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1 John 2

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Verses 1-2

1Jn 2:1-2


(1 John 2:1-2)

1 My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin.--The words of this section are to be construed and considered along with the matters set forth in chapter 1. It should be remembered that when John wrote, the chapter and verse divisions now characteristic of the text were not there. This section was designated to show, (1) the means by which one is enabled to walk in the light; (2) the conditions upon which for-giveness is available, viz., (a) a confession of sins and (b) the forsaking of them.

The chapter begins with a term of endearment: "My little children . . ." The apostle John, when he wrote these words, was an old man, and the mode of address is such as might be expected from an aged one to those near and dear and much younger. There are two Greek words translated by the phrase "little chil-dren" in the Epistle. The first of these, teknia, plural diminutive of teknon. occurs here and at 1 John 2:12; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:21, and only elsewhere, in the New Testament, in John 13:33, where the Lord used it, and which use likely occasioned John’s adoption of it here. It is a word which, when figuratively used, designates the spiritual relation of children to a father in the faith. (See 1 Corinthians 4:15, where the idea, but not the word, occurs.) The second word translated by the phrase "little children" is paidia, occurring in `1 John 2:13; John 2:18. This word denotes the age and characteristics of childhood, and, as here used, conveys the kind and tender address of age to youth, of authority to subordinates, of wisdom to ignorance.

"These things" embrace the matters which were written in the closing portion of chapter 1, the purpose of which was to lead the saints to forsake all sin. "That ye may not sin" is a negative pur-pose clause in the aorist tense, and the apostle thus warned against even isolated acts of sin. Fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ, and with all saints depends on walking in the light, and only those walk in the light who, as far as they are able, abstain from sinful conduct. Thus, those to whom John wrote stood in relation to him as his "little children" in the Lord. He has written to them for the purpose of warning against any participation in sinful acts. But what if some, in spite of such counsel, inadvertently fell into sin? Their case was not hopeless.

And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:--Though the followers of the Lord are ever to strive to avoid any participation in sinful activity, when such occurs, they are not to despair; they have an "Advocate," Jesus Christ the righteous. The verb "have" here is, significantly, in the present tense (echomen), thus literally, "We keep on having" an ever-present remedy for the isolated acts of sin which, through weakness, ignorance, and inadvertence, we commit. An "Advocate" is a lawyer or an attorney, whose function it is to represent one in court. Jesus thus represents us in the court of heaven, pleading our cause and advocating our case before the bar of God’s divine justice. As our Advocate, he is "with" (pros) the Father, thus at his side, and ever present to afford us adequate and constant representation. There is no article be-fore the word "righteousness" in the Greek text. The meaning is, Jesus, a righteous one, pleads the cause of unrighteous ones. Only the pleading of such an Advocate could possibly avail. An advocate himself in need of intercession could not hope to influence the great Judge in behalf of others.

2 And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.--To "propitiate" is to appease and render favorable, to conciliate. The word "propitia-tion," in the text, occurs only here and in 1 John 40:10, in the New Testament, though other forms of it are in Luke 18:13 ; Romans 3:25; and Hebrews 2:17. Here is announced but one of the many aspects of the death of Christ in our behalf. (1) He propitiates (Hilasmos) the Father, thus rendering him favorable toward us. (2) He reconciles (katallasso) us to God, enabling us to be at peace with him. (Romans 5:11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.) (3) As a ransom (apolutrosis) for us, he paid the debt, permitting us to go free from the thralldom and bondage of sin. The blessings of this propitiation extend to the whole world and have been made available to all mankind. Here is positive and undeniable evidence of the falsity of any system of theology which would limit the benefits of the atonement, or deny its blessings to any portion of the human family. Martin Luther well said, "It is a patent fact that thou too art a part of the whole world; so that thine heart cannot deceive itself and think, the Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me." No man is outside the mercy of God, except as he deliberately places himself there through the repudiation of the plan which was evolved to save him.

This entire section, 1:5-2:2, is a closely-knit and well-ordered argument, designed to reveal the blessings available to us through Christ. (1) There is no darkness in God, for he is light. (1 John 1:5.) (2) If we affirm that we have fellowship with him, yet walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. (1 John 1:6.) (3) If we walk in the light, (a) we enjoy such fellowship, and (b) the blood of Jesus Christ constantly cleanses us from any sin which, through weak-ness of the flesh, or the infirmities of our nature we commit. (1 John 1:7.) (4) The truth is in us if we acknowledge our sins. (1 John 1:8-9.) (5) Shall we then disregard all warnings against sin on the ground that the blood of Christ operates to cleanse us? God forbid. (1 John 2:1-2.) The purpose of the entire section is to warn against this very thing. Avoid sin when possible. But if into it you fall, do not despair. Rely on your Advocate who effectively pleads your case in heaven!

It is significant that John did not say, "Ye have an Advocate. ." nor "Ye have me for an Advocate," but "We have an Advocate. .," thus including himself among those in need of the interces-sion before the throne of grace which Jesus alone can supply. Walking in the light requires: (1) fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ; (2) acceptance of the propitiation pro-vided through the shed blood of the Lord; (3) obedience to the Lord’s commandments. This third condition, of walking in the light, John develops in the section to follow.

Commentary on 1 John 2:1-2 by E.M. Zerr

1 John 2:1. My little children is a fatherly address to the disciples since John was an old man when lie wrote this epistle. Furthermore, notwith standing his strong language when treating of definite sins, he is known in history to have been a man of tender sentiments, so much so that he won a like feeling from Jesus, for it is said that he was the disciple "whom Jesus loved" John 13:23 John 19:26 John 20:2 John 21:7 John 21:20 John 21:24). Thus we have a number of endearing terms in the writings of this apostle. That ye sin not; if any man sin. These phrases do not conflict with each other although they may seem to. The disciples of Christ are expected to oppose sin and be constantly "striving against sin" (Hebrews 12:4), and to help them in their struggles the apostles have written instructions on the right ways of life. But in spite of all this they are going to make mistakes. (See the comments on verses 6-8 in the preceding chapter.) Hence the second phrase if any man sin is inserted to explain why the provisirn has been made for an advocate. That is from PARAKLETOS, which Thayer defines as follows: "One who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor."

1 John 2:2. Propitiation means something that appeases or satisfies one who is (justly) making strong demands. God is violated by the sins of mankind and His justice demands the eternal condemnation of the offenders. Man was unable to furnish what was rightly required to pay the debt, but Jesus was able and willing to do so. That is what he did when He shed his blood as was shown in chapter 1:7. Not for ours only but also, etc. The pronoun stands for disciples who have already made use of the cleansing blood by obedience to the Gospel. But the blood is sufficient to cleanse the whole world if all will accept it on the same terms as the present disciples. (See the familiar passage in John 3:16.)

Commentary on 1 John 2:1-2 by N.T. Caton


In the former chapter, having set forth the fact that God is light, and that those only who walk in the light have fellowship with the Father, and the great honor of such fellowship and the blessed privilege of being cleansed from sin, in this chapter he writes to them that these blessings are not to be taken as an encouragement to sin, but the contrary was intended, to present an inducement to them not to sin; but if any among them should be overcome by the allurements around them, not to despair, but to remember that they have an advocate with the Father—a powerful advocate, one who is essentially the righteous one. This righteous one made a sin-offering for you Christians, and not for them only, but for all the world who would be penitent and forsake their sins. A criterion is given whereby you may know whether you are God’s children or not; that is, by keeping his commandments. He that says I know God, and yet does not keep, his commandments, simply tells a falsehood when he so speaks, and in such an one there is no veracity, while one who observes all of God’s requirements truly loves God. By this rule you can judge. One that abides in the fellowship of God walks as God directs. In a sense, I write no new commandment, for God from the very beginning desired men to love one another, and yet in a sense I do write a new commandment. It is new in the rule by which to measure the love you entertain for your fellow-men. Formerly it was an eye for an eye. Now, it is to love even your enemies. This being so, you can not hate your brother. You must have love for him if you walk in the light and have fellowship with God. This Christian life is a new life. If you love not your brother, you are not in the light, but in darkness.

I write ’you because your sins are forgiven you for the sake of Christ’s name. I write to fathers because they have known Christ from the beginning, and to the young men because they have over­come the world in obeying the truth. Now, to all of you I say, Love not the world, for in so doing you show that the love of the Father is not in you. The things of the world, that is the lusts of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life, are not of God. All these will pass away, while God’s will abides forever. The false teachers you heard were to come are already come. Those went out from us because they were not of us. He is an anti-Christ or false ,teacher, who denies that Jesus is Christ. You believe in Jesus as the Christ, and the promise of eternal life is assured to you. I write to you that you may not be led astray by these false teachers. Now, abide in Christ, so that when he comes again you will not be ashamed before him. This will be doing righteousness, and those only so doing will be like him, for he is righteous.

1 John 2:1—My little children, these things write I.

The tender and affectionate manner observed by the writer is most striking. John regards them as his children,, and so far as authority is concerned, or it may be his advanced age, the persons addressed could and should look upon him as their father in the common faith. The author­ity, in either view he seeks to assert, is parental. To them he writes and the object of writing is given—that they sin not. It is as though he would say: While all are liable to sin you should strive to overcome all temptation to sin; and what I have written concerning God’s faithfulness to for­give those that sin, I do not desire you should take as an encouragement to do wrong. Upon the contrary, God’s mercy ought to be a strong reason why, in order to please him, you should strive not to commit sin. Since, however, you are liable to fall, let such one not despair; let him not throw away his hope of eternal life and continue to sin habitually and willfully; but if he sin, let him come to God, penitently confessing and seeking pardon, remembering all the time he has an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous, the just one. Christ is our advocate, and he is just. He committed no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. He it is who intercedes with the Father for our pardon, as it was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah, in the following words: "And made intercession for the transgres­sors" (Isaiah 53:12). Paul also assures us of Christ’s intercession for the pardon of the erring disciple, in these words: "Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).

1 John 2:2—And he is the propitiation for our sins.

Christ is all this. It may appear great and exceedingly momentous, yet it is a fact in the economy of God and his system by which intelligent creatures are to be reconciled to him and saved.

1 John 2:2 --Propitiation.

So much has been written upon the subject of the propitiation in Christ, and so much senseless speculation is afloat in the world, I am not at all surprised that the simple meaning of the term has been overlooked. On the ark of the covenant, placed by Moses in the Most Holy Place by the command of God, was a covering called the mercy seat (See Exodus 25:10-21, and Exodus 37:1-9, and Exodus 40:1-3). This was ordained by God’s command and for the purpose, that there at the mercy seat God would meet man: "And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in command­ments unto the children of Israel" (Exodus 25:22). This was called the propitiatory. The high priest approached this mercy seat once each year with blood. God here met and communed with him for the people. Now, Christ is our mercy seat; he is our propitiatory; he is our altar and our high priest; his blood has been offered for us—for our sins. He is, therefore, our propitiation. Here it is that God meets the sinner, and nowhere else. In Christ, and not out of Christ, may pardon be expected.

1 John 2:2 --For the sins of the whole world.

The blood of Christ, shed in his death, became a pro pitiation, not for our sins only who profess to be his chil­dren, but Christ is a mercy-seat, to be approached by every suffering son and daughter of Adam. The method of approach is made simple and easy. His blood must be applied, and can only be applied, when reached as he has commanded. Nowhere in the Scriptures can a declaration be found that Christ shed his blood for the elect only. The "whole world" means here just, what the language imports. All throughout the world, from the first even to the end of time may avail themselves of this gracious provision by accepting God’s blessed Son, complying with his require­ments, living obedient lives, and receiving at the last the same blessed reward.

Commentary on 1 John 2:1-2 by Burton Coffman

1 John 2:1 --My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

In this verse, John seems definitely to have had in mind the possible perversion of the teachings he had just written. "If we can never in this life be done with sin, why strive after holiness?" and "If escape is so easy, why dread falling into sin?"[1] The promise of forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9) and the mention of its universality (1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10) might indeed, on the surface, be thought to encourage a light view of sin. As Orr said, "Some might say, `I may as well commit sin; everyone else does; God will forgive me; what else is he for?’"[2] John contradicted all such false views. Furthermore, the force of this passage may not be diminished by the interpretation that "sin" in this passage means "a life of sin." "Both verbs are aorists; acts of sin, rather than a sinful course of life, are in view."[3]

My little children ... Commentators are sharply divided on the meaning of this expression in this chapter. While it is generally admitted that John here used "little children" as a designation of the whole congregation, the repeated use of the word, especially the use of two different words for children, namely, [@paidia] and [@teknia] seems to suggest a different meaning later in the chapter. [@Paidia] is the word used in 1 John 2:13,1 John 2:18.[4] The other word is used in 1 John 2:12; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:4, and 1 John 5:21. See more on this under 1 John 2:13,1 John 2:18. By John’s use of "little children" as a reference to the whole church, some have concluded that John was an old man when he wrote this.

That ye sin not ... Despite the fact that John had just admitted that no one was able to be sinless, he nevertheless stated without equivocation that, "The hallmark of the Christian life is the absence of sin."[5]

Advocate with the Father ... The word here rendered "Advocate" is exactly the same word translated "Comforter" in John 14:16; John 14:26; John 15:26 and John 16:7. Of course, in those passages, the Comforter refers to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send to be "with the Christians," especially the apostles; but here the Comforter is the Christ who is "with the Father." Dodd and other critics have tried to make a big issue out of this so-called difference; but there is no difference at all. In both cases, the Comforter is for the advantage and encouragement of the Christians, Christ with the Father, the Holy Spirit with the Christians. Furthermore, did not Christ himself make this perfectly plain when he said, "He shall give you another Comforter" (John 14:16)? Even in that passage, it is clear that Christ himself is the other one.

[1] David Smith, The Expositor’s Greek New Testament, Vol. V. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 172.

[2] R. W. Orr, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 610.

[3] Ibid.

[4] John R. W. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 20 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), p. 79.

[5] Blaney, Harvey J. S., Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 10 (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1967), p. 359.

1 John 2:2 --and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.

The propitiation ... This rendition is to be preferred to "expiation" in subsequent versions. Although it is true that expiation is a synonym of propitiation, the latter meaning is a little different. Although this word appears frequently in the Septuagint (LXX), it is found only here and in 1 John 4:10 in the whole New Testament.[6] The objection to "propitiation" is purely "theological."[7] It is said to conjure up ideas of vengeful and vindictive pagan deities who had to be "appeased" by offerings and bribes, ideas which, of course, are foreign to any true ideas of God. Nevertheless, despite the scholars’ support of their preference with "linguistic arguments,"[8] there is a sense in which the anger and wrath of Almighty God were indeed turned away by the sufferings of Christ. The Greek word to be translated by one of these words (propitiation, or expiation) is [@hilasmos], the primary meaning being "the removal of wrath."[9] It is this element of the meaning which some would like to get rid of. However, there is a divine wrath against every form of sin (Romans 1:18), and God’s forgiveness is not merely the ignoring of this wrath. "Expiation" carries the meaning that Christ’s blood indeed procured for people the forgiveness of sins, but it leaves out the connection with God’s wrath. Full agreement here is felt with Stott, Morris, and others who preferred "propitiation." There are implications in the atonement wrought by the death of Christ that are completely beyond any total understanding by finite intelligence. "Propitiation" means the "removal of wrath," and "expiation" means the "removal of guilt"; but in view of the fact of God’s wrath being a reality mentioned countless times in the New Testament, it would appear to be far better to retain the word that includes "removal of wrath" in its meaning.

