Archbishop François Fénelon (1651-1725) was disappointed by some of the selfishness he saw among his congregation. So, he had a message for them. You have wasted your heart’s desires by so eagerly insisting on fulfilling your wishes regardless of God’s will. This is the cause of all your disappointment and grief. You have spent a great deal of time making plans that were mere cobwebs, and a breath of wind has blown them away, you withdrew gradually from God, and He has withdrawn from you. You must return to Him and give yourself unreservedly to Him. There is no other way to regain your peace of mind.
Let go of all your plans. God will do as He pleases with them. Even if you were to succeed through earthly means, God would not bless them. But if you offer them entirely to Him, He will turn everything to fit His merciful purposes, whether He does what you wish or not.
The important thing is to practice prayer and communion with God, whatever dryness, distraction, or weariness you may find in it. You deserve to be rejected by God after turning your back on Him for so long. Your patience will win Him again.
Meanwhile, persevere in your fellowship with God to strengthen your weaknesses. You need to feed the weak with the Bread of God’s Word. Do not debate or give preference to your ideas, but communicate with Him as soon as possible.
One of the most inspirational prayers in the Bible is when Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and cried in tears out to His Father, “Abba, Father; all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” It was not new territory for John; the Psalmist said, “Teach me to do your will, for You, are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me to level ground.”
One of the most gripping stories in the Bible is about a man named Jonah. He chose to do his will and not God’s will, which almost cost him his life. The opening two paragraphs of the Book of Jonah tell the reason why: One day long ago, God’s Word came to Jonah, Amittai’s son: “Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They’re in a bad way, and I can’t ignore it any longer.”
“But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish, running away from God. He went down to the port of Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish—as far away from God as he could get.” Here are four facts to remember about Jonah’s reaction to God’s call. First, your life’s mission must come to you through God’s Word. Second, your life’s mission will require a long step of faith. Third, your life’s mission will involve helping others. Four, your life’s mission may scare you at first.
Then there are nine lessons we can learn from Jonah’s fiasco: One, if you run from God, your life will go downhill.Two, “if you run from God, it will cost you.” Three, “if you run from God, He will not run with you.” Four, “if you run from the people you were supposed to help, will anyone rescue them?” Five, the longer you run from God, the worse it will get.” Sixth, “if you keep fighting against God’s plan, it will just get more challenging, and it won’t work.” Seven, “when you do what God wants, things will calm down.” Eight, “when you do what God says, unbelievers will believe.” Nine, “when you accept your mission, God will show you His mercy.”
Here’s a positive note on obeying God’s will instead of yours: God, in His kindness, has taught us how to be an expert builder. We have built upon the great works of other dedicated servants. But those who build on such a foundation must be very careful. And no one can ever lay any other real foundation than that one we already have – Jesus the Anointed One. But various kinds of materials are employed to build on that foundation. Some use gold and silver and jewels, and some build with sticks and hay or even straw! There will come a time of testing at the Anointed One’s Judgment Day to see what kind of material each builder used. Everyone’s work will be put through the fire so that all can see whether it keeps its value and what was accomplished. Then every worker who built on the Rock with the right materials and whose work still stands will get their reward.
 François Fénelon, Paraclete Giants, The Complete Fénelon, Translated and Edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, 2008, p. 25; Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda.
3:12We are not to be like Cain, who belonged to Satan and killed his brother. Why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing wrong, he knew very well that his brother’s life was purer than his.
Peter Pett (1966) notices that John begins this section by concentrating on the importance of Christians loving Christians, those loyal to the essentials of the faith. He points out that to love one another has been true from the beginning, even from the time of Adam. There were two brothers. One was righteous. He sought to be faithful to God’s will. The other was defiant. He did not seek the mind of God. And so, instead of repenting, Cain murdered Abel, who was living right. He revealed himself as belonging to the Evil One. He made visible what he was, a rebel against God, deceived and influenced by Satan. And it was revealed in his failure to love his brother.
In Jewish and early Christian writings, says Pett, Cain represents those who refuse to obey God and defy His command to love one another. They looked forward to seeing those punished with the same judgment “who are like Cain who envies and hates their fellowman.” Philo, in his allegorical commentary on Genesis, expanded on the whole theme. The Apostle Jude also speaks of “the way of Cain.”
David Legge (1969) states that right away, we see that love is more than a swooning feeling; it is more an act of our will rather than an emotion. But the Apostle John doesn’t leave it for us to conclude what this love is like, for he says in verse twelve, “We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.” First of all, John gives us an illustration of what this love is not and then what it is like.
Legge shares an interesting story about someone from England driving in Ireland who stopped at a traffic light and asked an Irish gentleman on the corner, “Can you tell me the way to Belfast?” The professor-looking Irishman said: “Well, if you go up that road and turn right, and then turn left again, come to a roundabout, go straight ahead…but that’s not where it is.” Sometimes we have to find out what a thing is not to understand what it is. Here John shows us the proof of where love is not, which proves the absence of being in union with God.
But then Legge moves on from the illustration to explain why Cain behaved in this way. At the end of verse twelve, we read: “Because his works were evil, and his brother’s deeds were righteous.” Cain belonged to the wicked one. At the beginning of verse twelve, we see two things that the Apostle John is citing that shed light on Cain’s lack of brotherly love. The first thing he gives us is that Cain belonged to the devil’s wicked brood. That identifies his parentage. Indeed, this evil feature is a distinctive part of the devil’s character. By looking at what John said in his Gospel, that the devil was a thief, and a murderer from the beginning, here Cain is following in the footsteps of his spiritual mentor, committing murder and then theft.
Douglas Sean O’Donnell (1972) sees John moving beyond the authors of Genesis concept of wrongdoing and the writer of Hebrews lack of faith and places Cain’s motive at the devil’s doorstep. It also fits Jesus’ view of a murderer’s connection with “the devil,” who has been “one from the beginning.” John confidently follows his Lord’s lead by equating those who reject other Christians to this Satanic source. The renegade antichrists are also in view. Did they depart the Christian community because they were envious of John? Envy or no envy, they hated John’s message, and their poisonous gossip and false gospel were spilling into the ears of church members. They wanted apostolic Christianity to die.
3:13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world doesn’t like you
The Apostle John is not offering a startling new revelation here. It may have come as a surprise to the Apostles Peter and John after they healed the disabled man near the Temple gate when those who saw what had been done thought these two uneducated Galileans were using some kind of magic. After all, they accused Jesus of doing His miracles by the power of the devil. And in one of His parables, Jesus talked about the king who sent out messengers to invite chosen individuals to his son’s wedding feast. But the people refused to listen and went on doing other things. He was furious when he was informed how they treated his messengers and their message. These people had nothing against the king’s, they just didn’t have respect for the king. So, why should the disciples be surprised when Jesus told them that the world would not like them because they hated Him. Not only that, but be prepared for them to be imprisoned just because they are Christians.
Despite these warnings, the Apostle John heard the Master say that the world is not treating them that way because they were His followers, but out of hatred for Him. Furthermore, this animosity did not begin with the disciples but started with the world’s rejection of Jesus as the Anointed One, the Son of God. In addition, it is also out of jealously because the Messiah chose the disciples instead of choosing everybody to be His followers. And even though the disciples were Jews, if they tried to attend worship at the synagogue, they would be thrown out just because they followed Jesus. The truth is, a time would come when some would be scattered and seemingly forget their Christian roots. But not to worry, they were given enough information about God’s salvation plan to keep them going. They were unaware that Jesus already knew the rest of the story and how things would work out in the end.
Responding to this, the Apostle Paul told the believers in Rome that they should not expect the world to suddenly turn around, love them, and treat them with civil courtesy. And he told Timothy that he should tell the congregations under his care that everyone who stands up and stands out for the Lord Jesus the Anointed One will be persecuted for their faith, not because of who they are. On the other hand, however, let no one persuade them to forsake their faith just to be accepted by the world. To do that would not only be turning against their beliefs, but turning against God by embracing His enemies as friends. That’s why it is so important, says John, that everyone remains true and faithful to their commitment to the Lord Jesus. The reason is when it’s all over, and they have suffered, some even to the point of death, there is a new form waiting for them in heaven that will never experience sorrow, sickness, suffering, or sadness.
Today’s human nature is the same as of old. There are still devilish Cains in this world, hating Abel’s believers. So don’t be surprised, brothers, says the Apostle John, if the world hates you. John uses the Greek noun adelphos (“brethren” – KJV); (“brothers and sisters” NIV) in the group sense,  which is appropriate to illustrate brotherly love. Elsewhere in this chapter, he uses it as “brother.” By saying “if” the world hates you, expresses no doubt as to the fact but states it gently and conditionally.
Christians should not be astonished that the satanic world system despises their view of grace. If Cain killed his brother Abel over grace, it should not cause wonderment that the world is mad at Christians for their stand on grace. They wonder why should God save people who admit they were sinners and not save those who were morally good? Also, “if” indicates that John’s readers were already in the process of marveling over the reaction against their message.
The world is disgusted that grace is the only means of salvation and sanctification. Salvation by grace is inherently unwelcoming to the non-Christian. Those spiritually dead always do not care for those spiritually alive. The world hates the message of grace because it shows them that they are still sinners and need salvation, no matter how morally good they may seem.
 See Philo of Alexandria and the Cain and Abel narrative: Structure and Typology in Philo’s exegesis of Genesis 4.1-8. A dissertation submitted to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts, by John Michael Shaw.
 The particle ει (“ei”) is a conditional conjunction and means “if.” It’s pretty much on a par with our English word “if,” and offers no major surprises. It is employed to introduce a situation or statement that is entirely hypothetical, typically without saying anything about the validity of the statement.
3:12We are not to be like Cain, who belonged to Satan and killed his brother. Why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing wrong, he knew very well that his brother’s life was better than his.
Robert W. Yarbrough (1948) sees the context of verses eleven and twelve continue to build the case that the Apostle John’s readers ought to love one another. Such love is what was announced to them “from the beginning.” It refers to the time when they heard and received the Gospel message. The tactic John uses to address the danger of lovelessness is first in narrative form. He presents the story of Cain, who slaughtered his younger brother, Abel, serves as a precedent. John wanted to call attention to the particulars of this drama as a historical account in its primitive setting.
John’s ensuing critique of Cain is simple, says Yarbrough; he murdered Abel because of the moral nature of Abel’s sacrifice in contrast with the selfish intent of his offering. It points to Cain’s jealousy because Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God, who rejected his offering. Cain’s behavior and underlying attitude were the antitheses of love. John uses Cain, the epitome of betrayal,  to exemplify how God’s people must never regard each other. The message that God is Light; and the announcement that John’s readers have had that Light “from the beginning” must be issued in active goodwill for others, not murderous impulses toward them. A significant assurance by John of salvation is the expression and the exercise of love.
Colin G. Kruse (1950) notes that in this verse, the Apostle John urges his readers to keep themselves from falling into that category of persons who do not love fellow believers. He does so by saying, “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.” John was referring to the story in Genesis of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was angry because his offering was not accepted by the Lord, whereas Abel’s sacrifice was approved. In his anger, Cain planned and carried out the murder of his brother. It is permissible to believe God rejected Cain’s offering because he was an evildoer. Following his rejection of Cain’s offering, the Lord says to Cain (before he murdered his brother): “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” It was an offer for repentance, but Cain rejected it.
Judith M. Lieu (1951) notes that the Apostle John relates a story where the failure to love ends in tragedy. John already mentioned in verse eight that any person who claims they have no sin belongs to the devil. There is no evidence that Cain brought his offering with any ulterior motive to kill Abel. That emotion was sparked when God did not accept his gift, but blessed Abel’s sacrifice. As they say in the Orient, “Cain lost face.” As the older brother, that was unacceptable. What could Adam and Eve say? How did they feel? It is all told under the banner of “Love one another.” Just as God being Light cannot be independent of the lives of those who confess Him, so here the call to love one another is not based on common humanity or a shared set of ethical values but an understanding and application of God and His Word.
Marianne M. Thompson (1954) also classifies Cain as a hater and robber. He is a hater because he manifested no love for his brother, and a robber because he took his brother’s life and property. Thompson goes on to say that Abel represents Jesus, but does not say who Cain represents. Putting it into the same context, Thompson says that Cain represented the Jewish leaders responsible for having Jesus crucified. But since the Apostle John is talking about brothers, Cain and Abel are best suited as models for the secessionist who forsook the congregation and Abel the faithful who remained. Added to this is the fact that Cain is described as belonging to the devil. Therefore, Abel belongs to God.
Bruce B. Burton (1954) mentions that Cain and Abel were Adam and Eve’s, first two sons. Abel offered a sacrifice that pleased God, while Cain’s offering was unacceptable. Cain brought grain and fruit, while Abel brought an animal from his flock. Abel’s sacrifice (an animal substitute for his life) was more acceptable to God, both because it was a blood sacrifice and, most important, because of Abel’s attitude when he offered it. After Cain’s offering was rejected, God gave him the chance to right his wrong and try again. God even encouraged him to do so. But Cain refused, and his jealous anger drove him to murder. And why did he kill his brother? Because Cain had been living without acknowledging God’s role in his life, and his brother had been in close communion with God. John’s point was not that Cain committed murder and became part of the devil’s viper brood; instead, because Cain belonged to the evil one, his anger and jealousy drove him to murder. John wanted his readers to understand the terrible results of refusing to love one another. Lack of love can lead to anger, jealousy, hatred – and finally, even to murder.
Bruce G. Schuchard (1958) points out that the word used for murder in Cain’s killing of his innocent brother is the same as that to describe the butchering or slaughtering of a sacrificial animal, mainly by cutting the throat. Therefore, it can easily be employed when cutting a human’s throat with the intent of making them a sacrifice. Furthermore, it pictures Abel’s gift to God like a lamb being slain later on the altar in the Temple. But things got worse; Cain then tried to deceive God when he was asked, “Where is your brother?” Cain pretended he didn’t know anything about Abel’s location.
Schuchard then goes on to say that, like Cain and Abel, we are all descendants of Adam and Eve and are, therefore, kin to one another. Yet, in today’s world, some are part of this kinship, and those who are not, belong to its prince, power, darkness, and death; the others belong to God, His Anointed One, His Spirit, His Light, and everlasting life.
The principles with which John operates, says Schuchard, are sure to shock and alarm the sensibilities of more than a few modern members of society. John’s message speaks to a culture that has almost come to cherish a sense of uncertainty pervading all of life’s circumstances. But John offers a healthy reminder; we might even say a “wake-up” call. The choices that we make matter; the sides we take do too. There are two sides in the universal, everlasting scheme of things: the side of God and those who stand with Him, and the other side does not nor ever will.
David Guzik (1961) tells us that Cain is an excellent example of the failure to love. 1) We can presume that Cain had a godly upbringing that should have equipped him to love, but he chose not to. 2) Cain’s disobedience came from a lack of faith,  resulting in defiance, then hatred. 3) Cain’s lack of discipline and alienation were based on pride. 4) Cain’s revolt and animosity made him feel miserable.5) Cain refused the warning God gave him and surrendered to the sin of bitterness.6) Cain’s disgust led to action against the one he despised.7) Cain was evasive about his sin of revenge and tried to hide it. But God exposed him. Thus, incredibly, there were two of God’s creations. One was good and the other bad. Otherwise, if both were good, there would have been love.
