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Bible Commentaries
1 John 3

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

1 John 3:1

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Astonishment at God’s love. From 2:28 on we have 46 occurances of "love", all the same Greek word.

John 3:16

Behold -- Plural; "Look at, see" "take notice"

What manner of love. - Ποταπην αγαπην· Clark: "What great love, both as to quantity and quality; for these ideas are included in the original term. The length, the breadth, the depth, the height, he does not attempt to describe."

Called -- BKC "In the Bible the word “called” indicates that this is what one actually is (cf. “called to be holy,” lit., “called saints” [1 Cor. 1:2])."

Sons -- The word "sons" (KJ) is not Huios (sons), but teknon, "born children,"

World not know us -- the world that lies in wickedness. MH "Little does the world perceive the advancement and happiness of the genuine followers of Christ." Barnes "Does not understand our principles; the reasons of our conduct; the sources of our comforts and joys."

Not know Him -- John 1:10

Verse 2

1 John 3:2

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is

God’s children -- by adoption.

Has not appeared -- CP-NT: "God has not revealed to us the manner of transformation we will experience when we meet our Savior. But we are assured that we will experience a transformation."

That when he appears -- "he" or "it" ? PPT: "The context is strongly in favour of "it," i.e., "if it shall be manifested what we shall be;" <620228> 1 John 2:28 1 John 2:28 seems to favour "he," i.e., "if Christ shall be manifested." The context must prevail." RWP: "The subject may be Christ as in 1 John 3:9, or the future manifestation just mentioned. Either makes sense, probably “it” here better than “he."

Be like him -- WG: Is this speaking of our "purity" or metaphysical appearance? It is not saying that everyone will look alike physically in heaven. But that BBC: "we will be free from the possibility of defilement, sin, sickness, sorrow, and death." BKC: "Such a transformation will result from seeing Him as He is." Barnes: "It is revealed to us that we shall be made like Christ; that is, in the bodies with which we shall be raised up, in character, in happiness, in glory." Barnes: "It is clearly implied here that there will be an influence in beholding the Saviour as he is, which will tend to make us like him, or to transform us into his likeness."

Verse 3

1 John 3:3

1 John 3:3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Hope -- John’s only reference to Christian hope. Gill: "for a true hope of that eternal happiness" WG: The hope of being like Christ, vs.2. MH: those who hope to live with Him. BBC: "this hope of seeing Christ and of being like Him." CP: "This hope is obviously referring to the hope that we will be changed and will be like him."

In Him -- BKC: (the pronoun probably refers to Christ, the Object of this hope)

Purifies himself -- CP: "Purity does not come to the Christian through anything the Christian is or has done. Purity comes about through the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross. -- Nothing but the blood of Christ can remove the guilt and stain of sin on our lives (see 1 John 1:7; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Corinthians 7:1)." Note especially 1 Peter 1:22, One purifies himself by his obedience to the truth, in which the blood of Christ washes away his sins (Acts 22:16 Revelation 1:5.).

He is pure -- BBC: "Notice that it says “purifies himself, just as He (Christ) is pure.” It does not say “just as He (Christ) purifies Himself.” The Lord Jesus never had to purify Himself; He is pure."

Verse 4

1 John 3:4

1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

1Jn 3:4-12. - Sin is absolutely incompatible with Christ’s work of redemption and our union with him (verses 4-8), and also with being born of God, as is shown by the presence or absence of brotherly love (verses 9-12).

Ver. 4. - Once more the apostle turns from the positive to the negative.

"Commith sin" = ASV "doeth sin" and parallel to 2:29 "doeth righteousness." poieo G4160. 1 John 2:29.

Commits -- BBC: "The word commits is literally does (Greek, poieo). It is a matter of continual behavior, expressed by the present, continuous tense."

Lawlessness -- BKC: "Usually in the Greek New Testament anomia is a general term like the English word “wickedness.”

Sin is -- . transgression of -- . law--definition of sin in general. The Greek having the article to both, implies that they are convertible terms. The Greek "sin" (hamartia) is literally, "a missing of the mark." God’s will being that mark to be ever aimed at.

Sin is lawlessness ... RWP: "(hē hamartia estin hē anomia). The article with both subject and predicate makes them coextensive and so interchangeable. Doing sin is the converse of doing righteousness (1 John 2:29). The present active participle (poiōn) means the habit of doing sin."

