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Bible Commentaries
1 John 2

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-29

The Advocacy of Christ and the Obligations of Believers

1. My little children] The diminutive implies the fatherly care which the aged Apostle felt for his disciples. Advocate] The word thus translated is used by St. John alone of the NT. writers. Elsewhere (John 14:16, John 14:25; John 15:26; John 16:7) it is rendered ’Comforter.’ Literally it means one who is called to the side of another for counsel and help. The rendering ’Advocate’ suits the passages in the Gospel (see RM in loco). The Son and the Holy Spirit both act as Advocate with the Father: cp. Romans 8:26-27, Romans 8:34. The Redeemer’s work calls for the mercy which ’rejoiceth against judgment,’

2. Propitiation] the act or offering which makes an injured person favourable to the offender, Christ is the propitiation as well as the propitiator: the offering itself as well as the sacrificing priest who makes it. The whole world] cp. John 1:29; John 4:24; John 17:20-23. The work of Christ was wrought for all, not for a chosen few. There are none who may not share its benefits if they will.

5. The love of God] i.e. man’s love to God: cp. 1 John 4:12, An ideal condition is here presented. Perfect obedience is evidence of perfect love.

7. An old commandment] cp. 2 John 1:5. Old, because they have known it from the beginning of their Christian life. Which ye had from the beginning] RV ’which ye heard.’

8. A new commandment] The commandment of love, old as it now is in one sense, is in another new, as it ever gains fresh light and meaning. The darkness, etc.] RV ’the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shineth.’

10. Occasion of stumbling] lit. ’stumbling-block,’ that which may cause himself or others to fall, in this case probably (see next v.) himself. Without love no one can walk in the light of God’s truth.

12-14. In these vv. the readers are addressed, twice over, as (1) ’little children,’ (2) ’fathers,’ (3) ’young men.’ Probably the first of these is the term of endearment already used (1 John 2:1), including the whole community. Next, the old and the young are respectively addressed as ’fathers,’ ’young men.’ Corresponding to the two series of personal addresses is a change in the tense of the verb from ’I write’ to ’I wrote,’ or ’I have written’: see RV, noting change in 1 John 2:13. Perhaps ’I write’ refers to the Epistle, ’I wrote’ to the Gospel; or else the change is made for variety, the present being used from the writer’s standpoint, the past from that of the readers, when the message would reach them.

15. Love not the world] The ’world’ here is not the world of nature, nor the world of humanity which ’God so loved’ (John 3:16). It means all in the present order of things which appeals to the soul as an object of desire apart from and in rivalry to God.

16. All that is thus antagonistic to God is summed up under three heads, the separate avenues through which the world-spirit reaches the soul. While the classification is hardly exhaustive, as a category covering all kinds of evil it is very comprehensive, and corresponds to the three elements which appear in the temptation of Eve (Genesis 3:6) and in the temptation of our Lord (Luke 4:3-12).

18. The last time] RV ’the last hour.’ The Apostles undoubtedly anticipated a coming of Christ in the near future as a vital possibility, and all generations are enjoined by our Lord’s teaching to do the same. The dispensation which immediately precedes that great event, the time of which is known only to the Father (Mark 13:32), is rightly called, whatever its length may prove to be, the ’last hour.’ Antichrist shall come] RV ’Antichrist cometh.’ The hostile influence described as Antichrist is further defined in 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7, as the Spirit which denies the Incarnation, and is regarded as a sign of the last days: cp. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10. The term ’Antichrist’ suggests the ideas of opposition and rivalry to Christ. St. John regards as embodiments of this spirit all the false teachers who had already (1 John 2:19) gone out from the Church because they did not really possess the Spirit of Christ.

20. An unction] RV ’an anointing’: cp. 2 Corinthians 1:21. Oil is the sacred symbol of the Spirit’s operations. The anointing here represents the gift of the Spirit, whereby believers are endowed with spiritual discernment (John 14:26; John 16:13). The Holy one] probably Christ.

23. ’The denial of the Son involves the loss of the Father, not only because the ideas of sonship and fatherhood are correlative, but because the Son alone can reveal the Father.’

28. When he shall appear] RV ’if he shall be manifested.’ The ’if’ implies no doubt as to the fact, but only uncertainty as to the time. Confidence] RV ’boldness,’ lit. ’freedom or readiness of speech.’

29. Is born of him] lit. ’hath been begotten from him.’ ’The presence of righteous action is the sure sign of the reality of the divine birth’ (Westcott).

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 John 2". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/1-john-2.html. 1909.
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