εαν ειδητε ὁτι δικαιος εστιν, γινωσκετε ὁτι πας ὁ ποιων την δικαιοσυνην εξ αυτου γεγεννηται. Ιδετε ποταπην αγαπην δεδωκεν ἡμιν ὁ πατηρ, ἱνα τεκνα Θεου κληθωμεν, και εσμεν. δια τουτο ὁ κοσμος ου γινωσκει ἡμας, ὁτι ουκ εγνω αυτον. Αγαπητοι, νυν τεκνα Θεου εσμεν, και ουπω εφανερωθη τι εσομεθα· οιδαμεν ὁτι εαν φανερωθη ὁμοιοι αυτυ εσομεθα, ὁτι οψομεθα αυτον καθως εστιν. και πας ὁ εχων την ελπιδα ταυτην επ' αυτυ αγνιζει εαυτον καθως εκεινος αγνος εστιν. Πας ὁ ποιων την ἁμαρτιαν και την ανομιαν ποιει· και ἡ αμαρτια εστιν ἡ ανομια. και οιδατε ὁτι εκεινος εφανερωθη ἱνα τας ἁμαρτιας αρη, και ἁμαρτια εν αυτω ουκ εστιν. πας ὁ εν αυτω μενων ουχ ἁμαρτανει· πας ὁ ἁμαρτανων ουχ ἑωρακεν αυτον ουδε εγνωκεν αυτον. Παιδια, μηδεις πλανατω ὑμας· ὁ ποιων την δικαιοσυνην δικαιος εστιν, καθως εκεινος δικαιος εστιν. ὁ ποιων την ἁμαρτιαν εκ του διαβολου εστιν, ὁτι απ' αρχης ὁ διαβολος ἁμαρτανει. εις τουτο εφανερωθη ὁ υιος του Θεου, ἱνα λυση τα εργα του διαβολου. πας ὁ γεγεννημενος εκ του Θεου ἁμαρτιαν ου ποιει, ὁτι σπερμα αυτου εν αυτω μενει· και ου δυναται ἁμαρτανειν, ὁτι εκ του Θεου γεγεννηται.
Si scitis quoniam iustus est, scitote quoniam omnis qui facit iustitiam ex ipso natus est. Videte qualem caritatem dedit nobis Pater ut filii Dei nominemur et simus. Propter hoc mundus non novit nos, quia non novit eum. Carissimi, nunc filii Dei sumus et nondum apparuit quid erimus. Scimus quoniam cum apparuerit similes ei erimus, quoniam videbimus eum sicuti est. Et omnis qui habet spem hanc in eo sanctificat se, sicut et ille sanctus est. Omnis qui facit peccatum et iniquitatem facit, et peccatum est iniquitas. Et scitis quoniam ille apparuit ut peccata tolerit, et peccatum in eo non est. Omnis qui in eo manet non peccat, et omnis qui peccat non videt eum nec cognovit eum. Filioli, nemo vos seducat. Qui facit iustitiam, iustus est, sicut et ille iustus est: qui facit peccatum, ex diabolo est quoniam ab initio diabolus peccat. In hoc apparuit Filius Dei, ut dissolvat opera diaboli. Omnis qui natus est ex Deo peccatum non facit, quoniam semen ipsius in eo manet, et non potest peccare, quoniam ex Deo natus est.
If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one that does, righteousness is born of Him. Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows, us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that has this hope in Him purifies, himself, even as He is pure. Whosoever commits, sin transgresses, also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abides in Him sins not: whosoever sins has not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does, righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that commits, sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin: for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one also that does, righteousness is begotten of Him. Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God: and such we are. For this cause the world knows, us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him even as He is. And every one that has this hope set on Him purifies, himself, even as He is pure. Every one that does, sin does, also lawlessness: and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abides in Him sins not: whosoever sins has not seen Him, neither knows, Him. My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that does, righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous; he that does, sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is begotten of God does, no sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God.
