1 John 2:29 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
29. If ye know that he is righteous ] This probably does not mean Christ, although the preceding verse refers entirely to Him. ‘To be born of Christ’, though containing “nothing abhorrent from our Christian ideas”, is not a Scriptural expression; whereas ‘to be born of God’ is not only a common thought in Scripture, but is specially common in this Epistle and occurs in the very next verse. And clearly ‘He’ and ‘Him’ must be interpreted alike: it destroys the argument ( justus justum gignit, as Bengel puts it) to interpret ‘He is righteous’ of Christ and ‘born of Him’ of God. Moreover, this explanation gets rid of one abrupt change by substituting another still more abrupt. That ‘He, Him, His’ in 1Jn 2:28 means Christ, and ‘He, Him’ in 1Jn 2:29 means God, is some confirmation of the view that a new division of the letter begins with 1Jn 2:29. That ‘God is righteous’ see 1Jn 1:9 and Joh 17:25. But S. John is so full of the truth that Christ and the Father are one, and that Christ is God revealed to man, that he makes the transition from one to the other almost imperceptibly. Had his readers asked him of one of these ambiguous passages, ‘Are you speaking of Christ or of God’? he would perhaps have replied, ‘Does it matter’?
ye know ] Or, know ye; but this is less probable, though the Vulgate has scitote, and Wiclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Rhemish, all take it as imperative. ‘Ye know’ is more in harmony with 1Jn 2:20-21. It is remarkable how frequently in S. John’s writings we are in doubt as to whether a verb is imperative or indicative ( 1Jn 2:27, Joh 5:39; Joh 12:19; Joh 14:1; Joh 15:18). Even in 1Jn 2:28, though there is scarcely a doubt, it is possible to take ‘abide’ as an indicative. After, ‘ye know that every one’ we must supply ‘also’; ye know that every one also.
There is a change of verb from ‘if ye know’ ( ἐὰν εἰδῆτε ) to ‘ye know that’ ( γινώσκετε ὅτι ). The former means ‘to have intuitive knowledge’ or simply ‘to be aware of the fact’ ( 1Jn 2:11 ; 1Jn 2:20-21): the latter means ‘to come to know, learn by experience, recognise, perceive’ ( 1Jn 2:3-5 ; 1Jn 2:13-14 ; 1Jn 2:18). ‘If ye are aware that God is righteous, ye cannot fail to perceive that &c.’ Comp. ‘What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt understand (get to know) hereafter’ (Joh 13:7); ‘Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou perceivest that I love Thee’ (Joh 21:17): and the converse change: ‘If ye had learned to know Me, ye would know My Father also’ (Joh 14:7; comp. Joh 8:55).
which doeth righteousness ] Perhaps we should translate, that doeth His righteousness. It is literally, that doeth the righteousness; but in Greek the definite article is often equivalent to our possessive pronoun. Or ‘the righteousness’ may mean ‘the righteousness which is truly such’: comp. ‘to do the truth’ (1Jn 1:6). The present tense expresses habitual action.
is born of him ] Literally, hath been begotten from Him. Only he who habitually does righteousness is a true son of the God who is righteous; just as only he who habitually walks in the light has true fellowship with the God who is light (1Jn 1:6-7). In a similar spirit S. Paul says, ‘Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness’ (2Ti 2:19). Other signs of Divine birth are love of the brethren (1Jn 4:7) and faith in Jesus as the Christ (1Jn 5:1).
There seems to be no serious break in the Epistle from this point onwards until we reach the concluding verses which form a sort of summary (1Jn 5:13-21). The key-word ‘love’ is distributed, and not very unevenly, over the whole, from 1Jn 3:1 to 1Jn 5:3. Subdivisions, however, exist and will be pointed out as they occur. The next two subdivisions may be marked thus; The Children of God and the Children of the Devil (1Jn 2:29 to 1Jn 3:12); Love and Hate (1Jn 3:13-24). The two, as we shall find, are closely linked together, and might be placed under one heading, thus; The Righteousness of the Children of God in their relation to the Hate of the World.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".