King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 John 3

The apostle admires the love of God in making believers his children. (1,2) The purifying influence of the hope of seeing Christ, and the danger of pretending to this, and living in sin. (3-10) Love to the brethren is the character of real Christians. (11-15) That love described by its actings. (16-21) The advantage of faith, love, and obedience. (22-24)

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The apostle admires the love of God in making believers his children

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

The purifying influence of the hope of seeing Christ, and the danger of pretending to this, and living in sin

3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Love to the brethren is the character of real Christians

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

That love described by its actings

16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

The advantage of faith, love, and obedience

22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of 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 on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Behold what manner of charity (or of love) the Father hath bestowed upon us. S. John had said in the last verse of the foregoing chap. that every one who doth justice, is born of him; i.e. is the son of God by adoption. But the world knoweth us not, nor esteems and values us as such: and no wonder, because they have not known, nor acknowledged, nor reverenced God as they ought. We indeed are the sons of God; we believe it, because God has assured us of it; but it hath not yet appeared what we shall be, (v. 2) to what glory or happiness we shall thereby be exalted hereafter, for neither the eye hath seen, nor the ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for those who love him. 1 Cor. ix. 2. We only know this, that his elect shall be like to him, because they shall see him as he is, when they shall enjoy him in heaven. Wi.

Ver. 4. Committeth also iniquity.[1] By the Greek text, iniquity is here taken for a transgression or prevarication of the law, which makes the sense clearer. Wi. — Iniquity; (anomia) transgression of the law. Ch.

Ver. 6. Whosoever abideth in him, complying with his law, sinneth not; and whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, nor known him; that is, with such a knowledge as is joined with love. Wi. — Sinneth not; viz. mortally. See C. i. 8. Ch.

Ver. 8. The devil sinneth from the beginning: not that he was created in sin, but sined soon after he was created. Wi.

Ver. 9. Doth not commit sin. That is, as long as he keepeth in himself this seed of grace, and this divine generation, by which he is born of God. But then he may fall from this happy state by the abuse of his free-will, as appears from Rom. xi. 20. 21. 22. 1 Cor. ix. 27. and x. 12. Phil. ii. 12. Apoc. iii. 11. Ch. — He cannot sin, because he is born of God. The meaning of this can be no more, than that he cannot sin as long as the seed of grace remaineth in him, and as long as he is the adoptive son of God. But it is evident he may fall from this happy condition, and from the grace of God, otherwise S. John would not so often in this epistle have exhorted them not to sin. Wi.

Ver. 14-15. We know that we have passed from death to life; i.e. from the death of sin to the life of grace: we know it by a moral certainty, when we experience in our heart a love of our neighbour. — He that loveth not God and his neighbour, abideth in death. He that hateth his brother with a mortal hatred, or to a considerable degree, is a murderer. Wi.

Ver. 16. The charity of God,[2] because he hath laid down his life for us. Jesus Christ, therefore, who laid down his life for us, was God. It is true at present the words of God are wanting in most Greek MSS.: yet the Prot. translation has them. Wi.

Ver. 19-20. And in his sight we shall persuade our hearts. That is, if we love God and our neighbour in deed, as he said before, we may rest satisfied in conscience that we follow the ways of truth, and may have a well-grounded confidence in God. — But if our hearts reprehend us, for not complying with this duty and precept of charity, God is still greater than our heart; i.e. he sees and knows the interior dispositions of our heart, even better than we know ourselves, and therefore we have more reason to fear him, especially when even our heart and conscience reprehend us. Wi.

Ver. 24. We know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. These words may be either referred to the body of the Church in general or to the apostles, or to every one in particular. It is certain that God gave his Spirit to his Church and to the apostles, by the coming of the Holy Ghost in a visible manner, and by the miraculous gifts bestowed upon the apostles; but every one in particular has only a moral certainty that he has the Spirit of God, and his sanctifying grace in his soul. Wi.

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[1] V. 4. Et peccatum est iniquitas, kai e amartia estin e anomia, transgressio.

[2] V. 16. Charitatem Dei, tou Theou: scarce in any MSS. nor read by S. Aug. in his commentary on this verse.