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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
1 John 2

 

 

Verse 1

1 John 2:1. My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not.

This is one of the great objects of all that is written by inspiration, — that we may be kept from sin. O child of God, as thou wouldst fear to drink poison, as thou wouldst flee from a serpent, dread sin!

1 John 2:1. And if any man sin, —

Is it a hopeless case then? Far from it: “If any man sin,” —

1 John 2:1-3. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Holiness of life is the best proof that we know God. It matters not how readily we can speak about God, nor how much we suppose that we love him, the great test is, do we keep his commandments? What a heart-searching test this is! How it should humble us before the mercy-seat!

1 John 2:4-6. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandment, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

When we try to be, in every respect, what God’s Word tells us we ought to be, then may we know that we are in God; but if we walk carelessly, if we take no account of our actions, but do, after a random fashion, whatever comes into our foolish hearts, then have we no evidence at all that we are in God.

1 John 2:7. 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. “From the time when Christ first began to preach, or when the gospel was first preached in your ears.”

1 John 2:8. 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.

That which is new in the gospel, in one sense, is not new in another; for, though John was about to write what he called a new commandment, yet, at the same time, he was writing something which was not novel, something which was not grafted upon the gospel, but which grows naturally out of it, namely, the law of love.

1 John 2:9. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness, even until now.

God is love, and God is light therefore, love is light, and the light of God is love. Where enmity and hatred are “till in the heart, it is proof positive that the grace of God is not there.

1 John 2:10-15. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 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. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 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. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 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.

For this sinful world is directly opposed to the Father. You cannot send your heart at the same time in two opposite ways, — towards evil and towards good; you must make a choice between the two.

1 John 2:16-17. For all that is in the world, the best of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. It ought not, then, to be difficult to make a choice between these fleeting shadows and the everlasting substance.

1 John 2:18. Little children, it is the last time: —

You may read the passage, “It is the last hour,” as if John wanted to show how late it was, and how soon Christ would come: “It is the last hour:” —

1 John 2:18. And as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

How much more emphatically John might write this verse if he were writing today!

1 John 2:19. They went out from us, —

For, alas! many of the antichrists came out of the church; they sprang up from among the followers of Christ: “They went out from us,” —

1 John 2:19-20. 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. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

“You who know God — and even the little children, the babes in Christ, know the Father, — know all “things; and you will not be led astray and deceived by these antichrists who have gone out into the world”

1 John 2:21. 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.

The truth is all of a piece, and a lie cannot be a part of the truth. Christ does not teach us a Jesuitical system in which error and falsehood are mixed up with truth; the gospel is all truth, and to those who believe it we may say, “Ye know the truth, and ye also know that no lie is of the truth.”

1 John 2:22-23. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: —

They who deny the Deity of Christ practically deny the Divine Fatherhood of God. It is not possible for us to understand the rest of truth if we do not believe in Christ, who is the Truth. As the poet says, — “You cannot be right in the rest Unless you think rightly of him.”

1 John 2:23-28. [But] he that acknowledgeth the son hath the Father also. 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. And that is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 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 in truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, we shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; —

That which is the subject of promise is also the subject of precept; and the precepts of the gospel are given to Christians because, in this way, God keeps his own promise, and so leads me to obey his precepts.

1 John 2:28-29. That, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3:1-2. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.


Verse 1-2

1 John 2:1. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.

He is anxious that they should not sin, he knows they do, and that if they say they do not, they lie. Still the Christian’s object is sinless perfection, and though he will never have it till he gets to heaven, that is all the better because he will always then be pressing forward, and never reckoning that he has attained.

1 John 2:1-2. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

By which is meant, not only that Jesus Christ died for Gentiles as well as Jews, and for some of all nations, but that there is that in the atonement of Christ which might be sufficient for every creature under heaven if God had so chosen every creature, the limitation lying, not in the value of the atonement itself, but in the design and intention of the Eternal God. God sent his Son to lay down his life for his sheep. We know that Christ redeemed us from among men, so that the redemption is particularly and specially for the elect; yet at the same time the price offered was so precious the blood was so infinite in value, that if every man that ever lived had to be redeemed Christ could have done it. It is this that make us bold to preach the Gospel to every creature, since we know there is no limit in the value of the atonement, though still we know that the design of it is for the chosen people of God alone.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 130:1-8; 1 John 1:1-10; 1 John 2:1-2.


