3:1 Behold, 1a what manner of love the Father hath bestowed
upon us, that we should be b called the sons of God: 2
therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
(1) He begins to declare this agreement of the Father and the
Son, at the highest cause, that is, at that free love of
God towards us, with which he so loves us, that also he
adopts us to be his children.
(a) What a gift of how great love.
(b) That we should be the sons of God, and so, that all the
world may see that we are so.
(2) Before he declares this adoption, he says two things: the
one, that this so great a dignity, is not to be esteemed
according to the judgment of the flesh, because it is
unknown to the world, for the world knows not God the
3:23 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet
appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall
appear, we shall be c like him; for we shall see him d
as he is.
(3) The other: This dignity is not fully revealed to us
ourselves, much less to strangers, but we are sure of the
accomplishment of it, in as much as we shall be like the
Son of God himself and shall enjoy his sight indeed, such
as he is now, but yet this is deferred until his next
(c) Like, but not equal.
(d) For now we see as in a glass (1Co 13:12 )
3:34 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth
himself, even e as he is pure.
(4) Now he describes this adoption (the glory which as yet
consists in hope) by the effect that is, because whoever is
made the Son of God, endeavours to resemble the Father in
(e) This word signifies a likeness, but not an equality.
3:45 Whosoever f committeth sin transgresseth also the law:
for g sin is the transgression of the law.
(5) The rule of this purity can from no where else be taken but
from the law of God, the transgression of which is called
(f) Does not give himself to pureness.
(g) A short definition of sin.
3:56 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our
sins; and in him is no sin.
(6) An argument taken from the material cause of our salvation:
Christ in himself is most pure, and he came to take away
our sins, by sanctifying us with the Holy Spirit, therefore
whoever is truly a partaker of Christ, does not give
himself to sin, and on the contrary, he that gives himself
to sin does not know Christ.
3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever h sinneth
hath not seen him, neither known him.
(h) He is said to sin, that does not give himself to purity,
and in him sin reigns: but sin is said to dwell in the
faithful, and not to reign in them.
3:77 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth
righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
(7) Another argument of things joined together: He that lives
justly, is just, and resembles Christ that is just, and by
that is known to be the Son of God.
3:88 He that committeth sin is of the i devil; for the
devil k sinneth from the l beginning. For this purpose
the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the
works of the devil.
(8) An argument taken by contrast: the devil is the author of
sin, and therefore he is that serves sin is of the devil,
or is ruled by the inspiration of the devil: and if he is
the devil's son, then is he not God's son: for the devil
and God are so contrary to one another that the Son of God
was sent to destroy the works of the devil. Therefore on
the other side, whoever resists sin, is the son of God,
being born again of his Spirit as of new seed, in so much,
that by necessity he is now delivered from the slavery of
(i) Resembles the devil, as the child does the father, and
is governed by his Spirit.
(k) He says not "sinned" but "sins" for he does nothing else
(l) From the very beginning of the world.
3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his m
seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born
(m) The Holy Spirit is so called by the effect he works,
because by his power and mighty working, as it were by
seed, we are made new men.
3:109 In this the children of God are manifest, and the
children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is
not of God, 10 neither he that loveth not his brother.
(9) The conclusion: by a wicked life they are known who are
governed by the Sprit of the devil: and by a pure life who
are God's children.
(10) He begins to commend charity towards the brethren as
another mark of the sons of God.
3:1111 For this is the message that ye heard from the
beginning, that we should love one another.
(11) The first reason taken from the authority of God who gives
3:1212 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew
his brother. 13 And wherefore slew he him? Because his
own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
(12) An amplification taken from the contrary example of Cain
who slew his brother.
(13) A short digression: Let us not marvel that we are hated by
the world for doing our duty, for such was the condition
of Abel who was a just person: and who would not rather be
like him than Cain?
3:1414 We o know that we have passed from death unto life,
because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his]
brother abideth in death.
(14) The second reason: Because charity is a testimony that we
are translated from death to life: and therefore hatred
towards the brethren is a testimony of death, and whoever
nourishes it fosters death in his bosom.
(o) Love is a token that we are translated from death to
life, for by the effects the cause is known.
3:1515 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye
know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
(15) A confirmation: Whoever is a murderer, is in eternal
death: he who hates his brother is a murderer, therefore
he is in death. Thereupon follows the other side: He that
loves his brother has passed to life, for indeed we are
3:1616 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.
(16) Now he shows how far Christian charity extends, even so
far, that according to the example of Christ every man
forgets himself, to provide for and help his brethren.
3:1717 But whoso hath this p world's good, and seeth his
brother have need, and q shutteth up his bowels [of
compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
(17) He reasons by comparisons: for if we are bound even to
give our life for our neighbours, how much more are we
bound to help our brothers' needs with our goods and
(p) Wherewith this life is sustained.
(q) Opens not his heart to him, nor helps him willingly and
3:1818 My little children, let us not love in word, neither
in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
(18) Christian charity stands not in word but in deed, and
proceeds from a sincere affection.
3:1919 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, 20 and
shall assure our hearts before him.
(19) He commends charity, by three effects: for first of all,
by it we know that we are indeed the sons of God, as he
(20) Therefore it comes that we have a quiet conscience, as on
the opposite side he that thinks that he has God for a
judge, because he is guilty to himself either he is never
or else very rarely quiet, for God has a far sharper sight
then we, and judges more severely.
3:20 For 4 if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our
heart, and knoweth all things.
(r) If an evil conscience convicts us, much more ought the
judgment of God condemn us, who knows our hearts better
than we ourselves do.
3:2121 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we
confidence toward God.
(21) A third effect also rises from the former, that in these
miseries we are sure to be heard, because we are the sons
of God: as we understand by the grace of sanctification
which is only for the elect.
3:2222 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we
keep his commandments, and do those things that are
pleasing in his sight.
(22) The conclusion, that faith in Christ and love one towards
another are things joined together, and therefore the
outward testimonies of sanctification must and do answer
that inward testimony of the Spirit given to us.
3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and
he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by
the f Spirit which he hath given us.
(f) He means the Spirit of sanctification, whereby we are
born again and live to God.