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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
1 John 2

 

 

Verse 1

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

- (1 John 5:18.)

My little children , [ Teknia (Greek #5040)] - the diminutive expresses the tender affection of an aged pastor and spiritual father. My own dear children, i:e., sons and daughters (note, 1 John 2:12).

These things - (1 John 1:6-10.) My purpose in writing so is, not that you should abuse them as a license to sin; on the contrary, 'in order that ye may not sin at all' (the aorist [ hamarteete (Greek #264)] implying the absence, not only of the habit, but of single acts of sin, Alford). To "walk in the light" (1 John 1:5-7), the first step is confession of sin (1 John 1:9), the next (1 John 2:1), that we should forsake all sin. The divine purpose aims either to prevent the commission of, or to destroy, sin (Bengel).

And - Furthermore, "if any man sin," let him, while loathing and condemning it, not fear to go at once to God, the Judge, confessing it; for "we have an Advocate with Him." He is speaking of a BELIEVER'S occasional sins of infirmity through Satan's fraud. The "we" immediately afar implies that we all are liable, though not necessarily constrained, to sin. We have an advocate - God's family blessing: other blessings He grants to good and bad alike; but justification, sanctification, continued intercession (contrast Luke 23:34, for enemies), and peace, He grants to His children alone.

Advocate , [ parakleeton (Greek #3875)] - the same term as is applied to the Holy Spirit, the 'other Comforter:' showing the unity of the Second and Third Persons. Christ is the Intercessor for us above; in His absence, here below, the Holy Spirit is the 'other' Intercessor in as (Romans 8:26). Christ's advocacy is inseparable from the Holy Spirit's working in us, as the spirit of intercessory prayer.

Righteous - as our "Advocate" is not a mere suppliant. He pleads for us on the ground of justice, as well as mercy. Though He can say nothing good of us, He can say much for us. On His righteousness, obedience to the law, and endurance of its full penury for us, He grounds His claim for our acquittal. The sense is, 'in that He is righteous:' in contrast to our sin ("if any man sin"). The Father, by raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at His own right hand, has once for all accepted Christ's claim for us. Therefore, the accuser's charges against God's children are vain (Psalms 109:6; Psalms 109:31; Revelation 12:10). 'The righteousness of Christ stands on our side; for God's righteousness is, in Christ, ours,' (Luther) (Zechariah 3:1, etc.)


Verse 2

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

And he , [ Autos (Greek #846)] - 'And Himself.' He is our all-prevailing Advocate, because He is Himself 'the propitiation:' abstract, as in 1 Corinthians 1:30 : He is to us all that is needed for 'propitiation in behalf of [ hilasmos (Greek #2434) peri (Greek #4012)] our sins:' the propitiatory sacrifice, provided by the Father's love, removing the estrangement, appeasing God's righteous wrath against the sinner. 'There is no incongruity that a father should be offended with that son whom he loveth, and at that time offended with him, when he loveth him' (Dr. Pearson). [The only other New Testament passage where hilasmos (Greek #2434) occurs, is 1 John 4:10 : it answers in Septuagint to Hebrew kaapar (Hebrew #3722), to effect an atonement or reconciliation with God; in Ezekiel 44:27, to the sin-offering; in Romans 3:25 ( hilasteerion (Greek #2435)), it is a "propitiatory" - i:e., the mercy-seat, or lid of the ark whereon God, represented by the Shekinah glory above it, met His people, represented by the high priest who sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on it.]

And , [ de (Greek #1161)] - 'yet.'

Ours - believers: not Jews, in contrast to Gentiles; for he is not writing to Jews (1 John 5:21).

Also for the sins of the whole world. Christ's advocacy is limited to believers (1 John 2:1; 1 John 1:7): His propitiation extends as widely as sin: note, 2 Peter 2:1, "the whole world" cannot be restricted to the believing portion (cf. 1 John 4:14 and 1 John 5:19). 'Thou, too, art part of the world: thine heart cannot think, The Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me' (Luther).


