The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Nov 1: Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 John 3:1-3)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 1, 2010

In this chapter, the Apostle continues the subject, upon which he entered in the last verse of the preceding, and extols the great love of God, manifested in our spiritual regeneration by sanctifying grace (verse 1). He shows the great privilege of Divine Sonship, conferred on us at present, and points out the glory we are to enjoy in future (2); and also what we are to do here, in order to enjoy this glory hereafter (3). He next shows how opposed the commission of sin is to the sanctity of the Christian state, to the economy of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and to the true knowledge and love of God (4-6).

He then guards them against the leading error of the heretics of the day, respecting the sufficiency of faith without good works, and declares, that the  performance of good works, and the avoidance of sin, are the real qualities and characteristics, whereby the sons of God are distinguishedfrom the children of the devil, and among the principal sins of the latter, he specifies hatred of our brethren (7-10).

He points out, how stringent, from the very beginning of the gospel, has been the precept of loving one another (11), and cautions tfiem against folloiving the example of the fratricide, Cain (12). The love of our neighbour is a probable sign that we are in a state of spiritual life, while the man who loves not his neigfibour is in a state of spiritual death (14); and the man who hates his brother, with a hatred involving a wish for his death, the Apostle calls a murderer like Cain. In such a person, the grace of God cannot reside. (15).

In continuation, fie points out the extent to which the precept of charity obliges. It binds us to lay down our lives for the spiritual good of our brethren, after the example of the charity of Christ for us; and also to relieve his corporal wants out of our worldly substance (16, 17). In every case, our sympathy should be practically manifested in works of beneficence (18). It is by the possession of this beneficent charity, we can tranquillize our conscience against all fears, and feel confidence that God will rescue us from damnation on the day of judgment (19-21); and we shall merit to obtain all our requests, because we observe his commandments regarding our believing in Christ and loving our neighbour (23). He concludes, by showing the advantages of keeping God’s commandments.

1Jn 3:1  Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him.

Reflect again and again, how great a proof of his unbounded love the Father has given us, by conferring upon us the exalted title of sons of God, and rendering us such in reality; and it is because the world neither knows nor loves this bountiful Father, that it does not love you either; but on the contrary, persecutes you, and treats you with the greatest contempt.

“Behold,” diligently consider, “what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us,” that is, how great is the love of God the Father for us, as manifested in this, viz., “that we should be called,” or, should receive the exalted appellation and epithet, of ” sons of God,”  and “should be,” in reality, such, viz., adopted sons of God, owing to our new spiritual birth by grace, and owing to his adopting us, as co-heirs of his Son.  “Therefore, the world knows us not,” does not recognise, or love us as his sons; on the contrary, it contemns and persecutes us, “because it knew not him,” it is because the world, that is to say, worldly, carnal men, neither knew nor loved him, that, therefore, they prize not your exalted privilege of divine filiation, through sanctifying grace. The words, “should be,” are not in the ordinary Greek copies, but they are implied in “should be called,” and are found in the chief manuscripts and ancient versions.

1Jn 3:2  Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God: and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.

Dearly beloved, we are even now in the midst of the persecution and contempt with which we are treated, the sons of God.  but what we shall be, what glory we shall enjoy at a future day, hath not yet appeared.  But when Christ shall come in majesty to judge the world, we know that our bodies, clad with all the properties of glorification, shall be assimilated to his, because we shall then see him, not as we see him now (“through a glass, in a dark manner,”) but, as he really is, “face to face”-(1 Cor 13).

Even at the present moment, in the midst of the opprobrium heaped upon us, by those who know not God, we enjoy the lofty prerogative of divine sonship; and “what we shall be, hath not yet appeared,” it is only at a future day it will be seen, to how great a degree of glory we are to be raised. “We know, that when he shall appear,” when Christ shall appear in majesty to judge the world, “we shall be like to him.” This is commonly understood to regard a likeness in the glorified bodies of the elect to Christ’s glorified body. Some interpreters translate the words, “when he shall appear,”   (εαν φανερωθη) “when it shall appear,” namely, when it shall appear, what we will be, as if reference were made to the words immediately preceding. The other, however, is the far more common construction. The words have the same meaning, as in chap. 2 verse 28.  “Because we shall see him as he is,” not obscurely, as now, but “face to face” (1 Cor 12), the lumen gloria shall enable us to see, “face to face” the glory of God; for this, the grace of the present life would be insufficient; and from the beatific vision of God, or the glory of our souls, shall flow the glorification of our bodies. Hence, the Apostle assigns our “seeing him as he is,” as the cause why we will be like him as to the glorification of our bodies, when he shall appear in judgment, “because we shall see him as he is.”

1Jn 3:3  And every one that hath this hope in him sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy.

And every one that hath a true and well grounded hope, through the merits of Christ, of thus seeing him, and of being, consequently, assimilated to him in glory, must, in this life, purify and sanctify himself, as Christ is pure and holy, as far as a creature can imitate God.

“And everyone that hath this hope,” or, a well grounded confidence “in him,”
through the merits of Christ, of seeing him as he is, and of consequently being assimilated to him in his glorified body. “Sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy.” The Greek for “sanctifieth,” (αγνιζει) means, purifieth, and renders himself chaste, by imitating his purity and sanctity, as far as this imitation can be carried by creatures. The resemblance in glory between Christ and the elect, in order to be the object of solid and legitimate hope, must be commenced in this life by grace.

He now shows, how opposed to this sanctity and purity, which should characterize every Christian, is the commission of sin, “whosoever committeth sin committeth also iniquity, and” (i.e. for), “sin is iniquity.” The interpretation of the verse depends on the meaning of the words “sin” and “iniquity.”  St. Ambrose and St. Augustine think that “sin” is more grievous than “iniquity.” Others, among whom is St. Gregory, understand them to mean the same thing, although there may be some difference in the signification of both words. It is, however, more probable, that “sin,” is employed to denote every grievous departure from the rule of right reason, or the dictates of the moral law, although not punishable with penalties by human law (v.g.) sins of uncleanness and impurity; and it is likely that the followers of Simon Magus, and the Nicolaites, regarded sins of impurity, and other sins, not punished by human laws, as trifling, and thus indulged in them freely. Hence, St. John says, that all such sins are violations of God’s law, and are opposed to the sanctity of the Christian state. The Greek word for iniquity is ανομιαν, that is, the transgression, or prevarication of a law. Of course, St. John, when calling “sin” iniquity, speaks of grievous violations of the natural or moral law.

One Response to “Nov 1: Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 John 3:1-3)”

  1. […] Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading. Available 12:15 AM EST. […]

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