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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
1 John 2

 

 

Verse 1

1 John 2:1. The apostle had considered, in chap. 1 John 1:7, the blood of Christ, in 1 John 1:9 the faithfulness and justice of God—and both in reference to the forgiveness and purification of believers; now he comfortingly points to Christ as the Paraclete, whereby the previous thought now obtains its necessary complement. First, however, he mentions the object of his previous statement.

τεκνία μου] Similarly chap. 1 John 3:18; without μου, 1 John 2:12; 1 John 2:28, 1 John 3:7. John chooses this form of address: tum propter aetatem suam, tum propter paternam curam, et affectum (Hornejus). In regard to the verbal form, Lorinus rightly says: diminutiva nomina teneri ac blandientis sunt amoris signa. The Apostle Paul, in Galatians 4:19, uses the same form of address, with special reference to the spiritual fatherhood in which he stood toward his readers.

ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν] ταῦτα is referred by Bengel to what follows, by Grotius to what follows and what precedes, by most commentators (Lücke, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Sander, Düsterdieck, Braune), correctly, to the latter only; it refers, however, not merely to the truth expressed in 1 John 2:6, normerely to the “exhortation to self-knowledge and penitence” (de Wette) which is contained in the preceding, nor merely to the statement about forgiveness and cleansing; but to the “whole in its vivid harmony” (Düsterdieck, so also Braune).(76)

ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε] Statement of the object for which the apostle wrote what precedes; the direction which Calvin gives it: ne quis putet eum peccandi licentiam dare, quum de misericordia Dei concionatur, which is also found in Augustin, Bede, Calov, Bengel, Hornejus, Düsterdieck, Ewald, etc., is incorrect, since the sternness of the apostle against sin has already been sharply and definitely expressed, and the context, in which the subject previously was the forgiveness of sin, would not permit such a supposition to arise at all.(77)

καὶ ἐάν τις ἁ΄άρτῃ] καί is neither = “however” (Baumgarten-Crusius), nor = sed (Vulg.); it connects as simple copula a new thought with the preceding one. By ἐά ν the possibility of sinning is admitted; Calvin incorrectly explains it: Conditionalis particula “si quis” debet in causalem resolvi; nam fieri non potest quin peccemus. Whether it is possible for the Christian not to sin, John does not say. Under the influence of the new spirit of life which is communicated to the believer he cannot sin; but, at the same time, in his internal and external mechanism there lies for him the possibility of sinning—and it is this which the apostle has in view. Socinus perverts the idea of the apostle when he interprets: si quis peccat i. e. post Christum agnitum et professionem nominis ipsius adhuc in peccatis manet, necdum resipuit, etc.; for, on the one hand, the true Christian may indeed sin, but cannot remain in his sins; and, on the other hand, Christ is not the παράκλητος for him who remains in his sins. Besser correctly: “If any man sin—not with wilful doing of sin, but in spite of the will in his mind, which says no to sin.”

παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα] From the 1st pers. plur. it follows that the preceding τις is used quite generally; the apostle is speaking communicatively, and does not wish himself to be considered excluded.(78) It is unnecessary for the connection of this sentence to supply: “let him know that,” or: “let him comfort himself with the thought that,” or any similar expression; for it is precisely through the ἁμαρτάνειν of believers that Christ is induced to be their Paraclete. The verb ἔχειν indicates that Christ belongs to believers.(79)

The word παράκλητος has both a general and a special forensic meaning; in the former, in which it is = “assister,” or “helper,” it is used in Gospel of John 14:16; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7, where the Holy Ghost is so called because by His witness He leads the disciples into all truth; see Meyer on John 14:16;(80) here, on the other hand, it is used in its forensic meaning = “advocatus, patronus causae,” or even more special = “intercessor,” and is in close connection with the following ἱλασμός, and refers back to the ἀφιέναι and καθαρίζειν of chap. 1 John 1:9; so that in Christ the typical action of the high priest interceding for the people has reached its complete fulfilment. The idea of the apostle therefore is—as almost all commentators recognise(81)—the same as is expressed in Romans 8:34 ( ὃς καὶ ἐντυγχάνει ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν), in Hebrews 9:24 ( εἰσῆλθεν χριστὸς εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, νῦν ἐ΄φανισθῆναι τῷ προσώπῳ τοῦ θεοῦ ὑπὲρ ἡ΄ῶν), and in Hebrews 7:25.(82)

πρὸς τὸν πατέρα] πρός in the same sense as chap. 1 John 1:2.

God is called πατήρ, because the παράκλητος is the Son of God, and we also (believing Christians) have become through Him τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ, chap. 1 John 3:1-2.

ἰησοῦν χριστὸν δίκαιον] Christ is the Paraclete, not as the Logos, but as the incarnate Logos, who has shed His αἷμα (chap. 1 John 1:7) for the atonement,—and indeed inasmuch as He is δίκαιος; δίκαιος is here also neither = lenis et bonus (Grotius), nor = δικαιῶν (see Wolf on this passage); but neither is it = fidelis atque verax, quatenus id praestat quod promisit, se scilicet suis adfuturum (Socinus); according to the usus loquendi, δίκαιος could be understood of (judicial) justice (Bede: justus advocatus, injustas causas non suscipit), but then the adjective would have had to be put with παράκλητον; Ebrard incorrectly explains it = δίκαιος καὶ δικαιῶν; but this explanation is so much the more unwarrantable, as δικαιοῦν is the very business of the παράκλητος; by the epithet δίκαιος, Christ is held up before the ἁ΄αρτάνουσι as one who by His nature is fitted to be the Paraclete of sinners, i.e. as one who perfectly satisfies the will of God; who is “just and stainless, and without sin” (Luther). “Only as the Holy One, in whom the holy ideal of manhood is seen realized, can He intercede for sinners with the heavenly Father” (Neander).

REMARK.

How Christ executes His office of Advocate with the Father, John does not say; a dogmatic exposition of it is not in place here, still it is important to mark the chief elements which are the result of the apostle’s statement. These are the following:—1. The Paraclete is Jesus, the glorified Redeemer who is with the Father; therefore neither His divine nature alone, nor His human nature alone, but the Lord in His divine-human personality. 2. The presupposition is the reconciliation of men with God by His blood. 3. His advocacy has reference to believers, who still sin amid their walking in light; and 4. It is a real activity in which He intercedes for His people (that God may manifest in their forgiveness and sanctification His faithfulness and justice) with God, as His (and their) Father. If these points are observed, on the one hand, there is found in the apostolic statement no ground for a materialistic conception, which Calvin opposes in the following words: obiter notandum est, nimis crasse errare eos, qui patris genibus Christum advolvunt, ut pro nobis oret. Tollendae sunt eiusmodi cogitationes, quae coelesti Christi gloriae derogant;—but neither, on the other hand, is there any justification for doing away with the idea, as not a few commentators have been guilty of. Even Bede has not kept himself free from it, when he says that the advocacy consists in this, that Christ presents Himself as man to God, and prays for us non voce, sed miseratione, and therefore considers the intercessio, not as an actio realis, but only as an actio interpretativa. But the idea is even more done away with, when the intercession is viewed only as the permanent effect of the redemptive work accomplished by Christ in the giving up of His life to the death, which is no doubt the opinion of Baumgarten-Crusius when he says: “The apostles certainly did not think of a special oral intercession, but of an intercession by deed, in His work.”(83) Lücke rightly says: “The meaning of this form of representation is no other than this, that Jesus Christ also in His δόξα with the Father continues His work of reconciliation. If Christ were not the eternal Paraclete for us with God, His saving and reconciling work would be limited to His earthly life merely, and in so far could not be regarded as eternal and complete;” but it is not to the point when he further puts it: “Without the eternally active saving and reconciling spirit of Christ, without the πνεῦμα χριστοῦ, Christ would not be a perfect, a living Christ;” for John is not here speaking of the πνεῦμα of Christ, but of the personal Christ Himself. The explanation of de Wette, that the advocacy of Christ is the combination of the idea of the glorified and of the suffering Messiah, is also unsatisfactory, because it changes the objective reality into a subjective representation. Neander rightly says: “When Christ is described as the Advocate, this is not to be understood as if only the effects of the work once accomplished by Him were transferred to Himself.

John considers the living Christ as personally operating in His work, as operating in His glorified position with His Father, with the same holy love with which He accomplished His work on earth as a mediation for sinful man. It is by Him in His divine-human personality that the connection between man, saved and reconciled to God by Him, and God as the Father, is always brought about.” Comp. also Meyer on Romans 8:34, and Braune in the fundamental dogmatic ideas of the passage.


Verse 1-2

1 John 2:1-2 are most closely connected with what immediately precedes, and further determine and conclude it.


Verse 2

1 John 2:2. καὶ αὐτός = et ipse, idemque ille; καί is here also the simple copula, and is not to be resolved either into quia (a Lapide) or nam.

αὐτός refers back to ἰησ. χριστὸν δίκαιον, and the epithet δίκαιον is not to be lost sight of here; Paulus, contrary to the context, refers αὐτός to God.

ἱλασμός ἐστι] The word ἱλασμός, which is used besides in the N. T. only in chap. 1 John 4:10, and here also indeed in combination with περὶ τῶν ἁμ. ἡμῶν, may, according to Ezekiel 44:27 (= חַטָּאת), mean the sin-offering (Lücke, 3d ed.), but is here to be taken in the sense of כִּכֻּרִים, Leviticus 25:9, Numbers 5:8, and no doubt in this way, that Christ is called the ἱλασμός, inasmuch as He has expiated by His αἷμα the guilt of sin. This reference to the sacrificial blood of Christ, it is true, is not demanded by the idea ἱλασμός in itself,(84) but certainly is demanded by the context, as the apostle can only ascribe to the blood of Christ, in chap. 1 John 1:7, the cleansing power of which he is there speaking, because he knows that reconciliation is based in it.

REMARK.

In classical Greek ἱλάσκεσθαι (as middle) is = ἱλεων ποιεῖν; but in scripture it never appears in this active signification, in which God would not be the object; but in all the passages where the Septuagint makes use of this word, whether it is as the translation of כִּפֵּר (Psalms 65:4; Psalms 78:38; Psalms 79:9), or of סָלַם (Psalms 25:11; 2 Kings 5:18), or of נִחַם (Exodus 32:14), God is the subject, and sin, or sinful man, is the object; in Hebrews 2:17, Christ is the subject, and the object also is τὰς ἁμαρτίας. The case is almost exactly similar with ἐξιλάσκεσθαι, which does not appear in the N. T. at all, but in the O. T., on the other hand, is used as the translation of כִּפֵּר much more frequently than the simple form; it is only where this verb is used of the relation between men, namely Genesis 32:21 and Proverbs 16:14, that the classical usus loquendi is preserved; but elsewhere with ἐξιλάσκεσθαι, whether the subject be God (as in Ezekiel 16:63) or man, especially the priest, the object is either man (Leviticus 4:20; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 6:7; Leviticus 16:6; Leviticus 16:11; Leviticus 16:16-17; Leviticus 16:24; Leviticus 16:30; Leviticus 16:33; Ezekiel 45:17) or sin (Exodus 32:30; both together, Leviticus 5:18, Numbers 6:11), or even of holiness defiled by sin (the most holy place, Leviticus 16:16; the altar, Leviticus 16:18; Leviticus 27:33, Ezekiel 43:22); only in Zechariah 7:2 is found ἐξιλάσκασθαι τὸν κύριον, where, however, the Hebrew text has לְחַלּוֹת אֶת־פְּנֵי יְהֹוָה. ἰλασμός, therefore, in scripture does not denote the reconciliation of God, either with Himself or with men, and hence not placatio (or as Myrberg interprets: propitiatio) Dei, but the justification or reconciliation of the sinner with God, because it is never stated in the N. T. that God is reconciled, but rather that we are reconciled to God.(85)

Grotius, S. G. Lange, and others take ἱλασμός = ἱλαστήρ; of course that abstract form denotes the personal Christ, but by this change into the concrete the expression of the apostle loses its peculiar character; “the abstract is more comprehensive, more intensive; comp. 1 Corinthians 1:30” (Brückner); it gives it to be understood “that Christ is not the propitiator through anything outside Himself, but through Himself” (Lücke, 2d ed.), and that there is no propitiation except through Him.(86)

The relation of ἰλασμός to the preceding παράκλητον may be variously regarded; either παράκλητος is the higher idea, in which ἱλασμός is contained, Bede: advocatum habemus apud Patrem qui interpellat pro nobis et propitium eum ac placatum peccatis nostris reddit; or conversely: ἱλασμός is the higher idea, to which the advocacy is subordinated, as de Wette thus says: “ ἱλασμός does not merely refer to the sacrificial death of Jesus, but, as the more general idea, includes the intercession as the progressive reconciliation” (so also Rickli, Frommann); or lastly, both ideas are co-ordinate with one another, Christ being the ἱλασμίς in regard to His blood which was shed, and the παράκλητος, on the other hand, in regard to His present activity with the Father for those who are reconciled to God through His blood. Against the first view is the sentence beginning with καὶ αὐτός, by which ἱλασμός is marked as an idea which is not already contained in the idea παράκλητος, but is distinct from it; against the second view it is decisive that the propitiation, which Christ is described as, has reference to all sins, but His intercession, on the other hand, has reference only to the sins of the believers who belong to Him. There remains, accordingly, only the third view as the only correct one (so also Braune). The relationship is this, that the intercession of the glorified Christ has as its presupposition the ἱλασμός wrought out in His death,(87) yet the sentence καὶ αὐτός is not merely added, ut causa reddatur, cur Christus sit advocatus noster (Hornejus, and similarly Beza, Lorinus, Sander, etc.), for its independence is thereby taken away; the thought contained in it not merely serves for the explanation or confirmation of the preceding, but it is also full of meaning in itself, as it brings out the relation of Christ to the whole world of sinners.

περὶ πῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν] περί expresses the reference quite generally: “in regard to;” it may here be observed that ἐξιλάσκεσθαι, in the LXX. is usually construed with περί, after the Hebrew כִּפֵּר עַל. The idea of substitution is not suggested in περί.

With τῶν ἁμαρτ. ἡμῶν, comp. chap. 1 John 1:9; it is not merely the sins of Christians ( ἡμῶν, i.e. fidelium; Bengel) before their conversion that are meant, but also those which are committed by them in their Christian life; comp. chap. 1 John 1:7. Ebrard’s opinion, that these words are added to ἱλασμός merely as a preparation for the following additional thought, is inadmissible; they rather suggest themselves to the apostle—and without regard to what follows—inasmuch as it is only by virtue of them that the idea obtains complete expression.

οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου] Expansion of the thought, in reference to the preceding περὶ τ. ἁμ. ἡμῶν, in order to mark the universality of the propitiation. It is incorrect to understand by ἡμεῖς the Jews, and by κόσμος the Gentiles (Oecum., Cyril, Hornejus, Semler, Rickli, etc.); ἡμεῖς are rather believers, and κόσμος is the whole of unbelieving mankind; so Spener, Paulus, de Wette, Lücke, Sander, Neander, Düsterd., Braune, etc.

Baumgarten-Crusius agrees with this interpretation, only he understands by κόσμος not mankind together (extensive), but successively (protensive); but this distinction is unsuitable. It would be preferable to say that John was thinking directly of the κόσμος as it existed in his time, without, however, limiting the idea to it. The interpretation of Augustin and of Bede, by which κόσμος is = “ecclesia electorum per totum mundum dispersa,” is clearly quite arbitrary. The propitiatory sacrifice was offered for the whole world, for the whole of fallen mankind; if all do not obtain the blessing of it, the cause of that does not lie in a want of efficacia in it; Düsterdieck therefore rightly says: “The propitiation is of judicial nature; according to this, the propitiation for the whole world has its real efficacia for the whole world; to the believing it brings life; to the unbelieving, death.” Calvin quite improperly asserts: sub omnibus reprobos non comprehendit, sed eos designat, qui simul credituri erant et qui per varias mundi plagas dispersi erant (similarly Beza); against this the statement of Bengel is sufficient: quam late peccatum, tam late propitiatio. The expressly added ὅλου places the matter beyond all doubt.

With regard to the genitive περὶ ὅλ. τοῦ κόσμου, Winer says (p. 509, VII. p. 536): “instead of this, either περὶ τῶν ὅλου τ. κ., or, instead of the first words, περὶ ἡμῶν might have been written; similarly Hebrews 9:7;” many commentators, on the other hand, supply τῶν directly, as Grotius, Semler, Wilke (Hermeneutik, II. p. 145), de Wette, Düsterdieck; as the Vulg. renders: “pro totius mundi,” and Luther: “für der ganzen Welt.” On behalf of this, appeal is made to passages such as John 5:36,(88), Matthew 5:20; but the construction which appears in these passages is the well-known comparatio compendiaria, which does not occur here, as there is no comparison here at all; an oratio variata is therefore to be accepted, which was the more natural to the apostle, as the idea κόσμος includes in itself that of sin.(89)


Verse 3

1 John 2:3. Semler would make a new section begin here: “after the foundation of salvation has been spoken of, there follows the exhortation to preserving the salvation;” incorrectly; 1 John 2:3 is closely connected with chap. 1 John 1:5-6, and states in what the Christian’s walk in light consists; therefore also it begins simply with καί.

ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν] ἐν τούτῳ refers to the following ἐάν; the object is stated by ὅτι; the same combination is found in the Gospel of John 13:35; similarly in chap. 1 John 4:13, where, however, the particle ὅτι is used instead of ἐάν, and chap. 1 John 5:2, where ὅταν is used. A Lapide wrongly weakens the force of γινώσκομεν: non certo et demonstrative, sed probabiliter et conjecturaliter; it is rather the anxiety of the apostle to bring out that the Christian has a sure and certain consciousness of the nature of the Christian life. This certainty is confirmed to him by unmistakeable facts, in which the truth of his knowledge attests itself.

ὅτι ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν] αὐτόν seems to refer to the last-mentioned subject in 1 John 2:2, therefore to Christ; so it is explained by Oecumenius, Erasmus, Grotius, Calov, Spener, Bengel, Semler, Johannsen, Sander, Myrberg, Erdmann, etc.; but the deeper train of thought is opposed to this; John is not continuing the idea of 1 John 2:2, but is going back to the fundamental thought of the whole section: “He who has fellowship with God walks in the light;” the principal subject is God, and to it, therefore, αὐτόν is to be referred; so Calvin, Beza, Lücke, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, de Wette, Brückner, Ebrard, Düsterdieck, Braune, etc.(90)

On ἐγνώκα΄εν, which is not, with Lange and Carpzov, to be interpreted = “love,” the commentators rightly remark that it is not a mere external, purely theoretical knowledge that is to be understood by it;(91) it is the living knowledge that is meant, i.e. a knowledge in which the subject (God) is really received into the inner life, and thought and action are determined by it,(92) so that ἐγνωκέναι is necessarily connected with the κοινωνίαν ἔχειν μετʼ αὐτοῦ (chap. 1 John 1:6); still it is inexact to render ὅτι ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν, with Oecumenius, directly by ὅτι συνεκράθημεν αὐτῷ, or, with Clarius, by societatem habemus cum eo. By ἐγνώκαμεν the element of consciousness in the fellowship, and with this its internal and spiritual side, is brought out.

ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν] The expression τ. ἐντολ. τηρεῖν(93) describes the obedience resulting from the internal faithful keeping of the commandments;(94) it is incorrect, with Braune, so to press the idea τηρεῖν here, in its distinction from ποιεῖν, that merely “attention to the commandments” is to be understood by it; it rather includes in itself the actual obedience. This obedience is not here regarded as the means of the knowledge of God, but as the proof of it; rightly Oecumenius: διὰ τῶν ἔργων τελεία δεδείκνυται ἀγάπη; only he should have said “ γνῶσις” instead of ἀγάπη. Between both of those there is the same relationship as between fellowship with God and walking in light; for as the former is related to the knowledge of God, so is the latter related to the observance of the divine commandments, which is the concrete embodiment of ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατεῖν.


Verses 3-11

1 John 2:3-11. Further antithetical statement of the believers’ walk in light; it is described as τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολὰς θεοῦ (1 John 2:3-6); this then is further defined as a περιπατεῖν καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησε (1 John 2:6), and ἀγαπᾷν τὸν ἀδελφόν is emphasized as being the essence of this walk (1 John 2:7-11).


Verse 4

1 John 2:4. Inference from 1 John 2:3, expressing the antithetical side.

λέγων κ. τ. λ.] is used in the same sense as ἐὰν εἴπωμεν, chap. 1 John 1:6. Without reason, Braune considers that “in the singular there lies a progress in the development of the thought.” The statement that ἔγνωκα is used “with manifest regard to the Gnostics” (Ebrard), is not to be accepted; λέγων is rather to be taken in a quite general sense, comp. 1 John 2:6, at the same time referring to the appearance of such a moral indifferentism among the churches, αὐτόν, as in 1 John 2:3 = θεόν.

ψεύστης ἐστί] = ψεύδεται, chap. 1 John 1:6; but in such a way that the idea is more sharply brought out by it (Braune).

καὶ ἐν τούτῳ κ. τ. λ.] as in chap. 1 John 1:8.

From the connection between the knowledge of God and the observance of His commandments, it follows that he who boasts of the former, but is wanting in the latter, has not the truth in him, but is a liar.


Verse 5

1 John 2:5. In this verse the apostle confirms the idea of 1 John 2:3, in the form of an antithesis to 1 John 2:4, and with the introduction of a new element.

ὃς δʼ ἂν τηρῇ αὐτοῦ (i.e. θεοῦ) τὸν λόγον] The particle δέ, which refers not to 1 John 2:3 (Lücke), but to the words καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ μὴ τηρῶν, 1 John 2:4, shows that this verse stands in the same relationship to 1 John 2:4 as chap. 1 John 1:7 to 1 John 2:6; “ τηρῇ is with emphasis put first, and similarly αὐτοῦ before τὸν λόγον” (Braune).

αὐτοῦ λόγος is synonymous with αἱ ἐντολαὶ αὐτοῦ, 1 John 2:3-4 : “the essence of the divine commandments;” a Lapide: Dicit verbum ejus in singulari, quia praecipue respicit legem caritatis; haec enim caeteras omnes in se comprehendit.

The predicate does not run: οὗτος ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν, but: ἀληθῶς ἐν τούτῳ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται, whereby “a new side of the thought comes into view” (Ebrard).

ἀληθῶς] “in truth,” opposed to appearance and mere pretence; it is emphatically put first, as in John 8:31; with reference to the preceding ἀλήθεια (de Wette); and serves to bring out not a quality of the τετελείωται (Ebrard), but the actuality of the ἐν τούτῳτετελείωται (so also Brückner).

ἐν τούτῳ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται] ἀγάπη τ. θεοῦ is not here, as in chap. 1 John 4:9 : “the love of God to us” (Flacius, Calovius, Bengel, Spener, Russmeyer, Sander, Lange, etc.), nor: “the love commanded by God” (Episcopius), nor: “the relationship of mutual love between God and man” (Ebrard: “the mutua amicitia et conjunctio between God and the Christian”);(95) but: “love to God,” as in chap. 1 John 2:15, 1 John 3:17, 1 John 4:12, 1 John 5:3 (Bede, Oecumenius, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Lorinus, Hornejus, Paulus, de Wette-Brückner, Baumgarten-Crusius, Lücke, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Myrberg, Braune, etc.). This interpretation is required by the context; for “the love of God” appears here in place of the “knowledge of God,” 1 John 2:3-4. As in the latter, so in the former also, consists fellowship with God. Both, love and knowledge, are so inseparably connected, and are so essentially one in their principle and nature, that the one is the condition of the other.(96)

The idea τετελείωται is not to be weakened, as in Beza: τελειοῦν hoc in loco non declarat perfecte aliquid consummare, sed mendacio et simulationi opponitur, ut hoc plane sit, quod dicimus: mettre en exécution; but it is to be taken in its constant meaning: “has been perfected,” as in chap. 1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:17-18.(97) The objection, that nevertheless no Christian can boast of perfect love to God, does not justify an arbitrary change of meaning. The absolute idea τηρεῖν αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον demands for its counterpart an idea quite as absolute (so also Brückner).(98) Where the word of God is perfectly fulfilled, there love to God is perfect; in perfect obedience perfect love is shown. That the Christian has not attained this perfection at any moment of his life, but is ever only in a state of progress towards it, is no doubt true; but John is not here considering that aspect (so also Braune).(99)

ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν] ἐν τούτῳ refers neither to the thought contained in 1 John 2:6 (Socinus, Ewald), nor to ἀγάπητετελ., but to the keeping of the commandments (so also Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Brückner, Braune). Obedience is the evidence for the knowledge that we are ἐν αὐτῷ.

ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐσμεν] The expression signifies the inward fellowship of life (differently Acts 17:28); it combines the preceding ἐν τούτῳτετελ. and the former ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν, and is identical with κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ αὐτοῦ (chap. 1 John 1:6), which it defines in its internal character. The knowledge and love of God is being in God (so also Brückner).(100)

Grotius, who understands αὐτῷ of Christ, enfeeblingly explains: Christi ingenii discipuli sumus.


Verse 6

1 John 2:6 gives the more particular definition of what the τηρεῖν of God’s commandments, and therefore the Christian’s walk in light, consists in.

λέγων] as in 1 John 2:4; here, however, with the infinitive construction.

ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν] ἐν αὐτῷ does not refer to Christ (Augustin, Hornejus, Wolf, Lange, Neander, etc.), but to God.

μένειν] instead of εἶναι, 1 John 2:5. Both expressions are synonymous, it is true, but not identical (Beza); in μένειν the unchangeableness of the being is brought out. Bengel: Synonyma cum gradatione: ilium nosse, in illo esse, in illo manere. Frommann (p. 187): “The being and abiding in God signifies one and the same fellowship with God. The latter describes it merely as something constant, lasting, which accessory notion is not contained in the former expression.”

ὀφείλει] comp. chap. 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:11, “is in duty bound,” refers back to λέγων; it is not meant to be indicated here what is demanded in regard to the μένειν ἐν θεῷ, but what is the duty of him who says that he abides in God—if he does not want to be a liar, in whom the truth is not, 1 John 2:4.

καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησε, καὶ αὐτὸς [ οὕτως] περιπατεῖν] By these words Christ is placed as a pattern before Christians, i.e. in regard to His whole walk (which is elsewhere done in the N. T. only in regard to His self-abasement and to His conduct in suffering; see this commentary on 1 Peter 2:21); of what sort this was, John does not here say; from the connection with what precedes, however, it is clear that the apostle points to Him in so far as He kept the commandments of God, and therefore walked in the light.(101) This reference to Christ as an example is frequently found in the same form ( καθὼς ἐκεῖνος) in our Epistle; so 1 John 3:3; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 4:17; comp. also John 13:15; John 15:10, and passim.

περιπατεῖν describes not merely the disposition, but the action resulting from it. In the fact that John brings just this out (comp. especially chap. 1 John 3:17-18), it is evident how far his mysticism is removed from mere fanaticism.

On οὕτως, see the critical notes.


Verse 7

1 John 2:7. ἀγαπητοί] Such a form of address does not necessarily indicate the commencement of a new section, but is also used when the subject of the discourse is intended to be brought home to the hearers or readers; this is the case here.

οὐκ ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν] certainly does not mean: “I do not write to you of a new commandment;” neither, however: “I write (set) before you” (Baumgarten-Crusius); for γράφειν has not this signification; it simply means: to write; when connected with an object, as here, it is = to communicate or announce anything by writing; comp. chap. 1 John 1:4. The subject of his writing the apostle calls an ἐντολή; it is arbitrary to take the word here in a different meaning from that which it always has; thus Rickli: “the whole revelation of divine truth as it has been brought to us in Jesus Christ”(102) (similarly Flacius, Calovius, etc.); and Ebrard: “the announcement, that God is light, chap. 1 John 1:5;” ἐντολή means “commandment;” this idea must not be confounded with any other. Most of the commentators (Augustin, Bede, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Luther, Calvin, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette-Brückner, Neander, Sander, Erdmann, Myrberg, Ewald, etc.) understand by it, according to 1 John 2:9-11, the commandment of brotherly love; others, on the other hand (Socinus, Episcopius, Calovius, Schott, Lücke, Fritzsche, Frommann, etc.), according to 1 John 2:6, the commandment of following Christ. These two views seem to be opposed to one another, but they really are so only if we assume that John here wants to emphasize a single special commandment—in distinction from other commandments. This supposition, however, is erroneous; the command to keep the commandments (or the word) of God after the example of Christ, or to walk in the light, is no other than the command to love one’s brother. From chap. 1 John 1:5 on, John is speaking not of different commandments, but of the one general commandment of the Christian life which results from the truth that God is light. It is to this commandment that reference is made when John, in order to bring it home to his readers, says: οὐκ ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑ΄ῖν, so that by ἐντολή he does not indicate a commandment which he then for the first time is about to mention, but the commandment which he has already spoken of in what precedes (only not merely in 1 John 2:6), but defines more particularly in what follows, namely, in regard to its concrete import.(103) Of this commandment John says, that it is not an ἐντολὴ καινή;(104) in what sense he means this, the following words state: ἀλλʼ ἐντολὴν παλαιάν, ἣν εἴχετε ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς; it is not new, but old, inasmuch as his readers did not first receive it through this writing, but already had it, and indeed ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, i.e. from the very beginning of their Christian life; comp. chap. 1 John 3:11; 2 John 1:5-6; and, for the expression ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, 1 John 2:24 (Calvin, Beza, Socinus, Episcopius, Piscator, Hornejus, Lange, Rickli, Lücke, de Wette-Brückner, Sander, Neander, Besser, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Myrberg, Ewald, Braune, etc.). The imperfect εἴχετε, instead of which we should expect the present, either refers back to the time before John had come to his readers, or is to be explained: “which ye hitherto already had.” The latter is the more probable. Some commentators weaken this interpretation, which is demanded by the context, and hold that John calls the commandment (namely, “the commandment of love”) an old one, because it was already given by Moses; thus Flacius, Clarius, etc.; the Greek commentators even go beyond that, and refer it at once to this, that it was written from the very beginning in the heart of man;(105) the latter Baumgarten-Crusius maintains, and says: “here, therefore, the ethics of Christianity are represented as the eternal law of reason,” in which he explains ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς “from the beginning of the history of man,” and regards “ye as men” as the subject of εἴχετε.

ἐντολὴ παλαιά ἐστιν λόγος ὃν ἠκούσατε] This addition serves for a more particular definition of the preceding; παλαιά is repeated in order to accentuate this idea more strongly. By εἴχετε it was only stated that the readers were in possession of the commandment; now the apostle defines it more particularly in this respect, that it is the word (not: “the chief substance of the word,” de Wette) which they had heard (comp. 1 John 2:24; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 4:3), which, therefore, was proclaimed unto them (comp. chap. 1 John 1:2-3), namely, by the apostolic preaching. The clause is therefore not to be taken, as Baumgarten-Crusius holds, as a correction of γράφω: “not by him was it first given; it is from the beginning of Christianity, the λόγος, ὃν ἠκούσατε, namely, from Christ;” for ἠκούσατε does not refer directly to γράφω (Bengel), but to εἴχετε.(106) On the addition ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς (Rec.) after ἠκούσατε, which Ewald regards as genuine, see the critical notes.


Verses 7-11

1 John 2:7-11. A more particular statement of the nature and import of τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ or of περιπατεῖν καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησε.


Verse 8

1 John 2:8. πάλιν ἐντολὴν καινὴν κ. τ. λ.] Almost all commentators hold that the ἐντολὴ καινή is the same ἐντολή as was the subject of 1 John 2:7; differently Ebrard, who explains as follows: “With 1 John 2:7 begins a new section which continues to 1 John 2:29, in which the leading thought is the position of the readers to the light as one which was already shining; by ἐντ. παλαιά is meant the clause, chap. 1 John 1:5 : θεὸς φῶς ἐστι; by ἐντ. καινή, on the other hand, the following clause: σκοτία παράγεται καὶ τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ἤδη φαίνει;(107) the relative clause ἑστιν ἀληθὲς κ. τ. λ. belongs, by apposition, to the following sentence: ὅτι σκοτία κ. τ. λ., and states to what extent the essential true light has already begun to shine, namely, the fact that the light already shines has a double sphere in which it is ἀληθές, i.e. actually realized, first in Christ, but then also ἐν ὑμῖν, i.e. in the Ephesian readers themselves, and equally in all true Christians.” This explanation is, however, incorrect; for—(1) the truth σκοτία παράγεται κ. τ. λ. can just as little be called an ἐντολή as the sentence θεὸς φῶς ἐστι (see on 1 John 2:7); (2) the relative clause, if it was to be a preceding apposition to σκοτία κ. τ. λ., would have had to come after ὅτι; according to the structure of the verse, must necessarily be connected with what precedes; (3) it is a false idea, that that which the clause ὅτι σκοτία expresses was actually realized in Christ; the incorrectness of this idea is concealed in Ebrard’s interpretation in this way, no doubt, that he gives to ἐν αὐτῷ a different relation from that which he gives ἐν ὑ΄ῖν, and changes the present παράγεται into the perfect.(108) Nor is the opinion that we are to understand by ἐντ. παλ. the commandment of walking in light, and by ἐντ. καινή, on the other hand, that of brotherly love (1 John 2:9), tenable, because these commandments, according to their import, are not two distinct commandments, but one and the same commandment. Still more unjustifiable is the assumption of S. Schmid, that in 1 John 2:7 the fundamental law of Christianity, namely, justification by faith, but here the commandment of Christian sanctification, is meant; and that of Weiss, that by ἐντολή, 1 John 2:7, is to be understood the evangelical message of salvation, but here the commandment of love. The apostle, having in view here the same commandment as in 1 John 2:7, says: “Again a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” The relative clause ἐστιν κ. τ. λ. serves not merely to establish the statement that the commandment is a new one (Socinus, Flacius, Morus, Hornejus, de Wette-Brückner, Lücke, ed. 2 and 3, ed. 1 of this commentary, Erdmann, etc.);(109) but the apostle thereby describes the commandment, yet not in a material way, so that would be referred to the substance of it (Oecumenius, Luther, Baumgarten-Crusius, Semler, Frommann, Düsterdieck, etc.),(110) but only in a formal way, as that which is actually fulfilled in Christ and in his readers; as the commandment in 1 John 2:7 was also only defined in a formal way by ἣν εἴχετε ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς.