Lawlessness -- CP: "It does not appear here that the “law” is referring to the Law of Moses. Rather, sin appears to be just the opposite of righteousness. Righteousness has already been described as obedience of the commands, or commandments, given to us through the Son."

Verse 5

1 John 3:5

1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin

Ver. 5. - PPC: Two additional reasons for the absolute separation of the children of God from sin.

(1) They know well that the Son of God was manifested in the flesh to put away the sins (of the world, John 1:29);

(2) The Son of God was absolutely separated from sin

To take away sins -- RWP: (hina tas hamartias arēi). Purpose clause with hina and first aorist active subjunctive of airō as in John 1:29

And in Him is no sin... BBC: The Incarnation brought into the world the One who is totally sinless and who had as an objective the removal of sin from the lives of His own (cf. John 1:29; Hebrews 9:28).In Him there is no sin. This is one of the three key passages in the NT dealing with the sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter tells us that “He did no sin.” Paul tells us that “He knew no sin.” Now John, the disciple who knew the Lord in an especially intimate way, adds his testimony, “In Him is no sin.”

Hebrews 7:26 1 Peter 2:23

Verse 6

1 John 3:6

1 John 3:6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

PPC: (1) The Greek perfect expresses the present and permanent result of a past action, and is often equivalent to a present. (2) The fact of the man’s sinning proves that his perception and knowledge have been imperfect, if not superficial, or even imaginary;

Whosoever abideth in him -- Barnes: See 1 John 2:6. The word here employed (μένων menōn) properly means to remain, to continue, to abide.

Sinneth not -- RWP: (ouch hamartanei). Linear present (linear menōn, keeps on abiding) active indicative of hamartanō, “does not keep on sinning.”

Hath not seen him -- RWP: (ouch heōraken auton). Perfect active indicative of horaō. The habit of sin is proof that one has not the vision or the knowledge (egnōken, perfect active also) of Christ. He means, of course, spiritual vision and spiritual knowledge, not the literal sense of horaō in John 1:18; John 20:29.

CP: " John is not claiming that Christians do not sin, for he has already said (1:8-10) that if we claim to be without sin, we are liars. The expression “who lives in him,” literally means “abides, or remains” in him. This statement was not intended to mean that we do not sin; it means we do not live a life of sin."

BBC: The question naturally arises, “When does sin become habitual? How often does a person have to commit it for it to become characteristic behavior?” John does not answer this. Rather he puts each believer on guard

PO&SB "The Greek means this: if we continue in sin, if we go on sinning and sinning, then we do not really know Christ."

Verse 7

1 John 3:7

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Those led astray belong to Satan -v.7-8

a. Don’t let anyone led you astray -v.7

1) Christ is all that is right.

2) To be like Christ one must do what is right.

b. The devil sinned from the beginning - v.8

1) Anyone who sins belongs to the devil.

2) The son of God came to destroy Satan’s works.

Luke 9:23; Matthew 5:20;

Verse 8

1 John 3:8

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

b. The devil sinned from the beginning - v.8

1) Anyone who sins belongs to the devil.

2) The son of God came to destroy Satan’s works.

John 8:44; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:11;

PO&SB "The works of Satan are destroyed by the death of jesus Christ. His power, rule, and reign over lives is now destroyed--all by the death of Jesus Christ."

Verse 9

1 John 3:9

The difference between those who belong to God and whose who belong to Satan. v.9-10

a. Those belonging to God do not continue sinning -v.9

1) Because the new life from God remains in them.

b. God’s children don’t continue sinning

1) Because that is inconsistent with being God’s children.

c. We see the difference between being God’s children and children of Satan -v.10

1) Those not doing right are not God’s children

2) Those who don’t love their brothers and sisters are not God’s children.

To sin -- PO&SB "To sin means to continue in sin; to constantly sin; to practice sin; to habitually sin; to live in sin. this needs to be clearly understood. Scritpure is not saying that a person reaches sinless perfectin while on earth."

God’s seed -- The seed of the new birth Joshua 3:3-5; the seed of the new creation 2 Corinthians 5:17; the seed of the new man Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10; the divine nature 2 Peter 1:4, the incorruptible seed of God’s Word 1 Peter 1:23.

