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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
1 John 2

 

 

Verse 1-2

1 John 2:1 f. Instead of regarding sin as non-existent or unimportant, men should avoid committing it; though if they sin, they may secure forgiveness because of the sacrifice and intercession of Christ.

1 John 2:1. an advocate: otherwise "Comforter" or "Paraclete." The word is applied in John 14 to the Holy Spirit. It denotes primarily "one who is called to the aid of another" in a court of law, "the counsel for the defence." Hence here it describes Christ in His intercession for sinners before God. His righteousness qualifies Him for this work.

1 John 2:2. propitiation: that by which God's favour is secured for sinners. The propitiation is Jesus Himself, since His own humanity, perfected through suffering, is the sacrifice which He as Priest brings to God. His offering has world-wide efficacy.


Verses 3-11

1 John 2:3-11. Obedience the Proof of Fellowship.—Here John repeats in a positive way the teaching of the previous section. Conduct cannot be, as the false teachers claimed, a matter of indifference, for true knowledge of God implies moral affinity to Him, i.e. obedience to His commandments and an attempt to imitate Christ. "I know Him" was the watchword of the false teachers, their reference being to an esoteric and barren intellectualism. But John uses "know" in its large Biblical sense as denoting the intimacy of moral fellowship and affection between man and God. Hence by its very nature knowledge involved for man an effort to obey God's will and to imitate His spirit, religion which came short of this being unreal and false.

1 John 2:3. Better, "hereby we come to know that," etc. Comparison with 1 John 2:6 shows that to "know God" and to "be in Him" are parallel expressions, both denoting vital fellowship, and that to heed Christ's commandments and to walk "even as he walked" are two ways of stating the same thing, Christ's life being an embodiment of His precepts.

1 John 2:5. been perfected: become mature, reached perfect expression.—the love of God: i.e. our love to God; the teaching is (in harmony with John 14:15; John 14:21; John 14:23) that the proof of love is obedience.

1 John 2:7-11. The mention of Christ's commandments leads John to recall specially Christ's new commandment of love (John 13:34). In a sense it was no longer new since it had been the property of the Church "from the beginning." Yet it was new: in Christ, because He had made its standard to be that of His own love; in His disciples, as they gradually realised their duty in the growing light of the Gospel. A man who claimed special illumination and yet was without love for his brother was living in spiritual darkness.

1 John 2:7. from the beginning: either of the Church, the reference then being to John 13:34; or, preferably, of their own religious life when they "heard" it in the teaching given to them.

1 John 2:8. which . . . you: this difficult expression refers to the newness of the commandment. In a sense the commandment was not new even when Christ uttered it, for love to neighbours had been enjoined in the OT (Leviticus 19:18). Yet Jesus in act and word gave that love a new depth and range, and His followers, in the fresh demands which the commandment made and their growing realisation of its meaning, also found it new.

1 John 2:9 a. A reference, like 1 John 2:4*, to the special illumination claimed by the false teachers.—brother here and in 1 Jn. generally probably means no more than "fellow-Christian." John says nothing of the duty of Christians to love non-Christians.


Verses 12-14

1 John 2:12-14 slightly breaks the argument. It is prompted by John's desire to remove any impression which the earnestness of his previous words may have created, that he had misgivings as to the spiritual condition of his readers. He speaks approvingly of their knowledge both of Christ ("him which is from the beginning") and of the Father, and of their victories over temptation. He writes not because they are faulty, but to save them from being injured. The phrase "little children" (John 13:33) is a term of endearment applied here to Christians in general (Matthew 18:6*), whilst "fathers" and "young men" will represent two stages, the sage and mature, the active and strenuous.

1 John 2:13. I have written, by a grammatical usage peculiar to Gr., probably means no more than "I write" in 1 John 2:12.


