1 John 2


He exhorts them not to sin; yet encourages those who may have

fallen, by the hope of mercy through Christ, who is a

propitiation for the sins of the whole world, 1, 2.

He who knows God keeps his commandments; and he who professes

to abide in Christ ought to walk as Christ walked, 3-6.

The old and new commandment, that we should walk in the light,

and love the brethren, 7-11.

The apostle's description of the different states in the family

of God; little children, young men, and fathers; and directions

to each, 12-15.

A statement of what prevails in the world, 16, 17.

Cautions against antichrists, 18-23.

Exhortations to persevere in what they had received, and to

continue to follow that anointing of the Divine Spirit, by

which they could discern all men, and know all things necessary

to their salvation, and proper to prepare them for eternal

glory, 24-29.


Verse 1. My little children] τεκνιαμου. My beloved

children; the address of an affectionate father to children whom

he tenderly loves. The term also refers to the apostle's

authority as their spiritual father, and their obligation to obey

as his spiritual children.

That ye sin not.] This is the language of the whole Scripture;

of every dispensation, ordinance, institution, doctrine, and word

of God. Sin not-do not run into ruin; live not so as to promote

your own misery; be happy, for it is the will of God that ye

should be so; therefore he wills that ye should be holy: holiness

and happiness are inseparable; sin and misery are equally so.

And if any man sin] If, through ignorance, inexperience, the

violence of temptation, unwatchfulness, &c., ye have fallen into

sin, and grieved the Spirit of God, do not continue in the sin,

nor under the guilt; do not despair of being again restored to the

favour of God; your case, it is true, is deeply deplorable, but

not desperate; there is still hope, for--

We have an advocate with the Father] We still have him before

the throne who died for our offences, and rose again for our

justification; and there he makes intercession for us. He is the

righteous; he who suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might

bring us to God. Do not, therefore, despair, but have immediate

recourse to God through him.

Verse 2. And he is the propitiation] 'ιλασμος� The


sacrifice for our sins. This is the proper sense of the word as

used in the Septuagint, where it often occurs; and is the

translation of asham, an oblation for sin, \\#Am


chattath, a sacrifice for sin, Eze 44:27.

kippur, an atonement, Nu 5:8.

See Clarke on Ro 3:25,

and particularly See Clarke on Lu 18:13.

The word is used only here and in 1Jo 4:10.

And not for ours only] It is not for us apostles that he


died, nor exclusively for the Jewish people, but \~peri olou


κοσμου, for the whole world, Gentiles as well as Jews, all


descendants of Adam. The apostle does not say that he died for

any select part of the inhabitants of the earth, or for \@some


of every nation, tribe, or kindred; but for ALL MANKIND; and


attempt to limit this is a violent outrage against God and his


For the meaning of the word παρακλητος, which we here translate

advocate, See Clarke on Joh 14:16.

From these verses we learn that a poor backslider need not

despair of again finding mercy; this passage holds out sufficient

encouragement for his hope. There is scarcely another such in the

Bible, and why? That sinners might not presume on the mercy of

God. And why this one? That no backslider might utterly


Here, then, is a guard against presumption on the one hand, and

despondency on the other.

Verse 3. And hereby we do know that we know him] If we keep

the commandments of God, loving him with all our heart, and our

neighbour as ourselves, we have the fullest proof that we have the

true saving knowledge of God and his Christ. The Gnostics

pretended to much knowledge, but their knowledge left them in

possession of all their bad passions and unholy habits; they,

therefore, gave no proof that they had known either God or his Son

Jesus-nor is any man properly acquainted with God, who is still

under the power of his sins.

Verse 4. He that saith, I know him] This is a severe blow

against those false teachers, and against all pretenders to

religious knowledge, who live under the power of their sins; and

against all Antinomians, and false boasters in the righteousness

of Christ as a covering for their personal unholiness. They are

all liars, and no truth of God is in them.

Verse 5. But whoso keepeth his word] Conscientiously observes

his doctrine, the spirit and letter of the religion of Christ.

Is the love of God perfected] The design of God's love in

sending Jesus Christ into the world to die for the sin of man

τετελειωται, is accomplished, in that man who receives the

doctrine, and applies for the salvation provided for him. This

seems to be the meaning of the apostle.

