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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
1 John 2

 

 

Verse 1

My little children (τεκνια μουteknia mou). Tender tone with this diminutive of τεκνονteknon (child), again in 1 John 2:12; 1 John 3:18, but παιδιαpaidia 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 αμαρτητεhina mē hamartēte). Purpose (negative) clause with ινα μηhina mē and the second aorist (ingressive, commit sin) active subjunctive of αμαρτανωhamartanō 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 αμαρτηιean tis hamartēi). Third-class condition with εανean and second aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive again, “if one commit sin.”

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

An advocate (παρακλητονparaklēton). See note on John 14:16, and John 14:26; and note on John 15:26; and 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 δικαιοςdikaios (righteous) Jesus is qualified to plead our case and to enter the Father‘s presence (Hebrews 2:18).


Verse 2

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

The propitiation (ιλασμοςhilasmos). Late substantive from ιλασκομαιhilaskomai (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 (περιperi concerning) our sins. See ιλαστηριονhilastērion in Romans 3:15.

For the whole world (περι ολου του κοσμουperi holou tou kosmou). It is possible to supply the ellipsis here of των αμαρτιωνtōn hamartiōn (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 τουτωιen toutōi). 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 εανean clause, “if we keep his commandments” (εαν τηρωμενean tērōmen condition of the third class, εανean with present active subjunctive, “if we keep on keeping”), the clause itself in apposition with τουτωιtoutōi (locative case).

Know we that we know him (γινοσκομεν οτι εγνωκαμεν αυτονginoskomen hoti egnōkamen auton). “Know we that we have come to know and still know him,” εγνωκαμενegnōkamen the perfect active indicative of γινωσκωginōskō 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 (αυτουautou 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 αυτονEgnōka auton). Perfect active indicative with recitative οτιhoti 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 τηρωνho mē tērōn 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” (πσευστηςpseustēs 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 τηρηιhos d' an tērēi). Indefinite relative clause with modal ανan and the present active subjunctive, “whoever keeps on keeping.”

Verily (αλητωςalēthōs). 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 τεου τετελειωταιhē agapē tou theou teteleiōtai). Perfect passive indicative of τελειοωteleioō stands completed. Probably objective genitive, our love for God, which is realized in absolute obedience (Brooke).

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


Verse 6

Himself also to walk (και αυτος περιπατεινkai autos peripatein). Present active infinitive after οπειλειopheilei (ought), “Himself also to keep on walking,” a continuous performance, not a spasmodic spurt.

Even as he walked (κατως εκεινος περιεπατησενkathōs ekeinos periepatēsen). Constative aorist active indicative summing up the life of Christ on earth with the emphatic use of the demonstrative εκεινοςekeinos 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 (αγαπητοιagapētoi). 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; 3 John 1:1, 3 John 1:2, 3 John 1:5, 3 John 1:11).

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

But an old commandment (αλλ εντολην παλαιανall' entolēn palaian). Ancient as opposed both to καινοςkainos and νεοςneos The Mosaic law taught love for one‘s neighbours and Christ taught love even of enemies.

Which ye had (ην ειχετεhēn eichete). Imperfect active, reaching back to the beginning of their Christian lives (απ αρχηςap' archēs). 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 καινηνpalin entolēn kainēn). Paradox, but truth. Old in teaching (as old as the story of Cain and Abel, 1 John 3:11.), but new in practice. For this use of παλινpalin 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 (αλητες εν αυτωι και εν υμινalēthes en autōi kai en humin). This newness is shown supremely in Christ and in disciples when they walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6).

Because (οτιhoti). Explanation of the paradox.

Is passing away (παραγεταιparagetai). Present middle indicative of παραγωparagō 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 1 John 2:17 of the world passing by like a procession.

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

Already shineth (ηδη παινειēdē phainei). 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 (και τον αδελπον αυτου μισωνkai ton adelphon autou misōn). 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 αρτιheōs arti). Up till this moment. In spite of the increasing light and his own boast he is in the dark.


Verse 10

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

Occasion of stumbling (σκανδαλονskandalon). See note on Matthew 13:41; and note on 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 προσκοπτωproskoptō in John 11:9 and in 1 John 2:11 here. But, as Westcott argues, John may very well have the usual meaning here and the other in 1 John 2:11.


Verse 11

Blinded (ετυπλωσενetuphlōsen). First aorist active indicative of τυπλοωtuphloō 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 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 (γραπωgraphō). 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 (απεωνταιapheōntai). Doric perfect passive indicative of απιημιaphiēmi (seen also in Luke 5:20, Luke 5:23) for the usual απεινταιapheintai ΤεκνιαTeknia (little children) probably includes all, as in 1 John 2:1.