ἐστινἐν ὑμῖν is the object belonging to γράφω, and ἐντολὴν καινήν is to be taken as the accusative of more particular definition; this construction of it is found in Ewald, only he explains ἐν αὐτῷ incorrectly by: “in the last-mentioned (in 1 John 2:7) word of God;” most recently it has been accepted by Braune with the interpretation here given. The sense accordingly is: that which is already true, i.e. fulfilled, in Christ and in you, namely, the τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ θεοῦ (comp. John 15:10, where Christ says of Himself: ἐγὼ τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ πατρός ΄ου τετήρηκα), I write unto you as a new commandment.(111) With this view it is self-evident that the apostle calls the old commandment a new one only in so far as he writes it anew to them. It is true a different reference has usually been given to καινή, by understanding it either of the constant endurance of the commandment of love (Calvin: novum dieit, quod Deus quotidie suggerendo veluti renovat; Joannes negat ejusmodi esse doctrinam de fratribus diligendis, quae tempore obsolescat: sed perpetuo vigere), or to indicate that this commandment first entered into the world along with Christianity—whether emphasis was put more upon the substance of it (Lücke, de Wette, ed. 1 of this comm.), or upon the mere time of it (Düsterdieck);(112) but these constructions, not being indicated in the context, are purely forced.

On πάλιν, Erasmus says: et contrarietatem declarat et iterationem; hic autem non repetitionis sed contrarietatis est declaratio; with this interpretation almost all commentators agree, referring πάλιν to the idea ἐντ. καινήν; but an antithetical construction is foreign to the word; it is = “again, once more,” is to be connected with γράφω, and is explained by the fact that the readers have already heard the commandment, nay, even are already fulfilling it. Lücke and de Wette connect it directly with the verb, but in such a way that even they give to it an antithetical reference.(113)

ἐστὶν ἀληθές] ἀληθής signifies here the actual reality, as in Acts 12:9 (see Meyer on this passage).

ἐν αὐτῷ] ἐν is to be retained in its special meaning, not = “respectu, in reference to,” nor is it used “of the subject in which something true is to be recognized as true (1 John 2:3)” (de Wette), for there is no mention here of any knowledge. That by αὐτό ς here not God (Jachmann), but Christ is to be understood, is shown by the context. Socinus incorrectly explains ἐν αὐτῷ = per se ac simpliciter. On the point that ἡ΄ῖν is not to be read, see the critical notes. Grotius unjustifiably understands by ἡ΄ῖν the apostles.

Neander has a wrong conception of the relation of ἐν αὐτῷ and ἐν ὑ΄ῖν when he explains: “it takes place in reference to Christ and in reference to the church, therefore in reference to their mutual relationship to one another.”

ὅτι σκοτία κ. τ. λ.] ὅτι is not used declaratively, nor in such a way as to be dependent on ἀληθές (“it is true that the darkness,” etc.), or on ἐντολήν (Castellio, Socinus, Bengel, Ebrard),—to both these views the structure of the verse is opposed,—but causally; this is rightly perceived by most of the commentators; but it is incorrect when they connect it with the immediately preceding ἐστιν ἀληθὲς κ. τ. λ., for the double-membered clause: ὅτι σκοτία φαίνει, being a confirmatory clause, does not stand in a corresponding relationship to the thought: ἐστιν ἀλ.… ὑ΄ῖν, which it is intended to confirm.(114) By ὅτι κ. τ. λ. the apostle rather states the reason why he writes to them as a new commandment that which is true in Christ and in them (Düsterdieck, Braune); this reason is the already commenced disappearance of darkness and shining of the true light. The contrasted words σκοτία and τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν are to be taken in ethical sense (Braune);(115) the former idea signifies the darkness which consists in error and sin, as it exists outside the fellowship with God; the latter, the light which consists in truth and holiness, as it proceeds from Christ, who Himself is the true light. It is incorrect to understand here by τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀλ., Christ Himself (Bengel, Erdmann), as the contrast with σκοτία shows. ἀληθινός is an expression which is almost confined to the writings of John; outside them it is only found in Luke 16:11, 1 Thessalonians 1:9, and three times in the Epistle to the Hebrews; it describes the light of which the apostle is speaking as the eternal, essential light, of which the earthly light is merely the transitory reflection; see especially Neander on this passage.

παράγεται is translated by the Vulgate as perfect: quoniam tenebrae transierunt; similarly by Luther: “the darkness is past;” and Calvin directly says: Praesens tempus loco Praeteriti. This, however, is arbitrary; the present is to be retained as such; it is used in the same sense as in 1 Corinthians 7:31 : παράγει (see Meyer on this passage), so that we must interpret: “the σκοτία is in the state of passing away.” It is unnecessary to take παράγεται, with Bengel, with whom Sander and Besser agree, as passive (Bengel: non dicit παράγει transit, sed παράγεται traducitur, commutatur, ita ut tandem absorbeatur); it is more natural to regard it as the middle form with intransitive meaning. With the meaning: “is in the state of passing,” corresponds the particle ἤδη with φαίνει, which is not = “now” (Luther), but by which the moment is described in which the darkness is retreating before the light, at which therefore neither has the darkness already completely disappeared, nor is the light completely dominant. Most of the commentators, both the older and more recent (Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette-Brückner, Lücke, Sander, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Ebrard), take this as referring to Christianity in general, in so far as by it, as the true light, the old darkness is being ever more and more overcome; but by the word ἤδη the apostle shows that in these words he is looking forward to a future time at which that victory will have been completely won, and which he regards as close at hand (so also Braune). The moment in which he writes this is in his eyes, therefore, no other than that which immediately precedes the second coming of Christ, and which He Himself in 1 John 2:18 calls the ἐσχάτη ὥρα,(116) in which it is of the greater importance for Christians, by keeping the commandment, to show themselves as children of the light. The same train of thought essentially occurs here as afterwards in 1 John 2:15-18; compare also the Pauline νὺξ προέκοψεν, δὲ ἡμέρα ἤγγικε, Romans 13:12.


Verses 9-11

1 John 2:9-11. Further definition of the life of light as life in love.—1 John 2:9. λέγων] the same form as in 1 John 2:4, to which the structure of the whole verse is very similar. ἐν τῷ φωτὶ εἶναι] stands in close relation to what immediately precedes; although he alone is in the light who lives in fellowship with Christ, and belongs to the church of Christ, yet τὸ φῶς describes neither Christ Himself (Spener, etc.) nor “the church, as the sphere within which the light has operated as illuminating power” (Ebrard). Chap. 1 John 1:6-7 may be compared.

In contrast with teal καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ μισῶν is 1 John 2:10, ἀγαπῶν ἀδ. αὐτοῦ, in which the apostle states the substance of the τηρεῖν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ after the example of Christ. As φῶς and σκοτία, so μισεῖν τ. ἀδ. and ἀγαπᾶν τ. ἀδ. exclude each other; they are tendencies diametrically opposed to one another; human action belongs either to the one or to the other; that which does not belong to the sphere of the one falls into that of the other; Bengel: ubi non est amor, odium est: cor non est vacuum. Here also John speaks absolutely, without taking into consideration the imperfect state of the Christian, as is seen in the hesitations between love and hatred.

τὸν ἀδελφόν Grotius interprets: sive Judaeum, sive aliegenam; fratres omnes in Adamo sumus; similarly Calov, J. Lange, etc.; by far the greatest number of commentators understand thereby fellow-Christians. Apart from its exact meaning and the wider meaning = brethren of the same nation (Acts 23:1; Hebrews 7:5), ἀδελφός is used in the N. T. generally, in Acts and in the Pauline Epistles always, to denote Christians; but in many passages it is also = πλησίον or ἕτερος; thus in Matthew 5:22 ff; Matthew 7:3 ff; Matthew 18:35; Luke 6:41 ff.; James 4:11-12 (in Matthew 5:47 it describes our friendly neighbour). In the Gospel of John it is only used in the sense of relationship, except in chap. John 20:17, where Christ calls His μαθηταίοἱ ἀδελφοί μου,” and in John 21:23, where οἱ ἀδ. is a name of Christians. If, therefore, according to the usus loquendi of the N. T., ἀδελφός may certainly be = πλησίον, yet in the Epistles of John, according to chap. 1 John 3:11 (comp. Gospel of John 13:34; John 15:12; besides, especially with chap. 1 John 3:16, comp. Gospel of John 15:13; there: ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν τὰς ψυχὰς τιθέναι; here: ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ), and according to chap. 1 John 5:1 (where the ἀδ. is specifically called a γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ), we must understand by it the Christian brother; so that John, therefore, is speaking, not of the general love towards men, but of the special relationship of Christians to one another; comp. the distinction in 2 Peter 1:7; Galatians 6:10.

ἕως ἄρτι] “until now,” refers back to ἤδη, 1 John 2:9; the meaning is: although the darkness is already shining, such an one is nevertheless still (adhuc) in darkness; on this peculiarly N. T. expression, see Winer, p. 418, VII. p. 439; A. Buttmann, p. 275; there is no reason for supplying “even if he were a long time a Christian” (Ewald). “With the ἐν τ. σκ. ἐστίν is contrasted, 1 John 2:10 : ἐν τῷ φωτὶ μένει; see on this 1 John 2:6.(117) That the “exercise of brotherly love is itself a means of strengthening the new life” (Ebrard), is not contained in the idea μένει. Even if the idea of 1 John 2:10—in relation to that of the 9th verse—is brought out more distinctly by ΄ένει, this is much more done by the words: καὶ σκάνδαλον ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν. σκάνδαλον appears in the N. T. only in the ethical signification = “offence,” i.e. that which entices and tempts to sin; in the case of ἐν αὐτῷ, the preposition ἐν is generally either left unnoticed by the commentators (Grotius says, appealing to Psalms 119 : est metonymia et ἐν abundat. Sensus: ille non impingit) or changed in meaning; de Wette: “in his case (for him) there is no stumbling; comp. John 11:9 ff.;” similarly Baumgarten-Crusius, Neander, etc.; Lücke even says: “ ἐν αὐτῷ can here only signify the outer circle of life,” because “the σκάνδαλα for the Christian lie in the world, and not in him;” with him Sander agrees. For such changes there is no ground, since in the usage of the word the figure (the snare, or rather the wood that falls in the snare) has quite given place to the thing, and it is therefore unnecessary to say, with Düsterdieck, that “in the expression ἐν αὐτῷ the thing itself penetrates into the otherwise figurative form of speech;” the offence may be outside a man, but it may be in him also; comp. Matthew 5:29-30. The preposition ἐν is here to be retained in its proper meaning (Düsterdieck, Ewald, Braune). The sense is: In him who loves his brother and thus remains in the light, there is nothing which entices him to sin. Some commentators refer σκάνδαλον to the temptation of others to sinning; so Vatablus: nemini offendiculo est; Johannsen: “he gives no offence;” Ebrard: “there is nothing in them by which they would give offence to the brethren,” etc.; but in the context there is no reference to the influence which the Christian exercises upon others, and if John had had this relationship in his mind, he would certainly have expressed it;(118) this is decisive also against Braune, who would retain both references. Paulus quite unwarrantably refers ἐν αὐτῷ to τὸ φώς: “in that light nothing is a stumbling-block.”

The beginning of the 11th verse repeats—in a form antithetical to 1 John 2:10—that which was said in 1 John 2:9; but with further continuation of the ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ ἐστίν.

The first subordinate clause runs: καὶ ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ περιπατεῖ. The difference of the two clauses does not consist in this, that the representation passes over from the less figurative ( ἐστί) to the more figurative ( περιπατεῖ) (Lücke); for, on the one hand, περιπατεῖν is so often used of the ethical relationship of man, that it is scarcely any longer found as a figurative expression; and, on the other hand, the connection by καί shows that there is a difference of idea between the two expressions; this has been correctly thus described by Grotius: priori membro affectus (or better: habitus, Sander), altero actus denotatur (similarly de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Braune). Both: the being (the condition) and the doing (the result) of the unloving one belong to darkness; comp. Galatians 5:25. The second subordinate clause: καὶ οὐκ οἶδε ποῦ ὑπάγει, is closely connected with περιπατεῖ; ποῦ, properly a particle of rest, is in the N. T. frequently connected with verbs of motion; comp. John 7:35; John 20:2; John 20:13; Hebrews 11:8; in the Gospel of John especially, as here, with ὑπάγειν; see John 3:8; John 8:14, etc.; in John 12:35 it runs exactly as here: περιπατῶν ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ οὐκ οἶδε ποῦ ὑπάγει. The translation: “where he is going,” is false, for ὑπάγειν is not: “to go,” but: “to go to.” To the unloving one, the goal whither he is going on his dark way, and therefore the direction of his way, is unknown. By this goal it is not exactly the final goal, i.e. condemnation (Cyprian: it nescius in gehennam, ignarus et caecus praecipitatur in poenam), that is to be thought of, for the subject according to the context is not punishment; but by the figurative expression the apostle wants to bring out that the unloving one, not knowing whither, follows the impulse of his own selfish desire: he does not know what he is doing, and whither it tends. As a confirmation of this last idea, the apostle further adds: ὅτι σκοτία ἐτύφλωσε τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ; τυφλοῦν does not mean “to darken,” but “to make blind, to blind;” this idea is to be retained, and is not, with Lücke and others, to be enfeebled by an interpolated “tamquam, as” (“in the darkness they are as if blind”), by which the clause loses its meaning; the apostle wants to bring out that, inasmuch as the unloving one walks in the darkness, the sight of his eyes is taken from him by this darkness, so that he does not know, etc. He who lives in sin is blinded by sin, and therefore does not know whither his sin is leading him; comp. John 12:40 and 2 Corinthians 4:4.


Verses 12-14

1 John 2:12-14. After the apostle has depicted the Christian life in its essential features, he passes on to exhortation. To this these verses form the introduction, in which the apostle assures his readers that their Christianity is the ground of his writing. The motive of this, which explains also the form of expression, is the earnest longing which inspires the apostle, that his readers may take home to themselves the following exhortation.

The apostle addresses them under four different names: τεκνία and παιδία, πατέρες, νεανίσκοι. By the two latter names they are distinguished according to the two corresponding degrees of age;(119) in the case of πατέρες the proper meaning is not to be strictly retained, but in contrast to νεανίσκοι it is = γέροντες or πρεσβύτεροι, the members of the church who are already in advanced age; thus Erasmus, Calvin, Socinus, Morus, Carpzov, Lange, Paulus, de Wette-Brückner, Lücke, Düsterdieck, Braune, etc.

