Ver. 1. Behold what manner of charity (or of love) the Father hath bestowed upon us. S. John had said in the last verse of the foregoing chap. that every one who doth justice, is born of him; i.e. is the son of God by adoption. But the world knoweth us not, nor esteems and values us as such: and no wonder, because they have not known, nor acknowledged, nor reverenced God as they ought. We indeed are the sons of God; we believe it, because God has assured us of it; but it hath not yet appeared what we shall be, (v. 2) to what glory or happiness we shall thereby be exalted hereafter, for neither the eye hath seen, nor the ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for those who love him. 1 Cor. ix. 2. We only know this, that his elect shall be like to him, because they shall see him as he is, when they shall enjoy him in heaven. Wi.
Ver. 4. Committeth also iniquity.† By the Greek text, iniquity is here taken for a transgression or prevarication of the law, which makes the sense clearer. Wi.
--- Iniquity; (anomia) transgression of the law. Ch.
[†] V. 4. Et peccatum est iniquitas, kai h amartia estin h anomia, transgressio.
Ver. 6. Whosoever abideth in him, complying with his law, sinneth not; and whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, nor known him; that is, with such a knowledge as is joined with love. Wi.
--- Sinneth not; viz. mortally. See C. i. 8. Ch.
Ver. 8. The devil sinneth from the beginning: not that he was created in sin, but sined soon after he was created. Wi.
Ver. 9. Doth not commit sin. That is, as long as he keepeth in himself this seed of grace, and this divine generation, by which he is born of God. But then he may fall from this happy state by the abuse of his free-will, as appears from Rom. xi. 20. 21. 22. 1 Cor. ix. 27. and x. 12. Phil. ii. 12. Apoc. iii. 11. Ch.
--- He cannot sin, because he is born of God. The meaning of this can be no more, than that he cannot sin as long as the seed of grace remaineth in him, and as long as he is the adoptive son of God. But it is evident he may fall from this happy condition, and from the grace of God, otherwise S. John would not so often in this epistle have exhorted them not to sin. Wi.
Ver. 14-15. We know that we have passed from death to life; i.e. from the death of sin to the life of grace: we know it by a moral certainty, when we experience in our heart a love of our neighbour.
--- He that loveth not God and his neighbour, abideth in death. He that hateth his brother with a mortal hatred, or to a considerable degree, is a murderer. Wi.
Ver. 16. The charity of God,† because he hath laid down his life for us. Jesus Christ, therefore, who laid down his life for us, was God. It is true at present the words of God are wanting in most Greek MSS.: yet the Prot. translation has them. Wi.
[†] V. 16. Charitatem Dei, tou Qeou: scarce in any MSS. nor read by S. Aug. in his commentary on this verse.
Ver. 19-20. And in his sight we shall persuade our hearts. That is, if we love God and our neighbour in deed, as he said before, we may rest satisfied in conscience that we follow the ways of truth, and may have a well-grounded confidence in God.
--- But if our hearts reprehend us, for not complying with this duty and precept of charity, God is still greater than our heart; i.e. he sees and knows the interior dispositions of our heart, even better than we know ourselves, and therefore we have more reason to fear him, especially when even our heart and conscience reprehend us. Wi.
Ver. 24. We know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. These words may be either referred to the body of the Church in general or to the apostles, or to every one in particular. It is certain that God gave his Spirit to his Church and to the apostles, by the coming of the Holy Ghost in a visible manner, and by the miraculous gifts bestowed upon the apostles; but every one in particular has only a moral certainty that he has the Spirit of God, and his sanctifying grace in his soul. Wi.