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Bible Commentaries
1 John 2

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Verses 1-99

(b) 2:1-6. Further statement of the conditions of fellowship. Knowledge and obedience

1, 2 The remedy for sin (in the case of those who acknowledge that they have sinned, in contrast with 1:10).

3-5a. Obedience the sign of knowledge.

5b, 6. Imitation the sign of union.

1. The recognition of the universality of sin, from which even Christians are not actually free, might lead to a misconception of its true character. Men might easily pass too lenient judgments on its heinousness, and ignore the responsibility of those who give way to its promptings. If it is impossible for any one, even the Christian, to escape sin, why condemn with such uncompromising severity failures for which men cannot reasonably be held responsible? Why strive so earnestly against what is inevitable? The writer hastens to warn his readers against such conclusions. Sin is wholly antagonistic to the Christian ideal; his whole object in trying to set out that ideal more clearly is to prevent sin, not to condone it. His aim in writing is to bring about “sinlessness” (ἵνα μὴ�

ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε] The aorist suggests definite acts of sin rather than the habitual state, which is incompatible with the position of Christians who are in truth what their name implies. Those who are bathed need not save to wash their feet; cf. John 13:10.


καὶ ἐάν] The sentence introduced by these words is not contrasted with the preceding, but added to it “as a continuous piece of one message.” The writer’s object is to produce “sinlessness.” And this is not a fruitless aspiration after an ideal which cannot possibly be realized, for the means of dealing with the sin which he desires to combat are at hand.

παράκλητος] Most of the information which is of real importance in determining the meaning and usage of this word in the Johannine writings (it is not found elsewhere in the N.T.) is to be found in the notes of Wettstein and Westcott. The article on the word in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (iii. 665) gives a very clear summary of the evidence; cf. also Jülicher’s shorter statement in the Encyclopaedia Biblica (iii. 3567).

The passages where it occurs in the N.T. are John 14:16, John 14:26, John 14:15:26, John 14:16:7; 1 John 2:1. The meaning “advocate” is clearly needed in the Epistle, it is possible in 15:26, and probable in 16:7. In 14:16, 26 it must have the wider and less technical meaning of one called in to help.

As regards the use of the verb παρακαλεῖν, it has the sense of comfort in the LXX (cf. Genesis 37:35, where it is used with reference to Jacob) and in the N.T. (cf. Matthew 5:4, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται, where the influence of Isaiah 61:2, παρακαλέσαιπάντας τοὺς πενθοῦντας, is clear). The use of παράκλησις in the sense of comfort is also well established (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:4, διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως ἧς παρακαλούμεθα). But its original meaning was to send for, summon to one’s aid, corresponding to the Latin aduocare. The following passages are often quoted: Xen. Anab. i. 6. 5, Κλέαρχον παρεκάλεσε σύμβουλον, ὃς … ἐδόκει τροτιμηθῆναι μάλιστα τῶν Ἑλλήνων: Aesch. Ctes. 200, τί δεῖ σε Δήμοσθένην παρακαλεῖν; ὅταν παρακαλῇς κακουργὸν ἄνθρωπον καὶ τεχνίτην λόγων κλέττεις τὴν�


The form of the word is passive (cf. κλητός, ἐκλεκτός,�

The usage of the Septuagint corresponds. In Zechariah 1:13, παρακλητικός is used to translate the Hebrew נִחֻמִּים, ῥήματα καλὰ καὶ λόγους παρακλητικούς. In Job 16:2, מְנַחֵם is translated by παρακλήτωρ (παρακλήτορες κακῶν πάντες). But it should be noticed that two of the later versions (Aquila, Theodotion) render it by παράκλητοι. Symmachos has παρηγοροῦντες, an indication that in later Greek the meaning of παράκλησις was beginning to influence that of παράκλητος.Philo’s usage corresponds with the classical. The Paraclete is the advocate or intercessor; cf. de Josepho, c. 40,�

The word occurs as a loan-word in the Targum and Talmudic literature, in the sense of helper, intercessor, advocate. It is used in the Targum on Job 16:20 and 33:23 as a paraphrase of מליץ taken in the sense of “interpreter.” The latter passage is especially interesting, as showing the late Jewish view of the need of angelic agency to “redeem a man from going to the pit.”

In the Talmud, פרקליט is used for “advocate,” in opposition to קטיגור (κατήγορος; cf. Revelation 12:10, ὁ κατήγωρ). “He who performs one precept has gotten to himself one paraclete, and he who commits one transgression has gotten to himself one accuser” (Pirke Aboth, iv. 15; Taylor, p. 69). “Whosoever is summoned before the court for capital punishment is saved only by powerful paracletes; such paracletes man has in repentance and good works; and if there are nine hundred and ninety-nine accusers, and only one to plead for his exoneration, he is saved” (Shab. 32a). The sin-offering is like the paraclete before God; it intercedes for man, and is followed by another offering, a thank-offering for the pardon obtained (Sifra, Megora iii. 3). These and other passages are quoted in the Jewish Encyclopaedia, s.v. (ix. 515). The same usage is found in early Christian literature, where the use of the word is independent of the Johannine use of the term; cf. 2 Clement. vi. 9, τίς ἡμῶν παράκλητος ἔσται ἐὰν μὴ εὑρεθῶμεν ἔργα ἔχοντες ὅσια καὶ δίκαια; Barnabas, c. xx. καταπονοῦντες τὸν θλιβόμενον, πλουσίων παράκλητοι, πενήτων ἄνομοι κριταί.


The connection of the word with the ordinary meaning of παράκλησις is found in Rufinus’ translation of the De Principiis; cf. ii. 7. 3, “Paracletus uero quod dicitur Spiritus sanctus, a consolatione dicitur. Paraclesis enim Latine consolatio appellatur.” He goes on to suggest that the word may have a different meaning when applied to the Holy Spirit and to Christ. “Videtur enim de Saluatore Paracletus dici deprecator. Utrumque enim significat in Graeco Paracletus, et deprecatorem et consolatorem.”

Origen seems to have understood the word in the sense of “intercessor.” Cf. Comm. in Joann. i. 38, τὴν περὶ ἡμῶν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα προστασίαν αὐτοῦ δηλοῖ παρακαλοῦντος ὑπὲρ τῆς�

In Cyril of Jerusalem the sense is not limited to that of “comforting”; cf. Catechesis, xvi. 20, Πσράκλητος δὲ καλεῖται, διὰ τὸ παρακαλεῖν καὶ παραμυθεῖθαι καὶ συναντιλαμβάνεσθαι τῆς�Romans 8:26 being quoted in support, with the explanation of ὑπερεντυγχάνει"δῆλον δὲ ὅτι πρὸς τὸν θεόν."

The evidence of the old Latin Version is similar. In the Epistle “aduocatus” is used, in the Gospel either “aduocatus” or “paraclitus.” This is not seriously affected by the evidence adduced by Rönsch (Itala ü. Vulgata, p. 348), that “aduocare” acquired the meaning of “to comfort” (cf. Tertullian, adv. Marc. iv. 14, where the παρακαλέσαι τοὺς πενθοῦντας of Isaiah 61:2 is translated “aduocare languentes.” “Advocare” is a natural translation of παρακαλεῖν (cf. Tert. Pudicit. 13; Iren. III. ix. 3, v. xv. I, and the Vulgate of Isaiah 40:2, quoted by Rönsch), and owes any connection with the idea of “comforting” that it may have to that fact. Augustine’s “Paracletus, id est Consolator,” throws no light on the meaning and usage of the Greek word. The other versions do not throw much light on the subject. In Syriac, Arabic, Aethiopic, and Bohairic it is transliterated, and in the Sahidic also in the Gospel, while it has “he that prayeth for us” in the Epistle. The Vulgate has “Paracletus” in the Gospel and “Aduocatus” in the Epistle. This, no doubt, influenced the modern versions. Wycliffe renders “Comforter” in the Gospel and “Advocate” in the Epistle; and Luther also has “Tröster” in the Gospel and “Fürsprecher” in the Epistle.


Thus the evidence of early use supports the evidence of the form of the word, which is naturally passive. Its meaning must be “one called to the side of” him who claims the services of the called. The help it describes is generally assistance of some sort or other in connection with the courts of law; but it has a wider signification also,—the help of any one who “lends his presence” to his friend. Any kind of help, of advocacy, intercession, or mediation may be suggested by the context in which it is used. In itself it denotes merely “one called in to help.” In the Epistle the idea of one who pleads the Christian’s cause before God is clearly indicated, and “advocate” is the most satisfactory translation. This sense suits some of the passages in which it is used in the Gospel; in the others it suggests one who can be summoned to give the help that is needed in a wider sense. There is no authority for the sense of “Comforter,” either in the sense of “strengthener” or “consoler,” which has been so generally connected with it in consequence of the influence of Wycliffe and Luther, except Patristic interpretations of its meaning in S. John.The suggestion of Zimmern (Vater, Sohn, u. Fürsprecher in der babylonischen Gottesvorstellung), that its use in Christian and Jewish thought may be connected with the Babylonian myth of the intervention of Nusku (the Fire God), who “acts as the advocate of men at the instance of Ea and Marduk,” has not been favourably received. So far as concerns the Johannine use of the term Paraclete, far simpler explanations are to be found in its use in Philo and Rabbinic Judaism. In reality it hardly needs explanation. It was probably a common word, and the obvious one to use. Moulton and Milligan (Expositor, vol. X., 1910) quote the illustrations of its use, one from “a very illiterate letter” of the second century a.d. where it has been restored (BU 601:12), καὶ τὸν�

3. The author has stated that his object in writing is to produce sinlessness, and that if sin intervenes to interrupt the fellowship between man and God, there is a remedy (vv. 1, 2). He now proceeds to point out the signs of Christian life, as realized in knowledge of God and union with God. They are to be found in obedience and in Christ-like conduct. Knowledge of God includes, of course, much more than obedience to His commands, but its genuineness and reality can be thus tested. The writer can conceive of no real knowledge of God which does not issue in obedience, wherever the Divine will has been revealed in definite precepts.In the Johannine system, “knowledge” is never a purely intellectual process.1 It is acquired by the exercise of all the faculties of intellect, heart, and will. Fellowship and acquaintance are its cognate ideas. It is developed in the growing experience of intercourse. This conception, which dominates the whole Old Testament idea of “knowing God” and of God “knowing” men (cf. Amos 3:2), is similarly developed in S. Paul’s “knowing God, or rather being known of Him” (Galatians 4:9). The stress laid in the Johannine writings on the true knowledge of God is certainly connected with the necessity which the author felt of combating certain stages of Gnostic thought. But to see in the language of this and other similar verses of this Epistle any necessary reference to the particular stage of second-century Gnosticism which immediately preceded the more definite systems of Marcion and Valentinus, is precarious. We know too little about the development of Gnostic ideas before Basilides to say either that the stage of Gnosticism implied in the Fourth Gospel had or had not been reached by the year 100 a.d. or before that date, or that a considerable number of years must have passed before the Church could have demanded so definite a break with opinions of this kind as is suggested in the Second and Third Epistles (cf. Schmiedel, Evangelium, Briefe und Offenbarung Johannis, pp. 38, 19).


ἐν τούτῳ] points forward, as usually. Cf. note on 1:4.

γινώσκομεν, ἐγνώκαμεν] The tenses are significant. We learn to perceive more and more clearly that our knowledge is genuine through its abiding results in a growing willingness to obey.

τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν] The phrase τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολὰς (τὸν λόγον) is characteristic of the Johannine books, including the Apocalypse. It occurs in the Gospel 12 times, in the First Epistle 6, and in the Rev_6 (cf. also Revelation 1:3, τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ γεγραμμένα). Elsewhere it is found only in Matthew 19:17, εἰ δὲ θέλεις εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν, τήρει τὰς ἐντολάς. Cf. Mark 7:9 (τὴν παράδοσιν); 1 Timothy 6:14, τηρῆσαί σε τὴν ἐντολὴν ἄσπιλον. Cf. also Sifre, Deut. 48, quoted by Schlatter (Sprache u. Heimat des 4ten Evangeliums). “When a man keeps the ways of the law, should he sit still and not do them? Rather shouldest thou turn to do them.” As opposed to φυλάσσειν (custodire), τηρεῖν (obseruare) denotes sympathetic obedience to the spirit of a command, rather than the rigid carrying out of its letter. We may contrast Mark 10:20, ταῦτα πάντα ἐφυλαξάμην ἐκ νεότητός μου (= Luke 18:21, ἐφύλαξα). As knowledge is not confined to the intellect, so obedience penetrates beyond the latter to the spirit. It may be noticed that the Vulgate has obseruare in this verse, custodire in ver. 4, and seruare in 5, facts which suggest that no Latin rendering was felt to be an exact equivalent, or completely satisfactory rendering, of the Greek word τηρεῖν. In the Gospel seruare is the regular rendering.


τὰς ἐντολάς] The various commands, or definite precepts, in which those parts of the whole θέλημα which are known to us have found expression.

και] om. Ia 397 fff (96).

γινωσκομεν] γινωσκωμεν A: cognoscemus boh-ed.

τηρωμεν] φυλαξωμεν א*: τηρησωμενHδ6 (Φ).

