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Bible Commentaries
1 John 2

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

My little children (τεκνια μου). Tender tone with this diminutive of τεκνον (child), again in 1 John 2:12; 1 John 3:18, but παιδια in 1 John 2:14. John is now an old man and regards his readers as his little children. That attitude is illustrated in the story of his visit to the robber to win him to Christ.

That ye may not sin (ινα μη αμαρτητε). Purpose (negative) clause with ινα μη and the second aorist (ingressive, commit sin) active subjunctive of αμαρτανω, to sin. John has no patience with professional perfectionists (1 John 1:8-10), but he has still less with loose-livers like some of the Gnostics who went to all sorts of excesses without shame.

If any man sin (εαν τις αμαρτη). Third-class condition with εαν and second aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive again, "if one commit sin."

We have (εχομεν). Present active indicative of εχω in the apodosis, a present reality like εχομεν in 2 Corinthians 5:1.

An advocate (παρακλητον). See on John 14:16; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7 for this word, nowhere else in the N.T. The Holy Spirit is God's Advocate on earth with men, while Christ is man's Advocate with the Father (the idea, but not the word, in Romans 8:31-39; Hebrews 7:25). As δικαιος (righteous) Jesus is qualified to plead our case and to enter the Father's presence (Hebrews 2:18).

Verse 2

And he (κα αυτος). He himself in his own person, both priest and sacrifice (Hebrews 9:14).

The propitiation (ιλασμος). Late substantive from ιλασκομα (Luke 18:13; Hebrews 2:17), in LXX, Philo, Plutarch, in N.T. only here and 1 John 4:10. Christ himself is the means of propitiation for (περ concerning) our sins. See ιλαστηριον in Romans 3:15.

For the whole world (περ ολου του κοσμου). It is possible to supply the ellipsis here of των αμαρτιων (the sins of) as we have it in Hebrews 7:27, but a simpler way is just to regard "the whole world" as a mass of sin (1 John 5:19). At any rate, the propitiation by Christ provides for salvation for all (Hebrews 2:9) if they will only be reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).

Verse 3

Hereby (εν τουτω). See this phrase also in 1 John 2:5; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 3:19; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:2; 1 John 4:13; 1 John 5:2. That is explained by the εαν clause, "if we keep his commandments " (εαν τηρωμεν, condition of the third class, εαν with present active subjunctive, "if we keep on keeping"), the clause itself in apposition with τουτω (locative case).

Know we that we know him (γινοσκομεν οτ εγνωκαμεν αυτον). "Know we that we have come to know and still know him," εγνωκαμεν the perfect active indicative of γινωσκω. The Gnostics boasted of their superior knowledge of Christ, and John here challenges their boast by an appeal to experimental knowledge of Christ which is shown by keeping his (αυτου, Christ's) commandments, thoroughly Johannine phrase (12 times in the Gospel, 6 in this Epistle, 6 in the Apocalypse).

Verse 4

I know him (Εγνωκα αυτον). Perfect active indicative with recitative οτ like quotation marks just before it. This is one of the pious platitudes, cheap claptrap of the Gnostics, who would bob up in meetings with such explosions. John punctures such bubbles with the sharp addition "and keepeth not" (ο μη τηρων, present active linear participle). "The one who keeps on saying: 'I have come to know him,' and keeps on not keeping his commandments is a liar" (ψευστης, just like Satan, John 8:44 and like 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10), followed by the negative statement as in 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10. There is a whip-cracker effect in John's words.

Verse 5

But whoso keepeth (ος δ' αν τηρη). Indefinite relative clause with modal αν and the present active subjunctive, "whoever keeps on keeping."

Verily (αληθως). Truly, of a truth. This prize is open to all, not confined to a few initiated Gnostic intellectuals or pneumatics.

Hath the love of God been perfected (η αγαπη του θεου τετελειωτα). Perfect passive indicative of τελειοω, stands completed. Probably objective genitive, our love for God, which is realized in absolute obedience (Brooke).

Hereby (εν τουτω). That is by continuous keeping of Christ's commandments, not by loud talk and loose living.

Verse 6

Himself also to walk (κα αυτος περιπατειν). Present active infinitive after οφειλε (ought), "Himself also to keep on walking," a continuous performance, not a spasmodic spurt.

