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1 John 2:15-17

15. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

15. Ne diligatis mundum, neque ea quae in mundo sunt: si quis diligit mundum non est charitas Patris in eo.

16. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

16. Quia quicquid est in mundo (nempe concupiscentia carnis, concupiscentia oculorum, et superbia vitae) non est ex Patre, sed ex mundo est.

17. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

17. Atqui mundus transit, et concupiscentia ejus; qui autem facit voluntatem Dei manet in aeternum.

 

15 Love not He had said before that the only rule for living religiously, is to love God; but as, when we are occupied with the vain love of the world, we turn away all our thoughts and affections another way, this vanity must first be torn away from us, in order that the love of God may reign within us. Until our minds are cleansed, the former doctrine may be iterated a hundred times, but with no effect: it would be like pouring water on a ball; you can gather, no, not a drop, because there is no empty place to retain water. 6868     It is considered by many, such as Macknight and Scott, that the three former verses are connected with this — that the particulars stated with regard to little children, fathers, and young men, are adduced as reasons to enforce this exhortation, “Love not the world,” etc. And this no doubt is the best view of the passage. — Ed.

By the world understand everything connected with the present life, apart from the kingdom of God and the hope of eternal life. So he includes in it corruptions of every kind, and the abyss of all evils. In the world are pleasures, delights, and all those allurements by which man is captivated, so as to withdraw himself from God. 6969     There are two things, the world, and the things that are in the world. The world, thus distinguished from what is in it, means, according to Macknight, the wicked and unbelieving, the men of the world, as when our Savior says, “the world,” that is, the unbelieving Jews, “hateth you,” John 15:19. According to this view, the contrast in verse 17 appears very suitable, “The world (the ungodly men of the world) passeth away, and its lust, (their lust;) but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Others think that the blessings of the world are meant, the good things necessary for the support of man, and that these are not to be loved, though they may be rightly used. In this case, “in the world” must have a different meaning, a thing not unusual in Scripture; it must mean in the present state of things. But the most consistent view is the first, that is, to take “the world” throughout as signifying the ungodly men of the world. What prevail among them are the lusts here mentioned, — sensual gratification, avarice, and ambition, the three gods who rule and reign in mankind. — Ed.

Moreover, the love of the world is thus severely condemned, because we must necessarily forget God and ourselves when we regard nothing so much as the earth; and when a corrupt lust of this kind rules in man, and so holds him entangled that he thinks not of the heavenly life, he is possessed by a beastly stupidity.

If any man love the world He proves by an argument from what is contrary, how necessary it is to cast away the love of the world, if we wish to please God; and this he afterwards confirms by an argument drawn from what is inconsistent; for what belongs to the world is wholly at variance with God. We must bear in mind what I have already said, that a corrupt mode of life is here mentioned, which has nothing in common with the kingdom of God, that is, when men become so degenerated, that they are satisfied with the present life, and think no more of immortal life than mute animals. Whosoever, then, makes himself thus a slave to earthly lusts, cannot be of God.

16 The lust of the flesh, or, namely, the lust of the flesh. The old interpreter renders the verse otherwise, for from one sentence he makes two. Those Greek authors do better, who read these words together, “Whatever is in the world is not of God;” and then the three kinds of lusts they introduce parenthetically. For John, by way of explanation, inserted these three particulars as examples, that he might briefly shew what are the pursuits and thoughts of men who live for the world; but whether it be a full and complete division, it does not signify much; though you will not find a worldly man in whom these lusts do not prevail, at least one of them. It remains for us to see what he understands by each of these.

The first clause is commonly explained of all sinful lusts in general; for the flesh means the whole corrupt nature of man. Though I am unwilling to contend, yet I am unwilling to dissemble that I approve of another meaning. Paul, when forbidding, in Romans 13:14, to make provision for the flesh as to its lusts, seems to me to be the best interpreter of this place. What, then, is the flesh there? even the body and all that belongs to it. What, then, is the lust or desire of the flesh, but when worldly men, seeking to live softly and delicately, are intent only on their own advantages? Well known from Cicero and others, is the threefold division made by Epicurus; for he made this difference between lusts; he made some natural and necessary, some natural and not necessary, and some neither natural nor necessary. But John, well knowing the insubordination (ἀταξία)of the human heart unhesitantly condemns the lust of the flesh, because it always flows out immoderately, and never observes any due medium. He afterwards comes gradually to grosser vices.

The lust of the eyes He includes, as I think, libidinous looks as well as the vanity which delights in pomps and empty splendor.

In the last place follows pride or haughtiness; with which is connected ambition, boasting, contempt of others, blind love of self, headstrong self-confidence.

The sum of the whole is, that as soon as the world presents itself, our lusts or desires, when our heart is corrupt, are captivated by it, like unbridled wild beasts; so that various lusts, all which are adverse to God, bear rule in us. The Greek word, βὶος rendered life, (vita,) means the way or manner of living.

17 And the world passeth away As there is nothing in the world but what is fading, and as it were for a moment, he hence concludes that they who seek their happiness from it, make a wretched and miserable provision for themselves, especially when God calls us to the ineffable glory of eternal life; as though he had said, “The true happiness which God offers to his children, is eternal; it is then a shameful thing for us to be entangled with the world, which with all its benefits will soon vanish away.” I take lust here metonymically, as signifying what is desired or coveted, or what captivates the desires of men. The meaning is, that what is most precious in the world and deemed especially desirable, is nothing but a shadowy phantom.

By saying that they who do the will of God shall abide for ever, or perpetually, he means that they who seek God shall be perpetually blessed. Were any one to object and say, that no one doeth what God commands, the obvious answer is, that what is spoken of here is not the perfect keeping of the law, but the obedience of faith, which, however imperfect it may be, is yet approved by God. The will of God is first made known to us in the law; but as no one satisfies the law, no happiness can be hoped from it. But Christ comes to meet the despairing with new aid, who not only regenerates us by his Spirit that we may obey God, but makes also that our endeavor, such as it is, should obtain the praise of perfect righteousness.


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