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Barnes' New Testament Notes
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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF JOHN - Chapter 3 - Verse 1

 

CHAPTER III

 

ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER.

THIS chapter embraces the following subjects:—

I. The fact that Christians are now the sons of God, 1 Jo 3:1-3.

(1.) We are the sons of God, and this will explain the reason why the world does not appreciate our character, or understand the reasons of our conduct, 1 Jo 3:1.

(2.) The consequences of sustaining that relation to God, or of being regarded as his sons.

(a.) We shall be like him when he appears, 1 Jo 3:2.

(b.) We shall purify ourselves under the influence of this hope, 1 Jo 3:3.

II. The fact that he who is an adopted child of God does not commit sin, 1 Jo 3:4-10.

(1.) All sin is the transgression of the law, 1 Jo 3:4;

(2.) Christ was manifested to take away our sins, 1 Jo 3:5;

(3.) He that commits sin is of the devil, 1 Jo 2:8; and,

(4.) as a matter of fact, he who is of God does not commit sin, 1 Jo 3:7,9,10.

 

III. True religion will be manifested by love to the Christian brotherhood, 1 Jo 3:10-18.

(1.) As a man who is not righteous cannot be a true Christian, neither can he who does not love his brother, 1 Jo 3:10.

(2.) It is the solemn command of the Saviour that his followers should love one another, 1 Jo 3:11.

(3.) The importance of this is seen by the opposite conduct of Cain, 1 Jo 3:12.

(4.) Love to the brethren furnishes the most certain evidence that we have passed from death unto life, 1 Jo 3:14.

(5.) A man who hates another is in fact a murderer, and, of course, cannot be a true child of God, 1 Jo 3:15.

(6.) We should be stimulated to the love of the brethren by the example of the Saviour, who laid down his life for us, 1 Jo 3:16.

(7.) If we see a brother in want, and have the means of aiding him, and do not do it, we cannot have the love of God dwelling in us, 1 Jo 3:17,18.

IV. We may have evidence that we love God by the consciousness of our feelings towards him, as well as by outward acts towards his friends, 1 Jo 3:19-21.

V. If we keep his commandments our prayers will be answered, 1 Jo 3:22,23.

(1.) There is an assurance that we shall receive what we need if we ask it, and keep his commandments, 1 Jo 3:22.

(2.) The particular commandments on which the efficacy of prayer so much depends, are

(a.) that we believe on the name of the Saviour, and

(b.) that we love the Christian brotherhood, 1 Jo 3:23.

VI. We may know that we abide in God by the spirit which he has given us, as well as by keeping his commandments, 1 Jo 3:24.

This chapter, therefore, is occupied mainly with stating what are the evidences of true piety; and, in order to determine this question, there is perhaps no part of the Bible that may be studied with more profit than this portion of the writings of John.

Verse 1. Behold, what manner of love. What love, in kind and in degree. In kind the most tender and the most ennobling, in adopting us into his family, and in permitting us to address him as our Father; in degree the most exalted, since there is no higher love that can be shown than in adopting a poor and friendless orphan, and giving him a parent and a home. Even God could bestow upon us no more valuable token of affection than that we should be adopted into his family, and permitted to regard him as our Father. When we remember how insignificant we are as creatures, and how ungrateful, rebellious, and vile we have been as sinners, we may well be amazed at the love which would adopt us into the holy family of God, so that we may be regarded and treated as the children of the Most High. A prince could manifest no higher love for a wandering, ragged, vicious orphan boy, found in the streets, than by adopting him into his own family, and admitting him to the same privileges and honours as his own sons; and yet this would be a trifle compared with the honour which God has bestowed on us.

The Father hath bestowed upon us. God, regarded as a Father, or as at the head of the universe considered as one family. That we should be called the sons of God. That is, that we should be the sons of God —the word called being often used in the sense of to be. On the nature and privileges of adoption, See Barnes "Ro 8:15, seq., and 2 Co 6:18, and practical remarks on that chapter, See Barnes "1 Co 6:19, See Barnes "1 Co 6:20".

 

Therefore the world knoweth us not. Does not understand our principles; the reasons of our conduct; the sources of our comforts and joys. The people of the world regard us as fanatics or enthusiasts; as foolish in abandoning the pleasures and pursuits which they engage in; as renouncing certain happiness for that which is uncertain; as cherishing false and delusive hopes in regard to the future, and as practising needless austerities, with nothing to compensate for the pleasures which are abandoned. There is nothing which the gay, the ambitious, and the selfish less understand than they do the elements which go into the Christian's character, and the nature and source of the Christian's joys.

Because it knew him not. Did not know the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, the world had no right views of the real character of the Lord Jesus when he was on the earth. They mistook him for an enthusiast or an impostor; and it is no wonder that, having wholly mistaken his character, they should mistake ours. On the fact that the world did not know him, See Barnes "1 Co 2:8, See Barnes "Ac 3:17".

Comp. Joh 17:25. On the fact that Christians may be expected to be regarded and treated as their Saviour was, See Barnes "Joh 15:18, See Barnes "Joh 15:19"; See Barnes "Joh 15:20".

Comp. Mt 10:24,25.

{a} "love" Eph 2:4,5 {b} "the sons" Joh 1:12; Re 21:7 {*} "sons" "Children"

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