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1. Beloved. Again the recognition of danger from false spirits prompts this affectionate address. Compare iii. 21.
Of God (ek). Out of: proceeding from.
False prophets (yeudoprofhtai). The term is applied in the New Testament to rivals of true prophets under the old dispensation (Luke vi. 26; 2 Pet. ii. 1), and to rivals of the apostles under the gospel economy (Matt. vii. 15; xxiv. 11, 24; Mark xiii. 22). In Revelation to "the embodied power of spiritual falsehood" (xvi. 13; xix. 20; xx. 10). The false prophet supports his claims by signs and portents (Matt. xxiv. 24; Acts xiii. 6; Apoc. xix. 20) and is thus distinguished from the false teacher. See 2 Peter ii. 1, where the two terms occur together.
Are gone out (exalhluqasin). The perfect tense indicates that the influence of their going out on their false mission is in operation at the present.
2. Hereby (en toutw). See on ii. 3.
Know ye (ginwskete). Perceive. See on John ii. 24.
3. Is come in the flesh. Omit. Render, confesseth not Jesus. So Rev. An ancient reading is luei ton Ihsoun annulleth or destroyeth Jesus." The simple Jesus emphasizes the humanity of our Lord considered in itself. See Rom. iii. 26; x. 9; 2 Cor. xi. 4; Eph. iv. 21; Heb. ii. 9. This (touto). Not this spirit, but this non-confession, summed up in all its manifestations.
Cometh. See on ii. 18.
4. Have overcome. See on ii. 13.
Greater. Compare iii. 20.
He that is in the world. In v. 19, the world is said to be in the evil one. Compare Eph. ii. 2.
Speak they of the world (ejk tou kosmou lalousin) An ambiguous rendering, which might readily be interpreted "they speak concerning the world." Literally it is: "they speak out of the world; i.e., the character of their utterances corresponds to their origin. Rev., "speak they as of the world." The position of the world in the sentence is emphatic: "it is out of the world that they speak."
6. He that knoweth (o ginwskwn). Lit., the one knowing: he who is habitually and ever more clearly perceiving and recognizing God as his Christian life unfolds. The knowledge is regarded as progressive and not complete. Compare Philip. iii. 12, and He who is calling (oJ kalwn, 1 Thessalonians v. 24) also oJ ajgapwn he that loves (ver. 7).
Hereby (ek toutou). Not the same as the common ejn toutw (ver. 2). It occurs only here in the Epistle. En toutw is in this: ejk toutou from this. The former marks the residing or consisting of the essence or truth of a thing in something the apprehension of which conveys to us the essential nature of the thing itself. The latter marks the inference or deduction of the truth from something, as contrasted with its immediate perception in that something. Rev., by this.
The spirit of error (to pneuma thv planhv). The phrase occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Compare pneumasi planoiv misleading spirits, 1 Tim. iv. 1.
8. Knoweth not (ouk egnw). The aroist tense: did not know, from the beginning. He never knew.
Is love (agaph esti.n). See on God is light (i. 5), and the truth (i. 6); also God is spirit (John iv. 24). Spirit and light are expressions of God's essential nature. Love is the expression of His personality corresponding to His nature. See on love of God (ii. 5). Truth and love stand related to each other. Loving is the condition of knowing.
Toward us (en hmin). Wrong. Not "among us," as John i. 14, nor "in us;" but as Rev., in margin, in our case.67 Sent (apestalken). John describes the incarnation as a sending, more frequently than in any other way. Apostellw is to send under commission, as an envoy. The perfect tense, hath sent, points to the abiding results of the sending. See on iii. 5.
His only-begotten Son (ton uion autou ton monogenh). Lit., His Son, the only-begotten (Son). A mode of expression common in John, enlarging upon the meaning of a noun by the addition of an adjective or a participle with the article. See i. 2; ii. 7, 8, 25; v. 4; John vi. 41, 44, 50, 51; xv. 1, etc. On only-begotten, see on John i. 14.
10. Propitiation. See on ii. 2.
11. So (outwv). Emphatic.
We ought. See on ii. 6.
His love. Not our love to Him, nor His love to us, but the love which is peculiarly His; which answers to His nature.
14. We have seen (peqeameqa). Have deliberately and steadfastly contemplated. Compare i. 1, and see on John i. 14.
The Savior of the world. See the same phrase, John iv. 42, and compare John iii. 17. Swth.r Savior, occurs in John only here and John iv. 42. Elsewhere it is applied both to God (1 Timothy. i. 1; ii. 3; Tit. i. 3; ii. 10; iii. 4; Jude 25), and to Christ (Luke ii. 11; Acts v. 31; xiii. 23; 2 Tim. i. 10; Tit. i. 4, etc.). The title is found in Paul's Epistles of the Captivity (Eph. v. 23; Philip. iii. 20), and in the Pastorals (see above), but not in Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, or Thessalonians. In classical writings the term is applied to many deities, especially to Zeus (Jupiter); also to Hermes (Mercury), Apollo, Hercules, and even to female deities, as Fortune and Aphrodite (Venus). "Zeus Soter" (Zeus Savior) was used as a formula in drinking at banquets. The third cup was dedicated to him. Compare Plato: "Then, by way of a third libation to the savior Zeus, let us sum up and reassert what has been said" ("Philebus," 66). The drinking of this cup was a symbol of good fortune, and the third time came to mean the lucky time. "Twice then has the just man overthrown the unjust; and now comes the third trial, which, after Olympic fashion, is sacred to Zeus the savior,... and surely this will prove the greatest and most decisive of falls" (Plato, " Republic," 583). Hence the proverb, to triton tw swthri, lit., the third to the savior; i.e., the third or lucky time. The name was also given later to princes or public benefactors. The kindred noun swthria salvation, does not occur in John's Epistles, and appears only once in the Gospel (iv. 22). It is found thrice in Revelation (vii. 10; xii. 10; xix. 1). Swzein to save occurs six times in John's Gospel, and once in Revelation (xxi. 24). It does not appear in the Epistles.