If you know that He is righteous, you are aware that every one who is doing righteousness is born of Him. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God; --- and we are. Because of this the world knows, us because it knew not Him. Beloved, now are we children of God, and it never yet was manifested what we shall be; but we know that if it shall be manifested we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone that has this hope fixed on Him is ever purifying himself even as He is pure. Every [Pg 180]one that is doing sin, is also doing lawlessness; and, indeed, sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested that He should take away sins; and sin in Him is not. Whosoever abides in Him is not sinning; every one that is sinning has not seen Him neither has known Him. Little children, let no man mislead you; he that is doing righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous: he that is doing sin is of the devil, because the devil is continually sinning from the beginning. To this end the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God is not doing sin for his seed abides in Him, and he is not able to be sinning, because he is born of God.[Pg 181]
Ch. ii. 29, iii. 9.
III. ver. 2. "Hope fixed in Him" or "on Him."] The English reader should note the capital letter; not hope in our hearts, but hope unfastened from self. Επι σοι Κυριε ηλπισα, is the LXX. translation of Psalm xxx. 1.
Is ever purifying himself.] "See how he does not do away with freewill; for he says purifies himself. Who purifies us but God? Yet God does not purify you when you are unwilling; therefore in joining your will to God you purify yourself." (St. Augustine in loc.)
We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.] "So then we are about to see a certain sight, excelling all beauties of the earth; the beauty of gold, silver, forest, fields --- the beauty of sea and air, sun and moon --- the beauty of stars --- the beauty of angels. Aye, excelling all these, because all these are beautiful only for it. What, therefore, shall we be when we shall see all these? What is promised? We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. The tongue has spoken as it could; let the rest be thought over by the heart" (St. Augustine in loc.). Cf. 2 Cor. iii. 18. "As the whole body, face, above all eyes of those who look towards the sun are sunnied" (insolantur). --- Bengel.
Ver. 3. The ample stores of English divinity contain two sermons, one excellent, one beautiful, upon this verse. The first is by Paley; it is founded upon the leading thought, which he expresses with his usual manly common sense. "There are a class of Christians to whom the admonition of the text is peculiarly necessary. Finding it an easier thing to do good than to expel sins which cleave to their hearts, their affections, or their imaginations; they set their endeavours more towards beneficence than purity. Doing good[Pg 182] is not the whole of our duty, nor the most difficult part of it. In particular it is not that part of it which is insisted upon in our text." (Paley, Sermon XLIII.) But the second sermon is perhaps the finest which ever came from the pen of South, and he throws into it the full power of his heart and intellect. The bare analysis is this: ---
Is it indeed possible for a man to "purify himself"? There is a twofold work of purification. (1) The infusing of the habit of purity into the soul (regeneration or conversion). In this respect, no man can purify himself. (2) The other work of purification is exercising that habit or grace of purity. "God who made, and since new made us, without ourselves, will not yet save us without ourselves." But again, how can a man purify himself to that degree even as Christ is pure? Even as denotes similitude of kind, not equality of degree. We are to purify ourselves from the power of sin, and from the guilt of sin. Purification from the power of sin consists in these things. (1) A continually renewed repentance. Every day, every hour, may afford matter for penitential sorrow. "A fountain of sin may well require a fountain of sorrow." Converting repentance must be followed by daily repentance. (2) Purifying ourselves consists in vigilant prevention of acts of sin for the future. The means of effecting this are these. (a) Opposing the very first risings of the heart to sin. "The bees may be at work, and very busy within, though we see none of them fly abroad." (b) Severe mortifying duties, such as watchings and fastings. (c) Frequent and fervent prayer. "A praying heart naturally turns into a purified heart." We are to purify ourselves, also, from the guilt of sin. (1) Negatively. No duty or work within our power to perform can take away the guilt of sin. Those who think so, understand neither "the fiery strictness of the law, nor the spirituality of the Gospel." (2) That which alone can purify us from the guilt of sin is applying the virtue of the blood of Christ to the soul by renewed acts of faith. "It is that alone that is able to wash away the deep stain, and to change the hue of the spiritual Ethiopian." The last consideration is --- how the life of heaven and future glory has such a sovereign influence upon this work? [This portion of the sermon falls far below the high standard of the rest, and entirely loses the spirit of St. John's thought.] South's Sermons. (Sermon 72, pp. 594-616.)