4. The test is adequate, and may be applied with certainty; for there is no such thing as knowledge which does not issue in corresponding action. The man who claims to have knowledge of God which does not carry with it as its necessary consequence the attempt to carry out His will, thereby declares himself a liar. There is no room for self-deception. The falsehood, if not conscious and deliberate, is without excuse. For the converse thought, that the doing of the will leads to fuller knowledge, cf. John 7:17.ὁ λέγων] The verse is closely parallel to 1:6, 8, 10. The form of expression is more individualized than the conditional sentences used there. It is the direct and definite statement of the writer conscious of the fact that he is dealing with a real danger, and probably with a statement that has been actually made, by men against whose influence he is trying to guard his τεκνία. If there is no reason to see in it an attack on any particular Gnostic teacher, it clearly deals with statements which they have heard, and to which they have shown themselves ready to listen.


Ψεύστης ἐστίν] The falseness of the claim is the point which is emphasized. At the same time the form of expression chosen declares its inexcusableness. Contrast 1:8 (ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν). As compared with the verb (1:6, ψευδόμεθα), it may perhaps suggest that the statement is a revelation of the character of the man who makes it. “The whole character is false” (Westcott). He who claims knowledge without obedience “has” the sin which he has allowed to gain foothold. If light is seen and not followed, deterioration of character is the inevitable result.

καὶ… ἐστίν] The antithetical clause is not merely a repetition of the positive statement in a negative form. The “truth” is regarded by the writer as an active principle working in a man. It is not concerned with the intellect alone. It corresponds to the highest effort of man’s whole nature. Cf. John 8:32.

ἐν τούτῳ] In such an one. In the Gospel and Epistles of S. John, when οὗτοςrefers back, it always denotes the subject or object, as previously described; cf. John 1:2 (οὗτος, the Logos who is θεός), v. 38, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε (one sent by God).


οτι א A B 18. 25. 27. 33**. 65. 66**. 68. 69. 98. 101. 177. 180 ascr dscr jscr 57lect syrute Clem. Cyp. Lcif. Aug. Amb.] om. C K L P al. plu. cat. aethute Clem. Oec.

και] om. και A P 13. 27. 29 | εντου τω] in Eo boh-codd.: om. א 19.

η] om. 21. 34. 56. 100. 192. Oscr Ψ.

αληθεια)+ του θεου א 8. 25 aeth.: + εν αυτου19a: + εν αυτω 19 b.

5. Again the thought is carried further in the statement of the opposite. The whole word is substituted for the definite precepts, and knowledge gives way to love. Perfect obedience gains the whole prize. For love is greater than knowledge.

ὃς δʼ ἂν τηρῇ] The statement is made in its most general form. Contrast the preceding verse, and 1:6 ff. The difference shows that the writer has in view definite “Gnostic” claims. Knowledge is not the possession of a few “pneumatic” individuals. In contrast with the claim of such an one, whose conduct shows the falsity of his claim, is set the possibility of obtaining the higher prize, the perfection of love, open to all who are willing to obey. The “chance o’ the prize of learning love” is not reserved to the few who think that they “know.”

αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον] The order of the words throws the emphasis on αὐτοῦ, which takes up the αὐτόν of the Gnostic’s claim. The teaching of the God, whom he claims to know, is very different from the views expressed in his claim.

The λόγος is the sum of the ἐντολαί, or rather it is the whole of which they are the parts. Love is not made perfect in a series of acts of obedience to so many definite commands. It reaches its full growth only when God’s whole plan is welcomed and absorbed. The ἐντολαί offer adequate tests of the truth or falsehood of any claim to know God. But something more is needed before Obedience can have her perfect work.

ἡ�

ἀληθῶς] The true state of the case as contrasted with the false plea set up by the man who claims to have knowledge without obedience. The emphatic position, however, of the word suggests that it may reasonably be regarded as one of the many signs which are to be found in this Epistle, that the writer feels strongly the need of encouraging his readers with the assurance of the reality of their Christian privileges. Certainty is within their grasp if they will use the means which have been placed at their disposal. Comp. John 8:31.


τηρη] τηρει K 13. 100. 142 cscr 57lect: τηρησει Ia δ453 (5).

τον] om. Ia δ203 (265).

αληθως] om. 27. 29. 66**.

5b, 6. Imitation the sign of Union.

The test of union with God is the imitation of His Son. This is not stated directly, as in the case of knowledge (ver. 3), but the claim to “abide in Him” is said to carry with it the moral obligation to “follow the blessed steps of His most holy life.” See Findlay, p. 149.ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν] This form of expression is peculiar to the Johannine writings (Gospel and First Epistle). It is the equivalent, in his system of thought, of the Pauline ἐν Χριστῷ εἶναι, of which it was a very natural modification, if it is to be attributed to the author, and not to his Master. The longer the Lord delayed His coming, the more it came to be realized that union with Christ under the conditions of earthly existence must be an abiding rather than a short tarrying. The idea had taken its new shape before the “last hour” was thought to have struck. Bengel points out a climax: cognitio (ver. 3), communio (5), constantia (6).


ἐκεῖνος] For the use of ἐκεῖνος with reference to Christ, cf. 1 John 3:3, 1 John 3:5, 1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 3:4:17; John 7:11, John 7:19:21, John 7:9:12, John 7:28, and perhaps also 19:35 (Zahn, Einleitung, ii. 481; cf. Introd. p. iv).

περιπατεῖν] See note on 1:6. For its use in the Johannine writings, cf. John 8:12, John 8:11:9 f., John 8:12:35; 1 John 1:6, 1 John 1:7, 1 John 1:2:11; 2 John 1:4, 2 John 1:6; 3 John 1:3, 3 John 1:4.


εν τουτω] post θεου P 31: om. Hδ2 (א) (?) (cf. Tisch. ver. 4) Ic 116* (-).

γινωσκομεν] cognoscemus, boh-ed.

καθως … περιπατειν] sic ambulare sicut (+et codd.) ille ambulauit, arm.

και … περιπατειν] om. L.

και αυτος] post ουτωςIa 65 (317) Ic 174 : om. sahd.

ουτως א C K P al. pler. cat. cop. syrp arm. Salv. Thphyl. Oec.] om. A B 3. 34. 65. 81. 180 dscr vg. sah. aeth. Clem. Or. Cyr. Cyp. Aug. The omission may possibly be due to the similarity of the preceding word, but the evidence against it is very strong.

2. 2:7-17. Proof of the ethical thesis from the circumstances in which the readers find themselves, and from their previous experience. The old commandment is always new in the growing light of God’s revelation. “Walking in light” and “keeping the commandments” further defined as love of the brethren

(a) 7-11. General. Brotherly love

(b) 12-17. Individual. Warning against love of the world

7-8. The Commandment, old and new.It is hardly necessary to discuss the interpretations which regard the “old” and the “new” as different commandments, the old commandment being the injunction to “walk as He walked,” and the new, the call to brotherly love. But assuming the identity of the old and the new, the commandment has been interpreted in three different ways. (1) With reference to 1:5 ff., to give proof of “walking in light” by the confession of sin and the avoiding of everything sinful. (2) With reference to the verses immediately preceding, to “walk as He walked.” Of these the second is the most natural, but it is not necessary to find a reference to any actual words of the Epistle which have preceded. The expressions which follow, “of which ye were in possession from the beginning,” “the word which ye heard,” make such a reference improbable. (3) The expression ἐντολὴ καινή recalls so vividly the language of the Gospel, and the connection with the duty of brotherly love insisted upon in vv. 9 and 10 is so clear, that we are almost compelled to interpret the passage in accordance with John 13:34, ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν ἵνα�

ἀγαπητοί] The first occurrence of the writer’s favourite form of address in these Epistles. Cf. 3:2, 21, 4:1, 7; 3 John 1:2, 3 John 1:5, 3 John 1:11. No conclusion can be drawn from its use as to the meaning of the command. The reading of the received text �


Where the phrase is used of the “old” command, it may refer either to the early days of the Mosaic legislation, or to the beginning of the education of each convert to whom the writer is speaking, or to the beginning of his life as a Christian. A reference to the teaching of Judaism on the subject of “love” seems, on the whole, to satisfy the conditions best in each case. But it is probably a mistake to attempt to define the meaning of the phrase very rigidly. Long continuance is suggested rather than a definite starting-point. It is not easy to determine whether the writer is thinking of the beginning of the life of each of his readers, or of their religious consciousness, or of their Christian life. The point can be settled only by the more general consideration of the character of the false teaching combated in these Epistles. The real force of the expression is to heighten the contrast of the “newer” teaching which placed knowledge higher than love. The writer has in view the

“Many Antichrists, who answered prompt

‘Am I not Jaspar as thyself art John?

Nay, young, whereas through age thou mayest forget?’”

He is confident that as against the “glozing of some new shrewd tongue” that which was “from the beginning” will prove to be “of new significance and fresh result.”

ὁ λόγος ὃν ἠκούσατε] “The word which ye heard” must be that which was told them by their teachers, whether Jewish or Christian or both. The command to love one’s neighbour was common to both. ὁ λόγος more naturally suggests a whole message rather than one definite command. But it may refer to the new commandment of John 13:34, regarded as a rule of life rather than a single precept.


αγαπητοι א A B C Psa_20 cat. vg. sah. cop. syrutr arm. Did. Thphyl. Aug. Bed.] αδελφοι Κ L al. plur. aethutr Oec.: om. jscr: αδελφοι μου Ic δ299 (-).


ειχετε] εχετε 27. 29. 34. 42. 57lect 58lect ascr kscr: habemus sah: habebamu, arm-ed.

η1o] pr. καιIa 7.

η κουσατε א A B C P 5. 13. 27. 29. 39. 40. 65. 68. 81. 180 dscr jscr vg. sah. cop. syrutr arm. aeth. Aug. Thphyl.] + απ αρχης K L al. longe plur. cat. Oec.

8. The command, which is as old as the Law of Moses, even if the writer did not regard it as implicitly contained in the story of Cain and Abel (cf. 3:11, 12, ἵνα�

πάλιν] The word clearly introduces another description of the same commandment, not another command. Cf. John 16:28, πάλιν�1 Corinthians 12:21, οὐ δύναται ὁ ὀφθαλμὸς εἰπεῖν τῇ χειρί … ἢ πάλιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῖς ποσίν. Cf. also John 19:37; Romans 15:10, Romans 15:11, Romans 15:12; 1 Corinthians 3:20; (?) 2 Corinthians 10:7, 2 Corinthians 10:11:16; Hebrews 1:5, (?) 6, 2:13, 4:5, 10:30. The use of πάλιν in the N.T. to introduce another quotation in proof of the same point, or a further thought about the same subject, is fully established.


ὅ] The antecedent to the neuter relative is the clause ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν. “It is a new commandment that I write unto you.” The order lays the emphasis on ἐντολὴν καινήν. It is the “newness” of the old command which is said to be true in Him and in His followers.

ὅτι … φαίνει] The shining of the true light reveals the true character of that which the darkness hid or obscured. The force of the present tense in παράγεται and φαίνει is significant. They must be interpreted as presents. All is not yet clear and known, but the process has already begun. The darkness is passing away. Contrast “It has become bright as the sun upon earth, and the darkness is past” (Book of Enoch 58:5).There are many indications in the Epistle that the writer regards the Parousia as imminent. Cf. especially ver. 18, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν. The present verse throws some light on the difficult question of the relation between the teaching of the Gospel and that of the Epistle on the subject of the Parousia. In the Epistle the expectation is more clearly stated and more obviously felt than in the Gospel, though in the earlier work the idea of “the last day” not only receives definite expression, but is something more than an obsolete conception, alien to the author’s real thoughts and sympathy, or a mere condescension to popular Christianity, fed on Apocalyptic expectation and unable to bear a purely spiritual interpretation. A difference of emphasis is not necessarily a change of view. It is doubtful if the two conceptions are really inconsistent. Their inconsistency would not be felt by a writer of the particular type of thought which characterizes the author. Their meeting point lies in the idea of “manifestation,” which is his characteristic expression for the Parousia, as also for the earthly life of the Lord. For him the “Presence” is no sudden unveiling of a man from heaven, who in the twinkling of an eye shall destroy the old and set up the new. It is the consummation of a process which is continuously going on. It is the final manifestation of the things that are, and therefore the passing away of all that is phenomenal. As eternal life “is” now and “shall be” hereafter, as judgment is a process already going on, because men must show their true nature by their attitude to the Christ, while its completion is a final act; so the Parousia is the complete manifestation of that which is already at work. The time of its completion is still thought of as “the last day,” and “the day of judgment.” The true light is already shining, and the darkness is passing away. But He who is coming will come.



καινην] om. I a 1100 (310) K δ161.

ο … αυτω] in qua est ueritas, boh. | εστιν] μενει H δ3 (C) Ia 200f.

ο εστιν αληθες] om. I a 70.

αληθες] post αυτω A.

εν υμιν] א B C K L al. longe plur. cat. vg. sah. boh-ed. syrsch etp txt arm. aeth. Thphyl. Oec. Aug. Bed.] εν ημιν A P 4. 7. 9. 22. 29. 31. 34. 47. 76* cscr tol. boh-cod. syrp mg Hier.: om. εν H δ162 (269).

σκοτια] σκια A.9. The true light was already shining and gaining ground. The darkness was passing away. But it had not yet passed. The perfect day had not yet dawned. All had not yet recognized the light. And all who claimed to have done so could not make good their claim. The true light, when once apprehended, leads to very definite results. The claim to have recognized it, if not borne out by their presence, is false. These results are presented in sentences similar to vv. 4 and 6. The writer puts before his readers the cases of typical individuals, he that saith, he that loveth, he that hateth. The falsity of the claim is sharply stated. At the same time the form of expression (ἐντῇ σκοτίᾳ ἐστὶν ἕως ἄρτι) would seem to suggest that there is more excuse for self-deception. The claimant is not called ψεύστης (v. 4). “It is always easy to mistake an intellectual knowledge for a spiritual knowledge of the Truth” (Westcott). To claim to have knowledge of God, actually realized in personal experience (γινώσκειν), without obeying his commands, is deliberate falsehood. To claim spiritual illumination without love may be due to the fact that we are deceiving ourselves. It may be the result of mistaken notions as to the function of the intellect. Those who put forward such a claim only show that their apprehension of the “light” is not at present so complete as they imagine.