What John is talking about here and the response from the world can be summed up in the well-known poem titled “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. It reads like this:
3:12We are not to be like Cain, who belonged to Satan and killed his brother. Why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing wrong, he knew very well that his brother’s life was purer than his.
Lias goes on to say that any intention to seek one’s benefit at the expense of others is irreconcilable. And since John is writing to Christians, it makes such thinking even more irresponsible. Lias also admonishes that John is warning against two tendencies that have no place in the mind of God. A person who is either too shortsightedly or longsightedly selfish. They either squander whatever means they have as soon as they get it, or they carefully arrange to store it up for themselves in order to enjoy prosperity and power in years to come while others suffer. The stingy person despises the squanderer, and both should be unfamiliar attitudes for any Christian. Cain illustrates such tendencies by bringing the least expensive gift to God as an offering and then murdering his brother to take possession of all Abel worked so hard to acquire. God forbid that any of God’s children would give up being a living sacrifice in service of God by attempting to hurt some dedicated believer to take their prominent position in the congregation.
Theodore Zahn (1838-1933) believes that because the Apostle John knew there were some in the circle of those who would read this epistle who thought you could be righteous without practicing strict holiness and avoiding sin, he needed an example. So, with an eye toward the contrast between Godly righteousness and self-righteousness, John describes a person who perfects themselves and those who do not bother with sanctification as vipers in the devil’s nest.
Robert Cameron (1839-1904) states that the whole aim of the Apostle John’s message he received from the Word of life that he saw, gazed upon, and handled: that is, we must love one another. The whole aim of that which was revealed by the Anointed One, in life and death, is to save mankind from selfishness and lead them to self-sacrifice. In other words, to awaken in them, love one for another. The message is light; its fruit is love. Had sin never entered into the world, had humanity never needed grace, then righteousness would have been the mold in which a person’s life was formed. But the introduction of sin made grace a necessity. This grace was the channel for the outflow of divine love. Therefore, love coming to us, saving us, and putting us before God on a new foundation that places upon us the obligation of having our whole conduct based on love, and love consistently exceeds righteousness.
C. H. Dodd (1884-1973) writes that this is the only time the Apostle John explicitly references the Book of Genesis. In Dodd’s mind, John would show the relevance of this story later on. As such, Adam and Eve’s sons become representatives of the evil world in which God’s children must live. It seems odd that when a known Christian falls into sin, the world’s judgment is swift and unmerciful. But when a sinner commits the same offense of God’s law, they pass it off as a flawed character. So, beware of how the world judges your words, actions, and attitude.
Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) sees the Apostle John describing the opposite of love in Cain’s murderous behavior. Bultmann is also curious why a question is raised concerning the motive of Cain’s repulsive deed – “why did he murder him?” Could it be that Cain simply hated Abel? Or was it because Abel found favor in God’s eyes, and he did not? In any case, in today’s world, Cain’s act would be declared a “hate crime,” which John describes to be the same as taking another person’s life. When Christians act this way toward each other, it can also be called robbery because they steal your joy, peace, and loyalty to God’s Word.
Amos N. Wilder (1895-1993) points out that by saying Cain belonged to the Evil One, he had in mind that Jesus charged the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Jewish leaders with having the devil as their promoter. Thus, when our Lord called Satan “a murderer from the beginning,” John uses it to reference Cain. But the Apostle had more than Abel’s murder in mind. In the next verse, he explains that this same attitude exists in the world. In other words, Christians should realize that they are Abels living in a world full of Cains.
Paul W. Hoon (1910-2000) says that this story of Cain and Abel reflects the struggle between good and evil going on in the universe and is reenacted in the moral battles each person fights. The imagined disgust evil has for what’s good is reflected in daily life’s moral and psychological counterparts. We need not read the conflict between Cain and Abel to understand this; turn on the news at the end of the day, and there will be numerous stories that establish this principle. Morals and ethics are constantly being eroded so that the guilty feel less convicted of their shameful acts. But even more critical, the same erosion is going on among the people of God.
Donald Burdick (1917-1996) states that genetically Cain was a son of Adam, but spiritually and morally, he was an offspring of the devil. It was evident from the works of Cain, they were done with evil intentions. Burdick also points out that the Greek verb sphazō, translated as “slew” KJV; “murder” NIV, was often used to describe the slaughter of an animal by cutting its throat. So, we can imagine that after Abel cut the throat of the lamb he brought to God as an acceptable sacrifice, Cain took the same knife to cut his brother’s throat. But that’s not the end of the story. John then infers in the next verse that the world will treat us the same way they treated our Savior. Only, instead of cutting his throat, they hung Him up to die.
Raymond E. Brown (1921-1986) takes what the Apostle John says here about Cain and Abel as representative of the secessionists (the devil’s brood) and the faithful (God’s children). But instead of interpreting this literally, it is best understood and applied as a figure of speech. Behind all of it are the forces of good and evil. The devil is the lead henchman of his gang and Jesus, the shepherd of His flock. You can tell which person belongs to whom by their actions. The presence of original sin is evidenced by the youngest of children. You need not teach them to get angry, envious, spiteful, lying, cheating, or disobedient. It comes naturally to them. Parenting is a matter of teaching them the opposite. The Ten Commandments were all written to show the children of Israel the opposite of what they were doing. Years ago, most of the preaching was on “what not to do.” But, thank the Lord, it is preached now as “what todo.”
Rudolph A. Culpepper (1930-2015) says that the clearest sign of sin is the lack of love. The opponents have shown that they do not love the community; the elder charges because they departed from it. The Johannine love command is significantly more restricted than the Sermon on the Mount, which commands love for one’s enemies. The new commandment required love for “one another,” which means love for others within the Christian community.
According to Culpepper, those who did not love their Christian brothers and sisters were like Cain, who killed his brother. Those who live by this command, however, have already crossed over from spiritual death into eternal life. Such love is, therefore, an essential quality of the life that God gives to His own. That love is most clearly manifest in Jesus’ act of laying down His life for others. Believers, therefore, ought to live “just as” Jesus did. Specifically, the love command requires one who sees a brother or sister in need and shares what they lack with them. Love is not just a feeling. Therefore, it is the faithful believer’s lifestyle.
Wendell C. Hawley (1930-) calls Cain a “brother-hater.” It didn’t start when they brought their offerings to honor God; it was already in Cain’s heart to kill his younger brother. Could we have here the original example of what we later see in Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Saul and David? I can remember as a young boy in my father’s strict Pentecostal church, where people tried to “out-holy” one another through abstinence, even to not chewing gum. It was also visible in the gifts of the Spirit when one member would quickly give an interpretation of tongues to be first. But what I never saw was one person trying to out-tithe or out-love others. It was also a sad case when, across town, people knew that the congregation in one church despised the assembly of another because they did not behave like them. God help us never to follow those examples.
Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) says that this story of Cain presents someone overwhelmed with anger, unrighteousness, and deliberate disobedience, in contrast to the “faithful” attitude of Abel. How could Cain expect to come to God to present a few sheaves of grain with arrogance and have it accepted? Could it be that God turned him down more because of his attitude than his action?
 Ibid. The First Epistle of St. John with Homiletical Treatment, op. cit., pp. 250-251
 Zahn, Theodore, The Writings of John, op. cit., p. 363
 Cameron, Robert: The First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 135-136
3:12We are not to be like Cain, who belonged to Satan and killed his brother. Why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing wrong, he knew very well that his brother’s life was better than his.