Even as he walked (καθως εκεινος περιεπατησεν). Constative aorist active indicative summing up the life of Christ on earth with the emphatic use of the demonstrative εκεινος in reference to Christ as in 1 John 3:3; 1 John 3:5; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:17; John 7:11; John 9:12; John 9:28; John 19:21.

Verse 7

Beloved (αγαπητο). First instance of this favourite form of address in these Epistles (1 John 3:2; 1 John 3:21; 1 John 4:1; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:3; 1 John 4:2; 1 John 4:5; 1 John 4:11).

No new commandment (ουκ εντολην καινην). Not novel or new in kind (καινην as distinct from νεος, new in time, for which distinction see Luke 5:33-38).

But an old commandment (αλλ' εντολην παλαιαν). Ancient as opposed both to καινος and νεος. The Mosaic law taught love for one's neighbours and Christ taught love even of enemies.

Which ye had (ην ειχετε). Imperfect active, reaching back to the beginning of their Christian lives (απ' αρχης). They had heard it expressly from Jesus (John 13:34), who, however, calls it "a new commandment."

Verse 8

Again a new commandment (παλιν εντολην καινην). Paradox, but truth. Old in teaching (as old as the story of Cain and Abel, 3:11f.), but new in practice. For this use of παλιν for a new turn see John 16:28. To walk as Christ walked is to put in practice the old commandment and so make it new (ever new and fresh), as love is as old as man and fresh in every new experience.

True in him and in you (αληθες εν αυτω κα εν υμιν). This newness is shown supremely in Christ and in disciples when they walk as Jesus did (verse 1 John 2:6).

Because (οτ). Explanation of the paradox.

Is passing away (παραγετα). Present middle indicative of παραγω, old verb, to lead by, to go by (intransitive), as in Matthew 20:30. Night does pass by even if slowly. See this verb in verse 1 John 2:17 of the world passing by like a procession.

True (αληθινον). Genuine, reliable, no false flicker.

Already shineth (ηδη φαινε). Linear present active, "is already shining" and the darkness is already passing by. Dawn is here. Is John thinking of the second coming of Christ or of the victory of truth over error, of light over darkness (cf. John 1:5-9), the slow but sure victory of Christ over Satan as shown in the Apocalypse? See 1 John 1:5.

Verse 9

And hateth his brother (κα τον αδελφον αυτου μισων). Sharp contrast between the love just described and hate. The only way to walk in the light (1 John 1:7) is to have fellowship with God who is light (1 John 1:3; 1 John 1:5). So the claim to be in the light is nullified by hating a brother.

Even until now (εως αρτ). Up till this moment. In spite of the increasing light and his own boast he is in the dark.

Verse 10

Abideth (μενε). Present active indicative, continues in the light and so does not interrupt the light by hating his brother.

Occasion of stumbling (σκανδαλον). See on Matthew 13:41; Matthew 16:23 for this interesting word. It is a stumbling block or trap either in the way of others (its usual sense), as in Matthew 18:7, or in one's own way, as is true of προσκοπτω in John 11:9 and in verse 1 John 2:11 here. But, as Westcott argues, John may very well have the usual meaning here and the other in verse 1 John 2:11.

Verse 11

Blinded (ετυφλωσεν). First aorist active indicative of τυφλοω, the very verb and form used in 2 Corinthians 4:4 of the god of this age to keep men from beholding the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. The first part of the verse repeats verse 1 John 2:9, but adds this vivid touch of the blinding power of darkness. In the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky the fish in Echo River have eye-sockets, but no eyes.

Verse 12

I write (γραφω). Present active indicative, repeated three times, referring to this Epistle. For "the name" see 1 John 3:23; 3 John 1:7. They were loyal to the name of Christ (Matthew 10:22).

Are forgiven (αφεωντα). Doric perfect passive indicative of αφιημ (seen also in Luke 5:20; Luke 5:23) for the usual αφειντα. Τεκνια (little children) probably includes all, as in verse 1 John 2:1.

Verse 13

Fathers (πατερες). Those mature believers with long and rich experience (εγνωκατε, ye have come to know and still know).

Him which is from the beginning (τον απ' αρχης). See 1 John 1:1 as explaining this crisp description of the Word of life (cf. John 1:1-18).

Young men (νεανισκο). The younger element in contrast to the fathers, full of vigor and conflict and victory.

Ye have overcome the evil one (νενικηκατε τον πονηρον). Perfect active indicative of νικαω, a permanent victory after conflict. The masculine article τον shows that the prince of darkness is the one defeated in this struggle, the devil plain in 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:10 (John 8:44; John 13:2).

Verse 14

I have written (εγραψα). Repeated three times. Epistolary aorist referring to this Epistle, not to a previous Epistle. Law (Tests of Life, p. 309) suggests that John was interrupted at the close of verse 1 John 2:13 and resumes here in verse 1 John 2:14 with a reference to what he had previously written in verse 1 John 2:13. But that is needless ingenuity. It is quite in John's style to repeat himself with slight variations.

The Father (τον πατερα). The heavenly Father as all of God's children should come to know him. He repeats from verse 1 John 2:13 what he said to "fathers." To the young men he adds ισχυρο (strong) and the word of God abiding in them. That is what makes them powerful (ισχυρο) and able to gain the victory over the evil one.

Verse 15

Love not the world (μη αγαπατε τον κοσμον). Prohibition with μη and the present active imperative of αγαπαω, either stop doing it or do not have the habit of doing it. This use of κοσμος is common in John's Gospel (1 John 1:10; 1 John 17:14) and appears also in 1 John 5:19. In epitome the Roman Empire represented it. See it also in James 4:4. It confronts every believer today.

If any man love (εαν τις αγαπα). Third-class condition with εαν and present active subjunctive of αγαπαω (same form as indicative), "if any keep on loving the world."

The love of the Father (η αγαπη του πατρος). Objective genitive, this phrase only here in N.T., with which compare "love of God" in 1 John 2:5. In antithesis to love of the world.

Verse 16

All that (παν το). Collective use of the neuter singular as in 1 John 5:4, like παν ο in John 6:37; John 6:39. Three examples, not necessarily covering all sins, are given in the nominative in apposition with παν το. "The lust of the flesh" (η επιθυμια της σαρκος, subjective genitive, lust felt by the flesh) may be illustrated by Mark 4:19; Galatians 5:17. So the genitive with η επιθυμια των οφθαλμων (the lust of the eyes) is subjective, lust with the eyes as organs as shown by Jesus in Matthew 5:28. The use of the "movies" today for gain by lustful exhibitions is a case in point. For αλαζονεια see on James 4:16, the only other N.T. example. Αλαζων (a boaster) occurs in Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2. Βιος (life) as in 1 John 3:17 is the external aspect (Luke 8:14), not the inward principle (ζωη). David Smith thinks that, as in the case of Eve (Genesis 3:1-6) and the temptations of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11), these three sins include all possible sins. But they are all "of the world" (εκ του κοσμου) in origin, in no sense "of the Father" (εκ του πατρος). The problem for the believer is always how to be in the world and yet not of it (John 17:11; John 17:14).

Verse 17

Passeth away (παραγετα). "Is passing by" (linear action, present middle indicative), as in verse 1 John 2:8. There is consolation in this view of the transitoriness of the conflict with the world. Even the lust which belongs to the world passes also. The one who keeps on doing (ποιων present active participle of ποιεω) the will of God "abides for ever" (μενε εις τον αιωνα) "amid the flux of transitory things" (D. Smith).

Verse 18

It is the last hour (εσχατη ωρα εστιν). This phrase only here in N.T., though John often uses ωρα for a crisis (John 2:4; John 4:21; John 4:23; John 5:25; John 5:28, etc.). It is anarthrous here and marks the character of the "hour." John has seven times "the last day" in the Gospel. Certainly in verse 1 John 2:28 John makes it plain that the παρουσια might come in the life of those then living, but it is not clear that here he definitely asserts it as a fact. It was his hope beyond a doubt. We are left in doubt about this "last hour" whether it covers a period, a series, or the final climax of all just at hand.

As ye heard (καθως ηκουσατε). First aorist active indicative of ακουω.

Antichrist cometh (αντιχριστος ερχετα). "Is coming." Present futuristic or prophetic middle indicative retained in indirect assertion. So Jesus taught (Mark 13:6; Mark 13:22; Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:15; Matthew 24:24) and so Paul taught (Acts 20:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3). These false Christs (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22) are necessarily antichrists, for there can be only one. Αντ can mean substitution or opposition, but both ideas are identical in the word αντιχριστος (in N.T. only here, 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7). Westcott rightly observes that John's use of the word is determined by the Christian conception, not by the Jewish apocalypses.

