1 John 2:29
If you know that he is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of him.
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2:24-29 The truth of Christ, abiding in us, is a means to sever from sin, and unites us to the Son of God, Joh 15:3,4. What value should we put upon gospel truth! Thereby the promise of eternal life is made sure. The promise God makes, is suitable to his own greatness, power, and goodness; it is eternal life. The Spirit of truth will not lie; and he teaches all things in the present dispensation, all things necessary to our knowledge of God in Christ, and their glory in the gospel. The apostle repeats the kind words, little children; which denotes his affection. He would persuade by love. Gospel privileges oblige to gospel duties; and those anointed by the Lord Jesus abide with him. The new spiritual nature is from the Lord Christ. He that is constant to the practice of religion in trying times, shows that he is born from above, from the Lord Christ. Then, let us beware of holding the truth in unrighteousness, remembering that those only are born of God, who bear his holy image, and walk in his most righteous ways.If ye know that he is righteous - This is not said as if there could be any doubt on the subject, but merely to call their attention to it as a well-known truth, and to state what followed from it. Everyone who has any true acquaintance with God, must have the fullest conviction that he is a righteous Being. But, if this be so, John says, then it must follow that only those who are truly righteous can regard themselves as begotten of Him.

Ye know - Margin, "know ye." The Greek will bear either construction, and either would make good sense. Assuming that God is righteous, it would be proper to state, as in the text, that it followed from this that they must know that only those who are righteous can be regarded as begotten of Him; or, assuming this to be true, it was proper to exhort them to be righteous, as in the margin. Whichever interpretation is adopted, the great truth is taught, that only those who are truly righteous can regard themselves as the children of God.

That everyone that doeth righteousness is born of him - Or rather, is begotten of Him; is truly a child of God. This truth is everywhere taught in the Bible, and is worthy of being often repeated. No one who is not, in the proper sense of the term, a righteous man, can have any wellfounded pretensions to being regarded as a child of God. If this be so, then it is not difficult to determine whether we are the children of God.

(1) if we are unjust, false, dishonest, we cannot be His children.

(2) if we are indulging in any known sin, we cannot be.

(3) if we are not truly righteous, all visions and rapture, all zeal and ardor, though in the cause of religion, all that we may pride ourselves on in being fervent in prayer, or eloquent in preaching, is vain.

(4) if we are righteous, in the true and proper sense, doing that which is right toward God and toward people, to ourselves, to our families, to our neighbors, to the world at large, to the Saviour who died for us, then we are true Christians; and then, no matter how soon he may appear, or how solemn and overwhelming the scenes that shall close the world, we shall not be ashamed or confounded, for we shall hail him as our Saviour, and rejoice that the time has come that we may go and dwell with him forever.

29. The heading of the second division of the Epistle: "God is righteous; therefore, every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him." Love is the grand feature and principle of "righteousness" selected for discussion, 1Jo 2:29-3:3.

If ye know … ye know—distinct Greek verbs: "if ye are aware (are in possession of the knowledge) … ye discern or apprehend also that," &c. Ye are already aware that God ("He" includes both "the Father," of whom the believer is born (end of this verse, and 1Jo 3:1), and "the Son," 1Jo 2:1, 23) is righteous, ye must necessarily, thereby, perceive also the consequence of that truth, namely, "that everyone that doeth righteousness (and he alone; literally, the righteousness such as the righteous God approves) is born of Him." The righteous produceth the righteous. We are never said to be born again of Christ, but of God, with whom Christ is one. Hollaz in Alford defines the righteousness of God, "It is the divine energy by whose power God wills and does all things which are conformable to His eternal law, prescribes suitable laws to His creatures, fulfils His promises to men, rewards the good, and punishes the ungodly."

doeth—"For the graces (virtues) are practical, and have their being in being produced (in being exercised); for when they have ceased to act, or are only about to act, they have not even being" [ŒCUMENIUS]. "God is righteous, and therefore the source of righteousness; when then a man doeth righteousness, we know that the source of his righteousness is God, that consequently he has acquired by new birth from God that righteousness which he had not by nature. We argue from his doing righteousness, to his being born of God. The error of Pelagians is to conclude that doing righteousness is a condition of becoming a child of God" [Alford most truly]. Compare Lu 7:47, 50: Her much love evinced that her sins were already forgiven; not, were the condition of her sins being forgiven.