That we are in him.] That we have entered into his spirit and

views, received his salvation, have been enabled to walk in the

light, and have communion with him by the Holy Spirit.

Verse 6. Abideth in him] He who not only professes to have

known Christ, but also that he has communion with him, and abides

in his favour, should prove the truth of his profession by walking

as Christ walked; living a life of devotion and obedience to God,

and of benevolence and beneficence to his neighbour. Thus Christ

walked; and he has left us an example that we should follow his


To be in Christ, 1Jo 2:5, is to be converted to the Christian

faith, and to have received the remission of sins. To abide in

Christ, 1Jo 2:6,

is to continue in that state of salvation, growing in grace, and

in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 7. Brethren, I write no new commandment] There seems a

contradiction between this and the next verse. But the apostle

appears to speak, not so much of any difference in the essence of

the precept itself, as in reference to the degrees of light and

grace belonging to the Mosaic and Christian dispensations. It was

ever the command of God that men should receive his light, walk by

that light, and love him and one another. But this commandment

was renewed by Christ with much latitude and spirituality of

meaning; and also with much additional light to see its extent,

and grace to observe it. It may therefore be called the OLD

commandment, which was from the beginning; and also a NEW

commandment revealed afresh and illustrated by Christ, with the

important addition to the meaning of Thou shalt love thy neighbour

as thyself, ye shall love the brethren so as to lay down your

lives for each other. See Clarke on Joh 13:34.

Instead of αδελφοι, brethren, ABC, thirteen others, with both

the Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Slavonic,

and Vulgate, with several of the fathers, have αγαπητοι,

beloved. This is without doubt the true reading.

Verse 8. Which thing is true in him and in you] It is true

that Christ loved the world so well as to lay down his life for

it; and it was true in them, in all his faithful followers at that

time, who were ready to lay down their lives for the testimony of

Jesus. There is a saying in Synopsis Sohar, p. 94, n. 51, that

may cast some light on this passage: That way in which the just

have walked, although it be OLD, yet may be said to be NEW in the

love of the righteous. The love that the righteous bear to God

and to each other is a renewal of the commandment.

The darkness is past] The total thick darkness of the heathen

world, and the comparative darkness of the Mosaic dispensation,

are now passing away; and the pure and superior light of

Christianity is now diffusing its beams everywhere. He does not

say that the darkness was all gone by, but παραγεται, it is

passing away; he does not say that the fulness of the light had

appeared, but ηδηφαινει, it is now shining and will shine more

and more to the perfect day; for the darkness passes away in

proportion as the light shines and increases.

Verse 9. He that saith he is in the light] He that professes

to be a convert to Christianity, even in the lowest degree; and

hateth his brother-not only does not love him, but wills and does

him evil, as the Jews did the Gentiles; is in darkness-has

received no saving knowledge of the truth; and, whatever he may

pretend, is in heathen ignorance, or even worse than heathen

ignorance, to the present time, notwithstanding the clear shining

of the light of the Gospel.

Verse 10. He that loveth his brother] That is, his neighbour,

his fellow creature, whether Jew or Gentile, so as to bear him

continual good will, and to be ready to do him every kind office;

abideth in the light-not only gives proof that he has received

Christ Jesus the Lord, but that he walks in him, that he retains

the grace of his justification, and grows therein.

And there is none occasion of stumbling in him.] \~kai


εναυτωουκεστιν� And there is no stumbling block in him;


neither gives nor receives offence: love prevents him from


any to his neighbour; and love prevents him from receiving any

from his neighbour, because it leads him to put the best

construction on every thing. Besides, as he walks in the light,

he sees the stumbling blocks that are in the way, and avoids them;

every part of his path being illuminated. Many fall into sin

because they do not see the snares that are in the way; and they

do not see the snares because they either have not received, or do

not abide in, the light.

Verse 11. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness] He

is still in his heathen or unconverted state; and walketh in

darkness, his conduct being a proof of that state; and knoweth not

whither he goeth-having no proper knowledge of God or eternal

things; and cannot tell whether he is going to heaven or hell,

because that darkness has blinded his eyes-darkened his whole

soul, mind, and heart.

