Epistles of John
The chief issues John deals with are identical to those which the last few epistles we've read expressed concern over: Sin and false teachers like the Pneumatakoi--early heretics who later flowered into the Gnostics. They denied the humanity of Christ, and led amoral lives in the belief that the soul must sin in order to be saved, for only in knowledge and experience could mortal man supposedly advance to perfection.
Interestingly, it is only in 1st and 2nd John that we see the term Antichrist.
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;1
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:2
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.3
He who was from the beginning...
Whom we have heard...
Whom we have heard...
Whom we have seen with our eyes...
Whom we have looked upon...
Whom our hands have actually handled
Yes, the things we saw and heard from the Word of Life--for the Life was manifested, and we have seen it--we now bear witness of, and proclaim to you that eternal life who was with the Father and was manifested to us.
3 Yes, that which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you, that you may also have fellowship with us. And truly our common fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
4 And we write what we do to you, so that your joy may be full.
5 This, then, is the message we have heard from Him, and proclaim to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all!
6 And so if we claim to have fellowship with Him but yet walk in darkness, we are lying and do not (walk in) truth.
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we are united together, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is cleansing us from every sin!
8 If we deny we have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and true to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.
1. Note the close similarity in language between the opening of this Epistle and John 1:1.
2. John now illustrates that God and His Gospel are both pure and full of light in contrast to the perverted gospel that some teachers were offering.
3. I have actually known some people who claimed they were no longer sinners simply because they had come to Christ. Some modern teachers even claim that once we accept Christ we have no need to seek forgiveness for anything, and thus there is no warrant for ever asking God to forgive what they presume He must already have forgiven. Well, here we see that John understood that even the righteous are guilty of sin, and that through our repentance and confession, God forgives and remits the consequences that might be appropriate to what we have done--perhaps not in the sense of eternal consequences, but certainly the temporal.
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.1
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.2
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.
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.3
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: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
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.
My little children, I write these things to you so that you do not sin. But
if any man does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the
2 And he is the atonement for not only our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 Here is how we can be sure that we truly know him: if we obey what he has commanded us to do.
4 He who says, I know him, but yet does not obey his commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoever keeps his word is the person in whom the love of God is truly perfected. And that is how we can know that we are in him.
6 He who claims to abide in him should prove that by walking in the same way Christ walked.
7 Beloved, (in saying this,) I am not writing any new commandment to you--I simply repeat an old commandment you heard from the beginning. The old commandment I speak of (--to love each other--) is the teaching you have had from the beginning.
8 But in a sense, I write you a new commandment which is true both in him and in you, because the darkness is past and the true Light now shines:
9 He who says he is in the Light, yet hates his brother, is still in darkness.
10 He who loves his brother abides in the Light, and there is nothing in him that will cause either himself, or others, to stumble.
11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and doesnt know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for (Christs) names sake.
13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known (Christ,) who is from the beginning. I write to the younger men because you have conquered the Wicked One. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father.
14 (I repeat:) I wrote to you fathers because you have come to know Christ, who is from the beginning. I wrote to you younger men because you are strong, and the Message of God abides in you, and you have conquered the Wicked One.
15 Love not the world, nor the things in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world--the things the flesh lusts for...the things the eyes lust for...the pride over transitory accomplishments--none of this is of the Father, but is of the (unsaved) world.
17 And the world will pass away, along with the things in it people think they want--but he who does the will of God will abide forever.
18 Little children, it is the last time, and as you have heard, the Antichrist is coming. Even now, there are many (lesser) antichrists in the world--and this is how we know this is the last time.
19 These (traitors) went out from us, but they were not a part of us--for if they had been of us, they undoubtedly would have continued on with us. But they went out so that they could clearly show that they were not all from us (and our ways).
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all that you need to know.
21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth; I have written because you do know it, and know that no lie springs from truth!
22 Who is a liar, but the one denying that Jesus is the Messiah?! He is the antichrist who denies Father-and-Son!
23 And whoever denies the Son, does not have the Father. But he who acknowledges the Son has the Father as well.
24 So let the Message abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If the Message you heard from the beginning remains in you, you shall continue in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise (Christ) has made to us: even eternal life!
