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1 John 2:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Do not love the world. The term world seems to be used in the Scriptures in three senses: (1.) As denoting the physical universe; the world as it appears to the eve; the world considered as the work of God, as a material creation. (2.) The world as applied to the people that reside in it—‘the world of mankind.’ (3.) As the dwellers on the earth are by nature without religion, and act under a set of maxims, aims, and principles that have reference only to this life, the term comes to be used with reference to that community; that is, to the objects which they peculiarly seek, and the principles by which they are actuated. Considered with reference to the first sense of the word, it is not improper to love the world as the work of God, and as illustrating his perfections; for we may suppose that God loves his own works, and it is not wrong that we should find pleasure in their contemplation. Considered with reference to the second sense of the word, it is not wrong to love the people of the world with a love of benevolence, and to have attachment to our kindred and friends who constitute a part of it, though they are not Christians. It is only with reference to the word as used in the third sense that the command here can be understood to be applicable, or that the love of the world is forbidden; with reference to the objects sought, the maxims that prevail, the principles that reign in that community that lives for this world as contradistinguished from the world to come. The meaning is, that we are not to fix our affections on worldly objects—on what the world can furnish—as our portion, with the spirit with which they do who live only for this world, regardless of the life to come. We are not to make this world the object of our chief affection; we are not to be influenced by the maxims and feelings which prevail among those who do. Comp. Notes, Rom. 12:2, and James 4:4. See also Matt. 16:26; Luke 9:25; 1 Cor. 1:20; 3:19; Gal. 4:3; Col. 2:8.
Or the things in the world. Referred to in the next verse as ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.’ This explanation shows what John meant by ‘the things that are in the world.’ He does not say that we are in no sense to love anything that is in the material world; that we are to feel no interest in flowers, and streams, and forests, and fountains; that we are to have no admiration for what God has done as the Creator of all things; that we are to cherish no love for any of the inhabitants of the world, our friends and kindred; or that we are to pursue none of the objects of this life in making provision for our families; but that we are not to love the things which are sought merely to pamper the appetite, to please the eye, or to promote pride in living. These are the objects sought by the people of the world; these are not the objects to be sought by the Christian.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. If, in this sense, a man loves the world, it shows that he has no true religion; that is, if characteristically he loves the world as his portion, and lives for that; if it is the ruling principle of his life to gain and enjoy that, it shows that his heart has never been renewed, and that he has no part with the children of God.
See Notes, James 4:4; Matt. 6:24.
Know ye not that the friendship of the world – Compare 1Jn_2:15. The term world here is to be understood not of the physical world as God made it, for we could not well speak of the “friendship” of that, but of the community, or people, called “the world,” in contradistinction from the people of God. Compare John 12:31; 1Cor. 1:20; 1Cor. 3:19; Gal. 4:3; Col. 2:8. The “friendship of the world” (φιλία τοῦ κόσμου philia tou kosmou) is the love of that world; of the maxims which govern it, the principles which reign there, the ends that are sought, the amusements and gratifications which characterize it as distinguished from the church of God. It consists in setting our hearts on those things; in conforming to them; in making them the object of our pursuit with the same spirit with which they are sought by those who make no pretensions to religion.
See the notes at Rom. 12:2.
And be not conformed … – The word rendered “conformed” properly means to put on the form, fashion, or appearance of another. It may refer to the habits, manner, dress, style of living, etc., of others.
Of this world – τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ tō aiōni toutō. The word which is commonly rendered “world,” when applied to the material universe, is κόσμος kosmos, “cosmos.” 1. LN 1.1 universe, as an ordered structure (Ac 17:24); 2. LN 1.39 earth, the surface of the earth, where mankind dwells (Mt 4:8; Mk 16:15 v.r.); 3. LN 41.38 world system, godless world standards (Gal 6:14); 4. LN 9.23 people, those estranged from God (1Co 6:2); 5. LN 79.12 adorning (1Pe 3:3), for another interp, see next; 6. LN 6.188 adornment, an object which adorns (1Pe 3:3); for another interp, see prior; 7. LN 59.55 tremendous amount, figurative extension (Jas 3:6) World; Mankind: (kosmos) The Greek word is translated “world” in all of its occurrences in the New Testament except 1 Peter 3:3, where it is rendered “adornment.” “World” can mean (1) universe, as an ordered structure (Ac 17:24); (2) earth, the surface of the earth, where mankind dwells (Mt 4:8; Mk 16:15); (3) world system, godless world standards (Gal. 6:14); (4) people, those estranged from God (1Co 6:2); (5) mankind alienated from God (John 15:19); (6) adorning (1 Pet 3:3) (7) supernatural power (Eph 2:2). Thus, here it may mean that Christians should not conform to the maxims, habits, feelings, etc., of a wicked, luxurious, and idolatrous age but should be conformed solely to the precepts and laws of the gospel, or the same principle may be extended to every age, and the direction may be, that Christians should not conform to the prevailing habits, style, and manners of the world, the people who know not God. They are to be governed by the laws of the Bible, to fashion their lives after the example of Christ, and to form themselves by principles different from those which prevail in the world. In the application of this rule, there is much difficulty. Many may think that they are not conformed to the world, while they can easily perceive that their neighbor is. They indulge in many things which others may think to be conformity to the world and are opposed to many things which others think innocent. The design of this passage is doubtless to produce a spirit that should not find pleasure in the pomp and vanity of the World, and which will regard all some forms of useless amusements, entertainments, and with revulsion and lead the mind to find pleasure in better things.
By Albert Barnes
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