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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT
    WORD STUDIES - 1JOHN 1

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    CHAPTER I

    The term (kaqolikh), catholic or general, applied to the Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude, was used from the second century onward in the sense of something addressed to the faithful generally, as distinguished from Christians of particular nations or cities, as the Galatians or Ephesians. Hence, Clement of Alexandria speaks of the letter of Acts 15 as "the catholic letter of all the Apostles, given to the faithful." The term was also used of letters specially addressed, but with a general application, which made no claim to canonical authority.

    In the later Western Church the group of letters known as catholic was called canonical through a mistaken interpretation of the words of Junilius, who referred to the letters of James, 2 Peter, Jude, 2 and 3 John as added by many to the collection of canonical books. This was understood to mean that the term canonical applied to those books peculiarly.

    1. Compare John i. 1, 9, 14. The construction of the first three verses is somewhat involved. It will be simplified by throwing it into three parts, represented respectively by vv. 1, 2, 3. The first part, That which was from the beginning - Word of Life, forms a suspended clause, the verb being omitted for the time, and the course of the sentence being broken by ver. 2, which forms a parenthesis: and the Life - manifested unto us. Ver. 3, in order to resume the broken sentence of ver. 1, repeats in a condensed form two of the clauses in that verse, that which we have seen and heard, and furnishes the governing verb, we declare. Thus the simple sentence, divested of parenthesis and resumptive words would be, We declare unto you that which was from the beginning, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled concerning the Word of Life.

    That which (o). It is disputed whether John uses this in a personal sense as equivalent to He whom, or in its strictly neuter sense as meaning something relating to the person and revelation of Christ. On the whole, the (peri), concerning (A. V., of), seems to be against the personal sense. The successive clauses, that which was from the beginning, etc., express, not the Eternal Word Himself, but something relating to or predicated concerning (peri) Him. The indefinite that which, is approximately defined by these clauses; that about the Word of Life which was from the beginning, that which appealed to sight, to hearing is, to touch. 57 Strictly, it is true, the peri is appropriate only with we have heard, but it is used with the other clauses in a wide and loose sense (compare John xvi. 8). "The subject is not merely a message, but all that had been made clear through manifold experience concerning it" (Westcott).

    Was (hn). Not ejgeneto came into being. See on John i. 3; viii. 34; viii. 58. It was already existing when the succession of life began.

    From the beginning (ap archv). The phrase occurs twice in the Gospel (viii. 44; xv. 27); nine times in the First Epistle, and twice in the Second. It is used both absolutely (iii. 8; ii. 13, 14), and relatively (John xv. 27; 1 John ii. 24). It is here contrasted with "in the beginning" (John i. 1). The difference is that by the words "in the beginning," the writer places himself at the initial point of creation, and, looking back into eternity, describes that which was already in existence when creation began. "The Word was in the beginning." In the words "from the beginning," the writer looks back to the initial point of time, and describes what has been in existence from that point onward. Thus, "in the beginning" characterizes the absolute divine Word as He was before the foundation of the world and at the foundation of the world. "From the beginning" characterizes His development in time. Note the absence of the article both here and in John i. 1. Not the beginning as a definite, concrete fact, but as apprehended by man; that to which we look as "beginning."

    Have heard - have seen (ajkhkoamen - eJwrakamen). Both in the perfect tense, denoting the still abiding effects of the hearing and seeing. With our eyes. Emphasizing the direct, personal experience in a marvelous matter.

    Have looked upon (eqeasameqa). Rev., correctly, beheld. The tense is the aorist; marking not the abiding effect of the vision upon the beholder, but the historical manifestation to special witnesses. On the difference between this verb and eJwrakamen we have seen, see on John i. 14,18. Have handled (eyhlahsan). The aorist tense. Rev. handled. For the peculiar force of the verb see on Luke xxiv. 39. The reference is, probably, to handle me (Luke xxiv. 39), and to John xx. 27. This is the more noticeable from the fact that John does not mention the fact of the Resurrection in the Epistles, and does not use the word in his own narrative of the Resurrection. The phrase therefore falls in with the numerous instances in which John assumes the knowledge of certain historic facts on the part of his readers.

