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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

1 John 2

Verses 1-14

    2. Springing from vs.10 John gives his purpose for writing(1a) “so they wont sin”. Then if you do sin, know God’s plan for your sinfulness!
      1. Both ideas must be maintained; both thoughts must be balanced.​​​​​​​
    3. That you may not sin - tense is aorist speaking of acts of sin not a habitual lifestyle.
      1. Not shoot for sinning less or less often. That you don’t sin is the ideal.
      2. He quickly knew this ideal wouldn’t be met. If anyone sins.
        1. This reveals that John did believe that specific acts of sin are possible in a believers life. (some actually refute that)
    4. His provision in Jesus Christ is 3-fold:
      1. We have an advocate - He pleads our defense. What is the case He pleads?
        1. Not innocence or even a plea for mercy.
        2. Christ case is built on His applying His death to our misdeeds.
      2. Jesus Christ the righteous –
        1. Jesus (highlights His humanity & His understanding);
        2. Christ (highlights His Messianic office, therefore His qualification to help);
        3. The righteous (emphasizes His ability to approach God, on our behalf). (Shepherdʼs Notes; pg.24)
      3. The propitiation - the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
        1. It is currently available. He “is” still the propitiation for the whole world.
        2. His death isn’t effective for the whole world; it’s only available to the whole world
          1. It must be accepted by faith to gain its benefit.
        3. Propitiation = to appease an offended person.
          1. Sin arouses the wrath of God; if people are to be forgiven, something must be done about his anger. Jesus’ death on the cross brought about a process of propitiation; it was the means by which divine anger was averted from sinners.
          2. John presents Jesus not as the one who offers the appeasement, but as the offering itself.
          3. God is just. Anger must be adverted. Wrong must be righted. Debt must be paid for.
    5. Expiation vs. Propitiation!
      1. Expiation: The prefix ex, which means “out of” or “from.” To remove something. It means to pay the penalty for something, to satisfy some demand
      2. Propitiation: has to do with what brings about a change in God’s attitude toward us, so that we are restored to the fellowship and favor of God.
        1. It points to God’s being appeased. [If I am angry because you have offended me, but you then appease me, the problem will be removed. Thus propitiation brings in the personal element and stresses that God is no longer angry with us]
      3. Propitiation is the result of expiation. It is the difference between the ransom that is paid and the attitude of the one receiving the ransom.
    6. A CALL TO OBEDIENCE! (3-6)
    7. (3,4) We can know Him(4) & know that we know Him(3).
      1. We can know Him: intellectually, & experientially, & intimately(in fellowship with Him).
      2. How can we know that we know Him? If we obey His commands.
        1. The test is our behavior. To pass the test & gain assurance of salvation, a person must be obedient to God’s commands. It’s that simple.
        2. Take the test. Is your lifestyle one of obedience?
          1. If you fail the test, you should ask Christ into your life tonight.
          2. If you pass the test, you should accept the assurance of your salvation & move forward in your walk.
    8. It doesn’t matter if a person claims to know God (see “He who says”; vs.4,6,9); the test is found in the lifestyle of obedience.
    9. A CALL FOR ACTION! (6)
    10. (6) Obedience is now illustrated with Jesus’ life.
      1. An authentic Christian is one who walks as Jesus walked.
        1. Walk, a figurative word for how you conduct your life, how you live, what you do!
      2. Jesus’ initial call was what? “Come follow Me”; His closing exhortation was? “as the Father sent Me so I send you”.
        1. One test of whether we have responded to His invitation “come follow Me”, is whether we have heard & responded His command “to go”.
      3. Ought/must - is a business term that means we are “obligated”, “in debt” or “bound”.
        1. We must not only follow His commands, but must act like Him.
        2. There we go, “just act like Jesus!!!”
    11. A CALL TO A LOVING ATTITUDE! (7-11)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    12. This test is a social test...a test of love!
    13. (7,8) Wait, so is it new or old? Yes!
    14. (7) It’s not a new commandment because its really old from Lev.19:18 (Love you neighbor)
    15. (8) It is a new commandment because the command to love (which Jesus and His followers exhibit) belongs to the new Age of righteousness which has begun to dawn.
      1. It does not belong to the old Age of darkness which was passing away. Christ’s Incarnation brought a light into the world which can never be extinguished
      2. Jesus raises the bar…“don’t just love your neighbor as yourself, love him/her as I love them.” [Has God’s kind of love been activated in you?]
    16. When we’re in fellowship with God, walking in the light, we also walk in love!
      1. It’s a basic spiritual principle that when Christians are out of fellowship with God, they usually can’t get along with God’s people.
    17. It’s new in several ways:
      1. In its authority (Jesus takes the old & puts His sanction upon it)
      2. In its standard (He presented His own love as the model for ours)
      3. In its emphasis (love is to be primary in our behavior)
      4. In its extent (Our love should extend to all our neighbors/everyone, & even to our enemies)
      5. In its experience (As the truth of its newness is seen in you)
    18. The challenge? Investigate your loving attitude.
      1. A person either lives a life of hatred or love.
      2. He lives a lifestyle of love; He isn’t stumbling, nor causing others to stumble (lit. “a stumbling block is not in him”).
      3. If love is the key that keeps us from causing others to stumble, then love we must!
    19. He cannot find direction because the darkness has blinded him. Hatred has distorted his perspective; it has stolen is ability to see.
      1. In the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, the fish in Echo River have eye sockets, but no eyes.
        1. Persons of hate cannot really see where they are headed. They are walking straight into eternal moral & spiritual darkness.
    21. The address becomes more personal, the structure turns poetic.
      1. Do you allow Gods word to be more than apologetic & systematic?
        1. I think there was only a couple of books that really were written that way.
      2. Is becoming a Christian to you more like baking cookies or falling in love?
      3. 3 dominate metaphors in Scripture: sheep to shepherd; child to father; bride to bridegroom. [always relational, not bullet points & formulas]
      4. Why do we have to chart everything? We even try to break the Song of Solomon into bullet points. Allow poetry to be beauty, art, & spiritual.
      5. When Darwin attacked Gen.1 &2 we began to answer science, not by appealing to something greater, but by attempting to translate spiritual realities through scientific equations. (Donald Miller; Searching For God Knows What; pg.160.)
        1. Jesus is the Word, He is both God & man, the Trinity is both 3 & 1, we are united with Him in His death...these are mysterious ideas, not scientific ideas.
        2. Poetry goes to “soul level” (see Gen.2:23 when Adam saw Eve)
          1. Man’s only recoded statement before the poetry!
    22. All of God’s children have been forgiven, but we ought to grow in the Lord.
      1. We ought to become strong young men & women in the faith; & ultimately spiritual fathers & mothers.
      2. Baby believer? Adolescent? Grown up?...Which are you?