And not for ours only, but for the whole world ... The "sins of the whole world" is actually the meaning implied in the last clause,[10] Inherent in a statement like this is the fact that the same basis for forgiving one sin is also the basis for forgiving all sins. There was no limit whatever to the satisfaction that Christ provided as the basis for forgiving sins. Of course, it is not implied here that sins are forgiven unconditionally, either those of persons now saved, or of the whole world in general. We must therefore reject such a notion as this: "Multitudes may be saved through this redemption who never heard of Christ."[11] Universalism is an attractive thesis for many, but there is no hint of such a thing in the New Testament.

[6] James Macknight, Macknight on the Epistles, 1John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, reprint, 1969), p. 40.

[7] Stott, John R. W., op. cit., p. 85.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Leon Morris, The New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1263.

[10] R. W. Orr, op. cit., p. 611.

[11] W. M. Sinclair, Ellicott’s Bible Commentary, Vol. VIII (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 476.

Verses 3-6

1Jn 2:3-6


(1 John 2:3-6)

3 And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.--"Hereby" (en toutoi), literally, "in this," a phrase often used by the apostle, and occurring at 1 John 2:5; 3:16, 19 4:2, 13; 5:2. It refers to the clause, "If we keep his command-ments." "Keep," here, is present subjunctive, thus, "If we keep on keeping his commandments." We are informed here that it is possible for us to "know that we know him." How, or in what way? If we keep his commandments! To know him is to have far more than an acquaintance with his nature it is to enter into the most intimate relationship with him as his child. It is possible to claim a knowledge of God and of Christ and to be deceived. Paul writes of those who "profess that they know God; but by their works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." (Titus 1:16.) One does not know God who does not conform to his will. We may believe intel-lectually that there is a God; we may affirm the truth of his exist-ence, the facts of his attributes, the reality of his works in nature. But only those who have wholly committed their wills to his know him in his saving power. "And this is life eternal, but they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." (; John 17:3.) If it be asked which commandments constitute the test here submitted, the answer is, All of them! Any commandment we are disposed to break because of our unwilling-ness to bend our wills to his provides the occasion which demon-strates lack of full knowledge of him. This is the "one thing" which we "lack" and which, like the young ruler’s riches, will close the door of heaven in our face.

4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his com-mandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; --A conclusion drawn from the foregoing premises, and a further affirmation of the truth above expressed. The Gnostics boasted of their superior knowledge and spiritual insight and maintained their ac-quaintance with the Lord despite the fact that they kept not his commandments. With reference to all such the apostle solemnly declares, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." The verbs in the Greek text are in the present tense. He who keeps on say-ing, I know him, and yet keeps not on keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Far from actually and really knowing God, those who refuse to do his will are, in addition to being disobedient characters, liars and without truth. The words "He is a liar" are more emphatic than "we lie," of John 1:6, and "we deceive ourselves," of 1:8. His status is not simply that of one who is guilty of a single falsehood, or one who is innocently de-ceived; his acts of falsehood have become embedded in his character and he is, essentially, a liar. . Such a one is demonstrating the nature and character of his father, the devil, who is a liar from the beginning. (John 8:44.) It was evidently no uncommon thing for men, at the time John wrote, who had adopted the per-nicious doctrine of the Gnostics to affirm that they, though will-fully guilty of sinful acts, were not thereby corrupted. Some of these men maintained that they were no more polluted by sin than gold is by the mire into which it might fall.

As shocking as the foregoing theology is, it has its modern counterparts: Those false teachers, while denying any contamina-tion from sin, did admit the fact of sin in their lives. There are those today who deny both the sin and the contamination. A prominent denominational preacher, in a tract entitled, "Do a Christian’s Sins Damn His Soul?" wrote: "We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salva-tion of his soul. . . . All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger. . . . The way a man lives has nothing whatsoever to do with this salvation. Such theology, whether ancient or modern, is precisely in principle what John condemned when he affirmed that those who say they know him, yet do not keep his command-ments, are liars.

5. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected.--"Keepeth his word," of verse 5, is synonymous with "keeping his commandments" of verse 4. Here, as in 1 John 1:7; 1 John 1:9, the opposite of that immediately preceding is stated, and the thought advanced one step further. The "love of God" here contemplated is not God’s love for us, but our love for God, and the affirmation of the apostle is that he who keeps God’s word has his love for God perfected. "Perfected" is perfect passive indicative of teleioo, to stand complete. Thus, he who keeps the commandments of God matures his love, for such is the way in which love for God manifests itself. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (1 John 5:3.) It is idle for one to claim love for God while neglecting or refusing to do his commandments. Such is the acid test of one’s love.

Hereby we know that we are in him:--i.e., by keeping his word. The words "in him" indicate a relationship of the most intimate nature. The phrase is a summary of all the blessings available from God. To know God we must keep his word; those who keep his word love him; but those who love him are in him. Fruit bearing produced as the result of love for God is evidence of our union with him. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for apart from me ye can do nothing." (John 15:4-5.)

6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.--There is here, as in verse 4, a boast-ful attitude hinted at. He who represents himself as abiding in the Lord has the definite obligation to "walk even as he walked," i.e., in the light, in fellowship with God, in keeping his commandments. In this manner alone does one demonstrate the soundness of his claim and the validity of his profession. "Ought," from opheilo, to be in debt, denotes the moral obligation here to exhibit the basis of one’s profession. To walk as Christ walked is to follow him as the perfect model and guide that he is. Nothing less than this will meet the demands of the case. The walk of the Lord which we are to imitate is, obviously, to be found in the reli-gious, moral, and spiritual activities of his life on earth. There is no reference here to the miraculous powers which Jesus exhibited on earth. As Martin Luther fittingly remarks, it "is not Christ’s walking on the sea that we are to imitate, but his ordinary walk." The verb "walk" is figuratively used to denote the activity which must characterize us as children of God. Jesus used it in this sense (John 8:12; John 12:35), as did Paul (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:7; Romans 6:4). But how did Christ walk? The answer is to be found in the whole of the things recorded concerning him in the sacred volume. These words sum up the life of Christ on earth.

Commentary on 1 John 2:3-6 by E.M. Zerr

1 John 2:3. Know is not used in view of some technical distinction between faith and knowledge. The thought is that if we keep his commandments (and we may know whether we have done so or not), then we may he sure or have the assurance that we have a saving knowledge of Him.

1 John 2:4. A knowledge of having kept the commandments is necessary to a knowledge of Him (see preceding verse). Therefore if a man asserts that lie knows the Lord when he has not kept the commandments (and he may know whether lie has or not), he is rightly classed with liars as the apostle here states.

1 John 2:5. The love of God perfected has virtually the same thought as Jesus expressed in John 14:21. To be perfected means to be made complete, and that will be accomplished when a man proves his love for God by keeping the commandments. On the same principle a man cannot truly claim to love the Lord who does not obey His word, even though he may sing "0 how I love Jesus" as vigorously as anyone. Know that we are in him. For comments on the word know see those at verse 3.

1 John 2:6. To abide in Christ is equivalent to walking with Him, for Christ is an active being and no person can continue with Him and not walk in the same way. "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3.)

Commentary on 1 John 2:3-6 by N.T. Caton

1 John 2:3—And hereby we do know.

To gather the thought here intended, just take the last clause first, thus: "If we keep his commandments?’ We by that means know—that is our evidence—that we know him. We know God, and the convincing evidence to our minds that we do know God is the fact that we observe, keep and do all that he has required at our hands.

1 John 2:4—He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not.

Any one who asserts that he knows God, and does not keep his commandments, John says of such an one two things: 1. He is a liar. 2. The truth is not in him. These are fearful declarations. They come, however, from inspira tion. "He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that heareth me, heareth him that sent me." The plainness of speech here is specially significant. Evidently, God intended that his servant, John, should leave no ground for mistake or blunder.

1 John 2:5—But whoso keepeth his word.

Any one who keeps God’s word, is he that does what is therein required, and refrains from doing what is therein prohibited; in such an one the love of God is perfected. That is to say, we show our love to and of God by our obedience. It is the only possible method of proving our loyalty. It may be possible, since the singular number is here used, that it may have a special application. "Word" is singular. "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." "Hear ye him" is a command of the Father, and I have no doubt that those who obey the Savior, are at the same time obeying God, and do thereby show their love of God. If one, however, obeys all God’s com­mands imposed upon us in this age, it is very certain that such will obey the one given on the Mount of Transfigura­tion.

1 John 2:6—He that saith he abideth in him.

One may say, I am in the fellowship of God and his Son. That being true, such an one ought to show by his godly life that he walks as the Savior walked while here on earth. The Savior’s conduct was irreproachable. With it God was pleased. So one claiming to be in the fellowship—that is, abideth in him—must conduct himself as Christ did. His conduct is better proof than a simple profession.

Commentary on 1 John 2:3-6 by Burton Coffman

1 John 2:3 --And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Contrary to the criterion accepted by many for determination if they are or are not saved, this denies that a person’s "feelings" in such a question can be trusted. "It is all too easy to fall into illusions about ourselves if we make too much of our religious feelings, even those of an elevated kind."[12] Keeping the commandments of God is the prerequisite and the test either of loving God (John 14:15) or of knowing God. Macknight supposed that John here was teaching against "the Nicolaitans and Gnostics who affirmed that the only thing necessary to eternal life was the knowledge of the true God."[13]

Hereby we know ... Similar words are used several times in this letter to introduce "tests" by which the validity of one’s faith might be tested (1 John 2:5; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:19; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:2; 1 John 4:6; 1 John 4:13, and 1 John 5:2). In the last analysis, it is keeping the commandments of the Lord, walking in the light, doing the truth, obeying the word, etc., which are the final determinator of whether one is saved or lost. Which commandments are meant? All of them. There is no way to limit these to the ethical or moral commandments; those relating to the worship of God are likewise included. To keep God’s commandments is equivalent to keeping his word, "And this means the truth of God as it is in Christ."[14] The obligation extends to the entirety of the New Testament revelation.

[12] Amos N. Wilder, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 226.

[13] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 41.

[14] Harvey J. S. Blaney, op. cit., p. 363.

1 John 2:4 --He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

This is the negative of the same teaching given in 1 John 2:3. John’s converse statement of the same principle here is blunt, powerful, and incapable of being misunderstood. It reminds one of Jesus’ saying, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). All talk of knowing God, loving God, or even of "believing" or "having faith" is meaningless in the mouths of people who dishonor the commandments of the Lord through disobedience and failure to do the "work of faith." It is even more than meaningless; it is falsehood.

1 John 2:5 --but whoso keepeth his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected. Hereby we know that we are in him:

Whoso keepeth his word ... This is identical in meaning with "if we keep his commandments" (1 John 2:3).

The love of God has been perfected ... Here is another glimpse of that absolute perfection which is the goal of all Christian living, mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 5:48, and referred to by all the New Testament writers. Although unattainable by humans in their own strength, it will nevertheless be achieved in them and for them by means of their being "in Christ" and thereby partaking of the absolute perfection of the Saviour himself (Colossians 1:28). Significantly, the necessity of being "in him" is the concluding thought of this verse.

Love of God ... This is objective, referring not to God’s love of man, but to "man’s love to God."[15]

Hereby we know that we are in him ... Although the grammatical structure makes "God" the antecedent of "in him" in this place, still the meaning is "in Christ," no man ever having been "in God" by any other means than that of his having been baptized into the spiritual body of Christ. Being "in God" and "in Christ" are exactly one and the same thing. This thought comes to the foreground a number of times in this letter. Thus John placed the same importance and priority upon this conception that are given to it in the writings of the apostle Paul who used the expression "in Christ" or its equivalent some 169 times. The idea of the corporate body of Christ was not developed either by Paul or by John but is derived from the Lord himself who gave the foundation of it in such teaching as that of his being the vine, the apostles being the branches, and all Christians abiding "in him," that is, "in the true vine" (John 15). Since one enters "him" through primary obedience (baptism), it is the true continuity of that holy relationship that John here declared us to "know" if we keep his word.

Before leaving this verse, we should note that love ([Greek: agape]) is one of the leading concepts, recurring again and again in John’s work. In this letter alone, "it occurs 18 times, more than in any other New Testament book, 1Corinthians being 2nd with 14 times. In a book so short this is very significant."[16] As used in this place, the love to God is not a mere emotional response, "it is the response lived out in obedience. Love delights to do God’s will."[17]

[15] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 1056.

[16] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1263.

[17] Ibid.

1 John 2:6 --he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.

Claiming to be "in Christ" carries the obligation of the claimant to exhibit the true likeness of Christ in his behavior. "Obedience, not feelings," is the true test of union; and the Christian who is really such has least to tell of experiences and special visitations."[18]

In him ... These words in 1 John 2:3, at a glance, seem to refer to being "in God"; but as Morris noted:

The reference to walking in this verse shows that "in him" means Jesus Christ. In any case John regularly associates the two in the closest possible fashion, and it is often difficult to be quite sure which is meant.[19]

[18] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22,1John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 21.

[19] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1263.

Verses 7-11

1Jn 2:7-11


(1 John 2:7-11)

7 Beloved, no new commandment write I unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning: the old commandment is the word which ye heard.--The apostle had just commanded his readers to walk as Christ walked. (Verse 6.) This walk was grounded in, and originated in, love. Hence, the commandment to love God was not a new one, i.e., a novel, unusual thing. These to whom John wrote had been aware of this obligation, yea, had in some measure followed it from the beginning of their Christian life. Far from being a new thing, this commandment was essential to their salvation from sin; they were already in possession of it; they had possessed it from the beginning. This commandment was the "word" which they had "heard." The "word" sums up the message they had received; "heard" indicates the manner of reception. They had "heard" it; it therefore came to them through preaching. They heard it, and it was at the beginning of their Christian experience .

8 Again, a new commandment write I unto you, which thing is true in him and in you; because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shineth.---Through the commandment to love is as old as the race (1 John 3:1 ff, particularly verses 11, 12), from another aspect it is always new. To walk as the Lord walked and hence to comply with the requirements of the "old commandment" is as old as religion, but each new compliance therewith constitutes a new and fresh approach thereto. Love, as old as man, becomes new with each experience. It was the Lord himself who designated the command to love one another as a new one: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:34.) The newness was not merely or solely in the command to love; the law and the prophets required this. (Deuteronomy 10:19; Micah 6:8, etc.) It was the measure or extent of the love that made it new: "even as I have loved you." Never before the Christian age had such a love been required of man. It was henceforth to be a condition precedent to discipleship; indeed, the badge and token thereof: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35.)

The darkness of ignorance, superstition, bitterness, and hate was passing; the "true light," which radiated from the Lord, was shining, thus dispelling the gloom and darkness of unbelief. The text does not affirm that the darkness had already passed. Then, as now, there was much error in the world. But, as the truth was preached, the light was extended, and the darkness receded as man came into the refulgence thereof. Jesus said, "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought of God." (John 3:19-21.) "Again, therefore Jesus spake unto them saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12; cf. 1 John 1:4:10.)