The “light” is, of course, that which illumines the moral and spiritual spheres. Cf. Origen, Comm. in Joann. xiii. 23, φῶς οὗν ὀνομάζεται ὁ θεὸς�John 11:9 f.).

μισῶν] The writer naturally does not deal with the possibility of intermediate states between love and hatred. In so far as the attitude of any particular man towards his fellow-man is not love, it is hatred. In so far as it is not hatred, it is love. The statements are absolute. The writer is not now concerned with their applicability to the complex feelings of one man towards another in actual life, or how the feelings of love and hatred are mingled in them. It is his custom to make absolute statements, without any attempt to work out their bearing on actual individual cases. His work is that of the prophet, not of the casuist.τὸν�3 John 1:5, 3 John 1:10). And the usage of the word�




Om. totum comma sahd.

εν 2o]pr. ψευστης εστιν και א 15. 43. 98. 137 arm. aeth. Cypr.

σκοτια] σκια 100 (mg.).

10. The contrast is, as usual, stated in terms which carry it a stage further, μένειν being substituted for εἶναι. It is possible that a man might attain to the light. He cannot abide in it without showing that love which the new light has revealed to be the true attitude of Christian to Christian, and of man to man. Cf. John 12:46, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ μὴ μείνῃ: 8:35, ὁ υἱὸς μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. The slave may learn much, but he cannot abide in the house for ever.σκάνδαλον … ἔστιν] The stumbling-block may be that which a man puts either in his own way, or in that of his neighbour. The word is not found elsewhere in the Johannine books, except Revelation 2:14 (βαλεῖν σκάνδαλον ἐνώπιον τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ). The verb is found in John 6:61, John 16:1. The general usage of the New Testament, and perhaps the use of the verb in the Fourth Gospel, is in favour of the second interpretation. And it gives a possible sense. He who loves his neighbour not only abides in the light himself, but is also free from the guilt of causing others to offend. But the general context almost requires the other explanation. The effect of love and hate on the man himself is the subject of the whole passage. The sphere of his moral and spiritual progress or decline is regarded as being within himself. The occasions of falling are within. Cf. Hosea 4:17, ἔθηκεν ἐαυτῷ σκάνδαλα. This may be suggested by what is probably the true form of the text, σκάνδαλον ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν, internal stumbling-block, causing offence within, there is none. Possibly ἐν αὐτῷ may refer to ἐν τῷ φωτί,“In the light there is nothing to cause stumbling.” Cf., however, John 11:9, John 11:10. For the phrase itself we may compare the Rabbinic הַמֵּבִיא תְקָלָה לַחֲרֵיבוֹ quoted by Schlatter from Sifre, Numbers 5:15.


εν αυτω B Κ L Ρ al. pler. cat. vg. syrp arm. Thphyl. Oec. Aug.] post εστιν א A C 5. 105 jscr m syrsch sah. Lcif.

11. The first part of this verse repeats verse 9. The remainder emphasizes the dangers of the state described. The man’s mental, moral, and spiritual state must affect his conduct. He “walks” in that in which he “is.” He who walks about in darkness can have no idea whither he is going. At every moment he is in danger of falling. Hatred perverts a man’s whole action, and prevents conscious progress toward any satisfactory goal. The darkness in which he has chosen to abide (μισῶν) has deprived him of the use of those means which he possesses of directing his course aright. It is an overfanciful interpretation which sees in the last words of the verse any reference to the idea that darkness, or want of the opportunity of using them, actually destroys the organs of vision. There is no reason to suppose that the writer had this physical truth in view as he wrote. He may be thinking of Isaiah 6:10; comp. Romans 11:8-10 and the close parallel in John 12:35.


εστιν] μενει Ρ.

τους οφθαλμους] post αυτου2:0 3, 42, 57, 95, 101.

αυτου2:0] om. K2 δ161 (261).

12-17. Warning against love of the World. The appeal based on the readers’ position and attainments.

12-14. Grounds of the appeal.

15-17. Warning.12. Before passing on to the more direct application of the general principles which he has now stated in outline, the writer reminds his readers of what their position is and what is involved in it. He knows that they are harassed by doubts as to the validity of their Christian position, so he hastens to assure them of it, and to use his assurance as the ground of the appeal which he is making. He writes to them the Epistle which is in course of composition (γράφω), because they are already members of the community of light. In virtue of what Christ is and has done, the sin which separates them from God has been, actually in part, potentially altogether, removed. The old, in their experience, and the young, in their strength, have a power which stands them in good stead. They can enjoy fellowship with God who is light, and in the communion of that fellowship they can see clearly so as to “walk” without stumbling, to avoid the false allurements of the world, and the consequences which would follow their acceptance of the false teaching of the many antichrists whose presence shows that the last hour is come. And the reasons which led him to write that part of his letter which has already been penned (ἔγραψα; cf. 27, where the ταῦτα shows that the reference is to the preceding verses) are similar. Those who have learned by experience the truth of the Fatherhood of God can confess the sins which their Father is faithful and just to forgive, and as παιδία who need and can obtain fatherly discipline and guidance they can go forward in the strength of love. Thus their position as Christians is the ground of his appeal. Much can be said to them which it would be impossible to address to those outside. Most, in fact, of what he has to say is of the nature of calling to remembrance that which they already know. The true safeguard against their present dangers lies in their realizing their Christian position, in carrying out in life the faith and knowledge which they already possess, in rekindling the enthusiasm of earlier days which has now grown cold. The experience of age, and the vigour of youth and early manhood, supply all that is needed to restore health in Christian thought and life. The life of the society is safe if the two classes of which it is composed will contribute of their treasure to the common store, and use for themselves and for the community the powers of which they are in actual possession.γράφω] The present naturally refers to that which is in the course of composition, the letter as a whole. The present tense is used in 1:4, 2:1, 13 (bis). In each case the reference may be to the whole Epistle, though where ταῦτα is used it has suggested to some the probability of a more limited reference. The simplest explanation of the use of the aorist in ver. 14 (ἔγραψα) is that the writer turns back in thought to that part of the letter which he has already finished, the writing of which can now be regarded as a simple complete act. Of the many explanations which have been offered this would seem on the whole to be the most natural, and least unsatisfactory. The suggestion that the author wished to vary the monotony of six repetitions of the same word need hardly be taken seriously. He is afraid neither of monotony nor of repetition, and the slight changes which he introduces into his repetitions are seldom, if ever, devoid of significance. A reference to a former document, either the Gospel, or a lost Epistle, is not probable. The reasons given for having written do not suit the Gospel, while they fit it admirably with the present Epistle, and with that part of it which has already taken shape. The Gospel was undoubtedly written for Christians rather than for those who were still “of the world.” But its object was to instruct, to increase faith and deepen spiritual life, by imparting wider knowledge and clearer understanding of the real meaning of things already known. The aim of the Epistle is to emphasize the important points of what the readers have already grasped, and to persuade them to use their knowledge to meet present dangers. It was because of the knowledge which all possessed, of the Christian experience of the elder, and the strength and achievements in the Christian warfare of the younger among his readers, that he could make his appeal. But for that, he could not have written what he had written. A reference to a former Epistle must almost necessarily have been made clearer and more definite. It is, of course, quite possible that he had written to them before the present occasion. That the Canon has preserved but a selection of the Apostolic and sub-Apostolic correspondence is proved by the references contained in the Pauline Epistles, and probably in 3 John 1:9. And if such a letter had been written, it might have been misunderstood and have required further explanation or justification (cf. Karl, p. 32), as S. Paul found on two occasions during his correspondence with the Corinthians. But there is nothing in the passage to suggest that this was the case.


It is still more difficult to suppose that the presents and the aorists have exactly the same reference. The use of the “epistolary aorist” by which the author mentally transfers himself to the position of the recipients of the letter, or “regards his letter as ideally complete,” is established. But it does not give us a satisfactory explanation of the change from present to aorist. Law’s suggestion (The Tests of Life, p. 309), that after writing as far as the end of ver. 13 “the author was interrupted in his composition, and that, resuming his pen, he naturally caught up his line of thought by repeating his last sentence,” is ingenious. But again it must be noticed that there is nothing to indicate that such a break actually took place. Repetition with slight changes not insignificant is a regular feature of the author’s style.On the whole, the explanation to which preference has been given above is the best solution of a difficult problem, unless we prefer to leave it in the class of problems insoluble without the fuller knowledge of the exact circumstances, which doubtless made the writer’s meaning, and reasons for writing as he did, quite clear to those who read his words.

τεκνία] The use of the diminutive is confined in the New Testament to the Johannine writings, with the exception of one passage in S. Paul (Galatians 4:19) where the reading is doubtful. It occurs only once in the Gospel. Its use is comparatively frequent in the Epistle (2:1. 12, 28, 3:7, 18, 4:4, 5:21). It is a natural word for the aged disciple, or Apostle, to use when addressing the members of a Church of whom many were no doubt his “sons in the Faith,” and practically all must have belonged to a younger generation than himself. Differences of meaning must not always be pressed, but the word expresses community of nature, as contrasted with παιδία, which suggests the need of moral training and guidance (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:20, μὴ παιδία γίνεσθε ταῖς φρεσίν). Throughout the Epistle the word seems to be used as a term of affection for the whole society to which the author writes. The final warning of the Epistle (v. 21) against idols, literal or metaphorical, could hardly be addressed to the children as opposed to the grown-up members of the community.


The regular usage of the word in the Epistle has an important bearing on the next difficulty which these verses present, the question whether a double or triple division of the readers is intended. In the former case the clauses containing the vocatives τεκνία and παιδία are addressed to the whole community, which is then divided into the two classes of πατέρες and νεανίσκοι. This is now generally recognized as the most satisfactory interpretation. A triple division in which fathers are the middle term, could only be accepted as a last necessity. It might be possible, as Karl maintains, that the writer should first state the two extremes and then add the mean. But it is in the last degree improbable. Augustine’s explanation, “Filioli, quia baptismo neonati sunt, patres, quia Christum patrem et antiquum dierum agnoscunt, adolescentes, quia fortes sunt et ualidi,” fails to justify the relative position of the last two terms. And both terms, τεκνία and παιδία, have their significance as addressed to the whole body. All the children of the Kingdom share in the forgiveness of sins which Christ has won for them, and all are παιδία; for the teaching and exhortation, which he has found it necessary to impart to them, show that none of them has finished his Christian education. Not even the eldest of them is as yet τέλειος.ὅ ι] The third difficulty of the passage is the meaning of ὅτι. Does it introduce the contents of what is written, or the reasons for writing? Usage is probably in favour of the “causal” meaning. There is no certain instance in the Epistle of the use of ὅτι after γράφω in the “declarative” sense (cf. ver. 21). The “contents” are generally expressed by an objective accusation (ταῦτα, ἐντολὴν καινήν). But this is not decisive. It is a question which must be decided by the general meaning of the individual passage. In these verses the causal meaning certainly gives the better sense. Rothe, indeed, makes out a case for the declarative. “Here again (as in 1:5) John gives expression in another pregnant formula to that which he has to say to them. Shortly summarized it is this. He would have them know that in their case none of the necessary conditions for a complete Christianity are wanting, in all its real earnestness and joyful confidence. He adds further that this is not the first time that he has written this to them” (Der erste Brief Johannis, p. 61 f.). In other words, he has nothing new to tell them as Christians. He is merely reminding them of what they are. But surely the writer is doing more than this. He does not merely remind them of their Christian standing. He is trying to show them how their position as Christians enables them to meet the dangers to which they are exposed, and so to justify and enforce the appeal which he is making. It is because they are in fellowship with God and have real experience of the Fatherhood of God that he can appeal to them with confidence that his appeal will meet with a response.

ἀφέωνται] Cf. Luke 5:20, Luke 5:23, Luke 5:7:47, 48, and (probably) John 20:23. The present is used in Matthew and Mark.

διὰ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ] The “name” always stands for that which is implied by the name. In Jewish thought the name is never merely appellative. Because Christ is what He is, and has done what He has done, true relations between God and man have again become possible. If any definite name is intended, it is probably the name “Jesus Christ” (cf. 2:1). The expression is not the mere equivalent of “because of His position as Paraclete and Propitiation.” See Briggs, The Messiah of the Apostles, p. 475.The origin of the phrase is probably to be found in the Old Testament doctrine that God continued His kindness to Israel, in spite of their rebelliousness, for His name’s sake. Cf. especially Ezekiel 20:8, Ezekiel 20:9, “They rebelled—but I wrought for My name’s sake”; 36:22, “I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for Mine holy name.” It has, however, acquired a somewhat different meaning as used by the author. We may also compare the Rabbinic parallel, quoted by Schlatter, “The wise say, For His name’s sake He dealt with them (עָשָׁה עִמָּהֶם לַמַען שְׁמוֹ, Mechilta, Exodus 14:15, Exodus 14:29 b).




τεκνια] τεκνα1. 10. 40: παιδια27. 29. 66**. 68. 103. 106 Rev_10 sah. cat. Sev.


υμιν] υμων L 31. 68. 99 ascr jscr kscr sahd.