Have there arisen (γεγονασιν). Second perfect active indicative of γινομα.

Many antichrists (αντιχριστο πολλο). Not just one, but the exponents of the Gnostic teaching are really antichrists, just as some modern deceivers deserve this title.

Whereby (οθεν). By the fact that these many antichrists have come.

Verse 19

From us (εξ ημων)

--of us (εξ ημων). The same idiom, εξ and the ablative case (ημων), but in different senses to correspond with εξηλθαν (they went out from our membership) and ουκ ησαν (they were not of us in spirit and life). For εξ in the sense of origin see John 17:15, for εξ in the sense of likeness, John 17:14.

For if they had been of us (ε γαρ εξ ημων ησαν). Condition of second class with ε and imperfect tense (no aorist for ειμ).

They would have continued (μεμενηκεισαν αν). Past perfect of μενω, to remain, without augment, with αν in apodosis of second-class condition.

With us (μεθ' ημων). In fellowship, for which see μετα in 1 John 1:3. They had lost the inner fellowship and then apparently voluntarily broke the outward.

But they went (αλλ'). Ellipsis of the verb εξηλθαν above, a common habit (ellipse) in John s Gospel (1 John 1:8; 1 John 9:3; 1 John 13:18; 1 John 15:25).

That they might be made manifest (ινα φανερωθωσιν). Purpose clause with ινα and the first aorist passive subjunctive of φανεροω, for which verb see John 21:1; Colossians 3:4. See 2 Corinthians 3:3 for the personal construction with οτ as here.

They all are not (ουκ εισιν παντες). Not just some, but all, as in 1 John 2:21; 1 John 3:5. These antichrists are thus revealed in their true light.

Verse 20

Anointing (χρισμα). Old word for result (ματ) and for the material, from χριω, to anoint, perhaps suggested by the use of αντιχριστο in verse 1 John 2:18. Christians are "anointed ones," χριστο in this sense, with which compare Psalms 105:15: "Touch not my anointed ones" (μη αψησθε των χριστων μου). These antichrists posed as the equals of or even superior to Christ himself. But followers of Christ do have "the oil of anointing" (το ελαιον του χρισματος, Exodus 29:7), the Holy Spirit. This word in the N.T. only here and verse 1 John 2:27. Later the term was applied to baptism after baptismal remission came to be taught (Tertullian, etc.).

From the Holy One (απο του αγιου). They receive this anointing of the Holy Spirit from the Anointed One, Jesus Christ (the Holy One). Cf. John 6:69; Acts 3:14.

And ye know all things (κα οιδατε παντα). But the best MSS. read παντες rather than παντα, "Ye all know it." This anointing is open to all Christians, not just a select few.

Verse 21

I have not written (ουκ εγραψα). Not epistolary aorist (1 John 2:14), but a reference to what he has just said.

And because no lie is of the truth (κα οτ παν ψευδος εκ της αληθειας ουκ εστιν). Not certain whether οτ here is causal (because) or declarative (that). Either makes sense. Note the idiomatic use of εκ and παν--ουκ=ουδεν (no) as in verse 1 John 2:19.

Verse 22

The liar (ο ψευστης). The liar (with the article) par excellence. Rhetorical question to sharpen the point made already about lying in 1 John 1:6; 1 John 1:10; 1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:21. See 1 John 5:5 for a like rhetorical question.

But (ε μη). Except, if not.

That denieth that Jesus is the Christ (ο αρνουμενος οτ Ιησους ουκ εστιν ο Χριστος). Common Greek idiom for ουκ to appear after αρνεομα like redundant μη in Luke 20:27; Hebrews 12:19. The old Latin retains non here as old English did (Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors IV. ii. 7, "He denied you had in him no right"). The Cerinthian Gnostics denied the identity of the man Jesus and Christ (an αεον, they held) like the modern Jesus or Christ controversy.

This is the antichrist (ουτος εστιν ο αντιχριστος). The one just mentioned, Cerinthus himself in particular.

Even he that denieth the Father and the Son (ο αρνουμενος τον πατερα κα τον υιον). This is the inevitable logic of such a rejection of the Son of God. Jesus had himself said this very same thing (John 5:23).