    Of the Word (peri tou logou). Better, as Rev., concerning the Word. Of life (thv zwhv). Lit., the life. See on John i. 4. The phrase oJ logov thv zwhv, the Word of the Life, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The nearest approach to it is Philip. ii. 16; but there neither word has the article. In the phrase words of eternal life (John vi. 68), and in Acts v. 20, all the words of this life, rJhmata is used. The question is whether logov is used here of the Personal Word, as John i. 1, or of the divine message or revelation. In the four passages of the Gospel where logov is used in a personal sense (John i. 1, 14), it is used absolutely, the Word (compare Apoc. xix. 13). On the other hand, it is often used relatively in the New Testament; as word of the kingdom (Matt. viii. 19); word of this salvation (Acts viii. 26); word of His grace (Acts xx. 32); word of truth (Jas. i. 18). By John zwhv of life, is often used in order to characterize the word which accompanies it. Thus, crown of life (Apoc. ii. 10); water of life (Apoc. xxi. 6); book of life (Apoc. iii. 5); bread of life (John vi. 35); i.e., the water which is living and communicates life; the book; which contains the revelation of life; the bread which imparts life. In the same sense, John vi. 68; Acts v. 20. Compare Tit. i. 2, 3 Though the phrase, the Word of the Life, does not elsewhere occur in a personal sense, I incline to regard its primary reference as personal, 58 from the obvious connection of the thought with John i. 1, 4. "In the beginning was the Word, - in Him was life." "As John does not purpose to say that he announces Christ as an abstract single idea, but that he declares his own concrete historical experiences concerning Christ, - so now he continues, not the Logos (Word), but concerning the Word, we make annunciation to you" (Ebrard). At the same time, I agree with Canon Westcott that it is most probable that the two interpretations are not to be sharply separated. "The revelation proclaims that which it includes; it has, announces, gives life. In Christ life as the subject, and life as the character of the revelation, were absolutely united."

    2. This verse is parenthetical. Compare, for similar interruptions of the construction, ver. 3, John i. 14, iii. 16, 31; xix. 35.

    And (kai). See on John i. 10; viii. 20.

    The Life (h zwh). The Word Himself who is the Life. 59 Compare John xiv. 6; v. 26; 1 John v. 11, 12. Life expresses the nature of the Word (John i. 4). The phrase, the Life, besides being equivalent to the Word, also indicates, like the Truth and the Light, an aspect of His being.

    Was manifested (efanerwqh). See on John xxi. 1. Corresponding with the Word was made flesh (John i. 14). The two phrases, however, present different aspects of the same truth. The Word became flesh, contemplates simply the historic fact of incarnation. The life was manifested, sets forth the unfolding of that fact in the various operations of life. The one denotes the objective process of the incarnation as such, the other the result of that process as related to human capacity of receiving and understanding it. "The reality of the incarnation would be undeclared if it were said, 'The Life became flesh.' The manifestation of the Life was a consequence of the incarnation of the Word, but it is not coextensive with it" (Westcott). Have seen - bear witness - shew. Three ideas in the apostolic message: experience, testimony, announcement.

    Bear witness. See on John i. 7.

    Shew (apaggellomen) Better, as Rev., declare. See on John xvi. 25. So here. The message comes from (apo) God.

    That eternal life (thn zwhn thn aiwnion). A particularly faulty translation, since it utterly fails to express the development of the idea of life, which is distinctly contemplated by the original. Render, as Rev., the life, the eternal life; or the life, even the eternal life. For a similar repetition of the article compare 1 John ii. 8; iv. 9; 2 John 11. This particular phrase occurs only here and ii. 25. John uses zwh aijwniov eternal life, and hJ aijwniov zwh the eternal life, the former expressing the general conception of life eternal, and the latter eternal life as the special gift of Christ. Aijwniov eternal, describes the life in its quality of not being measured by time, a larger idea than that of mere duration.

