King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 John 2

The apostle directs to the atonement of Christ for help against sinful infirmities. (1,2) The effects of saving knowledge in producing obedience, and love to the brethren. (3-11) Christians addressed as little children, young men, and fathers. (12-14) All are cautioned against the love of this world, and against errors. (15-23) They are encouraged to stand fast in faith and holiness. (24-29)

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The apostle directs to the atonement of Christ for help against sinful infirmities

1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The effects of saving knowledge in producing obedience, and love to the brethren

3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

8 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.

9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

Christians addressed as little children, young men, and fathers

12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

All are cautioned against the love of this world, and against errors

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

They are encouraged to stand fast in faith and holiness

24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. That you may not sin, or not lose the grace of God by any considerable sin. — But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, who being made man to redeem us from sin, is our great Advocate, our chief Mediator, and only Redeemer, by whose merits and grace we have been reconciled, after we had lost and forfeited the grace and favour of God by our offences. He is the only propitiation for the sins of the whole world; for, as S. Paul says, (Heb. x. 14.) Christ, for one oblation on the cross, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. All remission of sins, all sanctification, is derived from the merits and satisfaction of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; not but that the Angels and saints in heaven, and virtuous persons upon earth, when they pray to God for us, may be called advocates, mediators, and intercessors (though not redeemers) in a different sense, and in an inferior manner, without any injury, but on the contrary with an honour done to Christ; because what they pray and ask for us, is only begged and hoped for through Christ, and by his merits. S. Aug.[1] in his commentary on this epistle, on these very words, we have an advocate, &c. prevents and answers this very objection of the late pretended reformers: (tom. iii, part 2. p. 831, Nov. Edit.) “Some one will say: therefore the saints do not ask for us, therefore the bishops and governors of the Church do not ask for the people.” He denies that this follows, the saints being advocates in a different sense. Though God be our protector and defender from dangers, this does not hinder us from owning the Angels to be our defenders in an inferior manner under God, as the Church of England acknowledges in the common prayer book on the feast of S. Michael, and all Angels, which runs thus: “mercifully grant, that as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so by thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.” Wi. — The calling and office of an advocate is in many things proper to Christ, and in every condition more singularly and excellently applying to him than to any Angel, saint, or living creature, though these also may be truly so called without any derogation from Christ. To him solely it belongs to procure us mercy before God, by the general ransom of his blood for our delivery; hence he is our only advocate of redemption, though others may be and are advocates of intercession. Hence S. Irenæus (l. iii. c. 33. et l. v. post med.) says: “the obedient Virgin Mary is made the advocate of the disobedient Eve.” Our Saviour declares that Angels are deputed for the protection of infants; (Mat. xviii.) and frequent are the examples we find in the old Scripture, such as Gen. xlviii. 16. Tob v. 27. and xii. 12. Dan. x. See also the common prayer book, in the collect of Michaelmas day.

Ver. 3. We have known him, if we keep his commandments. He speaks of that practical knowledge by love and affection, which can be only proved by our keeping his commandments; and without which we cannot be said to know God, as we should. Ch.

Ver. 4. He that says he knoweth him, &c. To know, in this and many other places, is not taken for a speculative knowledge alone, but is joined with a love of God, and an earnest desire of serving him and keeping his commandments. Wi.

Ver. 5. The charity of God is truly perfect.[2] Notwithstanding his lesser failings, he retains the habit of charity and grace, by which he remains united to God. — And by this we know that we are in him; i.e. we are morally, though not absolutely, certain that we are in the state of grace. Wi.

Ver. 7-8. An old commandment . . . . and again, a new commandment. He means the commandment of charity, or of the love of God and the love of our neighbour. This he calls both an old and a new precept. It may be called old, not only as being a precept of the law of nature, and always obligatory, but because S. John and the other apostles had delivered it to them long ago, i.e. when these persons were first converted. It may also be called a new precept, S. John recommending it anew to them in this epistle, and declaring it to be enjoined in a particular manner by our Saviour Christ, after it had been misconstrued and neglected, especially as it regards our neighbour, that is, every one without exception; so that if any one hate another, it is in vain that he pretends to walk in the light of the gospel. Wi. — A new commandment; viz. the commandment of love, which was given in the old law, but was renewed and extended by Christ. See John xiii. 33. Ch.