Verses 15-17

1 John 2:15-17. Christians are called to love God and their brethren, but they must not love the world, i.e. the circle of interests divorced from God and in opposition to His will. Its gratifications, such as sensual excesses, unlawful desires awakened by means of the eyes, self-assertive and atheistical display, belong to a doomed and dying order. World is the key-word to this section. Unlike 1 John 2:2 (cf. also 1 John 4:14), where it describes the sum total of humanity, it means here the un-Christian and anti-Christian forces and interests of the time, society viewed as apart from God and controlled merely by selfishness. Hence in John's terminology it is the antithesis of the Church which it hates (1 John 3:13), the home of Antichrist and false prophets (1 John 4:1 ff.), and the domain of Satan (1 John 5:19). The sharp contrast in the first century between the Christian brotherhood and society outside it gave special point to this conception.

1 John 2:17 a. John believed that the existing order of things was on the point of being brought to an end (1 John 2:18). On this ground, love of it was foolish, even as, because of its moral quality, love of it was incompatible with a true love for God (cf. James 4:4).


Verses 18-28

1 John 2:18-28. The Antichrists and their Teaching.—Here John deals with the false teachers, who embody the spirit of Antichrist and betoken by their appearance the speedy end of the world and the return of Christ. These teachers had left the Church because in spirit they had never really belonged to it. Christians had, through the Holy Spirit, power to detect their falsehoods, notably those concerning the person of Christ. Hence John urges his readers to abide in what they had been taught, their spiritual anointing giving him confidence that they will do so, and that they will stand unashamed before Christ at His coming.

1 John 2:18. ye heard: the reference is to the Christian teaching they had received. Jewish writings spoke of the Messiah's coming being preceded by an outbreak of fierce hostility to God, sometimes concentrated in some outstanding figure. The idea passed into Christian teaching concerning the return of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:3*, 1 Timothy 4:1). False Christs were also expected (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:24), and thus the term "Antichrist" was applied to the malignant being (or those embodying his ideas and spirit) who opposed the Church in the "last hour," i.e. the period immediately preceding Christ's return.

1 John 2:20 a. He refers to the Holy Spirit which had been given them, "the Holy One" who gave it being God, or perhaps Christ.

1 John 2:22. See Introduction. We know God as Father through knowing Christ as Son. The Sonship constitutes and interprets the Fatherhood. Those, therefore, who destroyed Christ's sonship by denying that there had been a real Incarnation of God in Him, or held that Christ was a Divine on which had been only for a time united with the man Jesus, the two thus being distinct, surrendered thereby the Christian doctrine of God.

1 John 2:24. which . . . beginning: cf. 1 John 2:7. The belief that Jesus was Divine had been taught in the Church from its foundation, or at least to these believers at their conversion.

1 John 2:25. life eternal: 1 John 1:2*. Eternal life, as John conceives it, is dependent upon fellowship with the Father and the Son (John 17:3*).

1 John 2:27. The Holy Spirit granted to the readers will by His inward illumination save them from being beguiled by the false teachers. The range and truth of His teaching is emphasized.—ye abide: the indicative is better than the imperative (mg.). Because John's readers were already abiding in Christ, he could exhort them (1 John 2:28) to continue doing so.

1 John 2:28. if he shall be manifested: the conditional form of statement implies no doubt as to Christ's actual return. Only the time was uncertain.


Verse 29

1 John 2:29 to 1 John 5:12. The Characteristics of God's Children.

1 John 2:29 to 1 John 3:3. Because God, made known to us in Christ, is righteous, those who claim to be His children must be like Him, with a goodness which the world does not understand and which at Christ's manifestation will be perfected.

1 John 2:29. (read mg.) connects most naturally with the argument that follows. "He" in "he is righteous" ought, in view of 1 John 2:28, to refer to Christ, whilst "begotten of him," according to general NT usage, should mean "begotten of God." The somewhat loose use of the pronoun is an illustration of the ease with which John's thought passed from God to Christ and vice versa, the identity between them being regarded as so complete.

1 John 3:1. knew him not: an echo of John 17:25.*

1 John 3:2 b. We shall be changed by beholding (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18); seeing Christ we shall pass into His likeness. Christ is the type after which all God's children are to be fashioned.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 John 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-john-2.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 6th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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