8. Doest faithfully. As a servant of Christ, faithfully obeying his will, and receiving strangers who have visited thee, and borne testimony to thy love before the church; whom if thou now receive, as they are going to preach to the Gentiles, and conduct on their way, thou wilt perform an acceptable service; and let me remind thee that we may be fellow-labourers in propagating the blessed gospel.
9, 10. I would have, &c. Some mss. have av, which shows how they understood the verb.-Diotrephes, &c. He is generally supposed to be the bishop or pastor, and Benson and others suppose him to be a Jew, who would
not own the apostle's authority, nor receive those Gentile converts who went forth to preach the gospel. Hence John mildly reproves him, and declares he would remember his deeds when he came.- -Casteth them, &c. Not only refusing them the rights of hospitality, but treating them as if they were not christians. The terms denote excommunicating. John ix. 34, 35.
11. Imitate not, &c. The evil example of Diotrephes; but ever exercise the brotherly love of the gospel. He that doeth good to all, according to his ability, is born of God, and knows his character; but he that doeth evil, behaving unkindly to the servants of Christ, hath not seen or known God aright.
1 John iii. 10.
12. A good testimony, &c. From all who know him for his meekness, benevolence, and humility; and from the Truth, from Jesus in the gospel, who bears testimony to all such characters; and we join ours, which ye know to be true.