Verse 13

Fathers (πατερεςpateres). Those mature believers with long and rich experience (εγνωκατεegnōkate ye have come to know and still know).

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

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

Ye have overcome the evil one (νενικηκατε τον πονηρονnenikēkate ton ponēron). Perfect active indicative of νικαωnikaō a permanent victory after conflict. The masculine article τονton 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 (εγραπσαegrapsa). 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 1 John 2:13 and resumes here in 1 John 2:14 with a reference to what he had previously written in 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 πατεραton patera). The heavenly Father as all of God‘s children should come to know him. He repeats from 1 John 2:13 what he said to “fathers.” To the young men he adds ισχυροιischuroi (strong) and the word of God abiding in them. That is what makes them powerful (ισχυροιischuroi) and able to gain the victory over the evil one.


Verse 15

Love not the world (μη αγαπατε τον κοσμονmē agapāte ton kosmon). Prohibition with μηmē and the present active imperative of αγαπαωagapaō either stop doing it or do not have the habit of doing it. This use of κοσμοςkosmos is common in John‘s Gospel (John 1:10; 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 αγαπαιean tis agapāi). Third-class condition with εανean and present active subjunctive of αγαπαωagapaō (same form as indicative), “if any keep on loving the world.”

The love of the Father (η αγαπη του πατροςhē agapē tou patros). 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 τοpān to). Collective use of the neuter singular as in 1 John 5:4, like παν οpān ho in John 6:37, John 6:39. Three examples, not necessarily covering all sins, are given in the nominative in apposition with παν τοpān to “The lust of the flesh” (η επιτυμια της σαρκοςhē epithumia tēs sarkos subjective genitive, lust felt by the flesh) may be illustrated by Mark 4:19; Galatians 5:17. So the genitive with η επιτυμια των οπταλμωνhē epithumia tōn ophthalmōn (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 αλαζονειαalazoneia see note on James 4:16, the only other N.T. example. ΑλαζωνAlazōn (a boaster) occurs in Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2. ιοςBios (life) as in 1 John 3:17 is the external aspect (Luke 8:14), not the inward principle (ζωηzōē). 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 κοσμουek tou kosmou) in origin, in no sense “of the Father” (εκ του πατροςek tou patros). 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 (παραγεταιparagetai). “Is passing by” (linear action, present middle indicative), as in 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 (ποιωνpoiōn present active participle of ποιεωpoieō) the will of God “abides for ever” (μενει εις τον αιωναmenei eis ton aiōna) “amid the flux of transitory things” (D. Smith).


Verse 18

It is the last hour (εσχατη ωρα εστινeschatē hōra estin). This phrase only here in N.T., though John often uses ωραhōra 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 1 John 2:28 John makes it plain that the παρουσιαparousia 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 (κατως ηκουσατεkathōs ēkousate). First aorist active indicative of ακουωakouō cometh (αντιχριστος ερχεταιantichristos erchetai). “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. ΑντιAnti can mean substitution or opposition, but both ideas are identical in the word αντιχριστοςantichristos (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 (γεγονασινgegonasin). Second perfect active indicative of γινομαιginomai antichrists (αντιχριστοι πολλοιantichristoi polloi). Not just one, but the exponents of the Gnostic teaching are really antichrists, just as some modern deceivers deserve this title.

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


Verse 19

From us (εχ ημωνex hēmōn) - of us (εχ ημωνex hēmōn). The same idiom, εχex and the ablative case (ημωνhēmōn), but in different senses to correspond with εχηλτανexēlthan (they went out from our membership) and ουκ ησανouk ēsan (they were not of us in spirit and life). For εχex in the sense of origin see John 17:15, for εχex in the sense of likeness, John 17:14.

For if they had been of us (ει γαρ εχ ημων ησανei gar ex hēmōn ēsan). Condition of second class with ειei and imperfect tense (no aorist for ειμιeimi).

They would have continued (μεμενηκεισαν ανmemenēkeisan an). Past perfect of μενωmenō to remain, without augment, with ανan in apodosis of second-class condition.

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

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

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

They all are not (ουκ εισιν παντεςouk eisin pantes). 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 (χρισμαchrisma). Old word for result (ματmat) and for the material, from χριωchriō to anoint, perhaps suggested by the use of αντιχριστοιantichristoi in 1 John 2:18. Christians are “anointed ones,” χριστοιchristoi in this sense, with which compare Psalm 105:15: “Touch not my anointed ones” (μη απσηστε των χριστων μουmē hapsēsthe tōn christōn mou). 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 χρισματοςto elaion tou chrismatos Exodus 29:7), the Holy Spirit. This word in the N.T. only here and 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 αγιουapo tou hagiou). 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 (και οιδατε πανταkai oidate panta). But the best MSS. read παντεςpantes rather than πανταpanta “Ye all know it.” This anointing is open to all Christians, not just a select few.