Ver. 6. That He might destroy the works of the devil.] The word here used for Satan (διαβολος) is found in John vii. 70, viii. 44, xiii. 2; Apoc. ii. 10, xii. 9, 12, xx. 2, 10. One class of miracles is not specifically recorded by St. John in his Gospel --- the dispossession of demoniacs. Probably this terrible affliction was less common in Jerusalem than in Galilee. But the idea of possession is not foreign to his mode of thought. John vi. 70, viii. 44, 48, x. 20, xiii. 27. He here points to the dispossessions, so many of which are recorded by the Synoptics.
III. ver. 9. His seed abides in him.] Of these words only two interpretations appear to be fairly possible. (1) The first would understand "His seed" as "God's seed," the stock or family of His children who are the true זֶרצ אֱלהִים, seed of God (Mal. ii. 15). In favour of this interpretation it may be urged: first, that "seed" in the sense of "children, posterity, any one's entire stock and filiation," in perhaps nearly two hundred passages of the LXX., is the Greek rendering of many different Hebrew words. (See σπερμα in Num. xxiv. 20; Deut. xxv. 1; Jer. l. 16; Gen. iii. 15; Isa. xiv. 20, 30, xv. 9; Num. xxiii. 10; 2 Chron. xiv. 27.) Secondly, no inapt meaning is given in the present text by so understanding the word. "He is unable to go on in sin, for God's true stock and family (they who are true to the majesty of their birth) abide in Him." (2) But a second meaning appears preferable. "Seed" (σπερμα) would then be understood as a metaphorical application of the grain in the vegetable world which contains the possible germ of the future plant or tree; and would signify the possibility, or germinal principle, given by the Holy Spirit to the soul in regeneration. For this signification in our passage there is a strong argument, which we have not seen adverted to, in St. John's mode of language and of thought. "His seed abides in him" (σπερμα αυτου εν αυτω μενει) is really a quotation from the LXX. (ου το σπερμα αυτου εν αυτω --- note the repetition of the words Gen. i. 11, 12). Now the Book of Genesis seems to have been the part of the Old Testament which (with the Psalms) was chiefly in St. John's mind in the Epistle. (Cf. 1 John i. 1, Gen. i. 1. --- iii. 8, Gen. ii. --- iii. 12, Gen. iv. 8 --- iii. 15, Gen. xxvii. 41.) St. John, also, connects the new birth of the sons of God, as did our Lord, with the birth of the[Pg 184] creation, whose first germ was "the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters" (Gen. i. 2; John iii. 5). This parallel between the first creation and the second, between creation and regeneration, has always commended itself to profound Christian exegesis as being deeply set in the mind of Scripture. Witness the magnificent lines.
Plebs ut sacra renascatur, Per Hunc unda consecratur, Cui super ferebatur In rerum exordium. Fons, origo pietatis, Fons emundans a peccatis, Fons de fonte Deitatis, Fons sacrator fontium! Adam of St. Victor, Seq. xx., Pentecoste.
It is instructive, to study the treatment of our Lord's words (John iii. 5) by a commentator so little mystical as Professor Westcott. St. John, then, might point at this as another hint of regeneration in the parable of creation, viewed spiritually. The world of vegetation in Genesis is divided into two classes. (1) Herbs צֵשֶׂב = all grasses and plants which "yield seed." (2) Trees צֵץ מְּרִי = shrubs and arboreous plants which have their seed enclosed in their fruit (Gen. i. 11, 12) Such are the plants of God's planting in His garden. Of each the "seed" from which he sprung, and which he will reproduce unless he becomes barren and blighted, "is in him." "He cannot sin." It is against the basis of his new nature. Of the new creation as of the old, the law is --- "his seed is in him."
The rest of this verse is interpreted in the Discourse upon 1 John v. 4.
From The Epistles Of St. John by WILLIAM ALEXANDER, D.D., D.C.L. Oxon., Hon. LL.D. Dublin, published by Hodder and Stoughton, 27, Paternoster Row, MDCCCXCVI Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
Insights of the past for the present
Epistles of John 2/2 - W. Alexander
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.