26 I have written these things to you because of those trying to seduce you (away from the true faith).
27 But the anointing that you received from (Christ) lives in you, and you dont need any man to teach you these things--the anointing leads you to, and teaches you, truth. The anointing is truth, and is no lie. And as it has taught you, you shall abide in (Christ).
28 And now, little children, abide in (Christ), that when he appears we may be bold, rather than being ashamed in his presence when he comes.
29 If you know that he is righteous, then you know that every believer who does righteous things is born from (Christ).
1. John here is expounding on the notion that the atonement of Christ has redeemed humanity as a whole, just as Adam's sin damned humanity as a whole. However, this does not mean that all men are saved. While the default for humanity after Christ's atonement is eternal life, that life is still killed off by sin and must be re-appropriated through faith once a person passes the so-called age of accountability. Note: there is a slight possibility that John was writing to Jews (see 3rd John 1:3), and so when he speaks of our sins, he would be referring to those of the Jews, while the whole world would refer to the sins of the Gentiles.
2. We now have an issue that the church must deal with, for John says that if we know God we must keep His commandments. But what does he mean, and what are these commandments?
Are they the 613 commandments of the Torah?
Are they the 10 Commandments?
Are they 9 of the 10 Commandments, excluding the Sabbath commandment?
Are they the commandments of Acts 15?
Are they the two commandments of Jesus summation of the Law and the prophets?
Is it the one commandment of the Golden Rule?
Is it every exhortation we can find in Scripture, no matter how vague, including men greeting each other with a mouth kiss?
To answer this question, we must first determine whether John is dealing with the subject of commandments in the sense of Thou shalt, or whether he is using the word in the sense of addressing general exhortations that are not a list of Dos and Donts. First, the word for commandments (entole) does not necessarily refer to the Law (nomos in Greek). It can refer to simply obeying instructions. If we then look at the overriding theme of the chapter, what we see is an encouragement for the church to walk in love for God and each other. When we hearken back to the words of Christ in the Gospels, we also see Jesus reduced the actual Law to the simplest common denominator of love:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
--Matt. 22 36:40
When we compare this to what John says in verse 7 (A new commandment I write unto you) we see he cannot be talking about commandments in the sense of the Torah or the 10 Commandments. The reason is found in the Torah itself:
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
No commandment may be added to or taken away from the Torah. Yet John--as Christ at the Last Supper--spoke of a new commandment being given. Thus, the words commandment and commandments in this chapter cannot be referring to actual written ordinances like the 10 Commandments (good as they are), but John is using the word in the sense of an exhortation expressed to the hearers. Thus, to keep his commandments is not referring to a list of defined commandments, but rather is an exhortation to heed what God has instructed in the ways Christians should treat people and each other.
It must also be kept in mind that the commandments to the Jewish mind of the 1st century meant different things to different people. As we see in Acts 12, Peter acknowledges what is Lawful to Jews like him is not only the written Torah, but the rabbinic rulings accompanying it.*
* Not entering the house of a Gentile is not in the Torah, but was a Pharisee edict.
Acts 15, meanwhile, gives a short list of necessary commandments to the Gentile believers. So the commandments are not really meant to be a set of Dos and Donts everyone must observe; they are meant to be fruit that naturally flows out of the Christians life. But one thing is, by and large, universal: The moral precepts within the Law and the 10 Commandments. When it comes right down to it, the writers of Scripture have always presented mercy, justice, abstaining from sexual immorality, and showing love to be the true heart of the Law. All these things man--even without the Law and without Christ--knows intrinsically are the right things to do (Romans 2:14-15). Thus, if one of us were to go to John and ask what commandments God wants us to keep, he would not start listing the Torah or the 10 Commandments; he would give the same answer history records he spoke whenever he was asked what message he had for the church: Love one another.
3. John may not necessarily be repeating what he just said in the last verse. It's possible that a scribe in ancient times possessed two slightly different texts of verse 13 and wrote down both, which then came down to us in that form.
1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons1 of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons1 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.
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.2
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:3 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.4
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.
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.
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.
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 commandments5 dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Imagine what incredible love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should
be called the children of God! Therefore, the world doesnt know us
because it didnt know God either.
2 Beloved, we are even now the children of God, and though we dont know yet what our ultimate form will be like, we do know that when Christ appears we will be like he is, for we shall see him as he actually is!