Verses 1-6

1 John 2:1. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.

That you may abstain from it, and abhor it, and not indulge in anything that would lead you towards it.

1 John 2:1. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

We are to seek to live a perfectly holy life, but inasmuch as we constantly fall short of that ideal, here is our comfort; we still have an Advocate, we still have One who undertakes our cause, and pleads for us before his Father’s throne.

1 John 2:2. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Whoever comes to him shall receive deliverance from sin. Neither Jew nor Gentile is exclusively considered in the offering of the atonement of Christ; those for whom he died are of every race, and color, and class, and kin.

1 John 2:3-6. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

May the Holy Spirit graciously lead us all to this extraordinary walk of grace, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from 1 John 1 and 1 John 2:1-6.


Verses 1-29

1 John 2:1. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.

For this we ought to watch and strive, that we sin not.

1 John 2:1. And if any man sin-

What then? Is it a hopeless case? Oh, no, far from it; it is a sad case, but there is a remedy for it: “ and if any man sin,”-

1 John 2:1-2. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Come ye, then, to Christ for pardon, whether ye are Jews or Gentiles, whether ye are saints or sinners, whether ye are old or young, whether ye are moral or immoral, for God is both able and willing to forgive all manner of sin because of the propitiation offered by his well-beloved Son “ Jesus Christ the righteous.”

1 John 2:3. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Obedience is the test of discipleship. Mere head knowledge is all in vain, and all in vain our fears, unless we render a practical obedience to the commandments of Christ. We shall not only savingly know him, but we shall “ know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”

1 John 2:4. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.

This is a terrible condition for anyone to be in, to say that he knows Christ, and yet to have the Holy Spirit calling him a liar because he is not keeping Christ’s commandments. Again I remind you that obedience is essential to Christian discipleship. If we refuse to obey Christ’s commandments it is clear that we do not really know the Saviour at all, we are not even beginners in the school of Christ.

1 John 2:5. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

When every word of his is precious to us and when we strive to live according to his precepts, then we know that “we are in him.” This is even more than knowing that we know him, for it is the assurance that we are united to him by a living connection which can never be broken.

1 John 2:6. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

What a walk would that be! How holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners is the man who tries to walk even as Christ walked.

“ Lord, I desire to live as one Who bears a blood-bought name,

As one who fears but grieving thee,

And knows no other shame.”

“ As one by whom thy walk below Should never be forgot.

As one who fain would keep apart From all thou lovest not.”

1 John 2:7-9. 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. 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. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

Love is the true test of light, that light which leads us to love God, to love Christ, to love the truth, to love God’s people, ay, and to love the whole world of men for their good, this is the love that attests the light we have to be the very light of God.

1 John 2:10. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

A loving spirit, kind, generous, forgiving, unselfish, seeking the good of others,-this is one of the best proofs that our natural darkness has gone, and that true spiritual light is within us. Some persons think very much of the doctrine of Christ, but very little of the Spirit of Christ. Let such remember that it is written, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” If we do not know what it is to love, then we do not in the Scriptural sense know what it is to live, we are dead. Hatred is the cerement in which the dead soul is wound up, the grave clothes in which it is put away in the tomb; but love is the garment of life in which a truly quickened spirit arrays itself. The one who is full of hatred dwells in darkness, but he that loveth abideth in the light. Note how love and life and light are most blessedly linked to one another.

1 John 2:11-13. 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. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you, for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.

“You are old men, and you like to think of old things. The everlasting love of God, the covenant made with Christ before the worlds were formed these are things that are very dear to you; and you prize beyond all other; ‘him that is from the beginning.”’