13. πατέρες] The word is more naturally taken as referring to actual age than to length of Christian experience. “The knowledge which comes of long experience is the characteristic endowment of mature years.” But the τὸν�

15. ὁ κόσμος is not merely “an ethical conception” in the Johannine system, “mankind fallen away from God.” Such an interpretation leaves no intelligible sense to the phrase τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. It is the whole system, considered in itself, apart from its Maker, though in many cases the context shows that its meaning is narrowed down to “humanity.” In the view of the writer, no doubt man is its most important part, the centre of the whole. But here it is used in its wider sense. The various interpretations which have been given of the phrase can be found in Huther and elsewhere. The majority of them are in reality paraphrases of particular instances of its use. As contrasted with ὁ κόσμος, τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ are the individual objects which excite admiration or love. In the next verse they are spoken of collectively. Comp. James 1:27, James 4:4.


ουκ εστιν] post πατρος P Aug.: post αυτω 31.

του πατρος א B K L P al. pler. cat. vg. sah. cop. syrutr arm. Or. Dam. Thphyl. Oec. Aug.] του θεου A C 3. 13. 43. 65. 58lect dscr harl. aethutr: του θεου και πατρος15. 18. 26. 36 boh-cod. (uid.).

16. The attempt to find in the terms of this verse a complete catalogue of sins, or even of “worldly” sins, is unsatisfactory. The three illustrations of “all that is in the world” are not meant to be exhaustive. The parallelism to the mediaeval uoluptas, auaritia, superbia is by no means exact. We may compare the sentence quoted by Wettstein from Stobaeus, φιληδονία μὲν ἐν ταῖς�

τῆς σαρκός] σάρξ denotes human nature as corrupted by sin. Cf. Galatians 5:17 (ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός). The genitive is subjective, the desire which the flesh feels, in that which appeals to the man as gratifying the flesh. There is no need to narrow down the meaning any further to special forms of desire. There is really nothing in the Epistle to suggest that the grosser forms of immorality were either practised or condoned by the false teachers.


ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν] The desire for all that appeals to the man as gratifying his sense of vision, a special form of the more general desire already described. Comp. πνεῦμα ὁράσεως, μεθʼ ἧς γίνεται ἐπιθυμία (Testament of Reuben ii. 4).

ἀλαζονεία] Cf. James 4:16, νῦν δὲ καυχᾶσθε ἐν ταῖς�

The substantive is found in Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2. Love of display by means of external possessions would seem to be what is chiefly intended here. Βίος is always life in its external aspect, or the means of supporting life. Cf. 3:17, ὃς ἂν ἔχῃ τὸν βίον τοῦ κόσμου: Luke 8:14, Luke 15:12.ἐκ τοῦ πατρός]All such desires and feelings are not part of that endowment of humanity which has come from the Father. They are a perversion of man’s true nature as God made him. They have their origin in the finite order in so far as it has become estranged from God.




τω] om. I a 200f. δ457 (83) I b 365-398*.

η1o] εστιν I c 114 (335).

και 2o] om. I a 382 (231) Απρ1.

η3o] om. I a 264 (233).

ουκ εστιν] post πατροςI a δ180 (1319).

17. All such objects of desire must in the end prove unsatisfactory, because of their transitory character. Permanent value attaches only to such things as correspond to God’s plan for the world and for men. He that fulfils God’s destiny for himself “abideth for ever.” “In the mind of God, values are facts, and indestructible facts. Whatever has value in God’s sight is safe for evermore; time and change cannot touch it.”

“All that is, at all,

Lasts ever, past recall;

Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:

What entered into thee

That was, is, and shall be.”



αυτου] om. A 5. 13 27. 29. 66** armzoh Or.

του θεου] αυτου Ia 367 (308) O 36.

εις τον αιωνα] + quomodo Deus manet in aeternum tol. Cyp. Lcif. Aug.: + sicut et ipse manet in aeternum Cyp. Aug.: + quemadmodum ille qui est in aeternum sah. These glosses, which are not uncommon, especially in Latin authorities, have a special interest in view of the textual phenonema of ch. 5.

II. 2:18-27

Belief in Jesus as the Christ the sign of fellowship with God. (Christological Thesis.) The truth in contrast with the second “lie.”

(1) Appearance of Antichrists the sign of the end (18).

(2) Their relation to the Church (19-21).

(3) Content and meaning of their false teachings (22-25).

(4) Repeated assurance that the Readers are in possession of the Truth (26, 27).

18-21. The writer passes by a natural transition from the thought of the transitoriness of the world to that of its approaching end. The many forms of false teaching which have appeared are embodiments of the spirit of Antichrist, and therefore are sure signs of the nearness of the end. The coming of Antichrist had formed part of the Apostolic teaching which had been imparted to them all. His “coming” was a recognized sign of the imminence of the Parousia.It is a matter of dispute whether the false teachers, or the spirits of error who inspire them, are to be regarded as so many precursors and heralds of Antichrist himself, in whom all the various forces of hostility to Messiah are to be gathered up for the one final conflict, or whether the many false teachers are to be thought of as actual manifestations of Antichrist, convincing proofs that the spirit of Antichrist is already present in the world. The form of the sentence, καθὼς ἠκούσατε… καὶ νῦν is in favour of the latter explanation. “You have always been taught that Antichrist is to come. The prophecy is now being fulfilled in the many Antichrists who have made their appearance.” Such an interpretation would be natural among the Disciples of the Lord. Had He not taught His Apostles to see the fulfilment of what Malachi, and others, prophesied about the Return of Elijah before the great and terrible Day of the Lord in the coming of John Baptist? And it is in complete harmony with the author’s way of thinking. In the Johannine teaching the present working of forces is not always clearly distinguished or sharply separated from their final manifestation. The author can speak of “having passed from death unto life,” and still look forward to a “raising up at the last day” without betraying any consciousness of the supposed inconsistency, which a certain type of criticism has found in his method of presentation. He would probably have regarded with complete indifference the question of whether the many antichristian forces, of whose present working he was assured, were to find their consummation in the person of a single opponent before the final manifestation of his Lord and his God, or not. There is no reason to suppose that he could not have found room for such a figure in his scheme of expectation. His immediate concern is with the relation of the many false teachers, who now show forth the spirit of Antichrist, to the Christian community. They had separated themselves off from the society of Christians, and their action was to the writer clear proof that their connection with that body could never have been more than superficial. Those who had “gone out” could never have been really “of” the community which they had not hesitated to leave, or in true union and fellowship with the Christ. It was necessary for the health of the body that all such should be clearly seen to be no true members of it. Their true character needed to be disclosed. And the readers could discover the truth for themselves if they were willing to use and trust the powers of discernment which they possessed. In their baptism they had received the anointing of the Holy One, even as the Kings and Priests of the old Covenant were anointed with the oil which symbolized the gift of God’s Spirit. What had then been granted to a few was now extended to all. They all possessed the gift of knowledge which enabled them to grasp the truth of what Christ had revealed. In what he wrote to them the author was not teaching new truths. He was recalling to their mind what they already knew. And knowing the truth, they knew that no falsehood could have anything to do with it.

(1) 18. The appearance of Antichrists the sign of the end

παιδία] He still addresses them by the title which emphasizes their need of instruction and guidance. Cf. ver. 14, and perhaps 3:7.

ἐσχάτη ὥρα] The absence of the article emphasizes the character of the period. It suggests no idea of a series of periods of stress which are to precede the several comings of Christ. The conception of many partial “comings” has a very important place in the elucidation of the permanent value of the New Testament expectations of the Coming of the Christ, but it is not to be found in those expectations themselves. The Johannine teaching, whatever its origin may be, has taught us to spiritualize the New Testament expression of the doctrine of the last things. But the writer held firmly to the expectation of a final manifestation of the Christ at “the last day,” and he seems to have expected it within the remaining years of his own lifetime. When he uses the phrase “last hour” he clearly means the short period, as he conceived it to be, which still remained before the final manifestation of the last day. The phrase is found here only in the New Testament. The expression ἡ ἐσχάτη ἡμέρα occurs in the Gospel (seven times), and never without the article. Its use is confined to the Gospel. Cf. Acts 2:17 (αἱ ἐσχ. ἡμ).; 2 Timothy 3:1 (ἐσχ. ἡμέραι); 1 P. 1:5 (ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῷ); Jude 1:18 (ἐν ἐσχάτῳ χρόνῳ). The use of ὥρα in connection with the coming of Christ is frequent in the Gospels, Matthew 24:36 ( = Mark 13:32), 24:42, 44, 50, 25:13; Luke 12:40, Luke 12:46. Cf. Romans 13:11; Revelation 3:3.


The “last hour” is the last period of the interval between the first and second coming of the Christ. Christian expectation had inherited from Jewish apocalyptic the doctrine of a period of extreme distress which was immediately to precede the coming of Messiah, and in which the hostility of the World Powers was to culminate in a single opponent. In the prevalence of so many false views about the Person of Jesus, and His relation to God, the writer sees the surest signs of their approach, and probably the true fulfilment of the prediction of His coming.

καθὼς ἠκούσατε] Cf. Matthew 24:15, Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:6; Acts 20:30, and especially 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The subject formed part of the general apostolic teaching. As in ver. 24, the aorist refers to the time when they were instructed in the faith.

ἀντίχριστος] The preposition can denote either one who takes the place of another (cf.�2 John 1:7. But though the word appears first in these Epistles, the idea is undoubtedly taken over from Jewish Apocalyptic thought, to which it is also probable that early Babylonian, or at least Semitic, nature-myths had contributed. It is imposible to explain the references to the subject which are found in the New Testament (Synoptic Eschatological discourses, Pauline Epistles, especially 2 Th. 2., and Apocalypse) from the New Testament itself and the apocalyptic portions of Daniel and Zechariah. There must have been some popular tradition, at once definite within certain limits and varying according to the circumstances of the times, from which the N.T. writers have drawn independently. The late Christian writers, who may have derived the name from the passages in these Epistles, have certainly drawn their material from other sources besides the books of the N.T. The Johannine Epistles contribute nothing but the first mention of the name. The author refers to a popular tradition only to spiritualize it. He makes no substantial addition to our knowledge of its content (see additional note).

ἔρχεται] sit uenturus (vg.), cf. Mark 9:12, Ἠλείας μὲν ἐλθὼν…�Matthew 11:3, Matthew 11:21:9; Mark 11:9; Luke 7:19, Luke 7:20, Luke 7:13:35; John 1:15, John 1:27, John 1:6:14, John 1:12:13; Acts 19:4; (?) 2 Corinthians 11:4; Hebrews 10:37.


γεγόνασιν] “have come to be,” “have arisen.” Their appearance was a natural outcome of the growth of Christianity. As the truth of what Christ really was came to be more and more clearly realized in the gradual growth of Christian life and experience, those who had been attracted to the movement by partial views and external considerations, which had nothing to do with its essential import, were necessarily driven into sharper antagonism. Growth necessitated the rejection of that which did not contribute to true life. In the extent of such developments the writer finds clear indication that the process is nearing completion (ὅθεν γινώσκομεν).

ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι] It is the writer’s favourite method of exposition first to make his statement and then to state the facts by which his readers can assure themselves of its truth. When their first enthusiasm had died out, and delay had brought disappointment, the question was often being asked, “How can we know?” “From the fact just stated we come to know.”



παιδια] αδελφοι I a 175 (319).

ωρα1o] for τη C*.

και] om. k.

οτι א B C K P al. pler. cat. vg. syrutr aeth. Or. Epiph. Ir. Cypr.] om. A L 17. 96. 100. 142 aethro.

αντιχριστος א* B C 3. 5. 58lect arm. Or. Epiph.] pr. o אc A K L al. pler. cat. Thphyl. Oec.: αντιχρηστοςI a 206f, 192, 173 (83).

γινωσκομεν] γινωσκωμεν A

(2) 19 ἐξῆλθαν] Cf. 3 John 1:7. The word indicates (1) that originally they were members of the community, “they drew their origin from us,” (2) that they had now separated themselves from the community. It suggests, if it does not compel us to assume, that their “going forth” was their own act, and not due to excommunication. But it is useless to attempt to reproduce by conjecture the exact historical circumstances, which were too well known to both writer and readers to need further elucidation. The false teachers had ceased to belong to the community to which they had formerly attached themselves—of the manner of their going forth, or of the exact causes which led to it, we are ignorant.


ἀλλά] In spite of their external membership, they had never been true members of the Body.

οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν] Their connection was purely external. They did not share the inner life.

εἰ γάρ] Cf. 4:20, 5:3; 2 John 1:11; 3 John 1:3, 3 John 1:7. As a rule, the writer uses the more “objective” ὅτι to state the cause.


ἐξ ἡμῶν] The emphasis is now laid on the words ἐξ ἡμῶν. They were not ours; if ours they had been, they would have remained with those to whom they (inwardly) belonged.

μεμενήκεισαν ἄν] The word μένειν, though it is here the obvious word to use in any case, had a special significance for the writer. “The slave abideth not in the house for ever. The son abideth for ever.” The test of true discipleship was to “abide” in the truth, as made known by those who had seen the Lord and been taught by Him. The writer cannot conceive the possibility of those who had ever fully welcomed the truth breaking their connection with the Christian society. External membership was no proof of inward union. The severing of the connection showed that such membership had never been anything but external.

μεθʼ ἡμῶν] naturally expresses outward fellowship as distinguished from inward communion.

It was natural that the authors of theories of predestination should find in this verse confirmation of their doctrine.The writer follows his usual practice, which was also the practice of his Master, of making absolute statements without qualification. But the whole teaching and aim of his Epistle shows that he recognized the danger, and therefore the possibility, of those who were truly “members of Christ” falling away. “The subject here is neither a donum perseverantiae, nor a distinction of the Vocati and Electi.”