3 And every man who has this confidence in him purifies himself even as (Christ) is pure.
4 Everyone who is practicing sin is also willfully transgressing the Law, for to (willfully) sin is to live in lawlessness.
5 And you know that (Christ) was manifested to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him.
6 Whoever abides in him does not walk in sin. Whoever walks in sin has neither seen nor known him.
7 Little children, dont let any man fool you--he who (habitually) does right things, does them because he is righteous as (Christ) is righteous.
8 He who (habitually) commits sin is of the devil, for the devil sinned from the beginning. And this is why the Son of God was manifested: that he might totally destroy the accomplishments of the devil!
9 Whoever is born of God does not (habitually) walk in sin, for Gods sperm remains in him, and he cannot (remain a sinner) because he is born of God.
10 This is how the children of both God and the devil are seen for what they are: Whoever does not live and act righteously is not of God, and neither is a man who does not love his brother Christians.
11 For again, this was the Message that you heard from the beginning: that we should love one another.
12 You should not be like Cain, who was of the Wicked One, and slew his brother Abel. And why did he slay him? Because his own deeds were evil, while his brothers were righteous (and so he did what came naturally out of his evil, Satan-inspired heart).
13 So dont be amazed that the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love our fellow brethren. He who does not love his brother is living in a state of death.
15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life dwelling in him.
16 We know what Gods sort of love is like because (Jesus) showed us by laying down his life for us. In like manner, we should be ready to lay our lives down for our brethren.
17 But if a man is rich in temporal things and turns his head when he sees his brother in need--how can it be said that the love of God dwells in him?
18 My little children, let us not pay lip service to love--let us demonstrate it by deeds and truth!
19 Having these attitudes, and doing these things, is how we can know we are of the truth and settle our hearts before Him.
20 For if our conscience condemns us, it is because God is greater than our conscience, and knows all things.
21 But, beloved, if our conscience is clear, then we have confidence toward God,
22 And whatever we ask for (in prayer) we receive because we keep his commands and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
23 And this is Gods commandment: that we first should believe on the person and position of His Son, Jesus Christ; and then always love each other, just as He commanded us to do.
24 And he who keeps Gods commands dwells in God, and God in him. And this is how we know that God abides in us--by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us.
1. Children is a better translation.
2. It is interesting that John makes a distinction between sinning and breaking the Torah.
3. John is not saying that someone who has sinned is not of God. He is saying that a person of God does not tolerate sin as an ongoing part of his life. To give an example, one sort of person included in his admonition here would be an openly homosexual minister who justifies his lifestyle while denying the need for repentance.
4. Again, John is talking about lifestyle, not individual acts born from human frailty.
5. And again, keepeth his commandments should be understood as: Obey His commands.
1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:1 because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:2
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.3
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time.4 If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Beloved, dont believe every (teaching) you hear, but test those (teachings)
to see if they are of God, for many false prophets are gone out into the
2 This is how you can recognize something from the Spirit of God: Every (teaching) that affirms that Jesus Christ has come in human flesh to the earth is of God.
3 And every (teaching) that denies the full humanity of Jesus Christ is not of God--it is the (teaching) of Antichrist, whom you have heard is coming, and who, even now, is in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome (the false teachers), because greater is (God) who is within you, than any (man) who is in the world.
5 The (false teachers) are of the world, and thus they speak in the worlds way, and the world listens to them.
6 But we are of God, and he who knows God, listens to us. He who is not of God does not listen to us. Thats how we know the difference between the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love was invented by God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.
9 And this was how God showed his love for us: He sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 And this is true love--not that we have loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be atonement for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God loved us like this, we should, in turn, love one another the same way!
12 Now no man has ever seen God at any time (but the Son has revealed Him). If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us.
13 This is how we know that we dwell in Him, and He in us: Because He has given us His Spirit (to perfect love in us).
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
15 Whoever shall confess that Jesus is (the Messiah and) Son of God--God dwells in that person, and he dwells in God!
16 And we have known and believed the love God has for us. God is love, and he who dwells in love dwells in God, and God dwells in him.
17 When our love is perfected through our abiding in Him, we can have boldness in the Day of Judgment--because, in this world, we are exactly as He is.
18 There is no fear in love, for perfected love drives out fear--and fear means were afraid of judgment. He who fears has not perfected his love yet.