Lest he should be thought only solicitous to preserve among them the right notions of the Christian docrine, as if that alone would suffice them for their salvation and blessedness, (which was the conceit of the Gnostics, touching their own notions, that the entertaining of them would save men, whatsoever men they were, or howsoever they lived), he subjoins this serious monition:

If ye know, & c., intimating, that whatsoever they had of the knowledge of God would avail them nothing, if, whereas

he is righteous, they were not transformed by it into his likeness, and enabled thereby to

do righteousness, which alone would evidence their Divine birth, since God hath no children destitute of his image, or who resemble him not. If ye know that he is righteous,.... That is, Christ, who is righteous as God in his nature and in his works; and as man in his obedience, life, and conversation; and as Mediator, in faithfully discharging the work he undertook; and is the author of an everlasting righteousness, which is imputed by God, revealed in the Gospel, and received by faith; all which they knew, for this is not said as doubting, but rather as taking it for granted that they did know it; "if", or "seeing ye know", &c. then it follows;

ye know, or "know ye"; ye may assure yourselves,

that everyone that doeth righteousness; not merely works of righteousness, especially in order to justify him before God; for such an one is so far from being born of God, or born again, that he is manifestly in a state of nature, and of opposition to, and enmity against God; he is not subject to him, he does not submit to the righteousness of God, but goes about to establish his own and betrays his ignorance and want grace; but it intends such an one who with the heart believes unto righteousness, and lays hold by faith, and lives upon the righteousness of Christ for justification; and who performs, good, works in faith, and from a principle of love, not to obtain a justifying righteousness, but because he is justified by the righteousness of Christ: and: such an one

is born of him; either of God, or rather, of Christ; being regenerated by his Spirit, having his, grace implanted in him, as appears by his faith in his righteousness and by his works of righteousness, as fruits of faith; and having his image stamped on him, and he himself formed in him, and so made like unto him; by all which it is evident he is one of his spiritual seed and offspring. The Syriac version reads, "is of him"; belongs to him, is one of his; and this makes way for what is said of adoption in the following chapter and which should begin here.

{27} If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

(27) A passing over to the treatise following, which tends to the same purpose, but yet is more ample, and handles the same matter in another way, for before he taught us to go from the effects to the cause, and in this that follows, he goes from the causes to the effects. This is the sum of the argument, God is the fountain of all righteousness, and therefore they that give themselves to righteousness, are known to be born of him, because they resemble God the Father.

1 John 2:29. With this verse the third section begins, which continues to chap. 1 John 3:22, and consists of two groups: (1) 1 John 2:29 to 1 John 3:10 a, and (2) 1 John 3:10 b–22.

After the apostle has warned them against the love of the κόσμος, and against the false teachers (who are ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου), he shows the obligation of Christians to δικαιοσύνη, in which they reveal themselves as τέκνα Θεοῦ, in contrast to the τέκνα διαβόλου.

1 John 2:29. The apostle now goes on to indicate how it is consistent with the nature of Christians, as those that are born of God, to do righteousness.

ἐὰν εἰδῆτε] Here also the apostle directs himself to his readers’ own consciousness, as he does not want to teach them anything new, but only to state what they already know for their more earnest consideration.