ἀλλʼ ἵνα] For the elliptic use of ἵνα, cf. John 1:8, John 1:13:18; Revelation 14:13. The result is contemplated as part of the Divine purpose. Some such phrase as τοῦτο γέγονεν must be supplied, or the sense may be brought out by a paraphrase, “they had to be made manifest” (“Sie sollten offenbar werden,” Weiss).οὐκ εἰσὶν πάντες ἐξ ἡμῶν] It is tempting to take the negative as qualifying πάντες, in spite of the fact that the two words are separated by the verb. In this case the meaning would be that the incident, or incidents, to which the verse refers served a wider purpose than the mere unmasking of the individuals concerned. It showed that external membership is no proof of inward union. Their unmasking was necessary, for not all who were external members of the Church really and inwardly belonged to it. But the usage of the New Testament in general, and of the author in particular, is decisive against such an interpretation of οὐ … πᾶς when the negative is separated from the πᾶς. Cf. Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20; Luke 1:37; Acts 10:14, Acts 10:11:8; 1 Corinthians 1:29; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 4:29, Ephesians 4:5:5; John 3:15, John 3:16, John 3:6:39; 1 John 2:21; Revelation 7:1, Revelation 7:16, Revelation 7:9:4, Revelation 18:22, Revelation 21:27, Revelation 22:3. There is no parallel instance of οὐ … πάντες where the words are separated. But the usage with the singular, and the influence of Hebrew and Aramaic forms of expression on the style of the writer, suggest that the plural should be understood as the singular undoubtedly must be interpreted. And the meaning thus obtained is supported by the context. The subject is, of course, the “Antichrists,” who have severed their connection with the Christian Body. The interpretation given above suffers from the extreme awkwardness of having to break the sentence by taking ὅτι in a casual sense. “Their detection had to be brought about; for all members are not true members, and the fact must needs be made clear.” It is still more awkward to suppose (as Weiss) that the sentence is continued, “as if ἵνα φανερωθῇ had preceded.” It seems clear, therefore, that the negative must qualify the verb, according to the usual construction of οὐ … πᾶς, and בֹּל…לאֹ . And the meaning must be, “they had to be made manifest; it was necessary to show that none of them, however specious their pretensions, however much they differed in character or in opinions, were truly members of the Body.” The extent of the apostasy, and the variety of attack, had caused surprise and alarm. The writer assures his “children” that it had its place and purpose in the counsels of Him who saith, “A whole I planned.” The author finds comfort and assurance, for himself and for his readers, in the thought that whatever happens is included in the one purpose of God, however much appearances may seem to indicate the contrary. He has his own language in which to express the Pauline τοῖς�




εξημων 3o B C 69. 137 ascr arm. syrseh etp aeth. Amb. Optat.] post ησαν א A K L P al. pler. cat. vg. Clem. Cyr. Epiph. Thphyl. Oec. Ir. Tert. Cypr. Or. Did.

μεμενηκεισαν] μεμενηκεσαν Ia δ454 (262) Ib 472 Ic 364 K500: μενενηκασιν Ia 264. 397 ffff. 110* (233) Ib δ368 Ic 353. 174.

φανερωθωσιν] φανερωθη69 ascr syrsch etp mg.

εισιν] ησανIa 64 (328) Ic 174 K 453.

om. παντες69 aser syrutr Ir. Eph.

ημων (?)] υμων H δ6 (Ψ).

20. If the readers had trusted their own knowledge and Christian experience it would have been unnecessary for the writer to point out the antichristian tendency of the false teachers who had “gone forth.” The readers would have detected it themselves. What he writes is an appeal to their knowledge rather than an attempt to supply its deficiencies by instruction. In virtue of the gift of the Holy Spirit which all had received at baptism, they all had knowledge to deal with the circumstances of the case. See Findlay, p. 223.

χρίσμα] The idea is suggested by the preceding�

It is hardly correct to say that according to its form the word χρίσμα must denote, not the act of anointing, but the anointing oil (Salböl, Weiss). Words ending in -μα can certainly denote the action of the verb, regarded as a whole rather than in process, and in a sense corresponding to the use of the cognate accusative. The use of the word in the O.T., where it occurs chiefly in Exodus, points in the same way. Τὸ ἔλαιον τοῦ χρίσματος is the usual translation of שֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה. Cf. Exodus 29:7, λήψῃ τοῦ ἐλαίου τοῦ χρίσματος: 35:14, 19, 38:25 (Α, χρίσεως Β), 40:7 (χρίσεως B), 40:13, ὥστε εἶναι αὐτοῖς χρίσμα ἱερατίας εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (לִהְיֹת לָהֶם מָשְׁחָתָם לִכְהֻנַּת עוִלָם); 30:25, ποιήσεις αὐτὸ ἔλαιον χρίσμα ἅγιον (וְעָשִׂיתָ אֹתוֹ שֶׁמֶן מִשְׁחַת קֹדֶשׁ), ἔλαιον χρίσμαἅγιον ἔσται (שֶׁמֶן מִשְׁחַת קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה). Thus χρίσμα denotes the act of anointing rather than the oil which is used in the action. It always translates משׁחה and not שׁמן.

Anointing was the characteristic ceremony of consecrating to an office, and of furnishing the candidate with the power necessary for its administration. It is used of priests, Exodus 29:7, Exodus 40:13 (15); Leviticus 6:22; Numbers 35:25: of kings, 1 S. 9:16, 10:1, 15:1, 16:3, 12; 1 K. 19:15, 16: of prophets, 1 K. 19:16; Isaiah 61:1. Those who were so consecrated were regarded as thereby endued with the Holy Spirit, and with divine gifts. Cf. 1 S. 16:13, ἔχρισεν αὐτὸν … καὶ ἐφήλατο πνεῦμα Κυρίου ἐπὶ Δαυεὶδ�Isaiah 61:1, πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπʼ ἐμέ, οὗ εἵνεκεν (יען) ἔχρισέν με. Under the new dispensation the special gift, which in old times was bestowed on the few, is the common possession of all. Cf. Joel 2:28 (3:1); Act_2. And in virtue of the gift of the Holy Ghost all have knowledge. The true text emphasizes the universality o. the possession among Christians (οἴδατε πάντες), and not of the knowledge which it conveys (πάντα). The possession by all of them of the knowledge which enables them to discern, and not the extent of their knowledge, is the ground of the writer’s appeal.


ἀπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου] The evidence is not decisive as to whether the writer meant these words to refer to the Father or to the Son, or, indeed, whether he was conscious of the necessity of sharply defining the distinction. All things which men receive from the Father, they have from the Son, in virtue of their connection with Him. The definition of personality which later ages found to be necessary was apparently not present to the consciousness of the writer. Sometimes he distinguishes Father and Son with absolute clearness. At other times he uses language which may be applied indifferently to either. The relation of the Son to the Father is not conceived in accordance with ideas of personality which belong to later ages.

Ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ Ἰσραήλ is frequently found as a title of God in the O.T. Cf. Ps. 70:22, 77:41; Isaiah 1:4, Isaiah 1:5:16, Isaiah 1:17:7, Isaiah 1:8, Isaiah 1:30:12, Isaiah 1:15, Isaiah 37:23, Isaiah 41:20: ὁ ἅγ. Ἰς., 43:3, 45:11, 49:7, 55:5. The absolute use of ὁ ἅγιος is rare, and confined to late books, Habakkuk 3:3; Bar. 4:22, 5:2 (Α, τοῦ αἰωνίου Β); Tob. 12:12, 15 (κυρίου א).

The usage of the Apocalypse (3:7, ὁ ἅγιος ὁ�Mark 1:24, John 6:69, ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ is used of Christ. And the teaching of the later discourses in S.. John on the subject of the Mission of the Spirit by Christ, and in His name, makes the reference to Christ more probable. We may also compare Acts 3:14, τὸν ἅγιον καὶ δίκαιον. The evidence, therefore, though not conclusive, is on the whole in favour of referring the title to Christ, if a sharp distinction ought to be made.

By their chrism they were set apart for the service of the Holy One, and endued with the powers necessary for that service. It is immaterial whether the writer speaks of God or of Christ as the immediate source of their holiness.καὶ οἴδατε πάντες] The reading of the Received Text is an obvious correction. It presents a smooth and easy text which is in reality far less suitable to the context than the reading of the older authorities. The emphasis is on “knowing.” This is brought out with greater force and clearness by the omission of the object. Under the new covenant, knowledge is the common possession of all. The chrism is no longer confined to kings and priests. The gift of the Spirit, of which it is the symbol and the “effective means,” is for all Christians alike. Incidentally also the difference between the old covenant and the new serves to emphasize the more pressing difference between the claims of a select few to have a monopoly of knowledge, and the Christian view that the gifts of the Spirit are for all. Cf. Luke 11:13, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὁ πατὴρ ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δώσει πνεῦμα ἅγιον τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν;




και10] sed vg.

χρισμα] χαρισμαIa 502 (116).

και20] om. B sah.

παντες א B P 9 arm. sah. Hesych.] παντα A C K L al. pler. vg. cop. syr. aeth. Did. Thphyl. Oec.

(?) om. οιδατε, ~εχετε post και 20 K500.

21. The writer’s appeal to his readers to use their power of discernment is based on their knowledge, not on their need of instruction. But for such knowledge it would be useless to make the appeal.

ἔγραψα] refers, as usual, to what has been already written, and especially to what immediately precedes.

καὶ ὅτι πᾶν ψεῦδος κ.τ.λ.] This clause may be either subordinate to the preceding one, depending on the verb οἴδατε, or co-ordinate with it; (1) if ὅτι is demonstrative the meaning will be, “Because you know the truth, and know that no lie is of the truth, and therefore must reject the lie the moment its true character is made manifest”; (2) if the ὅτι is causal, the sentence must mean, “I have written what I have written because you have knowledge, and because no lie has its source in the truth. Those who know the truth are in a position to detect at once the true character of that which is opposed to it.” In the first case, they need teaching that the thing is a lie, and they will at once reject it. In the second, their knowledge of the truth enables them to detect at once the character of its opposite. The latter gives the fullest sense, and that which is most in harmony with the context. If he can but awaken their knowledge, his task is done. They possess the means, if they will only use them. The whole object of the Epistle is to “stir up the gift that is in them.”

πᾶν … οὐκ ἔστιν] For the construction, see the notes on ver. 19. And for ἐκ, cf. vv. 16, 19 and Luke 20:5.


οτι 20] om. Ib δ368 (266).

και] om. boh-ed.

παν] om. C.

(3) 22-25. Content and meaning of the false teaching

, 22 ff.. Falsehood finds its consummation in the one lie, which denies that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, i.e. not merely the Jewish Messiah, but also the Christ according to the wider conception of His office which finds its expression in the Fourth Gospel and in this Epistle. Such a denial is the very work of Antichrist, who, setting himself up for Christ, destroys the work of the true Christ. The denial of the Son carries with it the denial of the Father also. The false teachers, whether Jews who claim to worship the same God as the Christians after a true fashion, or “Gnostics” who claim a superior and exclusive knowledge of the Father of all, forfeit their claim by rejecting the revelation of Himself which He has given in His Son Jesus Christ. The confession of the Son, in word and in life, affords the only true access to the Father.

22. τίς] Cf. 5:5, τίς ἐστιν ὁ νικῶν … εἰ μή; there is no other exact parallel in the N.T. The expression is forcible. No one else stands for falsehood so completely as he who denies that Jesus is the Christ.

ὁ ψεύστης] The article is not merely generic, denoting the individual who adequately represents the class. It denotes the liar, par excellence, in whom falsehood finds its most complete expression. Cf. John 3:10 (σὺ εἶ ὁ διδάσκαλος;).

οὐκ ἔστιν] For the double negative, cf. Luke 20:27 (οἱ�Hebrews 12:19 (παρῃτήσαντο μὴ προσθεῖναι). We are hardly justified in seeing any special force in the retention of “a redundant οὐ in a clause of indirect discourse depending on a verb meaning to deny” (cf. Burton, N.T. Moods and Tenses, p. 181, § 473).


Ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ χριστός] The following clause shows that ὁ Χριστός has come to mean much more than the Jewish Messiah. It includes a special relationship to God which was not a necessary part of Jewish Messianic expectation.

It is not easy to determine how far there is any special reference in the phrase, as used here, to the separation of Jesus from the Christ, according to the Cerinthian, or Gnostic, distinction of the human Jesus from the higher being, or “aeon,” according to later Gnostic terminology, who descended on Jesus at the Baptism, and left Him before the Passion. It may well include such a reference, without its meaning being thereby exhausted. The “master-lie” is the denial of the true nature of the Incarnate Christ, as the writer and his fellow-Christians had come to know Him. Cerinthianism may be included, but Cerinthus is not ὁ�John 1:2, John 1:7, John 1:6:46, John 1:7:18, John 1:15:5; 1 John 5:6, 1 John 5:20; 2 John 1:7, 2 John 1:9. The reference of οὗτος in this writer is always to the subject, as previously described.


ὁ�

23. ἔχει] “As one who enjoys the certain possession of a living friend.” Cf. 2 John 1:9.2 John 1:1

ὁ ὁμολογῶν] For the stress laid on�John 1:20, John 9:22, John 12:42.


ο11] om. Ia 397 fff. (96) Ic 364: + ουν K.

πας] om. Ib 472 (312).

ο ομολογων … εχει 2o] om. K L al. plur. Oec.

