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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 45: Catholic Epistles, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

A Translation OF

John Calvin’s Version OF



1 What has been from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked on, what our hands have handled, concerning the word of life;

2 (And the life has been manifested, and we have seen, and do testify, and declare to you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and has been manifested to us) —

3 What we have seen and heard, declare we to you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:

4 And we write these things to you, that your joy may be complete.

5 And this is the message which we have heard from him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him there is not any darkness.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not tell the truth.

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us:

9 If we confess our sins, faithful is he and just, so as to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness:

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


1 My little children, I write these things to you, that you may not sin; but if any one sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous one:

2 And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

3 And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments.

4 He who says, “I know him,” and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him:

5 But he who keeps his word, verily in him the love of God is perfected;

6 By this we know that we are in him. He who says that lie abides in him, ought also himself so to walk as he walked.

7 Brethren, no new commandment do I write to you, but an old commandment, which you have had from the beginning: the old commandment is the word which you have heard from the beginning.

8 Again, a new commandment do I write to you; which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light now shines.

9 He who says that he is in the light, and hates his brother, is still in darkness.

10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and to him there is no stumbling:

11 But lie who hates his brother, walks in darkness; and he knows not where he goeth, because darkness hath blinded his eyes.

12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

13 I write to you, fathers, because ye have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, children, because ye have known the Father.

14 I have written to you, fathers, because ye have known him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and ye have overcome the evil one.

15 Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world: if any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For whatever is in the world, (even the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,) is not from the Father, but from the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust of it; but he who doeth the will of God, abides for ever.

18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist is to come, even now there are many Antichrist is:

19 Hence we know that it is the last hour. From us have they gone out, but of us they were not, for had they been of us, they would surely have remained with us; but they have gone out, that they might be made manifest that they were not of us.

20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

21 I have not written to you, because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that everything false is not from the truth.

22 Who is a liar, but he who denies Jesus to be the Christ? He is an Antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son:

23 Every one who denies the Son hath not the Father.

24 Let, then, what you have heard from the beginning remain in you: if what you have heard from the beginning remain in you, ye shall also remain in the Son, and in the Father;

25 And this is the promise which he hath promised to us. even eternal life.

26 These things have I written to you respecting them who seduce you: but the unction which ye have received from him remains in you, so that ye have no need that any one should teach you;

27 But as the unction teaches you all things, and is truth, and is not a lie, and as it has taught you? so remain in him.

28 And now, little children, continue in him, that when lie shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed at his presence.

29 Since ye know that he is righteous, know ye that every one who doeth righteousness has been born of him.


1 See what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God! the world for this reason knoweth us not, because it did not know him.

2 Beloved, we are now the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know, that when lie shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is:

3 And every one who hath this hope in him purifieth himself, inasmuch as he is pure.

4 Whosoever doeth sin, doeth also iniquity; and sin is iniquity.

5 But ye know that he appeared that he might take away our sins, and sin is not in him.

6 Whosoever abides in him doth not sin; whosoever sins, hath not seen him, nor known him.

7 Little children, let no one deceive you, — he who doeth righteousness is righteous, inasmuch as he is righteous:

8 He who doeth sin, is of the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning. The Son of God was for this end manifested, that he might undo the works of the devil.

9 Whosoever has been born of God, doth not do sin, because his seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

10 By this are made manifest the sons of God, and the sons of the devil, — every one who doeth not righteousness, is not of God, nor he who loves not his brother.

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we love one another:

12 Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one, and slew his brother; and why did he slay him? because his works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

13 Wonder not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren; he who loves not his brother, remains in death.

15 Every one who hates his brother, is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his own life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

17 But when any one has this world’s goods, and seeth his brother in want, and closeth up his bowels from him, how abideth the love of God in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth:

19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

20 For if our heart accuse us, doubtless God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

21 Beloved, if our heart do not accuse us, we have confidence towards God:

22 And if we ask anything, we receive it from him, because we keep his commandments, and do the things which are pleasing in his sight.

23 And this is his commandment, that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

24 And he who keepeth his commandment, abideth in him, and he in him; and by this we know that he abideth in us, even by the Spirit whom he hath given us.


1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.

2 By this know ye the Spirit of God, — Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is from God;

3 And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is not from God; and this is the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he is to come, and he is now already in the world.

4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.

5 They are of the world; therefore of the world do they speak, and the world heareth them.

6 We are of God; he who knoweth God heareth us; he who is not of God, doth not hear us: by this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

7 Beloved, let us love one another; because love is from God; and every one who loveth has been born of God, and knoweth God.

8 He who loveth not, knoweth not God, because God is love.

9 In this has appeared the love of God to us, that God has sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we may live through him.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us and sent his Son a propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God has so loved us, we ought also to hive one another.

12 No one hath ever seen God: if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love has been perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

14 And we have seen and do testify, that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.

15 He who shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God.

16 And we have known and have believed the love which God hath to us: God is love; and he who abideth in love, abideth in God, and God in him.

17 By this has love in us been perfected, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world.

18 Fear is not in love: but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment; and he who fears, has not been perfected in love.

19 We love him, because he has first loved us.

20 If any one say, “I love God,” and hate his neighbour, he is a liar; for he who loves not his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he sees not?

21 And this commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.


1 Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God; and every one who loves Him who has begotten, loves him also who has been begotten by Him.

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments:

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous.

4 For, whatever has been born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith.

5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

6 This is he who has come by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood; and the Spirit is

7 He who testifies, inasmuch as the Spirit is truth. For there are three who testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

8 And there are three who testify on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood;

9 And these three agree in one. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater.

10 Moreover, this is the testimony of God, which lie hath testified respecting his own Son (He who believes on the Son of God hath the testimony in himself;

11 He who believes not God, makes him a liar, because he hath not believed the testimony which God hath testified respecting his own Son,) even this is the testimony, that God hath given to us eternal life;

12 And this life is in his Son. He who hath the Son, hath life; he who hath not the Son of God, hath not life.

13 These things have I written to you who believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

14 And this is the confidence which we have towards Him, that when we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us:

15 And if we know that he hears us when we ask any thing, we know that we have the petitions which we have desired of him.

16 If any one see his brother sinning a sin not to death, he shall ask, and he will give to him life for him who sins not to death: there is a sin to death, I do not say that any one shall pray for that.

17 Every unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin not to death.

18 We know that every one who has been born of God, sins not; but he who has been born of God, keeps himself, and the wicked one touches him not.

19 We know that we are of God; and the whole world lieth in the wicked one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given to us an understanding, that we may know him who is true; anti we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ: this is the true God and eternal life.

21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

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