1 Yochanan, Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern
1. See what love the Father has lavished on us in letting us be called God’s children! For that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it has not known him.
2. Dear friends, we are God’s children now; and it has not yet been made clear what we will become. We do know that when he appears, we will be like him; because we will see him as he really is.
We are God's children now (compare Ro 8:15); and although it has not yet been made clear what we will become, there are clues, such as Ro 8:29-30. We do know, from 1С 15:35-54, that when he appears to collect his people (2:28; Yn 14:3; 1 Th 4:13-18). we will be like him.
We will see him as he really is (compare 1С 13:12). On this Yechiel Lichtenstein comments:
"Isaiah 5:28 says, 'For they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.' On this basis Yochanan proved here that when he appears, we will be like him. The proof that we will see him is that since in the flesh it is impossible to see God — as it is written, 'Man shall not see me and live' (Exodus 33:20) — so it must be that 'we will be like him' means that we will be comparable with him. And this is so, for we will have a spiritual body like his — as Paul said in Philippians 3:21, 'He will change the bodies we have in this humble state and make them like his glorious body.' Likewise the sages cited in the book, Mivchar-HaPninim ("The Choice Pearls") said, 'If I knew, I would be,' that is, 'If I knew God, I would already be like him."'(Commentary to the New Testament)
3. And everyone who has this hope in him continues purifying himself, since God is pure.
4. Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah.
Sin is defined as violation of Torah; conversely, "where there is no law, there is also no violation" (Ro 4:15&N).
5. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and that there is no sin in him.
6. So no one who remains united with him continues sinning; everyone who does continue sinning has neither seen him nor known him.
7. Children, don’t let anyone deceive you — it is the person that keeps on doing what is right who is righteous, just as God is righteous.
8. The person who keeps on sinning is from the Adversary, because from the very beginning the Adversary has kept on sinning. It was for this very reason that the Son of God appeared, to destroy these doings of the Adversary.
The first four editions of the JNT inadvertantly omitted the last half of the verse, which reads: "It was for this very reason that the son of God appeared, to destroy these doings of the Adversary."
9. No one who has God as his Father keeps on sinning, because the seed planted by God remains in him. That is, he cannot continue sinning, because he has God as his Father.
vv. 6, 9. No one who remains united with him continues sinning.... No one who has God as his Father keeps on sinning.... That is, he cannot continue sinning. The Greek verb in the present tense, as used here, implies ongoing action. A number of English versions (among them KJV, the New English Bible, and the Jerusalem Bible) confuse readers by seeming to imply that believers are exempt from sin. For example, the Revised Standard Version: "No one who abides in him sins.... No one born of God commits sin; ...and he cannot sin."
Yochanan is not saying that once a person confesses faith in Yeshua he will never again commit sin; this is already clear from 1:5-2:2. On the contrary, his point is that a believer should never intend to sin, that he should never be a habitual sinner, that he should not continue to reserve for himself an area of life devoted to sinful practices. Instead of being defensive and self-excusing, he should acknowledge his sins (1:9) and renounce them. He should not exempt any part of his life from continuous self-scrutiny.
No one who has God as his Father keeps on sinning, because the seed planted by God remains in him. 'The seed planted by God" is, literally, "his seed." It refers to the seed of the Gospel (Mt 13:1-23), the once-for-all spiritual awareness of who God is and what God wants from his human creatures. The context cannot justify interpreting "his seed" as not God's seed but the person's own seed; from this error spring pagan-style heresies demanding sexual asceticism.
10. Here is how one can distinguish clearly between God’s children and those of the Adversary: everyone who does not continue doing what is right is not from God. Likewise, anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God.
Don't let anyone deceive you. Everyone who does not continue doing what is right and does not keep loving his brother is not from God, but from the Adversary, Satan. The anti-Messiahs (2:19) are such deceivers (4:2); what they preach may sound good, but their actions belie their words. Yeshua promised that false Messiahs and false prophets would come and deceive "even the chosen, if possible" (Mt 24:23-26&N), but "you will recognize them by their fruit" (Mt 7:15-20).
11. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning: that we should love each other
12. and not be like Kayin, who was from the Evil One and murdered his own brother. Why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.
See Genesis 4:1-15 and MJ 11:6N.
13. Don’t be amazed, brothers, if the world hates you.
14. We, for our part, know that we have passed from death to life because we keep loving the brothers. The person who fails to keep on loving is still under the power of death.
We have passed from spiritual death to spiritual life. Romans 8:6 explains what this means: "Having one's mind controlled by the old nature is death, but having one's mind controlled by the Spirit is life and shalom" The proof of our having passed from deain to life is not in our beliefs and professions, but in the fact that we keep loving the brothers. Is still under the power of death, literally, "remains in the death."
15. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16. The way that we have come to know love is through his having laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers!
17. If someone has worldly possessions and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how can he be loving God?
18. Children, let us love not with words and talk, but with actions and in reality!
With v. 15 compare Mt. 5:21-26. With vv. 17-18 compare Ya 2:14-17. Yochanan, like all the New Testament writers, retains the customary Jewish emphasis on the importance of deeds. While Ya'akov speaks of deeds as necessary expressions of faith, Yochanan stresses deeds as necessary expressions of love. Similarly Sha'ul at Ga 5:6.
19. Here is how we will know that we are from the truth and will set our hearts at rest in his presence:
20. if our hearts know something against us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
21. Dear friends, if our hearts know nothing against us, we have confidence in approaching God;
Our consciences can be misguided (1С 8:7-13), but if in fact we are loving our brothers with deeds of kindness, and not merely with our feelings, then we can quiet our consciences. With these verses compare Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, О God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!"
22. then, whatever we ask for, we receive from him; because we are obeying his commands and doing the things that please him.
23. This is his command: that we are to trust in the person and power of his Son Yeshua the Messiah and to keep loving one another, just as he commanded us.
The person and power, literally, "the name." See Mt 28:19N; Ac 2:38N, 3:16N.
24. Those who obey his commands remain united with him and he with them. Here is how we know that he remains united with us: by the Spirit whom he gave us.
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