    Which (htiv). Not the simple relative h which, but defining the quality of the life, and having at the same time a kind of confirmatory and explanatory force of the word eternal: seeing that it was a life divine in its nature - "with the Father" - and therefore independent of temporal conditions.

    With the Father (prov ton patera). See on with God (John i. 1). In living, active relation and communion with the Father. "The preposition of motion with the verb of repose involves eternity of relation with activity and life" (Coleridge). The life eternally tended to the Father, even as it emanated from Him. It came forth from Him and was manifested to men, but to the end that it might take men into itself and unite them with the Father. The manifestation of life to men was a revelation of life, as, first of all and beyond all, centering in God. Hence, though life, abstractly, returns to God, as it proceeds from God, it returns bearing the redeemed world in its bosom. The complete divine ideal of life includes impartation, but impartation with a view to the practical development of all that receives it with reference to God as its vivifying, impelling, regulating, and inspiring center.

    The Father. See on John xii. 26. The title "the Father" occurs rarely in the Synoptists, and always with reference to the Son. In Paul only thrice (Rom. vi. 4; 1 Cor. viii. 6; Eph. ii. 18). Nowhere in Peter, James, Jude, or Revelation. Frequent in John's Gospel and Epistles, and in the latter, uniformly. 60

    3. The regular course of the sentence, broken by ver. 2, is now resumed, by the repetition of that which we have seen and heard. Only the order is reversed: seen and heard instead of heard and seen (ver. 1), and the two elements of experience, sight and hearing, are thrown together without the repeated relative that which. In ver. 1, the climax advanced from the lower evidence of hearing to that of sight. Here, in recapitulating, the process is reversed, and the higher class of evidence is put first.

    Unto you also (kai umin). The also is variously explained. According to some, referring to a special circle of Christian readers beyond those addressed at the conclusion of the Gospel. Others, again, as referring to those who had not seen and heard as contrasted with eye-witnesses. Thus Augustine on John xx. 26 sqq. "He (Thomas) touched the man, and confessed the God. And the Lord, consoling us who, now that He is seated in heaven, cannot handle Him with the hand, but touch Him by faith, says, 'Because thou hast seen thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen and believe.' It is we that are described; we that are pointed out. May there therefore come to pass in us that blessedness which the Lord predicted should be: the Life itself has been manifested in the flesh, so that the thing which can be seen with the heart alone might be seen with the eyes also, that it might heal our hearts."

    Fellowship (koinwnian). This word introduces us to one of the main thoughts of the Epistle. The true life in man, which comes through the acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God, consists in fellowship with God and with man. On the word, see on Acts ii. 42; Luke v. 10. The verb koinwnew to come into fellowship, to be made a partner, to be partaker of, occurs 1 Pet. iv. 13; 2 John 11; Heb. ii. 14, etc. The expression here, (eceis koinwnian) is stronger, since it expresses the enjoyment or realization of fellowship, as compared with the mere fact of fellowship. See on John xvi. 22.

    Our fellowship (h koinwnia h hmetera). More strictly, the fellowship, that which is ours, according to John's characteristic practice of defining and emphasizing a noun by an article and possessive pronoun. See on John x. 27. Ours (possessive instead of personal pronoun) indicating fellowship as a distinguishing mark of Christians rather than as merely something enjoyed by them.

    With the Father and with His Son (meta tou patrov kai meta tou uiou autou). Note the repeated preposition meta with; distinguishing the two persons, and coordinating the fellowship with the Father, and the fellowship with the Son, thus implying the sameness of essence. The fellowship with both contemplates both as united in the Godhead. Plato says of one who lives in unrestrained desire and robbery, "Such an one is the friend neither of God nor man, for he is incapable of communion (koinwnein adunatov), and he who is incapable of communion (koinwnia) us also incapable of friendship" ("Gorgias," 507). So in the "Symposium" (188), and he defines divination as "the art of communion (koinwnia) between gods and men."

