SUMMARY.--The Marvellous Love of the Father. Sons of God Should Be Sinless. Christ Manifested to Remove Sin. Love the Proof that We Abide in God. The Spirit a Proof that We Abide in God.
1-3. Behold, what manner of love, etc. The last verse of chapter 2 speaks of the saints as born of God. That thought suggests the wonderful love in allowing us to be born again and thus to become God's children. Sons of God. What greater glory than to be acknowledged as sons of the King of Kings! Therefore. If the world does not know the Father it will not know his children. 2. Now are we, etc. Already we have the great privilege of being sons, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. Our future glory is not yet manifest. Even we ourselves cannot understand it. But we know. One glorious revelation has been made. At the coming of Christ we shall be like him. Then we shall be like him in body. See Phil. 3:21. We shall also be found morally in his image. For we shall see him as he is. To look upon him has power to change us into his glory. See 2 Cor. 3:18. 3. Every man that hath this hope. To have a hope of being like Christ leads us to try to be like Christ; hence, to be pure as he is pure.
4-10. Whosoever committeth sin, etc. The very act of sinning is a breaking of law. "Sin is lawlessness" (Revision). 5. Was manifested to take away our sins. Christ came, not only to take away our sins by their remission, but to take away our disposition to sin. 6. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not. One ceaseth to abide in him when he engages in sinning. See note at the end of the Epistle. Hath not seen him, etc. "Whosoever sinneth," that is, sins habitually, thereby shows that he hath not experimental insight and knowledge of Christ. There is no fellowship with the Sinless One. 7. Let no man deceive you. Do not be deluded into the belief that any one can be righteous unless he practices righteousness. 8. He that committeth sin is of the devil. A sinful life is a proof of the devil's power. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, and it is his work to destroy sin in all his disciples. 9. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin. The thought is that he does not live a life of sin. The spirit born of God, the new creation, does not sin, and cannot sin and remain God's child, but sometimes the old nature revives and for a moment exerts its power. "It is no more I that do it but sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom. 7:20). See note at end of the Epistle. His seed remaineth in him. The principle of divine life, and hence he cannot live a sinful life. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." This new nature cannot sin. If we sin, it is the old nature revived. Unless at once we repent and flee to him he will depart from us. 10. In this, etc. Thus is the distinction clear between God's children and those of the devil. God's children are full of love and live holy lives. Those of the devil are the opposite.
11, 12. This is the message. God's charge has always been that we should love each other. 12. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one. Cain, who hated and slew his brother, is an extreme type of children of the devil. This hater and murderer is condemned far more severely in the Scriptures than the disobedient Adam.
13-18. We know that we have passed from death unto life, etc. If our hearts are filled with brotherly love this shows that we are God's children; and the opposite is also true. 15. Whosoever hateth . . . is a murderer. Has the germs from which murder springs lurking in his heart. Hatred led Cain to murder; so it does many others who sin likewise. No murderer. It is impossible for a man to have the spirit of murder in him and yet have eternal life. 16. Hereby perceive we the love. The love of God in Christ is meant. His love is shown on the cross. Christ is love. If we love as he loved, we must be willing even to die for each other. 17. But whoso, etc. If this be true, what shall be said of one who refuses to succor his suffering brother with all his goods? 18. Let us love not in word. Our love must not show itself in empty professions.
19-22. Hereby we know, etc. Because our love is active and practical. Assure our hearts. Have a good conscience. 20. For if our heart condemn us. If we have a troubled conscience because we have not kept the law of love, God, who is greater and whose condemnation is a far more serious affair, knoweth all things and seeth our failure in duty. 21. If our heart condemn us not, etc. Then we have a conscience void of offense before God and are assured that he will hear us. 22. And whatsoever we ask. We can then believe that he will hear our prayers because we are keeping his commandments.
23, 24. And this is his commandment. The commandments may be summed up in one, with two parts, viz.: Faith in Jesus Christ, and love of the brethren. 24. He that keepeth his commandments. By keeping them we dwell in him and he in us. See John 14:23. We know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit. The Spirit that dwells in us is manifest by its fruits. If we bear the fruits of the Spirit in our lives it is proof that Christ dwells in us. If we are led by the Spirit we are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14).