1] And this is morally very important; while it is in Him, not in myself, that I rejoice and delight.

2] The life has been manifested. Therefore we have no longer to seek for it, to grope after it in the darkness, to explore at random the indefinite, or the obscurity of our own hearts, in order to find it, to labour fruitlessly under the law, in order to obtain it. We behold it: it is revealed, it is here, in Jesus Christ. He who possesses Christ possesses that life.

3] It will be found that, when grace to us is spoken of in John's writings, he speaks of the Father and the Son; when the nature of God or our responsibility, he says God. John 3 and 1 John 4 may seem exceptions, but are not. It is what God is as such, not personal action and relationship in grace.

4] He who had seen Him had seen the Father; but here the apostle speaks of a message and the revelation of His nature.

[5] It is not said "has" nor "will." It does not refer to time, but to its efficacy. As I might say such a medicine cures the ague. It is its efficacy.

[6]When speaking of sin, the apostle speaks in the present tense, "we have": when speaking of sinning, he speaks in the past. He does not take for granted we are going on doing it. It has been a question whether the apostle speaks of first coming to the Lord, or subsequent failures. I answer, he speaks in an abstract and absolute way: confession brings through grace forgiveness. If it is our first coming to God, it is forgiveness, it is in the full and absolute sense. I am forgiven with God: He remembers my sins no more. If it is subsequent failure, honesty of heart always confesses, then it is forgiveness as regards the government of God, and the present condition and relationship of my soul with Him. But the apostle, as everywhere, speaks absolutely and of the principle.

[7]Here the subject is communion, and hence actual failure is spoken of; in the Hebrews, we have seen, it is access to God and we are "perfected for ever," and priesthood is for mercy and help, not for sins, save the great act of atonement.

[8] Fundamentally they are not different. This is affirmed in verse 7: "The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning." One might say with perfect truth that the commandment is the word of Christ. but I question if it could be said that the word is the commandment. And this makes one conscious of the difference. The contrast of verses 4 and 5 is remarkable, and has its source in the possession, and the intelligent and complete consciousness of the possession, of the divine life, according to the word, or its non-possession. He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; for this truth is only that which the word reveals. And if we live of the nature of which the word of Christ is the expression, and thus by the word know Him, we obey that word. In another aspect, if we are in possession of this life, partakers of the divine nature, the love of God is in us; we have the commandments of Christ, His word, the perfect love of God, a walk according to the walk of Christ, the communication of the life of Christ so that the commandment is true in Him and in us, the walk in the light, the love of our brother. How rich a chain of blessings! The pretensions here spoken of are-to know Christ, to abide in Him, to be in the light. The proof that the first pretension is justified is obedience. Then, if we abide in Christ (which we know by keeping His word), we ought to walk as He walked. That the last pretension is a true one is proved by love to our brother. In the second, the walk is maintained at all the height of the walk of Christ, as our duty: but this walk is not presented as a proof that we abide in Him, that we keep His word. Observe, that it is not said, "We know that we believe "-this is not the question here- but, "We know that we are in him." Let me add here, that the apostle never uses these proofs, as they are so commonly used, to say, "hereby we doubt." It is quite certain from verses 12, 13, that he treats them as all forgiven or he would not have written, and as having the Spirit of adoption-even the youngest and feeblest. Others sought to make them doubt; and he writes that their hearts might be assured before God, that they might not be seduced, into doubting, as if they had not a full Christ and a full Christianity- eternal life. It was the means of keeping and holding fast assurance when they had it, when they might have been shaken, not of obtaining it. They were forgiven, they were sons. When others would make them doubt, he writes that they may be fully assured that they have no reason to doubt.

[9] This, I doubt not, is the true meaning of John 8:25. "In the principle of my nature, in my being, that which I am saying to you" That which He said was essentially and completely that which He was. That which He was is that which He said. Now it is this life which is imparted to us; but it was the love of God among men and in man. And this life being our life, and the word being kept, His love is realised in us in all its extent.

[10] The force of the word is not "has disappeared, passed away." There is much darkness yet in the, world. As to the, light, it has actually shone.

[11]The reader may compare here, with such instruction, what is said in Ephesians 4:17 to 5:12, where these two names of God, the only ones used to reveal His nature, are also used to shew our path and the true character of the Christian; only according to that which the Holy Ghost gives by Paul-the counsels and work of God in Christ. In John it is more the nature.

[12] I have noticed, farther on, the striking way in which God and Christ are spoken of as one Being or Person, not as doctrine as to the two natures, but Christ is before the apostle's mind, and He is spoken of in the same sentence, now as God, now as appearing as man. Thus in chapter 2:28 He comes. In ver. 29 the righteous man is born of Him, and we are children of God. But the world did not know Him. Now it is Christ on earth. Chapter 3:2 we are children of God, but in the same verse He appears and we are like Him. But what makes this yet more wonderful is that we are identified with Him too. We are called children because that is His title and relationship. The world does not know us, for it did not know Him. We know we shall be like Him when He appears. We are given the same place here and there. (Compare chap.5:20)

[13] See previous note


[14] John uses habitually the word "children," not "sons," as the more distinctly expressing that we are of the same family. We are as Christ before God and in the world, and so will be when He appears.

[15] In Romans 2:12, the word is used in contrast with law breaking, or sinning under law. That is, the Greek word here used for what is translated "transgression of the law" is that used for sinning without law, in contrast with sinning under law, and being judged by it. I do not dissemble that this changing what is a definition of sin is a very serious thing.

[16]Here dwelling in Him comes first, because it is practical realisation in an obedient heart. His dwelling in us is then pursued apart as known by the Spirit given to us, to guard against being misled by evil spirits. In chapter 4:7, he resumes; the indwelling in connection with the love of God.

[17]Note, it is not "was." It is never said in scripture, as often, He left the Father's bosom; but "the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father." As so knowing God, He revealed Him on earth.

[18] This gives us too, in their highest character and subject, the difference between the gospel and Epistle.

[19] The only expression in the word that has some resemblance to it is "the church of the Thessalonians, which is in God the Father." This is addressed to a numerous corporation in quite another sense.

[20] Righteousness and holiness suppose reference to other things; thus, evil to be known, rejection of evil, and judgment. Love, though exercised towards others, is what He is in Him self. The other essential name that God bears is " light." We are said to be "light in the Lord " as partakers of the divine nature; not love, which is, though the divine nature, sovereign in grace. We cannot therefore be said to be love. (See Eph. 4 & 5)

[21] It is striking to see that he does not say, We ought to love Him because He first loved us; but we love Him. We cannot know and enjoy love to us without loving. The sense of love to us is always love. It is not known and valued without its being there. My sense of love in another is love to him. We ought to love the brethren, because it is not their love to us which is the spring of it, though it may nourish it in this way. But we love God because He first loved us

[22] Even the orderly reception of the Holy Ghost was so. (see Acts 2:38)

[23] I have already noticed this passage as being a kind of key to the way we really know God, and dwell in Him. It speaks of God as Him we know, in whom we are, explaining it by saying, that it is in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord; only here, as follows in the text, it is truth and not love.