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How to Interpret the Bible-1

1 John 3:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Little children.  Τεκνια. This is such language as an aged apostle would be likely to use when addressing a church, and its use in this epistle may be regarded as one evidence that John had reached an advanced period of life when he wrote the epistle.

Let us not love with word or with tongue. By mere profession, by merely saying that we love each other. As the apostle Peter said, “See that you love one another with a pure heart fervently. (1 Pet 1:22). The phrase “with a pure heart fervently” means:

(1) That it should be genuine love proceeding from a heart in which there is no deception or hypocrisy; and,
(2) That it should be intense affection, (ἐκτενῶς ektenōs;) not cold and formal, but passionate, intense, sincere, and strong.

If there is any reason why we should love true Christians at all, there is the same reason why our attachment to them should be intense. This verse establishes the following points:

(1) That truth was at the foundation of their righteousness and holiness. They had none of which this was not the proper basis; and in which the foundation was not as broad as the superstructure. 
(2) They became Christians due to obeying the truth; or by yielding to its fair influence on the soul. Their minds complied with its claims; their hearts yielded; there was the exercise of their own preference and intention. This expresses a doctrine of great importance:

(a) There is always the exercise of the powers of the mind in true religion; always a yielding to truth; always a voluntary reception of it into the soul.
(b) Religion is always of the nature of obedience. It consists in yielding to what is true and right, in laying aside the feelings of opposition, and in allowing the mind to follow where truth and duty lead.
(c) This would always occur when the truth is presented to the mind if there was no voluntary resistance. If all people were ready to yield to the truth, they would become Christians. The only reason why all people do not love and serve God is that they refuse to yield to what they know to be true and right.

(3) The agency by which this was accomplished was that of the Holy Spirit. Truth is adapted in itself to a certain end or result, as seed is adapted to produce a harvest. But it will no more itself produce its appropriate effects on the soul than seed will produce a harvest without rain, dew, and sun. In all cases, therefore, the proper effect of truth on the soul is to be traced to the influence of the Holy Spirit, as the germination of the seed in the earth is to the foreign cause that acts on it. No man was ever converted by the mere effect of truth without the agency of the Holy Spirit, any more than seed germinates when laid upon a hard rock.

PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

(4) The effect of this influence of the Holy Spirit in applying the truth is to produce love to all who are Christians. Love to Christian brethren springs up in the soul of everyone who is truly converted: and this love is just as certain evidence that the seed of truth has germinated in the soul, as the green and delicate blade that peeps up through the earth is evidence that the seed sown has been quickened into life. Compare 1 Thess 4:9; 1 John 3:14. We may learn hence:

(a) That truth is of inestimable value. It is as valuable as religion itself, for all the religion in the world is the result of it.
(b) Error and falsehood are mischievous and evil to the same degree. There is no true Christianity that is the fair result of error, and all the pretended Christianity that is sustained by error is worthless.
(c) If a system of religion, or a religious measure or doctrine, cannot be defended by truth, it should be at once abandoned. Compare the notes at Job 13:7.
(d) We should avoid the places where error is taught. Prov. 19:27, “cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge.”
(e) We should place ourselves under the teachings of truth, for there is truth enough in the world to occupy all our time and attention, and it is only by truth that our minds can be benefitted.

But in deed and in truth. Such acts show that our professed love is sincere and real. Let us do the deed of love, whether or not anything is said about it.

By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews

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