The νεανίσκοι are the younger members of the church; Calvin: tametsi diminutivo utitur, non tamen dubium est, quin sermonem ad omnes dirigat, qui sunt in aetatis flore et statu. The view of Augustine is to be rejected, that under the three names the same persons are addressed, whom the apostle only designates differently in different aspects: filioli, quia baptismo neonati sunt; patres, quia Christum patrem et antiquum dierum agnoscunt; adoleseentes, quia fortes sunt et validi. So also is the opinion that the apostle has in view, not the difference in age, but the difference in the degree, or even in the length of existence of Christian life; a Lapide: triplici hoc aetatis gradu triplicem Christianorum in virtute gradum et quasi aetatum repraesentat; pueri enim repraesentant incipientes et neophytos; juvenes repraesentant proficientes; senes perfectos; similarly Clemens, Oecumenius, further Gagneius, Cajetanus, Russmeyer, Grotius,(120) etc. Some commentators (as Erasmus, Socinus, J. Lange, Myrberg) also refer the two expressions: τεκνία (1 John 2:12) and παιδία (1 John 2:13), to the difference of age, and understand by them children, in the proper sense of the word; but more prevalent is the view that this is true of παιδία only, and that τεκνία, on the other hand, is to be regarded as a form of address to all Christians; Calvin: haec (namely, 1 John 2:12) adhuc generalis est sententia, mox speciales sententias accomodabit singulis aetatibus; similarly Luther, Beza, Calov, Wolf, Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, Neander, Besser, Ebrard, etc. With the first view there arises a wrong succession, namely: children, fathers, young men, instead of: children, young men, fathers, or: fathers, young men, children; and, moreover, since τεκνία is in the Epistle frequently the form of address to all readers, and not only with, but also without ΄ο΄ (see on 1 John 2:1), so it is to be taken here also. Equally, however, by παιδία the apostle addresses all readers, as Lücke, de Wette-Brückner, Düsterdieck, Gerlach, Erdmann, Ewald, Braune rightly interpret. If we read before παιδία, with the Receptus: γράφω ὑμῖν, there certainly results, if παιδία is taken as alluding to children, a more accurate succession: fathers, young men, children; but (1) according to almost all authorities we must read, not γράφω, but ἔγραψα, and the former reading can only be explained in this way, that παιδία was understood in its proper sense, and it was thought that this clause must be brought into the closest connection with the preceding; (2) then in the repetition of the same succession in 1 John 2:14 one member of it is wanting, as the children are not mentioned again; and (3) in 1 John 2:18 παιδία is used as a form of address in reference to all readers; comp. John 21:5. Against the two last reasons it might indeed be alleged, with Bengel, Sander, and Besser, that from 1 John 2:14 to 1 John 2:17 is still intended for the νεανίσκοις, and that then in 1 John 2:18 the address to the children comes in, and that the sequel as far as 1 John 2:27 refers to them. But against this construction is—(1) the dissimilarity in the form of the sentences that thereby results; (2) the absence of an exhortation addressed to the fathers; (3) the unsuitable reference of the warning against false teachers specially to the children, with the additional remark: οἴδατε πάντα, 1 John 2:20, and οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε, ἵνα τὶς διδάσκῃ ὑ΄ᾶς, even though the warning against false teachers in chap. 1 John 4:1 ff. is referred without distinction to all readers; and finally, (4) the close connection of 1 John 2:17 and 1 John 2:18 : κόσ΄ος παράγεται (comp. 1 John 2:8 : σκοτία παράγεται), and ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστί.

According to the true construction of the sentences, they fall into two groups; in each group first all Christians, and then specially the older and the younger members of the church, are addressed;(121) the correctness of this construction is shown also by this, that in reference to πατέρες, and equally to νεανίσκοι, in both groups the same thing is expressed, but in reference to all there are different statements. The arbitrary conjecture of Calvin (with whom Wall agrees), that both the clauses of 1 John 2:14 are spurious, and interpolated temere by ignorant readers, requires no refutation.

The interchange of γράφω with the aorist ἔγραψα is peculiar, and is not to be explained by saying that ἔγραψα points to another writing of the apostle, whether it be the Gospel (Storr, Lange, Baumgarten-Crusius, Schott, Ebrard, Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, § 336; Braune(122)), or even an earlier Epistle (Michaelis); both expressions rather refer, as most of the commentators have recognised, to this Epistle; not, however, to the same thing, as some commentators suppose; thus Bengel, who regards the two expressions as synonymous, explains: verbo scribendi ex praesenti in praeterito transposito innuit commonitionem firmissimam, which cannot be grammatically justified;(123) and Düsterdieck, who thinks that the “different import of the present and of the aorist can only be sought for in the representation of the writing itself; that both times the apostle means the whole Epistle lying before him; that by γράφω he represents himself in the immediately present act of writing, and by ἔγραψα, on the other hand, his readers, who have received the completed Epistle;” opposed to this, however, is the fact that such a change of the mere form of representation would certainly be rather trifling. The ἔγραψα must be referred to something else than the preceding γράφω; yet it is not, with Neander and Erdmann,(124) to be referred to that which is expressed in the clauses beginning with γράφω; for, on the one hand, the clauses beginning with ἔγραψα have not the form of confirmation, and, on the other hand, there is no real cause apparent for the addition of such a confirmation; it seems more appropriate when Rickli thinks that γράφω refers to what follows, and ἔγραψα to what precedes;(125) but opposed to this is the fact that ἔγραψα would then stand more naturally before γράφω. The correct view has been taken by de Wette, Brückner, and Ewald, who refer ἔγραψα to what was already written, and γράφω to the immediate act of writing, and hence to the Epistle in general; taking this view, it is quite in order for John to write γράφω first, and that he then refers specially by ἔγραψα to what has been already written is explained in this way, that this contains the principal grounds for the following exhortations and amplifications.(126)

In each part a clause beginning with ὅτι follows the address; this ὅτι is not objective or declarative = “that” (Socinus, Lange, Russmeyer, Bengel, Paulus, Johannsen, Neander, Hilgenfeld, etc.), but causal: “because” (Calvin, Beza, Baumgarten-Crusius, Lücke, de Wette-Brückner, Gerlach, Düsterdieck, Myrberg, Ebrard,(127) etc.). The apostle does not want to say what he is writing, but why he is writing to them; comp. especially 1 John 2:20, also 1 John 2:21; 1 John 2:27; 1 John 3:5; 1 John 3:14-15; 1 John 5:18-20. The particular Christian experiences of his readers form the fundamental presuppositions of the Epistle; it is not anything new that the apostle declares unto them, but he reminds them of what they know, so that they may take it more seriously to heart.

The first thing that the apostle, addressing all, reminds them of is: ὅτι ἀφέωνται ὑμῖν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι διὰ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ. The forgiveness of sins is the basis of all Christian life; therefore this is put first.

On the form used here, the perfect passive ἀφέωνται, see Buttmann, Ausf. gr. Gr. § 97, Anmerk. 3, and § 108, note 1; and Winer, p. 74, VII. p. 77. The Vulgate and Luther incorrectly translated it as if it were the present: “are forgiven” (similarly Rickli and others; Paulus strangely interprets, deriving it from ἀφʼ ἑάω = ἀφʼ ἑῶνται, dimittuntur).

διά with the accusative is not = “through” (this meaning, as is well known, it has only with the genitive, comp. Acts 10:43 : ἄφεσιν ἁ΄αρτιῶν λαβεῖν διὰ τοῦ ὀνό΄ατος αὐτοῦ), but = “for the sake of;αὐτοῦ = χριστοῦ, not = θεοῦ (Socinus, Paulus). According to most of the commentators, διὰ τ. ὄν. αὐτοῦ refers to the objective ground of the forgiveness of sins, and τὸ ὄνο΄α αὐτοῦ signifies Christ Himself; thus Düsterdieck: “Christ who is what His name signifies;”(128) but this is contrary to the Biblical usus loquendi; if by διά Christ is referred to as the author of salvation, the preposition is always construed with the genitive; by διὰ τὸ ὄνο΄α αὐτοῦ, therefore, it is the subjective ground of forgiveness that is stated (de Wette-Brückner, Braune), in this sense: because His name is in you, i.e. because ye believe on His name (comp. 1 John 2:23 : πιστεύειν τῷ ὀνόματι ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ). The name is therefore not regarded as empty, but as the form which includes the contents and reveals them; so that the subjective ground embraces in itself the objective.

In the second group it is said, in regard to the readers of the Epistle there called παιδία: γρ. ὑ΄ῖν ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα. By πατήρ we are not to understand, with Hornejus, Christ, inasmuch as believers per fidem in nomen ejus renati sunt, for such a designation of Christ has the constant usus loquendi of Scripture against it, but God; for the name πατήρ is used here without any more particular definition, with clear reference to παιδία, and so God is here so called, not merely on account of His relationship to Christ, but equally on account of His relationship to those who, by faith in Christ, have obtained the forgiveness of their sins, and are thereby placed in the relationship of children to God. From this it is clear also how exactly ὅτι ἀφέωνται ὑ΄ῖν αἱ ἁ΄αρτίαι and ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα correspond with one another. But in the fact that John ascribes to the believers both of these, he testifies to them that they are in possession of the fulness of divine peace and of divine truth.

In regard to the πατέρες, the apostle brings out the same thing in both groups, 1 John 2:13-14 : ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς. If the forgiveness of sins and the knowledge of God are common to all, the knowledge of Him who is ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς is specially appropriate to the older members of the church. When some commentators, as a Lapide, Grotius, (novistis Deum, qui Senex dierum; Daniel 7:9; Dan. 13:22), and others, understand by ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς God, they ignore the deeper connection which exists between the particular ideas; ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς is Christ, but not so called because He is the author of Christianity (Socinus: novi foederis et evangelii patefacti primum initium; Semler: qui inde ab initio auctor fuit hujus melioris religionis), but because He is from all eternity; ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς is used in the same sense as in chap. 1 John 1:1. John brings out by this designation of Christ the truth that Christ is subject of their knowledge in the quality of His being herein mentioned; it is therefore incorrect to understand ἐγνώκατε of the personal knowledge of Him who was manifest in the flesh (Bengel, Schoettgen, etc.); the word has rather the same meaning as in 1 John 2:3.(129) John ascribes this knowledge to the fathers, because he might with justice assume that they had not contented themselves with a superficial knowledge of Christ in His appearance according to the sense, but had looked more deeply into the eternal nature of the Lord.

In regard to the young men, it is said in both groups: ὅτι νενικήκαίατε τὸν πονηρόν; not as if the same were not true also of the older members of the church, but John attributes this eminently to the young men, because they—in accordance with their age—had just recently obtained this victory, and their care therefore must be specially this, not to lose again what had been lately won. That πονηρός is the devil (comp. Matthew 13:19; Matthew 13:38-39; Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18-19) the commentators have rightly recognised.(130) Carpzov suitably says: Viris fortibus et robustis tribuiter supra fortissimum et robustissimum victoria. In the second group some further subordinate clauses precede that word, which state the conditions under which the young men have attained their victory: ὅτι ἰσχυροί ἐστε; ἰσχυροί, “strong in spirit,” with special reference to the fight, comp. Hebrews 11:34; Luke 11:21; Matthew 12:29 (Düsterdieck); here also ὅτι is “because,” not: “that,” thus: “because ye are strong,” not: “that ye are to be strong” (Paulus).

This conquering power of the young men is not their “own moral strength” (Baumgarten-Crusius), but the effect of the Word of God; therefore John adds: καὶ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν μένει, and only then brings in καὶ νενικήκατε κ. τ. λ.

The individual sentences are simply placed side by side in order to let each of them appear the more strongly in its own meaning. The train of thought, however, is this, that their strength has its ground in the Word of God, which is permanent in them ( ΄ένει), and that it is in this power that they have attained the victory.(131) This relation is correctly stated by Grotius, who explains the first καί by quia, the second by ob id.

λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ is not = Christ, but the word proceeding from God, i.e. the Gospel, of which the personal Christ is no doubt the substance.


Verse 15

1 John 2:15. μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον] The meaning of ἀγαπᾶν depends on that of the idea κόσμος.

κόσμος is with John eminently an ethical conception = mankind, fallen away from God, and of hostile disposition towards Him, together with all that it lives for and has made its own; comp. on James 1:27; James 4:4 (similarly Gerlach, Besser, Düsterdieck, Myrberg, Ebrard, Braune(132)). The explanations that deviate from this are divided into three leading classes—(1) Those in which κόσ΄ος is regarded as a total number of men indeed, but in a limited way; either = “the heathen world” (Lange), or more indefinitely: “the mass of common men” (Oecumenius: συρφετὸς ὄχλος, ὃς οὐ τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχει ἀγάπην ἐν ἑαυτῷ; Calovius: homines dediti rebus hujus mundi), or “the greater part of men” (Grotius: humanum genus, secundum partem majorem, quae in malis actionibus versatur); Storr limits the idea here “to that part of the world which the antichristians constituted.” (2) Those which understand κόσμος not of the human world itself, but of the evil dwelling in it; so says the Scholiast: κόσ΄ον τὴν κοσ΄ικὴν φιληδονίαν καὶ διάχυσιν λέγει, ἧς ἐστὶν ἄρχων διάβολος; Luther: “the world, i.e. godlessness itself, through which a man has not the right use of the creatures;” to this class belong also the explanations of Calvin, Morus, S. Schmid, Semler;(133) but in this abstract sense the word never appears elsewhere; and besides, taking this view, difficulties appear in the sequel which can only be overcome by arbitrary interpretations. (3) Those explanations in which κόσμος is regarded as the total of perishable (actual) things; these things being regarded as purely physical, there lies in the idea κόσμος, in and by itself, no ethical meaning, but this appears only through the ἀγαπᾷν which is connected with it; the κόσμος as a creature of God is in itself good and irreproachable, but the love to the κόσμος, through which man centres his affections on it, and makes it the single aim of his activity, is to be blamed, because amid all association with earthly things it is not they, but God, that must be loved; thus there results for the command: μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον, certainly an appropriate idea; but what follows in 1 John 2:16-17 has induced almost all commentators who accept this view to give, nevertheless, to the idea κόσμος itself, more or less distinctly, an ethical reference; thus Lücke indeed says: “ κόσμος is, as the sum total of the temporal and sensuous, in contrast (!) to the πνεῦμα, always only the objective sphere of evil, i.e. to which it tends as ethical direction and disposition,” but immediately afterwards he explains the same idea “as the sum total of all sensuous appearances, which excite the desire of the senses;” still more definitely de Wette says: “the sum total of that which attracts desire, the temporal, sensuous, earthly—regarded in contrast with God;” but this connection of the ethical reference with the idea of actual things is itself rather unsuitable; not in the things, but in man himself, lies the cause of the seductive charm which things exercise upon him; besides, it is not possible to retain this conception of the word without modification to the end of the 17th verse.(134) It is true some commentators(135) distinctly say that John here makes a sort of play upon the word, but such an assumption does too much violence to the clearness and certainty of the thought for us to approve of it. The right view, therefore, is to take κόσμος here in the same sense that the word prevailingly has throughout John’s works, so that it signifies the world lying ἐν τῷ πονηρῷ. This κόσ΄ος, this is the meaning of the apostle’s warning, is not to be the object of the ἀγάπη of believers. From this it follows that ἀγαπᾷν here means neither “to love too much,” nor “to love with unhallowed sense,” but love in the strictest sense of the word, consisting in a life of inner fellowship.(136)

μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ] As κόσμος is an ethical idea, natural objects as such cannot be meant by τὰ ἐν τ. κ., but only these in so far as they are taken by the ungodly world into its service; or better, the apparently good things which the world pursues, or with which it delights itself, and which therefore belong to it, as riches, honour, power, human wisdom, and such like. Ebrard erroneously understands thereby “the different kinds of sinful impulse, thought, and action, e.g. avarice, ambition, sensuality, and such like,” for either of these is plainly a love (although a false, unholy love) which cannot itself again be regarded as the object of love.

ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν κ. τ. λ.] By this sentence the apostle confirms the previous exhortation, expressing the incongruity of love to the κόσμος with the ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρός; Bede: Unum cor duos tam sibi adversaries amores non capit. By ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρός is to be understood neither the love of God to us (Luther II., Calovius), nor the charitas quam Pater praescribit (Socinus); but, as by far the most of commentators (Bede, Beza, Grotius, Vatablus, Spener, etc., and all the modern commentators, even Ebrard, despite his erroneous interpretation of 1 John 2:5), interpret, love to God.(137)

If πατρός is the correct reading, then the name Father is here to be explained from the filial relationship of Christians to God, and points to their duty not to love the world, but God.

Between the two sorts of ἀγάπη there is the same exclusive contrast as between the θεῷ δουλεύειν and μαμωνᾷ δουλεύειν, Matthew 6:24. Compare also James 4:4 : φιλία τοῦ κόσμου, ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστίν.


Verses 15-17

1 John 2:15-17. A warning against love of the world, which is directed neither specially to the children (Oecumenius: ἐπτόηται γὰρ ἀεὶ τὰ παιδία περὶ τὸ φαινόμενον ἡδύ), nor specially to the young men (Bengel, Semler, Besser), but to all (Bede: omnibus haec generaliter ecclesiae filiis scribit).


Verse 16

1 John 2:16. Confirmation of the preceding thought that love to the world is inconsistent with love to God.

ὅτι πᾶν τὸ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ] Bede incorrectly explains the neuter here (as it certainly does appear elsewhere in John) as masculine: omnes mundi dilectores non habent nisi concupiscentiam; most commentators regard the expression as identical with the foregoing τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ; even Düsterdieck, who, in reference to the following ἐπιθυμία κ. τ. λ., thinks that a “change occurs from the representation of the objects of the love of the world to the subjective desire itself and its actual manifestations.” But even apart from the fact that the assumption of such a change in the form is only a makeshift, the expression of the apostle himself is opposed to this; for had he not meant by πᾶν τὸ ἐν τ. κ. something else than by τὰ ἐν τῷ κ., he would have put the neuter plural here also. Besides, it must not be overlooked why the following: ἐπιθυμία κ. τ. λ. could not be the apposition stating the sense of πᾶν τ. ἐν τ. κ. (Frommann, p. 269).(138) Accordingly, the apostle means by this expression: all that forms the contents, i.e. the substance of the κόσμος; its inner life, which animates it (Braune); in what this consists, the following words state. ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκὸς κ. τ. λ.] Although the ideas ἐπιθυμία and ἀλαζονεία in themselves denote a subjective disposition of man, yet several commentators think that here not this, but the objective things are meant, to which that subjective disposition is directed (Bengel, Russmeyer, Lange, Ewald), or that the otherwise subjective idea disappears into the objective (de Wette), or at least that both the subjective and the objective are to be thought of together (Lorinus, Brückner). But with the correct conception of the ideas κόσμος and πᾶν τὸ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ there is no apparent reason for such an arbitrary explanation, by which violence is done to the words of the apostle.

ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκός] The genitive is here not the genitive of the object, but, as is the case with ἐπιθυμία(139) always in the N. T. (except 2 Peter 2:10; on Ephesians 4:22 comp. Meyer on this passage), the genitive of the subject, hence not: “the desire directed towards the flesh,” but: “the desire which the flesh, i.e. the corrupted sensual nature of man, cherishes, or which is peculiar to the flesh;” comp. Galatians 5:17 : σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ.

Ebrard interprets, describing the genitive as that “of quality and reference,” for which he wrongly appeals to Ephesians 4:22, 2 Peter 2:10 : “the desire which occurs in the sphere of the flesh;” the apostle scarcely conceived the idea so indefinitely. The idea may be taken in a broader or in a narrower sense; the first view in Lücke (“fleshly, sensuous desire in general, in contrast to πνεύ΄ατι περιπατεῖν and ἄγεσθαι; comp. Ephesians 2:3; 1 Peter 2:11”), de Wette, Neander, Düsterdieck; in the second, the desire of sensuality and drunkenness is specially understood; Augustine: desiderium earum rerum, quae pertinent ad carnem, sicut cibus et concubitus et caetera hujusmodi; similarly Grotius, Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, Besser, etc.; Brückner limits the idea to “the lust of the flesh in the narrower sense;” Gerlach specially to every sort of pursuit of enjoyment;(140) and Ebrard to “sexual enjoyments.”(141) The right explanation can be found only on the consideration of the following expression.

καὶ ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν] i.e.the desire that is inherent in the eyes, that is peculiar to them;” the expression is explained in this way, that the desire of seeing something is attributed to the sense of sight itself.(142) This idea also is understood in a broader and in a narrower sense. As Lücke calls the eyes “as it were the principal gates of sensual desire for the external world,” he identifies this idea with the preceding one; de Wette does the same, interpreting it (in objective aspect): “what the eyes see, and by what sensual desire is excited.” The connection by καί, however, which is further followed by a second καί, shows that the two ideas are to be definitely distinguished. Accordingly, most commentators justly regard ἐπιθ. τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν as the description of a special sort of ἐπιθυμία; thus (against de Wette) Brückner in subjective and objective view: “the lust of the eyes, and, at the same time, that in which, as sensuous and earthly, the eyes delight.” Two different interpretations are found with a more exact definition. Very many commentators, as Luther, Socinus, Grotius, Hornejus, Estius, Lorinus, Wolf, Clarius, Paulus, Semler, Baumgarten-Crusius, Gerlach, etc.,(143) hold, though with some modifications, the expression to be substantially synonymous with πλεονεξία, avaritia. On behalf of this interpretation, appeal is made principally to several passages of the O. T., and especially to Ecclesiastes 4:8; Ecclesiastes 5:10, Proverbs 23:5; Proverbs 27:20; but erroneously, for even though the eye of the covetous or avaricious man looks with pleasure on his treasures, and eagerly looks out for new ones, still the possession or acquirement of wealth is to him the chief thing; the striving for it, however, is not expressed by the phrase: ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν. Still less justifiable is the explanation of Ebrard, who partly agrees with those commentators, but regards the idea of “avarice” as too narrow; and, with an appeal to passages such as Psalms 17:11; Psalms 54:6; Psalms 91:8; Psalms 92:12, Proverbs 6:17, etc., maintains that by ἐπιθ. τ. ὀφθ. is meant “the whole sphere of the desires of selfishness, envy, and avarice, of hatred and revenge (!).” Other commentators, on the contrary, retain the reference to the pleasure of mere sight, but limit this too much to dramatic performances, etc.; thus Augustine: omnis curiositas in spectaculis, in theatris; similarly Neander and others. Such a limitation, however, is arbitrary; accordingly, others refer the expression to other objects of sight, thus Calvin: tam libidinosos conspectus comprehendit, quam vanitatem, quae in pompis et inani splendore vagatur; but it is more correct to take the reference to these things in a quite general way, and, with Spener, to interpret: “all sinful desire by which we seek delight in the seeing itself” (so also Braune); besides, it is to be observed that ἐπιθυμία τ. ὀφθ. is not the desire for wealth, etc., which is excited by the sight (Rickli and others(144)), but the desire of seeing unseemly things, and the sinful pleasure which the sight of them affords.(145) Thus, this idea is quite exclusive of the ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκός; if the latter is taken quite generally, then the lust of the eyes is a particular species of it, which the apostle specially mentions in order to meet the idea that the desire of seeing anything can have nothing sinful in it. But, having regard to the simple juxtaposition of the ideas by καί, it is more correct to suppose that John conceived the ἐπιθ. τῆς σαρκός not in that general sense, but in the particular sense of the “lust for wealth and immoderate enjoyment,” so that the two ideas stand to one another in the relation not of subordination, but of co-ordination, both being subordinate to the general idea of ἐπιθυμία.

καὶ ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου] ἀλαζονεία is usually translated by superbia, ambitio (Socinus: ambitio in honoribus quaerendis ac sectandis), and by similar words, and thereby is understood ambition, together with the pride and haughty contempt for others which are frequently associated with it;(146) thus Cyril interprets (Homil. Pasch. xxvii.): ἀλαζονείαν τ. β. φησὶ τῶν ἀξιωμάτων ὑπεροχὴν καὶ τὸ ἠρμένον ὕψος κατά γε τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν. Thereby, however, its peculiar meaning is not assigned to the word. In the N. T. ἀλαζονεία only appears in James 4:16 (in the plural); the adjective ἀλάζων in Romans 1:30 and 2 Timothy 3:2, in close connection with ὑπερήφανος, from which, however, it does not follow that the idea of ambition, thirst for glory, etc., is contained in it, but only that the ἀλαζ. is related to ὑπερηφανία; in James is meant thereby—according to the context—the haughtiness which overlooks the uncertainty of earthly happiness, and ostentatiously relies on its permanence. In the same sense = ostentatious pride in the possession, whether real or pretended, of earthly good things, such as happiness, power, knowledge, etc., the word appears also in the Apocrypha of the O. T.; comp. Wisdom of Solomon 5:8; Wisdom of Solomon 17:7; 2 Maccabees 9:8; 2 Maccabees 15:6. In classical Greek ἀλαζονεία has almost always the collateral meaning of the unreality of proud ostentation (Theophr. Charact. 23: προσποίησίς τις ἀγαθῶν οὐκ ὄντων πρὸς δόξαν; Plato, Phaedr.: ἕξις προσποιητικὴ ἀγαθοῦ ἀγαθῶν τῶν μὴ ὑπαρχόντων; antithesis of εἰρωνεία), which has obtained in Hellenistic usage only in so far that the idea here also always refers to something by its very nature worthless and trifling, and in this way certainly includes a delusion or unreality. This meaning is to be retained here also, as is rightly done by Lücke, Sander, Besser, Braune;(147) for examples in the Scriptures, comp. 1 Chronicles 22:1 ff.; Ecclesiastes 2:1 ff.; Ezekiel 28:16-17; Daniel 4:27; Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:7, etc. The genitive τοῦ βίου serves for the more particular definition of the idea; βίος signifies in the N. T. either “temporal life” (1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 4:3, Rec.), or more commonly “the support of life, the means” (chap. 1 John 3:17; Mark 12:44; Luke 8:43; Luke 15:12; Luke 15:30; Luke 21:4); it never has the meaning “conduct of life” (Ebrard). Following polyb. Hist. vi. 576: περὶ τοὺς βίους ἀλαζονεία καὶ πολυτέλεια, it is appropriate to take βίος here in the second meaning, and the genitive as objective genitive (so Lücke); as, however, σαρκός and ὀφθαλ΄ῶν are subjective genitives, it is much more correct to take βίου also as subjective genitive, and accordingly to interpret: “the ἀλαζονεία peculiar to the βίος;” in the expression ἡδοναὶ τοῦ βίου, Luke 8:14, τοῦ βίου may also be the objective genitive, thus: “the pleasures which refer to the βίος, the temporal good;” but more probably it is the subjective genitive here also, especially if it be connected with the preceding ideas (see Meyer on this passage), thus: “the pleasures peculiar to the present life.”(148)

REMARK.

It has almost become traditional to find the modes of appearance of the evil fully stated in this threefold form, corresponding to the triplicity which appears in the Greek writers, as in Pythag. Clinias: φιληδονία μὲν ἐν ταῖς ἀπολαύσεσι ταῖς διὰ σώματος, πλεονεξία δὲ ἐν τῷ κερδαίνειν, φιλοδοξία δὲ ἐν τῷ καθυπερέχειν τῶν ἴσων τε καὶ ὁμοίων; for other expressions, see Wetstein.(149) This threefold form, it has been thought, is found both in the fall and again in the temptation of Christ; thus Bede, following Augustine, says: Per haec tria tantum cupiditas humana tentatur; per haec tria Adam tentatus est et victus; per haec tentatus est Christus et vicit; while a Lapide finds expressed in it even the contrast with the three Persons in the divine Trinity.(150)

Bengel opposes this view, and makes such a distinction between the ἐπιθ. τὴς σαρκός and the ἐπιθ. τ. ὀφθ., that he refers the former to the sensus fruitivi, the latter to the sensus investigativi, but says of the ἀλαζονεία τ. β.: arrogantia vitae est, quae cupiditatem foras educit et longius in mundum diffundit, ut homo velit quam plurimus esse in victu, cultu, etc.; and then observes: non concidunt cum his tribus tria vitia cardinalia: voluptas, avaritia, superbia; sed tarnen in his continentur. By the last clause Bengel shows, however, “that there is a trace of that scheme to be found even in him” (Düsterdieck).

Lücke has more decidedly expressed himself against it, inasmuch as he finds in that threefold form only “the three chief points of worldly lust” (according to the first edition, only “as examples”); and, moreover, the points “in which it proceeds from the sensual desire to the climax of the ἀλαζονεία.” But Lücke’s own interpretation of the particular ideas is opposed to such a progress, as he makes the first two ideas to coincide in regard to their substance, and thus no progress takes place from the one ἐπιθυμία to the other, nor is it, besides, in any way hinted at by the apostle.

Lücke rightly contends that particular leading vices are the subject here; not individual vices, but the leading forms (Lücke(151)); or, as Brückner says, the leading tendencies of worldly sense are stated by the apostle in that threefold form. But in what relation do these stand to one another? According to Düsterdieck, the ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκός forms the superior idea, to which the two other ideas, as mutually co-ordinate, are in subordination: “The first-mentioned lust of the flesh, the most comprehensive and thorough description of the love of the world (1 John 2:15), embraces both the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.” This is incorrect. For, on the one hand, the ἀγάπη to the κόσ΄ος is not to be identified with the ἐπιθυ΄ία τῆς σαρκός, as the latter rather describes the inner nature of the κόσ΄ος; the apostle warns against that love, because in the κόσ΄ος the ἐπιθυ΄ία which is not of God dominates; the thought that is to be supplied is this, that love to the κόσ΄ος necessarily implies an entrance into its nature; and, on the other hand, the apostle’s form of expression is utterly opposed to such a subordination; the two first-mentioned forms of worldly sense are by the same appellation: ἐπιθυ΄ία, closely connected with each other, and distinguished from the third, which is not called ἐπιθυ΄ία, but ἀλαζονεία;(152) it is unsuitable, however, to regard the latter as ἐπιθυ΄ία; ἐπιθυ΄ία is the desire directed to the attainment of any good—the lust for something (not exactly: the lust or delight in anything), but the ἀλαζονεία is a definite behaviour in regard to the good which one possesses. The worldly man stands in a double relationship to the perishable good things; on the one hand, he aspires after them, whether he wants to possess and enjoy them or to delight himself with looking at them; on the other hand, he fancies himself great in them when he has them as his own.

That the whole sphere of sinful life is not here surveyed, Luther has noticed when he says: “The following three things are not of the Father, viz.: (1) hatred of the brethren; (2) the three idols of the world; (3) false and seductive teaching.”

Sander also brings out the same trichotomy of sinful corruption, appealing for it to chap. 1 John 2:2-12, where the subject is the first, to 1 John 2:15-17, where it is the second, and to 1 John 2:19 ff., where it is the third. The apostle certainly mentions these different modes of the appearance of sin; but that the organism of the Epistle rests on this, is an assertion that goes too far.

The following words: οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς κ. τ. λ.] express the anti-divine character of the worldly nature of the ἐπιθυμία κ. τ. λ.

πατήρ, as in 1 John 2:15; κόσμος here quite in the same sense as before.

εἶναι ἐκ is, according to Paulus, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, not the description of the origin, but only of the connection and similarity; by this view, however, the depth of John’s conception is ignored; the expression rather embraces both, but the second only as the result of the first (so also Ebrard); comp. John 8:44.

By the addition of ἀλλʼ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἐστί the antagonism between God and the world, as the source of the ungodly disposition, is brought out with peculiar distinctness.


Verse 17

1 John 2:17 adds a new element to the preceding, whereby the exhortation of 1 John 2:15 is strengthened and confirmed.

καὶ κόσμος παράγεται] is frequently taken by commentators, with an appeal to 1 Corinthians 7:31, as an expression of the transitoriness of the world; either the present being changed into the future (Bede: mundus transibit, quum in die judicii per ignem in meliorem mutabitur figuram, ut sit coelum novum et terra nova), or the peculiar nature of the world being regarded as described in it (Oecumenius: τὰ κοσμικὰ ἐπιθυμήματα οὐκ ἔχει τὸ μένον τε καὶ ἑστώς, ἀλλὰ παράγεται); Düsterdieck combines both; the apostle, according to him, expresses a truth “which holds good with ever present meaning, and which will thereby show itself some time in fact” (so also Ebrard and Braune). But 1 John 2:8 and the following ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν make it more than probable that the apostle here also uses παράγεται in the consciousness of the approaching second advent of Christ and the judgment on the κόσμος which is connected with it, thus: “the world is in the state of disappearing;” in 1 Corinthians 7:31 : παράγει τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου is said with the same feeling.

καὶ ἐπιθυμία αὐτοῦ] With the world passes away also the ἐπιθυμία which dwells in it; whereby the apostle briefly refers to the threefold form previously named: αὐτοῦ is not genitive of the object (Lücke, Neander, Sander, Besser), but of the subject (Düsterdieck, Braune); though there is mention previously of an ἀγαπᾷν τὸν κόσμον, yet there is none of an ἐπιθυμία directed towards the κόσμος; the contrary view rests on an erroneous interpretation of κόσμος.

δὲ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ] antithesis to κόσμος, which in its ἐπιθυμία does not do the will of God. It is true, “ πατήρ” is previously put as antithesis to the κόσμος, but it does not follow from this that the antithesis here is not to be taken as fully corresponding, and “ ἐπιθυμῶν” to be taken out of ἐπιθυμία (Lücke); the appearance of this arises only from the fact that κόσμος is taken as something concrete. The expression used by the apostle is synonymous with ἀγαπῶν τὸν θεόν; for the doing of the divine will is the effect of love to Him.

μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα] antithesis of παράγεται; the expression signifies, as frequently, eternal, infinite endurance, comp. John 6:51; John 6:58; John 8:35, etc. That John regarded this abiding for ever as the eternally happy life in the fellowship of God is certain, but is not contained in the expression.(153) To the κόσ΄ος is assigned θάνατος, to the children of God ζωὴ αἰώνιος.


Verse 18

1 John 2:18. The appearance of the ἀντίχριστοι shows that the last hour has come.

παιδία] not an address to the children (see on 1 John 2:12-14), but to all readers.(154)

ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστί] ἐσχάτη ὥρα may be the whole Christian era from the incarnation of Christ to His second advent. In the O. T. prophecy the appearance of the Messiah was promised בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָמִים (Isaiah 2:2; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:1, LXX.: ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡ΄έραις; comp. also Acts 2:16). Hence arose among the Jews the distinction of the two eras: עוֹלָם הַוֶּה ( αἰὼν οὔτος) and עוֹלָם הַבָּא ( αἰὼν ΄έλλων), the former the time up to the appearance of the Messiah, the latter embracing the Messianic time itself.

In the N. T. are found, partly the former idea that Christ has appeared in the last time (Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20), partly also the distinction of these two periods, but in this way, that the αἰὼν οὗτος does not close with the first appearance of Christ, but only with his Parousia, which coincides with the συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος; comp. Mark 10:30; Luke 20:34-35; Ephesians 1:21.