We see that Cain’s sinful tendencies originated from Satan; they developed out of his lack of spiritual relationship with God. So, the source of Cain’s behavior is the devil, but Cain did not become an offspring of the devil because he murdered his brother. He killed his brother because he was part of the devil’s viper brood. Cain’s murderous attitude also came out of his sense of failure before the Lord. He viewed Abel as a rival in spiritual matters. As Cain crawled out of Satan’s nest, he demonstrated that relationship by his act of rejecting God’s system of payment for sin – a blood sacrifice – and sacrificed his brother. Cain was a physical but not a spiritual brother to Abel. They came from two different spiritual origins. The principle is this: actions always arise out of either sin or holiness, either from Satan or God.
So, now we know the origin of spiritual rebellion? It does not begin in humans. Love springs from God, and hate originates in the devil. If you are in the grip of hatred, it has a satanic source. Just as Satan entered the heart of Judas at the institution of the Lord’s Supper to betray Jesus,  so Satan enters the heart when Christians are hated. Satan convinced Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, two Christians, to lie and cheat. It all begins when a person’s purpose is to undermine the things of God. As such, the degenerate person remains under the influence of Satan.
It was everyone’s development in life before they became Christians. They rejected salvation by grace. Most non-Christians do not have a clue that this is the case with them. It is why non-Christians hate the confidence and conviction of believers who know where they stand with God. They despise the Grace concept because it violates their self-trust. Non-Christians often love religion and morality, but their faith and moral code are without the grace of the Anointed One. Therefore, they hold great disdain and contempt for the Gospel message. A skunk by any other name is still a skunk. Anyone can squirt perfume on it from now until doomsday, but it will still smell. No fragrance of religion or morality will help non-Christians find acceptance with God, no matter what they call themselves.
Pride often seeks to diminish those to whom they compare themselves. Others often make them feel small, so they attempt to cut them down a notch or two. Unfortunately, just as Abel threatened Cain, Christians also try to intimidate other Christians they deem more able, talented, or gifted than they are. So, ask yourself, does your heart burn in anger toward another Christian? You cannot stand them. Why don’t you call it what it is? Hatred. Hatred originated in the devil. May God draw our hearts toward Him and His love.
Cain did not kill his brother because he was a terrible person. He killed him out of spite because God rejected his offering. Abel’s lamb was a sacrifice of grace, while Cain’s fruit and grain was an offering of works. Cain hated the grace concept. Adam and Eve’s firstborn did more than murder his brother – he slaughtered him. The Greek often uses the word “murder” for ritualistic slayings. It can mean “to cut the throat.” Sometimes the Greek uses this term for slaughtering a goat. It is a gruesome picture of Cain holding Abel’s head back to cut his throat and jugular vein. In other words, Cain butchered his brother. It is a violent term for putting to death by violence. It is a solid term for fratricide.
It was as though Cain was saying to God in effect, “You wanted a blood sacrifice, didn’t you? I gave you one – I shed the blood of my brother as a ritual sacrifice. So, how do you like your bloody sacrifice now?” Cain hated God’s system of blood sacrifice because it was the foundation for salvation by grace. He wanted to bring the work of his hands, the fruit of the field, to merit salvation. He believed in salvation by personal merit and good works.
The word “because” in verse twelve means “on account of.” It is the reason Cain killed Abel. A wicked person will naturally dislike an individual who claims they are right in God’s eyes. That’s why Cain despised Abel’s relationship with God. He detested Abel’s method of salvation by blood and, therefore, by grace. As such, Abel’s sacrifice by grace stood in stark contrast to Cain’s offering by the work of his hands.
Cain’s murder of Abel proved the true family to which he belonged. Unfortunately, he was under the control of Satan rather than God. The motive behind Cain’s murder was astonishing. He hated his brother’s honest approach to God! He could not stand the comparison between himself and his brother’s path to God. It forced him into doing someone unimaginable. It is because Cain disliked what Abel represented. Abel’s sacrifice symbolized grace. Cain’s offering represented works. Cain believed that a person could work their way into acceptance with God by merit. These two brothers came from the same physical family and environment, but ended in two different outcomes.
Therefore, let’s look at Cain as an illustration of John’s enemies who brought malicious division into the assembly of believers – they belonged to the evil one. They attacked genuine believers because they were committed to salvation by faith instead of works by members of Satan’s brood. It was the same as the crowd that attacked Jesus. Jesus told those religious leaders’ their father was the devil. So remember, Christians will sometimes be required to pay the price for taking a stand on Grace instead of works. The problem is, Grace flies in the face of human achievement and self-help. People want to come to God their way, not God’s way, “I’ll find God my way; I don’t need any help.” The world loves religion but hates Grace.
Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD) says that by using the word “world,” John means those who love the world’s corrupt system. It is hardly surprising that those who love the world will be incapable of loving a brother or sister who separated themselves from the world and is now concerned with acquiring heavenly things. Religion is an abomination to the sinner, as Scripture testifies.
George Swinnock (1627-1673) states that we may say with King David, “They hated me for no reason.” The world has no just cause to hate and curse the people of God. However, there is a reason for all their rage and anger, hostility and cruelty against the saints; and that is because they are God’s children. Why did Cain drench his hands in his brother’s blood? Because his offering was wrong and his brother’s sacrifice was right. Then Swinnock has this thought to share: “Light is burdensome and grievous to owls and bats and all birds of the night; the light of a saint’s holiness is offensive to sinners that are accustomed to deeds done in darkness; thus, the greater the light, the more painful to their sore eyes. Swine cannot endure sweet odors. Those that are unclean, and delight to wallow in the mire of vice, hate the fragrant perfumes of grace. The distinctive aroma of spikenard is poisonous to them. In fact, horse-flies are killed with ointments.”
Thomas Scott (1747-1821) concludes that we should never consider those who ignore God’s grace as true Christians. Instead, associate them with Cain, a professed God worshiper. Nevertheless, he showed himself to belong to the nest of “that wicked one,” the devil, by envying, hating, and murdering his brother. But the question is, what caused Cain to commit this atrocious murder? What provoked him? What injury had he received? None at all. He simply hated God’s divine image he saw in Abel and his humility, faith, and devotion. As such, Cain envied him and was angry even with God, who accepted his brother’s sacrifice in preference to his. He was so enraged that he murdered him “because his works were unacceptable, and his brothers accepted.”
Richard Rothe (1799-1867) points out that the Apostle John does not state Cain’s motive for killing his brother precisely as recorded in Genesis. According to Torah, it was envy because Abel had the better offering. However, John emphasizes the core problem in context with what he has been saying about the children of God and the devil’s brood. That is: evil persecutes good out of envy over God’s blessings. Therefore, in John’s mind, Cain and Abel are seen as types of those who love their fellow man and those who have no time for them. But more specifically, why the world hates believers are because of the way God showers them with His goodness.
John J. Lias (1834-1923) takes issue with the translations of the opening line. The KJV has, “Not as Cain, who was of [that] wicked one,” and the NASB “Not as Cain, [who] was of the evil one,” and NIV “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one.” Lias prefers, “We are not as Cain, who was of the evil one.” I like the ERV that renders it, “Don’t be like Cain. He belonged to the Evil One.” Lias believes that we need a necessary break between warning who not to be and then why. The Apostle John gives his number one objection to being like Cain – he was the first murderer. But it is more than making Cain an example of wicked conduct; it emphasizes sinful tendencies in the human heart and mind.
3:12We are not to be like Cain, who belonged to Satan and killed his brother. Why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing wrong, he knew very well that his brother’s life was better than his.