Verse 12. I write unto you, little children] τεκνια. Beloved

children, (See Clarke on 1Jo 2:1,) those who were probably the

apostle's own converts, and members of the Church over which he presided.

But it may be applied to young converts in general; those who can

call God Abba, Father, by the Holy Spirit: therefore he says of

them, that their sins were forgiven them for his name's sake:

i.e. on account of Jesus, the Saviour, who had died for them, and

was now their Mediator at the right hand of God.

Verse 13. I write unto you, fathers] By fathers it is very

likely that the apostle means persons who had embraced

Christianity on its first promulgation in Judea and in the Lesser

Asia, some of them had probably seen Christ in the flesh; for this

appears to be what is meant by, Ye have known him from the

beginning. These were the elders and eye witnesses, who were of

the longest standing in the Church, and well established in the

truths of the Gospel, and in Christian experience. But τοναπ

αρχης, him who is from the beginning, may mean Jesus Christ in the

eternity of his nature, see Joh 1:1, 2; but the sense is the


I write unto you, young men] These were confirmed disciples of

Christ; persons who were well-grounded in the truth, had been

thoroughly exercised in the Christian warfare, were no longer

agitated by doubts and fears, but had arrived at the abiding

testimony of the Spirit of God in their consciences; hence they

are said to have overcome the wicked one, 1Jo 2:14. They were

persons in the prime of life, and in the zenith of their faith and


I write unto you, little children] παιδια, a very different

term from that used in the 12th verse 1Jo 2:12, τεκνια, which

means beloved children, as we have already seen. This is another

class, and their state is differently described: Ye have known the

Father. If the apostle does not use these two words indifferently,

four states instead of three, are here described:-

1. FATHERS, πατερες. those who had been converted at the very

commencement of Christianity, and had seen the eternal Word

manifested in the flesh.

2. YOUNG MEN, νεανισκοι. youths in the prime of their spiritual

life, valiant soldiers, fighting under the banner of Christ, who

had confounded Satan in his wiles, and overcome him by the blood

of the Lamb.

3. LITTLE CHILDREN, παιδια. disciples of Christ, not of very

long standing in the Church, nor of much experience, but who had

known the Father; i.e. persons who had been made sons: God had

sent the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, whereby they cried

Abba, Father!

4. BELOVED CHILDREN, τεκνια. the most recent converts, and

particularly those among young men and women who, from their

youth, simplicity, openheartedness, and affectionate attachment to

God and his cause, were peculiarly dear to this aged apostle of

Jesus Christ. These are represented as having their sins forgiven

them on account of his name, διατοονομααυτου, that is, for the

sake of Jesus, or on account of his merit or worthiness.

These four classes constituted the household or family of God;

each class, in ascending gradation, seems to have had more light,

experience, and holiness than the other. 1. The τεκνια, beloved

children, or infants, are those who are just born into the

heavenly family. 2. The παιδια, little children, are those who

are able to walk and speak; they know their heavenly Father, and

can call him by that name. 3. The νεανισκοι, young men, are such

as are grown up to man's estate; these perform the most difficult

part of the labour, and are called to fight the battles of the

Lord. 4. The πατερες, fathers, are those who are at the

foundation of the spiritual family, and have known the whole

economy of the work of God in themselves and in others. These

have the largest stock of spiritual wisdom and religious

experience. All these answer to the component members of a

perfect human family. 1. There is the beloved infant dandled on

the knees of its parents. 2. There are the little children that

can speak a little, run about, answer to their own names,

distinguish and call on their father and mother, and are now put

under instruction. 3. There are the youths, those who are grown

up to man's estate, are strong to labour, retain the instructions

they have received, act upon them, and are occasionally called

upon to defend their family, property, and country, against

spoilers and oppressors. 4. There are the parents, the father and

mother, from whom the family sprang, and who are the governors and

directors of the household. To these four classes, in a perfect

family, the apostle appears to allude; and we see, considered in

this light, with what delicacy and propriety he uses these images.