9 He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now.--Another hypothetical case, of which there are many in the Epistle (1:6, 8, 10; 2:9; 4:20), is stated, and the inconsistency between the profession and the fact pointed out. He who affects to be in the light, i.e., the light of truth about which the apostle had been writing, yet hates his brother is, notwithstanding his pretension, in darkness. The brother of this passage is a fellow believer. He who hates one of a common origin and with the same loving Father is, despite his claim to being in the light in darkness, "even until now," i.e., up to the present. Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 15:17); he made love the badge of discipleship (John 13:35); and without it, one remains in darkness--the element which characterizes all away from God. It is significant that the apostle leaves no middle ground either here or elsewhere in the contrasts which he draws between light and darkness, right and wrong, truth and error. With him, on the one side is God, and on the other, the world; here is life, there is death; here love, there hate; there is no common ground. Such is in harmony with the Lord’s affirmation: "He that is not against you is for you" (Luke 9:50, and the converse, "He that is not with me is against me" (Luke 11:23). One is either for God, in which case the principle of .his life is love, the sphere in which he moves light, and the desire of his heart obedience; or, he is against him, in which event, though he may hide his hatred, and craftily conceal his worldliness and evil, the fountain from which his moral life emerges is not God, but the world--he is yet in death, he loves nothing but himself, and his proper element is darkness. The word hate (miseo) here does not indicate the degree, but merely the fact of such a disposition. When it exists in any degree, he who manifests it is yet in the darkness. Let him who holds malice in his heart against a brother in Christ recognize his position and see the folly of pretension which his conduct belies. He deceives no one by his allegation.

10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.--The verb "abideth" means more than merely being in the light; to abide is to remain (Menei), and the tense (present indicative active) reveals a continuous action rather than a temporary state. He who loves his brother is evermore remaining in the light; the fact of the love guarantees continuation in the sphere. Moreover, the force of the tense indicates that he has not only entered upon this sphere he has settled down into it as if it were his home. It is, of course, unnecessary to add that love, with John, indeed with all of the New Testament writers, is much more than affection. Here, it is made to stand for all the graces which adorn the character of the Christian, all the duties owed to those who are our brethren in Christ. This comprehensive aspect of the term is observable throughout the apostle’s writings. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18.) "Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (1 John 5:2-3.) The principle is the same as that alluded to by our Lord when he declared that to love God supremely and one’s neighbor as one’s self embraces (in principle) all that is in the law and in the prophets. (Matthew 22:34-40.) He did not by this mean that love for God or man is accepted in lieu of obedience; there is, indeed, no such thing as love apart from obedience. (1 John 5:3.) What is meant is that he who truly loves God and his neighbor will be prompted thereby to discharge his full duty to both.

Not only does one who loves his brother abide in the light, in addition there is no occasion of stumbling in him. An occasion for whose stumbling? His own, or another’s? The verb "stumble" (skandalon) is derived from a word which designates a snare or trap. In Matthew 18:7, it obviously refers to an occasion of stumbling in the way of others. Here, however, the context, and particularly the verse which follows, appears to indicate that John had in mind an occasion of stumbling in one’s own self. The apostle thus emphasizes here that those who walk in the light and abide in the truth are protected from the snares and pitfalls into which they would otherwise fall: Certainly, one who loves his brother as himself will never find occasion to give expression to the evil passions of envy, malice, hate, and revenge: Those who walk in darkness stumble, because they are unable to see their way; those who walk in the light can recognize, and therefore avoid, the snares which beset their way. One who truly loves his brother will conduct himself in such fashion as to avoid any semblance of friction or difficulty, and will thus neither stumble nor fall in his relationship with him. "Owe no man anything, save to love one another:for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, That shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law:" (Rom:13:8-10).

11 But he that hateth his brother is in the darkness, and walketh in the darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.--Three conditions are here affirmed of him who hates his brother: (1) he is "in the darkness"; (2) he "walketh in the darkness"; and (3) he "knoweth not whither he goes," the reason being that "the darkness hath blinded his eyes." Such is the fearful status of those who hate their brethren. The inner condition is one of darkness; the outward life is a walk in darkness. The element which is his natural sphere has possessed him; he has partaken of the realm in which he habitually moves: Moreover, he has lost his sense of direction; "He knoweth not whither he goeth:" His way is dark; he neither knows its direction or its end: He is like the insects of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, which have no eyes, the faculty of sight being so long disused it is gone: The poet Tennyson, in vivid verse, though with reference to sorrow rather than sin, sets forth the fatal result

"But the night has crept into my heart and begun to darken my eyes."

The state which the apostle describes is all the more fatal because unrecognized by those in it. "They know not, neither do they understand; they walk to and fro in darkness." (Psalms 82:5.) "Blinded" here is from the same verb and form occurring in 2 Corinthians 4:4 : "In whom the God of this world bath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them." Thus the blindness which characterizes the alien is that which possesses him who hates his brother. The grace of love is so basic that he who lacks it is deficient in all the virtues of Christianity. Where it does not exist, no other can.

Commentary on 1 John 2:7-11 by E.M. Zerr

1 John 2:7. The word new may mean with reference to its age or date. In that sense the divine law is not new because God has placed governing law before man ever since he has existed. On that basis it is the old commandment and they had heard it from the beginning.

1 John 2:8. The commandments of the Lord are new in the sense of being fresh and vigorous (not infirm as with old age). The newness or liveliness of the laws of the Lord is manifested in their being able to dispel the darkness of ignorance, and shed the light of knowledge in the Lord.

1 John 2:9. This is the same in thought as several preceding verses, namely, that true love is manifested by showing an obedient spirit toward the law of God, and that law requires a disciple to love his brother.

1 John 2:10. Occasion of stumbling denotes being the cause of another’s stumbling or committing error. If a man loves his brother he will not put any stumbling block in his way (Romans 14:13).

1 John 2:11. Darkness is figurative and means the absence of truth. The truth of God requires that the brethren love each other, hence if one brother hates another he is not walking according to the word of God but is walking in darkness.

Commentary on 1 John 2:7-11 by N.T. Caton

1 John 2:7—Brethren, I write no new commandment.

It is no new commandment I write when I bid you to walk as Christ walked. This is an old commandment. Simply call up, in memory, what you heard from the beginning; how that the Father, at the baptism of his Son, declared himself well pleased with him, and that he again, at the Mount of Transfiguration, uttered the same words, with the additional injunction, to hear him. Now, we hear him when we walk as he walked, conduct ourselves as he conducted himself. From the very beginning of the proclamation of the gospel, these things you heard as coming from the Father on high in reference to his Son, and you heard them that they might serve as a guidance to your action in life.

1 John 2:8—Again, a new commandment.

New in a sense not fully understood, and not so fully taught until Christ came. While in substance it was old, in the sense I here now refer to, it is new. Love is the theme. Now, Christ taught us, we should even love our enemies. He showed his love for us and for the whole world by laying down his life. This he did willingly. He died for his enemies as well as for his friends.

1 John 2:8 --Which thing is true in him and in you.

As it was true in Christ, that he loved his enemies by dying for them, which was the strongest demonstration he could possibly give to the world, so this kind of love is true as applied to you, when you walk as he walked, and, in this regard, do as he did.

1 John 2:8 --Because the darkness is past.

The time when it was considered proper to say, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," has been suspended by a new era, when we are taught to love them who perse­cute us and revile us. That was comparative darkness. The teaching of Christ on this subject is light, which now shines.

1 John 2:9—He that saith he is in the light.

When one asserts that he is in this light, governing him­self by this teaching of Christ. to love our enemies, and yet hates his brother, such an one is self-deceived. He is still in darkness. He is not in fellowship with God, for God is light.

1 John 2:10—He that loveth his brother abideth in the light.

The proof that one is in the light—that is, conforming his conduct to the new teaching of Christ—is to be shown only by love for his brother. Brotherly love is proof that one abides in the light, and while so abiding no stumbling-block will appear. All cause or occasion for stumbling has been removed.

1 John 2:11—But he that hateth his brother.

In this case the reverse is true. Occasion for stumbling is ever present. Here there is no light, all is darkness, and one hating his brother is walking in darkness; and so long as hatred for the brother remains, the darkness remains. Such an one can not know which way he goes; that is to say, the miserable end of such a course of life and con­duct, being contrary to Christ’s teachings and example, it can only result in failure of that reward promised to the faithful disciples, and will end only in ultimate condem­nation.

1 John 2:11 --Darkness hath blinded his eyes.

That is, the eyes of his understanding. He can not see the many dangers that beset him on every side. Safety only is assured in being governed by Christ in his commands. Doing as he did, obeying what he commands, is walking in the light; any other course is certain destruction, so far as Christan character and success are concerned.

Commentary on 1Jn 2:7-11 by Burton Coffman

1 John 2:7 --Beloved, no new commandment write I unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning: the old commandment is the word which ye heard.

No new commandment ... but an old ... The old commandment is here identified as "the word which ye heard," meaning the gospel of Christ; and this automatically gives the meaning of "which ye had from the beginning." The beginning in view here is the beginning of the gospel. Despite this, which it seems is obvious, one finds some strange views on what the old commandment is. The New Catholic Bible makes the old commandment to be "love promulgated in the Old Testament";[20] but since John’s addresses were largely Gentile, it is not likely that the thing they had heard "from the beginning" was the Old Testament.


[20] New Catholic Bible (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1946), New Testament, p. 315.

1 John 2:8 --Again, a new commandment write I unto you, which thing is true in him and in you; because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shineth.

A new commandment ... The new commandment must almost certainly be identified with Jesus’ words when he said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John 13:34). It is hardly possible that the apostle John could have meant anything else except this.

Wherein was it a new commandment? The Old Testament had taught God’s people to love each other, and the new element here is the qualifier even as I have loved you! The Old Testament knew nothing of such love as that, for Christ had not yet revealed it.

Wherein is it an old commandment? It went back to Christ himself; and, also, some of the Christians might have been hearing this practically all of their lives, "From the beginning" here being best understood as "from the first of your Christian lives."[21]

Why did John stress the newness of it? He may have had in mind the word of Christ himself who declared that, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto the householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things both new and old" (Matthew 13:52).

The above view seems correct, since it answers all of the questions that naturally rise with reference to the verse; but, while holding to the above explanation, we also notice another.


"The contrast between the old and new is partly a contrast between the old and new covenants."[22] To love God and one’s neighbor summed up all the law and the prophets, according to Jesus himself (Mark 12:29-31); and, of course, our Lord bound upon all people the same basic obligations. "From the beginning" seems naturally to suggest a more remote past than the beginning of one’s Christian life; and it is impossible, always, to tell from the context just how John used this word. As Orr pointed out, "In a single sentence, John used the word truth in three different senses (2 John 1:1-2)."[23] Paul also used the word "Israel" in two different senses in a single sentence (Romans 11:25-26). In any case, such a view does no violence to the Scripture. As Macknight said, "Such a view makes out the least alteration in the sense of the passage."[24]

The thing John apparently had in mind was the proposition that what his readers needed was no new teaching, but a renewal of the teaching they already had. As Paul Hoon put it:

The British statesman, Lord Morley traveled from England to give an address to a Canadian university. As he came to the rostrum to speak, his first words were, "Gentlemen, I have traveled four thousand miles to tell you that there is a difference between right and wrong."[25]

Likewise, in the current era, the church needs no new doctrine or philosophy, but a renewal in people’s hearts of those teachings received from the beginning of the church. And those great basics of the Christian gospel are always new, exciting and glorious in the hearts of those joyfully receiving them; and yet they are also ancient. What is older than the drama of birth or marriage? and yet how new such things always are in every experience of them!

[21] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 1056.

[22] Paul W. Hoon, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 233.

[23] R. W. Orr, op. cit., p. 611.

[24] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 44.

[25] Paul W. Hoon, op. cit., p. 234.

1 John 2:9 --He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now.

John’s style of balancing one statement against another is evident here and throughout the letter. "He that saith" introduces the error he was about to expose. Note also the contrast between light and darkness. Christians are the children of light and walk in the light, but the wicked are children of darkness and walk in darkness.

He ... is in darkness even until now ... It is a mistake to understand John as merely refuting the erroneous teachings of Gnostics. While it may be true enough that Gnostics might have seduced many Christians of that era into receiving a lifestyle of "loveless arrogance,"[26] the great teachings of the apostle were not merely a reaction to such things. He was not merely reacting; he was proclaiming the tremendous truths already revealed by Jesus nearly a whole generation previously. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said: "If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness" (Matthew 6:23). Thus, the metaphor of light and darkness goes back to Christ himself. Paul likewise received and used the same metaphor, his message in Ephesians 4:17-18 reading thus: "For they live blindfolded in a world of illusion, and are cut off from the life of God through ignorance and insensitiveness."[27] He also wrote, "Cast off the works of darkness" (Romans 13:12), "We are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:5), "What communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).

He that saith ... "This is the fifth time in this epistle that John pointed out a possible inconsistency between profession and conduct (1 John 1:6; 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10; 1 John 2:4; 1 John 4:20)."[28] If people are troubled today because of the gap between people’s profession and their performance, it might help to recall that the problem is indeed an old one.

[26] Ibid.

[27] J. B. Phillips, Letters to Young Churches, a Translation of New Testament Epistles (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948), p. 106.

[28] Charles C. Ryrie, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 1010.

1 John 2:10 --He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.

He that loveth his brother ... This speaks of genuine love, the existence of that emotion and attitude called [Greek: agape] in the New Testament.

Abideth in the light ... There can hardly be any doubt that John had in mind the great declaration of Jesus Christ that "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness" (John 8:12), and that this means abiding in Christ, a thought recurring repeatedly in John 15:1-10.

The love of brethren appearing in this verse is not a love tinged with passion or self-seeking; but it is "the pure disinterested seeking for another’s welfare, of which Christ was the great example."[29] This is a far different thing from that humanistic love which is coming more and more to be the religion of our non-Christian world. Such love, cultivated for its own sake and without regard for Christ must ever prove to be artificial, powerless and disappointing. The fruit of the Holy Spirit cannot be nourished and kept alive apart from the life-giving Spirit himself.

There is no occasion of stumbling in him ... One whose life is motivated and controlled by true love will not only walk in the light himself, but his actions will not be the cause of stumbling or failure in others. As Westcott said, "Want of love is the most prolific source of offenses."John 3 edition (London: Macmillan and Company, 1893), p. 56.">[30]

[29] W. M. Sinclair, op. cit., p. 478.

John 3 edition (London: Macmillan and Company, 1893), p. 56.">[30] Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistles of St. John 3 edition (London: Macmillan and Company, 1893), p. 56.

1 John 2:11 --But he that hateth his brother is in the darkness, and walketh in the darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.

The threefold mention of darkness is an impressive comment upon hatred of a brother. Hatred deadens and destroys the soul itself, blinds the eyes, stops the ears, and hardens the heart and petrifies the central functions of reason and intelligence; and those who indulge in it receive "in themselves the recompense of their error" (Romans 1:27), becoming in their own persons the just reward of such wickedness. In this verse also appears the close connection between blindness, of which Jesus often spoke and the darkness which is another application of the same metaphor.