The Apostle John was not talking about a new sinful virus strain. When the hateful Jews were stoning Presbyter Stephen for his message and faith in Jesus as the Anointed One, he told them he was not surprised because their forefathers persecuted every prophet who lived. It included those who prophesied that the Anointed One would come. And now they had turned against that Anointed One themselves and killed him. So, we should not be surprised when the Apostle Paul wrote the Thessalonians and told them that there were still Jews around with the same idea, but since the Anointed One ascended back into heaven, and they can’t reach Him, we would now take the hatred they meant for Him on us to His glory. Also, concerning this same hostility, the Apostles did not spare Gentiles their fair share of criticism. The Apostle Peter mentions that some of those he was writing to had friends in the world who thought it strange that they no longer joined them in all the wild and wasteful things they used to do. And so, they started spreading rumors of the bad things they once did to ruin their reputations as Christians.
Meanwhile, Jesus did not treat His enemies with destructive tactics, just disdain. In fact, He told them that when they stood before God at the judgment seat, they would be found guilty of causing the death of His people. That’s why they should know that if they change their mind and want to belong to this fellowship of believers, they will come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. They will come to God, the Judge of all people, and the hospitality of blessed people who have been made perfect. They will enjoy communion with Jesus – the One who brought the Final Covenant from God to His children. Thus, they will arrive at the place of the sprinkling of His blood that had a better message than the blood of Abel.
There is an interesting conversation between Cain and Abel found in a Jewish Commentary. It goes this way: “And Cain said to Abel, his brother, come, and let us go out into the field. And when they arrived in the field, Cain continued and said to Abel, I perceive that the world was created in goodness, but it is not governed (or conducted) according to the fruit of good works. Therefore, there is respect [special privileges] to persons in judgment. Consequently, it is that your offering was accepted, with goodwill and not mine. So, Abel answered Cain: the world was created in goodness and governed according to good fruit. Therefore, there is no respect [special privileges] of persons in judgment. But because the fruit of my works was better than yours, my offering was accepted with goodwill, and yours was not. So, Cain answered and said to Abel, there is neither judgment nor Judge, nor another world; nor will any good reward be given to the righteous, nor vengeance taken out on the wicked. And Abel answered Cain, there is a judgment, and there is a Judge; and there is another world and a good reward given to the righteous, and vengeance taken out on the wicked. And because of these words, they had a disagreement out in the field; and Cain rose against Abel his brother, and drove a stone into his forehead, and killed him.”
In other sayings by early Jewish authors, Rabbi Jochanan stated that Cain did not know that our secrets are revealed to the Holy One, blessed be He. Cain took the corpse of his brother Abel and laid it in a hole that he dug in the field. But then the Holy One, blessed be He, asked him, where is your brother Abel? Cain responded by telling the Sovereign of the world that all he did was take care of a vineyard and a farm, so why should he be responsible for his brother? The Holy One, blessed be He, revealed that He had heard that he killed his brother and took possession of his wife and flocks in the field. In fact, his brother’s blood cried out to Him from his grave.
When Cain heard this, he was horrified. He cried out in grief to the Holy One, blessed be He, that his sin was more than he could bear because this was no forgiveness for such things. This statement was accepted as his repentance. But Cain asked the Lord, “will some righteous person come along and rebuke me in your great Name and kill me?” So, the Holy One, blessed be He, took one Hebrew letter from the twenty-two in the alphabet and attached it to Cain’s arm so that he would not be killed. Meanwhile, Abel’s shepherd dogs guarded his corpse against all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. So, the Holy One, blessed be He, cursed Cain so that he would become a drifter.
Now, what we know about the Apostle John, he was not an educated individual. That means he was not taught how to read or write. Everything was learned through oral teaching in those days. These sayings of the early Jewish Fathers had not yet been collected and written down; they were transmitted by mouth. So, that does not leave out the possibility that John may have heard these teachings and thought this story of Cain and Abel was an excellent object lesson to insert here in his epistle.
And during John’s time, the great Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (BC 20-50 AD) offered his philosophical view of what John says here in verse eight. As Philo says, “for the field to which he [Cain] invites him [Abel] we may call a symbol of rivalry and contention.” In its fallen, self-loving, materialistic-minded condition, Cain’s ego resisted the simple purity of his better nature, seeking to draw Abel into an internal rationalistic dispute. So, the Cain part of our mind excels in developing rationalizations, logical and inaccurate arguments.
On the other hand, our Abel-disposition, childlike and trusting, is ill-equipped to rebut these dishonesties and should resist the challenge – at least until it develops skill in emerging counter-arguments. So, what Cain proposes to do is this: having by invitation led Abel into a dispute, to gain the mastery over him by reasonable fraud-like thoughts that have the appearance of truth. It involves forming conjectures of uncertain things from our perspective. Therefore, we think the area where Cain invites Abel to symbolize strife and conflict. We must now question what these matters are all about, so we foolishly decide to start an intellectual investigation.
It is indeed plain that they are opposite and rival opinions: Abel, who refers everything to God, is the God-loving opinion; and Cain, who refers everything to himself (for his name, being interpreted, means acquisition), is the self-loving opinion. Many people are self-loving when, entering the arena with those who honor virtue, never cease struggling against them with every kind of weapon. They keep this up until the virtuous person surrenders or is utterly demoralized. Therefore, it would have been well for Abel to have exercised the virtue of caution and stayed at home, disregarding the invitation to the arena of discussion to contend with Cain. He should have imitated Rebecca, a symbol of patient waiting. When Esau, the companion of wickedness, was making threats, she advised Jacob, the practitioner of wisdom, to retreat until Esau relaxed his fierce hostility toward him.
All of this may sound highly intellectual and on a philosophical level of reasoning for the average person, but in reality, it opens the door for us to look at what John says here about deeds that can either be good or evil. It all starts with our attitude and mindset. Are those who oppose us controlling our logic and will, or are we under the governorship of the Holy Spirit? John says it all starts with loving one another. So, instead of taking differences as an insult, we take them as issues to discuss. But, John says, the world is uncomfortable with this because their differences are a badge of honor. Once removed, however, they have no choice but to accept what they’ve heard.
John is trying to tell us that we should not do what Cain did, who, under Satanic influence, schemed to get rid of his brother. Cain’s conduct typifies the attitude of the world towards Christians. The Greek verb sphazō (“slew” – KJV) in the Final Covenant occurs only here and in Revelation. The Septuagint Version and the Final Covenant seem to indicate “slay” without necessarily implying the cutting of a victim’s throat. Cain’s works being called evil is not stated in Genesis, but inferred in God’s rejection. The world’s wicked envy the good in blessings and try to destroy what cannot be shared with them – the war between evil and good aims at extermination. The wicked try to destroy the righteous with hatred, while the righteous extinguish the wicked’s hostility by converting them with love.
John, in this verse, offers representatives of two different spiritual families: the family of God and the brood of Satan. Cain represents Satan’s vipers, and Abel represents the family of God. These families stand in stark contrast to one another. John says what love is not before he says what love is. It is not Cain’s attitude and action toward Abel; it is Cain’s jealous resentment of his brother’s more acceptable sacrifice that drove him to kill Abel. Cain was religious but lost. He was lost because his offering was not sufficient to meet God’s demands.
Archbishop François Fénelon (1651-1725) saw what some of his parishioners were bragging about and concluded that “self-conceit” cannot bear to look at itself. The sight would overwhelm it with shame and frustration, says the archbishop, and if it catches an accidental glimpse, it looks for some dim lighting that may soften the glare of the hideous thing it’s seeing. Therefore, we always keep up some illusion as long as we retain any trace of self-love. In order to see ourselves better, self-love must be rooted up, and the love of God must blossom within us. Then the same light that shows our tanks will remove them. Until then, we will know little about ourselves, since we have partially given ourselves to God while we cling to our egos a great deal more than we think or dare to admit to ourselves.