Verse 23

Hath not the Father (ουδε τον πατερα εχε). "Not even does he have the Father" or God (2 John 1:9).

He that confesseth the Son (ο ομολογων τον υιον). Because the Son reveals the Father (John 1:18; John 14:9). Our only approach to the Father is by the Son (John 14:6). Confession of Christ before men is a prerequisite for confession by Christ before the Father (Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8).

Verse 24

As for you (υμεις). Emphatic proleptic position before the relative ο and subject of ηκουσατε, a familiar idiom in John 8:45; John 10:29, etc. Here for emphatic contrast with the antichrists. See 1 John 1:1 for απ' αρχης (from the beginning).

Let abide in you (εν υμιν μενετω). Present active imperative of μενω, to remain. Do not be carried away by the new-fangled Gnostic teaching.

Verse 25

And this is the promise (κα αυτη εστιν η επαγγελια). See 1 John 1:5 for the same idiom with αγγελια (message). This is the only instance of επαγγελια in the Johannine writings. Here "the promise" is explained to be "the life eternal" (1 John 1:2). In Acts 1:4 the word is used for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

He promised (αυτος επηγγειλατο). First aorist middle indicative of επαγγελλω. Αυτος (he) is Christ as is seen in 1 John 3:3 by εκεινος.

Verse 26

Concerning them that would lead you astray (περ των πλανωντων υμας). "Concerning those that are trying to lead you astray" (conative use of the present active articular participle of πλαναω. See 1 John 1:8 for this verb. John is doing his part to rescue the sheep from the wolves, as Paul did (Acts 20:29).

Verse 27

And as for you (κα υμεις). Prolepsis again as in verse 1 John 2:24.

Which ye received of him (ο ελαβετε απ' αυτου). Second aorist active indicative of λαμβανω, a definite experience, this anointing (χρισμα), from Christ himself as in verse 1 John 2:20. This Paraclete was promised by Christ (John 14:26; John 16:13) and came on the great Pentecost, as they knew, and in the experience of all who yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit.

That any one teach you (ινα τις διδασκη υμας). Sub-final use of ινα and the present active subjunctive of διδασκω, "that any one keep on teaching you."

Teacheth you (διδασκε υμας). Present active indicative. The Holy Spirit was to bring all things to their remembrance (John 14:26) and to bear witness concerning Christ (John 15:26; John 16:12-15). Yet they need to be reminded of what they already know to be "true" (αληθες) and "no lie" (ουκ εστιν ψευδος), according to John's habit of positive and negative (1 John 1:5). So he exhorts them to "abide in him" (μενετε εν αυτω, imperative active, though same form as the indicative). Precisely so Jesus had urged that the disciples abide in him (John 15:4).

Verse 28

And now (κα νυν). John tenderly repeats the exhortation, "keep on abiding in him."

If he shall be manifested (εαν φανερωθη). Condition of third class with εαν and first aorist passive subjunctive as in verse 1 John 2:19; Colossians 3:3. A clear reference to the second coming of Christ which may be at any time.

That we have boldness (ινα σχωμεν παρρησιαν). Purpose clause with ινα and the ingressive second aorist active subjunctive of εχω, "that we may get boldness."

And not be ashamed (κα μη αισχυνθωμεν). Likewise negative purpose (after John's fashion) with μη and the first aorist passive subjunctive of αισχυνω, to put to shame.

Before him (απ' αυτου). "From him," as if shrinking away from Christ in guilty surprise. See 2 Thessalonians 1:9 for this use of απο (from the face of the Lord).

Verse 29

If ye know (εαν ειδητε). Third-class condition again with εαν and second perfect active subjunctive of οιδα. If ye know by intuitive or absolute knowledge that Christ (because of verse 1 John 2:28) is righteous, then "ye know" or "know ye" (γινωσκετε either indicative or imperative) by experimental knowledge (so γινωσκω means in contrast with οιδα).

Is begotten (γεγεννητα). Perfect passive indicative of γενναω, stands begotten, the second birth (regeneration) of John 3:3-8.

Of him (εξ αυτου). Plainly "of God" in verse 1 John 2:9 and so apparently here in spite of δικαιος referring to Christ. Doing righteousness is proof of the new birth.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/1-john-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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