ὅτι δίκαιός ἐστι. The present ἐστι is not used, either here or in 1 John 3:5, 1 John 4:17, for ἦν (Storr). It is doubtful whether the subject is Christ (a Lapide, Lorinus, Bengel, Rickli, Frommann, Myrberg, 1st ed. of this Comm., etc.) or God (Baumgarten-Crusius, Neander, Gerlach, Köstlin, de Wette, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Ebrard, Braune, Weiss, and others). In favour of the former is the fact that previously, not only in 1 John 2:25 by αὐτός, and 1 John 2:27 by ἐν αὐτῷ, but also in 1 John 2:28 by φανερωθῇ, ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ, and ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ, Christ is clearly meant; for the latter, that in the following ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται, the pronoun refers back to the subject of δίκαιός ἐστι, and the idea γεννᾶσθαι ἐκ Χριστοῦ never appears in the writing, and, moreover, John, in what follows, calls Christians τέκνα Θεοῦ, and in 1 John 2:9 makes use of the expression γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ (comp. 1 John 4:7, 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:4; 1 John 5:18). From the predicate δίκαιος nothing can be inferred, as this attribute is assigned by John both to God (1 John 1:9) and Christ (1 John 2:1). As, with John’s peculiar blending of the Father and the Son (or of God and Christ), it would not be easy to explain how he can pass from the one to the other without specially indicating it, it appears more safe, in accordance with the constant mode of conception and expression in the Epistle, to supply as the subject of δίκαιός ἐστι God, than Christ. It is inappropriate, with Storr, Lücke, and others, to refer δίκαιος to Christ, and ἐξ αὐτοῦ, on the other hand, to God, because the thought of the apostle would thereby lose its peculiar force (Bengel: justus justum gignit).[186]

The statement that God is δίκαιος corresponds with the statement that He is φῶς (chap. 1 John 1:5); it does not follow from 1 John 2:28 that by δίκαιος here the justitia judicialis is to be understood; Erdmann: quum ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ad δίκαιός ἐστι referendum sit, hoc justitiam Dei sensu judiciali significare nequit, sed absolutam ejus sanctitatem.

γινώσκετε] is here not to be regarded as the indicative (Beza, Bengel, Semler, Düsterdieck, Myrberg, Ewald, and others), but, as its position between μένετε (1 John 2:27) and ἴδετε (chap. 1 John 3:1) shows, as the imperative: “then know, i.e. observe and reflect,” with Vulgate, Grotius, Russmeyer, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Lücke, Erdmeyer, Ebrard, Braune, and others.

ὅτι πᾶςγεγέννηται] The same relationship in which, according to chap. 1 John 1:6, κοινωνίαν ἔχειν μετὰ Θεοῦ and περιπατεῖν ἐκ τῷ φωτί stand to one another, exists between γεγεννῆσθαι ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ and ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην (so also Braune), inasmuch as the latter is the practical proof of the former, so that every one who practises righteousness—but no one else (Bengel: omnis et solus)—is born of God. That when Episcopius describes the nasci ex Deo, not as the condition, but as the result of the exercitii justitiae, he perverts the thought of the apostle, needs no proof. The right interpretation in Bengel, Neander, Besser, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Myrberg, Ebrard, Brückner, Braune, Weiss.[187] By ΤῊΝ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗΝ it is plainly righteousness, in the full extent of the idea, that is described; with the expression ΠΟΙΕῖΝ ΤῊΝ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗΝ, compare the synonymous idea ΠΟΙΕῖΝ ΤῊΝ ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑΝ (chap. 1 John 1:6); similarly in Hebrew עָשָׂה צְדָקָה; Genesis 18:19; Isaiah 56:1; Psalm 14:1-5; in the N. T. comp. Matthew 6:1. On ΠΟΙΕῖΝ an emphasis is placed which must not be overlooked; comp. chap. 1 John 3:18; for now is the truth of the experience and of the word first proved in deed.

In ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγ. we must retain ἐξ in its proper meaning; explanations which weaken it, such as that of Socinus: dei similem esse, or of Rosenmüller: amari a deo, are of course to be rejected (Braune); the relation of the perfect γεγέννηται to the present ποιῶν is to be observed.[188]

[186] Sander would leave the question undecided; still he correctly states the alternative: “If δίκαιος must be referred to Christ, so also must ἐξ αὐτοῦ. But if the latter cannot be, if ἐξ αὐτοῦ can only be referred to God, then δίκαιος must also be referred to God.”

[187] The thought that only he who is born of God can practise righteousness, is not exactly expressed here by John, but it is suggested in the preceding πᾶ;. When Lücke in his 2d ed. says: “We might have properly expected ὅτι πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐξ αὐτοῦ, ποιεῖ τὴν δικαιοσύνην; but John would appear to have the purpose of exciting in his readers the consciousness of sonship to God in Christ, therefore he states the reversed relation,”—this is erroneous, since it is rather ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην that has the chief emphasis; in his 1st ed. Lücke correctly stated the thought of the apostle.