Verse 14. The word of God abideth in you] Ye have not only

thoroughly known and digested the Divine doctrine, but your hearts

are moulded into it; ye know it to be the truth of God from the

power and happiness with which it inspires you, and from the

constant abiding testimony of the Spirit of that truth which lives

and witnesses wherever that truth lives and predominates.

Verse 15. Love not the world] Though these several classes

were so well acquainted with Divine things, and had all tasted the

powers of the world to come: yet so apt are men to be drawn aside

by sensible things, that the Holy Spirit saw it necessary to

caution these against the love of the world, the inordinate desire

of earthly things. Covetousness is the predominant vice of old

age: Ye fathers, love not the world. The things which are in the

world, its profits, pleasures, and honours, have the strongest

allurements for youth; therefore, ye young men, little children,

and babes, love not the things of this world. Let those hearts

abide faithful to God who have taken him for their portion.

The love of the Father is not in him.] The love of God and the

love of earthly things are incompatible. If you give place to the

love of the world, the love of God cannot dwell in you; and if you

have not his love, you can have no peace, no holiness, no heaven.

Verse 16. For all that is in the world] All that it can boast

of, all that it can promise, is only sensual, transient

gratification, and even this promise it cannot fulfil; so that its

warmest votaries can complain loudest of their disappointment.

The lust of the flesh] Sensual and impure desires which seek

their gratification in women, strong drink, delicious viands, and

the like.

Lust of the eyes] Inordinate desires after finery of every

kind, gaudy dress, splendid houses, superb furniture, expensive

equipage, trappings, and decorations of all sorts.

Pride of life] Hunting after honours, titles, and pedigrees;

boasting of ancestry, family connections, great offices,

honourable acquaintance, and the like.

Is not of the Father] Nothing of these inordinate attachments

either comes from or leads to God. They are of this world; here

they begin, flourish, and end. They deprave the mind, divert it

from Divine pursuits, and render it utterly incapable of spiritual


Verse 17. The world passeth away] All these things are

continually fading and perishing; and the very state in which they

are possessed is changing perpetually, and the earth and its works

will be shortly burnt up.

And the lust thereof] The men of this world, their vain

pursuits, and delusive pleasures, are passing away in their

successive generations, and their very memory perishes; but he

that doeth the will of God-that seeks the pleasure, profit, and

honour that comes from above, shall abide for ever, always happy

through time and eternity, because God, the unchangeable source of

felicity, is his portion.

Verse 18. Little children, it is the last time] This place is

variously understood. This is the last dispensation of grace and

mercy to mankind; the present age is the conclusion of the Jewish

state, as the temple and holy city are shortly to be destroyed.

But as there are many who suppose that this epistle was written

after the destruction of Jerusalem, consequently the words cannot,

on that supposition, refer to this. Others think that εσχατηωρα

should be translated, a most difficult, perilous, and wretched

time; a time in which all kinds of vices, heresies, and pollutions

shall have their full reign; that time which out Lord predicted,

Mt 7:15,

when he said, Beware of false prophets. And Mt 24:11, 12:

Many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many; and

because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

And Mt 24:24:

There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall

show great signs and wonders. And Mt 24:25:

Behold, I have told you before. Now the apostle may allude to

these predictions of our Lord; but all these refer to a time

antecedent to the destruction of Jerusalem. I am therefore

inclined to think, whatever may be here the precise meaning of the

last time, that the epistle before us was written while Jerusalem

yet stood. See what is said in the preface on this head.

Antichrist shall come] Who is this αντιχριστος antichrist? Is

he the Emperor Domitian, the Gnostics, Nicolaitans, Nazareans,

Cerinthians, Romish pontiffs, &c., &c.! Ans. Any person, thing,

doctrine, system of religion, polity, &c., which is opposed to

Christ, and to the spirit and spread of his Gospel, is antichrist.