Verse 3

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Hereby , [ en (Greek #1722) touto (Greek #5124)] - 'in this.' 'It is herein only that we know (present) that we have knowledge of (perfect: once-for-all obtained and continuing knowledge of) Him' (1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:13-14). Tokens whereby to discern grace are frequent in this letter. The Gnostics, by the Spirit's prescient forewarning, are refuted, who boasted of knowledge, but set aside obedience. "Know Him," namely, as "the righteous" (1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:29): our "Advocate and Intercessor."

Keep - John's favourite word, instead of do [ teeroomen (Greek #5083)], to guard, and keep safe as a precious thing; observing so as to keep. So Christ Himself (John 15:10). Not faultless conformity, but hearty acceptance of, and willing subjection to, God's whole revealed will.

Commandments , [ entolas (Greek #1785)] - injunctions of faith, love, and obedience. John uses 'the law' to express, not the rule of Christian obedience, but the Mosaic law.


Verse 4

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

I know - `I have knowledge of (perfect) Him' (cf. 1 John 1:8).


Verse 5

But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Not merely repeating the proposition, 1 John 2:3, or asserting the opposite alternative to 1 John 2:4, but expanding the "know Him" of 1 John 2:3 into "in Him verily (not vain boasting) is the love of (i:e., toward) God perfected," and "we are in Him." Love here answers to knowledge in 1 John 2:3. In proportion as we love God, we know Him: until our love and knowledge shall attain their full maturity of perfection.

His word. His word is one (note, 1 John 1:5), comprising His "commandments," which are many (1 John 2:3).

Hereby - in our progressing to wards this ideal of perfected love and obedience. There is a gradation: 1 John 2:3, "know Him;" 1 John 2:5, "we are in Him;" 1 John 2:6, "abideth in Him:" respectively, knowledge, fellowship, abiding constancy (Bengel).


Verse 6

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Abideth - a condition lasting, without intermission and end.

He that saith ... ought. So that his deeds may be consistent with his words.

Even as he. Believers readily supply the name, their hearts being full of Him (cf. John 20:15). "Even as He walked" when on earth, especially as to love. John delights in referring to Christ as the model man: "even as He," etc. 'It is not Christ's walking on the sea, but His ordinary walk, we are called on to imitate' (Luther).


Verse 7

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

Brethren. 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, read 'Beloved,' appropriate to the subject, love.

No new commandment - love, the principle of walking as Christ walked (1 John 2:6), and that commandment, of which exemplification is given, 1 John 2:9-10, the love of brethren.

Ye had from the beginning - from the time ye first heard the Gospel word.


Verse 8

Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

A new commandment. It was "old," in that Christians as such had heard it from the first; but "new" [ kainee (Greek #2537), not nea: new and different from the old legal precept], in that it was first clearly promulgated with Christianity: though the inner spirit of the law was love even to enemies, yet it was enveloped in some bitter precepts, which caused it to be temporarily almost unrecognized. Christianity first put love to brethren on the new and highest MOTIVE, instinctive love to Him who first loved us, constraining us to love all, even enemies, thereby walking in the steps of Him who loved us when enemies. So Jesus calls it "new," John 13:34-35 : "Love one another, as I have loved you" (the new motive), John 15:12.

Which thing is true in him and in you. 'In Christ all things are always true, and were so from the beginning; but in Christ and in us conjointly the commandment (the love of brethren) is then true when we acknowledge the truth which is in Him, and have the same flourishing in us' (Bengel, Alford). Which thing (the fact that the commandment is a new one) is true in the case of Him and of you, because the darkness is passing away in the case of you, and the true light is now shining, and began to shine ever since He came into the world, bringing this commandment. I prefer, The new commandment finds its truth in its practical realization in the walk of Christians in union with Christ. Compare "verily," 1 John 2:5; John 4:42; John 6:55, "indeed." The repetition, "in Him and in you," not "in Him and you," implies that the love-commandment finds its realization separately: first "in Him," and then "in us," in so far as we now "also walk even as He walked;" yet it finds its realization also conjointly, by the two being united in one sentence, even as it is by the love-commandment having been first fulfilled in Him, that it is also now fulfilled in us, through His Spirit in us: cf. a similar case, John 20:17, "My Father and your Father:" by virtue of His being "My Father," He is also your Father.