[188] The definition of Weiss: “The being born of God is the act by which the known nature of God, and therewith God Himself, who indeed is received into our entire spiritual life as the object of that intuitive knowledge, operates determiningly, mouldingly, regeneratingly, upon our spiritual and moral being,” is in various aspects unsuitable; for (1) it is not so much the act of God as rather the activity of man, his knowledge, which is represented as causing the being born of God; (2) it is erroneous to describe the birth as producing, since the birth is the result of the generating activity; (3) it is no doubt true that the birth is brought about by knowledge, for it is only by producing in man the knowledge of His nature that God produces in him the new birth; but, on the other hand, it is just as true that the knowledge of God is conditioned by the being born of God: only he who is born of God knows God; there are two grades of the knowledge to be distinguished, namely, the knowledge as condition, and the knowledge as result, of being born of God.1 John 2:29. In view of the preceding verse δίκαιος must refer to Christ (cf. 1 John 2:1), and it is equally certain that ἐξ αὐτοῦ refers to the Father, since “begotten of Christ” (cf. Tennyson’s “our fair father Christ”) is not a Scriptural idea. The abrupt transition evinces St. John’s sense of the oneness of the Father and the Son (cf. 1 John 2:24; John 10:30). γινώσκετε, scitote (Vulg.), rather cognoscite (Calv.), “get to know,” “recognise” (see note on 1 John 2:3); perceive the blessed inference, appropriate your birthright. It enfeebles the sentence to take the verb as indicat.1 John 2:29 to 1 John 3:12. The Children of God and the Children of the Devil

29. If ye know that he is righteous] This probably does not mean Christ, although the preceding verse refers entirely to Him. ‘To be born of Christ’, though containing “nothing abhorrent from our Christian ideas”, is not a Scriptural expression; whereas ‘to be born of God’ is not only a common thought in Scripture, but is specially common in this Epistle and occurs in the very next verse. And clearly ‘He’ and ‘Him’ must be interpreted alike: it destroys the argument (justus justum gignit, as Bengel puts it) to interpret ‘He is righteous’ of Christ and ‘born of Him’ of God. Moreover, this explanation gets rid of one abrupt change by substituting another still more abrupt. That ‘He, Him, His’ in 1 John 2:28 means Christ, and ‘He, Him’ in 1 John 2:29 means God, is some confirmation of the view that a new division of the letter begins with 1 John 2:29. That ‘God is righteous’ see 1 John 1:9 and John 17:25. But S. John is so full of the truth that Christ and the Father are one, and that Christ is God revealed to man, that he makes the transition from one to the other almost imperceptibly. Had his readers asked him of one of these ambiguous passages, ‘Are you speaking of Christ or of God’? he would perhaps have replied, ‘Does it matter’?

ye know] Or, know ye; but this is less probable, though the Vulgate has scitote, and Wiclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Rhemish, all take it as imperative. ‘Ye know’ is more in harmony with 1 John 2:20-21. It is remarkable how frequently in S. John’s writings we are in doubt as to whether a verb is imperative or indicative (1 John 2:27, John 5:39; John 12:19; John 14:1; John 15:18). Even in 1 John 2:28, though there is scarcely a doubt, it is possible to take ‘abide’ as an indicative. After, ‘ye know that every one’ we must supply ‘also’; ye know that every one also.

There is a change of verb from ‘if ye know’ (ἐὰν εἰδῆτε) to ‘ye know that’ (γινώσκετε ὅτι). The former means ‘to have intuitive knowledge’ or simply ‘to be aware of the fact’ (1 John 2:11; 1 John 2:20-21): the latter means ‘to come to know, learn by experience, recognise, perceive’ (1 John 2:3-5; 1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 2:18). ‘If ye are aware that God is righteous, ye cannot fail to perceive that &c.’ Comp. ‘What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt understand (get to know) hereafter’ (John 13:7); ‘Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou perceivest that I love Thee’ (John 21:17): and the converse change: ‘If ye had learned to know Me, ye would know My Father also’ (John 14:7; comp. John 8:55).

