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1 John 3:1 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

1. what manner of ] The same word ( ποταπός ) occurs Mat 8:27; Mar 13:1; Luk 1:29; Luk 7:39 ; 2Pe 3:11: it always implies astonishment, and generally admiration. The radical signification is ‘of what country’, the Latin cujas; which, however, is never used as its equivalent in the Vulgate, because in N. T. the word has entirely lost the notion of place. It has become qualis rather than cujas: ‘what amazing love’. In LXX. the word does not occur.

love ] This is the key-word of this whole division of the Epistle (1Jn 2:19 to 1Jn 5:12), in which it occurs 16 times as a substantive, 25 as a verb, and 5 times in the verbal adjective ‘beloved’. The phrase ‘to bestow love’ occurs nowhere else in N. T.

the Father … upon us ] In the Greek these words are in striking juxtaposition: to us miserable sinners the Father hath given this priceless right. ‘The Father’ rather than ‘God’, because of what follows: He who is the Father is our Father.

that we should be called ] Literally, in order that we should be called: it is S. John’s characteristic construction ( ἵνα ), as in 1Jn 1:9. “The final particle has its full force” (Westcott): comp. 1Jn 3:11 ; 1Jn 3:23, 1Jn 4:21; Joh 13:34; Joh 15:12; Joh 15:17. This was the purpose of His love, its tendency and direction. ‘That we should be’ must not be understood as future: we already have the title.

the sons of God ] So the earlier English Versions: better, as R. V., children of God. There is no article in the Greek; and we must not confuse S. Paul’s expression, ‘sons of God’ ( υἱοί ) with S. John’s ( τέκνα ). The confusion has arisen in English Versions through the filii Dei of the Vulgate. Both Apostles tell us that the fundamental relation of believers to God is a filial one: but while S. Paul gives us the legal side (adoption), S. John gives us the natural side (generation). The latter is the closer relationship of the two. But we must remember that in the Roman Law, under which S. Paul lived, adoption was considered as absolutely equivalent to actual parentage. In this ‘unique apostrophe’ in the centre of the Epistle two of its central leading ideas meet, Divine love and Divine sonship; a love which has as its end and aim that men should be called children of God. After ‘children of God’ we must insert on overwhelming authority ( א ABC and Versions), and we are: God has allowed us to be called children, and we are children. The simus of the Vulgate and S. Augustine and the ‘and be ’ of the Rhemish are probably wrong. The present indicative after ἵνα is not impossible: but would S. John have put ‘called’ in the subjunctive, and ‘are’ in the indicative, if the two verbs were co-ordinate?

therefore ] Better, as R. V., for this cause ( διὰ τοῦτο ), reserving ‘therefore’ for a particle ( οὖν ) which is very frequent in the narrative portions of the Gospel, but does not occur in this Epistle (it is not genuine in 1Jn 2:24 or 1Jn 4:19). Tyndale, Cranmer, the Genevan and the Rhemish all have ‘for this cause’: the A. V., as not unfrequently, has altered for the worse. It may be doubted whether the R. V. has not here altered the punctuation for the worse, in putting a full stop at ‘we are’. ‘For this cause’ in S. John does not merely anticipate the ‘because’ or ‘that’ which follows; it refers to what precedes. ‘We are children of God; and for this cause the world knows us not: because the world knew Him not’. The third sentence explains how the second sentence follows from the first. Comp. Joh 5:16; Joh 5:18; Joh 7:22; Joh 8:47; Joh 10:17; Joh 12:18; Joh 12:27; Joh 12:39. For ‘the world’ see on 1Jn 2:2. S. Augustine compares the attitude of the world towards God to that of sick men in delirium who would do violence to their physician.

1Jn 2:29 to 1Jn 5:12. God is Love

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.

Consult other comments:

1 John 3:1 - The Greek Testament

1 John 3:1 - Barclay Daily Study Bible

1 John 3:1 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

1 John 3:1 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 John 3:1 - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

1 John 3:1 - Calvin's Complete Commentary

1 John 3:1 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

1 John 3:1 - B.H. Carroll's An Interpretation of the English Bible

1 John 3:1 - Through the Bible Commentary

1 John 3:1 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

1 John 3:1 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

1 John 3:1 - College Press Bible Study Textbook Series

1 John 3:1 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

1 John 3:1 - Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)

1 John 3:1 - John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

1 John 3:1 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

1 John 3:1 - Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

1 John 3:1 - The Expositor’s Greek Testament by Robertson

1 John 3:1 - Expositor's Dictionary of Text by Robertson

1 John 3:1 - F. B. Hole's Old and New Testaments Commentary

1 John 3:1 - F.B. Meyer's Through the Bible Commentary

1 John 3:1 - Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

1 John 3:1 - Geneva Bible Notes

1 John 3:1 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

1 John 3:1 - Gnomon of the New Testament

1 John 3:1 - Grant's Commentary on the Bible

1 John 3:1 - The Great Texts of the Bible

1 John 3:1 - Henry Alford's Greek Testament

1 John 3:1 - Smith's Writings on 24 Books of the Bible

1 John 3:1 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

1 John 3:1 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

1 John 3:1 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

1 John 3:1 - International Critical Commentary New Testament

1 John 3:1 - Biblical Illustrator Edited by Joseph S. Exell

1 John 3:1 - Commentaries on the New Testament and Prophets

1 John 3:1 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

1 John 3:1 - William Kelly Major Works (New Testament)

1 John 3:1 - The Popular Commentary on the Bible by Kretzmann

1 John 3:1 - A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical by Lange

1 John 3:1 - Cornelius Lapide Commentary

1 John 3:1 - Neighbour's Wells of Living Water

1 John 3:1 - Expositions Of Holy Scripture by Alexander MacLaren

1 John 3:1 - Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer's New Testament Commentary

1 John 3:1 - An Exposition on the Whole Bible

1 John 3:1 - Church Pulpit Commentary

1 John 3:1 - The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

1 John 3:1 - Peake's Commentary on the Bible

1 John 3:1 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

1 John 3:1 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

1 John 3:1 - The Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary Edited by Joseph S. Exell

1 John 3:1 - The Complete Pulpit Commentary

1 John 3:1 - Old and New Testaments Restoration Commentary

1 John 3:1 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

1 John 3:1 - A Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 John 3:1 - Scofield Reference Bible Notes

1 John 3:1 - The Sermon Bible

1 John 3:1 - Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

1 John 3:1 - Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 John 3:1 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

1 John 3:1 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

1 John 3:1 - Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament

1 John 3:1 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 John 3:1 - Combined Bible Commentary

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges