If you aren’t meticulous in your note-taking, always using quotation marks and saving your full citation, you might accidentally do this:
One of the distinguishing marks of the child of God is love, a love that originates in God, displays itself in actions of self-sacrifice, and is evidence of eternal life.
Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, The New American Commentary, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001), 161.
What’s wrong with this 2001 commentary on 1 John? Well, read John Stott’s 1988 commentary on the same verse (3:18):
Love characterizes the church, whose prototype is Christ. It originates in God, issues in self-sacrifice, and is evidence of eternal life.
John R. W. Stott, The Letters of John: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988), 146.
Each of these sentences is the last in the section on 1 John 3:18 in its respective commentary.
Plagiarism? No. Listen to Danny Akin in this edifying interview, and you’ll be convinced he didn’t plagiarize. He just goofed. It happens to all of us.
Then again, there is a third explanation that is perhaps even more likely. A Q commentary! F.F. Bruce probably wrote it some time in the 1940s, and only select evangelical scholars have been given access to it over time. It is no doubt housed inside the Ark of the Covenant deep within the vaults at Tyndale House, Cambridge. We’re bound to have verbal overlap in such a situation.