Darkness is past - rather, as 1 John 2:17, 'is passing away.' It shall not be wholly "past" until "the Sun of righteousness" shall arise visibly: "the light is shining" already, though partially until the day bursts forth.


Verse 9

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

There is no mean between light and darkness, love and hatred, life and death, God and the world: wherever spiritual life is, however weak, there darkness and death up longer reign, love supplants hatred. Luke 9:50 holds good: wherever life is not, there death, darkness, the flesh, the world, and hatred, however hidden from man's observation, prevail. Luke 11:23 holds good: 'where love is not, there hatred is; for the heart cannot remain a void' (Bengel).

In the light - as his proper element.

His brother - his neighbour, especially the Christian brotherhood. The title brother is a reason why love should be exercised.

Even until now - notwithstanding that 'the true light already has begun to shine' (1 John 2:8).


Verse 10

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

Abiding in love is abiding in the light; for Gospel light not only illumines the understanding, but warms the heart.

None occasion of stumbling - in contrast to 1 John 2:11.

'In him who loves there is neither blindness nor occasion of stumbling (to himself): in him who does not love, there in both. He who hates his brother stumbles against himself and everything within and without: he who loves has an unimpeded path' (Bengel). John has in mind Jesus' words, John 11:9-10. 'The light and the darkness are within; admitted into us by the eye, whose singleness fills the whole body with light' (Alford).


Verse 11

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

Is in darkness, and walketh. "Is" marks his continuing STATE: he has never come our of 'the darkness:' "walketh" marks his OUTWARD COURSE.

Whither , [ pou (Greek #4226)] - 'where:' including not only the destination to which, but the way whereby.

Hath blinded - aorist, "blinded" of old. Darkness not only surrounds, but blinds him, and that a blindness of long standing.


Verse 12

I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.

Little children , [ teknia (Greek #5040)] - 'little sons;' 'dear sons and daughters:' not the same as 1 John 2:13 [ paidia (Greek #3813)], "little children," 'infants' (in age and standing). He calls ALL to whom he writes, 'little sons' (1 John 2:1, Greek; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:21); but only in 1 John 2:13; 1 John 2:18 he uses "little children." Our Lord, whose spirit John so deeply drank into, used to His disciples (John 13:33), 'little sons'-dear sons and daughters; but in John 21:5, "little children." It is an undesigned coincidence with the letter, that in John's gospel similarly the classification, 'lambs, sheep, sheep' [in A C, not 'Aleph (') B D, arnia (Greek #721) probata (Greek #4263) probatia (Greek #4263)] occurs.

Are forgiven , [ afeoontai (Greek #863)] - 'have been, and are forgiven you.' ALL God's sons and daughters [ teknia (Greek #5040), not merely the paidia (Greek #3813)] enjoy this privilege.


Verse 13-14

I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

All three classes are first addressed in the present, "I write;" then in the aorist [ egrapsa (Greek #1125)], 'I wrote.' Moreover, in 'Aleph (') A B C, in the end of 1 John 2:13, 'I wrote,' not "I write." Two classes, "fathers" and "young men," are addressed with the same words each time (except that the address to the young men has an addition, expressing the source of their victory); but the 'little sons' and "little children" are differently addressed, as 'little sons' includes all three classes.

Have known - and do know: so the perfect means. The 'I wrote' refers not to a former letter, but to this. It was an idiom to put the past, regarding the time from the reader's point of view: when he should receive the letter the writing would be past. When he uses "I write," he speaks from his own point of view.

Him that is from the beginning - Christ: 'that which was from the beginning.'

Overcome. The fathers, appropriately to their age, are characterized by knowledge. The young men, appropriately to theirs, by activity in conflict. The fathers, too, have conquered; but now their active service is past, and they and the children alike are characterized by knowing (the fathers know Christ, 'Him that was from the beginning;' the children know the Father). The first thing that the little children realize is that God is their Father; corresponding in the parallel clause to 'little sons ... your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake'-the universal privilege of all those really dear sons of God. Thus this latter includes all, whereas the former refers to these especially in the first stage of spiritual life, "little children." Of course these can only know the Father as theirs through the Son (Matthew 11:27). It is beautiful to see how the fathers are characterized as reverting to the first great truth of spiritual childhood, the ripest fruit of advanced experience, the knowledge of him that was from the beginning (twice, 1 John 2:13-14). Many of them had probably known Jesus in person, as well as by faith.

