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Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
1 John 3

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1

1) "Behold what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us " (Greek idete) means "behold, look upon with comprehension or consider ye "the manner", degree, or kind of love (Divine affection) the Father has (Greek de doken) "given" to us. It was unsolicited, unmerited, and unrequired of Him; yet He gave it, 1 John 4:10; Ephesians 2:4-7.

2) "That we should be called the sons of God". God’s love was given to meet the need of all, while they were yet lost. Note the introduction of the purpose clause (Greek hina) "that" meaning "in order that" we who were not born sons of God might be, become, and/or be called born sons of God. Such is "love Divine all love excelling". John 3:16; Luke 19:10. John then adds (kai esmen) "and we are" – 1 John 3:2; Judges 1:1.

3) "Therefore the world knoweth us-Dot because it knew him not." (Greek dia touto) means, "therefore, through this, or in all this", the world (humanity) does not (know) or recognize us (sons of God) because it did not recognize Him - the Son when He was here. John 1:10-12; John 14:4-7; Acts 13:27.

Verse 2

1) "Beloved, now are we the sons of God’, (Greek agapetoi) "beloved ones". John addresses these born sons of God as those with ties and bonds of affinity or togetherness in love. He then used the futuristic "now" (Greek nun) meaning now and without cessation or without end, we are sons of God - What assurance!

2) "And it cloth not yet appear what we shall be". Not yet was or has it been manifested - what (what manner or degree of glory appearance it shall be, each son of God shall have) for degrees of glory appearance shall differ. 1 Corinthians 15:41-42.

3) "But we know that ’ when he shall appear". We perceive that when He is manifested (in His Glory) at His coming. Psalms 2:1-9; Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 1:7.

4) "We shall be like him". In resurrection, spiritual, visible, glorified, celestial bodies, we shall join Him. Romans 8:11; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Philippians 3:20-21. Like to Him we shall be, with our own bodies spiritized, our own identity. 1 Corinthians 15:38.

5) "For we shall see him as he is". Our present affinity of Divine Love, John assures his dear children, gives assurance, that He who loved us before we were worthy, shall come to redeem our mortal, vile bodies, and reunite us glorified with Him and like Him, 0 glorious day! Hebrews 10:37.

Verse 3

1) "And every man that hath this hope in him." The "this hope" refers to the personal, visible bodily, manifest appearance of Jesus Christ in His return to this earth. John affirmed that valid evidence existed so that every believer was assured of a bodily resurrection, in the likeness of his Lord.

2) "Purifieth himself." (Greek agnizei) purifies, purges, or cleanseth (heauton) himself, reflexive pronoun. Paul kept his body under subjection, 1 Corinthians 9:26-27; John assured this daily cleansing was available to all, 1 John 1:7-9; Titus 2:12.

3) "Even as he is pure." (Greek kathos ekeinos agnos estin). Just as or like that one (Jesus Christ) is pure. The purity and holiness of Jesus Christ is the goal of behavior to which each believer should strive – Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15.

Verse 4

1) "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law." (pas ho poion) means each one, anyone, or everyone actively engaging in sin, progressively, is a lawless one, a transgressor. Sin, moral wrong, is adverse to holiness and God’s Divine nature. Sin is therefore a trespass, an act of rebellion against an Holy God – Romans 12:1-2.

2) "For sin is the transgression of the law." Each act of the believer’s life (overt or covert), that comes short of holiness and perfection, involves him in lawlessness. Thus mercy and grace. have provided him pardon through the intercessory work of Jesus Christ the believer’s advocate-priest – Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-9; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2.

Verse 5

1) "And ye know that he was manifested." To John and the early Christians nothing in life had a greater appeal to validity, genuineness than the birth, sinless and miraculous life, and bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus. They had and held a "know-so" experience and relationship with Him.

2) "To take away our sins." (Greek hina) means "in order that He might" the sins of us take or bear away. The allusion is to the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world, as pictured in the Old Testament offering, Leviticus 16:21-31; 2 Corinthians 5:21.