Inasmuch as the period which begins with the birth of Christ is now the last preceding the συντέλεια, it may be described by the expression ἐσχάτη ὥρα, as Calvin says: ultimum tempus, in quo sic complentur omnia, ut nihil supersit praeter ultimam Christi revelationem. This view is the customary one with the older commentators; Semler agrees with it, but the context is opposed to it; on the one hand, it results from 1 John 2:8; 1 John 2:17 that the apostle is writing with a presentiment of the Parousia of Christ; and, on the other hand, the conclusion of this verse: ὅθεν κ. τ. λ., shows that the apostle cannot here mean the whole period extending from the first appearance of Christ to His second coming, but only a distinct time in it, namely, the time immediately preceding its termination; in favour of this also is the usus loquendi of the N. T.; comp. 2 Timothy 3:1; James 5:3; 1 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 3:3; along with which it is to be observed that, especially in the Gospel of John, the day of judgment is called ἡμέρα ἐσχάτη. Lücke, Neander, Baumgarten-Crusius, Gerlach, Erdmann, Myrberg, Ebrard, etc., have therefore rightly interpreted the expression as a description of this time. The hesitation to admit that the apostle was mistaken in his expectation of the nearness of the advent, has given rise to many a false interpretation. Socinus and Grotius think that ἐσχάτη ὥρα is the time immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem; this view approximates to that of Düsterdieck, according to which the last time before the commencement of the κρίσις is meant, which had its beginning at the destruction of Jerusalem. But the scruple is not overcome by this, for chap. 1 John 2:28 shows that John regarded the παρουσία of the Lord as near, and not as distant, just as the other apostles, and especially also Paul, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:15, in view of which even Düsterdieck finds himself compelled to admit this; Besser urges the want of the article, and translates: “a last time,” i.e. the time before a special revelation of the judicial glory of Christ, in which the last hour before the universal final judgment is prefigured; but it is well known that the article is often wanting just with ideas which are definite in themselves; to which it may be added that the idea of such a succession of different epochs, which are to be regarded as special revelations of the judicial power of Christ, is nowhere found expressed in the N. T.(155) Oecumenius regarded it as likely that ἐσχάτη here is used = χειρίστη; this explanation is found in Schoettgen (tempora periculosa, pessima et abjectissima), Carpzov, and others (similarly Paulus: it is a late, i.e. dark, and ever growing worse, time); whereas the distinction between these ideas is perfectly clear from 2 Timothy 3:1 : ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις ἐνστήσονται καιροὶ χαλεποί(156).The result of an impartial exegesis therefore remains, that—as the other apostles

John also expected that the advent of the Lord would soon take place.(157) It was only when the first generation of believers was already dead, without that expectation having been fulfilled, that in the consciousness of Christians the period till the coming of the Lord extended to an indefinitely distant limit, without, however, extinguishing the hope of His speedy advent; comp. 2 Peter 3:4 ff.; but that later still the time which began with the appearance of false teachers was regarded as the last, is proved by Ignatius, ep. ad Eph. c. xi.

καὶ καθὼς ἠκούσατε κ. τ. λ.] With the observation that it is the last time the apostle connects the other, that in accordance with what his readers have heard, that the ἀντίχριστος would come, many ἀντίχριστοι have already come. Bengel supplies before καθώς: “et ita est,” and after καί: “adeo” (et ita est, sicut audistis, nempe antichristum venire: atque adeo jam multi, etc.); these supplements are, however, unnecessary, for the καί before νῦν is not the simple copula, but serves to mark the appearance of the ἀντίχριστοι as a fact corresponding to the καθὼς ἠκούσατε κ. τ. λ.: “as ye have heard, etc., so, accordingly, many ἀντίχριστοι are even now actually appearing.(158) καθὼς ἠκούσατε, namely, by the apostolic declaration, which had been communicated to his readers (comp. 1 John 2:7; 1 John 2:24) either by John, or even earlier, by Paul especially, according to Semler by Jewish teachers, who were spreading false rumours of the end of the world (!). ὅτι ( ) ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται καὶ κ. τ. λ.] The present ἔρχεται is put for the future; it marks what is still future as a certainly occurring event; Ebrard incorrectly translates ἔρχεται by “is to come;” even in the passages cited by him: chap. 1 John 4:3; Matthew 11:3; Gospel of John 16:13; Revelation 1:8 (why not 1 John 1:4?), ἔρχεσθαι does not express simply the idea of the future; besides, Ebrard interprets correctly: “will one day appear.”

The prophecy that before Christ comes (hence before His Parousia) Antichrist will come, accordingly formed a part of the apostolic preaching, although it is not contained in the last discourses of Christ that have been handed down to us, for the ψευδοπροφῆται and the ψευδόχριστοι, whose appearance Christ foretells, are not to be identified with the ἀντίχριστος.

According to the view which has prevailed from antiquity, the ἀντίχριστος and the πολλοὶ ἀντίχριστοι are to be distinguished in this way, that the latter are only the πρόδρομοι of the former, in which for the first time the antichristian spirit which already animates them will be revealed in his full perfection and energy; Bengel, deviating from this, takes the expression ἀντίχριστος as a collective idea: ubi Joh. antichristum, vel spiritum antichristi, vel deceptorem et antichristum dicit, sub singulari numero, omnes mendaces et veritatis inimicos innuit. Antichristus pro antichristianismo, sive doctrina, et multitudine hominum Christo contraria dicitur; with this interpretation Lange, Baumgarten-Crusius, Besser, and Myrberg agree. But neither here nor in 1 John 4:1 ff. does John say that Antichrist has already come; here he merely indicates the fact that πολλοὶ ἀντίχριστοι γεγόνασιν as corresponding to the announcement of the coming of Antichrist, and in the other passage it is merely stated that many ψευδοπροφῆται are gone out into the world, and that the πνεῦμα of Antichrist is already in the world. In the passage 2 John 1:7, “it is true that the explanatory clause οὗτός ἐστιν πλάνος καὶ ἀντίχριστος refers so directly to the preceding πολλοὶ πλάνοι,” that it appears that “the identity is thereby indicated” (1st ed.); but this direct connection may, no doubt, be explained in this way, that he who speaks through the many is, according to John, no other than the one Antichrist; and even though John “neither describes the ἀντίχριστοι as the πρόδρομοι, nor the ἀντίχριστος as the one in whom the principle that animates them is concentrated in highest potency,” it is to be remembered that John is speaking of the Antichrist here, not in doctrinal aspect, but only in order to show by the heretics, whom he calls ἀντίχριστοι, that the πνεῦμα of Antichrist is already ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ.(159) The name ἀντίχριστος is not found in the Scriptures outside of the First and Second Epistles of John; only in the later ecclesiastical literature does it appear frequently.

That the prefixed ἀντι does not express the substitutionary reference (as in ἀντιβασιλεύς), but the reference of antagonism, is with justice now commonly recognised; but the prevailing translation: “enemy of Christ,” is grammatically inaccurate, as in substantive compounds formed with ἀντι (in the antagonistic sense) the substantive is an object which by ἀντι is described as standing in opposition to an object of the same kind. Thus, an ἀντιφιλόσοφος is not an “opponent of philosophy” (Ebrard), or of philosophers, but a philosopher who is opposed to other philosophers, a hostile philosopher; comp. ἀντιμαχητής, ἀντιπαλαιστής, ἀντίπολις, ἀντίῤῥησις, ἀντίῤῥοια κ. τ. λ.(160) Accordingly, ἀντίχριστος does not mean generally: the enemy of Christ, but the “opposition Christ,” i.e. that enemy of Christ who, under the false pretence of being the real Christ, seeks to destroy the work of Christ.(161) Almost all commentators have correctly supposed that John understands by this enemy the same as Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3; the features which appear in the description of the Apostle Paul and in the statements of John correspond too closely to permit of this being doubted; according to both, his appearance in the Church is preceded by a falling away (John says in 1 John 2:19 of the antichrists: ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν ἐξῆλθον; Paul in 1 John 2:3 speaks of an ἀποστασία connected with his ἀποκάλυψις); both ascribe to him a God-opposing, wicked nature (Paul calls him ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁ΄αρτίας, ἄνο΄ος; John puts the πνεῦ΄α τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου in antithesis to the πνεῦ΄α τοῦ θεοῦ, and says of the antichrists who are animated by the former, that they are ἐκ τοῦ κόσ΄ου); both characterize him as a liar, who seeks to establish the lie against the truth; according to both, he appears in the last time before the Parousia of Christ; even the names correspond with each other, for even though the name ἀντίχριστος contains an important feature which is not expressed in the name ἀντικεί΄ενος, yet this very feature comes out so distinctly in the Pauline description, that it is clear how suitable John’s appellation of that enemy is; when, namely, Paul describes him as the ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁ΄αρτίας, and afterwards says of him that he ἀποδείκνυσι ἑαυτόν, ὅτι ἐστὶ θεός, this points to the fact that he will represent himself as the incarnate God,—and this is just what is indicated in the name ἀντίχριστος.

REMARK.

On the various views of the Antichrist, see Lünemann on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, p. 204 ff., and Düsterdieck on this passage.

The Greek Fathers regard the Antichrist usually as a man who, as an instrument of the devil, imitates the true Christ, comp. Hippolyt. de consummat. mundi, c. vi. 14, c. xlviii.; Cyril, Catech. xv.; yet there is also found the incorrect view that he is the incarnate devil himself (comp. Theodoret, Epit. div. decret. c. xxiii., and Comment, in Dan. ii.; Hippolyt. c. xxii.).

Like the Parousia of Christ, so the appearance of Antichrist also belongs still to the future; of antichrists, as they had appeared in the time of John, there has never since been any lack; but the Antichrist has not yet come, and it was equally arbitrary for Grotius to regard Barkochba, or others Mohammed, or Luther the Pope, or Catholics Luther, and so on, as Antichrist.

Not merely rationalistic writers, but also Lücke, de Wette, Neander, and others, distinguish form and idea in John’s representation of the future appearance of the Antichrist. As the fundamental idea, they regard the thought that, equally with the development of Christianity, the evil will gradually increase more and more in its contest against Christ, until at last, when it has attained its highest summit, it will be completely conquered by the power of Christ. As the Form they regard the representation that this highest energy of the evil will finally appear in one single person. For such a distinction it is difficult, however, to show any justification, as Scripture itself gives no suggestion of it; it is therefore rightly rejected by Düsterdieck, Braune, Brückner.

In the words: καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν, the apostle mentions the fact in which the expectation: ὅτι ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, is beginning to be realized. The ἀντίχριστοι are the heretics who accept the lie described in 1 John 2:22; but they bear that name because the πνεῦμα τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου animates them, and thus the Antichrist himself is already revealing himself in them, γεγόνασιν is not = coeperunt esse (Erasmus), but: “they have become,” i.e. they are already in existence. By means of the subordinate clause ὅθεν γινώσκομεν κ. τ. λ., the connection between the two first parts of the verse is to be recognised.


Verses 18-27

1 John 2:18-27. Warning against the antichrists, whose presence shows that the last hour has come. Description of them, and exhortation to believers to continue in that which they have heard from the beginning, combined with the testimony that they have known the truth.

This section stands in closest connection with the preceding one; for, in the first place, the preceding exhortation is occasioned by the thought that it is ἐσχάτη ὥρα, as is evidenced by the appearance of the ἀντίχριστοι; and, in the second place, the ἀντίχριστοι, of whom the apostle treats here, are, as it is put in chap. 1 John 4:5 : ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου.


Verse 19

1 John 2:19. Relation of the ἀντίχριστοι to the Christian Church.

ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἧσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν] On the form of the second aorist with α, see Winer, p. 68 (VII. p. 71).

By ἡμῶν we are not to understand the Jews (Grotius, Eichhorn, Rickli), nor the apostles (S. Schmid, Spener, Besser, and others), but Christians in general, as the Church of Christ.(162) ἐξῆλθαν is taken by several commentators = prodierunt (Vulgate, Baumgarten-Crusius, Erdmann, and others), finding the idea of origin expressed in it; this is incorrect; the following ΄ε΄ενήκεισαν shows that it is rather to be taken in the sense of secessio (so Augustin, Bede, Erasmus; and among the moderns, Lücke, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Braune, and others). By the emphatic position of ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν it is brought out that the antichrists were previously ΄εθʼ ἡ΄ῶν, and belonged therefore to the Christian Church. How far this separation had been formally accomplished, John does not say; but it is contained in ἐξῆλθαν that they had taken up an antagonistic position, not merely to the apostolic doctrine (Beza: ad mutationem non loci sed doctrinae pertinet), but to those who by their faithful observance of the unadulterated gospel proved themselves to be the children of God (as also Braune).

ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν] ἀλλʼ expresses the contrast to the preceding thought: although they went out from us (and therefore were connected with us), yet they were not of us. εἶναι ἐκ expresses connection in the most complete reality, thus: they were not of us, viz. in such a way that they would have really belonged to us, as common members of one body, in which one soul lives; in contrast to which the εἶναι μετά contained in the following ΄ε΄ενήκεισαν ἂν ΄εθʼ ἡ΄ῶν expresses the outward fellowship as distinguished from the former idea. Even here ἐκ does not depart from its original meaning (see on 1 John 2:16), for he only truly belongs to the Church of the Lord who in regard to his inner life has proceeded from it, i.e. from the Spirit ruling in it.(163) The imperfect ἦσαν embraces the whole previous period during which the antichristians were connected with the believers, and does not merely refer to the time immediately preceding their separation (Episcopius, Socinus).

That they were not ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν, John proves by the words: εἰ γὰρ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν, ΄ε΄ενήκεισαν ἂν ΄εθʼ ἡ΄ῶν. The ἀντίχριστοι belonged therefore to the Christians for a while; they were ΄ετʼ αὐτῶν, although not ἐξ αὐτῶν, for in this case they would also have remained ΄ετʼ αὐτῶν. Here, too, John proceeds on the idea that the ΄ένειν is the evidence of the εἶναι. On the pluperfect without the augment, see Winer, p. 67 (VII. p. 70).

ἀλλʼ ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν κ. τ. λ.] ἀλλά refers back to ἐξῆλθαν, or to the thought: οὐ ΄ε΄ενήκασι ΄εθʼ ἡ΄ῶν: “but they have not remained with us.” Less simply Düsterdieck interprets: “they have not remained with us, but ( ἀλλά) they have been separated from us, in order that.” Such a double supplement is not necessary, for ἀλλά is not necessarily the antithesis of a negation.

By ἵνα κ. τ. λ. it is not the result (Paulus), but the purpose that is stated,—the purpose, namely, of their separation or not remaining, which was willed by God; the purpose is that it might be manifest that they are not ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν. The connection of φανερωθῶσιν with the following ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶ πάντες ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν is not quite regular; Socinus construes οὐ and πάντες together: non omnes = nulli i.e. nemo ex illis est ex nostro numero; this is incorrect, οὐ πάντες is not = nulli, but = nonnulli; de Wette rightly supposes the conjunction of two thoughts, viz. (1) ἵνα φανερωθῇ, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶ πάντες ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν; and (2) ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶν ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν, only de Wette should have put the second thought first, for John’s immediate intention was, as the plural φανερωθῶσιν shows, to speak only of the ἀντίχριστοι, but then he extends his idea so as to introduce the new subject πάντες; the sense is: it was to be made manifest in the ἀντίχριστοι that they were not—and therefore that all who were ΄εθʼ ἡ΄ῶν were not

ἐξ ἡ΄ῶν (so also Braune(164)).

For the work of the Christian Church it is necessary that it shall be manifest who really belongs to it and who does not; this κρίσις is the purpose for the sake of which God has so arranged it that those ἀντίχριστοι should go out; comp. with the idea in 1 Corinthians 11:19.

REMARK.

In the words: εἰ ἦσαν ἐξ ἠμῶν, μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθʼ ἡμῶν, this thought is contained: He who really belongs to the Church never leaves it; he who leaves it shows thereby that he did not really belong to it. This confidence of the apostle in the preserving love of the Lord, and in the faithfulness of those whom He has saved, seems to be opposed to the idea brought out in Hebrews 6:4 ff., that even those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, etc., may fall away. But, as constantly in his Epistle, so here also John speaks absolutely, without taking into view the state of gradual development, from which, however, it does not follow that he does not recognise it. The one circumstance that he exhorts believers as such to abide in Christ, shows that he would not deny the possibility of their falling away; only it is—justly—certain to him that he who does not abide had not yet with his whole heart entered into the fellowship of the Lord, but, even though touched by His love, and exhibiting the trace of love towards Him, had nevertheless not broken completely with the world. Ebrard thinks that the apostle means only, that temptation by this particular lie (namely, by Gnosticism) is only possible with those who in their inner being were previously strangers to Christianity; but even though John here speaks of particular Antichrists, yet the general thought is at the basis of the words εἰ ἦσαν uttered in reference to them; otherwise the apostle would have definitely pointed out the difference of these apostates from others to whom the word has no reference.