Notice the progressive power of three successive antitheses in 1 John 2:9-11. The antithesis of 1 John 2:9 is 1 John 2:10, and the antithesis of 1 John 2:10 is 1 John 2:11, the argument growing stronger with each new antithesis. The conclusions are arranged in an ascending order of power. 1 John 2:9 has "is in darkness"; 1 John 2:10 has "abiding in light, and there is no occasion of stumbling"; and 1 John 2:11 has a triple predicate: (1) "is in darkness"; (2) "walketh in darkness"; and (3) "knoweth not whither he goeth."

Verses 12-14

1Jn 2:12-14

1 John 2:12-14



(1 John 2:12-15)

The verses which immediately follow, 12, 13, 14, involve matters admittedly difficult, and which have long taxed the ingenuity of Bible students, expositors, and commentators. An analysis reveals that there are six clauses, divided into two sets of three each by the different tenses of the verb grapho, I write. They may be arranged thus

20. I am writing unto you (grapho):

(a)children (teknia)You are forgiven
(b)fathersbecauseYou know the Lord
(c)young menYou have overcome

1. I have written unto you (egrapsa):

(a)children (paidia)You know the Father
(b)fathersbecauseYou know the Lord
(c)young menYou are strong, and have overcome

Numerous questions arise, the answers to which are essential to the understanding of this section. (1) Why did John use the present tense, "I write" (grapho), in the first three clauses, and "I have written" (egrapsa), epistolary aorist, in the second three? (2) To what writing does he refer in the first instance? In the second? (3) What is the meaning of the word "children" in the first clause of each of the divisions? (4) Why did he use the word teknia in the first reference to children, and paidia in the second? (5) In what sense is the reference to "fathers" and "young men" to be taken, literal or figurative?

Here, as often elsewhere in the Epistle, the opinions which have been advanced are many, and merely to list them would ex-tend the limits of this commentary far beyond that which the plan justifies. In seeking the answers to these questions, it is not our purpose to burden the reader with views which have accumulated across the years, only to refute them; those interested may exam-ine them at their sources. We shall, instead, set forth the grounds which, after much careful consideration and study, we have adopted as, on the whole, the most reasonable exegesis of the passage.

Why did John use the present, "I write" (grapho), in the first three clauses, and "I wrote" (egrapsa), epistolary aorist, or as it may be rendered in English, "I have written," in the second? "I write" is from the viewpoint of the writer--as the matter occurred to John as he actually wrote. The "I wrote," or, as it may be translated, "I have written," is the viewpoint of the reader. The first reflects the author’s position; the second, his readers. "I write" these matters to you; when you read them, your position will be with reference to that which is written.

To what writing does he refer in the first instance? In the second? In both instances the reference is the same: to the Epistle which he was then writing. Efforts to make one refer to the Epistle, the other to the Gospel which he wrote; or, the first to the whole Epistle, and the second to that which preceded what he was then writing, we reject as unsound. A simpler and more satisfactory conclusion is that both words embrace the same com-position, the entire first Epistle.

What is the meaning of the word "children" in the first clause of each of the divisions? All of John’s readers, so most expositors think. And, that such is the significance of the word in 1 John 2:1 ("My little children, these things I write unto you . . .") seems certain. But that the word has this significance here, we are disposed to doubt. (a) The designations "children," "fathers," and "young men" appear to be a detailed analysis of all his read-ers. There was, it seems, evident definite design on the part of the writer to particularize those addressed. (2) On the assump-tion that "children" embrace the whom of those addressed, who are the "fathers" and the "young men?" (c) Why, if the term is used thus comprehensively, did the writer use two different Greek terms--teknia, paidia--to designate the children? Does not this fact lead to the conclusion that it was the author’s purpose to assign a specific, and therefore, a limited meaning, to the terms used? On the whole, it seems more in keeping with all the facts to assign to the word "children" a limited significance, and to conclude that those thus addressed were the ones among John’s readers who had but lately obeyed the gospel, and whose sins had accordingly but recently been forgiven. This view is supported by the fact that the reason given why John addressed them par-ticularly is "because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake."

Why were two different Greek words, teknia, paidia, used to designate this particular group? The reason is not immediately apparent. It is obvious, from the context, that both terms describe the same individuals; and this consideration leads to the conclu-sion that the variation was resorted to, not for the purpose of dis-tinguishing between two groups, but to emphasize the different characteristics of the same group. The answer to our question must, therefore, be sought in the difference of meaning in the terms themselves. Teknia, plural of teknion, designates the fact of childhood; paidia, the infancy of those thus designated. The words, in their literal sense, denote those of tender age; and, as here figuratively used, denote those who are babes in Christ. The first reveals that those thus designated were children the second, that they were infant children. Not literal babies, of course, but those lately born into the family of God. (John 3:3-5; 1 Pet. 2 1, 2.)

In what sense are the words "fathers" and "young men" to be taken, as a literal designation, or a figurative one? If literal, then no elderly men, not fathers, were addressed in this connection by John. In such an instance, no women whatsoever were included. It must, therefore, be obvious that the words "children," "fathers," and "young men" were used to describe three different classes of people among John’s readers. The children were the recent con-verts; the young men, those who had reached maturity and were possessed of great spiritual strength in the Lord; and the fathers were those who had been in Christ the longest, and had therefore attained to the greatest spiritual growth.

12 I write unto you, my little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.--Those thus addressed were familiarly styled "little children"; the occasion for the address was that their sins had been forgiven them; and the reason as-signed for their forgiveness was "for his name’s sake." "For his name’s sake" means on the basis of his name, i.e., God, the Father, forgives on account of Christ’s name and because of his advocacy of our cause. (1 John 2:1.) It is through the name of Christ that we are privileged to approach the Father. "Jesus said unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6.) "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved." (Acts 4:12.) The words "are forgiven" are translated from a Greek per-fect (apheontai), a tense pointing to past action with existing results. "You have been, and consequently stand forgiven of your past, or alien, sins."

13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning.--As there was a special reason for ad-dressing those who had but lately obeyed the gospel, so John also felt it needful to include instruction for those of more maturity in the Christian life, and who had long been faithful disciples of the Lord. The fathers were, therefore, addressed because "ye know him . . ." The word "know," as here used, means far more than casual acquaintance. The verb is in the perfect tense (egnokate), "You came to know, and now know," and describes the rich and full experience which these fathers had with the Lord. He who is "from the beginning" was the word, the second person of the Godhead: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1.)

I write unto you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.--Here, and often elsewhere in the Epistle, as also through the New Testament, the personality of Satan is clearly indicated. Far from being merely or solely an influence, he is revealed as a definite and distinct agent who must be resisted, repelled, and overcome by the saints. (See comments on 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:10.) Those thus addressed by the apostle had "overcome the evil one." This they had done by remaining stedfast in the faith and not succumbing to the seductions of the devil. "And this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4.

I have written unto you, little children, because ye know the Father.--For a full discussion of the various terms used, an analysis of the passage, and reasons assigned for the change in tense here, see above at the beginning of this section. The word "know" here is of the same tense, and has the same significance as in verses 3 and 4, literally, "you have come to know, and now retain this knowledge of the Father." Such knew him as their Father, because they were his children; they had been adopted into his family, and were by him regarded as such. In verse 12, these alluded to as children are declared to have been forgiven, to know the father. The ideas are correlative and dependent; only those who are forgiven know the Father; only those who know the Father have been forgiven.

14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning.--He who is from the beginning is the Word (John 1:1-2 1 John 1:1-3); the reference is thus to the pre-existent Christ who occupies eternity. The nature, attributes, and characteristics of the Eternal One constitute a profound study; but these mature saints, from long and careful consideration of the facts available to them, had come to possess a knowledge of him who thus bridges the brief span of time before and after which is the eternity without end. It is a subject especially intriguing to those advanced in years and mature of mind.

I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the evil one.--Three characteristics of these young men are mentioned: (1) They were strong; (2) the word of God abode in them; and (3) they had overcome the evil one. The occasion of their strength was in the fact that the word of God was in them. and the consequence of this indwelling was their triumph over the evil one. In no other fashion may one achieve victory over Satan. Only as the word dwells in us richly (Colossians 3:16), do we become strong in the Lord and in the power of his might (Ephesians 6:10), and are we protected from sinning against God (Psalms 119:11).

Commentary on 1 John 2:12-14 by E.M. Zerr

1 John 2:12. In this and the two verses following the writer uses the different age groups in a natural family to compare the ones with different talents and experiences in the family of God. Little children, therefore, cannot mean those usually designated by the term, since they do not have sins to be forgiven. It is used in view of some of them who were recent additions to the divine family by the spiritual birth.

1 John 2:13. As fathers in the natural family would be mature and ripe with the experience of age, so there are those in the church who have that qualification over other brethren. Young men are more mature than little childdren and have lived long enough to have demonstrated their strength in the contests of life. In the preceding verse the little children are given mention because of their purification from sins. Now they are named because of their knowledge of the Father from whom they have received the forgiveness of their sins.

1 John 2:14. This verse adds no special thoughts to the preceding two, except to indicate their importance by the repetition for emphasis.

Commentary on 1 John 2:12-14 by N.T. Caton

1 John 2:12—I write unto you, little children.

John calls all the followers of Christ little children. While to him they were a loving charge, I rather think the use of this phrase was designed by him to impress upon their minds his parental anxiety over their spiritual welfare, and his care for them in this respect. Taking the whole body of believers into account, this is the view he would impress upon them: The relation of the teacher and the taught of father and children. This view becomes the more apparent when we lay alongside of the common version the expression as it appears in the Syriac. It is, "dear children," or, as it is elsewhere, "children." John subsequently divides them into three classes, as we shall soon see.

1 John 2:12 --Because your sins are forgiven.

The reason is here given for his writing to them, and the anxiety he manifests toward them. They were in cove­nant relation with God; they were in Christ Jesus. They had obeyed and thus came into Christ, and, as his children, their sins were forgiven; and through him, as their advocate, future sins would be forgiven upon confession, repentance and prayer.

1 John 2:13—I write unto you, fathers.

Here, John begins the classification of those denomi­nated. Little children, or dear children, or simply, my children. First, it is to those of them somewhat advanced in age, if, in fact, it may not be said of them, fathers, as respect the time of their service in the cause of Christ; to you I write because you have known him, that is walked with him, recognizing, realizing, and enjoying his presence.

1 John 2:13 --I write unto you, young men.

Those who became obedient to the faith at a later period than those whom I denominate fathers, I write to you, because you overcame the wicked one when you threw off his yoke and accepted the leadership of Christ, and now abide in him by resisting the temptations of your former master.

1 John 2:13 --I write unto you, little children.

John’s third classification of believers: These are later converts to the Master; they are the babes in Christ; they are written to because they have become acquainted with the Father, his great love for the children of men, mani­fested in the gift of his Son.

1 John 2:14—I have written unto you, fathers.

A repetition to those fathers contained in 1 John 2:13. I fail to see, as some do, any additional injunction herein contained, over and above former exhortations. I take it to be simply a system of enforcement of the same thought common among Hebrews.

1 John 2:14 --I have written unto you, young men.

Here, young men are again addressed, but additional reasons are given. Those reasons are three in number. 1. Because ye are strong. 2. Because the word of God abides in you. 3. Because you have overcome the wicked one. Here we have a magnificent commentary on the beauty, strength, and grandeur of the Christian religion. A power that can so transform our humanity is demonstrative of its divine origin. Youth is the vigor of manhood. These young Chris­tians were vigorous Christians. They embraced the teach­ings of Christ, abode in his love, and in his light; they were, therefore, strong in the faith and impervious to the shafts and evil machinations of the devil.

Commentary on 1 John 2:12-14 by Burton Coffman

1 John 2:12 --I write unto you my little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

My little children ... is usually thought to be John’s loving designation of the whole church to which he wrote. See more on this under 1 John 2:13.

Because your sins are forgiven you ... The great purpose of redemption in Christ is precisely this, the forgiveness of sins. All of the wonderful social and environmental benefits of Christianity are tangential and not fundamental. Man’s great problem is sin; and, with the sin problem fully resolved in Christ Jesus, man has the ability to solve other problems himself. The word for children here is [@teknia].[31]


[31] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 96.

1 John 2:13 --I write unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the evil one. I have written unto you, little children, because ye know the Father.

Having addressed the entire group of Christians in 1 John 2:12 as "little children," John here singled out three age groups: fathers, young men, and children, arranged quite logically in a descending order, and using a different word for "children" ([@paidia])[32] in order to distinguish the different meaning here from that in 1 John 2:12. Many scholars reject this interpretation, but the essential logic of it cannot be denied. Other scholars (including Westcott) "regard these words as indicating different age groups."[33] There has never been any other good explanation of why John used different words for children. The difference in "I write unto you" and "I have written unto you" is not clear at all and may be merely a variation of style. If "I have written" is understood as epistolary, the meaning of the various expressions is exactly the same.

It is by no means clear why many object to understanding children (especially in 1 John 2:13) in the ordinary sense. Many children who have reached an age of accountability are still "little children"; and those who had obeyed the gospel when John wrote were here included with young men and fathers as full participants in the total benefits of Christianity. Certainly, such an objection as that made by Barclay can have little merit. He wrote:

Literalism and poetry do not go comfortably hand in hand ... The fact that the passage is kin to poetry makes us think twice before insisting that so literal a meaning must be given to the words and so cut and dried a classification be taken as intended.[34]

Well, there you have it. This passage is "kin to poetry"; therefore, we do not need to take "children" literally! It must be a weak case indeed that requires support from an argument like this.

That the primary purpose of the whole passage is that of showing the full participation of various age groups is also derived from the synonymous nature of the affirmations made concerning each. There is no essential difference in them:

Of children (meaning the whole church), "your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake."

Of fathers, "ye know him who is from the beginning."

Of young men, "ye have overcome the evil one."

Of little children (literally), "ye know the Father."SIZE>

The one and identical meaning of all these statements is that the persons indicated were walking in the light, enjoying salvation, possessed a knowledge of God and were abiding in Christ.

John extended his declarations further, mentioning two of the three sub-classifications again, that is, the fathers and the young men; but, in this case, the two groups stand for all three. Paul also mentioned three charismatic gifts in 1 Corinthians 13:8, making the three stand for all nine mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. John did a similar thing in the next verse.

[32] Ibid.

[33] R. W. Orr, op. cit., p. 612.

[34] William Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 52.

1 John 2:14 --I have written unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the evil one.

It is no problem that the essential truth of this verse repeats what had just been written. Christ himself repeated over and over again the great messages of the kingdom, sometimes with slight variations; and it was that quality of our Saviour’s teaching that fully accounts for the so-called "variations" in the synoptic Gospels.

Verses 15-17

1Jn 2:15-17


(1 John 2:15-17)

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.--Those addressed in the verses immediately preceding --the children, fathers, and young men--though each is com-mended for having triumphed in his respective sphere, were nev-ertheless yet in the world, yet subject to its allurements and temp-tations, yet within the reach of the Evil One. There was, there-fore, need that such an exhortation be given.

What is the "world" here contemplated? How do the "things of the world" differ from the world itself? What is the signifi-cance of the word "love" in this passage? In view of the fact that "God so loved the world" (John 3:16), does the world which he loved differ from that which we are not to love, or is the difference in the "love" which is to be exercised, or both? Obviously, the answers to these questions are essential to any proper exposition of this passage.