We need not look for this imaginary being in any of the above

exclusively. Even Protestantism may have its antichrist as well

as Popery. Every man who opposes the spirit of the Gospel, and

every teacher and writer who endeavours to lower the Gospel

standard to the spirit and taste of the world, is a genuine

antichrist, no matter where or among whom he is found. The

heresies which sprang up in the days of St. John were the

antichrist of that time. As there has been a succession of

oppositions to Christianity in its spirit and spread through every

age since its promulgation in the world, so there has been a

succession of antichrists. We may bring this matter much lower;

every enemy of Christ, every one who opposes his reign in the

world, in others, or in himself, is an antichrist; and

consequently every wicked man is an antichrist. But the name has

been generally applied to whatever person or thing systematically

opposes Christ and his religion.

Many antichrists] Many false prophets, false Messiahs,

heretics, and corrupters of the truth.

Whereby we know that it is the last time.] That time which our

Lord has predicted, and of which he has warned us.

Verse 19. They went out from us] These heretics had belonged

to our Christian assemblies, they professed Christianity, and do

so still; but we apostles did not commission them to preach to

you, for they have disgraced the Divine doctrine with the most

pernicious opinions; they have given up or explained away its most

essential principles; they have mingled the rest with heathenish

rites and Jewish glosses. While, therefore, we acknowledge that

they once belonged to us, we assert that they are not of us. They

are not Christians; we abhor their conduct and their creed. We

never sent them to teach.

They were not of us] For a considerable time before they left

our assemblies they gave proofs that they had departed from the

faith; for if they had been of us-if they had been apostles, and

continued in the firm belief of the Christian doctrines, they

would not have departed from us to form a sect of themselves.

That they were not all of us.] They were not expelled from the

Christian Church; they were not sent out by us; but they separated

from it and us. None of them had been inspired as we apostles

were, though they pretended to a very high teaching; but their

separating from us manifested that they were not taught, as we

were, by the Spirit of God. These false teachers probably drew

many sincere souls away with them; and to this it is probable the

apostle alludes when he says, they were not ALL of us. Some were;

others were not.

Verse 20. But ye have an unction] The word χρισμα signifies

not an unction, but an ointment, the very thing itself by which

anointing is effected; and so it was properly rendered in our

former translations. Probably this is an allusion to the holy

anointing oil of the law, and to Ps 14:7:

God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness-he hath given thee

the plenitude of the Spirit, which none of thy fellows-none of the

prophets, ever received in such abundance. By this it is evident

that not only the gifts of the Spirit, but the Holy Spirit himself,

is intended. This Spirit dwelt at that time in a peculiar manner

in the Church, to teach apostles, teachers, and all the primitive

believers, every thing requisite for their salvation; and to make

them the instruments of handing down to posterity that glorious

system of truth which is contained in the New Testament. As oil

was used among the Asiatics for the inauguration of persons into

important offices, and this oil was acknowledged to be an emblem

of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, without which the

duties of those offices could not be discharged; so it is put here

for the Spirit himself, who presided in the Church, and from which

all gifts and graces flowed. The χρισμα, chrism or ointment here

mentioned is also an allusion to the holy anointing ointment

prescribed by God himself, Ex 30:23-25, which was composed of

fine myrrh, sweet cinnamon, sweet calamus, cassia lignea, and

olive oil. This was an emblem of the gifts and graces of the

Divine Spirit. See the notes on the above place. And for the

reason of this anointing See Clarke on Ex 29:7.

Ye know all things.] Every truth Of God necessary to your

salvation and the salvation of man in general, and have no need of

that knowledge of which the Gnostics boast.

But although the above is the sense in which this verse is

generally understood, yet there is reason to doubt its accuracy.

The adjective παντα, which we translate all things, is most

probably in the accusative case singular, having ανθρωπον, man, or

some such substantive, understood. The verse therefore should be

translated: Ye have an ointment from the Holy One, and ye know or

discern EVERY MAN. This interpretation appears to be confirmed by

τωνπλανωντων in 1Jo 2:26,

those who are deceiving or misleading you; and in the same sense

should παντων, 1Jo 2:27, be understood:

But as the same anointing teacheth you παντων, not of all things,

but of ALL MEN. It is plain, from the whole tenor of the epistle,

that St. John is guarding the Christians against seducers and

deceivers, who were even then disturbing and striving to corrupt

the Church. In consequence of this he desires them to try the

spirits whether they were of God, 1Jo 4:1. But how were they to

try them? Principally by that anointing-that spiritual light and

discernment which they had received from God; and also by

comparing the doctrine of these men with what they had heard from

the beginning. The anointing here mentioned seems to mean the

spirit of illumination, or great knowledge and discernment in

spiritual things. By this they could readily distinguish the

false apostles from the true.