which doeth righteousness] Perhaps we should translate, that doeth His righteousness. It is literally, that doeth the righteousness; but in Greek the definite article is often equivalent to our possessive pronoun. Or ‘the righteousness’ may mean ‘the righteousness which is truly such’: comp. ‘to do the truth’ (1 John 1:6). The present tense expresses habitual action.

is born of him] Literally, hath been begotten from Him. Only he who habitually does righteousness is a true son of the God who is righteous; just as only he who habitually walks in the light has true fellowship with the God who is light (1 John 1:6-7). In a similar spirit S. Paul says, ‘Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness’ (2 Timothy 2:19). Other signs of Divine birth are love of the brethren (1 John 4:7) and faith in Jesus as the Christ (1 John 5:1).

1 John 2:29 to 1 John 5:12. God is Love

There seems to be no serious break in the Epistle from this point onwards until we reach the concluding verses which form a sort of summary (1 John 5:13-21). The key-word ‘love’ is distributed, and not very unevenly, over the whole, from 1 John 3:1 to 1 John 5:3. Subdivisions, however, exist and will be pointed out as they occur. The next two subdivisions may be marked thus; The Children of God and the Children of the Devil (1 John 2:29 to 1 John 3:12); Love and Hate (1 John 3:13-24). The two, as we shall find, are closely linked together, and might be placed under one heading, thus; The Righteousness of the Children of God in their relation to the Hate of the World.1 John 2:29. Ἐὰν εἰδῆτε, if ye know) From the mention of the future manifestation of the Son and the sons of God, he derives a new discussion on sin and righteousness.—δίκαιός ἐστι) Jesus Christ is Righteous: 1 John 2:1; 1 John 3:5-6.—γινώσκετε) ye acknowledge.—πᾶς) every one, and he alone.—γεγέννηται, is born) The righteous produces the righteous.Verse 29. - This verse forms a bridge between the two main divisions of the Epistle. The coming of Christ suggests the righteousness of Christ; for it is as the righteous Judge that he is coming, and those who would not be ashamed to meet him at his coming must be righteous also. Once more (verse 27) we are in doubt between indicative and imperative: γινώσκετε, in spite of the preceding μένετε and following ἴδετε, is probably indicative. To know that God (not Christ; comp. 1 John 1:9; John 17:25) is righteous is to perceive that every doer of his τήν righteousness is a son of God (not of Christ; we are nowhere in Scripture said to be born of Christ). To partake of that righteousness which is God's nature is proof of birth from him. With ποιεῖν τὴν δικαιοσύνην, compare ποιεῖν τὴν ἀληθείαν (1 John 1:6; John 3:21). Righteousness must be shown in conduct; mere desire to be righteous will not suffice. And the conduct must be habitual ὁ ποιῶν not ὁ ποιήσας; a single act of righteousness will not suffice. Note the change from εἰδῆτε to γινώσκετε. To know (intuitively) that God is righteous is to come to know (by experience) that whoever habitually acts righteously is God's offspring.

If ye know - ye know (ἐὰν εἰδῆτε - γινώσκετε)

If ye know absolutely that He is righteous, ye perceive that every one, etc. See on John 2:24. Ye perceive may be taken as imperative: perceive or know ye.

Is born of Him (ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται)

The interpreters differ as to the reference of Him; some referring it to God, and others to Christ. Against the latter is the fact that men are not said to be born of Christ, but of God; and that to be born of God is a characteristic phrase of John, while to be born of Christ is a phrase which occurs nowhere. On the other hand, the undoubted reference to Christ in 1 John 2:28, would seem to demand a similar reference here. Men are said to abide in Christ as well as in God, and to be born of the Spirit. Westcott's remark is pertinent. "When John thinks of God in relation to men, he never thinks of Him apart from Christ (see 1 John 5:20); and again, he never thinks of Christ in His human nature without adding the thought of His divine nature. Thus a rapid transition is possible from the one aspect of the Lord's divine-human person to the other."

Righteous (δίκαιος)

Used by John both of God and of Christ. Of God, 1 John 1:9; John 17:25; Revelation 16:5; of Christ, 1 John 2:1; 1 John 3:7. Compare Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52; Acts 22:14.

Is born of Him (ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται)

Rev., begotten. The first occurrence of the phrase in the Epistle.

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