3) "And in him is no sin." John, the beloved, breast-leaning disciple and apostle of our Lord, affirmed with mature gladness that existing in Jesus Christ was "no sin." Pilate could "find no fault in Him at all," (Luke 23:4). Pilate’s wife asserted that He was a "just man." Matthew 27:19. Paul affirmed that He was "holy, harmless, undefiled separate from sinners, and "knew no sin," and is therefore a sinless Saviour and an holy example to be followed – Hebrews 7:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Verse 6

1) "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not:" (Greek pas ho en auto menonouks hamartanei). The one in Him abiding or remaining misses not the mark. When one’s mind, desires, passions, stray from Him, he is said to abide not in Him. One sins not so long as his heart, mind, desires, and passions abide in Him, turning not to the right or to the left.

2) "Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him.” (pas ho) everyone (Greek hamartanon) progressively sinning, uninterruptedly sinning, has not seen Him (as Savior and Lord).

3) "Neither knoweth him." Nor even indeed known Him, whom to know is eternal life, John 17:3. John asserts that one with salvation, the Spirit of God, a new nature, has a restraining power against sin. One who appears to go on in sin, continuously pursues it, has never known God.

Verse 7

1) "Little children, let no man deceive you.” As "born ones of God" (Greek teknia) "little children," believers are exhorted to avoid or guard against letting anyone (Greek planato) deceive, delude, or lead them astray, regarding acts of sin. While no one is free from sin’s temptation, all should avoid being led on to practice it; 1 John 1:8-9.

2) "He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” Deeds of righteousness are the fruit of the righteous nature imparted to the believer when he is born of God – 1 John 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Matthew 7:16-20.

3) "Even as he is righteous." (Greek kathos) Just as "that one", Christ, is righteous. The true believer is admonished to walk as Jesus walked, a life of daily holiness in all things, Mark 8:34.

Verse 8

1) "He that committeth sin is of the devil." (Greek ho poion) means the person actively, chasing or pursuing a course of moral lawlessness, (Greek hamartian), is of (out of the nature of) the devil -a child of the devil – 1 John 3:10.

2) "For the devil sinneth from the beginning.” From the devil’s origin, his first rebellion against God, he has not ceased from the pursuit of sin. One who pursues it, as he does, without seeming restraint or regret, is to be recognized as an unsaved person, avoided and resisted – James 4:7-8.

3) "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,- (Greek eis- touto) means "with reference to this" (continuity of sin in the fallen human race and continual sin in Satan) the Son of God was manifested - a sacrifice to deliver from, put away sin –Hebrews 9:26.

4) "That he might destroy the works of the devil." Both the sin nature in man, and all deeds of sin, are the fruit of, or works of, the incitement of the devil and demon spirits over whom he presides. Jesus was manifested not only to redeem believers and the universe, but also to (Greek Luse) destroy or bring to great loss the (Greek erga) plurality of works of the devil – Habakkuk 2:14-18.

Verse 9

1) "Whosoever is born of God" (Greek pas ho) "each one or everyone" (Greek gegenemenos) "having been begotten or born" (Greek ektou theou) "out of the trinitarian God" or having been, become of His nature – 1 John 5:1; John 6:63.

2) "Doth not commit sin." (Greek hamartian) "a sin or sin deed" - (Greek ou poiei) "he does not" - one act of sin he does not commit. The new man, inner man, new creature is sinless, does not have, hold or contain an evil disposition to disobey God –Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:24; Ephesians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 2:10.

3) "For his seed remaineth in him." (Greek hoti) because (Greek Sperma) "seed of God-life" remains in him, the begotten one, 1 Peter 1:23. When one is quickened or made alive, by the Spirit, John 6:63, he is born again, of Divine nature, which is sinless.

4) "And he cannot sin." (Greek Kai ou dunatai hamaranen) "and not he, the new or inner man, is able (holds the potential) to lawlessly act." It is just as impossible for the inner man to sin as for God, the trinity.

5) "Because he is born of God." (Greek hoti) because out of God-life (Greek gegenetai) he has been begotten or born. While one cannot see this sinless, holy nature in the saved, the inner man, the new nature of the inner man should restrain the outer man from a continual pursuit of sin –Galatians 5:25; 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

Verse 10

1) "In this the children of God are manifest" (Greek en touto) In this, or "in this way" (I am about to show you) children of God are manifest or to be recognized - while not judges of ones salvation, reasonable conclusions are to be drawn from the behavior of men…

2) "And the children of the devil." The devil "has" or "holds" children in his Spiritually degenerate realm – John 8:44; 1 John 3:8.

