1 John 3
II. GOD IS JUSTICE 2,
28 -- 4, 6 (continued)
2, 28 -- 3,
6: Children of God (continued). 3, 1. The principal effect of God's love for
us is that it makes us children of God, permitting us to live in the closest union with Him. Our sonship remains adoptive,
but vastly superior to human adoption. Because it did not know him: the world rejects Christ, therefore also
the knowledge of the Father, therefore also this divine sonship of the followers of Christ. 2.
This divine sonship which is really a fact here in this life, is but the germ and root of a more glorious condition.
When he appears: may apply either to God or the final coming of Christ. In either case it refers to our condition
after the life of this world, a condition that is described as being like to him, i.e., to God. For we
shall see him, etc.: cf. 2 Cor. 3, 18; Col. 3, 3 ff; 1 Cor. 13, 12 f.
This is the beatific vision in which the human mind, aided by the light of glory, will behold the entire Godhead, though not
wholly or comprehensively. All this we know: i.e., from the teachings of Christ (John 17, 24).
3. Makes himself holy: by works of penance and justice. As he also is holy:
i.e., God, or Jesus Christ, the sinless, just and holy One (2, 6; 3, 5.7.16).
Commits sin: the Greek term implies sin with full knowledge and deliberation. Iniquity also: sin is
lawlessness, impiety, a revolt against the will of God as expressed in His commandments. It is always and entirely incompatible
with the justice demanded of the Christian. 5. The gravity of all sin is shown by
two considerations: the Son of God became man in order to take our sins away; and sin is not in him, i.e.,
in Jesus Christ. 6. The highest Christian ideal. The more fully we know Christ's
life, and dwell in Christ, the closer we come to the ideal of sinlessness after the pattern of Christ.
7-15: Children of the Devil. 7. Let no one lead you astray: a warning against
the errors of the gnostics. 8. Is of the devil: the sinner is said to be
the son of the devil because every sin is in some way dependent on, and inspired by him. From the beginning:
it was through him that sin entered the world (Wisd. 2, 24 f). All moral evil in the last analysis is reducible
to Satan, the leader of the forces of evil. The works of the devil: i.e., sin. 9.
This does not mean that a Christian is impeccable; rather the impossibility is relative. Grace can be lost through serious
sin. 10. In this: i.e,. in the avoidance of sin.
b. The term brother refers primarily to the members of the Christian community; virtually its import
is universal. 11. Cf. 2, 7-11. 12.
Not like Cain: the spirit opposed to brotherly love is hatred, which finds its supreme expression in murder according
to the example of Cain (Gen. 4, 5 ff). Cain's works were wicked, and those of Abel just because
of their dispositions (cf. Heb. 11, 4). 13. The world, i.e., men
not regenerated by grace, is filled with the spirit of Cain. Our Lord had predicted this hatred of the world (John 15,
18-25). Persecution was undoubtedly raging at the time these lines were written. 14.
We have passed from the death of sin to life in God. True fraternal charity has its
origin in the love of God, and hence it is a sign and proof that we possess divine fellowship. 15.
Hatred is put in the same class with murder. Our Lord speaks similarly of anger (Matt. 5, 22).
16-18: True Charity. 16. The example of Christ's love is the extreme opposite of Cain's
hatred. His example is set before us for our imitation. 17. The aid envisaged
here is primarily material, but it does not exclude spiritual aid which is governed by the same principle.
18. This is the old proverb: actions speak louder than words (Jas. 1, 22; 2, 15 ff).
19-24: A Good Conscience. 19. In this: i.e., in the practice of brotherly
love. We know, etc.: i.e., that we really enjoy the friendship of God. The consciousness of practising
charity both in word and in deed gives us this assurance. 20. This verse is obscure
because blames is without an object. It may refer either to our past sins or to lack of brotherly love.
Further, its construction is not clear. Going with the previous verse, it means that we can have confidence notwithstanding
our past sins. Construed with the following it means that God will not allow us to go unpunished for such want of brotherly
love. 21. The testimony of a good conscience engenders confidence and hope.
Cf. Acts 24, 16; 1 Cor. 4, 4; 9, 27. 24. By
the Spirit: i.e., the Holy Spirit who gives to the Christian assurance of this divine fellowship.
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has
bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. This is why the world does not know
us, because it did not know him. 2 Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet appeared what we shall
be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like to him, for we shall see him just as he is. 3 And everyone
who has this hope in him makes himself holy, just as he also is holy.
4 Everyone who commits sin commits iniquity also; and sin is iniquity. 5 And you know
that he appeared to take our sins away, and sin is not in him. 6 No one who abides in him commits sin; and no one who
sins has seen him, or has known him.
Children of the Devil 7 Dear children, let no one lead you astray. He
who does what is just is just, even as he is just. 8 He who commits sin is of the devil, because the devil sins from
the beginning. To this end the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9* Whoever is
born of God does not commit sin, because his seed abides in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In
this the children of God and the children of the devil are made known.
Whoever is not just is not of God, nor is he just who does not love his brother. 11
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not like Cain, who was
of the evil one, and killed his brother. And wherefore he kill him? Because his own works were wicked, but his
brother's just. 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from
death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates
his brother is a murder. And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 In this we come to know his love, that he laid down his life for us; and we likewise ought to lay down our life for the
brethren. 17 He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the
love of God abide in him? 18 My dear children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and in truth.
A Good Conscience
19 In this we know that we are of the truth, and in his sight we set out hearts at rest. 20 Because if our heart
blames us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have
confidence towards God; 22 and whatever we ask, we shall receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do those things
that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one
another, even as he gave us commandment. 24 And he who keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And
in this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
9: Does not commit sin: this does
not mean that it is impossible for him who has been spiritually reborn in Baptism to commit sin, but simply that he will not
sin as long as he keeps the seed of grace in himself. This grace, however, can be lost through sin.