Ver. 12. I write to you, little children, &c. S. Aug. and divers others think that by these different words, he only means Christians more or less instructed and advanced in the knowledge and practice of the Christian faith. Others expound it with a regard also to their different ages and advancement in years. Wi.

Ver. 15. If any man love the world, this wicked world, or any thing in it, as pleasures, riches, honours, so that his affections be more upon these then upon God, the charity of the Father (or of God) is not in him. Wi.

Ver. 16-17. All that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, under which is comprehended all that pleaseth the senses, or the concupiscence of the eyes; i.e. a longing after such things which enter by the eyes, as of riches in gold and silver, in apparel, in houses and palaces, train and equipage, &c. curiosity as to vain arts and sciences; or, the pride of life, as to honours, dignities, and preferments. But the world passeth away, and all these things that belong to it. — He that doth the will of God, abideth for ever, with God in heaven. Wi.

Ver. 18. It is the last hour. That is, according to the common interpretation, the last age of the world, from the coming of Christ to the day of judgment, and the end of the world, which S. Paul calls the end and consummation of ages. Heb. ix. 26. — And as you have heard that antichrist (the great antichrist) cometh, or is to come in this last age: now there are already many antichrists; i.e. as the word signifies, many adversaries to Christ, who are forerunners of the great and last antichrist. Wi. — Many antichrists; that is, many heretics, enemies of Christ and his Church, and forerunners of the great antichrist. Ch. — S. Cyprian says all are called antichrists that have divided themselves from the charity and unity of the Catholic Church. Ep. lxxvii. ad Magnum. — Whereby we know that it is the last hour, it being foretold that many false prophets should rise in the latter days. Mat. xxiv. 11. &c. Wi.

Ver. 19. They were not of us, true and profitable members; though it can scarce be doubted but that some of them, at least for some time, truly believed: and by their going off, God was pleased to make it manifest that they were not of his faithful members. Such were Simon Magus, Cerinthus, Ebion, Nicolas of Antioch, &c. Wi. — They, &c. That is, they were not solid, steadfast, genuine Christians, otherwise they would have remained in the Church. Ch. — The true note or mark of heresy, is the going out of or leaving the Catholic Church. God permitteth some to go out, that the true and tried faithful may be known.

Ver. 20. You have an unction from the holy one. You are sufficiently instructed by the grace and spirit of God against such false teachers. Wi. — An unction, &c. That is, grace and wisdom from the Holy Ghost. Ch. — And you know all things, as to what you ought to believe and practise, and therefore I have not written to you as to ignorant persons. Wi. — The true children of God’s Church, remaining in unity, under the guidance of their lawful pastors, partake of the grace of the Holy Ghost, promised to the Church and her pastors; and have in the Catholic Church all necessary knowledge and instruction, so as to have no need to seek it elsewhere, since it can be only found in that society of which they are members. Ch.

Ver. 22-23. He who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist: is in a special manner an adversary of Christ and the Christian religion, when he denies Jesus to be the Messias, or to have been from eternity the true Son of God. — He who denieth him to be the Son, neither hath he the Father. He who denies either of these truths denieth both. He who denies the Son of God to be the eternal Son, denies the Father to be the eternal Father. Wi.

Ver. 24. Let that (faith) which you have heard from the beginning, abide in you: when you received the Christian faith, and were baptized in the name of the three divine Persons. The promise which was then made to you, was life everlasting. Wi.

Ver. 27. You have no need, &c. You want not to be taught by any of these men, who, under pretence of imparting more knowledge to you, seek to seduce you, (v. 26) since you are sufficiently taught already, and have all knowledge and grace in the Church, with the unction of the Holy Ghost, which these new teachers have no share in. Ch. — His unction teacheth you concerning all things. Unction here signifies the doctrine which they received together with the Holy Ghost or Spirit of God; in which he exhorts them to remain, as being sufficient for their instruction, and to make them avoid the new teachers of false doctrine. Wi.

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[1] V. 1. Sed dicet aliquis, says S. Aug. on this place, ergo sancti non petunt pro nobis. Ergo episcopi et præpositi non petunt pro populo; sed attendite scripturas, &c.

[2] V. 5. Perfecta est, teteleiotai. This must only be understood of charity so perfected as to be true charity, but not a perfect degree of charity.