Young men ... strong - made so out of natural weakness, hence, enabled to overcome 'the strong man armed,' through Him that is 'stronger' (Hebrews 11:34). Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. "Overcome" is peculiarly John's term, adopted from his loved Lord (John 16:33). It occurs sixteen times in the Apocalypse, six times in the first letter, only thrice in the rest of the New Testament. In order to overcome the world on the ground of the blood of the Saviour, we must be willing, like Christ, to pert with whatever of the world belongs to us: whence immediately after 'ye have overcome (and are overcoming: perfect) the wicked one (the prince of the world),' it is added, "Love not the world, neither the things ... in the world."

And ... - the secret of the young men's strength: the Gospel word clothed with living power by the Spirit who abideth permanently in them. This is "the sword of the Spirit" wielded in prayerful waiting on God. Contrast the mere physical strength of young men, Isaiah 40:30-31. Oral teaching prepared them for the profitable use of the word when written. 'Antichrist cannot endanger you (1 John 2:18), nor Satan tear from you the word of God.'

The wicked one - who, as "prince of this world," enthralls it (1 John 2:15-17; 1 John 5:19, Greek, "the wicked one"), especially the young. Christ came to destroy him (1 John 3:8). Believers achieve the first conquest over him when they pass from darkness to light; but afterward they need to maintain a continual keeping of themselves from his assaults, looking to God, by whom alone they are kept safe. Bengel thinks John refers to the remarkable constancy exhibited by youths in Domitian's persecution. Also to the young man whom John, after his return from Patmos, led, with loving persuasion, to repentance. This youth had been commended by John, in one of his apostolic tours, as a promising disciple to the overseers of the Church: he had been, therefore, carefully watched up to baptism. But afterward, relying too much on baptismal grace, he joined evil associates, and fell from step to step down, until he became a captain of robbers. When John, some years after, revisited that church, and heard of it, he hastened to the retreat of the robbers, suffered himself to be seized, and taken into the captain's presence. The youth, stung by conscience, fled away from the venerable apostle. Full of love, the aged father ran after him, called on him to take courage, and announced to him forgiveness of his sins in the name of Christ. The youth was recovered to Christianity, and induced many of his bad associates to repent and believe (Clemens Alexandrinus, 'Quis dives salvus?' 100: 4:, 2).


Verse 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 - that lieth in the wicked one (1 John 5:19), whom ye young men have overcome. Having once for all, through faith, overcome the world (1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:4), keep your conquest by not loving "the world" in its state as fallen from God. "God loved (with compassion) the world." We should feel the same love for the fallen world; but we are not to love the world with congeniality and sympathy in its alienation from God. We cannot have this love for the God-estranged world, and yet have also "the love of the Father" in us.

Neither , [ meede (Greek #3366)] - 'nor yet.' A man might deny in general that he loved the world, while keenly following THE THINGS IN IT-its riches, honours, or pleasures; this clause prevents him escaping conviction.

Any man. Therefore the warning, though primarily addressed to the young, applies to all.

Love of - i:e., toward "the Father." The two, God and the (sinful) world, are so opposed, that both cannot be congenially loved at once.


Verse 16

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

All that is in the world - can be closed under one or other of the three.

Lust of the flesh - i:e., which has its seat in our lower animal nature. Satan tried this temptation first on Christ (Luke 4:3). Youth is especially liable to fleshly lusts.

Lust of the eyes - the avenue through which outward things of the world, riches, pomp, and beauty, inflame us. Satan tried this temptation on Christ when he showed Him the kingdoms of the world in a moment. By lust of the eyes David (2 Samuel 11:2) and Achan fell (Joshua 7:21). Compare Psalms 119:37; Job's resolve, Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28. The only good of riches to the possessor is beholding them with the eyes. Compare Luke 14:18, "I must go and SEE it."