24. ὑμεῖς] For the construction, cf. John 6:39, John 6:8:45, John 6:10:29, John 6:17:2, John 6:24. The ὑμεῖς is placed in emphatic contrast with the Antichrists whose true position has been made manifest. The readers only need to make sympathetic use of what they already possess. The truth which had always been theirs must be given full scope to abide and grow, and it will supply the answer to all new difficulties as they arise. It will enable them intuitively to reject all that is not on the line of true development.


ἀπʼ�

25. αὕτη] has been interpreted as referring either backward, to the abiding in the Son and in the Father; or forward, to the eternal life. In favour of the former it has been urged that the Gospels contain no definite promise by Christ of eternal life which would justify the latter interpretation. But there are many passages in the Fourth Gospel which clearly imply such a promise. And the reference forward is in accordance with the writer’s style. Cf. 1:5, etc. In either case the meaning is much the same, whether the promise is of eternal life, or of abiding communion with the Father and the Son. In the writer’s view, eternal life “consists in union with God by that knowledge which is sympathy” (Westcott). Cf. John 17:3.


αὐτός] Christ. Cf. 3:3, and other passages.

αυτος] om. boh-codd. sah.

ημιν] υμιν B 31* am. fu.

αιωνιαν B

(4) 26, 27. Repeated assurance of the readers’ knowledge of the Truth26. ταῦτα] What has been said about the false teachers, and how the danger can be detected and met (18-25). The reference to the whole section is far more natural than to the exhortation to “abide” only (ver. 24 f., cf. Weiss). The words are not aimless. They serve to close the subject, and in connection with what follows to account for the brevity of his treatment of it. The writer has only to call to their remembrance the essential features of their own faith, and the grave issues raised by the antichristian teaching. The chrism which they have received will enable them to do the rest for themselves. They are in possession of all that is necessary for self-defence, if they use the power which has been given to them.

ἔγραψα] Cf. ver. 14. The clearness of the reference here points to the most probable meaning of that verse. There is no need to suppose (with Karl) that there is a reference to a former Epistle, which had been misunderstood, through the readers applying to the whole Church what had been said with reference only to the guilty members, who had now “gone forth.”

πλανώντων] The danger is present and real, but the use of the present tense does not determine the extent to which the opponent’s efforts had met with success. Cf. Revelation 12:9.


ταυτα] + δε א syrsch.

πλανουντων A

περι … υμας] ne quis uos seducat arm.; de eo qui uos seducit boh-cod.

27. καὶ ὑμεῖς] For the nominative absolute, cf. ver. 24. The position of ὑμεῖς is significant. The readers must meet the attempts to lead them astray by efforts on their own part. Warning and exhortation are of no avail without their active response.

τὸ χρίσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε] Cf. John 14:26, John 16:13.


ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ] From Christ, who is thought of as the source of the anointing, according to His promise to His disciples (Joh_14.). Throughout this passage, with the probable exception of ver. 29, αὐτός seems to refer to Christ. This is the customary usage of the Epistle, except where the context determines otherwise.

χρείαν ἔχετε] Cf. John 2:25, John 2:16:30; and with the infinitive, John 13:10.

ἵνα] One of the many instances of the purely definitive use of ἵνα. Attempts to find in it any telic force produce altogether forced interpretations.The gift of the Spirit which they received when they were baptized into Christ’s name was an abiding gift (cf. John 1:33). Its teaching is universal, it covers the whole ground where instruction is needed, and it is true. It is not the lie which the Antichrists have made of it. And though there was need of growth and development, all that was necessary and true was already contained implicitly in the teaching which they had received at the beginning. What they were taught at the first gave the standard by which all later developments must be measured. Their rule of life and thought, in accordance with which they “abide” in Christ, is the true teaching of the Spirit, which they received from the first days of their conversion. They must abide “as He taught them.” The earliest teaching had not been superseded by a higher and altogether different message, as the Gnostics would have it. They needed no further teaching. What they had received covered the necessary ground. It was true. It had not been superseded by deeper truths.


If this is the writer’s meaning, the second part of this verse �

μένετε] may be either indicative or imperative. The preceding μένει strongly supports the former alternative. Cf. ver. 29; John 5:39, John 5:12:19, John 5:14:1, John 5:15:18, John 5:27, where we have a similar doubt.


ψεῦδος] not ψευδές, which falls short of it, in much the same way as in English “the statement is false,” would differ from “the whole thing is a lie.”



χρισμα1o] χαρισμα B 10**.

απ] παρ Ia 200f (83) Ic 114 A θ.

μενει א A B C P 5. 13 31. 68 dscr * vg. sah. cop. aeth. Ath. Did. Cyr.

Thphyl. Aug.] post υμιν K L al. pler. cat. syrp Oec.: μενετω P 6. 7. 8. 13 27. 29. 31. 66**. 68. 69. 81. 137 ascr dscr vg. syrp Thphyl. Aug.: maneat (s. manebit) in uobis arm.

διδασκη] διδασκει C K L 13 31**. 100. 101. 106 Rev_4 scr: pr. scribat uobi aut boh.: διδαξη H δ6 (Ψ) Ia 200 (-ει) δ355 K 500.


υμας (? 1o) ημας και ημεις υμιν Ia 258 (56).

αλλ ως] αλλα B 25 aeth. Aug. Hier.

αυτου 2o] αυτο A K L al. longe. pl. cop. Thphyl. Oec. Hier.

χρισμα2o ] χρισματα Ia 382, 173, 1402 (231): χαρισμα10 **: πνευμα א* 25

81 cop. aeth. Cyr.: + ο ελαβετε απ αυτουIa δ180 (1319).

υμας2o] ημας H 257 (33) Ia 70, 175.

αληθες] αληθης א

εστιν?1o] Ic 250 (56).

ψευδος] ψευδες C (uid.) P: + in eo sah.: mendax boh.

και καθως] om. και A sah. Aug.

εδιδαξεν] εδιδαξαμεν H 162 (61).

υμας 3:0]ημας Ia 175 (319) Ia 258.

μενετε] μενειτε K L al. longe. plur. cat. Thphyl. Oec.: μεινατε Ia 200f (83).

αυτω] + τω θεω Ic 258 (56).

? ? υμας*υμας Ia 200f. (83) etc.

28, 29. These verses are transitional, and it is doubtful whether they should be attached to the preceding or the following section. The “aphoristic meditations” of this Epistle do not always lend themselves to sharp division.

28. The need of constancy, and its reward. Confidence in the presence of the Judge.

28. καὶ νῦν] can hardly be taken as temporal, the exhortation to abide being specially needed in view of the nearness of the Parousia, which is expected in the immediate future, at the end of the last hour, which has already struck. The general use of the phrase seems to be to introduce a statement, especially a prayer, exhortation, or command, which is regarded as the necessary deduction from the requirements of present circumstances. “Since the case is so,” “such being the case,” would perhaps bring out the meaning most clearly by paraphrase. Cf. John 17:5; Acts 3:17, Acts 7:34 ( = Exodus 3:10), 13:11, 20:22, 25, 22:16, 26:6; 2 John 1:5. Contrast John 11:22. Cf. also Acts 5:38, Acts 16:37.

τεκνία] The term of affection, which appeals to their common (spiritual) nature, is used to enforce the exhortation. Cf. vv. 1, 12; John 13:33; Galatians 4:19; 1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:18, 1 John 3:5:21.


μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ] The words are resumptive of ver. 27. What is there stated as a fact (indic.) the writer now repeats as an exhortation. He would have them continue in that which they have. And their greatest possession is their personal fellowship with their Master. The strength of the Society lies in the personal relationship of the members to the Head.The use of φανερωθῇ, and of παρουσία in the next clause, make it almost certain that the reference of ἐν αὐτῷ is to Christ, in spite of the difficulties raised by the next verse.

ἵνα κ.τ.λ.] The nearness of the day affords a new motive for the effort to which they are urged. The nearer the Parousia of their Lord the greater the need of constancy. As soon as the last hour has run its course, the Master will appear, and will look for workmen who need not to be ashamed.

ἐὰν φανερωθῇ] The ὅταν of the Receptus introduces a thought alien to the context. It would suggest an uncertainty as to the date of the Coming which is excluded by what has preceded. The signs of the time are clear. Events have shown that it is the “last hour.” The form of conditional used (ἐάν, c. subj.) introduces a pure possibility, without any hint as to the degree of its probability. If that happens which, as circumstances have shown, may befall them now at any moment, they must be in a position not to be ashamed, when the object of their longing expectation is there.

φανερωθῇ] φανεροῦσθαι and φανεροῦν are used of all the manifestations of the Lord, in the flesh, after the Resurrection, at the Second Coming. Cf. (a) John 1:31, John 1:2:11, John 1:7:4; Joh_1 P. 1:20; 1 John 1:2, 1 John 1:3:5; (b) [Mk.] 16:12, 14; John 21:1, John 21:14; 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:8; (c) Colossians 3:4; 1 Timothy 3:16 (cf. 2 Timothy 1:10); 1 P. 5:4. The verb is used of the “manifestation” of the works of God (John 9:3), and Christ is said to have “manifested” His name. It is never used directly of God in the N.T. Whether the “manifestation” is to the eye of the body or of the mind has to be determined by the context. The word would seem generally to carry the suggestion that the appearance is not only seen but understood, or capable of being understood, in its true significance.


The writer would hardly speak of the Second Coming of Christ as a manifestation of the Father, though doubtless he expected that through it men would learn much about God not known before (cf. Weiss).

παρρησίαν σχῶμεν] It was natural that the rather abrupt σχῶμεν should have been altered to the more usual ἔχωμεν (cf. 1 John 3:21, 1 John 3:4:17, 1 John 3:5:14; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 10:19, and contrast Hebrews 3:6). But the charge involves a slight loss of force. It is the fact of possession, not its continuance, that the writer would naturally emphasize.παρρησία is used especially of freedom or boldness of speech, in accordance with its etymological meaning. But it has acquired the more general meaning of confidence, as here. Cf. Lightfoot’s note on Colossians 2:15. It is a favourite word of the writer’s, who is responsible for 13 out of the 31 instances of its use in the N.T. In some of these passages the idea of “publicity” is suggested, but in probably every instance that of “boldness” or “confidence” is really most prominent. For its use in the LXX, cf. Leviticus 26:13 Job 27:10; Proverbs 1:20, Proverbs 1:13:5; Pro_3 Mac. 7:12; for the corresponding verb, cf. Job 22:26; Psalms 11:6, Psalms 93:1. As a rule it occurs in renderings which paraphrase the Hebrew, but in Leviticus 26:13 it is used to translate קֽוֹמְמִיּֽוּת, uprightness. “I made you to go upright,” i.e., as free men, is translated, or rather paraphrased, ἤγαγον ὑμᾶς μετὰ παρρησίας. The passages which best illustrate its use here are Job 27:10, μὴ ἔχει τινὰ παρρησίαν ἔναντι αὐτοῦ; and Job 22:26, εἶτα παρρησιασθήσῃ ἐναντίον Κυρίου. Cf. also Test. Rub. iv. 2, ἄχρι τελευτῆς τοῦ πατρός μου οὐκ εἶχον παρρησίαν�

καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν κ.τ.λ.] Cf. Proverbs 13:5,�

He who “abides in Him” will have no cause to shrink away abashed from the Presence of the Judge, but may await His verdict with confidence as an ἐργάτης�2 Timothy 2:15).


ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ] Here only in the Johannine writings. In the N.T. the use of the word with reference to the Second Coming is confined to Mt. 24., the earlier Pauline Epistles (1, 2 Co., 1, 2 Th.), James and 2 Peter.Very interesting light has been thrown on the Christian use of παρουσία by the discoveries of papyrus documents and other sources of common Greek. Cf. Deissmann, Licht von Osten, p. 268 ff. As he points out, the use of the word is best interpreted by the cry, “See thy King cometh unto thee.” From the Ptolemaic period to the second century a.d. there is abundant evidence that in the East the word was the usual expression for the visit of a King or Emperor. In Egypt, special funds were raised by taxation to meet the expenses of such visits. In Greece a new era was reckoned from the visit of Hadrian. The earliest mention is rightly interpreted by Wilcken (Griechische Ostraka, i. p. 274 ff.), ἄλλου (sc. στεφάνου) παρουσίας ιβ�͂ to refer to the collection made to provide a crown to be presented on the occasion of the visit; and in the Tebtunis Papyri (48. 9 ff.) there is an interesting description of the efforts made by the village elders in connection with the expected visit of Ptolemy II. (b.c. 113), καὶ προσεδρευόντων διά τε νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας μέχρι τοῦ τὸ προκειμένον ἐκπληρῶσαι καὶ τὴν ἐπιγεγρομμένην πρὸς τὴν τοῦ βασιλέως παρουσίαν�H3 (P).


μενετε] μενειτε H162 (61).


εαν א A B C P 5. 13. 26. 27. 29. 36 dscr sah. cop. arm.] οταν K L al. pler. cat. syrutr Thphyl. Oec.: οτεIa 397 fff (96).

σχωμεν אc A B C P 15. 26. 27. 40. 66**. 68 dscr Thphyl.] εχωμεν

א * K L al. pler. cat. Oec.: habeatis boh-ed.

παρρησιαν] + προς αυτον Ic 258 (56).

αισχυνθωμεν] confundamini boh.

απ αυτον]post αυτου2:0 א: om. arm-codd.

απ] παρ69. 137 ascr: επ Hδ6 (Ψ).

