Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible

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Matthew Henry
Commentary on the Whole Bible (1721)


First John
Completed by JOHN REYNOLDS, OF SHREWSBURY.

 
  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5


  • AN

    EXPOSITION,

    W I T H   P R A C T I C A L   O B S E R V A T I O N S,

    OF THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF

    J O H N.


          THOUGH the continued tradition of the church attests that this epistle came from John the apostle, yet we may observe some other evidence that will confirm (or with some perhaps even outweigh) the certainty of that tradition. It should seem that the penman was one of the apostolical college by the sensible palpable assurance he had of the truth of the Mediator's person in his human nature: That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life, v. 1. Here he takes notice of the evidence the Lord gave to Thomas of his resurrection, by calling him to feel the prints of the nails and of the spear, which is recorded by John. And he must have been one of the disciples present when the Lord came on the same day in which he arose from the dead, and showed them his hands and his side, John xx. 20. But, that we may be assured which apostle this was, there is scarcely a critic or competent judge of diction, or style of argument and spirit, but will adjudge this epistle to the writer of that gospel that bears the name of the apostle John. They wonderfully agree in the titles and characters of the Redeemer: The Word, the Life, the Light; his name was the Word of God. Compare ch. i. 1 and v. 7 with John i. 1 and Rev. xix. 13. They agree in the commendation of God's love to us (ch. iii. 1 and ch. iv. 9; John iii. 16), and in speaking of our regeneration, or being born of God, ch. iii. 9; iv. 7; and v. 1; John iii. 5, 6. Lastly (to add no more instances, which may be easily seen in comparing this epistle with that gospel), they agree in the allusion to, or application of, that passage in that gospel which relates (and which alone relates) the issuing of water and blood out of the Redeemer's opened side: This is he that came by water and blood, ch. v. 6. Thus the epistle plainly appears to flow from the same pen as that gospel did. Now I know not that the text, or the intrinsic history of any of the gospels, gives us such assurance of its writer or penman as that ascribed to John plainly does. There (viz. ch. xxi. 24) the sacred historian thus notifies himself: This is the disciple that testifieth of these things and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. Now who is this disciple, but he concerning whom Peter asked, What shall this man do? And concerning whom the Lord answered, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? (v. 22). And who (v. 20) is described by these three characters:-- 1. That he is the disciple whom Jesus loved, the Lord's peculiar friend. 2. That he also leaned on his breast at supper. 3. That he said unto him, Lord, who is he that betrayeth thee? As sure then as it is that that disciple was John, so sure may the church be that that gospel and this epistle came from the beloved John.

          The epistle is styled general, as being not inscribed to any particular church; it is, as a circular letter (or visitation charge), sent to divers churches (some say of Parthia), in order to confirm them in their stedfast adherence to the Lord Christ, and the sacred doctrines concerning his person and office, against seducers; and to instigate them to adorn that doctrine by love to God and man, and particularly to each other, as being descended from God, united by the same head, and travelling towards the same eternal life.


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    Matthew Henry
    Commentary on the Whole Bible (1721)

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    The Greatest Life
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    He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place he was born. He did none of these things that one usually associated with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

    He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress.

    ALL the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that have ever reigned, put together, have not effected the life of man on the earth as that one solitary man.

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