Verse 21

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

And because no lie is of the truth (και οτι παν πσευδος εκ της αλητειας ουκ εστινkai hoti pān pseudos ek tēs alētheias ouk estin). Not certain whether οτιhoti here is causal (because) or declarative (that). Either makes sense. Note the idiomatic use of εκek and πανουκουδενpān- ouk = ouden (no) as in 1 John 2:19.


Verse 22

The liar (ο πσευστηςho pseustēs). 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 (ει μηei mē). Except, if not.

That denieth that Jesus is the Christ (ο αρνουμενος οτι Ιησους ουκ εστιν ο Χριστοςho arnoumenos hoti Iēsous ouk estin ho Christos). Common Greek idiom for ουκouk to appear after αρνεομαιarneomai like redundant μηmē 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 αεονaeon they held) like the modern Jesus or Christ controversy.

This is the antichrist (ουτος εστιν ο αντιχριστοςhoutos estin ho antichristos). The one just mentioned, Cerinthus himself in particular.

Even he that denieth the Father and the Son (ο αρνουμενος τον πατερα και τον υιονho arnoumenos ton patera kai ton huion). 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 εχειoude ton patera echei). “Not even does he have the Father” or God (2 John 1:9).

He that confesseth the Son (ο ομολογων τον υιονho homologōn ton huion). 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 (υμειςhumeis). Emphatic proleptic position before the relative οho and subject of ηκουσατεēkousate 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 αρχηςap' archēs (from the beginning).

Let abide in you (εν υμιν μενετωen humin menetō). Present active imperative of μενωmenō to remain. Do not be carried away by the new-fangled Gnostic teaching.


Verse 25

And this is the promise (και αυτη εστιν η επαγγελιαkai hautē estin hē epaggelia). See 1 John 1:5 for the same idiom with αγγελιαaggelia (message). This is the only instance of επαγγελιαepaggelia 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 επηγγειλατοautos epēggeilato). First aorist middle indicative of επαγγελλωepaggellō ΑυτοςAutos (he) is Christ as is seen in 1 John 3:3 by εκεινοςekeinos f0).


Verse 26

Concerning them that would lead you astray (περι των πλανωντων υμαςperi tōn planōntōn humas). “Concerning those that are trying to lead you astray” (conative use of the present active articular participle of πλαναωplanaō). 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 (και υμειςkai humeis). Prolepsis again as in 1 John 2:24.

Which ye received of him (ο ελαβετε απ αυτουho elabete ap' autou). Second aorist active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō a definite experience, this anointing (χρισμαchrisma), from Christ himself as in 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 διδασκηι υμαςhina tis didaskēi humas). Sub-final use of ιναhina and the present active subjunctive of διδασκωdidaskō “that any one keep on teaching you.”

Teacheth you (διδασκει υμαςdidaskei humas). 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” (αλητεςalēthes) and “no lie” (ουκ εστιν πσευδοςouk estin pseudos), according to John‘s habit of positive and negative (1 John 1:5). So he exhorts them to “abide in him” (μενετε εν αυτωιmenete en autōi 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 (και νυνkai nun). John tenderly repeats the exhortation, “keep on abiding in him.”

If he shall be manifested (εαν πανερωτηιean phanerōthēi). Condition of third class with εανean and first aorist passive subjunctive as in 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 παρρησιανhina schōmen parrēsian). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the ingressive second aorist active subjunctive of εχωechō “that we may get boldness.”

And not be ashamed (και μη αισχυντωμενkai mē aischunthōmen). Likewise negative purpose (after John‘s fashion) with μηmē and the first aorist passive subjunctive of αισχυνωaischunō to put to shame.

Before him (απ αυτουap' autou). “From him,” as if shrinking away from Christ in guilty surprise. See 2 Thessalonians 1:9 for this use of αποapo (from the face of the Lord).


Verse 29

If ye know (εαν ειδητεean eidēte). Third-class condition again with εανean and second perfect active subjunctive of οιδαoida If ye know by intuitive or absolute knowledge that Christ (because of 1 John 2:28) is righteous, then “ye know” or “know ye” (γινωσκετεginōskete either indicative or imperative) by experimental knowledge (so γινωσκωginōskō means in contrast with οιδαoida).

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

Of him (εχ αυτουex autou). Plainly “of God” in 1 John 2:9 and so apparently here in spite of δικαιοςdikaios referring to Christ. Doing righteousness is proof of the new birth.

 


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 2:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-john-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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