15. Whosoever (ov ean). Lit., who if there be any.
Shall confess. See on i. 9.
Son of God. See on i. 7.
To us (en hmin). Rev., in us. Compare God abideth in Him.
Dwelleth in love, etc. See John xv. 9, 10. Rev., abideth.
17. Herein (en toutw). To what does this refer? Two explanations are given. (1.) To the following that we may have boldness. So Huther, who argues thus on the ground that ver. 18 shows that the drift of the writer's thought is toward the fearlessness of love. According to this, therefore, love has its fulfillment in freeing us from fear, and inspiring us with boldness even in view of the final judgment. (2.) To what precedes, viz., our dwelling in God and He in us. So Westcott: "The fellowship of God with man and of man with God, carries with it the consummation of love." I prefer the latter, principally on the ground that in such phrases as ejn toutw in this, dia touto on this account, therefore, the pronoun usually refers to something preceding, though more fully developed in what follows. See John v. 16, 18; vi. 65; viii. 47; x. 17; xii. 18; xvi. 15. Our love (h agaph meq hmwn). The A.V. construes meq' hJmwn with us, with love, making with us equivalent to our. In that case it might mean either the love which is between Christians, or the love which is between God and Christians. The Rev. construes with us with the verb: love is made perfect with us. The latter is preferable. I do not think it would be easy to point out a parallel in the New Testament to the expression ajgaph meq' love that with us = our love. The true idea is that love is perfected in fellowship. The love of God is perfected with us, in communion with us, through our abiding in Him and He in us. "Love is not simply perfected in man, but in fulfilling this issue God works with man" (Westcott). Compare 2 John 3, "grace shall be with us" (true reading); and Acts xxv. 4, "what things God had done with them." See also Matt. i. 23; 1 Corinthians xxvi. 24; Gal. vi. 18. Meta with, is used constantly in the New Testament of ethical relations. See Matt. xx. 2; ii. 3; Luke xxiii. 12; Acts vii. 9; Rom. xii. 15; 1 John i. 6.
Boldness (parrhsian). See on ii. 28.
The day of judgment (th hmera thv krisewv). Lit., the day of judgment. The exact phrase occurs here only. Hmera krisewv day of judgment, without the articles, is found Matt. x. 15; xi. 22, 24; xii. 36; 2 Pet. ii. 9; iii. 7. The day is called the great day of their wrath (Revelation vi. 17); the day of wrath and of revelation of the righteous judgement of God (Rom. ii. 5); the day of visitation (1 Pet. ii. 12); the last day (John vi. 39, 40, 44, 54); that day (Matt. vii. 22; Luke vi. 23; x. 12). The judgment is found Matt. xii. 41, 42; Luke x. 14; xi. 31, 32.
Because. Likeness to Christ is the ground of boldness.
As (kaqwv). Not absolutely, but according to our measure, as men in this world.
He is. The present tense is very significant. Compare iii. 7, "is righteous even as He is righteous." The essence of out being as He is lies in perfected love; and Christ is eternally love. "He that abideth in love abideth in God and God in him." Compare iii. 2.
In this world. This present economy, physical and moral. The phrase limits the conception of likeness.
18. There is no fear in love (fobov ouk estin en th agaph). Lit., fear is not. It has no existence. The fear is that spoken of in 1 Pet. i. 17; Heb. xii. 28; godly fear; filial reverence; not slavish fear, as Romans viii. 15. In love, lit., the love, that perfected love of which John has been speaking.
Perfect (teleia). Not perfected, as ver. 17 but perfect as the result of having been perfected. Compare Heb. v. 14; Jas. i. 4; iii. 2. Casteth out (exw ballei). A strong expression: turneth out of doors. Fear is cast out of the sphere of the fellowship of love. See the phrase in John vi. 37; ix. 34, 35; xii. 31; xv. 6.
Hath torment (kolasin ecei). Torment is a faulty translation. The word means punishment, penalty. It occurs in the New Testament only here and Matt. xxv. 46. The kindred verb, kolazomai to punish, is found Acts iv. 21; 2 Pet. ii. 9. Note the present tense, hath. The punishment is present. Fear by anticipating punishment has it even now. The phrase hath punishment (see on John xvi. 22) indicates that the punishment is inherent in the fear. Fear carries its own punishment. Augustine, commenting on the expulsion of fear by love, says: "As in sewing, we see the thread passed through by the needle. The needle is first pushed in, but the thread cannot be introduced until the needle is brought out. So fear first occupies the mind, but does not remain permanently, because it entered for the purpose of introducing love." The words because fear hath punishment are parenthetical.
He that feareth The A.V. omits and (de), which is important as closely connecting this clause with there is no fear in love, etc. That is an abstract statement; this is personal; two modes of stating the same truth. Rev. "and he that feareth."
Is not made perfect. "Men's condition is varied; without fear and love; with fear without love; with fear and love; without fear with love" (Bengel).
19. We love Him (hmeiv agapwmen auton). The best texts omit Him. Some render let us love, as ver. 7. The statement is general, relating to the entire operation of the principle of love. All human love is preceded and generated by the love of God.
How. The best tests omit, and give the direct statement cannot love. So Rev. 21. That (ina). Not defining the contents of the commandment, but expressing intent. Compare John xiii. 34, and see on John xv. 13. His brother. "To the persecutor Saul, Christ said, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? I have ascended into heaven, yet still I lie upon earth. Here I sit at the right hand of the Father; there I still hunger, thirst, and am a stranger'" (Augustine).