The "world" which John’s readers were forbidden to love was not the material universe, God’s original creation (Romans 1:20), the people who inhabit it (John 3:16); the earth (John 1:9), or the visible and tangible elements of our surroundings which are in themselves neither good nor bad. By the world John did not mean the sunshine and the rain, the mountains and the seas, the sunset and the stars, the loveliness of the night, the sparkling freshness of the morning, the sweet song of the birds, or the fra-grance of the flowers. He did not mean the dust from which our bodies are composed, the earth which supplies us with our food, and in whose gentle embrace we must at last eventually rest. Nor does the word "love" denote the tenderness of affection and the warmth of heart which characterize God and man toward those whose attributes encourage and stimulate such feeling. The "world" of this passage is a sphere or cosmos (kosmos) of evil, an order which is opposed to God, and to whose pursuit those who abandon the Lord have dedicated themselves. The "love" which men entertain for this world is evil desire. The love contemplated in John 3:16 is that of divine compassion and redeeming mercy; here, it is the emotion of selfish desire, of avarice and worldly pride. The love of the Father is an affection grounded in utter selflessness; that which man cherishes for the world is a greedy reaching for its affairs. The "world" which God loves is man-kind that which man is forbidden to love is an evil order or sphere.

But not only did the apostle’s exhortation embrace the "world," it is extended to include the "things of the world." The prohibi-tion is exceedingly emphatic: "Love not the world, neither (mede) no not either the things of the world." The meaning is, Do not love the world, no, nor anything that may be in it. There is, therefore, a distinction drawn between the world and the things in it: a, distinction between the general and the specific, the whole and the particular. We are forbidden to love even a specific or par-ticular part of the world--an exhortation needful then and now. There are those who have repudiated the world, but for one par-ticular, as for example the rich young ruler, who but for his love of riches would have surrendered his life wholly to the Lord. The "one thing" which we "lack"--be it the love of pleasure, of riches, of ease; the attraction of a home, a farm, or a business ; the desire for fame, prominence, and worldly honor, is the particular or specific thing, though we may have repudiated the world as such, which will eventually close the door of heaven in our faces.

If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.--Love for the world and love for the Father are wholly incompatible; they cannot exist in any heart at the same time. "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24.) The antithesis drawn is the same as that in Romans 8:5 : "For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit." The warning is similar to one from James: "Ye adulteresses, know ye not that friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4.) On the principle here enunciated is the exhortation of Paul: "Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye sepa-rate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daughters." (2 Corinthians 6:17-18.)

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.--The things of the world have their ori-gin, not in the Father, but in the world of which they are a part and they are designated as (1) the lust of the flesh; (2) the lust of the eyes; and (3) the vainglory of life. The "lust of the flesh" is evil desire which finds its origin in the flesh and through the flesh finds expression. It is a lust after the flesh; but it is more ; the genitive is subjective, the flesh is thus designated as the seat in which the evil desire dwells. The word "flesh" as here used does not denote skin and muscle and tissue; it is used in that darker sense so often seen in Paul’s writings of the animal nature, the source of evil appetites. (See Galatians 5:16-24; Ephesians 2:3; 2 Peter 2:18; Colossians 2:18.) The lusts of the flesh exhibit themselves in the works of the flesh, a catalog of which is listed in Galatians 5:19 ff.

It is significant that John sums up, in this section, the three avenues of approach which Satan, in his efforts to seduce, follows. The appeal which he ever makes is based on (1) carnal desires; desires awakened through the appeal of objects of sight; and (2) vanity, pride, worldly honor. Such was, precisely, the course followed in the seduction of Eve and in the unsuccessful attempt on the Saviour. "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (the lust of the flesh), and that it was a delight to the eye (the lust of the eyes), and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise (the vainglory of life), she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat." (Gen:3:6.) In similar fashion, and by follow-ing the same procedure, Satan suggested that Jesus, after forty days of fasting, should command the stones to become bread, thus appealing to the lust of the flesh; he showed the Lord all the kingdoms of the world and promised them to him on condition that he do him homage, an appeal to the lust of the eyes; and in bidding the Lord to exercise his powers of divine protection by flinging himself down from the pinnacle of the temple there was an evident appeal to a sense of pride and vainglory which such an achievement, in the breasts of some, would have been certain to create.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.--The world will pass, and with it every lustful pleasure; but he who does the will of God abides through the ages. The transitoriness of the one--the world--is contrasted with the permanence of the other, the one doing the will of God. God himself is eternal; and those who abide in his will share in his eternal nature. In view of the temporal nature of the world, it is supreme folly for one to cling tenaciously to it, when it will inevitably be dissolved and cease to be. The tense of the word "passeth" is present middle indicative, "is passing away," the process is even now in operation, and will continue until the present evil age is no more. But, notwithstand-ing its passing, he who does (literally, keeps on doing) the will of the Father, abides unto the ages.

Commentary on 1 John 2:15-17 by E.M. Zerr

1 John 2:15. World is from a word that means the inhabitants of the earth. Other passages require us to love our enemies and John 3:16 says God loved the world. The apparent difficulty is explained by the words things that are in the world. We should understand that Christians are not to love the things that the people in the world possess and use for their lustful pleasures. Of course no man can love such things and love the Father also, for He has condemned them and commanded His children to "abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11).

1 John 2:16. The things named in this verse the apostle says are all that is in the world. That is not merely an arbitrary declaration made just because the apostle chose to sum it all up that way, but upon examination it will be seen that it is historically and logically true. In Genesis 3:6 we read; "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [pride of life]," etc. Next we shall consider Luke 4:1-13. Satan suggested to Jesus a way to get food, which was an appeal to the lust of the flesh. (The obtaining of food was no sin if done by lawful means.) Satan showed Christ the kingdoms of the world which was an appeal to the lust of the eyes. Next he challenged Him to cast himself from the roof of the temple to show the greatness of His power, which was an attempt to get Jesus to yield on a point that would have shown the spirit of pride. Luke says after these three items that "the devil had ended all the temptations," which agrees with John that the three classes of evil are all that is in the world.

1 John 2:17. World is still from the word that means the inhabitants pf the earth, and the lusts are the practices of the same which confirms the comments on the preceding verse. Since this world and its practices are to pass away, it is great folly for a disciple to let his affections be attached thereto. But the doer of God’s will abideth for ever and hence that is the proper subject to receive our sincere interests.

Commentary on 1 John 2:15-17 by N.T. Caton

1 John 2:15—Love not the world.

This exhortation is intended for all three classes of believers before mentioned. Love not the world, meaning the wicked practices of men in the world; nor the things that are in the world, meaning not only the treasures and ambitions of the world, but also all the evils thereof, such as unrestrained desires of the flesh, pleasures of appetite and passion; in short, all evils that lead astray from the love of God, and the right way which he commands—that right way in which Christ, our great model, walked before God, doing his will

1 John 2:15 --If any man love the world.

Here we have an unqualified declaration. One seeking the ambitions and things of this world, and the pleasures of life only, has no love of the Father. That love is not in him. Make no mistake here. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Love of God does not show itself in struggles for the things of this world, or in pursuit of its pleasures.

1 John 2:16—For all that is in the world.

Here, as before, the word world comprehends the men of the world. This is apparent from the succeeding clause.

1 John 2:16 --The lust of the flesh.

This expression is one component part of what the apostle calls the world, and since it applies only to man, I take it that, by the world, the writer desires us to under­stand him to mean the wicked men of the world—are not of the Father. These he embraces in the classification, as follows:

1. Lust of the flesh.

2. Lust of the eyes.

3. Pride of life.

In the first may be included every desire which has its source in the appetite. In the second, every desire aroused by objects which make their appeal through our sense of sight. In the third may be included, what is displayed vainly in the world, such as ambitions for place and power, and thus gratify our own vanity to be great among men, without regard to virtue and merit. Avarice, greed, selfish­ness and pride are included in the third classification, and it is very doubtful whether even then we have exhausted all that is included in the pride of life. However, all these are not of the Father. They came not from him. They are not in consonance with his divine character. They are not such as his children exhibit. He is holy. His children must be holy. These are all evil. In the succeeding verse another view is to be had of they things, well to be pondered.

1 John 2:17—And the world passeth away.

Here we are informed that the world and all the lust thereof is transient; nothing permanent or abiding about it. Certainly a poor foundation upon which to build.

But he that doeth the will of God.

Here quite a different foundation is presented. Doing God’s will insures something abiding; something enduring; no danger of being swept away; the only foundation that is essentially permanent.

Commentary on 1 John 2:15-17 by Burton Coffman

1 John 2:15 --Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Love not the world ... God so "loved the world" that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16), but "world" here has a different meaning. "It is an inclusive term for all those who are in the kingdom of darkness and have not been born of God."[35] It also regards the material and temporary character of it. It is "visible" and therefore must be classified among those things which "are seen," contrasting with the things which "are unseen" and designated by Paul as eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). Bruce noted the difference thus: "It is the world-system organized in rebellion against God which is in view - the current climate of opinion, as we might say."[36] He also observed that the word "love" is different here from that used in John 3:16. "In John 3:16, it is self-sacrificing love; here it is acquisitive love."[37] John will further explain his meaning in the next verse.

Love of the world ... love of the Father ... This strongly suggests the "love of God" contrasted with the love of mammon in Matthew 6:24; and John’s statement that the love of the Father is not in one who loves the world corresponds with Jesus’ declaration that "No man can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24). Morris pointed out what he called John’s little trick of "emphasizing a word by simply repeating it. He used world three times in this verse and another three times in the next two verses."[38] John used this word "more than twenty times in this epistle,"[39] and in more than one sense. Hoon thought that the "world" has the "sense of creation as contrasted with the Creator."[40] See under next verse.

[35] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 101.

[36] F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 132.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1263.

[39] Paul W. Hoon, op. cit., p. 238.

[40] Ibid.

1 John 2:16 --For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

For all that is in the world ... is not of the Father ... This has the effect of explaining what John meant by his use of "world" in 1 John 2:15. It is that aspect of it which is "not in the Father." It is therefore incorrect to accept "world" in these verses as meaning God’s glorious natural creation, described by the Father himself as "good" (Genesis 1:10; Genesis 1:12; Genesis 1:18; Genesis 1:21; Genesis 1:25). Jesus said the world loves its own (John 15:19); Paul said, "Be not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2); and John declared that, "The whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19). In the light of these and many other passages in the New Testament, it is clear that John was here speaking of that phase of the world of people which is antagonistic to God.

Lust of the flesh ... lust of the eyes ... vainglory of life ... For ages, students of the New Testament have seen in this triad suggestions of the triple temptation of Eve: the fruit was good to eat ... beautiful to see ... and would make one as God, knowing good and evil; and likewise the triple temptation of Christ: he was hungry ... Satan showed him all the kingdoms of the world ... such an exhibition of Jesus’ power as that of leaping from the parapet of the temple unharmed would have been a vainglorious triumph. From such comparisons, the things mentioned by John in this verse have come to be called "the three avenues of temptation." The sins in view have been variously classified: sensuality, materialism, ostentation (C. H. Dodd);[41] voluptus (sensuality), avaritia (avarice), superbia (vain-glory) (B. F. Westcott);[42] appetites of the body ... desire to possess material things ... egotism, etc. A number of scholars are reluctant to allow that any correspondence of this passage with the temptations of Eve and of Christ is intended; but David Smith did not hesitate to affirm that, "Here is a summary of all possible sins, as exemplified in the temptations of Eve (Genesis 3:1-6), and of our Lord (Matthew 4:1-11)."[43]

Lust of the flesh ... All temptations which have their roots in appetites and needs of the body are included in this; but the appetites of the body are not in themselves sinful. Therefore, "flesh" is used here in "the ethical sense, meaning the old nature of man, or his capacity to do that which is displeasing to God."[44]

Lust of the eyes ... The eyes have been called the gateway to the soul, hence the point of entry for many temptations. ’tin John’s day, the impure and brutal spectacles of the theater and the arena would have supplied abundant illustrations of these."[45] It is no less true of our own times.

Pride of life ... The central lust of the ego itself is indicated by this. The utterly selfish instinct in all human life that insists upon achieving the fulfillment of the person itself, the inherent passion of the soul to do its own will, fulfill its own desires, glorify its own ego, and to occupy the inner control-center of life - that is the pride of life. Salvation in Christ requires that this be denied. Macknight’s comment on this was:

John means all things pertaining to this life, of which men of the world boast, and by which their pride is gratified: such as titles, offices, lands, noble birth, honorable relations, and the rest, whose efficacy to puff up men with pride and to make them insolent, is not of God.[46]

[41] R. W. Orr, op. cit., p. 612.

[42] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 101.

[43] David Smith, op. cit., p. 178.

[44] Charles C. Ryrie, op. cit., p. 1013.

[45] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 24.

[46] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 50.

1 John 2:17 --And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

All of the vain things that so charm, seduce and dominate the lives of people during their brief pilgrimage upon earth are actually endowed with no more permanence than a mirage. Whatever glory or eminence may come to man is only for the fraction of a moment; he builds for himself a house, a palace or an empire; but the whirling suns brush him into the grave, and where is he? Whatever achievement, success or honor may place upon his head for an instant some distinction or accolade, tomorrow cannot remember it. This tragic quality of all human glory is the reason why the apostles taught Christians to look to the unseen, the invisible realities of hope and faith in Christ for their true fulfillment.

As Paul put it:

We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Paul’s words are an excellent supplement to what John wrote in this verse.

Verses 18-29

1Jn 2:18-29


(1 John 2:18-29)

18 Little children, it is the last hour:--Again we meet with the designation, "little children" (paidia), as in 2:1, 12, 13 ; and the meaning here, as in 2:1, is obviously, the entire body of disciples addressed by the apostles. For the reasons why a more limited significance is to be assigned to the expression in 2:12, 13, see the notes there.

The words "It is the last hour" are to be closely construed with the verses which immediately precede them. The apostle had described the transient nature of the worldly sphere and had pointed out that only those who do the will of the Father shall abide unto the ages. Here, he continues his exhortation by sol-emnly directing attention to the fact that his readers were even then in the period of "the last hour," and that events known to foretoken it were already appearing.

What is the last hour here referred to? The termination of the Jewish state, so many think; the last hour of the world before the consummation of all things, so others. Both views are erro-neus. The Jewish state had already ended when the Epistle was written, and thus could not have been the "hour" to which the apostle alluded. And, to understand John as affirming that the last hour of the world was imminent in his day is to ascribe to him a position which the passing of the centuries has proved to be un-true. The first view is thus historically incorrect; the second impeaches the inspiration of the writer; and we hence reject both.

Three Greek words are variously used in the New Testament to indicate time, as such. Chronos is time with reference to dura-tion or succession; kairos is time contemplated with reference to events; and hora is time with reference to a fixed date or period. It is the last of these words--hors--which occurs in the text, and the meaning is, therefore, a fixed date or period. The word is of obvious figurative significance, and thus describes a determinate period fixed in the divine mind and the last of the events thus predetermined by the Father. The word designates time, time conceived of as a definite period, this period being the last in the succession of periods similarly determined by deity. It therefore designates the Christian dispensation, the last of the great periods or ages arranged by the Father. (Isaiah 2:2-4; Acts 2:17; Heb. :2.)