Verses 15-29

  1. INTRO:
    1. An old fable tells about a crane that was wading in a stream looking for snails when a beautiful swan landed nearby. The crane had never seen a swan before, so he asked, “What are you?” “I’m a swan,” came the reply. “And where did you come from?” the crane inquired. “Heaven,” the swan answered. “What is that?” asked the crane. The swan eagerly began to explain its beauty and glory. He spoke of the new Jerusalem, the city of pure gold with a jasper wall and pearly gates. He described its “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal.” At that point the crane interrupted, “Tell me, are there any snails in heaven?” “No, I’m afraid not,” the swan said. “Then I don’t care to go there,” the crane stated decisively. “I like snails!”
      1. Can you see how some people are like that crane? They are so enamored by earthly possessions that they fail to appreciate the eternal riches of Christ and all He has to offer.
      2. Like the rich young ruler in Mark 10, they foolishly choose the things of earth instead of the wonderful realities of heaven.
    2. Topic change, mood change, theme change (not assurance, but warning).
      1. Believers need to be aware of the reality of temptation.
    3. The 1st part of this chapter we were reminded we have an Advocate(1); we have an Example(6); we have a commandment to love(7-11).
      1. This week we’ll see we also have some enemies(15-27), but also a wonderful hope(28,29).
    1. THE WORLD! (15-17)
    2. (15) For God so loved the world...Do not love the world –
      1. That’s an interesting commandment John, “Do NOT love the world!” I thought we were supposed to love the world? Aren’t we supposed to love the people of the world? Love the lost people of the world? Love our neighbor in the world?
      2. “World” comes up 185 x’s in the NT. John uses it 105 of the times(5 ways).
        1. 5 ways he uses kosmos: the universe at large; the earth; a large group or majority(sometimes hyperbole); the whole race of sinful people who are in opposition to God; the whole moral order of society organized under the powers of evil & in rebellion against God. (Shepherd’s Notes)
      3. The world means “all that belongs to this life that is opposed to Christ.”
        1. It’s Satan’s system, i.e. society opposed to God & taking the place of God.
      4. The world he is talking about is defined in the next verse. [i.e. the world system]
    3. (15b) Love for the world & love for God are mutually exclusive. A person can’t do both.
    4. (16) Here are the 3 man eating lions:
      1. Lust of the Flesh -The cravings of sinful man. Wrongful desires of our sinful nature.
        1. The world’s temptations starts deep within us!
      2. Lust of the eyes - The wrongful desires that are inspired through our vision.
        1. The world tempts us by its physical attraction!
        2. Its ways appear good, but its beauty has no substance.
        3. It’s reading magazines about people who live hedonistic lives and spend too much money on themselves and wanting to be like them. [Think of how many TV shows were built on this: Lifestyles of the rich & famous; Pimp my ride; MTV’s Cribs(tours of the houses and mansions of celebrities)]
      3. Pride of life - The boasting of what he has & does. Arrogance due to material possessions. (lit. “the boasting of life”) [life = bios, life in its human/material form]
        1. The world tempts us to outshine others in wealth & possessions!
    5. Some have likened this to Eve’s temptations in the garden (Gen 3 saw; pleasant to the eyes; she took)
      Some have likened this to Achan’s temptations in the tent (Joshua 7:21 saw; coveted; took; the Babylonian garments/ 200 shekels of silver/wedge of gold)
      Some have likened this to Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness (Mat. 4 stones/bread; jump; all these things I will give you)
      1. (Max Lucado) The desire to enjoy things, the desire to achieve things, the desire to get things.
      2. (Griffith Thomas) The desire of having; The desire of seeing; The desire of being.
    6. (17) Is this not what the world lives for? (the big 3)
      1. Living for the world means losing everything in time, because the world is passing away (Lot suffered such loss).
        1. When the world passes away, those who are a part of it will pass too.
      2. But if we live for God, we will abide forever.
      3. The Christian is not ruined by living in the world, but by the world living in him.
    7. Abides forever - serves as the motivation to overcome the temptations of the world & not love it. {James 1:12, “blessed is he who endures temptation…”}