Augustin, Calvin, Beza, etc., find in the words a confirmation of their doctrine of predestination, but only by inserting in them ideas which are foreign to them, since the subject here is neither a donum perseverantiae nor a distinction of the vocati and electi.


Verse 20-21

1 John 2:20-21. Testimony that the believers, to whom the apostle writes, know the truth.

καὶ ὑμεῖς χρῖσμα ἔχετε] The apostle writes this neither as a captatio benevolentiae (Lange), nor as a justification of the brevity of his writing on the foregoing subject (a Lapide), nor for the purpose of quieting his readers, “who at the appearance of so many Antichrists might possibly be alarmed for the safety of their own faith” (Lücke), but in order to make the warning contained in his words in reference to the antichristian lie the more forcible; see on 1 John 2:12.

Most commentators take καί here as particula adversativa (so even de Wette; more cautiously Lücke: “the logical relationship of this verse to 1 John 2:19 is that of an antithesis, therefore καί becomes logically adversative”); the incorrectness of this view is recognised indeed by Düsterdieck and Ebrard, yet they maintain the antithetical reference of this verse to the preceding one; and of course in itself there is nothing against the supposition of a connection of adversative ideas by the simple copula; but that an adversative relationship occurs here is very much to be doubted, for the apostle did not now need to say to his readers that they, as such as have the χρῖσμα, were in opposition to the antichrists, and, besides, in the sequel that idea is not further followed up.(165) It is more suitable to the context to connect the first part of this verse closely with the second, and in this two-claused sentence to find the presupposition stated for what is said in the following verse (so also Brückner).

χρῖσ΄α appears in the N. T. only here and in 1 John 2:27; according to Greek usus loquendi, it is the anointing oil; as in the O. T., for example Exodus 29:7; Exodus 30:31. “In the O. T. the holy anointing oil is constantly the type of the Holy Spirit, both where anointing appears as a figurative action (besides the passages quoted, in 1 Samuel 10:1 ff; 1 Samuel 16:13-14) as well as where it appears in figurative language (Psalms 45:8; Isaiah 61:1). But that which in the O. T. is presented in type and shadow, in the N. T. has appeared in truth and substance” (Besser); χρῖσμα is therefore a symbolical expression for the Holy Spirit, as χρίειν, moreover, is frequently used of the gift of the Holy Spirit; comp. Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; 2 Corinthians 1:21. With this most of the commentators agree, only that χρῖσ΄α is usually incorrectly explained as the act: “unctio, anointing,” and this is then taken as a description of the Holy Spirit; so by Augustin, and even by de Wette, Ewald, Sander, and Erdmann. It is erroneous to understand χρῖσ΄α of the “true tradition about Christ, vividly transmitted, proceeding from the apostles” (Köstlin, p. 243), or of the working of the Holy Spirit (Didymus: charitas, quae diffunditur in cordibus nostris per spiritum sanctum; Socinus: divinum beneficium cognoscendi ipsas res divinas, quatenus homini est opus; Emanuel Sa: christianismus), or of the act in which the Spirit is given to Christians, thus of baptism (Ewald) or of confirmation. Oecumenius wrongly finds here ( ἐλάβετε διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσ΄ατος τὸ χρῖσ΄α τὸ ἱερόν, καὶ διὰ τούτου τὸ εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὁδηγοῦν ὑ΄ᾶς θεῖον πνεῦ΄α) an allusion to the old custom of anointing the candidate for baptism; this custom does not belong to the apostolic age, but was probably first introduced by this passage, as Bengel has observed.(166) It is, on the whole, less likely that John was here thinking of the communication of the Spirit by means of baptism, as is usually supposed, than that he was thinking of that by means of the preaching of the gospel (Düsterdieck), as in the whole context there is nothing to suggest the former.(167) That John uses just the word χρῖσμα is not without meaning; as in the O. T. not only kings, but also priests and (sometimes) prophets were anointed, he reminds believers thereby “of their high honour, calling, office, and glory” (Sander).(168) If it be the case that there is also an allusion in it to the name of the Antichrist (Bengel, Düsterdieck), then the apostle wanted to bring out that believers in possession of the χρῖσ΄α are enabled fully to know the antichristian ψεῦδος in its contradiction to the ἀλήθεια; see 1 John 2:21.

ἔχετε ἀπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου] For ἔχετε, in 1 John 2:27, ἐλάβετε is put; the possession rests upon a reception, and this, indeed, ἀπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου; ἅγιος is—following the correct interpretation of χρῖσ΄α—not the Holy Spirit (Didymus, Lorinus, Semler), but either God (Rickli, Besser, Neander: “ ἀπό indicates the source;” which, however, is not always the case),—comp. John 14:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19 : τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύ΄ατος, οὔ ἔχετε ἀπὸ θεοῦ,—or more probably, as most commentators think, Christ; comp. John 15:26 : παράκλητος, ὃν ἐγὼ πέμψω ὑμῖν παρὰ τοῦ πατρός; and John 6:69, where Christ (according to the overwhelming authorities) is called ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ; in favour of which is the fact that John, in 1 John 2:29, calls Christ δίκαιος, and in chap. 1 John 3:3, ἅγνος (comp. also Acts 3:14; Revelation 3:7).

That the bestower of the χρῖσ΄α is called by John ἅγιος (whether it be God or Christ) arises from this, that the anointing with the Spirit is an act of making holy, i.e. of separation from the world; but he only can make holy who himself is holy.

καὶ οἴδατε πάντα] Bengel, according to the sense, explains καί correctly by: et inde; the possession of the χρῖσ΄α is the reason of the εἰδέναι πάντα.

πάντα is not masculine (Syrus: omnes; Bede: discernitis inter probos et improbos), but neuter. Calvin rightly says: omnia, non universaliter capi, sed ad praesentis loci circumstantiam restringi debet; still it must not be restricted merely to those things (quae sunt) necessaria agnoscendis antichristis et cavendis illorum insidiis (Bengel), but it embraces along with these τὴν ἀλήθειαν in general (1 John 2:21); comp. John 14:26; John 16:13 : πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν. In the possession of the whole truth Christians are also enabled to distinguish lies and truth.(169)


Verse 21

1 John 2:21. οὐκ ἔγραψα ὑμῖν] does not refer to the whole Epistle (Beza), but to that which is said of the antichrists; comp. 1 John 2:26.(170)

ὅτι οὐκ οἴδατε τὴν ἀλήθειαν κ. τ. λ.] ὅτι = because (comp. 1 John 2:12-14); the apostle does not want to teach the anointed Christians for the first time the truth which was revealed in Christ, but he is writing to them because they know it; a Lapide: non ut haec vos doceam, sed ut doctos confirmem.

καὶ ὅτι πᾶν ψεῦδος κ. τ. λ.] This ὅτι is not co-ordinate with the preceding one, but is dependent on οἴδατε. Luther, correctly according to the sense: “but ye know it, and know that,” etc.

πᾶν ψεῦδος, quite generally, though with special reference to the antichristian doctrine; ψεῦδος: “not merely error, but lie” (de Wette)—the absolute antithesis of ἀλήθεια; Lange quite arbitrarily thinks that the abstract is here put for the concrete: “that no false teacher can be a genuine Christian.” It is incorrect to take πᾶνοὐ as a Hebraism = οὐδέν; οὐ belongs rather to the predicate.

ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἔστι] ἐκ here also indicates the source, and does not express merely the connection (de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius). Because the lie is not of the truth, so also it has no connection with it; Lorinus: ex vero non nisi verum sequitur, et verum vero consonat. Whence the lie, which is not ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας, originates, Christ says in John 8:44 : The truth is from God, who is Himself the truth; the lie from the devil, who is not in the truth.


Verse 22-23

1 John 2:22-23. The existence of the antichrists and their relationship to the Christian Church having been previously stated, there follows now the more particular definition of the antichristian lie.

τίς ἐστιν ψεύστης;] The interrogative form, with which John addresses his readers who know the truth, is explained by the vividness of the feeling with which the apostle is writing; similarly in chap. 1 John 5:5. He passes from the abstract ( πᾶν ψεῦδος) directly to the concrete ( ψεύστης). The definite article: ψεύστης (Luther incorrectly: a liar), brings out the idea in clearer distinctness: the liar κατʼ ἐξοχήν, i.e. he in whom the lie appears in concrete personality (so also Braune), identical with ἀντίχριστος, which is denied by Jachmann through mistake of John’s idea. The thought is weakened by the supposition that the apostle is speaking here comparatively (Grotius: quis potest major esse impostor?). Nor is Bengel’s interpretation satisfactory: quis est illius mendacii imposturaeque reus? with which Düsterdieck agrees, when he paraphrases: “What sort of a lie I mean, ye know very well. Who are the liars? Are they not those who deny, etc.?” The apostle certainly has the particular lie of the antichrists of his time in view, but this he regards as the one chief and fundamental lie “in which all ψεῦδος is comprised” (Lücke). The explanation of Baumgarten-Crusius is plainly quite erroneous: “what else is a false doctrine than, etc.?” nor is that of Ebrard less so, as he finds in this catechetical (!) question intended for children this meaning: “on whose side is the lie?” with which he then supplies the corresponding question: “and on whose side is the truth?”

εἰ μὴ ἀρνούμενος] εἰ μή, often after a negation, may also stand after a question, as in this a negation is contained; comp. Luke 17:18; Romans 11:15; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 2:2; 1 John 5:5; it corresponds to the German: “als nur” (English: “but only,” “except”), and limits the general thought to a particular one; the sense accordingly is: No other is the liar but he who, etc. According to Ebrard, εἰ μή must here only have the meaning of “than,” because the question here is, which of the two dogmatical tendencies (!) belongs to the lie; that the apostle here has in view two parties, namely, the antichrists and the believing Christians, and asks which of them is in possession of the truth, is a pure fiction, for which there is not the slightest evidence in the text. ὅτι ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἔστιν χριστός] On the construction of the negative idea ἀρνεῖσθαι with the following οὐκ, by which the negation is more strongly emphasized, see Kühner, II. p. 410.

The lie of the Antichrist consists in the denial that Jesus is χριστός, i.e. in the denial of the identity of Jesus and Christ, whereby is meant, according to 1 John 2:19 and chap. 1 John 4:3, not the Jewish unbelief, that Jesus is not the promised Messiah, but the Gnostic heresy of the distinction between Jesus and Christ, which forms the sharpest contradiction to the apostle’s doctrine that Jesus is the λόγος σὰρξ γενόμενος. It is erroneous to find here a reference to two different kinds of heresy; on the one hand the denial of the divine, on the other the denial of the human, nature of Jesus;(171) for John speaks only of one lie.

οὗτός ἐστιν ἀντίχριστος] οὗτος refers back to ἀρνούμενος: the liar who denies the identity of Jesus and Christ, he is the Antichrist. It is natural to take ψεύστης and ἀντιχρ. here in general signification, and to find therein a justification for Bengel’s conception of John’s idea of Antichrist; but as the lie of the antichrists proceeds from the πνεῦμα τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου, it may be ascribed to the Antichrist himself; the individual antichrists are the mouth by which he speaks.

ἀρνούμενος τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὸν υἱόν] is not to be connected with οὗτος, so that the sense would be: this one, who denies the Father and the Son, is the Antichrist; but as a clause of more particular definition subordinate to ἀντίχριστος. “John hereby adds a new element which states the full unhappy consequence of that Antichristian lie” (Düsterdieck; similarly Braune). The apostle wants to bring out here that the denial that Jesus is χριστός is in its very essence a denial of the Father and of the Son. He who denies the identity of Jesus and Christ, directly denies the Son, for the Son is no other than ἰησοῦς χριστός (neither an Aeon named Christ that did not become man, nor Jesus who is not Christ, or, according to John 1:14, the Logos);(172) but he who denies the Son denies also the Father, and not merely inasmuch as Son and Father are logically interchangeable ideas, but because the nature of the Father is only manifested in the Son, and all true knowledge of the Father is conditioned by the knowledge of the Son, so that the God of those who deny the Son is not the true God, but a false image of their own thoughts—an εἴδωλον.(173)


Verse 23

1 John 2:23. Confirmation of the last stated thought in two clauses, which express the same idea, only in different form.(174)

πᾶς ἀρνού΄ενος τὸν υἱόν, οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα ἔχει] ἀρνεῖσθαι τὸν υἱόν is in meaning synonymous with ἀρνεῖσθαι, ὅτι ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἔστιν χριστός. The assertion that John here confounds with the idea of Christ that of the Son, i.e. of the eternal Logos (de Wette and others), is erroneous; it is not Christ apart from Jesus that he regards as the Son, but Christ in his identity with Jesus (Düsterdieck, Brückner).

Instead of saying in the second part of the first clause: καὶ ἀρνεῖται, corresponding to the first part, John says: οὐδὲ ἔχει, which has a wider import, for ἔχειν is to be taken emphatically = “to possess in living fellowship” (Düsterdieck); the explanation of Beza is insufficient: nec patrem esse credit (better, a Lapide: habere in mente et fide, in ore et confessione); the thought of the apostle is utterly eliminated when, with Socinus, Episcopius, Grotius, ἔχειν τ. πατέρα is explained by: “to know the will of God;” erroneously Storr also: “to him is the Father not gracious.”

In the following words: ὁ΄ολογῶν κ. τ. λ., which are wanting in the Recepta (see the critical notes), ὁμολογεῖν forms the antithesis of ἀρνεῖσθαι; it means a confession which is the expression of faith (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10). In regard to the construction, Ebrard rightly remarks: “That τὸν υἱόν is dependent on ὁ΄ολογῶν, and not along with καὶ τὸν πατέρα (as in 2 John 1:9) on ἔχει (in which case ὁ΄ολογῶν would be used absolutely), clearly results from the preceding words, to which these form the antithesis.”


Verse 24-25

1 John 2:24-25. Exhortation to the faithful keeping of the gospel. 1 John 2:24. ὑμεῖς] By the Recepta ὑμεῖς οὖν the correct relationship of this verse is taken away; it is not a conclusion from what immediately precedes (Düsterdieck, Braune), but with the emphasized ὑμεῖς it is put in contrast with what is said of the false teachers; Theophylact: ἐκεῖνοι μὲν οὖν οὕτως· ὑμεῖς δὲ ἅπερ ἠκούσατε ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς φυλάττετε παρʼ ἑαυτοῖς.

In regard to the construction: ὑμεῖς ἠκούσατε ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, ἐν ὑμῖν μενέτω, Beza and Socinus, it is either an attraction ( ὑμεῖς ἠκ. for ὑμεῖς ἠκούσ., so also Bengel: antitheton est in pronomine; ideo adhibetur trajectio; de Wette: “ ὑμεῖς is properly no doubt the subject of the relative clause placed first;” Jachmann)(175) or an ellipsis ( ὑμεῖς = quod ad vos attinet); Paulus and Ebrard regard ὑμεῖς as the pure vocative; but it is more correct to admit an anacolouthon which has its natural origin in this, that the apostle’s thought in opposition to the false teachers was first directed to his readers, but equally also to the word which they had heard from the beginning; accordingly the apostle begins with ὑμεῖς, but does not follow it up by μένετε ἐν or a similar expression, but by ἠκούσατε κ. τ. λ., as a new subject; comp. Winer, p. 506; VII. p. 534; Buttmann, p. 325. The same anacolouthon in 1 John 2:27.(176) With ἠκούσατε ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, comp. 1 John 2:7; thereby, of course, the whole gospel is meant, but here specially the fundamental doctrine of it: that Jesus is the Christ.

ἐν ὑ΄ῖν] Theophylact interprets ἐν by παρά; Luther: “among;” but the preposition must be retained in its proper meaning; for upon that it depends that what was heard “abides in the soul as something that determines the life” (Neander; comp. John 15:7), because only then does that take place which the apostle expresses in the sequel.

καὶ ὑ΄εῖς ΄ενεῖτε] The καί before the concluding clause brings out more clearly its corresponding relationship to the preceding clause; here it is so much the more significant, as in both clauses the same verbal idea ΄ένειν is used: If the Word remain in you, ye also will remain in the Son, etc.(177) That our remaining in the Son is the immediate result of the Word remaining in us, is explained by the fact that “the words of Christ substantially contain nothing else than a self-revelation or explanation of His person and His appearing, and similarly the evangelical proclamation of the apostles is only the copy of this preaching of Christ Himself” (Weiss). ἐν τῷ υἱῷ is put first, because fellowship with the Father is conditioned by fellowship with the Son.