Only when we accept the truth will we see more clearly. Then, loving ourselves only with the love of charity, we will see ourselves as we see our neighbor, without self-interest without flattery. Meanwhile, God spares our weakness, showing us our true repulsiveness only in proportion to the courage He gives to cope with what we’re seeing. He shows us first one bit and then another, as He gradually leads us toward changing ourselves for the better. Without this merciful groundwork of providing light and strength in due proportion, the sight of our frailties would only lead to utter despair.
Those to whom spiritual guidance is delivered should reveal people’s faults only as God prepares the heart to see them. Spiritual guides must learn to watch a person’s faults with patience and take steps until God makes them feel the conviction in their conscience. Indeed, spiritual counselors must imitate God’s way of dealing with the soul by softening their rebuke so that the person reprimanded feels it was their self-reproach and a sense of wounded love rather than God rebuking them. All other guidance methods – impatiently correcting or because the spiritual guide is agitated by the other person’s many weaknesses – the odor of explosive opinions, not the scent of Grace’s restoration. It is imperfection rebuking the imperfect: this is a case of self-love not wanting to let go, for it cannot see anything to forgive in the other person’s self-conceit. The greater our arrogance, the more severe critics we become. Nothing is so offensive to a self-righteous person than the egotistical attitude of others.
On the other hand, God’s love is full of consideration, self-restraint, like an Army General willing to talk to a Private with humility and tenderness. It adapts itself, waits, and never moves more than one step at a time. The less self-love we have, the more we can adapt ourselves to sharing principles that will help our neighbors deal with failings of any kind. For example, we have learned never to applying healing ointment to a cut or wound until it’s cleaned. Never tell a friend to get rid of certain unhealthy foods without providing them something healthy to eat.
Furthermore, never take untried chances; make sure you know what you are doing and that it’s safe. Sometimes we learn to wait years before giving a helpful warning. Think it through before offering advice; wait until the right time. Let God’s Spirit open their heart and mind. For, if you persist in picking fruit before it is ripe, you are simply wasting your time, and it leaves a bad taste.
Since most of our moods are momentary and complicated, our explanations are apt to become incorrect before we finish making them up. Something changes and makes our ideas unrealistic. So, it is best to be content to say what seems to be true when we are opening our hearts to them. It is unnecessary to tell everything carefully and precisely. Plan on keeping nothing to yourself; share with them what the Holy Spirit is telling you at the moment. Please don’t put it off until you can soften it with the flattering touches of self- conceit. According to its needs, God supplies what is lacking to an upright heart, and spiritual guides who are enlightened by grace quickly perceive when others may not know what to say. Unlike you, they may not know how to respond to a person opening up and being honest without holding anything back.
Since our friends, too, are imperfect, they can only have a flawed view of us. They often judge us by comparing their failings to our faults, which jars their self-conceit. Self-love is a very sharp, harsh, and unforgiving critic, and the same self-conceit that softens their view of their shortcomings leads to magnifying ours. Because their point of view differs completely from ours, they think they perceive something in us, we know little about, while overlooking much of what we do see. They are then quick to discern many things that wound their sensitive, jealous self-love, things we’ve decided not to share. But they do not see those secret faults that stain our virtues even more because they offend no one but God. And so, their mature judgment may be very superficial.
My conclusion, says the archbishop, is that it is best to listen attentively to God in reflective inward silence and in all simplicity to speak for or against ourselves whatever His light discloses to us at the moment we seek to open our heart. When we know ourselves better, we can improve our understanding of others.
The Bible is not silent on the subject of self-conceit. King Solomon, who had every right to be conceited, since he was thought to be the wisest man in all the world. Even he recognized that we should not be impressed with our wisdom. That’s why some foolish-minded people think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. That why he urges us to be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their estimation. And if you know someone who is consumed with self-conceit, share with them Solomon’s assessment: “There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise.”
No doubt this led the Apostle Paul to tell the believers in Rome not to claim they are wise, otherwise they will become utter fools. Instead, live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.
 François Fénelon, Paraclete Giants, The Complete Fénelon, Translated and Edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, 2008, pp. 23-25; Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda.
3:11Here is the teaching you were taught when you were converted: We should love one another.
Colin G. Kruse (1950) feels that the NIV translation of this verse, unfortunately, obscures the clear connection between what is foreshadowed in 3:10 and developed in 3:11-18. It is because they failed to translate the Greek conjunction hoti (“for”) with (“which”). Otherwise, 3:11-18 would be introduced as: (“Which is the message …”). The Apostle John establishes this connection by picking up the notion of the person “who does not love” in verse ten when he urges his readers not to be like Cain, who “murdered his brother” in verse twelve. Then, in verse fifteen, John informs readers that anyone who “hates their fellow believer is a murderer.”
Thus, John begins his exposition of loving one’s fellow believers as the mark of those who belong to the truth. He reminds his readers that this is something they’ve heard from the time they were born again. The Gospel message they heard included the command of the Lord Jesus that those who believe in Him should “love one another.” John’s assertion was probably dependent on our Lord’s discourse during the Last Supper. What John means by loving one another is spelled out negatively in the next verse and positively later in verses sixteen to eighteen.
Judith Lieu (1951) mentions that the Greek conjunction hoti can be translated as “that,” “because,” “since.” The NIV, NASB, and the KJV all renderer it “For.” But as Thayer’s Greek Lexicon explains, it refers to some word or words that precede or immediately follow it in this context. But Lieu prefers “because this is the message” as the opening for this eleventh verse. Therefore, what does John say before? If you claim to love God but do not love your brother or sister, you cannot be of God because you’ve heard the message to love one another from the beginning.
Bruce B. Barton (1954) does not see this “love one another” as a command, as in the old system of Torah, but as an announcement of something good. The message announced from God requires believers to love their brothers and sisters in God’s family. The beginning refers to the time Jesus first told his disciples to love one another and when John’s audience was first formed.
Daniel L. Akin (1957) says that one of the most effective ways of teaching is by using contrasts and comparisons. For example, I might contrast what it means to be a male with being a female. I might highlight the attributes of a tall person by putting them next to a short person. Boy/girl. Big/small. Fast/slow. Up/down. North/South. East/West. Winner/loser. These are all simple examples, but we use this teaching technique all the time. And this technique is not new. The Apostle John also found drawing comparisons and contrasts to teach theology and spiritual truth effectively. Throughout 1 John, the Apostle draws our attention to various contrasts:
Walk in darkness/Walk in light
Say we have no sin/Confess our sins
Keep God’s commands/Do not keep God’s commands
Those who love the world/Those who love the Father
Deny Christ/Confess Christ
Confident at Christ’s coming/Ashamed at Christ’s coming
Those who do what is wrong/Those who do what is right
Keeping this in mind, says Akin, lets us see how verse eleven flows naturally out of verse ten. Having been born of God, the child of God does what is right, which includes loving one another. In contrast, the devil’s offspring do not do right and hate their neighbors, destroying their reputation. Thus, there is a crystal-clear contrast between children of God and the devil’s brood, between those who love and those who hate. To make this plain, John goes back in time, all the way back to the beginning. There, he draws our attention to the first murder in human history, the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. He addresses both the act and the sinister source behind the action. Just as God delights in giving new life, the devil equally delights in producing death by instigating ad hominem.