Pride of life , [ alazoneia (Greek #212)] - arrogant assumption: vain-glorious display. Pride was that whereby Satan fell, and forms the link between the two foes, the world (answering to the lust of the eyes) and the devil (the lust of the flesh is the third foe). Satan tried this temptation against Christ on the temple-pinnacle that in spiritual presumption, on the ground of His Father's care, He should cast Himself down. The same three foes appear in the three classes of soil on which the divine seed falls: The wayside hearers, the Devil; the thorns, the world; the rocky under soil, the flesh. The world's anti-Trinity, the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," similarly is presented in Satan's temptation of Eve: 'When she saw that the tree was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise' (one manifestation of "the pride of life," desire to know above what God has revealed, Colossians 2:8; pride of unsanctified knowledge).

Of - does not spring from "the Father" (as the "little children," 1 John 2:13). He who is born of God alone turns to God; be who is of the world turns to the world: the sources of love to God and love to the world are irreconcilably distinct.


Verse 17

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

The world - with all who are of the world worldly.

Passeth away , [ paragetai (Greek #3855)] - 'is passing away' even now.

The lust thereof - in its threefold manifestation (1 John 2:16).

He that doeth the will of God - not his own fleshly will, or that of the world, but that of God (1 John 2:3-6), especially as to love.

Abideth forever - `even as God abideth forever' (with whom the godly is one, cf. Psalms 55:19): a true comment, which Cyprian and Lucifer added to the text without support of Greek manuscripts. In contrast to the three passing lusts of the world, the doer of God's will has three abiding goods, "riches, honour, and life" (Proverbs 22:4).


Verse 18

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

Little children - in age. Same Greek as 1 John 2:13. After the fathers and young men were gone, "the last time" with its "many Antichrists" was about to come suddenly on the children. 'In this last hour we all still live.' Each successive age has had some signs of "the last time" which precedes Christ's coming, in order to keep the Church in continual waiting for the Lord. 1 Corinthians 10:11, "the ends of the world" - i:e., the last dispensation. The connection with 1 John 2:15-17 is, There are coming those seducers who are of the world (1 John 4:5), and would tempt you to go out from us (1 John 2:19) and deny Christ (1 John 2:22).

As ye have heard - from the apostles (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10; and in the reign of Ephesus, Acts 20:29-30).

Shall come - `cometh' out of his own place. Antichrist is interpreted as:

(1) a false Christ (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:24); a vice-Christ, 'instead of Christ;'

(2) an adversary of Christ, 'against Christ.'

As John never uses pseudo-Christ for Antichrist, he probably means an adversary of Christ, claiming what belongs to Christ, wishing to substitute himself for Christ as the supreme object of worship. He denies the Son, not merely acts in the name of the Son. 2 Thessalonians 2:4, "Who opposeth himself [ANTIkeimenos] [to] all that is called God." For God's great truth, 'God is man,' he substitutes his owe lie, 'man is God' (Trench).

Are there , [ gegonasin (Greek #1096)] - 'there have begun to be.' These "many Antichrists" answer to "the mystery of lawlessness doth already work" (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The anti-Christian principle appeared then, as now, in evil men, teachings, and writings; still "THE Antichrist" means a hostile person, even as 'THE Christ' is a personal Saviour. As "cometh" is used of Christ, so of Antichrist, the embodiment of all the anti-Christian features of those "many Antichrists" which have been his forerunners. John uses the singular of him. No other New Testament writer uses the term. He answers to "the little horn having the eyes of a man, and speaking great things" (Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20); "the man of sin, son of perdition" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17); "the beast ascending out of the bottomless pit," i:e., the beast healed of its deadly wound (Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8), rather, "the false prophet," the same as "the second beast coming up out of the earth" (Revelation 13:3; Revelation 13:11-18; Revelation 16:13).


Verse 19

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Out from us from our Christian communion Not necessarily a formal secession; thus Rome has spiritually Out from us - from our Christian communion. Not necessarily a formal secession; thus Rome has spiritually gone out, though formally still of the Christian Church.

Not of us - by spiritual fellowship (1 John 1:3): 'like bad humours in the body of Christ: when they are vomited out, the body is relieved; it is still under treatment, and has not yet attained the perfect soundness which it shall have only at the resurrection' (Augustine, 'Ep. John, Tract,' 3,4).