Verse 25

1 John 2:25. καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἐπαγγελία κ. τ. λ.] αὕτη may be referred either to what precedes, or to the concluding words of this verse: τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον. In the first case the meaning is: and this remaining is what He has promised, namely, eternal life. Gagnejus: “Manere in filio et patre promissio est, quam nobis pollicitus est orans pro nobis patrem Dominus John 17:20. Bene ergo ait de hoc Johannes: haec est promissio, quam pollicitus est nobis, quae quidem est vita aeterna; vita enim aeterna est manere in Deo eoque frui hic per gratiam, in futuro per gloriam;” τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον then forms an apposition, by which that very remaining is described as happiness; this view in Oecumenius, and among modern commentators in Sander, Besser, Weiss. In the second case the thought is: “and eternal life is the promise which He has given us;” taking this view, a new thought, it is true, enters with 1 John 2:25, and it requires something to be supplied to connect it with the preceding, perhaps what a Lapide gives: si in ipso maneamus (Spener: that is the promise if we remain in the Word, and consequently in the Father and the Son); but nevertheless it is, in accordance with the analogy of John’s mode of expression, to be preferred; comp. chap. 1 John 1:5, 1 John 5:14; similarly also chap. 1 John 3:23, 1 John 5:11; in the last two passages the connection with what precedes appears clearly enough by both being connected with the same idea, whereas here there is no previous mention of the ἐπαγγελία; but even here the connection is not to be mistaken, because the ζωὴ αἰώνιος is directly connected with the μένειν ἐν τῷ υἱῷ κ. τ. λ. This second interpretation in a Lapide, Grotius, Lorinus, Russmeyer, Spener, Lücke, de Wette, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Myrberg, Ebrard, Braune, and others.

καί is not used here αἰτιολογικῶς (Oecumenius), but is the simple copula.

ἐπαγγελία: “the promise.” Lücke unnecessarily conjectures that instead of this perhaps ἀπαγγελία is probably to be read, or that ἐπαγγελία has here the meaning: “proclamation,” for neither is it the case that the idea of the promise refers only to the distant future life, nor, according to John, that Christ does not bestow any promise.(178)

αὐτός is Christ, who in this whole passage forms the centre round which all the statements of the apostle move.

On the accusative τὴν ζωήν, which has occurred through the attraction of the verb in the relative clause, comp. Winer, p. 552; VII. p. 583; Buttmann, p. 68.


Verse 26

1 John 2:26. ταῦτα refers to all that the apostle has written about the antichrists from 1 John 2:18 down. In calling them here οἱ πλανῶντες ὑμᾶς, he gives it to be understood that their efforts were directed to seduce the Church from the truth of the gospel to their lie; that their purpose had actual effect (Braune) is not indicated by the verb.—1 John 2:27. In the first part of this verse the apostle testifies to his readers that they do not need any teacher, in which he goes back to what he had already expressed in 1 John 2:20-21.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] καί is here used just as in 1 John 2:20.

On the anacolouthon, see on 1 John 2:24.

τὸ χρῖσμα ἐλάβετε ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ] τὸ χρῖσμα is, with Braune, to be regarded as the accusative, for the juxtaposition of two nominatives could not be explained; the apostle probably had an ἔχετε in his mind, instead of which, however, he then wrote μένει ἐν ὑμῖν; αὐτοῦ, i.e. χριστοῦ; so the context demands; αὐτός, 1 John 2:25. Herein lies a proof that τοῦ ἁγίου in 1 John 2:20 is to be understood of Christ.

ἐν ὑμῖν μένει] The indicative, instead of which the imperative is used in 1 John 2:24, expresses the certain confidence of the apostle.

καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε] This sentence, which by καί is made co-ordinate with the preceding, stands to it in the relation of conclusion; meaning: since, as is not to be doubted, the Spirit is in you—and abiding—you do not need; Bengel describes this relation correctly by: et ideo.

ἵνα τις διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς] ἵνα is used here, as not unfrequently in the N. T., in an enfeebled signification; only in an artificial way could the original force of purpose of this particle be here retained; while this force sometimes passes over into that of object, this is still further weakened, so that the clause beginning with ἵνα is the object which completes the idea of the verb; so it is here; comp. especially Hebrews 5:12 : χρείαν ἔχετε τοῦ διδάσκειν ὑμᾶς; in other passages χρ. ἔχειν is used even with the simple infinitive, Matthew 3:14; Matthew 14:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; with ἵνα as here, John 16:30.(179)

Several commentators suppose here a reference to the false teachers, so that in the words of the apostle there lies a warning against those who wish to impose themselves on the Church as teachers; so a Lapide, Spener, ( τίς = “who may make pretence of a new revelation”), Sander, Gerlach, Besser, and others. But it is more appropriate (according to 1 John 2:21) to refer the apostle’s word to a teaching proceeding from himself or other apostolic teachers; so Hornejus, de Wette-Brückner, Lücke, Düsterdieck, Braune, etc.—only we must not restrict the generally expressed thought merely to instruction about the false teachers, even though it is intended with special reference to that.(180) Believers need no human teacher in order that the divine truth may be made known to them. They have received, with the word which was declared unto them ( ἤκουσαν), the χρῖσμα, which leads them εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν; therefore the apostle frequently in this Epistle emphasizes the fact that he does not want to instruct them, but is writing to them what they already know ( οἴδατε πάντα, 1 John 2:20). John thereby assumes believing readers, in whose hearts that which they have heard from the beginning is preserved true and uncorrupted. Nothing new therefore can be proclaimed to the believers, but only that which they already possess in faith may be brought to a clearer consciousness.(181)

ἀλλʼ ὡς τὸ αὐτὸ χρῖσ΄α κ. τ. λ.] In this second part of the verse the first question is about the construction. Lücke, Ewald, de Wette, Neander, Düsterdieck, Braune (and previously Oecumenius and Theophylact) think that the whole to the end of the verse forms one period, in which the premise ἀλλʼ ὡςδιδάσκει is resumed by the words καὶ καθὼς ἐδίδαξεν ὑ΄ῖν, and has its conclusion in ΄ενεῖτε (or ΄ένετε) ἐν αὐτῷ, and in which the words καὶ ἀληθὲς ψεῦδος contain a parenthetical adjunct. The difficulty that in the resumed premise καί is put instead of ἀλλά, καθώς instead of ὡς, and the aorist ἐδίδαξεν instead of the present διδάσκει, can certainly be easily got over by the fact that the apostle wanted not simply to repeat the thought, but at the same time to bring out a new phase of the subject; but the additional περὶ πάντων, which does not stand in any relationship whatever to the conclusion ΄ενεῖτε ( ΄ένετε), is decidedly opposed to this construction; to this is added that ἀλλά indicates that the apostle wants to express a contrast to the οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε κ. τ. λ., that is, a clause in which the teaching of the χρῖσ΄α is described as such as removes the need of any other (human) teacher; finally, that the subordinate clause καὶ οὐκ ἔστι ψεῦδος conjoined with ἀληθές ἐστι raises this thought above the level of a mere parenthetical adjunct, and stamps it as a leading thought. For these reasons it is preferable, with Luther, Calvin, Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, Brückner, Besser, and in general most of the commentators, to divide the whole into two parts, and to regard καὶ ἀληθ. ἐστι ψεῦδος as the conclusion of the first part; Luther: “but as the anointing teaches you all things, it is true, and is no lie; and,” etc.(182)

ὡς refers not so much to the form and fashion, as to the substance of the teaching.

τὸ αὐτὸ χρῖσ΄α] τὸ αὐτό is not idem semper, non aliud atque aliud, sed sibi constans et idem apud sanctos omnes (Bengel; so also Erdmann), but: just the same χρῖσμα, namely ἐλάβετε. Still the reading αὐτοῦ might be preferable, for it seems unnecessary to emphasize the fact that the χρῖσ΄α is the same that they have received, and no other.

περὶ πάντων is used in the same sense as πάντα, 1 John 2:20.

καὶ ἀληθές ἐστι κ. τ. λ.] καί before the conclusion, as in 1 John 2:24 : “then it is also true,” etc.; it brings out prominently the idea ἀληθές; ἀληθές is referred to τὸ χρῖσ΄α by Lücke, de Wette, Brückner, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Ewald, Braune, and others; but the substantive ψεῦδος is opposed to this connection, for it cannot be referred to τὸ χρῖσ΄α, inasmuch as it is considered by John as a person ( διδάσκει), and must neither be arbitrarily explained, with Beza, by ψευδές, nor, with Braune, be separated from ἀληθές (“and there is no lie in it”); Oecumenius, Theophylact, Luther, Neander, Besser, Erdmann, and others, have therefore rightly referred ἀληθές κ. τ. λ. to that which the χρῖσ΄α teaches. Because this is true, and is no ψεῦδος, therefore believers do not need any teacher besides, but they may rely entirely upon the teaching of the χρῖσ΄α. To this thought the apostle further adds a new one, in which he goes back to the end of 1 John 2:24.

καὶ καθώς] καθώς, as distinct from ὡς, means: “in proportion as.

ἐδίδαξεν ὑμᾶς] namely, ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς.

΄ένετε ( ΄ενεῖτε) ἐν αὐτῷ] The Recepta μενεῖτε is taken by Socinus, a Lapide, Lorinus, Semler, and others, in the sense of the imperative; others retain the future meaning, as in 1 John 2:24; thus Beza says: mihi videtur omnino servanda Futuri propria significatio ut est optime sperantis; as the apostle thereby expresses his good confidence, the future accordingly has the vim consolandi (Bengel). The correct reading, however, is ΄ένετε, which, corresponding to the preceding ΄ένει and ἔχετε, is not imperative (Ewald, Braune), but indicative (Brückner), and as such it expresses the firm conviction of the apostle that they, according to the constant instruction of the χρῖσ΄α, abide ἐν αὐτῷ, i.e. in Christ (Erasmus erroneously: = ἐν τῷ χρίσματι, and Baumgarten-Crusius: “in the teaching which the χρῖσ΄α communicates to them”). In favour of this view is also the exhortation of 1 John 2:28 herewith connected.(183)


Verse 26-27

1 John 2:26-27. Conclusion of the section on the antichrists.


Verse 28

1 John 2:28 concludes the section beginning at 1 John 2:18, but serves at the same time as an introduction to the following section.

καὶ νῦν] cannot, it is true, be explained, with Paulus, by “even now already,” but neither can it be explained, with most of the commentators, exactly by igitur, or a similar word; here it rather introduces, as it frequently does, the following exhortation as a deduction from the present circumstances. Incorrectly Ebrard: “And now (namely, after I have spoken to the παιδίοις) I turn to you” (namely, to the whole Church): a supplement of that kind cannot be justified from the passages quoted by Ebrard; John 17:3; Acts 10:5; Acts 22:16.

τεκνία] as in 1 John 2:1.

μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ] quite the same thought as in 1 John 2:27. Rickli’s view is incorrect, that in 1 John 2:27 it is “the abiding in the confession that Jesus is the Christ, but here another abiding, namely, the abiding in righteousness,” that is meant.

ἵνα ἐὰν φανερῶθῃ] ἐάν is distinguished from ὅταν (Recepta) in this way, that it describes not the time, but only the actuality of the manifestation of Christ. The φανέρωσις of Christ is His Parousia occurring at the end of the ἐσχάτη ὥρα; comp. Colossians 3:4. By the same word the first appearance of Christ on earth is also elsewhere described; see chap. 1 John 3:5; 1 John 3:8. ἔχωμεν ( σχῶμεν) παῤῥησίαν] The communicative form of expression indicates that John tacitly includes himself also under the exhortation: μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ.(184)

παῤῥησία: the confidence of the believer at the day of judgment; chap. 1 John 4:17.

καὶ ΄ὴ αἰσχυνθῶ΄εν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ] Elsewhere also παῤῥησία and αἰσχύνεσθαι are contrasted with one another; so Proverbs 13:5 : ἀσεβὴς αἰσχύνεται καὶ οὐχ ἕξει παῤῥησίαν; comp. also Philippians 1:20. αἰσχυνθῶ΄εν is either used in the passive sense, in which case the original meaning “to be shamed” passes over into this, “to be put to shame” (see Meyer on Philippians 1:20); then ἀπό (which is not = ὑπό) describes Christ as the one from whom this αἰσχύνεσθαι comes, namely, by means of His judgment of condemnation; or it is used in the middle sense: “to be ashamed,” in which case ἀπό is not = coram (Luther, Ewald), but = “away from,” thus: “to draw back from Him with shame;” so Calvin, Beza, Episcopius, de Wette, Lücke (who adduces Sirach 21:22 : ἄνθρωπος δὲ πολύπειρος αἰσχυνθήσεται ἀπὸ προσώπου), Düsterdieck, Ebrard.(185) The second view deserves the preference, on account of the corresponding contrast with ἔχειν παῤῥησίαν.

ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ] expresses definitely the reference already implied in φανερωθῇ: “at His (Christ’s) coming;” παρουσία, in John only here, frequently appears in this sense in the N. T.; comp. Matthew 24:3; Matthew 27:37; Matthew 27:39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, and elsewhere.


Verse 29

1 John 2:29. The apostle now goes on to indicate how it is consistent with the nature of Christians, as those that are born of God, to do righteousness.

ἐὰν εἰδῆτε] Here also the apostle directs himself to his readers’ own consciousness, as he does not want to teach them anything new, but only to state what they already know for their more earnest consideration.

ὅτι δίκαιός ἐστι. The present ἐστι is not used, either here or in 1 John 3:5, 1 John 4:17, for ἦν (Storr). It is doubtful whether the subject is Christ (a Lapide, Lorinus, Bengel, Rickli, Frommann, Myrberg, 1st ed. of this Comm., etc.) or God (Baumgarten-Crusius, Neander, Gerlach, Köstlin, de Wette, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Ebrard, Braune, Weiss, and others). In favour of the former is the fact that previously, not only in 1 John 2:25 by αὐτός, and 1 John 2:27 by ἐν αὐτῷ, but also in 1 John 2:28 by φανερωθῇ, ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ, and ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ, Christ is clearly meant; for the latter, that in the following ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται, the pronoun refers back to the subject of δίκαιός ἐστι, and the idea γεννᾶσθαι ἐκ χριστοῦ never appears in the writing, and, moreover, John, in what follows, calls Christians τέκνα θεοῦ, and in 1 John 2:9 makes use of the expression γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (comp. 1 John 4:7, 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:4; 1 John 5:18). From the predicate δίκαιος nothing can be inferred, as this attribute is assigned by John both to God (1 John 1:9) and Christ (1 John 2:1). As, with John’s peculiar blending of the Father and the Son (or of God and Christ), it would not be easy to explain how he can pass from the one to the other without specially indicating it, it appears more safe, in accordance with the constant mode of conception and expression in the Epistle, to supply as the subject of δίκαιός ἐστι God, than Christ. It is inappropriate, with Storr, Lücke, and others, to refer δίκαιος to Christ, and ἐξ αὐτοῦ, on the other hand, to God, because the thought of the apostle would thereby lose its peculiar force (Bengel: justus justum gignit).(186)

The statement that God is δίκαιος corresponds with the statement that He is φῶς (chap. 1 John 1:5); it does not follow from 1 John 2:28 that by δίκαιος here the justitia judicialis is to be understood; Erdmann: quum ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ad δίκαιός ἐστι referendum sit, hoc justitiam Dei sensu judiciali significare nequit, sed absolutam ejus sanctitatem.

γινώσκετε] is here not to be regarded as the indicative (Beza, Bengel, Semler, Düsterdieck, Myrberg, Ewald, and others), but, as its position between μένετε (1 John 2:27) and ἴδετε (chap. 1 John 3:1) shows, as the imperative: “then know, i.e. observe and reflect,” with Vulgate, Grotius, Russmeyer, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Lücke, Erdmeyer, Ebrard, Braune, and others.

ὅτι πᾶςγεγέννηται] The same relationship in which, according to chap. 1 John 1:6, κοινωνίαν ἔχειν μετὰ θεοῦ and περιπατεῖν ἐκ τῷ φωτί stand to one another, exists between γεγεννῆσθαι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ and ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην (so also Braune), inasmuch as the latter is the practical proof of the former, so that every one who practises righteousness—but no one else (Bengel: omnis et solus)—is born of God. That when Episcopius describes the nasci ex Deo, not as the condition, but as the result of the exercitii justitiae, he perverts the thought of the apostle, needs no proof. The right interpretation in Bengel, Neander, Besser, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Myrberg, Ebrard, Brückner, Braune, Weiss.(187) By τὴν δικαιοσύνην it is plainly righteousness, in the full extent of the idea, that is described; with the expression ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην, compare the synonymous idea ποιεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν (chap. 1 John 1:6); similarly in Hebrew עָשָׂה צְדָקָה; Genesis 18:19; Isaiah 56:1; Psalms 14:1-5; in the N. T. comp. Matthew 6:1. On ποιεῖν an emphasis is placed which must not be overlooked; comp. chap. 1 John 3:18; for now is the truth of the experience and of the word first proved in deed.

In ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγ. we must retain ἐξ in its proper meaning; explanations which weaken it, such as that of Socinus: dei similem esse, or of Rosenmüller: amari a deo, are of course to be rejected (Braune); the relation of the perfect γεγέννηται to the present ποιῶν is to be observed.(188)

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 2:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-john-2.html. 1832.

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Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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