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

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 2:22-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2011

1Jn 2:22  Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son.

Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He here explains what kind of lie he means, the heresy of denying that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, as Simon Magus, Ebion, Cerinthus, and other Judaisers, against whom S. John wrote, both ancient and modern. For, as Bede says, “Compared with this all other lies are little or nothing.”  Indeed, what more pernicious lie could be uttered or invented than this, cutting off as it does all faith and hope of salvation? He then that maintains it, is pre-eminently a liar, because he is heretical, sacrilegious, an atheist, an antichrist. The word is commonly used of those who mean one thing and say another. And this is the case with these very persons, for they knew or ought to know that Jesus was the Christ. So writes Tertullian (de Prescript. Heret. cap. xxxiii.) : “John in his Epistle specially calls those persons antichrist, who said that Jesus had not come in the flesh, as Marcion and Ebion maintained.” And as CEcumenius tells us, “Simon stated that Jesus and Christ were different persons. Jesus who was born of Mary, Christ who had come down from heaven.”  S. Cyril (Catech. vi.) says that Simon Magus was the author of all these heresies, and then enlarges on them and his impostures.

This is the Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son. Because by saying that Christ is not the Son of God, they say that God is not His Father. For the terms Father and Son are correlative, and accordingly if one of them is done away with, so is the other also. CEcumenius supposes that Valentinus is here aimed at, who said that there was another Father, beside Him who was called the Father of Christ. And these self-same heretics (he says) deny the Son, by affirming that He is a mere man, and not God by nature. So too Basilides. (See Irenasus, i. 23 ; Tertullian, de Prescript.; Epiphanius, Hcer. xxiv., and others.)

1Jn 2:23  Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.

Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. In Whom to abide (as Cajetan says), “nor as abiding in Him, for he believes not His eternal generation” (see Dionysius).

He hath Him not in his mind, and consequently does not confess Him with his life. He seems to refer to John 5:37, and as he says above, chapter 1, “His word is not in us.”  And in this chapter, vers. 5 and 24. For it is by faith, hope, and charity that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit abide in us, and we consequently have them in us, just as a Church has the Eucharist within it, for a holy soul is in truth the temple of God who dwells within it. He here aims at the Judaising heretics, who deny the doctrine of the Trinity, and say that there is but one Person in the Godhead, and consequently deny that Christ is God, and the Son of God. Christ in this very Gospel maintains against them that He is the Only Begotten Son of God ,the Father. See Jn 3:35, 5:18 seq, 36 seq., 6:58. For, as CEcumenius says, “Had they known the Father, they would without any doubt have known Him to be the Father of the Only Begotten Son.” And more especially because he who knows not the Trinity knows not the nature of the Godhead to be so full and prolific as to require a plurality of Persons, and demands that it should be communicated to all the Three, so that in taking away One Person you in fact do away with the Godhead altogether. And this is what S. John means here. In like manner, Christ said to Philip, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father. . . . Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?” (John 14:9-10). Whereby is signified plurality of Persons and identity of Essence, and the intimate and complete indwelling of one Person in another. Damascene (de Fide, i. 2) terms this (? the text is illegible), and the Schoolmen (after him) circumincessio. See S. Augustine, de Trinit. vi. ; S. Hilary, de Trinit. Lib. iv. ; and Ambroseaster, in 2 Cor. 13. S. Augustine says, “Each is in each, and all in each, and each in all, and all in all, and all are One.”

S. Cyprian (Exhort. Martyr, cap. 5) and S. Hilary (de Trin. lib. vi.) here read, He that hath the Son, hath both the Father and the Son, i.e., wishing him well, and favouring him. S. Augustine has the same reading, but explains it of worship and veneration: “He who worships the Son worships the Father, for he cannot worship the Father who worships not the Son, as it is said John 5:23.”

1Jn 2:24  As for you, let that which you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If that abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning, you also shall abide in the Son and in the Father.