    4. These things. The whole Epistle.

    Write we unto you (grafomen umin). The best texts read hJmeiv we, instead of uJmin to you. Both the verb and the pronoun are emphatic. The writer speaks with conscious authority, and his message is to be not only announced (ajpaggellomen, ver. 3), but written. We write is emphasized by the absence of the personal object, to you.

    Your joy (h cara umwn). The best texts read hJmwn, our, though either reading gives a good sense.

    Full (peplhrwmenh) More correctly, fulfilled. Frequent in John. See John iii. 29; vii. 8; viii. 38; xv. 11; 2 John 12; Apoc. vi. 11. "The peace of reconciliation, the blessed consciousness of sonship, the happy growth in holiness, the bright prospect of future completion and glory, - all these are but simple details of that which, in all its length and breadth is embraced by one word, Eternal Life, the real possession of which is the immediate source of our joy. We have joy, Christ's joy, because we are blessed, because we have life itself in Christ" (Dusterdieck, cit. by Alford). And Augustine: "For there is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for thine own sake, whose joy Thou thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee; this is it and there is no other" ("Confessions," x. 22). Alford is right in remarking that this verse gives an epistolary character to what follows, but it can hardly be said with him that it "fills the place of the cairein greeting, lit., rejoice, so common in the opening of Epistles."

    5. This then is (kai auth estin). Rev., correctly and literally, and this. According to the proper reading the verb stands first in order (estin auth), with emphasis, not merely as a copula, but in the sense "there exists this as the message." For a similar use of the substantive verb, see v. 16,17; ii. 15; John viii. 50.

    Message (epaggelia). This word, however, is invariably used in the New Testament in the sense of promise. The best texts read ajggelia, message, which occurs only at iii. 11; and the corresponding verb, ajggellw, only at John x. 18.

    We have heard of Him (ajkhkoamen ajp' aujtou). A form of expression not found elsewhere in John, who commonly uses par' aujtou. See on John vi. 46 The phrase here points to the ultimate and not necessarily the immediate source of the message. Not only John, but others in earlier times had heard this message. Compare 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. Apo points to the source para to the giver. Thus, John v. 41, " I receive not honor from (para) men." They are not the bestowers of honor upon me. Ver. 44, "How can ye believe which receive honor from (para) one another;" the honor which men have to give, "and seek not the honor that cometh from (para) God;" the honor which God alone bestows. On the other hand, 1 John iii. 22, "Whatsoever we ask we receive from (apo) Him," the ultimate source of our gifts. So Matt. xvii. 25: "Of (apo) whom do the kings of the earth take custom - of (apo) their own children or of (apo) strangers?" What is the legitimate and ultimate source of revenue in states?

    Declare (anaggellomen). Compare the simple verb ajggellein to bring tidings, John xx. 18, and only there.'Anaggellein is to bring the tidings up to (ana) or back to him who receives them. Apagellein is to announce tidings as coming from (apo) some one, see Matt. ii. 8; John iv. 51. Kataggellein is to proclaim with authority, so as to spread the tidings down among (kata) those who hear. See Acts xvii. 23. Found only in the Acts and in Paul.