3) "Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God," Any person void of righteousness, or not actively pursuing righteous living and deeds toward his fellowman, John asserts, (Greek ouk estin ek tou theou) means is not out of the God, or is not saved. "Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit." Matthew 7:17.

4) "Neither he that loveth not his brother." Just as anyone who produces not righteous fruit (at least some) repeatedly is not of God, negatively he that has not a flowing, continuing manifest love for his brother, is not of God either. 1 John 2:9-11; John 13:34-35.


Verse 11

1) "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning." Loving, living, and walking together in the light of Jesus is the message of Christian conduct taught by our Lord from the beginning of His ministry – John 8:12; 1 John 1:5; 1 John 2:7.

2) "That we should love one another." John, again, and again, reminds fathers, sons, and immature children of God that love shown one for another is an evidence and incontestable proof by which even the world (masses of humanity) may be convinced of their need of Christ. John 13:34; John 15:12; 1 John 4:7.

Verse 12

1) "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one." (Greek ou kathos kain) means "not like Cain" -negatively, walk not, talk not, act not like Cain, who was (ek tou ponerou) of the nature of the wicked one (the devil).

2) "And slew his brother." In a fit of devilish religious jealousy Cain’s wicked nature reflected itself when he slew his brother. Genesis 4:8; Genesis 9:6. He attacked God, in whose image Abel was made.

3) "And wherefore slew he him?" (kai cherin) and for the sake of (on account of what) slew he him? Why for what (malice aforethought) slew he him? To sharpen interest and pin-point the cause, John asks the question.

4) "Because his own works were evil." John then asserts that the (Greek erga) sum of works of Cain were wicked, devil incited. Tho his sacrifice, his worship, was sincere, it, like all man-founded religion, was wicked. Judges 1:11.

5) "And his brother’s righteous." The work’s, acts relating to Abel’s sacrifice, were righteous, just or holy. It is always righteous to obey God, specifically to do the right thing, the right way. Hebrews 11:4. Like modern religious infidels, Cain rejected blood redemption.

Verse 13

1) "Marvel not, my brethren" (Gr. Thaumeazete) marvel ye not, or do not be amazed, brethren, John admonishes - human nature and the attitude of the lost - religiously wicked, has not changed since Cain. The Leopard has not changed his spots, nor the Ethiopian his skin – Jeremiah 13:23.

2) "If the world hate you". In our Lord’s early ministry He asserted that the world "cannot hate you" the undisciplined disciples. John 7:7. But after they had followed him and embraced the way of truth and life, he warned them, "If the world hate you" and "the world hateth you", John 15:18-20; John 17:14. It is the nature of the "world order" to hate, to despise right and righteousness. Neither love nor hate can agree with each other and have fellowship on earth, in heaven, or in hell. Thus the wicked and righteous can never have fellowship – Amos 3:3.

Verse 14

1) "We know that we have passed from death unto life." To know that one has passed from (ek tou -out of) death (Greek eis) "into" life is a blessed assurance every regenerated person can have – 1 John 5:13; John 5:24; John 11:25-26.

2) "Because we love the brethren". Love for the brethren is a fruit of the spirit, (new nature) Galatians 5:22. It is an evidence of regeneration and that one has the Spiritual Gift mentioned 1 Corinthians 13:13; John 13:34-35.

3) "He that loveth not his brother". Literally, "the one not loving". If no true affection - no true love - is evident in the life of a professor the necessary inference is that he is, like Cain, unregenerate, lost, despising God.

4) "Abideth in death". "Remains in the death realm or death area". If genuine love (affection) is an evidence of Spiritual life, the necessary corollary is that the absence of love indicates one is lost, without God. (Romans 8:9; 1 John 4:8)

Verse 15

1) "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer". (Greek pas ho mison) means "everyone hating, despising, or taking lightly" his brother is or "exists as" a murderer (a premeditated man-killer). Cain did, never found pardon. Joseph’s brethren did, they later confessed and found pardon – Isaiah 1:18 offers hope.