Verse 21. I have not written, &c.] It is not because ye are

ignorant of these things that I write to you, but because you know

them, and can by these judge of the doctrines of those false

teachers, and clearly perceive that they are liars; for they

contradict the truth which ye have already received, and

consequently their doctrine is a lie, and no lie can be of the

truth, i.e. consistent with Christianity.

Verse 22. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the

Christ?] Here we see some of the false doctrines which were then

propagated in the world. There were certain persons who, while

they acknowledged Jesus to be a Divine teacher, denied him to be

the Christ, i.e. the MESSIAH.

He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son,] He is

antichrist who denies the supernatural and miraculous birth of

Jesus Christ, who denies Jesus to be the Son of God, and who

denies God to be the Father of the Lord Jesus; thus he denies the

Father and the Son. The Jews in general, and the Gnostics in

particular, denied the miraculous conception of Jesus; with both

he was accounted no more than a common man, the son of Joseph and

Mary. But the Gnostics held that a Divine person, AEon, or

angelical being, dwelt in him; but all things else relative to his

miraculous generation and Divinity they rejected. These were

antichrists, who denied Jesus to be the Christ.

Verse 23. Whosoever denieth the Son] He who denies Jesus to

be the Son of God, and consequently the Christ or Messiah, he hath

not the Father-he can have no birth from above, he cannot be

enrolled among the children of God, because none can be a child of

God but by faith in Christ Jesus.

He that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.] This

clause is printed by our translators in Italics to show it to be

of doubtful authority, as it was probably wanting in the chief of

those MSS. which they consulted, as it was in Coverdale's Bible,

printed 1535; Tindall's Text, printed 1548; and in all the early

printed editions (which I have seen) previously to 1566; the Bible

of Richard Cardmarden, printed in English at Rouen, where this

clause is inserted in a different letter between brackets. But

that the clause is genuine, and should be restored to the text

without any mark of spuriousness, as I have done in the text of

this work, is evident from the authorities by which it is

supported. It is found in ABC, and in between twenty and thirty

others of the best authority; as also in both the Syriac, Erpen's

Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, and Vulgate. It is also quoted

as a part of the text by Origen, Meletius, Athanesius, both the

Cyrils, Theophylact, Vigilius of Tapsum, Pelagius, Cerealis,

Cassian; and in substance by Euthalius, Epiphanius, Cyprian,

Hilary, Faustinus, Lucifer of Cagliari, Augustine, and Bede. It

is wanting in the Arabic, in the Polyglot, in a MSS. in the

Harleian library, and in some few others. It is doubtless

genuine, and Griesbach has with propriety restored it to the text,

from which it never should have been separated.

Verse 24. Let that therefore abide in you] Continue in the

doctrines concerning the incarnation, passion, death,

resurrection, ascension, and intercession of the Lord Jesus, which

you have heard preached from the beginning by us his apostles.

Ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.] Ye who

are preachers shall not only be acknowledged as ministers of the

Church of Christ, but be genuine children of God, by faith in the

Son of his love; and ye all, thus continuing, shall have

fellowship with the Father and with the Son.

Verse 25. This is the promise] God has promised eternal life

to all who believe on Christ Jesus. So they who receive his

doctrine, and continue in communion with the Father and the Son,

shall have this eternal life.

Verse 26. These things have I written] Either meaning the

whole epistle, or what is contained in the preceding verses, from

the beginning of the 18th to the end of the 25th. 1Jo 2:18-25

Them that seduce you.] περιτωνπλανωντωνυμας. That is, the

deceivers that were among them, and who were labouring to pervert

the followers of Christ.

Verse 27. But the anointing which ye have received] That

ointment, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, mentioned 1Jo 2:20, where

see the note.