    God is Light (Qeov fwv estin). A statement of the absolute nature of God. Not a light, nor the light, with reference to created beings, as the light of men, the light of the world, but simply and absolutely God is light, in His very nature. Compare God is spirit, and see on John iv. 24: God is love, 1 John iv. 8, 16. The expression is not a metaphor. "All that we are accustomed to term light in the domain of the creature, whether with a physical or metaphysical meaning, is only an effluence of that one and only primitive Light which appears in the nature of God" (Ebrard). Light is immaterial, diffusive, pure, and glorious. It is the condition of life. Physically, it represents glory; intellectually, truth; morally, holiness. As immaterial it corresponds to God as spirit; as diffusive, to God as love; as the condition of life, to God as life; as pure and illuminating, to God as holiness and truth. In the Old Testament, light is often the medium of God's visible revelations to men. It was the first manifestation of God in creation. The burning lamp passed between the pieces of the parted victim in God's covenant with Abraham. God went before Israel in a pillar of fire, descended in fire upon Sinai, and appeared in the luminons cloud which rested on the mercy-seat in the most holy place. In classical Greek fwv light, is used metaphorically for delight, deliverance, victory, and is applied to persons as a term of admiring affection, as we say that one is the light of our life, or the delight of our eyes. So Ulysses, on seeing his son Telemachus, says, "Thou hast come, Telemachus, sweet light (glukeron faov)" (Homer, "Odyssey," xvi. 23). And Electra, greeting her returning brother, Orestes, "O dearest light (filtaton fwv)" (Sophocles, "Electra," 1223). Occasionally, as by Euripides, of the light of truth ("Iphigenia at Tauris," 1046). No modern writer has developed the idea of God as light with such power and beauty as Dante. His "Paradise" might truthfully be called a study of light. Light is the only visible expression of God. Radiating from Him, it is diffused through the universe as the principle of life. This key-note is struck at the very opening of "the Paradise."

    "The glory of Him who moveth everything Doth penetrate the universe, and shine In one part more and in another less.

    Within that heaven which most His light receives Was I." "Paradiso," i., 1-5.

    In the final, beatific vision, God Himself is imagined as a luminous point which pours its rays through all the spheres, upon which the spirits gazed, and in which they read the past, the present, and the future.

    "O grace abundant, by which I presumed To fix my sight upon the Light Eternal, So that the seeing I consumed therein! I saw that in its depth far down is lying Bound up with love together in one volume, What through the universe in leaves is scattered; Substance, and accident, and their operations, All interfused together in such wise That what I speak of is one simple light." "Paradiso," xxxiii., 82-90.

    "In presence of that light one such becomes, That to withdraw therefrom for other prospect It is impossible he e'er consent; Because the good, which object of will, Is gathered all in this, and out of it That is defective which is perfect there." "Paradiso," xxxiii., 100-105.

    "O Light eterne, sole in thyself that dwellest, Sole knowest thyself, and, know unto thyself And knowing, lovest and smilest on thyself! "Paradiso xxxiii., 124-126.

    Light enkindles love.

    "If in the heat of love I flame upon thee Beyond the measure that on earth is seen, So that the valor of thine eyes I vanquish, Marvel thou not thereat; for this proceeds From perfect sight, which, as it apprehends, To the good apprehended moves its feet.

    Well I perceive how is already shining Into thine intellect the eternal Light, That only seen enkindles always love." "Paradiso," v., 1-9 See also " Paradiso," cantos 30, 31.

    In Him is no darkness at all (kai skotia ouk estin en autw oudemia). It is characteristic of John to express the same idea positively and negatively. See John i. 7, 8, 20; iii. 15, 17, 20; iv. 42; v. 24; viii. 35; x. 28; 1 John i. 6, 8; ii. 4, 27; v. 12. According to the Greek order, the rendering is: "And darkness there is not in Him, no, not in any way." For a similar addition of oujdeiv not one, to a complete sentence, see John vi. 63; xi. 19; xix. 11. On skotia darkness, see on John i. 5.

    6. If we say (ean eipwmen). The subjunctive mood puts the case as supposed, not as assumed.

    Walk in the darkness. The phrase occurs only in John's Gospel and First Epistle. Darkness here is skotov, instead of skotia (ver. 5). See on John i. 5. Walk (peripatwmen), is, literally, walk about; indicating the habitual course of the life, outward and inward. The verb, with this moral sense, is common in John and Paul, and is found elsewhere only in Mark vii. 5; Acts xxi. 21.