2) "And ye know" (Greek Kai oidete) "and ye perceive or recognize".

3) "That no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him". Premeditated murder is in conflict with the spirit and nature of eternal life. Though one saved, with the Divine Nature, eternal life within him, might through the impulse of the old nature, impulsively murder a brother, the act would be wicked, call for repentance as in David’s experience, and that of Joseph’s brethren. Psalms 51:1-17; Genesis 50:15-21.

Verse 16

1) ”Hereby perceive we the love of God." (Greek en touto) In this we know or recognize the love of God. Yes, God’s love is recognizable, perceptible –John 3:16; John 11:36.

2) "Because he laid down his life for us. The (huper emon) means "on behalf of us". He laid down His life (Greek psuchen) His soul, like the good shepherd lays down His life in behalf of His sheep – John 10:11; John 10:17-18; John 15:12-13.

3) "And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." The term "ought" means "obligation." Every child of God has an obligation to God to lay down his own life - his selfish desires - "in behalf of the brethren." Romans 16:4; Philippians 2:4.


Lord help me live from day to day In such a self-forgetful way, That even when I kneel to pray My prayer shall be for others.

Help me in all the work I do. To ever be sincere and true. And know that all I do for you, Must needs be done for - others.

Let - "self" be crucified and slain, And buried deep; and all in vain

May efforts be to rise again, Unless to live for others,

And when my work on earth is done, And my new work in heaven’s begun, May I forget the crown I’ve won While thinking still of - others.

Others, Lord, yes others, Let this my motto be; Help me to live for others, That I may live for Thee.

Charles D. Meigs

Verse 17

1) "But whoso hath this world’s good." In contrast with the selfish, jealous hate of the wicked, the one (anyone) (any brother) having or holding this world’s good, (ton bion), means of livelihood, necessary, to sustain physical life.

2) "And seeth his brother have need". And observes that his brother, whom he claims to love, have a need (physical need).

3) "And shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him." And closes his eyes, hardens his heart, turns his head the other way, or turns his back on his brother.

4) "How dwelleth the love of God in him"? Rhetorically, John asks, "Do you think you can prove to the World or (thereby) that the love of God lives in your life?" Did not our Lord condemn the Levite who "passed by on the other side," closed his bowels of compassion to the wounded man – Luke 10:32; James also chided such as hypocrisy, James 2:15-16.

Verse 18

1) "My little children" "Immature ones" physically, emotionally, or spiritually. (Greek teknia).

2) "Let us not love in Word, neither in tongue, Verbal, tongue or hot-air love is so cheap. This does not mean that love may not be verbally expressed, but verbally expressed without evidentiary works, it appears to be vain.

3) "But in deed and in truth." Paul defined the areas of love’s actions and deeds. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 12:9-21.


I watched them tearing a building down ----A gang of men in a big town. With a heave ho and a lusty yell They swung a beam and the sidewalk fell. I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled? The kind you would hire if you wanted to build?

He laughed and said, "Why, no indeed, Just labor, common labor, is all I need. They can easily wreck in a day or two What builders have taken years to do." I asked myself as I went my way Which of these roles have I played today?"

As a builder who works with care Measuring life by ruling square? Shaping my deeds by the vertical plane, Or…..am I the wrecker who lost the town Beset with the labor of tearing down?


Verse 19

1) "And hereby know we that we are of the truth." John emphasizes that children of God may not only know that they are saved, have eternal life, but also that they are living according to the revealed will of God – 1 John 3:14; 1 John 5:13; John 17:17; John 8:32.

2) "and shall assure our hearts before him." It is God who As we live before the Lord, "doing those things that are pleasing in his sight," His Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are the sons of God and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. 1 John 4:13; Romans 8:16; Romans 5:5|. Both the witness of the Spirit and love for our brethren give us blessed assurance that we are now saved with an eternal salvation that should bear fruit in service to our fellowman.

Verse 20

1) "For if our heart condemn us". The heart is here suggested to be a source of one’s condemnation or "blame" - the very center of one’s affections, the heart, as well as the conscience seems to indict one for wrong." Romans 2:15.

2) "God is greater than our heart". It is God who stands as our final judge, 1 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 2:16. The heart, the conscience, one’s fellowman may condemn him, but God in Christ is to be one’s final hope or fear. 2 Timothy 4:1.