David Legge (1969) notes that while there is deliverance, the Apostle John warns us that a sinful lifestyle can never be an alternative way of living for the child of God. Some propose that you can commit adultery and be a Christian. Or that a believer can engage in drunkenness and be a Christian. Listen to what the Apostle Paul had to say: “Don’t you know that those doing such things have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who live immoral lives, who worship idols, adulterers, or practice homosexuality – will have no share in his Kingdom. Neither will thieves nor greedy people, drunkards, slanderers, or robbers.” That may sound harsh in today’s society, but it’s a case of betting that Paul was either wrong or right. Only on the Day of Judgment will that be decided by God.
So, says Legge, God’s word is clear: you can do those things, but if you’re going to become a Christian, you must repent of them. Of course, it doesn’t mean that believers will not fall into some of those sins; God forbid that any believer stumble into such immoral behavior during their walk with the Lord. But the point is: these lifestyles must change and cease to be active in a Christian’s life. Here the Apostle John points it out in verse eleven, “Some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus the Anointed One and by the Spirit of our God.” Apparently, some in John’s audience were going back to their old sins. When the Apostle Paul saw the same thing among his converts, he told them, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless you fail the test.”
Douglas Sean O’Donnell (1972) tells us that while verse eleven starts the second half of the epistle, it does not introduce a new theme. The Apostle John has applied the “love test” before, and continues his thought from the final phrase of verse ten. We might even say that the following thirteen verses are an exposition of verse ten on “loving one another.” So, what is new is John’s illustration and application of love. John illustrates Christian love with a contrast between Cain-like hatred and Christ-like love. John begins with his reminder to love. This “message” came to John’s readers from the apostolic evangelists. It is what they heard when the Gospel was first preached to them (the meaning of “heard from the beginning”). That message, however, has its origin in Jesus.
3:12 We must not be like Adam and Eve’s firstborn, Cain, who killed his brother Abel under the influence of Satan. And why did he kill him? Because Cain knew he did wrong with his offering, his brother did what was right with his sacrifice to God.
What better illustration could the Apostle John have used? None! It fits perfectly in his narrative about loving one another even when one is wrong, and the other is right. John was there when the Master told about the farmer who sowed his seed, and some of it fell along the road, and the birds came and took it away. So likewise, the seed of God’s Word is sown in the hearts of those who hear the Gospel, but Satan, like a crow, comes and steals the seed before it can take root. In fact, we see the same devious operation by Satan when he brought hostility between King Saul and his son-in-law David.
The Psalmist certainly knew that such inexcusable plans existed in the hearts of the wicked. Therefore, there was nothing that cheered them up other than causing a right-living person to do wrong. And when they failed to do so, they gritted their teeth in anger. Even King Solomon made a point of this in his wise sayings. But sometimes, you cannot persuade false accusers to exchange their lies for the truth. The Apostle John even heard his Master make that charge to those who hated Him. In fact, even some of those people in the world who were once good friends and buddies will turn against a friend who becomes a vibrant Christian. Pontius Pilate sure found that to be true when he told them that he could find no fault in the Anointed One.
3:11Here is the teaching you were taught when you were converted: We should love one another.
Not only that, says Kretzmann, but they must show their appreciation for the Anointed One’s wonderful blessings of love with one another, of which they have become partakers. The very antithesis of such unselfish love is shown in the example of Cain. Cain, who was of the Evil One, the one who murdered his brother. And why did Cain kill Abel? Because his offering to God was based on his works, but those of his brother were founded on God’s blessings.
Cain, the first murderer, received the inspiration for his evil deed from the devil, a murderer from the beginning. Having rejected that which was good, Cain became a servant of selfishness and sin. At the same time, he was jealous of the pure character of his brother Abel, just as unbelievers resent the fact that Christians refuse to join them in their blasphemy of God and their various transgressions of God’s holy will. That was the reason why he took his brother’s life because he could not bear God’s favor for Abel’s offering. Thus, it angered Cain that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice rather than his.
Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1973) says it is no secret; the Apostle John clearly reveals that the message he is speaking of is that “we must love one another.” But John wants his readers to understand that we should love our neighbor as we want to be loved. If someone is still not convinced, love was why God sent His Son into the world; love is so powerful that the Apostle Paul said that loving God and one another fulfills the entire Law. It echoes what Jesus said that by loving, we fulfill the writings of the prophets. So while the demand for righteousness is an article of faith, the command for love is a matter of ethics.
Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952) writes about the inward confirmation of the reliability of the Scriptures. He touches on what the Apostle John says here in verse eleven about the teachings his readers already heard from him and other apostles. Pink points out that the Bible testifies to the fact that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and our convicted conscience confirms it. The Bible declares that it is “not by trying to do what is right, but according to His mercy” As sinners, we all learned that we were unable to do anything to win God’s favor. However, after crying out the prayer of the Publican,  we all went away justified by faith.
The Bible also teaches that “if any person is in union with the Anointed One, they are a new creation: old things have passed away; behold all things are now new.” Consequently, the believer has found that the objects they once hated they now love, and the things thought to be for their pleasure, they now regard as trash to be thrown away. Furthermore, the Bible explains that we “are kept by the power of God through faith.” Therefore, believers have proven that God’s grace is sufficient for all their needs, although the world, the flesh, and the devil are organized against them. Ask any Christian why they believe that the Bible is the Word of God. They will tell you it’s because it has done for them what it professes to do. They have tested its promises for themselves and found its teachings verified in their experiences.
Greville P. Lewis (1891-1976) says that once we accept the Anointed One as Savior, we must obey Him as our Lord and Master. It is so because of the incredible offer of everlasting life and the supreme ethical demand to love our brothers and sisters in the fellowship of the Church.
Amos N. Wilder (1895-1993) sees the original message in this epistle is represented as an imperative declaration. The nature of the Good News is such as to have its outcome in the fellowship of mutual love. Look at it this way, the vows that a couple make at their wedding to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until death us do part, is also a declaration. But it has no meaning unless it becomes a reality. The same is true with our relationship with the Anointed One. We can declare our love for Him, but it is meaningless unless it is evident in our fellowship with one another. So, for walking in the Light to have any significance, we must be moving forward with a purpose to love God by loving each other.
Paul W. Hoon (1910-2000) tells us that love as an ethical factor in our Christian life is not an option, not a religious or moralist invention, nor something based on pure emotion. Love confronts us as a necessity flowing from the heart in real-time. It is not a philosophical concept. Instead, it has its meaning in our Christian life. The Bible does not call Love a theory; it is God’s Law. Laws are established after the theory is proven as fact.
Rudolf Schnackenburg (1914-2002) notes that the Apostle John repeats here in verse eleven what he said in 1 John 1:5 and links them at the end of verse ten. To neglect this message, says Schnackenburg, would be a dangerous compromise. Earlier, John talks about Jesus’ command that we love our fellow believers, but now he broadens that by saying “love one another.” In other words, love is a two-way street; it is mutual and reciprocal. You might hear someone say, “I love that statue,” or “I love that car.” The problem is that your love is not returned to you. John does not want loving others to be restricted only to those in our group, but every human we meet. And the kind of love John is speaking of is defined in John 3:16 – God’s Love led to His giving, and His gift brought trust, and trust delivered help. Therefore, how can we love those outside God’s family if we do not love those inside?
Donald Burdick (1917-1996) reminds us that the love of brothers and sisters in God’s family is essential for Christian living. That’s why God gave it as a command. Burdick mentions that the excluded Gnostics and Dualists only appeared after Jesus came. Their refusal to fellowship with others caused them to be considered part of the antichrist spirit.
Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) says that a true child of God not only renounces any love for sin, but announces their unconditional love for others. The reason is that the message which Apostle John says was from the beginning is Good News about Love. Just think of this: Did God create the universe out of anger? Did He generate man and woman out of spite? Did He cause the atmosphere to provide light and rain out of rage? Did He call Abraham just to be mischievous? Did He give Moses the Law out of hatred? No! Nor did He send His Son to punish sinners, but to save them. So, long before it was spoken and then written, Love has been God’s proclamation to the world.