    We lie and do not the truth. Again the combination of the positive and negative statements. See on ver. 5. The phrase to do the truth occurs only in John's Gospel and First Epistle. See on John iii. 21. All walking in darkness is a not doing of the truth. "Right action is true thought realized. Every fragment of right done is so much truth made visible" (Westcott).

    7. We walk in the light (en tw fwti peripatwmen). The phrase occurs only in the First Epistle. Walk, as above. In the light, having our life in God, who is light.

    He is in the light. God is forever and unchangeable in perfect light. Compare Ps. civ. 2; 1 Tim. vi. 16. We walk, advancing in the light and by means of the light to more light. "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs iv. 18).

    One with another (met allhlwn). Not, we with God and God with us, but with our brethren. Fellowship with God exhibits and proves itself by fellowship with Christians. See iv. 7, 12; iii. 11, 23.

    Of Jesus Christ His Son. Omit Christ. The human name, Jesus, shows that His blood is available for man. The divine name, His Son, shows that it is efficacious. I shall be rendering a service to students of John's Epistles by giving, in a condensed form, Canon Westcott's note, classifying the several names of our Lord and their uses in the Epistles.

    The name in John, as in the Bible elsewhere, has two distinct, but closely connected meanings.

    1. The Revelation of the Divine Being by a special title.

    2. The whole sum of the manifold revelations gathered up so as to form one supreme revelation.

    The latter sense is illustrated in 3 John 7, where "the name" absolutely includes the essential elements of the Christian creed, the complete revelation of Christ's work in relation to God and man. Compare John xx. 31; Acts v. 41.

    In ii. 12, the term is more limited, referring to Christ as He lived on earth and gave Himself for "the brethren." In iii. 23; v. 13, the exact sense is defined by what follows.

    ACTUAL NAMES USED.

    (I.) His Son Jesus Christ. i. 3; iii. 23; v. 20. The divine antecedent is differently described in each case, and the difference colors the phrase. In i. 23, the Father (compare John 3). In iii. 23, God. In v. 20, He that is true. Thus the sonship of Christ is regarded in relation to God as Father, as God, and as satisfying the divine ideal which man is able to form. The whole phrase, His Son Jesus Christ, includes the two elements of the confessions which John makes prominent.

    1. Jesus is the Son of God (iv. 15; v. 5).

    2. Jesus is the Christ (ii. 22; v. 1).

    The constituents of the compressed phrase are all used separately by John.

    (1.) Jesus. 2 22; v. 1; iv. 3 (where the correct reading omits Christ). The thought is that of the Lord in His perfect historic humanity.

    (2.) Christ. 2 John 9. Pointing to the preparation made under the old covenant.

    (3). Jesus Christ. ii. 1; v. 6; 2 John 7. Combining the ideas of true humanity and messianic position.

    In iv. 15, the reading is doubtful: Jesus or Jesus Christ.

    On iv. 2, see note.

    (4.) The Son. ii. 22, 23, 24; iv. 14; v. 12. The absolute relation of Sonship to Fatherhood.

    (5.) The Son of God. iii. 8; v. 10, 12, 13, 20. Compare His Son (iv. 10; v. 9), where the immediate antecedent is oJ Qeov God; and v. 18, He that was begotten of God. Combination of the ideas of Christ's divine dignity and divine sonship.

    (6.) Jesus His (God's) Son. i. 7. Two truths. The blood of Christ is available and efficacious.

    (7). His (God's) Son, His only Son. iv. 9. The uniqueness of the gift is the manifestation of love.

    The Son in various forms is eminently characteristic of the First and Second Epistles, in which it occurs more times than in all Paul's Epistles. Kuriov Lord, is not found in the Epistles (omit from 2 John 3), but occurs in the Gospel, and often in Revelation.