Ye need not that any man teach you] The Gnostics, who

pretended to the highest illumination, could bring no proof that

they were divinely taught, nor had they any thing in their

teaching worthy the acceptance of the meanest Christian; therefore

they had no need of that, nor of any other teaching but that which

the same anointing teacheth, the same Spirit from whom they had

already received the light of the glory of God, in the face of

Jesus Christ. Whatever that taught, they needed; and whatever

those taught whose teaching was according to this Spirit, they

needed. St. John does not say that those who had once received

the teaching of the Divine Spirit had no farther need of the

ministry of the Gospel; no, but he says they had no need of such

teaching as their false teachers proposed to them; nor of any

other teaching that was different from that anointing, i.e. the

teaching of the Spirit of God. No man, howsoever holy, wise, or

pure, can ever be in such a state as to have no need of the Gospel

ministry: they who think so give the highest proof that they have

never yet learned of Christ or his Spirit.

And is truth] Because it is the Spirit of truth Joh 16:13.

And is no lie] It has nothing like the fables of the Gnostics.

It can neither deceive, nor be deceived.

Verse 28. And now, little children] τεκνια, Beloved children,

abide in him-in Christ Jesus. Let his word and spirit continually

abide in you, and have communion with the Father and the Son.

That when he shall appear] To judge the world, we may have

confidence, παρρησιαν, freedom of speech, liberty of access,

boldness, from a conviction that our cause is good, and that

we have had proper ground for exultation; and not be

ashamed-confounded, when it appears that those who were brought

to Christ Jesus, have apostatized, and are no longer found in the

congregation of the saints, and consequently are not our crown of

rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus. Abide in him, that this

may not be the case.

Verse 29. If ye know that he is righteous] That God is a holy

God, ye know also, that every one who doeth righteousness-who

lives a holy life, following the commandments of God, is born of

him, BEGOTTEN of him-is made a partaker of the Divine nature,

without which he could neither have a holy heart, nor live a holy


This verse properly belongs to the following chapter, and

should not be separated from it. The subject is the same, and

does not stand in any strict relation to that with which the 28th

verse concludes.

THE titles bestowed on Christians in the New Testament have

been misunderstood by many. What belongs, strictly speaking, to

the PURE and HOLY, is often applied to those who, though bound by

their PROFESSION to be such, were very far from it. This has been

strongly denied by writers who should have known better. Dr.

Taylor has handled this point well in his Key to the Apostolic

Writings, from which I have given a copious extract in my preface

to the Epistle to the Romans, from the conviction that the subject

had been most dangerously misapprehended; and that several of the

worst heresies which disgrace religion had sprung from this

misapprehension. With some, Dr. Taylor's being an Arian was

sufficient to invalidate any testimony he might offer; but it is

no discovery of Dr. Taylor; it is what every attentive,

unprejudiced reader finds on reading the Old Testament in

connection with the New. Perhaps the testimony of a judicious

Calvinist may be better received, not that this truth needs the

testimony of either, because it everywhere speaks for itself, but

because those who have too little grace, sense, and candour to

search for themselves, may be pleased that Dr. Macknight saves

them the trouble.

After having remarked that the words born of him, εξαυτου

γεγεννηται, should be translated hath been BEGOTTEN of him, which

is the literal signification of the word, from γενναω, genero,

gigno, I beget, (BORN of God being nowhere found in the

Scripture,) he goes on to say:-

"To understand the import of the high titles which in the New

Testament are given to the disciples of Christ, viz.: the begotten

of God, as here; children of God, as in the next chapter; heirs of

God, Ro 8:17;

elect of God-adopted of God-saints-a royal priesthood-a holy

nation-a peculiar people, 1Pe 2:9; the following observations

may be of use.

"1. These high titles were anciently given to the Israelites as

a nation, because they were separated from mankind to be God's

visible Church, for the purpose of preserving the knowledge and

worship of him in the world, as the only true God.

"This appears from God's own words, Ex 19:3-6, &c.:

Tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did to the

Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you

unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and

keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me

above all people. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests,

and a holy nation.