29. Doing righteousness, the sure sign of the new birth.

29. In thought this verse is closely connected with the preceding. The ground of the appeal to “abide in Him” was their expectation of the speedy return of their Lord in glory, and their desire to be able to meet Him with confidence and joy, and not to have to shrink away abashed from His presence. This naturally raises the thought of the conditions which would make such a meeting possible. Those only who are His own can look forward with unclouded confidence, and His own are those who share His qualities, especially those which characterize the Judge, righteousness and justice. The doing of justice is the sure sign, and the only sign, that they are “born of Him.” And so the meditation passes over to the next subject on which the writer wishes to dwell, the being born of God.εὰν εἰδῆτε] The intuitive knowledge of what God, or Christ, is, makes it possible for those who possess it to learn by the experience of life (γινώσκειν) what are the true signs of being “born of Him.” To act in accordance with those qualities which correspond to His nature is the only certain sign of true fellowship with God, which is the result of the Divine begetting.

ἐάν] A protasis introduced by ἐάν, c. subj., does not necessarily present the fact as uncertain. If the condition is fulfilled, the results follow. No hint is given as to the probability of fulfilment.

δίκαιός ἐστιν] It is very difficult to determine whether the subject of this word is God or Christ. On the one hand, a change of reference between vv. 28 and 29 would be very awkward, if not impossible; and it is really certain that ἐν αὐτῷ,�John 1:13), especially in this Epistle (3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 4, 18), whereas he never uses the expression “to be born of Christ.” He does, however, speak of being born of the Spirit; and the language of the Prologue to the Gospel, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι (John 1:12), the subject of ἔδωκεν being the Logos, suggests a sense in which being “born of God” might also be regarded as being “born of Christ,” who is always thought of as being and giving the life of God which comes to men.


It is more satisfactory to avoid any solution of the difficulty which might seem to presuppose a confusion of thought between God and Christ in the mind of the writer. Our inability to determine his exact meaning was probably not shared either by the writer or his readers, whose minds were full of the truth that Christ is God revealed to man.If, therefore, a change of reference is impossible, the whole verse is best referred, as in Bede, to Christ. The conception “born of Christ” is not antagonistic to the Johannine lines of thought, though the expression is not found elsewhere. We must, however, remember that abrupt changes of subject were natural to Hebrew thought and expression which are almost impossible in Western language. Their occurrence in the O.T. is too frequent to need illustration. And it is quite possible that the expression ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγεννῆσθαι may have become stereotyped for the writer and his circle, who would immediately interpret it as meaning “born of God.” To a mind steeped as the writer’s was in the thoughts of God and Christ, αὐτός and ἐκεῖνος had perhaps become almost proper names; the context or the special phrase used would make it perfectly clear to the writer, and to his readers as well, what was meant.

πᾶς… γεγέννηται] The doing of righteousness is the sign of the birth from God and its effect,—an effect which nothing else can produce, and so a certain sign. The more logical order would have been, “He that is born of God doeth righteousness.”

ειδητε א B C al. mu. vg. arm. Aug. syrutr sah.] ιδητε A K L P al. pler. cat. cop. aeth.: οιδατε Ib δ507 (104) Ia δ157 Ic 551.

om. και B Κ L al. pler. cat. am. harl. tol. cop. syrp arm. aeth. Thphyl. Oec. Aug. Amb.

την] om. Ib 365. 472 (214) Ic 364.

γεγεννηται] γεγενηται Ρ 31. 69*. 177* ascr al. mult. syr.: + και υπ αυτου οραται ο δε ποιων την αμαρτιαν ουκετι οραται υπ αυτουIc 325 (2).

ADDITIONAL NOTE

Though the name Antichrist occurs first in this Epistle in extant literature, the Epistle itself throws no light on its meaning. The conception cannot be explained from the N.T., or even from the Bible alone. The researches of Bousset and others have demonstrated the existence of a more or less definite Antichrist legend, independent of the N.T., and common to Jewish and Christian apocalyptic expectation, of which use is made in several N.T. writings. The legend cannot be explained on historical lines; it received modifications from time to time in consequence of definite historical events, and the experiences of Jews and Christians at different periods. But it always had an independent existence. Historical events modified the expectations for the future which find expression in its terms, but they did not create it. Its origin is probably to be traced to the wide-spread myth of a primeval monster, consisting of, or inhabiting, the waters and the darkness, which was subdued by the God of creation, but not destroyed, and which would again raise its power against the God of heaven in a final conflict before the end of all things. This tradition, especially in its Babylonian form of the cleaving of Tiâmat, the Sea-monster, by Marduk the son of Ea, who divided its carcase into two and formed the sea and the heavens, was well known among the Hebrews, and has left its traces in several passages of the O.T. It may be quoted as given by Gunkel from the cuneiform inscriptions (Schöpfung und Chaos, p. 21). “In the beginning, before heaven and earth were named, when as yet the ‘Urvater’ Apsû, and the ‘Urmutter’ Tiâmat, mingled their waters, when none of the gods had been created, no name named, no fate determined, then first the gods came into being. They were named Luḥmu and Laḥamu, Asnar and Kisar, and last Anu. (The next sentences are destroyed, but to judge from what follows they must have contained the account of the origin of the gods of the Upper World and of the Deep.) Then the myth relates how Tiâmat, the mother of the gods, together with all the Powers of the Deep, rebelled against the Upper Gods. The only extant part of this is a conversation between Apsû and Tiâmat, describing their plan against the gods. Apparently the origin of light was described in connection with this rebellion.

Next follows the description of the war between Tiâmat and the gods. On the one side Ansar appears as leader. Anu, Ea, and his son Marduk are also mentioned. Luḥmu and Laḥamu appear in the background. On the other side is Tiâmat, who has gained over some of the “gods” to her side. She created eleven fearful monsters, and placed the god Kingu as leader over them, whom she took for her husband, and laid on his breast the “amulet.” Against this host Ansar sent forth first Anu, then Ea; but Anu withdrew, and Ea was frightened and turned back. Finally, he betook himself to Marduk, Ea’s son, one of the youngest of the gods. Marduk declares that he is prepared to go forth against Apsû and Tiâmat, but he will only consent to be the avenger of the gods if they in full assembly ratify his authority as equal with their own. The assembly is called, and the destiny of Marduk is determined. His power shall be without equal, and his dominion shall be universal. His word shall have the magic power of calling things into being and causing them to disappear. And as a sign of this a cloak is placed in their midst, which at Marduk’s word disappears and appears again. The story next tells of Marduk’s arming. His weapons are bow and quiver, a sickle-shaped sword, and a weapon which he receives from the gods as a present, apparently the thunderbolt, represented as a trident. He has also a net, the present of Anu, and all the winds accompany him as confederates. Armed for the fight, he goes forth on his chariot drawn by terrible animals.

As he approaches Kingu, and the gods, his helpers, who accompany him, Marduk challenges Tiâmat to the combat, “Come hither, I and thou will fight.” When they fought the wise among the gods caught Tiâmat in the net. Through her opened jaws he sent the hurricane, and filled her belly with fearful winds. Then with the crescent sword he cut through her body. He cast her corpse away and stood upon it. Then Marduk overcame the gods, her helpers; he broke their weapons, and cast them into the net. So, too, he made fast the eleven creatures. Kingu met the same fate. Marduk tore from him the “amulet,” and placed it on his own breast. Then he turned to Tiâmat again. He split her head, and caused the north wind to carry her blood to hidden places. The gods, his fathers, offer presents to the victor.

Then was the Lord appeased. He divided the body of Tiâmat into two parts. Of the one part he made the vault of heaven, and placed before it bars and watchers, that the waters should not

stream forth. He placed the vault of heaven over against the primeval ocean, and built the heavens as a palace, corresponding to the primeval ocean, conceived of as a palace. Then Marduk created the stars, the sun and the moon, and the other planets; he placed the stars of the zodiac, and determined the course of the stars and the twelve months. The following tablets are lost; there is extant only a small fragment which deals with the creation of animals, in which these classes of land animals are distinguished, cattle, wild animals, and reptiles. The myth closes with a hymn in honour of Marduk, to whom are given names which celebrate his power as Lord of all, “as sheep may he tend the gods, all of them.”

There are many traces of this or similar myths to be found in the O.T., though the number of them may have been exaggerated by Gunkel. The most important are perhaps Isaiah 51:9 f.; Psalms 89:10 ff.; Job 26:12 f., Job 26:9:13; Isaiah 30:7 (especially if the pointing הַמָּשְׁבָּת be adopted); Psalms 40:5, 74:12-19; Isaiah 27:1; Job 40:25, 41:26; Ezekiel 29:3-6a, Ezekiel 32:2-8. These passages suggest that such myths were popular in Israel, and used by prophets and other writers to illustrate and emphasize their warnings and teaching. The points of similarity between the Hebrew and Babylonian myths on which Gunkel lays stress are the following (p. 112 ff.). Originally the “all” was water. The primeval ocean was personified as a fearful monster. The Babylonian Tiâmat corresponds to the Hebrew תהום, which is always used anarthrously as a proper name. The common Hebrew name for the monster Rahab may have its parallel in Babylonian myth, but this is not proved. Both myths represent the monster as a dragon, and with many heads. Other similar beings are mentioned, the “helpers” of the dragon, among whom one is prominent. In Babylonian myths, Kingu is associated with Tiâmat; in Hebrew we find Rahab and Tannin, Leviathan and Tannin, Leviathan and Behemoth, Rahab and Nahas Bariah. In Henoch (ch. 60.), Behemoth and Leviathan are represented as male and female, as are Kingu and Tiâmat in the Babylonian story.

These powers of the deep are in the Babylonian legend opposed to the gods of the Upper World, among whom Marduk is predominant. Even in the Hebrew story the appearance of other gods seems occasionally to be referred to (Job 41:25, 38:7; Psalms 89:7).


The monsters rebel against the Upper Gods, and claim the sovereignty of the World for themselves. In the Hebrew story the special trait of the opponents of Jahve is their overruling and rebellious pride.

Before Marduk’s victory, other gods had attempted the fight. There is perhaps a similar reference in Job 41:11, Job 41:25.


Then Marduk appears. His arming is described. He comes on a chariot with horses, armed with sword and net, or with the terrible weapons of the thunder god.

Before the fight there are shrieks of abuse or reproach. In the fight itself the victory is gained by wisdom rather than by strength. The “net” has its part to play. The helpers of the monster are overthrown, they bow beneath him. In the Babylonian story he “puts them to shame”; cf. Psalms 89:10; Job 9:13.

The corpse of the monster is not buried. This is several times referred to in Hebrew. Out of it the God makes the world. In some forms of the Hebrew story the fruitfulness of land that before was waste is derived from the blood and the flesh of the dragon (Gunkel, p. 111). The Babylonian myth relates that Tiâmat was divided in twain—into the upper and lower waters. In Psalms 74:13 we hear of the dividing of the sea, paralleled with the breaking of the heads of the dragons, and in Job 26:13 of the bars of heaven (LXX, κλεῖθρα οὐρανοῦ δεδοίκασιν αὐτόν). At any rate, in both stories the victory over the monster is followed by the creation of the world.

Whatever exact parallels may be drawn between the Babylonian myths and allusions to similar stories which may be found, or reasonably supposed to exist, in passages in the O.T., there can be little doubt that Hebrew mythology knew of some such fight between the God of their race and the primeval monster of the deep. One particular form in which the myth seems to have been known is of special interest in connection with the legend of Antichrist. In at least one version the Dragon or monster was represented as not destroyed, but overcome. According to Isaiah 30:7, it is “brought to rest.”1 When God captured him, he “spake soft words,” and became His servant for ever (Job 41:3, Job 41:4). God “played” with him (Job 41:5; Psalms 104:26). He lay at the bottom of the deep, but he must obey God (Amos 9:3). He could still be dangerous, so God set watchers over him (Job 7:12). He is put to sleep, but he still could be “waked” (Job 3:8, Job 41:10). Bars were placed to prevent his breaking forth (? Job 26:13 LXX).Thus the starting-point of the legend is probably to be found in the stories of the combat between God and the primeval monster, which was overcome and bound, but not killed; and which should once more break forth and rebel against God, to be overthrown in a final victory before the end of all things. But it took more definite shape in forms which reflected the experiences of the people at the hands of their enemies. Many of the passages which speak of the quelling of the sea describe also the subduing of the peoples who set themselves against God. In consequence of the sufferings of the people at the hands of their enemies, the doctrine was developed that Israel was indeed the chosen of God, but that for their sins they had been given over to the heathen powers; and this led to the expectation of a great final struggle with the World-Powers before the perfecting of the kingdom. This is clearly seen in Ezk. (38:2, 39:1, 6) in the prophecy of Gog, the prince of Magog, and the gathering of the Northern nations, regarded as types of the World-Power from which the final outburst against the people of the Lord should come. Zec. 12-14. describes the final oppression of the people by the hostile powers. All nations are gathered against Jerusalem (14:2), and the Lord appears on the Mount of Olives to save His people.

The attempt of Antiochus iv. (Epiphanes—God manifest in human form) of Syria to suppress Judaism and to Hellenize the nation, naturally led to further development of the idea. The World-Power is no longer an instrument for punishment in Jahve’s hands, but His opponent, who goes forth to destroy the centre of His kingdom. Whether the βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως of Daniel is to be interpreted as the “smoke of the heathen sacrifice in the Temple, ascending from the altar erected there to Zeus in Dec. 168” or not, the author of the book certainly describes the past and present history of God’s kingdom in relation to the World-Powers in the light of the events of that period, and points forward to a speedy rescue, and the completion of God’s work for His people.The World-Power is presented first (ch. 2.) as a colossal image of gold, silver, brass, and iron, which is finally shattered by the stone broken off from the mountains without human intervention, and later under the imagery of the four beasts coming up from the sea. The opposition of the world—as presented in the four successive empires, the Chaldaean, Median, Persian, and Greek—is to culminate in the “horn” on the fourth beast’s head, with “eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things,”—a clear reference to Antiochus Epiphanes. If the book was written at a time when the Maccabean successes had already driven out the idolatrous Zeus-worship from the Temple, the writer might easily expect a great victory and extension of the power of the opponent before the Divine intervention, when the judgment begins, the World-Power is overthrown, and dominion given to the “Saints,” i.e. the members of the Jewish Church preserved through the great tribulation and cleansed by it. In Daniel 7:13 we read that one like unto a son of man was brought before the Ancient of days, and dominion was given unto him, and a kingdom, that all people should serve him. As the idea of a personal Messiah became more prominent, the expectation of a single personal opponent was developed. But on this point (of a personal Messiah) Jewish apocalyptic varied frequently during the next two centuries.