19 We love Him because he first loved us.
20 If a man says, I love God, yet he hates his brother, he is a liar--for how can someone who does not love a brother he can see with his eyes, love a God whom he cannot see?
21 And God has left us this commandment: He who loves God should love his brother as well.
1. John is not necessarily talking about some sort of Charismatic prophecy given in church; he is primarily using euphemistic language dealing with teachings and revelations.
2. The Gnostics, of course, were teaching Jesus was a spirit being, not a human man.
3. This is one of only four verses in the Bible in which the word Antichrist is used. As we see, John affirms there is a literal human Antichrist coming, and the spirit that will give birth to him is already in the world. That spirit may not necessarily be one that teaches Jesus was a spirit creature; the spirit (or teaching) he could refer to one that denies Messiah has come in Christ, but will come through another to lead the unbelieving Jews.
4. If he isn't being literal, John means that no one has seen God in His absolute fullness. As mentioned in the Hebrews commentary, the belief by some was that the shekhina of God manifested as His presence on earth.
1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?1
6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.2
8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.3
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:4
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.5
17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not;6 but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Messiah is born of God, and everyone who
loves He who begat the Son, loves the Son who was begotten by Him.
2 This is how we know that we love Gods children: when we love God and keep His commands.
3 For this is how we show that we love God: we obey what He has commanded us to do. And what He has commanded us to do is not grievous.
4 For whoever is born of God rises above the world. And this is what gives us the victory over the world: our faith.
5 Who is him who overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is (Messiah and King)?
6 This is he who came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ, who came not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Holy Spirit that testifies to this, because the Spirit is truth.
7 For there are three that testify in heaven: The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One!
8 And there are three who testify on earth: The Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.
9 If we accept the testimony of men, the testimony of God is even greater, for this is the testimony of God that He has testified of His Son.
10 He who believes on the Son has that testimony in himself. But he who does not believe God, has made God out to be a liar because he has refused to believe the testimony God gave regarding His Son.
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in (and comes through) His Son.
12 He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son does not have life.
13 These things I have written to you who believe on the person and position of the Son of God--so that you may know you have eternal life, and that you may keep believing on the person and position of the Son of God.
14 And we have this assurance in him: that if we ask anything that is accord with his will, he hears us.
15 And if we know he hears us when we ask for something, then we know we will have those things we have asked for.
16 (Now--) if any man observes his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he shall ask, and (God) shall grant life for a sin that is not one leading to death. Now there is a sin that does lead to death, and I do not say that you should pray for that sort of sin.
17 All unrighteousness is sin, but there are sins that do not lead to (spiritual) death.
18 We know that whoever is born of God does not walk in ongoing sin; but (Christ), who is begotten of God, keeps him secure, and the Wicked One cannot touch him.
19 And we know that we are of God, while the whole world is caught up in wickedness.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and given us understanding, so that we can know God, who is true; and that we are in him who is (also) true--even His son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves away from idols. Amen.
1. It should not be overlooked that even though John has again returned to the subject of keeping commandments, he shows those who do this and overcome the world are those who believe that Jesus is Messiah, and are born of God. In other words, the overcoming is a fruit of salvation rather than simply an alteration of lifestyle through self-control.
2. This is the great Trinitarian verse in Johns writings, although (unfortunately) most newer Bibles declare it was an addition added a thousand years after this epistle was written. While its true this verse does not appear in any ancient manuscripts, Cyprian quoted it in the 3rd century:
The Lord says: I and the Father are one. And again of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit it is written: And these three are one.'
--Treatise 1 on the unity of the Catholic Church, chapter 6.
3. This is an important verse to question the beliefs of some denominations that we can never really know whether or not we are truly saved until we die and find out.
4. Meaning to ask in accordance with what the Scriptures reveal to be Gods will.
5. Insufficient information is given to define specifically what unforgivable sin John is speaking of here. It may be that mentioned in Hebrews 6: returning to the synagogue and publicly renouncing Christ.
6. Meaning he doesnt walk in ongoing sin. Otherwise, there are a couple of ways to understand this verse. Johns use of the Greek suggests he is most likely saying that Christ is the one who was begotten of God, and keeps the believer secure. Other theologians (and the KJV) would see the verse as saying that the believer keeps himself secure. The verse , from that perspective, could be paraphrased like this: We know that whoever is born of God does not walk in ongoing sin; but he who is begotten of God imitates God, and the Wicked One cannot touch him.