      1. Q: Are you building for eternity or living for time?
    8. So the warning(15) the wickedness(16); & the worthlessness(17) of the world system.
      1. Hear this loud & clear...There can be no permanent satisfaction from anything in the world; it is all temporal!!!
    9. THE LAST HOUR! (18-23)
    10. First warning: not to love the world. Now, Second warning: watch out for false teachers.
      1. Like Antichrist, they’ll claim to teach the truth, but actually deceive people.
      2. Their real colors appear when they deny that Jesus is the Messiah.
    11. (18) It’s the last hour - “It’s the beginning of the beginning of the end, the inauguration of the last days, or the new age.”
    12. Antichrist verse antichrist.
    13. Antichrist = “Against Christ”, or “an opposition Christ”, “a rival Christ.”
      1. The word is used only by the apostle John.
        1. Antichrist = Daniel calls “the little horn”; Paul calls him “the man of sin”; John in the Rev calls him “the beast of the sea”; & Charlie Tuna called him “the chicken of the sea!”
    14. antichrist - John warns about the anti-christian teachers & tells us how to recognize them
      1. They’ve left the fellowship of the truth(19)
      2. They deny that Jesus is the Christ/Son of God come in the flesh(22)
      3. They try to seduce/deceive believers(26)
    15. (19) Not people who change fellowships; but friends who walk away from fellowship, from the Lord, from Christianity, from Jesus.
      1. So if a professing Christian falls away from the truth, what is proved that might not have been obvious earlier?
    16. Note here also is the doctrine known as the perseverance of the saints.
      1. Not that they will persevere themselves, but that God will preserve us.
        1. God finishes what He starts. He ensures His purposes in election are not frustrated.
      2. Those who are truly saved will remain true to Christ until the end.
      3. It is not endurance that saves but endurance is the characteristic of the truly saved.
    17. (20) When you place “you” at the front of the sentence in Greek, gives it strong emphasis
      1. Emphatically, true believers have the Holy Spirit!
    18. THE TRUTH! (24-27)
    19. 3 safeguards for continuance in the faith: [1]An anointing [2]The Promise [3]Eternal Life
    20. (27) You do not need anyone teach you does not mean you have no need for pastors & teachers. [i.e. how can John “teach them” that they didn’t need teaching?]
      1. He’s saying that believers must be spirit-taught personally through the Word & should not always depend on human teachers.
      2. The Christian in fellowship w/God will read & understand the Bible & be taught by the Spirit. (Warren Wiersbe)
    21. THE APPEARING! (28,29)
    22. We have a wonderful hope...the coming of Jesus Christ.
    23. Appear & coming - interesting meanings that help describe Christ’s 2nd Coming:
      1. Appear - suggests unveiling, an uncovering, a revealing, or manifestation.
        1. Christ & His glory are now hidden in some degree as He resides at the Father’s right hand.
      2. Coming - A technical term for a royal visit. [only here used by John (often by Paul)]
        1. It describes Christ’s 2nd Coming into the presence of His people.
    24. Some Christians who have not been abiding(fellowshipping) w/Christ will be ashamed when He returns.
      1. I know people who are immediately ashamed when they’re not in “church fellowship”; of course they’d be ashamed if they’re not in “Christ fellowship”.
    25. The test of sonship isn’t if you say you’re a believer(4,6,9); or if you are apart of us for a time(19); but the test of sonship is righteousness of life. [the call to do what is right!]
      1. John teaches, like Peter, that false doctrine & false living go together!
      2. If we believe the truth w/our hearts & commit ourselves to it, then we will live holy lives before men.
    26. How do we overcome the world? With God’s love! How do we overcome liars? With God’s truth!
    27. To say, I’m going to miss these things in the world is to say, “I like snails!”
    28. Machaca Hills(used to be El Pescador) eating breakfast at this resort that sits on to of the Rainforest canopy. Birds, Holler Monkeys, beautiful flowers & plants everywhere. Then I noticed a hummingbird feeder hanging on the patio. Is that what it looks like to God when we eat from the sugar of this world, instead of deriving spiritual nectar from the vast flowers He has provided?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 John 2". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.