And as ye heard that antichrist cometh,--The apostle’s readers were already in possession of information regarding "anti-christ"; they had heard it through the preaching of the writer and others. Those who had been their teachers, among them John himself, had earlier warned of the appearance of this antichrist.

Who, or What, is "antichrist?" The word itself suggests two possible meanings, accordingly as the preposition "anti" used in composition here, is understood to signify (a) over against, or (b) opposed to. If the former, the word denotes one who puts him-self in the place of Christ; if the latter, one who stands in opposi-tion to Christ. The word appears only in the writings of John; here, and in 2:22; 4:3; and 2 John 1:7. His characteristics, as indicated in those verses, are, (1) he is a liar; (2) a deceiver; (3) a denier that Jesus is the Christ; and (4) he refuses to acknowl-edge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.

References to a similar individual, in the language of the Lord, and the writings of Paul, enable us to fix his identity more defi-nitely, and indicate that the word combines the two meanings suggested above, viz., one who not only opposes Christ, but who usurps the place of Christ. "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray." "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect." (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:24.) "Let no man beguile you in any wise; for it will not be, except the falling away come first and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God setting himself forth as God." (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.) The individual here described is designated as "the man of sin," and the "son of perdition." (a) He opposes his will to that of God; (b) he exalts himself against God; (c) he sits in the temple of God; and (d) he sets himself forth as God. He is, moreover, (1) the personification of sin; (2) the son of perdition; (3) a participant in signs and lying wonders, the pur-pose of which is (4) to deceive. Like the antichrist described by John, and the false Christs predicted by the Lord, he seeks to identify himself with deity; he, like them, seeks to deceive, and has arrayed himself against the Lord and his Christ, and opposes them. To the candid mind the conclusion is irresistible that the "man of sin," whom Paul describes, is identical with the "anti-christ," to which John refers. And, in the centuries which have passed since these words were penned, no character in history so nearly conforms in minute detail to the representation here given as the pope of Rome!

To deny that these prophecies find fulfillment in him is to close one’s eyes to the facts in the case, utterly to ignore the evidence which obtains, and to reduce Biblical exegesis to mere caprice.

Even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour.--If it be asked why John added that already there had arisen many antichrists (long before the development of the apostasy and the appearance of the first pope), the answer is obvious: while the great antichrist predicted by John and described by Paul had not come, many were evidencing and exhibiting the same spirit as would be haracteristic of him, and were, therefore, properly styled antichrists. We, today, refer to men as papists who evince the spirit of and support the papacy ; and with equal propriety those of John’s day who preceded the popes but possessed his spirit were similarly designated. False and heretical teachers were then active, some of whom denied the deity of Jesus, and others his humanity, men who were clothed in the attributes of and possessed the spirit of the antichrist to come. If it be insisted that the pope does not today deny the Christ or oppose him but, on the contrary, supports his cause and defends his name, we deny it. As the so-called vicar of Christ, he affects to be the Lord’s personal representative on earth; he blasphemously claims the prerogative of Christ in forgiving sins; and he alleges that he sits in the seat of Christ on earth. He is, therefore, a parody of the Christ, a counterfeit Christ; and though he imitates some of the characteristics of Christ, this is precisely what is ex-pected of one who seeks to deceive.

The appearance of these antichrists was evidence that the "last hour" had been ushered in, such being tokens predicted by Christ to appear before the consummation of the age. (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:24-27.)

19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they are not of us.--The antecedent of "they" is the word "antichrists," of the preceding verse. The preposition ek, rendered "out from," indicates origin from the center; and these were, therefore, for-merly among the disciples, and members of the church. They became apostates from the fold by going out. They were not "of" the disciples, i.e., they did not possess the same spirit of obedience characteristic of the disciples, for if they had "they would have continued with" the disciples. In going out, i.e., in apostatizing from the faith, they were "made manifest" (shown to be), not of the disciples, and for the reason assigned above.

This passage, often cited by advocates of the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy for the purpose of showing that those who abandon the cause are mere professors or pretenders, and were never sincere, falls far short of the effort; for (a) they were once with the disciples; (b) they went out from them; (c) one does not go out from a place where he has never been; (d) had they possessed the same love for the Lord and equal desire to serve him as those from whom they went out, they would have continued with them; (e) they did, in fact, continue for a time, and then ceased to be faithful. (f) It follows, therefore, that they simply apostatized from the right way. We learn from this that (1) there was no necessity from without which made it impossible for these people to forsake the right way; (2) they were under no compulsion such as would have been true if the doctrine of decrees and predestination, as taught by Calvinists, is true. (3) Some obey the gospel and, like him of whom the Saviour spoke in the parable of the soils, "heareth the word, and straightway with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway he stumbleth." (Matthew 13:20-21.) Others, like those of this text, adopt false and heretical doctrines, forsake the church, and make shipwreck concerning the faith. (1 Timothy 1:19.)

20 And ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things.--This passage asserts that these to whom John wrote: (1) had an anointing; (2) this anointing they re-ceived from "the Holy One," Christ; (3) as a result of this anoint-ing they knew all things.

The word "anointing" is translated from the Greek chrisma, a term originally signifying an oil or ointment rubbed on the skin, and later, the anointing itself. There is a play on words in the Greek Testament here, not observable in the translation. If the false teachers were anti-christoi, these to whom John wrote were christoi, anointed ones. The reference here is to a custom charac-teristic of the law of Moses of anointing with perfumed oils those elevated to positions of trust or power. In compliance with the will of Jehovah, kings (1 Samuel 10:10), priests (Exodus 29:7), and prophets (Isaiah 61:1) were anointed; and ointment is both figura-tively, and in the act itself, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was the anointed one (Acts 4:27), and that with which he was anointed was the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38).

Some hold to the view that the anointing alluded to by John was the "ordinary measure" of the Spirit, believed by them to be vouchsafed to all believers. References cited in support of this view are Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 1:19; and 2 Corinthians 3:17 ff. This conclusion is based on an unwarrantable assumption. It should be noted that the test makes no mention whatsoever of the time when, nor the manner in which the anointing was received It merely affirms the fact of its occurrence, and not the manner or mode thereof. To affirm that this is the "ordinary measure of the Spirit which all Christians receive in conversion" is to inject a meaning into the passage, rather than to draw out the meaning that is there.

This was not an "ordinary measure" of the Spirit, and for the following reasons: (1) The context is against this view. Antichrists, formerly among the disciples, and now apostates, were advocating false and heretical doctrines designed to lead the disciples astray. These teachers were readily recognizable because the faithful had received an anointing from the Lord. In this anointing these saints had been supplied with an endowment en-abling them to discern false spirits, and their teaching--to detect those who falsely asserted their inspiration: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; be-cause many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1.) This test they were able to make by comparing the teach-ing of the Spirit within them with the pretensions of those teachers who affected to be similarly led. (2) This anointing which they had received enabled them to know "all things." This phrase, "all things," is, of course, to be interpreted in the light of the context, and with reference to matters there considered. It was not the apostle’s purpose to imply that such anointing made those who received it omniscient; otherwise, why was he, an inspired apostle, writing to them at all? If, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they had come into possession of all knowledge, why this Epistle to them? The "all things" must, therefore, be limited to include the things pertaining to the antichrists. (3) The anoint-ing supplied them with such information as they needed to recog-nize and refute the false teachers who had gone out from among them. So, the apostle later affirmed: "These things have I written unto you concerning them that would lead you astray. As for you, the anointing which ye received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you; but as his anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye abide in him." (1 John 4:26, 27.)

We conclude, therefore, that the "anointing" which these to whom John particularly wrote had received a miraculous measure of the Spirit; that this measure enabled them to recognize and refute the false teachers which plagued the church at that time; and that the anointing is not to be confused with any so-called "ordinary measure" of the Spirit available to Christians today In the absence of a written revelation, it was needful that an in-fallible test be supplied the early saints by means of which they were able to discern and to expose the pretensions of those who sought to lead them astray. Such was the purpose of the "anoint-ing" here contemplated. See further on this in the comments on 1 John 2:27.

21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and because no lie is of the truth.--Here, again, the reference is to the immediate context, and to the matters which had claimed the apostle’s attention above. Certainly he is not to be understood as affirming that the reason he wrote the truth to them was because they already possessed all the truth which he wrote. If they already had it, why did he write? The "truth" which they possessed was with reference to the false teachers about them; the manner in which they received this truth was through inspiration, styled in the verse preceding, "an anointing," a miraculous gift enabling them to discern false and lying spirits. The "lie" which is opposed to the truth was that which the antichrists taught. (Verse 18.)

22 Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ--The "lie" had claimed the apostle’s attention in verse 21; here, the one who originated it. Passing from the abstract to the concrete, John identified the liar as "he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ." Many false theories regarding the nature and the attributes of the Saviour were afloat when John wrote this Epis-tle. The Gnostics alleged that Jesus and Christ were two different persons; that Christ merely appeared to have flesh, but in reality did not; and that the one designated as Jesus was without divine origin. The effect of this heresy was, in the case of Christ, to deny his humanity; and in the case of Jesus, to deny his deity. (See under "Design of the Epistle," in the Introduction.)

This is the antichrist, even he that denieth the Father and the Son.--Here, the word "antichrist" is used in the same sense as in its second occurrence in verse 18, to identify those who possessed the character and attributes of the great antichrist to come. He who taught the things attributed to him here was of the same purpose and spirit as antichrist, and thus might properly bear his designation. To deny the humanity and deity of Jesus was to repudiate his Messiahship; and to reject the Messiahship was, in effect, to reject the Father himself. "He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father that sent him." (John 5 23.) The Son reveals the Father (John 1:18; John 14:9), and our only approach to the Father is through the Son (John 14:6). Thus to reject the Son is to repudiate the only method by which it is possible to reach the Father. This is the reason why an acknowledgement of the Son before men is a prerequisite to ac-knowledgement by the Father: "And I say unto you, Every one who shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the presence of the angels of God." (Luke 12:8. Cf. Matthew 10:32.)

23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same bath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.--A conclusion drawn from preceding premises. He who disowns the Son, in the same act rejects the one who is his Father. Inasmuch as it is not possible to know the Father but by the Son, such rejection must inevitably extend to the Father also. This truth is stated both negatively and positively in this verse. It emphasizes what is often taught in the sacred writings that no man can have a clear knowledge of God the Father who does not learn of and familiarize himself with the attributes and characteristics of the Son. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him," i.e., revealed him, made him known. (John 1:18.) Since the appearance of the Son no one can truthfully object to the accept-ance of deity on the ground that such is unknowable. The Father has revealed himself to man through his Son.

While these words were primarily written to refute the ancient Gnostics who plagued the church with these heresies at the time John wrote, they are not without a very definite and pertinent relevancy in our time. The seeds of the ancient Cerenthian heresy is to be seen in the modern rationalism which affects to believe in God but which rejects Christ as his Son and the Scriptures as a revelation from him. God, without Christ, is simply not! Such a being is utterly without existence. The attempt to visualize God, without Christ, is to reduce him to a metaphysical abstraction, eventuating in pantheism, or atheism. Voltaire, the famous French infidel, entranced by the unspeakable beauty in the Swiss Alps, shouted, "God the Father! I adore thee," and then, as if ashamed of his outburst, immediately added that he did not worship the Son, an illustration of the conclusion which the apostle draws that it is impossible to acknowledge the Father without confessing the Son also.

It will of course be unnecessary to add, to the thoughtful reader, that to confess the Son is much more than merely saying that one believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The Lord himself said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23.) Here, as in 1 John 4:2, to confess the Son is to acknowledge him for what he is, and to render to him the obedience such an acknowledgement implies. The apostle had earlier shown that the Gnostics, in denying that Jesus is the Christ, had, in so doing, repudiated the Father. Conversely, those who confess the Son, by implication, also acknowl-edge the Father.

24 As for you, let that abide in you which ye heard from the beginning.--That which they had heard from the begin-ning was the truth; the beginning was their earliest acquaintance with the gospel; and the manner in which it was brought to them was by means of preaching. This which they had thus heard they were to allow to abide in them, literally, to let it settle down and find, as it were, its permanent home in them. The exhortation is, therefore, one to steadfastness, an admonition to hold fast to that which had been taught them.

If that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father.--Here, as in the clause immediately preceding, the word "abide" (meno) means to settle down and dwell, as in one’s permanent home; if the truth is thus permitted to settle down in us, we shall, in turn, be privi-leged to settle down, and have our home in the Son and in the Father. The conditional particle "if" governs the sentence and determines the conclusion. If, i.e., on condition "that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son and in the Father." Here is another of the many passages in the scripture clearly establishing the conditionality of salvation and emphasizing the necessity of continued faithfulness. See this same truth taught John 6:56; John 15:1 ff; John 17:23; Ephesians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:17.

25 And this is the promise which he promised us, even the life eternal.--From this verse ye learn, (1) eternal life is a promise; (2) this promise is conditioned on our holding fast to that which he heard from the beginning. It follows, therefore, that eternal life is not a present possession, but a promise, a promise conditional and dependent on our remaining faithful. Passages, such as John 5:24, apparently asserting that the believer is in possession of eternal life already must be understood as declaring that it is had in prospect only.. "In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal." (Titus 1:2.) One does not hope for that which he already has. (Romans 8:24-25.) "Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that bath left house, or brethren, or sister, or mother, or father, or children, or lands, for my sake, and for the gospel’s sake, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and breth-ren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with per-secutions; and in the world to come eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30.) The Lord often promised eternal life to those who abide faithful: "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee: even as thou gayest him authority over all flesh, that to all whom thou hast given him, he should give eternal life. And this is life eternal that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." (John 17:1-3.)

26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that would lead you astray.--Those seeking to lead John’s readers astray were the "antichrists" (verse 18), false and heret-ical teachers of that period who were exceedingly active in their efforts to lead the faithful away from the true faith. In view of this constant and persistent threat to the security and well-being of the saints, it was especially needful that John should pen these words of warning. False teachers early appeared in the apostolic church, and many warnings regarding them were given. To the elders of the church in Ephesus, Paul said: "I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29.) And to Timothy, the same apostle wrote, "But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and com-manding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth." (1 Timothy 4:1-3.) And John, himself, to put his readers constantly on guard against false teachers affecting to be led by the Spirit, wrote, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1.)

27 And as for you, the anointing which ye received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you; but as his anointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye abide in him.--The meaning of this verse is identical with that of verse 24, except that what is set forth there as a command is stated here as a fact. Two things essential to the proper understanding of this must be noted (1) When the apostle said, "Ye need not that any one teach you." He is to be understood as having reference to the matters of the context, and including the things but recently under consideration, viz., the ability to discern between false and true teaching. (2) The ones who had no need of teaching were those who had been anointed, i.e., had received a miraculous measure of the Spirit, thus enabling them to exercise discernment essential in such instances. This gift, the discernment of spirits, as in the case of all the spiritual endowments of the apostolic age, was not a universal gift; and those who exercised it did so because they were specially endowed by the Holy Spirit for such a purpose. The ones exercising this gift were those referred to in verse 24, and not the entire body of believers. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:10.)

It is an unwarranted extension of the apostle’s remarks here, to apply them to all believers; to urge that one does not need to be taught the truth of the gospel today because he is already in possession of it; or to conclude that the "anointing" here contem-plated is the "ordinary measure" of the Holy Spirit, which all children of God, by virtue of their sonship, receive. (Galatians 4:6-7.) See the comments on verse 24, above.