As for you, let that which you have heard from the beginning abide in you. Be stedfast in the faith, doctrine, and Christian life, which ye received at first, for thus will true faith abide in you, and ye will abide in the true faith and sonship of God. See Gal 1:9; Heb 13:9. As S. Cyprian strikingly says (Ep. xl.): “I exhort and advise you not to believe rashly pernicious words, or readily yield consent to words of falsehood, not to put darkness for light, night for day, hunger for food, poison for a remedy, death for life.”

If that abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning (as I have just explained it), you also shall abide in the Son and in the Father. We must consider that the Holy Spirit is also included in the expression, the Father and the Son. For the Father and the Son are the Breathers forth of the Holy Spirit, and in their Essence, as understood in its full meaning, they include the power of breathing forth the Holy Spirit, yea, its actual exercise. But at this time no question had arisen respecting the Holy Spirit, but merely respecting the Son, and consequently respecting the Father. The Son is here put before the Father, for the special reason that “no man cometh to the Father but through the Son.” John 14.  “For no one will behold the greatness of the Divine Glory, except he be born again by the sacraments of that Manhood, which the Son assumed.” So Bede.

But further, if ye abide in the Son and in the Father, the Father and the Son will in their turn abide in you. As (Ecumenius says, “Ye will have union and communion with Him, as Christ promised” (John 14:23). As S. Augustine remarks on this passage, “The Holy Spirit also dwells in the Saints together with the Father and the Son: just as God in His temple. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit come to us when we come to them they come to us by their aid, we by our obedience they come by their enlightening, we by gazing on them they come by filling us, we by admitting them within so that we behold them by no outward, but by inward vision, and they abide in us, not transitorily, but for

1Jn 2:25  And this is the promise which he hath promised us, life everlasting.


Gagneius refers thus to the promise made by our Lord, John 17:20. “For (he says) the promise He has made us is indeed eternal life, since it is eternal life to abide in God, and to enjoy Him here in grace, and hereafter in glory.”(Ecumenius makes the word and equivalent to because: “Ye will abide in the Father and the Son because He promised you this in promising eternal life.” But the first meaning is the best. This is a powerful motive for constancy in the faith. “Let the memory of the promised reward,” says Bede, “make thee persevere in thy work.”  “Let us see” (says S. Augustine) what He hath promised? Silver, or possessions, or pleasant lands ? No indeed, this is not the reward for which He exhorts us to endure. It is eternal life.” And he adds, “God
combines threats with His promises, even eternal death, if we disobey Him.” “A powerful man threatens us with imprisonment, with fire, with torments, with wild beasts. But does he threaten us with eternal fire? Dread that which the Almighty threatens, love that which He promised, and then the whole world is a worthless thing, whether in its promises or its threats.”

1Jn 2:26  These things have I written to you concerning them that seduce you.
1Jn 2:27  And as for you, let the unction, which you have received from him abide in you. And you have no need that any man teach you: but as his unction teacheth you of all things and is truth and is no lie. And as it hath taught you, abide in him.

And as for you, let the unction, which you have received from him abide in you.  By the anointing he means the gift of wisdom and understanding given in baptism and augmented in confirmation. See above, ver. 20.