1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children,1 whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.2 This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.
The elder unto the elect Cyria and her children, whom I love in the truth,
along with all those who have likewise known the truth,
2 A truth that lives inside of us, and that will be with us forever.
3 Grace, mercy, and peace be with you who walk in truth and love, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father.
4 I greatly rejoiced when I found your children walking in truth as the Father commanded us to.
5 And now I beseech you, lady--not as if I were writing anything new rather than what we have known from the beginning: That we love one another.
6 And this is love--that we walk after what he has commanded us to do. (And to love is) that commandment, which you have heard from the beginning, and should continue to walk in.
7 For many deceivers are come into the world, who deny that Jesus the Messiah was a human man. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.
8 Remain steadfast--lest we lose the things for which we have fought--so that we receive a complete reward.
9 Whoever goes beyond the foundations of doctrinal truth (about the nature of Christ), and does not remain in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not hold this doctrine, dont let him into your (church), and dont wish him Godspeed. For someone who (invokes the customary blessing) on such a person makes himself a partaker of his evil deeds.
10-11. (Alternate reading.) If anyone comes to you and does not hold this doctrine, dont let him into your (church), and dont rejoice with him (in fellowship and worship). For someone who rejoices with such a person (as a brother) makes himself a partaker of his evil deeds.
12 I have many things I could write to you, but I dont want to trust them to paper and ink. Instead, I trust that I can come speak to you all personally, that our joy may be full.
12 I have many things I could write to you, but I dont want to trust them to paper and ink. Instead, I trust that I can come speak to you all personally, that our joy may be full.
13 The children of your elect sister church send greetings.
1. It is unknown whether John is writing to a specific person (a woman named Cyria), or is speaking euphemistically of a church and its members. Most theologians presume the latter.
2. A reference, once again, to Docetisim, the Gnostic teaching that Jesus body was not physical, but rather spiritual.
1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius,1 whom I love in the truth.
2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.2
3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
7 Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.3
8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.
9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes,4 who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
12 Demetrius5 hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.6
13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:
14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.
The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Beloved, I wish above everything else, that you would prosper and be in good health, just as much as your soul is prospering.
3 For I greatly rejoiced when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, and how you are walking in it.
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
5 Beloved, you are certainly showing faithfulness when you do something good on behalf of brethren who are strangers to you.
6 Some youve helped have come here and told the church of your generosity. It is to your credit to continue sending such men on to where theyre going in a way God would approve of.
7 For they went out for the sake of the name of Christ, taking no aid from the pagans.
8 We should therefore receive (and aid) such people, that we may be fellow helpers in the truth.
9 I wrote to the church there earlier, but Diotrephes, who loves to lord it over the flock
there, does not submit to our authority.
10 And so, if I come there, I will remember the things he has done, and how he has slandered us with malicious words. And even that wasnt enough for him, for he rejected the (other) brethren (we sent out), and excommunicated those of the church who did receive them!
11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil--follow that which is good! He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has never even seen God.
12 Demetrius has a good reputation among everyone, including the truth itself. And we also bear record of his character, and you know our testimony is truthful!
13 I have many things I could write to you, but I dont want to trust them to paper and ink.
14 Instead, I trust that I can soon come speak to you face to face. Peace to you. Our friends send greeting. Greet the friends there by name.
1. Apparently, the elder or pastor of some church whose location is not mentioned.
2. This is not a theological statement about material prosperity, but rather a popular greeting of the time.
3. Although Gaius is a Gentile name, it is interesting that John mentions Gentiles here as a distinct group, suggesting strongly that Gaius and his church were comprised of Jewish believers. He may be using the word Gentiles in the classic Jewish sense of pagans, referring to Gentile non-believers, and so would not be lumping in Gentile Christians with them.
4. Another elder or pastor, though clearly a heretical one.
5. We have no idea who Demetrius was, although he certainly seems to have had John's respect.
6. Note the obvious similarity with the gloss added in John 21:24, showing the early caretakers of that Gospel were familiar with Johns own words in this epistle and applied them to the Gospel text. The word record is the same word is translated there as testimony.