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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 John 2

Verse 1

1Jn 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" Joh 13:23 Joh 19:26 Joh 20:2 Joh 21:7 Joh 21:20 Joh 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" (Heb 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."

Verse 2

1Jn 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 Joh 3:16.)

Verse 3

1Jn 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.

Verse 4

1Jn 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.

Verse 5

1Jn 2:5. The love of God perfected has virtually the same thought as Jesus expressed in Joh 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.

Verse 6

1Jn 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?" (Amo 3:3.)

Verse 7

1Jn 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.

Verse 8

1Jn 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.

Verse 9

1Jn 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.

Verse 10

1Jn 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 (Rom 14:13).

Verse 11

1Jn 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.

Verse 12

1Jn 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.

Verse 13

1Jn 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.

Verse 14

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

Verse 15

1Jn 2:15. World is from a word that means the inhabitants of the earth. Other passages require us to love our enemies and Joh 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" (1Pe 2:11).

Verse 16

1Jn 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 Gen 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 Luk 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.

Verse 17

1Jn 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.

Verse 18

1Jn 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).

Verse 19

1Jn 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" (Rom 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.

Verse 20

1Jn 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 (2Pe 1:3).

Verse 21

1Jn 2:21. Not all inspired writing was done to give new information but also to supplement what had been given (2Pe 1:12-13 2Pe 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.

Verse 22

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

Verse 23

1Jn 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.

Verse 24

1Jn 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.

Verse 25

1Jn 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."

Verse 26

1Jn 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.

Verse 27

1Jn 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.

Verse 28

1Jn 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.

Verse 29

1Jn 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.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 2". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-john-2.html. 1952.