Verse 10

1 John 3:10

1John 3:10-17

1. Love reveals one’s true nature: Shows that one is etiehr a child of God or of the devil.

2. Love is the message heard from the very geginning.

3. Love does not persecut the righteous.

4. Love is the proof that one has passed from death to life.

5. Love noes not hate

a. Hate is murder

b. Hate exempts one from eternal life.

6. Love is the proof that one understands the love of Christ

7. Love has compassion and gives to meet the needs of people.

v.10 We can look at one’s nature (one professing to be a Christian) and tell whose child he really is.

Verse 11

1 John 3:11

1John 3:11-24

We Must Love Each Other

1. We must love each other-- vv. 11-15

a. Not like Cain - who was evil. -12

b. The world will hate us (as Cain hated Abel - v.13 implied)

c. Because we love, we’ve come to Life. -14

d. He who doesn’t love, is dead still.

e. One who hates his brother is a murderer. -15

f. Murderers don’t have eternal life.

Verse 12

1 John 3:12

Cain -- did not love his brother so he murdered him and did an unrighteous deed.

Verse 13

1 John 3:13

b. The world will hate us (as Cain hated Abel - v.13 implied)

Verse 14

1 John 3:14

c. Because we love, we’ve come to Life. -14

d. He who doesn’t love, is dead still.

Verse 15

1 John 3:15

e. One who hates his brother is a murderer. -15

f. Murderers don’t have eternal life.

Verse 16

1 John 3:16

1John 3:11-24

We Must Love Each Other

2. We know what real love is-- vv. 16-18

a. Jesus gave His life for us, this is real love. -16

b. We should do such for our brothers and sisters.

c. Seeing brothers & sisters in need and not helping is not love. -17

d. We should love in deed & truth (actions) and not just in words and talk. -18

Verse 17

1 John 3:17

c. Seeing brothers & sisters in need and not helping is not love. -17

Verse 18

1 John 3:18

d. We should love in deed & truth (actions) and not just in words and talk. -18

Having a Clean Heart - 3:18-24

1. A clean heart is wrought by loving in deed and not in word only.-v.18-19

a. Love assures truth

b. Love satisfied conscience

2. a clean heart is wrought by God’s knowledge -v.20-21

3. A clean heart is wrought by keeping the commandments -v22

4. A clean heart is wrought by keeping the supreme sommandment of God -v.23

5. A cean heart is wrought by the Spirit dwelling within v.24

Verse 19

1 John 3:19

1John 3:11-24

We Must Love Each Other

3. How we can know we belong to truth-- vv. 19-24

v.19 "On the condition that our heart or conscience has been properly informed of God’s truth and trained in the way of the Christian life, its verdict in this particular is reliable" - Frank Cox

b. When we don’t condemn ourself, we can come before God without fear. -v21

c. God gives us what we ask for (implied "forgiveness") when we obey God’s work. v.22 ***

d. God commands that we believe ("trust") in Jesus and love one another. v.23

e. Those who obey God abide in Him and He in them (us). 1) We know this, because of the Spirit He give us. -v.24

Verse 20

1 John 3:20

[Two different ideas.] 1) & 2) -20

1) If our hearts condemn us (our conscience) we should know that God condemns us more (greater.)

"If our heart condemns us, God also condemns us. God is greater than our conscience; he knows more against us than our conscience knows." - Frank L. Cox

OR

2) If our conscience feels guilty, know (remember) God still forgives us. (Therefore we shouldn’t feel guilty.) See NIV. [God forgives us thru Christ’s death for us - v.16.] "God know how to remove all condemnation from our hearts."

He knows everything -- "There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is hid from God. No cover of darkness, no closed doors, no place off the side of the road, no place in the woods--no secret is unknown to God." - PO&SB Hebrews 4:13.

Jeremiah 16:17;

Verse 21

1 John 3:21

When we don’t condemn ourself, we can come before God without fear. -v21

Verse 22

1 John 3:22

God gives us what we ask for (implied "forgiveness") when we obey God’s work. v.22 ***

A clean heart is wrought by keeping the commandments of God and doing the things that please God.

Verse 23

1 John 3:23

A clean heart is wrought by trusting in Christ and keeping God’s supreme commandment.

Verse 24

1 John 3:24

Those who obey God abide in Him and He in them (us).

1) We know this, because of the Spirit He gives us. -v.24

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on 1 John 3". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/1-john-3.html. 2021.
 
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