Edward Malatesta (1932-1998) states the Apostle John announces the central theme of this section to be love for one another. It is something he heard and preached since he became a disciple of the Anointed One. Now he adds faith in verse twenty-three as an integral part of the commandment. It’s understandable that you cannot love God or love your fellow believer unless you believe in God.
James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) sees verses 11-18 as the second contrast of Love and Hate, the first being the children of God versus vipers of the devil. While that may seem improper for the Apostle John’s day, it certainly is relevant for today. The meaning of love has been so degraded that the world uses it when talking about loving bad things. Boice brings up a popular song some years ago titled, “Everybody loves somebody sometime.” But it doesn’t work with God. You can’t say that you love the Father and all His children just because you went to church. Hate originated with the devil; love commenced with God, who is Love. John expands on this in the next verse.
Michael Eaton (1942-2017) makes an interesting point by noting that the earliest promise of the Gospel comes as a commitment that God will crush Satan’s head. In other words, He will undo everything that Satan did in engineering the alienation between God and humanity. But this account in Genesis three is followed in Genesis four by a breach between man and woman. It then goes on to detail the breakdown between Cain and Abel. Later we read of the division between Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, David and Saul, and finally, physical Israel and spiritual Israel. No wonder the Psalmist cried out, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
3:11Here is the teaching you were taught when you were converted: We should love one another.
Fellowship with God [living right] is inseparable from love. The God of Light is also the God of Love. Knowing this, love, enables us to love beyond human love. Loving some members of the family of God is not easy, but God wants us to love unloving Christians. You may have heard the following jingle that reveals the true state of love among some believers today:
“To dwell above with saints, we love,
Oh, that will be glory.
But to live below with saints, we know,
Well, that’s another story.”
In the comic strip “Peanuts,” the cartoon character, Linus, once said, “I love mankind; it is just people I can’t stand.” In the face of irritation, loving a fellow Christians is an actual test of love coming from divine nature. Christians should love one another because they have a common origin – the family of God. As British Admiral Nelson drew his ship alongside to battle the Dutch fleet, two English officers quarreled. Nelson flung himself between them and, pointing to the ships of Holland, said, “Gentlemen, there are your enemies!” Never should our fellow Christians become our enemies.
Richard Rothe (1799-1867) says that anyone unwilling to keep God’s commandment, in which God expressed the interest closest to His heart, cannot have genuine fellowship with Him in the heart where love began. Therefore, when we not only love God but are living in harmony with God, it is because we have a divine principle to love implanted in us through love. It is real life in union with God expressed by loving one another as He loved us.
Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (1802-1870) was an American author, educator, clergyman, French general in Revolutionary France, dramatist, memoirist, historian, and short storyteller. He was once quoted as saying, “I don’t know if it is because I will soon leave this earth, and the rays that are already reaching me from below the horizon have disturbed my sight, but I believe our world is about to begin to realize the true meaning of the words, ‘Love one another,’ without being concerned whether a human or God uttered them.”
It brings to mind the words of poet Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)
Frederick D. Maurice (1805-1872) makes a bold statement here. He states that the Apostle John never says or dreams that believers desire to sin because the devil forced them to do it. The thought of being obliged to sin is not implied in John’s words; in fact, they contradict it. Tempter and Accuser’s names do not indicate such a thing; the word “Sin” excludes it. That must belong to the person. The Apostle says that sin comes from contact or fellowship between an individual’s saintly and sinful spirits. To commit sin is to become Satan’s dependent, his servant. Do you think anyone will take more responsibility for their actions if they throw John’s doctrine overboard? On the contrary, it seems they would be in greater danger of denying their guilt. It might lead them to believe that sin is so much a part of them they can’t get away from it. There, excuses for wrongdoing await our signal under the words, inclination, tendency, and disposition. At the same time, they may give up hope for spiritual reformation. So, the best thing to do is cut themselves off from any communion with their fellow-creatures.
We need to remember, inclinations, tendencies, and dispositions may be more assertive in us than another believer, says Maurice. That means what is strong in us is weak in others. Each person tries to make their case; each pleads that their sinful tendencies are irresistible; each hardly looks at their fellow believer’s struggle, of which they know nothing. It is no myth – we know that it is what we are all continually tempted to do. Thus, it is the secret of narrow-mindedness and wanting everyone to feel sorry for us; it is the undisclosed reason for our hugging our vices until they destroy us.
Maurice continues. We must heartily believe that we have a common enemy plotting against us all, making use of every person’s particular gift or characteristic designed for blessings to bring them spiritual ruin. Satan is busy making accusations against us before our heavenly Father, [ then has us condemning every brother or sister for wrongdoing, turning us against each other. It means persuading us that they are not God’s children, that they do not belong to God’s family. The questions are: should we pamper this miserable pettiness that is preying upon our fundamental beliefs? Is it right to be cruel by mocking the spiritual illnesses and instabilities of our fellow believers? Should we not feel that we are in this fight together? That each person who stands their ground firmly is doing something to benefit us all, even if they are wounded?
James J. Lias (1814-1923) notes that while most versions render verse eleven as “For this is the message,” we could translate it as “For the message.” That would make the passage a little more emphatic. And when we look at the phrase “from the beginning,” it would mean from when they first heard the Gospel. The message John refers to contains the practical doctrine Jesus preached in His sermon on the mountainside. We also find it formulated in the last discourse of Jesus before His crucifixion.
Lias goes on to say that many try to confine loving one another to the Christian society, no doubt because it is the first and most obvious precept within the Church. The Church was destined to embrace the whole world, since it was prophesied: “the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the water that fills the seas.” It was God’s will that “all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” Therefore, it was proclaimed from the beginning of the Gospel that all believers should love one another.
Paul E. Kretzmann (1883-1965) says that so much depends upon the genuineness of a Christian’s conduct that the Apostle John warns against every form of deceit: “Little children, let no one deceive you:” they that practice righteousness are living right, just as the Anointed One is righteous; they that commit sin is of the devil, for from the beginning the devil sinned. John intended this clear statement to remove all misunderstandings and prevent every form of deception. The righteous disposition of the heart molds the Christian character by faith and is bound to express itself in holy living. The Anointed One is the type, the example, the pattern of righteousness, and a life of perfect holiness. A spiritual child of God will have His manner; a disciple of the Anointed One will follow the Master.
By contrast, says Kretzmann, a person that deliberately sins is a servant of sin, thereby showing themselves a compliant pupil, a part of the devil’s brood, and Satan’s workshop. He works in the children of disobedience and uses them as his tools for committing every form of wrongdoing. That means the devil was sinning from the beginning. The very first sin recorded was caused by him, and induced people to sin from then on. It makes them his slaves, servants of unrighteousness and damnation. It is a terrible picture that the Apostle John paints, which should cause any Christian to shudder with fear.
And the same test may be applied concerning the practice of brotherly love, notes Kretzmann, for this, is the message the Apostle John’s readers heard from the beginning, that they should love one another. John reverts to this topic time and time again. To John, brotherly love is the very essence and substance of the Christian life. All trees are known by their fruit. So likewise, the faith of the Christian must be revealed in the fruit of love. According to the Word of God and the last instructions of Jesus, love is the outstanding trait and characteristic of the believer.
 This line was spoken by Linus Van Pelt in the November 12, 1959 comic strip of Peanuts, written and drawn by Charles Schulz (1950-2000).
 Rothe, Richard, The Expository Times, op. cit., May 1893, pp. 354-355