The meaning is that those thus endowed were able to weigh the claims of the teachers about them; they were in possession of the means with which to apply an infallible test thereto; and they could, therefore, know whether such men spoke for God or not. There is no support here whatsoever for the theory that all Chris-tians have the anointing of the Holy Spirit or that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit extends to all believers today; or that men are justified in setting aside the revealed and written word of God to follow the leading of the so-called revelations with which they affect to be endowed. Such a theory is a hurtful and dangerous one, and is responsible for the extreme and ridiculous fanaticism prevalent among those who profess to be thus anointed.

This gift of discernment respecting the false doctrines then being propagated remained with those selected to exercise such at the time John wrote; the ability to judge of the claims of the teachers of such doctrines was not a passing thing, being necessary until the complete deposit of truth had been permanently embedded in a written record; and the anointing thus received rendered further apostolic teaching, with reference to this particular mat-ter, unnecessary. Here, again, is evidence of the correctness of our exposition that this information thus vouchsafed was lim-ited to the matters embraced "in all things" pertaining to the false teachers under consideration. If all the disciples were em-braced in these remarks; if all received the anointing of the Holy Spirit; if all possessed a knowledge of "all things"; and if none of them needed that any one should teach them, why the Epistle itself? On the assumption that the gift of the Spirit here contem-plated extended to include all believers, the Epistle itself is ren-dered superfluous, John’s effort unnecessary, and indeed, the Bible itself a useless book! The conclusion is, therefore, irresistible, that the "anointing" was a miraculous gift; it was of limited duration; and it was, along with all the gifts of a miraculous nature, removed when the church reached maturity. "Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away ; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child; now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:8-11; cf. Ephesians 4:11-13.)

The leading of the Spirit, received in the miraculous gift referred to as the "anointing," was true, it was no lie and it might, therefore, be safely depended on to guide in the right way. So long as those endowed therewith followed the direction of the gift which they possessed, they were able to "abide" in him --Christ. The mere possession of spiritual gifts did not guarantee to the possessor thereof the impossibility of apostasy.

It is well to remember that the direction of the Spirit in mirac-ulous fashion was never designed to supplant the written word; it was, on the contrary, merely a temporary device, to supply the early church with the means of discerning false teaching until such time as the record was completed. The New Testament is the complete and final deposit of truth in this age, and an allegation of additional information from the Lord must be, regardless of its source, repudiated. (See comments of verse 20, above.)

28 And now, my little children, abide in him that, if he shall be manifested, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.--Here is the tender ad-dress of 2:1, and the admonition and exhortation of 2:24, 27, repeated. It is an address of age to youth, an admonition essential to their continued well-being. The manifestation of Christ, and his coming is, of course, the same event. The conditional phrase, "if he shall be manifested," indicates John’s uncertainty as to the time of the event, thus confirming the teaching of Christ with reference to the matter. (Mark 13:32.) The exhortation which this verse contains is grounded in the desire of the apostle that when such an event does occur both he and his readers might (a) have boldness, and (b) not be ashamed before the Lord.

The word "boldness" (parresia), as here used, signifies "free-dom of speech; " the right to speak out as one thinks, and was used by the ancient Greeks of their privilege as free citizens. It was the apostle’s hope that all those to whom he wrote as well as himself might live in such fashion as to be able to stand unafraid in the presence of the Lord, and to be free to express their confi-dence in their position. "Ashamed," from aischunomai, "to grow pale, to change color from shame," is used to indicate the effect which the coming of Christ will produce on those who are unpre-pared to meet him. Those who are ashamed will, in that day, shrink from the Lord in guilty fashion, fully aware of the fact that they are unprepared to meet him. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one also that doeth righteousness is begotten of him.--At first glance it would appear that the antecedent of the pronoun "he" of the first clause refers to Christ; but, in view of the fact that "of him," in the last clause must be referred to the Father, the refer-ence must be to the Father here. It is, therefore, God who is "righteous"; it is "of God" that every one that "doeth righteous-ness" is begotten. One is never, in the scriptures, said to be born or begotten of Christ, but always of God. (1 John 3:9; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:7.)

The word "know" of the first clause is from the Greek oida, to know theoretically; the second is from ginosko, to know experi-mentally. The meaning is, if you know (i.e., recognize theoretically) that God is righteous, you have practical knowledge that he who does righteousness is begotten of God. If one intuitively recognizes God as possessed of such principles, reason suggests that whoever habitually does righteousness (ho poion, present linear action) as a mode of life is begotten of God. This inference the members of the apostle’s proposition makes clear: (1) God is righteous. (2) As such, he is the source of righteousness. (3) When, therefore, one exhibits righteousness as a manner or mode of life, it follows that God is the source thereof. (4) Those who exhibit God’s nature must receive it through regeneration. Hence, (5) "Every one also that doeth righteousness is begotten of him." Righteousness is right-doing, moral rectitude in all of the relationships of man, and obedience to the commandments of God. (Psalms 119:172.)

Though the doctrine is clearly and positively taught elsewhere (e.g., Matthew 7:21; Mark 16:15-16; Revelation 22:13-14), this pas-sage cannot be properly cited in support of the view that doing righteousness, i.e., keeping the commandments, is a condition pre-cedent to salvation from past, or alien, sins. (1) The righteous-ness here contemplated is that which one does as a child of God, and not in order to become one. (2) The logical order of the premises leading to the conclusion of the apostle shows that it was his design to exhibit the fact that "doing righteousness" is evidence that one is a child of God, and is not offered as a condition on which one becomes a child. Nor is there any significance in the fact that gennao is rendered "begotten." rather than "born." Here the word is descriptive of the new birth, but is properly rendered "begotten," (a) because it is incongruous and awkward to predicate birth of a masculine personality; and (b) the scriptures, properly translated, never refer to a birth of God!

Commentary on 1 John 2:16-29 by E.M. Zerr

1 John 2:18. Little children is used in the sense that is explained at the first verse of the chapter. Last time could have a number of definitions on account of the second word, hence the thought must be gathered from the use that is made of it. The doctrine of Christ is not directly taught in the Old Testament while He is the central figure in the New. The verse speaks of antichrists (which means against Christ) so we understand John means we are living in the last Dispensation. Such is a logical conclusion because the basis of the whole system is belief in Christ (not Moses).

1 John 2:19. Went out from us signifies the antichrists were once associated with the true believers but apostatized from the faith. All this pertains to their outward movements only, for John says that they were not of us. Church workers are not mind readers, and if unconverted persons go through the motion of obedience to the Gospel there is no way to detect or avoid it. They obeyed the form of doctrine but not "from the heart" (Romans 6:17). Such persons will wait until some pretext appears when they will show their true sentiments by turning against the church and making false accusations. It is true that John is writing directly about antichrists which means those who oppose Christ. The principle is the same, for whoever opposes the church of Christ is an enemy of Him. At heart they are disbelievers in Christ but show their spite against Him by turning against his church.

1 John 2:20. Unction is used figuratively from the ancient custom of pouring oil on the heads of those who were to act in the service of the Lord. In its spiritual sense it refers to the enlightening that the Lord bestowed on the apostles, enabling them to impart the necessary information to the members of the body of Christ. Ye know all things means they know all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

1 John 2:21. Not all inspired writing was done to give new information but also to supplement what had been given (2 Peter 1:12-13 2 Peter 3:1). Another consideration is that people who have already shown an interest in the truth are glad to have it repeated to them. No lie is of the truth. Anything that denies a truth is bound to be a lie, and John was particularly concerned about the truth of the divinity of Christ.

1 John 2:22. This verse is virtually the same as verse 18 (See 1 John 2:18).

1 John 2:23. God and Christ are two distinct persons but are one in divinity, hence to reject the one is the same as rejecting the other. The last half of this verse is not found in some copies of the Greek text and for that reason some translations leave it out. However, it does not add anything that disagrees with the rest of the New Testament, hence no harm is done by retaining it at least to the extent of endorsing it.

1 John 2:24. Heard from the beginning refers to the truth given to the world through Him who is "from the beginning" (chapter 1:1). If this truth remains in us we will be in fellowship with both the Father and the Son.

1 John 2:25. The reward for being in fellowship with God and his Son is not of a temporal nature; it is eternal life. That reward will be given to those who are faithful until death, since it will not come in this world but in the next which will be "when earthly things have ceased to be."

1 John 2:26. To seduce a person means to mislead him or cause him to stray from the truth. There were many deceivers in the world who were so expert in their false reasoning that the uninformed were easy victims. For this reason the apostle was writing the warning information to the disciples.

1 John 2:27. Anointing is from the same word as "unction" in verse 20. Need not that any man should teach you. This means that no uninspired man should be depended upon for teaching on the great story of Christ. They had the enlightening that had come to them from Christ through the inspired teachers. With such divine guidance they were able to abide in him who is Christ.

1 John 2:28. Little children is general and is the same endearing term that John uses in the beginning of the chapter. With the advantage of the spiritual enlightenment the disciples are exhorted to abide in him. This means more than merely being in Christ at times but it should be always. No man knows when Jesus is coming hence it is important always to be in His favor. In that case the disciple will not be taken unawares and be made ashamed, but will be confidently looking for Him.

1 John 2:29. The Lord is righteous and hence can beget righteous offspring only. The exhortation is for the disciples to honor their family reputation by being righteous.

Commentary on 1 John 2:18-29 by N.T. Caton

1 John 2:18—Little children, it is the last time.

As to what is meant by the last time, different views are had. Dr. Macknight thinks it refers to the end of the Jewish commonwealth. With this view I can not agree. My reason is, the writer knew that the Jewish age had ceased when the Master said, "All authority is given unto me," and he could not refer to the fall of Jerusalem, because, if I be not mistaken, at the time of this writing that noted city was in ruins. In my judgment, he meant to have them understand, the Christian age would be the last dispensation of mercy God would vouchsafe to the world. Salvation must be had in this age, and in accordance with the provisions therein tendered, or not at all. No other presentation would be offered to the children of men.

1 John 2:18 --That antichrist shall come.

They had been told that a certain thing would take place, and when it did, thereby they should know that it was in the last time or age. Christ means the anointed one. One claiming to be the Christ, and not being the one born at Bethlehem, would be a false Christ or an antichrist. Now, since the antichrist was foretold by the Master himself, and the time of coming being fixed in the last time, and John, affirming that already in his day there were many anti­christs, we may know assuredly that we live in the last time or age—an age which will continue until the final consum­mation of all things. From the time of Christ until the end of the world will the Christian age continue.

1 John 2:19—They went out from us.

The meaning here is clear. All these antichrists are simply apostates. They sprang up from the Church of Christ; and yet, while this is true, they were not of us. They were not genuine converts; they were simply wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their profession of faith in Christ was a mere pretense, for had they the whole-hearted faith in the Son of God, so requisite to citizenship in his kingdom, they would have continued humble, loving disciples. As it is, their going out from among us, and their bitter opposition to the doctrine of Christ, is an exhibition of the fact that they never were really and truly converted. They only made a pretense of conversion, the better to enable them to carry out their own designs.

1 John 2:20—But ye have an unction.

Anointing is a better word than unction. The anointing is from the Holy Spirit; and, being so anointed, they are qualified to discriminate between the true and the false teachings and teachers. Because of this anointing or unction, they were enabled to know all these things.

1 John 2:21—I have not written unto you.

It was not because they were ignorant of the truth that the Word was made flesh, but because they knew this as the truth, and that they were capable of discerning the differ­ence between the truth and a lie. If these false teachers or antichrists promulgated their heresies, they should be prepared to resist the same, and their utterances would be heresies if they denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh.

1 John 2:22—Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?

To deny that Jesus is the Christ is to be guilty of false­hood. These apostates lyingly deny him. They reject the testimony he gave of himself in his teachings and in his miracles, and thereby deny both Father and Son. Such are antichrists.

1 John 2:23—Whosoever denieth the Son.

Any one who shall deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, does not acknowledge the Father, but rejects his testimony given by him at the baptism of Jesus and on the Mount of Transfiguration. And anyone who acknowl­edges that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, thereby acknowledges both God and his Son.

1 John 2:24 ---Let that therefore abide in you.

What the apostles preached from the beginning of the gospel age, that the Word was made flesh, which you believed, and by which you were controlled in your actions subsequent to your whole-hearted reception of this truth, let that abide in you. Continue to embrace trustingly that teaching; you heard it from the beginning. If this remain in you as your firm belief, you will continue in the fellow­ship of the Father and the Son.

1 John 2:25—And this is the promise.

The result of this steadfastness in the faith preached from the beginning, and which is lovingly entertained in this fellowship with the Father and Son, is this eternal life; an unending enjoyment of companionship with the Father and the Son in heaven’s blessed abode.

1 John 2:26—These things have I written.

The things concerning antichrists, opposers of Christ, false teachers—those that would lead you astray—these things, so written, commence at the 18th verse and continue to the end of the chapter, and should be carefully studied, and the warnings therein mentioned implicitly observed and followed.

1 John 2:27—But the anointing which ye have received.

The Lord had promised the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth. The apostles were empowered to confer spiritual gifts in the first age of the church. This was a necessity until all things should be perfected. Those to whom John wrote were possessed of these gifts—these anointings—and were thus provided with an infallible guide to know the truth and to detect the error, and needed no teaching from man. They had a teaching from on high, which was the very truth and no lie. Hence, all they needed was an exhortation to abide by this teaching.

1 John 2:28—And now, little children.

The exhortation is earnest. Abide in him—that is, in Christ, in his teaching, doctrine, and precepts, for he shall appear once again to judge the world. At that time, if we abide in him, do his bidding, building up thereby characters fitted for companionship with God, and the Son, and the holy angels, and the good of all ages, we shall have con­fidence of our acceptance of him, and will not appear before him in fear, doubt, or shame.

1 John 2:29—If ye know that he is righteous.

As through the apostle would ask a question: Do you know that God is righteous? He has promised that everyone who obeys his Son shall inherit eternal life. The doing of righteousness, then, is required of those who lay claim to this promise. They only are the heirs of this inheritance. You need make no mistake if you believe God to be right­eous, and that he has promised eternal life to those who do righteousness; such only are heirs of that promise, and all such are begotten of him, belong to his family, and none others.