1 John 2:13. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.

“In the days of your strength, you have won the victory which no human power can ever win unaided. You have overcome that wicked one who would easily have overcome you if you had been left to fight him by yourselves. “

1 John 2:13. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

That is all that little children need to know at first. They may not know the great mysteries that the fathers have fathomed, they may not well know some things that the young men know, but even babes in Christ know the Father, and rejoice in his love.

1 John 2:14. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.

Twice, you see, John says the same thing about the fathers, and he says nothing more concerning them; but truly to “have known him that is from the beginning is practically to know all that even the fathers need to know or can know, for this knowledge includes all other that is worth knowing.

1 John 2:14. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

Here again John repeats his former statement concerning the young men, but he adds to it “because ye are strong and the word of God abideth in you.” There is a purpose in the repetition of each case, it is to emphasize the importance of the apostolic declarations.

1 John 2:15. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

“Your affections are meant for something better than these transient and defiled things; so let not your heart’s love flow out to things so soiled and base. ‘Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.’”

1 John 2:15. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

These two things are such deadly opposites that they cannot live together where the love of the father is, there cannot be the love of the world. There is no room in us for two loves. The love of the world is essentially idolatry, and God will not be worshipped side by side with idols. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Does not that text draw a very sharp distinction between those who love the Lord, and those who love him not? Remember children of God, that this is the language of John, the apostle of love; but true love is honest, outspoken, heart-searching, heart-trying. Do not imagine that there is any love to your souls in the heart of the preacher who preaches smooth things, and who flatters you with his “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. No, the highest, deepest, most heaven-inspired love is that which searches and tries the heart felt there should be any deception there.

1 John 2:16. 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.

That devil’s trinity-“ 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.”

1 John 2:17. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof:

It is only a puff, a phantom, a bubble, a mirage which will melt away as you try to approach it; there is nothing substantial in it.

1 John 2:17. But he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Not, “he that doeth some great thing to be seen of men, “ not, “ he that builds a row of almshouses, or leaves a great mass of money to charity when he dies, because he could not possibly carry it away with him, “not, “he that sounds a trumpet before him to let everybody know what a good man he is;” not, “he that must needs outdistance everybody else;” but, “he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Obedience to the will of God is the pathway to perpetual honour and everlasting joy.

1 John 2:18. 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.

And now, I think, even more than when John wrote, is this the fact for antichrists are multiplying on all sides, and there are even worse evils to come than we have seen as yet; and it therefore behooves Christians to be upon the watch and to let this truth comfort them, that “it is the last time.” Once get through this dispensation, and the battle is ended; even though the dispensation should be protracted beyond our hope and desire, yet, still, once get through it, and it is over. This is to be the last charge of our great adversary and all his hosts. Stand fast, therefore, ye soldiers of the Cross, stand like rocks amidst the onslaught of the waves, and the victory shall yet be yours.

1 John 2:19. 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.

The worst of men go out from among the best of men, the antichrists go out from the church of Christ. The raw material for a devil was an angel. To make a Judas, you must make him out of an apostle. May God purify his professing church since even in her own loins she breeds adversaries of the faith.

1 John 2:20. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

The Spirit of God will teach you as you need to know. He will so instruct you that you shall know all that is for your soul’s good, and for his own glory.

1 John 2:21. 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.

That which is of man’s making is false, “but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

1 John 2:22-23. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ. He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

Some pretend to honour the Father while they dishonour the Son, but this can never really be done. Jesus truly said, “ I and my Father are one,” so that he that denieth the Son denieth the Father also.

1 John 2:24. 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.

As it was the truth that was revealed to them at the first, there was no need of a later revelation to correct the mistakes of the first, as some foolishly and falsely teach nowadays.

1 John 2:25. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

Let those that want them have these novelties, these constant changes we who believe in Jesus have something far better, even the promise of eternal life.

1 John 2:26. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

They would lead you astray if they could so beware of them. “ Forewarned is forearmed.”

1 John 2:27-28. 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. And now, little children, abide in him;-How John continues to urge us to stand fast in Christ. As the Holy Ghost has taught us to trust Christ, so would he have us “ abide in him.”

And this is one great reason why we are to abide in him;”-

1 John 2:28-29. That, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 John 2:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/1-john-2.html. 2011.

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