They would ... have continued - implying the indefectibility of grace in the elect. 'Where God's call is effectual, there will be sure perseverance' (Calvin). No fatal, but a 'voluntary necessity' (Didymus), causes men to remain, or else go from the body of Christ. 'We are among the members, or else among the bad humours. It is of his own will that each is either an Antichrist, or in Christ' (Augustine). God's eternal election harmonizes in a way inexplicable to us, with man's free agency. It is men's own evil will that chooses hell; it is God's sovereign grace that draws anyone to heaven. To God the latter shall ascribe wholly their salvation; the former shall reproach themselves alone, not God's decree, with their condemnation (1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18).

That they were set all of us. This would imply that some of the Antichrists are of us! Translate, "That all (who are among us) ARE not of us." Compare 1 Corinthians 11:19. Such occasions test who are, and who are not, the Lord's people.


Verse 20

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

But - Greek, 'And.' He states the means which believers have to withstand Antichrists (1 John 2:18), namely, the chrism [ chrisma (Greek #5545): a play upon similar sounds], or 'anointing unguent,' the Holy Spirit (plainly mentioned further on, in John's style, 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:13; 1 John 5:6), which they ("ye," in contrast to those apostates, 1 John 2:19) have from Christ (John 1:33; John 3:34; John 15:26; John 16:14): "the righteous" (1 John 2:1), "pure" (1 John 3:3), "the Holy One" (Acts 3:14) "of God" (Mark 1:24). Those anointed of God in Christ alone can resist those anointed with Satan's spirit, Antichrists, who would sever them from the Father and the Son. Believers have the anointing Spirit from the Father, as well as from the Son; even as the Son is anointed therewith by the Father. Hence, the Spirit is the token that we are in the Father and in the Son; without it one is none of Christ's. The material unguent of costliest ingredients, poured on the head of priests and kings, typified this spiritual unguent, derived from Christ, the Head, to us, His members. We have no share in Jesus, except we become truly Christians, being in Christ, anointed with that unction from the Holy One. The Spirit poured on the Head is by Him diffused through the members. 'We all are the body of Christ, because we all are anointed; we all in Him are both Christ's and Christ, because in some measure the whole Christ is Head and body.'

And - therefore.

Ye know all things - needful for acting against Antichrist's seductions, and for Christian life. In whatever measure one hath the Spirit (no more and no less), he knows all needful things.


Verse 21

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

Because ye know it, and that ... Ye not only know the truth (concerning the Son and the Father, 1 John 2:13), but else can detect a lie as opposed to the truth. For right is index of itself and of what is crooked (Estius). Alford, 'Because ye know it, and because no he is of the truth' ('every lie excluded from being of the truth'), I therefore wrote (in this letter) to point out the lie and the liars.


Verse 22

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

A. 'Who is the [ ho (Greek #3588)] liar?' guilty of the lie just mentioned (1 John 2:21).

That Jesus is the Christ - the central truth.

He is Antichrist - `the Antichrist:' not, however, here personal; the ideal of Antichrist is he "that denieth the Father and the Son." To deny the latter is virtually to deny the former. Again, to deny that Jesus is the Christ, or that He is the Son of God, or that He came in the flesh, invalidates the whole (Matthew 11:27).


Verse 23

Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

'Everyone who denieth the Son, hath not the Father either' (1 John 4:2-3); 'inasmuch as God hath given Himself to us wholly to be enjoyed in Christ' (Calvin).

(He that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.) These words ought not to be in italics, for 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, Origen, Cyprian, Hilary, have them.

Hath - in abiding possession as his 'portion;' by personal 'fellowship.'

Acknowledgeth - by open confession Acknowledgeth - by open confession.


Verse 24

Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

Let that - truth respecting he Father and the Son, as a seed not merely dropped in, but having taken root (1 John 3:9).

Ye - standing emphatically at the beginning of the Greek sentence. YE, therefore, acknowledge the Son, so shall ye have the Father also (1 John 2:23).

From the beginning - of the Gospel being preached to you.

Remain - `abide.'

Ye also - in your turn: distinguished from 'that which ye have heard,' the seed abiding in you. Compare 1 John 2:27, "the anointing ... abideth in you ... ye shall abide in Him." Having taken into us the living seed of truth concerning the Father and the Son, we become transformed into the likeness of Him whose seed we have.