Commentary on 1 John 2:18-29 by Burton Coffman

1 John 2:18 --Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour.

It is the last hour ... The apostles had asked Christ to tell them when the end of the world was coming, when the temple would be destroyed, and when the Christ would come. To these three questions, Jesus gave a composite answer (Matthew 24), but not distinguishing for them the fact that these events would not all occur simultaneously; however, Jesus did deny them altogether any answer as to the time of his Second Coming (Matthew 24:36; Matthew 24:42). It is therefore the height of presumption to construe John’s words here as meaning that Christ was coming soon. "The last hour" here has no reference whatever to the Second Coming and must be referred either to the destruction of Jerusalem or the end of the world. Significantly, since Jesus failed (purposefully) to distinguish for his apostles that those two events (the end of all things and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem) would be separated in time by thousands of years, it may be legitimately supposed that the apostles might have thought they would come at the same time; but, even more significantly, no apostle ever said so. There is not a line in the New Testament that has any such declaration in it. However, in the providence of God, the destruction of Jerusalem was foreordained to be a type of the overthrow of the entire world; and in giving the signs that would precede the first event, Christ of necessity gave in those very signs the sign of the end of the world; but it was necessary for Christ to make the signs of Jerusalem’s overthrow plain enough for the Christians to be forewarned and to enable them to escape from the city before its destruction. Otherwise, Satan might have accomplished the total destruction of the church itself in that disaster. Heeding those signs which Jesus had given, John here prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem (perhaps supposing also that the end of the world was at hand, a supposition that he did not state, even if he thought it). And what sign did he stress? That there were antichrists who had already appeared. This was the very sign that Jesus had definitely connected with the destruction of the temple (involving also, of course, the overthrow of Jerusalem): "There shall arise false christs and false prophets" (Matthew 24:24). It was also indicated by Christ as being a signal for the "elect" to "flee out of Judea" (Matthew 24:16), to avoid "the end of the world"? Certainly not! To avoid the destruction of Jerusalem? Of course! Thus it is absolutely certain that John in this passage was not warning the Christians to get ready for the end of the world, but to get ready to flee the city of Jerusalem. That this is exactly what John and the other apostles did in such statements as this is proved by the fact that the Christians did flee Jerusalem, not a single one of "the elect" losing his life in the holocaust that overthrew the city in A.D. 70.

Despite the fact of "antichrist" being popularly understood as "a personal opponent of Christ at the end of time,"[47] and also being identified with Paul’s "lawless one" (2 Thessalonians 2:8), there is absolutely no authority for such views. The "antichrists" in this passage are plural; the "lawless one" is singular; Christ associates the antichrists, or false christs, with the need for the "elect" to flee out of Judea (Matthew 24:16); whereas, Paul associated the "lawless one" with the "coming of the Lord," an association that John refrained from making here. Neither the "man of sin" nor "the lawless one" of Paul’s writings has any connection whatever with what John wrote here. It was long after John wrote that "the name of antichrist was appropriated to that great adversary of Christ ’the man of sin’ (2 Thessalonians 2:3)."[48] John’s antichrist "falls far short of Paul’s `son of perdition.’"[49]

As ye have heard, antichrist cometh ... Although only the singular is used here, it is clear from what John at once wrote that there were many of these. Where had the Christians heard of this? From the teachings of Christ, as recorded in Matthew 24.

It is the last hour ... Before leaving this, the error of the rendition should be noted. As Stott said:

This phrase should be translated "a last hour." Westcott makes much of this and writes that the omission of the definite article "seems to mark the general character of the period and not its specific relation to `end.’ It was a period of crucial change."[50]

Morris also stressed the same thing, saying, "There is no article with hour. John is not saying it is the last hour, but that it is a last hour."[51] In the light of such truth, how ridiculous, therefore, it is for men to write such dogmatic opinions as the following:

"The last hour ..." The apostles undoubtedly anticipated the coming of Christ in the near future, etc.[52]

"The last hour ..." The expected immediate second coming of Christ to judge the world.[53]

Nothing but the unwillingness of Christians to admit that the apostle John could seem to be much in error about the nearness of the day of judgment could have raised a question about language so plain. This can only mean "the last hour before the Second Coming of Christ."[54]SIZE>

A hundred other examples of the same kind of scholarly blindness could be cited. It never seems to have occurred to such commentators that there is no hint whatever of the Second Coming in this verse.

It is true of course that those who suppose that the apostles "expected" the coming of Christ to take place concurrently with the destruction of Jerusalem are probably correct in that supposition. Why? Because Jesus himself so mingled the prophecies of the two events that such a supposition might easily have followed. However, true exegesis of the New Testament does not consist in reading into its sacred texts what people suppose the apostles thought, but rather consists in studying what they wrote; and John wrote nothing here, either of the judgment or of the second coming of Christ.

[47] New Catholic Bible, op. cit., New Testament, p. 315.

[48] John Wesley, Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament (Naperville, Illinois: Alec R. Allenson, Inc., reprint, 1950), p. 908.

[49] Harvey J. S. Blaney, op. cit., p. 372.

[50] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 108.

[51] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1264.

[52] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 1056.

[53] James Russell Williams, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 600.

[54] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 25.

1 John 2:19 --They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us.

From this verse it is plain that the "antichrists" were Christians who had defected from the truth. Their departure from the apostles and from the church indicated their hostility to the truth. Many of these were no doubt teaching the most shameful errors, justifying, or rationalizing the most wicked and dissolute behavior on the basis of Gnostic or other false teachings they had adopted.

Such a verse as this, of course, is made use of as a crutch for the proposition that a person "once saved is always saved"; however, it should be carefully noted that John did not here write of the false teachers that "they never had been of us," but that at an unspecified previous time, they were not. This is even more clear in the last clause where the word is not that they had never been of us, but that they are not of us. Their departure from the faith became final at some point prior to their leaving; but there is no suggestion by the apostle that those who departed had never been truly converted at the beginning of their Christian association. The fallen angels were not wicked from the beginning but became so; and Judas was not wicked when the Lord chose him as an apostle, but he fell "through transgression."

1 John 2:20 --And ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

As Morris said, "This is just another way of saying that all of them had received the gift of the Holy Spirit."[55] that is, the earnest of the Holy Spirit, which is given to all believers in Christ following their repentance and baptism into Christ (Acts 2:38 f).

And ye know all things ... The marginal reading here, "you all know," is a better rendition because John did not mean they knew everything, else he would hardly have been writing to them. The thing he referred to here is apparent in other places in the letters of John, namely, that, as regards the basic doctrine of Christianity, called "the word" or "the truth" or "the light," the Christians had been adequately enlightened on all these things before they could become Christians. (Jeremiah 31:31-35). Thus he refuted the boasts of the false teachers that they had any vital new truth that could have benefited anyone. When people hear and obey the gospel of Christ, they have already reached the zenith of all knowledge as it regards the eternal redemption of the soul. There is another view of this passage which accepts it as a reference to one of the charismatic gifts mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:8, that is, "the discerning of spirits."[56] The thought behind this is that congregations generally, at the time John wrote, had among their members certain persons endowed with that gift; hence there was no need for them to be led away by false teachers if they heeded the information already available to them from that source. Although the other interpretation is preferred here, this one may not be ruled out altogether as possibly the true one.

[55] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1264.

[56] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 54.

1 John 2:21 --I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

This verse is the reason for preferring the first of two interpretations of the preceding verse. Jeremiah had prophesied that under the new covenant, "All would know the Lord, from the least to the greatest of them," the simple reason behind this being that one must know the truth in all of its essential aspects before he can even become a Christian (Jeremiah 31:31 ff). It is obviously this very truth that John had in mind here.

The "lie" mentioned here is "any doctrine contrary to that taught by the apostles of Christ."[57]


[57] Ibid.

1 John 2:22 --Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, even he that denieth the Father and the Son.

A comparison with 1 John 4:15,1 John 5:1 f suggests that the type of denial was that of refusing to accept the complete union of God with Jesus Christ. Certain Gnostics and Docetists theorized that Jesus was only a man, the natural son of Joseph, and that "Christ" descended upon him and inhabited his body at the time of his baptism, deserted him for the crucifixion, etc. The exalted view of Christ in John’s writings, and throughout the New Testament refutes such nonsense fully. The Christian believes and confesses that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, that he is one with the Father, that he, in fact, "was God," that of his own volition he entered our earth life by means of the incarnation, that he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, and that he was born and passed through all the phases of human life without sin, that the power of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily during his ministry enabling the mighty works which were done by him, that he gave his life a ransom for all in his crucifixion, and that he himself arose from the grave, commissioned his apostles, ascended to the Father where he was before, and that he will come again to judge the quick and the dead at the consummation of all things. All the Christians of all the ages have tenaciously held these basic views regarding Jesus Christ our Lord. John was saying in this verse that any denial of such things is falsehood, and that such liars are antichrist. No distinction between the Christ and Jesus is of the truth, but belongs rather to the heresy of the Cerinthians.[58]


[58] David Smith, op. cit., p. 181.

1 John 2:23 --Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.

The denial of the Son of God, through failure to confess him, results in the loss of the Father, because only the divine Son can reveal the Father. "No one cometh unto God but by me," he said. On the other hand, as John stated it conversely, the meaningful confession of Jesus Christ as the Son of God leads to a full knowledge of God in the forgiveness of sins.

1 John 2:24 --As for you, let that abide in you which ye heard from the beginning. If that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father.

That which ye heard from the beginning ... This is a reference to the gospel truth as proclaimed by the holy apostles of Christ, and as revealed in the sacred New Testament. Absolute and unwavering loyalty and devotion to that message, and to that alone, is here commanded; and the reward of doing so is indicated, those obeying shall abide in the Son, and in the Father.

In the Father, and in the Son ... This is a reference to the corporate body of Christ, a conception that was announced by the Lord himself in the analogy of the true vine (John 15:1-10). Thus John takes his place alongside Paul in the presentation of salvation "in Christ." A heavy emphasis upon this has been given throughout this whole series of commentaries; and, for a fuller discussion of it, see Romans 3 in my Commentary on Romans. Significantly, John here made adherence to the original gospel a prerequisite of abiding in God and in Christ. As Stott noted:

Christian theology is anchored not only to certain historical events, culminating in the saving career of Jesus, but to the authoritative apostolic witness to those events. The Christian can never weigh anchor and launch out into the deep of speculative thought.[59]

If the church of Christ in the present time would renew its vitality and increase the effectiveness of its evangelism, then let it return to a greater emphasis upon that which we have heard "from the beginning."


[59] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 113.

1 John 2:25 --And this is the promise which he promised us, even the life eternal.

No other religion, not any philosophy, nor any code of ethics, nothing whatever, throughout the long course of human history has ever promised eternal life; but this eternal life "in Christ" is the promise of our holy religion. It is not one of the side-effects or fringe benefits of the faith, but the essential heart of it. It cannot be required by people, nor earned; but it is given to all who are "in God and in Christ," and are "found in him" (Philippians 3:9) when the probation of life is over. John himself spelled this out in these epic words:

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them (Revelation 14:13).

Inherent in this precious and exceedingly great promise is the fact of its being conditional, the primary condition being that of abiding in God and abiding in Christ, that in turn being conditional, everything in the last analysis being contingent upon whether or not people hear and obey the original gospel, that is, "abide in that which ye have heard from the beginning."

1 John 2:26 --These things have I written unto you concerning them that would lead you astray.

This is John’s reminder that he is still discussing the subject of the antichrists and their false teachings, a crisis which he met by a profound and forceful reiteration of what he himself and all of the apostles had preached from the very beginning of Christianity. Christians must still meet philosophical deceit and cunning perversions of the holy faith in exactly the same manner. No new teaching is needed, the original gospel being relevant in all situations tending toward apostasy.

1 John 2:27 --And as for you, the anointing which ye received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you; but as his anointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye abide in him.

The anointing which ye received of him abideth in you ... Although this is speaking of the Holy Spirit (see under 1 John 2:20), it is clear from the last clause where the neuter pronoun and past tense are used that he is referring to the written records of the gospel. It was that which they had been taught; and it was that which was abiding in them, there being no difference whatever in the word of God dwelling in Christians and the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. See full discussion of this in my Commentary on Galatians, pp. 97-99. Moreover, it was that original gospel which was alone sufficient for all their needs, enabling John to say, "Ye need not that any one teach you." The holy gospel has already given (note the past tense) all of the teaching that Christians will ever need.

That it is that gospel (we now call it the New Testament) of which John taught in this verse is proved by a careful reading of it:

That gospel is no lie.

It is the truth.

It taught you.

As a consequence of its teachings, you abide in him.

From this, it is absolutely certain, as Roberts stated it, that, "It is obvious that John does not mean that each individual has his own channel of communications by means of the Holy Spirit."[60] Furthermore, John did not teach that Christians had no need of further study. The whole passage must be understood as a plea for the all-sufficiency of the gospel as the complete and effective refutation of heresies. "The only safeguard against lies is to have abiding in us both the Word that we heard from the beginning and the anointing that we received from him."[61]

[60] J. W. Roberts, The Letters of John (Austin, Texas: R. B. Sweet Company, 1968), p. 72.

[61] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 115.

1 John 2:28 --And now, my little children, abide in him; that, if he shall be manifested, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Abide in him ... See under 1 John 2:24. This admonition is actually the whole point of the letter.

If he shall be manifested ... This shows that John was by no means certain that such a period as "a last hour" which he had already positively identified as coming soon, would also include the coming of Christ; but there is a suggestion in this that he might have thought it very possible. Note, however, that he made no assertion regarding the second coming, except this, that if it did turn out that the Lord wag manifested in the events John knew were so shortly coming to pass, the Christians should strive to be ready for the Lord.

Abide in him that ... we may have boldness ... Such boldness will result from the identification of Christians with their Lord. Those who are "in him" and abide "in him" until his coming, or until death, will indeed be amply supplied with boldness in his presence.

It will be observed that John used a number of expressions having a great similarity:

We are in him (God) (1 John 2:5).

A new commandment is true in him and in you (1 John 2:8).

He that loveth ... abideth in the light (1 John 2:9).

The word of God abideth in you (1 John 2:17).

Let that (the word of the gospel) abide in you (1 John 2:24).

... Ye also shall abide in the Son (1 John 2:24).

... and (ye shall abide) in the Father also (1 John 2:24).

The anointing ... abideth in you (1 John 2:27).

Ye abide in him (1 John 2:27).

My little children, abide in him (1 John 2:28).

In all of these passages and a dozen others like them in John’s letters the meaning is identical. Could there be any conceivable difference between one who was abiding "in the light" and another who was abiding "in the word of God," or "in God," or "in Christ," or "in the Holy Spirit?" Conversely, could there be any distinction between persons "walking in the truth" (as in 3 John 1:3) and those in whom the "word of God abideth"? Again, reference is made to a more lengthy study of this phenomenon in my Commentary on Galatians, pp. 97-99. In full consonance with the unity of thought in all such passages is the over-all consideration that every single one of them means, in the last analysis, believing and obeying the commandments of God, a fact inherent in the very next verse where John spoke of "doing righteousness" as evidence of one’s having been born again.

1 John 2:29 --If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that everyone also that doeth righteousness is begotten of him.

He is righteous ... is a clear reference to Jesus Christ whose coming was just mentioned; however, "begotten of him" in the very next clause means "begotten of God." As Smith said, "The abrupt transition evinces St. John’s sense of the oneness of the Father and the Son."[62] In this sentence, he used "him" as a reference first to the son and then to the Father. He did a very similar thing in 1 John 2:27 where the indwelling Spirit (the anointing) is said to "teach you all things," whereas, it is clear that the gospel itself was their actual source of teaching. The essential unity of all such elements is the basis for seemingly diverse statements. After all, the word of God is the word of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17); and was it not the Holy Spirit who guided the apostles (including John himself) into all truth? (John 14:16; John 16:13). An over-compartmentalizing of such Scriptural teachings as those of this chapter will only frustrate and confuse the student. The great wealth of John’s thoughts in this glorious chapter contrasts with the poverty of language itself (not the apostle’s lack), which is incapable of any complete revelation to people of the marvelous and glorious nature of the salvation which the eternal Father has made available to people in Jesus Christ our Lord.


[62] David Smith, op. cit., p. 182.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 John 2". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/1-john-2.html.
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