De 14:1-2, &c.:

Ye are the children of the Lord your God-for thou art a holy

people to the Lord thy God. In particular, the title of God's

Son, even his first-born, was given to the whole Israelitish

nation by God himself, Ex 4:22, chiefly because they were the

descendants of Isaac, who was supernaturally begotten by Abraham,

through the power which accompanied the promise, Ge 18:10:

Lo, Sarah shall have a son. So St. Paul informs us, Ro 9:7:

Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all

children; (namely of God;) but in Isaac shall a seed be to

thee-the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God;

but the children of promise are counted for the seed. The

apostle's meaning is, that Ishmael and his posterity, whom Abraham

procreated by his own natural strength, being children of the

flesh, were not children of God; that is, they were not made the

visible Church and people of God. But Isaac and his descendants,

whom Abraham procreated through the strength which accompanied the

promise, being more properly procreated by GOD than by Abraham,

were the children of God, i.e. were made the visible Church and

people of God, because, by their supernatural generation and title

to inherit Canaan, they were a fit image to represent the catholic

invisible Church of God, consisting of believers of all ages and

nations, who, being regenerated by the Spirit of God, are the true

children of God, and heirs of the heavenly country of which Canaan

was a type.

"2. As the promise, Lo, Sarah shall have a son, which was given

to Abraham when he was a hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety,

implied that that son was to be supernaturally procreated; so the

promise given to Abraham, Ge 17:5,

A father of many nations have I constituted thee, implied that the

many nations of believers who, by this promise, were given to

Abraham for a seed, were to be generated by the operation of the

Spirit of God, producing in them faith and obedience, similar to

those for which Abraham was constituted the father of all

believers. This higher generation, by which believers have the

moral image of God communicated to them, is well described,

Joh 1:12:

As many as received him, to them gave he power to be called the

sons of God, even to them who believe on his name; οιεγεννηθησαν,

who were BEGOTTEN, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,

nor of the will of man, but of God. That is: Men become the true

sons of God, not by their being naturally descended from this or

that father, nor by their being called the sons of God by men like

themselves, but by God's bestowing on them that high appellation

on account of their faith and holiness," (which were produced in

them by their regeneration through the Spirit of God.)

"3. If the Israelites, of whom the ancient visible Church and

people of God were composed, were all called the sons of God

because Isaac, from whom they were descended, was supernaturally

begotten by the power of God; certainly the believers of all ages

and nations, of whom the visible Church is composed, may with much

greater propriety be called the sons of God, since they are

begotten of God, and possess his moral nature.

"4. Thus it appears that the high titles above mentioned,

namely, the sons of God, the children of God, the elect of God,

the adoption of sons, the election, saints, holy nation, royal

priesthood, peculiar people, were anciently given to the

Israelites AS A NATION, merely on account of their being the

visible Church and people of God, without any regard to the

personal character of the individuals of whom that nation was

composed. It appears, also, that under the Gospel the same high

titles were bestowed on whole Churches, merely on account of their

profession of Christianity, without any regard to the personal

character of the individuals who composed these Churches. But

these high titles, with some others of greater importance, such as

the begotten of God, the heirs of God, the adoption, were given in

an appropriated sense to individuals likewise, on account of their

faith and holiness. When given to whole Churches, these titles

imported nothing more than that the society to which they were

given was a Church of Christ, (i.e. professed Christianity,) and

that the individuals of which that society was composed were

entitled to all the privileges belonging to the visible Church of

God. But when appropriated to individuals, these titles implied

that the persons to whom they were given were really partakers of

the nature of God; and that they were the objects of his paternal

love, and heirs of his glory.

"Wherefore, in reading the Scriptures, by attending to the

different foundations of these titles, and by considering whether

they are applied to Churches or individuals, we shall easily

understand their true import. Thus, when St. Paul, writing to the

Thessalonians, says, 1Th 1:4,

Knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election, he could not

mean their election to eternal life, since many of them were

living disorderly, 2Th 3:11, but their election to be the visible

Church of God under the Gospel; whereas, when John, in the verse

before us, says, Every one who doeth righteousness hath been

begotten of God, by restricting the title to a specific character

he teaches us that the persons of whom he speaks are the sons of

God in the highest sense, and heirs of eternal glory." How

forcible are right words! See also the introduction to the

Epistle to the Romans.

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