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3. Children of God

1Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. 3And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 4Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5And ye know that he was manifested to take away sins; and in him is no sin. 6Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither knoweth him. 7My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous: 8he that doeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God. 10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11For this is the message which ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another: 12not as Cain was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his works were evil, and his brother's righteous. 13Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you. 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. 15Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17But whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him? 18My Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth. 19Hereby shall we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him: 20because if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God; 22and whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. 23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he gave us commandment. 24And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.

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16 Hereby perceive we, or, By this we know. He now shews what true love is; for it would not have been enough to commend it, unless its power is understood. As an instance of perfect love, he sets before us the example of Christ; for he, by not sparing his own life, testified how much he loved us. This then is the mark to which he bids them to advance. The sum of what is said is, that our love is approved, when we transfer the love of ourselves to our brethren, so that every one, in a manner forgetting himself, should seek the good of others. 7979     There is no authority for adding of God after love in this verse; nor indeed is it right, for what follows clearly shows that the love of Christ is what is referred to. The antecedent to “he,” (“because he laid down,” &e.) is “the Son of God” in the 8th verse. The passage may be thus rendered, “By this we know love, that he laid down his own life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren.” — Ed.

It is, indeed, certain, that we are far from being equal to Christ: but the Apostle recommends to us the imitation of him; for though we do not overtake him, it is yet meet, that we should follow his steps, though at a distance. Doubtless, since it was the Apostle’s object to beat down the vain boasting of hypocrites, who gloried that they had faith in Christ though without brotherly love, he intimated by these words, that except this feeling prevails in our hearts, we have no connection with Christ. Nor does he yet, as I have said, set before us the love of Christ, so as to require us to be equal to him; for what would this be but to drive us all to despair? But he means that our feelings should be so formed and regulated, that we may desire to devote our life and also our death, first to God, and then to our neighbors.

There is another difference between us and Christ, — the virtue or benefit of our death cannot be the same. For the wrath of God is not pacified by our blood, nor is life procured by our death, nor is punishment due to others suffered by us. But the Apostle, in this comparison, had not in view the end or the effect of Christ’s death; but he meant only that our life should be formed according to his example.




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