And you have no need that any man teach you: but as his unction teacheth you of all things, understand abide in it as S. John adds shortly afterwards. Some MSS. add so do ye? It means, ye need not go to false apostles and heretics to teach you the truth, for ye have already learned it from the Apostles themselves, and that which they taught outwardly, the Holy Spirit must needs teach you within. (See Isa 54:13; John 6:45; Ps 94:10.) Be stedfast then in that which ye have thus been taught. See Bellarmine, de Verbo Dei, iii. 3, who says, “Ye have no need for a Lutheran or Calvinist to teach you Christian doctrine, because ye have been fully taught it by the teaching of the Church, and the aid of the Holy Spirit. See 1 Pet 5:12; Col 1:6. And S. Augustine (in loc.) thus writes: “I for my part have spoken to all. But they to whom that unction speaketh not within, they whom the Holy Spirit teacheth not, go away untaught. The outward teachings of a master are a kind of aid and warning, but He who teacheth the heart hath His seat in heaven. . . . One is your master, even Christ. Let Him speak to you within, when no one is present. For though some one is at thy side, yet there is no one in thy heart. Let there be no one in thy heart, let Christ be in thy heart, let His unction be in thy heart, lest thy heart be athirst in the desert, and have no fountains to water it. The Master who teacheth is within, Christ teacheth, His inspiration teacheth. But where His inspiration and His unction are not, words echo in vain from without.” And so too S. Gregory, expounding these very words, says, “Unless the same spirit be in the heart of the hearer the words of the teacher are useless;” and he adds, “Do not ascribe to the teacher that which ye hear from his lips, for unless He who really teaches you be within, the tongue of the teacher labours outwardly in vain.” But when he says, “His unction will teach you of all things,” &c., he means, of all that ye have heard, all that the faithful are bound to know, as having been so taught by their earliest instruction and catechising (so even Beza argues), lest any one should infer from this passage that private judgment should be the interpreter of scripture, and the judge of controversies.” See Ezek. xiii. 3.

His anointing. Some refer to Christ, the Anointed One, the abstract for the concrete.

And is truth and is no lie. This is a double assertion, confirming the first statement by a denial of its contrary (see John 1:20).

And as it hath taught you. “And” here stands for therefore.

1Jn 2:28  And now, little children, abide in him, that when he shall appear we may have confidence and not be confounded by him at his coming.

And now, little children, abide in him. and inn the orthodox faith which ye have been taught, amid all the fair words of heretics, and persevere therein.

That when he shall appear we may have confidence. That is, boldness of speech. See Wisdom 5:1; Col 3:4. S. Basil says (Hom. xi. Hex. i), “Abraham also will fear in the judgment, and be in agony.” This is an exaggeration. But it signifies the severity of the judgment in itself (1 Pet 4:18). But if we look at the grace and mercy of God, on the other hand, it will assure all saints of their salvation, and will place them as His friends and His elect on His right hand, and separate them from the reprobate, before the judgment begins.

And not be confounded by him at his coming. Let us not shame one another by your falling from the faith shame, i.e. yourselves, and us your apostles and teachers for net keeping you therein. For the goodness of the scholar is the praise and glory of the teacher. S. Basil (on the words of Ps 34), “I will teach you the fear of the Lord,” says that the shame and confusion of the lost will be their bitterest punishment. See Rev 7:17. And the ground of their shame will be this, that Christ will proclaim, before the whole world, all their shameful and horrible sins, however secret, and committed in thought only; that they will see the saints, whom they despised in this world, raised up above them to glory, to judge and to condemn them, because they foolishly neglected to expiate their sins by penitence and the shame of confession. See Isa 64:24; Dan 12:2. S. Cyril (Catech. iii.) says that the faithful are at their confirmation anointed on their foreheads, as being the seat of shame, in order that they might not be ashamed to confess the name of Christ, and that they might not commit any shameful act, and thus be confounded at the day of judgment. S. Augustine (in loc.) strikingly observes, “Faithful is He that promiseth. He deceiveth not. Only do thou faint not, but wait for the promise. The truth cannot deceive. Be not thou false, professing one thing and doing another. Keep thou the faith, and He will keep His promise. But if thou keep not the faith, thou hast defrauded thyself, He has not broken faith with thee.” And CEcumenius: “What can be more glorious or more admirable than to act boldly in His sight, to whom we shall give an account of our labours, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming?”

At His coming, in glory to judge the world. “We now see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face” (1 Cor 13:12).


One Response to “Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 2:22-28”

  1. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 2:22-28). […]

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