In Numbers 24:17 the “Star” which shall come forth out of Jacob … and break down all the sons of tumult must be noticed, and the Septuagint translation of ver. 7 is significant:


ἐξελεύσεται ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ σπέρματος αὐτοῦ,

καὶ κυριεύσει ἐθνῶν πολλῶν·

καὶ ὑψωθήσεται ἢ Γὼγ βασιλεία (εαυτου A F),

καὶ αὐξηθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ.

α´ σ´ θ´ have ὑπὲρ Γώγ, which is still clearer. The Hebrew מאגג was read as מגוֹג. The Septuagint translation seems to have been coloured by the expectations of Messiah and Antichrist.

The Third Book of the Sibyllines (iii. 652), which is generally attributed to the Maccabean period, speaks of the advent of a King who shall make war to cease:

καὶ τότʼ�

Cf. 17:27, ὀλοθρεῦσαι ἔθνη παράνομα ἐν λόγῳ στόματος αὐτοῦ (cf. Isaiah 11:4), and generally the whole passage 23-36.


In the Fourth Book of Ezra, chs. 12., 13., to which a Flavian date is assigned, and in which the fourth beast of Daniel is clearly identified with Rome, the heathen peoples are overcome by the Messiah, who comes out of the sea. Cf. 13:5, “Lo, there was gathered together a multitude of men, out of number, from the four winds of heaven, to make war against the man that came out of the sea.”

In the Apocalypse of Baruch (xl. 1, 2), statements in this passage are taken over to describe the destruction of the last godless king. “The last leader of that time will be left alive, when the multitude of his hosts will be put to the sword and be bound; and they will take him up to Mt. Sion, and My Messiah will convict him of all his impieties, and will gather and set before him all the works of his hosts. And afterwards he will put him to death.”

Thus in the Jewish literature which is unaffected by Christian modifications the development of the idea of Antichrist cannot be very clearly traced; but the idea is to be found there, gaining or losing ground in accordance with the perpetually shifting character of Messianic expectations.It is easier to trace the development of the subject in Christian literature. The idea of the growth of self-seeking till it culminates in self-deification finds its natural sphere in Christian thought. And speculations about the spread of opposition to God and His Messiah are stripped of their national and political clothing and spiritualized. In the eschatological discourses of the Synoptic Gospels it is difficult to distinguish between original saying and subsequent interpolation and comment, even if we reject the view that they have their origin in a Jewish Apocalypse the contents of which have been put into the mouth of Jesus. But they are at least good evidence of eschatological views held by Christians at a comparatively early date. In Mt. 24. ff. there is no doctrine of a personal Antichrist. The βδέλυγμα ἐρημώσεως of Daniel, whatever be the exact meaning assigned to it by the speaker or by later interpretation, is connected with the approaching tribulations of the last days and the national sufferings of the Jews. The Son of Man, a title which seems to be definitely Messianic, at least in the Similitudes of Enoch, is represented as about to come on the clouds of heaven (cf. Dan_7.). But the hostile peoples are still conceived of as God’s instruments to punish. The “kingdom,” however, is separated from the national fate of Israel. The “Son of man” is opposed, not as in Daniel by world-rulers who destroy the Jewish theocracy, but by false prophets and false Messiahs (Matthew 24:5). Popular “Messianism” is rejected by Jesus in the history of the Temptation (4:1 ff.) and in the rebuke to Peter (16:23). He condemns the selfish aspirations of national zealots (cf. John 6:15, John 10:8, John 5:43), though He can train the enthusiasm of such men to the better work of heralding the kingdom (Matthew 10:4).These views were taken up into the Apostolic preaching, and form the basis of what S. Paul taught at Thessalonica. He combines them with several traits clearly borrowed from Jewish popular expectation. The doctrine of one single opponent, in whom all that is antichristian culminates, is clearly seen in his conception of the Man of Sin. Whether the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is genuine in its present form or not, there can be little doubt that the picture drawn in the 2nd chapter is mainly Pauline. Its exact agreement with the circumstances of his time is remarkable: or, at any rate, a perfectly natural interpretation of all that is said there can be found if it is explained on these lines. The coming of Christ cannot be till the apostasy is fully developed, and the opposition to the Christ is consummated in the appearance of the Man of Sin, the Son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God, and is worshipped, and sets up his throne in God’s Temple. Apparently this “Man of Sin” is to be an apostate Jew. The mystery of lawlessness, which is already working, is clearly the Jewish opposition to the work of Christianity, of which S. Paul had been the victim in every place where he had proclaimed the Christ since his conversion, and which had been specially virulent at Thessalonica (Acts 17:5; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:16). Throughout his career, S. Paul found in Jewish opposition the worst hindrance to the spread of the Gospel. It would reach its climax in the appearance of Antichrist. At present its working was restrained by the power of the Roman Empire (τὸ κατέχον), concentrated as it was in the person of a single ruler (ὁ κατέχων). Till a far later period of his life, he always found support and protection in the authorities of the Empire of which he was a citizen. It was an essential part of his conception of the last things that “So long as Rome lasts, lasts the World.” This much is certain, whether or not we choose to see in ὁ κατέχων an allusion to the name of Claudius (qui claudit). But he was conscious of the weakness as well as the strength of the Roman position. And he expected its downfall, and the overthrow of all authority and law, during the time of stress which was to precede the “unveiling” of the Christ. The freaks of Caligula had brought this home to all thinking men. And in his picture of the Man of Sin, S. Paul borrows traits from the episode of Caligula’s attempt to set up his statue, in the guise of Zeus, in the Jewish Temple. Thus the opposition of Judaism, which had lost its opportunity when it crucified the Messiah, is the main factor in the war against the Christ. But heathen opposition had to be encountered as well, and in particular it had proved a serious obstacle at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:14); and this will account for any heathen traits in the picture of the opponent.


It may be worth noticing in this connection that the thought of Jewish opposition and unbelief may help to explain a difficult section of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (6:14-7:1). If S. Paul is there thinking first of the evil effect of Jewish companionship, though heathen contamination is not altogether excluded (ver. 16), the want of connection between the passage and the sections which precede and follow is less pronounced. And in later Jewish literature Beliar is the name for Antichrist, whether he is conceived of as apostate Jew (Ascension of Isaiah) or Roman Emperor (Sibylline Oracles, iii. 63, ἐκ δὲ σεβαστηνῶν ἥξει Βελίαρ μετόπισθεν, unless, indeed, the passage indicates a Samaritan origin of Antichrist). It is at least probable that when S. Paul wrote this section of 2 Corinthians, he still thought of Antichrist as the person in whom Jewish opposition to the faith should find its consummation.

But, however this may be, it is at least clear that the passage about the Man of Sin in 2 Thess. is most naturally interpreted, if we suppose that S. Paul is developing a popular legend in the light of Christ’s teaching about the last things, his own experiences at the hands of his countrymen, the episodes of the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus and the attempt of Caligula to set up his statue within its precincts. Recent experiences and historical incidents have added new traits to a well-known popular conception. And both the legend and the events are needed to explain the picture.

The use of the Antichrist legend is equally clear in the Apocalypse. Gunkel has clearly shown the impossibility of interpreting the 12th chapter on purely historical lines. And many of the details recall most vividly the legend of the Sea monster, which shall once more raise war against the Lord’s anointed. It is very probable that a Jewish Apocalypse which itself borrowed traits from older mythological traditions to describe the birth of Messiah, born in heaven, caught up to the throne of God and hidden in the wilderness till the appointed time, has been incorporated by the seer, and adapted to the circumstances of Christ and the Church, the borrowed details in many cases being quite unsuitable to their new application, in order to comfort his readers with the thought that their sufferings are really but a stage in the working out of God’s purpose for their final triumph. That which is woe for the earth, is matter of rejoicing in heaven, when the Dragon is cast down, and the first stage in the process of his destruction is accomplished. The hostility of the Dragon to the Messiah, the consequent war between Michael and the Dragon and their respective hosts, the identification of the Dragon with the old serpent, the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, and the Water cast out as a river to destroy the Woman, are all reminiscences of popular myths of which traces have been found throughout the O.T. and elsewhere in the New.

In ch. 13:1 the beast coming up out of the sea points the same way, though here the adaptation of the myth to the circumstances of Roman history are clear, whether the solution of the riddle of 13:18 is to be found in the older guess of נרון קסר, and the sufferings of the Neronic persecution, or Deissmann’s suggestion of Καισαρ θεος and the Emperor-worship of the time of Domitian, is preferred.

Perhaps the clearest use of the Antichrist legend is to be found in 13:11, where the “two horns like unto a lamb” of the beast that came up out of the earth, emphasize his attempt to deceive by pretending to be the Messiah.

The 17th chapter, which offers the clearest indications of the identification of the beast with Rome, now regarded by Christians as the great enemy, and no longer the restraining and protecting power which S. Paul found in the Empire, shows how the mythical figure gains new attributes in consequence of new experiences, but does not throw much light on the older myth. But the gathering together of the nations, Gog and Magog, for the war in 20:7, 8, recalls the earlier feature of the legend.

In the Epistles of S. John there is no real use of the legend itself at all. They contribute nothing but the name to our knowledge of it. The writer refers to a popular legend which had formed the basis of Apostolic teaching, as in earlier times the prophets and psalmists had made use of similar mythological ideas to enforce the lessons which they had to teach. But the process of spiritualization is complete. The writer finds in the false teaching which is growing apace the fulfilment of the popular expectation of the coming of the great antagonist who is to lead the last and final opposition of the powers of the world to the kingdom of the Christ. Whether this opposition is soon to culminate in the work of a single opponent he leaves uncertain. It is not a matter which interests him. The mystery of lawlessness is already working in those who are inspired by the spirits who do not confess Jesus Christ come in flesh. In this the “word” Antichrist cometh is fulfilled. The writer’s business is with the reality to which the legend points; with the legend itself he has but little to do.

It is unnecessary here to trace the further developments of the Antichrist legend in later Jewish and Christian expectation. They show a more or less definite, but continually shifting, popular tradition which took its start in the old myth of the Sea-monster overcome, but only confined and not destroyed, by the power of God, which should once more break its bonds, and make a last attack on the powers of light before the final establishment of the Messianic kingdom.

B. 2:28-4:6

Second presentation of the two theses, ethical and Christological, the two being discussed separately, but with express reference to their connection.

I. 2:28-3:24

The doing of righteousness, especially genuine brotherly love, the true sign of the Birth from God. Corresponding exhortation.

1. 2:28-3:6

The thesis, and the exhortation to recognize this truth, shown by the obligation, involved in the gift of Divine kinship and the hope of its completion, of self-purification. The wide prevalence of antinomianism. The incompatibility of knowledge of God and yielding to sin.

(a) 2:28-3:3.

(b) 3:4-6.

2:28-3:3.











1 “Dei cognitio res est efficax. Neque enim nuda imaginatione cognoseitur Deus, sed quum se intus cordibus nostris per Spiritum patefacit” (Calvin).

A δ4. Codex Alexandrinus. London. Brit. Mus. Royal Libr. I. D. v.-viii. (v.).

אԠא. δ2. Codex Sinaiticus. Petersburg (iv.).

B δ1. Codex Vaticanus. Rome. Vat. Gr. 1209 (iv.).

C δ3. Codex Ephraimi. Paris. Bibl. Nat. 9 (v.); 1 John 1:1 τους—(2) εωρα[κομεν]. 4:2 εστιν—(3 John 1:2) ψυχη.

P P. α3. Petersburg. Bibl. Roy. 225 (ix.). Palimpsest. 1 John 3:2 του.


Ψ̠δ6. Athos. Lawra 172 (β52) (viii.-ix.).

25 25. α103. London. Brit. Mus. Harley 5537 (a.d. 1087). 2 John 1:5 missing.


L α5. Rome. Angel. 39 (ol. A. 2. 15) (ix.).

m m. Liber de divinis Scripturis sive Speculum, ed. Weihrich. Vienna Corpus xii., 1887. The following verses are quoted: 1 John 1:2, 1 John 1:3, 1 John 1:8, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 1:2:9, 1 John 1:10, 21, 23, 1 John 1:3:1 John 1:7-10, 16-18, 1 John 1:4:1, 1 John 1:9, 15, 18, 1 John 1:5:1, 1 John 1:6-8, 1 John 1:10, 20, 21; 2 John 1:7, 2 John 1:10, 2 John 1:11.


13 13 ( = 33gosp.). δ48. Paris. Bibl. Nat. Gr. 14 (ix.-x.).

1 Some editors connect this with ver. 22, putting a full stop at ὁ�1Jn 1:8-20.


1 If Gunkel is right in pointing הם שׁבת as a passive participle.

A δ4. Codex Alexandrinus. London. Brit. Mus. Royal Libr. I. D. v.-viii. (v.).

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 John 2". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/1-john-2.html. 1896-1924.
 
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