3) "And knoweth all things." (Gr. ginoskei panta) "knows all things." Here omniscience is ascribed to God but let it be observed that in no place does the Bible ascribe to Him (Gr. pro) "fore" or "before knowledge" of "all things," assumed and asserted by fatalistic predestinarianism.

Verse 21

1) "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not." Affectionately, John addresses the brethren, asserting that it is possible for children of God to have hearts and consciences uncondemned. John 3:18.

2) "Then have we confidence toward God." People without an heart and conscience of condemnation (non-accusing) have confidence, boldness, toward God. Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14.


Margaret Wilson, given the choice of recanting or being tied to a stake at low tide, boldly reiterated her faith. As the tide of Wigtown Bay, Scotland, came in and finally stilled her voice, she sang the words of the Psalms 25. Note particularly Psalms 25:1-2; Psalms 25:14-15; Psalms 25:20.

1) Unto thee, 0 Lord, do I lift up my soul.

2) 0 my God, I trust in thee; let me not be

ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

14) The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.

15) Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

20) 0 keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for put my trust in thee.

Verse 22

1) "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him." Based on the pre-condition that our hearts condemn us not, and that we have confidence or boldness to approach God, we are assured, by John and our Lord, that we shall have or receive whatever we earnestly ask in His name, John 15:7.

2) "Because we keep his commandments," keeping or (teroumen) - guarding His commandments, is another ground for assurance of answered prayer; John 14:15.

3) "And do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” God delights in blessing His children in their ways of obedience, and answering their petitions. 1 Chronicles 7:12-15; James 5:14-18.


No sublimer story has been recorded in earthly annals than that of David Brainerd. No miracle attests, with diviner force, the truth of Christianity than the life and work of this godly man. Alone in the savage wilds of America, struggling day and night with a mortal disease, unschooled in the care of souls, having access to the Indians for a large portion of time only through the bungling medium of a pagan interpreter, with the Word of God in his heart and in his hand, his soul fired with the divine flame, a place and time to pour out his heart and soul to God in prayer, he fully established the worship of God and secured great results. After spending a whole week in prayer he spoke with such power that countless numbers of the Indians were led to yield their lives to God. The Indians were changed from the lowest besotments of heathenism, to pure, devout, intelligent Christians.

Brainerd lived a life of holiness and prayer: by day and by night he prayed. Before preaching and after preaching he prayed. Riding through the interminable solitudes of the forest he prayed. On his bed of straw he prayed. Morning noon and night he communed with God. Little wonder he had such power -God was with him mightily because he lived in the presence of God.

- Gospel Herald

Verse 23

1) "And this is his commandment." (Gr. Kai haute estin he entole autou) "and this is the (definite article) commandment of Him (Jesus Christ), apparently restricting emphasis on the importance of absolute trust in Jesus.

2) "That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." To the unbelieving Jews, who sought salvation through ceremonies and rituals of Judaism and good works, our Lord asserted that "belief in Him was the work of God which they could do," John 6:28-29.

3) "And love one another, as he gave us commandment." Love for one another in Christ is a fruit or by-product of the new nature one receives when he trusts in Jesus Christ – 1 John 5:1; 1 John 4:7; John 13:34-35.

Verse 24

1) "And he that keepeth his commandments," The one guarding or conscientious about the commandments of the Lord, Matthew 28:18-20.

2) "Dwelleth in him, and he in him." The keeping of our Lord’s commands gives evidentiary information that the doer is God’s child, Matthew 7:15-21; James 1:22-25; James 2:18. God dwells in him and he dwells in God. John 10:28-29; John 14:21.

3) "And hereby we know that he abideth in us." John says, here is the realm of knowledge by which we know He remains, abides or continues in us - in addition to our keeping His commandments.

4) "By the Spirit which he hath given us." (Greek ek tou) means "out of" or from the source of the Spirit which He has given to us, 1 John 4:13; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30-32; Romans 8:16. His Holy Spirit communicates with our Spirit (new Divine Nature) that we are His children. He also helps us in our infirmities, Romans 8:26-27.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 John 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-john-3.html. 1985.
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