Verse 25

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

This is the promise. Eternal life shall be the permanent consummation of abiding in the Son and in the Father (1 John 2:24).

He , [ autos (Greek #846)] - 'Himself,' "the Son" (cf. 1 John 1:1).

Promised - (John 3:15; John 3:36; John 6:40; John 6:47; John 6:57; John 17:2-3.)


Verse 26

These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

These things - (1 John 2:18-25.)

Have I written - resumed from 1 John 2:21; 1 John 2:14.

Seduce you - try to lead you into error.


Verse 27

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

But - Greek, 'And you (contrasting believers with the seducers: and you stands prominent, the construction of the sentence following being altered, no verb agreeing with "and you" until "need not") ... the anointing,' etc. (resumed from 1 John 2:20).

Received of him - (John 1:16.) So 2 Corinthians 2:15.

Abideth in you. He tacitly admonishes them to say to seducers, 'The anointing abideth in us: we do not need a teacher (for we have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, Jeremiah 31:34; John 6:45; John 16:13): it teaches us the truth: in it we will abide' (Bengel).

And - and therefore. God sufficient for those taught of Him: they are independent of others, though, of course, not declining the counsel of faithful ministers. 'Mutual communication is not set aside, but approved of, in the case of partakers of the anointing in one body' (Bengel).

The same anointing - which ye once for all received, and which still abides in you.

Of - `concerning.'

All things - essential salvation: the point under discussion. Not that the believer is infallible; for none here receive the Spirit in its fullness, but only the measure needful for keeping him from soul-destroying error. So the Church, though having the Spirit in her, is not infallible (for fallible members can never make one infallible whole), but is kept from ever wholly losing everywhere the saving truth.

No lie - as anti-Christian teaching.

Ye shall abide in him (1 John 2:24, end) - even as 'the anointing abideth in you.' The oldest manuscripts read the imperative, 'abide in Him.'


Verse 28

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Little children , [ teknia (Greek #5040)] - 'little sons,' as 1 John 2:12 : believers of every stage.

Abide in him - Christ. John, as a loving father, repeats his monition.

When , [ ean (Greek #1437)] - 'if.' The uncertainty is not as to the fact, but the time.

Appear - `be manifested.'

We - both writer and readers.

Ashamed before him , [ apo (Greek #575)] - 'from Him,' shrink from Him ashamed. Contrast "boldness in the day of judgment," 1 John 4:17 : cf. 1 John 3:21; 1 John 5:14. In the Apocalypse (written subsequently) Christ's coming appears at a greater distance.


Verse 29

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

Heading of the second division of the letter: 'God is righteous, therefore everyone that doeth righteousness is born of Him.' Love is the grand principle of "righteousness" selected for discussion, 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:1-3.

If ye know ... ye know , [ Eideete (Greek #1492) - ginooskete (Greek #1097)] - 'If ye are aware (are in possession of the knowledge) ... ye discern also that,' etc. Ye are aware that God (both "the Father," of whom the believer is born, end of this verse, and 1 John 3:1; and "the Son," 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:23) is righteous; ye must thereby perceive also the consequence of that truth-namely, 'that everyone that doeth righteousness (and he alone: the righteousness such as the righteous God approves) is born of Him.' The righteous begetteth the righteous. We are never said to be born again of Christ, but of God, with whom Christ is one. Hollaz in Alford defines the righteousness of God: 'The divine energy by whose power God wills and does all things conformable to His eternal law, prescribes suitable laws to His creatures, fulfils His promises to men, rewards the good, and punishes the ungodly.'

Doeth. 'For the graces are practical, and have their being in being exercised: for when they have ceased to act, or are only about to act, they have not even being' (OEcumenius). 'God is righteous, therefore the source of righteousness: when a man doeth righteousness, we know that he has acquired by new birth that righteousness which he had not by nature. We argue from his doing righteousness to his being born of God. The error of Pelagians is to conclude that doing righteousness is a condition of becoming a child of God' (Alford). Compare Luke 7:47; Luke 7:50 : her much love evinced that her sins were already forgiven; not, were the condition of her sins being forgiven.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-john-2.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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