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Bible Commentaries
1 John 3

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-24

III:1-10 Conduct of the Children of God —1. Because God has adopted the faithful into his family, the world, which is inimical to God, hates them.

2. But adoption entitles them to a future state of glory, like that of God himself. The true nature of that glorification is not yet clear; but after this life faith will give way to the intuitive vision of God, in which they will reflect his glory and nature. 3. Whosoever wishes to see God, the very Source of purity and holiness, must strive to be holy and keep himself free from all taint of sin. 4. ’Whosoever committeth sin, committeth transgression of the law; and sin is lawlessness’; hence, of its very nature it separates the soul from God. 5. Sin also renders futile the merits of Christ. 6. Therefore, every Christian is obliged, to avoid sin that he may remain united with Christ. Wilfully and knowingly to transgress the law of God indicates a lack of proper knowledge of Christ. He who has seen Christ with the eyes of faith, and has recognized ’that he appeared to take away our sins and in him there is no sin’ strives to become like him, free from all deliberate sin. 7-8. A just man observes the law of God, and he who sets it at naught imitates the devil. Satan is the author of sin; Christ is his mighty opponent. 9. Sin is also at variance with the divine adoption. When St John says that one who is born of God cannot sin, he does not mean that every baptized person is confirmed in grace and cannot fall from that state, but that sin is entirely incompatible with a true child of God, cf. Romans 6:6, Romans 6:11 f., 14.

10. Hence, only they who avoid sin deserve to be called ’the children of God’; they who do not, are ’the children of the devil’.

11-24 Fraternal Charity the Characteristic Mark of God’s Children —To ascertain the spiritual state of any Christian, and to determine his relationship with God, we need but observe how he reacts to the essential precept of fraternal charity. Children of God manifest an active and disinterested love for the neighbour; the children of the devil are characterized by sullen and envious hatred.

14. We follow the way of life when we love the brethren.

15. To cherish hatred for anyone is to develop the disposition of a murderer and forfeit eternal life. 16. Christ, who laid down his life for us, is the perfect example of charity. We should be ready to make a similar sacrifice if called upon to do so.

17. This being the ideal, how radically wanting in charity is he, who sees his brother in dire need, yet does nothing to help him. The reason for such heartless conduct is the absence of love of God. Love of God and of the neighbour are inseparable.

18. In practising either, we must not rest satisfied with expressions of devotion and good will.

19. Only when charity is active does conscience assure us that we are leading sincere Christian lives.

20. And should it accuse us of faults, God, who knows us better than we know ourselves, will understand the sincerity of our love.

21-22. If a good conscience finds nothing reprehensible, we may confidently expect that God will grant a favourable answer to our petitions.

23. Two things sum up what is most pleasing to him; faith in the divine personality of Jesus Christ, and brotherly love according to Christ’s instructions.

24. Observance of the commandments is indispensable for union with God. The presence of the Holy Spirit gives us moral assurance of this union, who manifests his presence by the spirit of charity.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on 1 John 3". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/1-john-3.html. 1951.
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