    The expression, the blood of Jesus His Son, is chosen with a profound insight. Though Ignatius uses the phrase blood of God yet the word blood is inappropriate to the Son conceived in His divine nature. The word Jesus brings out His human nature, in which He assumed a real body of flesh and blood, which blood was shed for us.

    Cleanseth (kaqarizei). See on Mark vii. 19. Not only forgives but removes. Compare Tit. ii. 14; Heb. ix. 13 sq.; 22 sq.; Eph. v. 26 sq.; Matt. v. 8; 1 John iii. 3. Compare also ver. 9, where, forgive (afh) and cleanse (kaqarish) occur, with an obvious difference of meaning. Note the present tense cleanseth. The cleansing is present and continuous. Alexander (Bishop of Derry) cites a striking passage from Victor Hugo ("Le Parricide"). The usurper Canute, who has had a share in his father's death, expiring after a virtuous and glorious reign, walks towards the light of heaven. But first he cuts with his sword a shroud of snow from the top of Mt. Savo. As he advances towards heaven, a cloud forms, and drop by drop his shroud is soaked with a rain of blood.

    All sin (pashv amartiav). The principle of sin in all its forms and manifestations; not the separate manifestations. Compare all joy (James. i. 2); all patience (2 Cor. vii. 12); all wisdom (Ephesians. i. 8); all diligence (2 Pet. i. 5).

    8. That we have no sin. %Oti that, may be taken merely as a mark of quotation: "If we say, sin we have not." On the phrase to have sin, see on John xvi. 22, and compare have fellowship, ver. 3. Sin (amartian) is not to be understood of original sin, or of sin before conversion, but generally. "It is obvious that this ecein aJmartian (to have sin), is infinitely diversified, according to the successive measure of the purification and development of the new man. Even the apostle John does not exclude himself from the universal if we say" (Ebrard).

    Heathen authors say very little about sin, and classic paganism had little or no conception of sin in the Gospel sense. The nearest approach to it was by Plato, from whose works a tolerably complete doctrinal statement might be gathered of the origin, nature, and effects of sin. The fundamental idea of aJmartia (sin) among the Greeks is physical; the missing of a mark (see on Matt. i. 21; vi. 14); from which it develops into a metaphysical meaning, to wander in the understanding. This assumes knowledge as the basis of goodness; and sin, therefore, is, primarily, ignorance. In the Platonic conception of sin, intellectual error is the prominent element. Thus: "What then, I said, is the result of all this? Is not this the result - that other things are indifferent, and that wisdom is the only good, and ignorance the only evil?" ("Euthydemus," 281). "The business of the founders of the state will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which has been already declared by us to be the greatest of all - they must continue to rise until they arrive at the good" ("Republic," 7, 519). Plato represents sin as the dominance of the lower impulses of the soul, which is opposed to nature and to God (see "Laws," 9, 863. "Republic," 1, 351). Or again, as an inward want of harmony. "May we not regard every living being as a puppet of the gods, either their plaything only or created with a purpose - which of the two we cannot certainly know? But this we know, that these affections in us are like cords and strings which pull us different and opposite ways, and to opposite actions; and herein lies the difference between virtue and vice" ("Laws," 1, 644). He traces most sins to the influence of the body on the soul. "In this present life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach to knowledge when we have the least possible communion or fellowship with the body, and are not infected with the bodily nature, but remain pure until the hour when God himself is pleased to release us. And then the foolishness of the body will be cleared away, and we shall be pure, and hold converse with other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear light everywhere, which is no other than the light of truth" ("Phedo," 67). 62 We find in the classical writers, however, the occasional sense of the universal faultiness of mankind, though even Plato furnishes scarcely any traces of accepting the doctrine of innate depravity. Thus Theognis: "The sun beholds no wholly good and virtuous man among those who are now living" (615). "But having become good, to remain in a good state and be good, is not possible, and is not granted to man. God only has this blessing; but man cannot help being bad when the force of circumstances overpowers him" (Plato, "Protagoras," 344). " How, then: is it possible to be sinless? It is imp

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