February 16, 2000
This chapter has a message for several classes of people: Little children; fathers; young men; and to Christians in general.
John evidently is an old man when he writes this book. There are a couple things that make us think this: My little children, and the fact that the Johns emphasize love a lot. He has mellowed in his old age.
This chapter opens with a continuation of chapter 1:8-2:2, dealing with sin.
Vv. 1, 2
My little children sounds as though he is writing to a church.
He wrote the things in chapter one to help keep them from sin, or to urge them to live a holy life. He had warned, and will again warn, them to live their Christian profession.
If any man sin... He tells us that no matter how much we try to live a holy life and because of our corrupt hearts, temptations in the world around us, we will sin at times. And when we do sin, we must not despair.
We have an advocate with the Father. (One who pleads another's cause, or helps defend him, or comforts him. The same word is used by Christ to describe the work of the Holy Spirit as Comforter, Joh 14:16 15:26 16:7.)
However, in a court of law, the advocate, or lawyer, defends his client by claiming he is not guilty or that there are extinguishing circumstances so his client cannot be held accountable, e.g., murder was self defense. On the other hand, we admit our guilt, and our Advocate also admits our guilt, and that we are liable to the full extent of the law. Christ pays the price for our sin, and gives us a clear conscience.
Hebrews 7:22, Christ is a surety for his people. He becomes responsible for his people. He not only assures us that our sins are paid for and that all the promises of God will be faithfully and fully carried out, but he assures the Father that his people will not continue to live in sin.
V. 2, propitiation. This is a big word meaning that two parties are at odds. And the way has been cleared to bring them back together. Lets say A stole from B. When A repays what he took, the way is clear for A and B to be united again, though the friendship may never be the same as it was before the deed was done.
Man's violation of the law must be repaid. Christ offers that payment to all who will admit their sin, and come to him.
Romans 3:25, 26, propitiation is through faith in Christ. Propitiation prepares the way, but the way must still be taken by faith. Propitiation is not restricted to any one class of people they way is open to all.
Our sins could refer to the Jews or it could refer to the Elect. So though the way has been cleared for everyone to be brought back to the Father by the work of Christ, THE WHOLE WORLD (1 Jn. 2:2), not everyone wants to be brought into fellowship with the Father.
Any other understanding must say that everyone will be saved, and we know that is just not true.
We must say here that the work of Christ gives to his people who confess and forsake their sin a clear conscience, 1 Timothy 1:5, 19.
Christ is our surety, and part of that surety is his assurance to the Father that we will not sin that is, we stole, but we have made it right, and we will not do it again. This fits with Pro. 28:13, 14.
He assures the Father that we will keep his commandments, which is the Holy Spirit living and working in us.
V. 4, says the same thing, that those who know the Father will work at keeping his word. John is very emphatic, saying this at least twice, 1:6, 2:4. THOSE WHO PROFESS CHRIST YET IGNORE THE COMMANDMENTS ARE LIARS, and they have no part of the truth, Christ. The message could not be clearer.
February 23, 2000
V. 5, his word includes the entire law and commandments as given in the entire word of God.
Love of God perfected. The love of God is shown through us by our actions. Those who profess love for God must prove it with their actions, defined in v. 4. Love for God will be carried out in one's life. Professed love and actions cannot be separated, and John, in both St. John and the little Johns, is clear on that.
Obviously, neither our love nor our obedience will be perfect, so we have an advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous.
We know that we are in him. Here is "self-assurance" of our position in Christ. If we can live in violation of v. 3, his commandments, we know we are NOT in him. Remember the NAVIGATOR in LA (Sten)? His wife said she knew she was not saved because she could go her own way, and no chastisement would come her way.
V. 6, John says it again those in Christ will "work" at being like Christ. Christ is held up as the example, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Note it does not say that those who do not walk as he walked are lost, for none of us do that.
Note also the emphasis John is placing on faith plus works. He is not saying that works will save, but he is clearly telling us that those who have faith WILL WORK at being like Christ, and keeping the word of God.
Vv. 7-11, skip, and use for SM message.
In this section, John speaks of a new commandment that is not new. And that commandment is that we love one another. This commandment is as old as is mankind itself, and it is found in Leviticus 19:18, 34:
Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. 34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
This command to the old Israel is carried over to the New Israel, the Gospel Church.
John might have been dealing with false teachers here who were attracting crowds by presenting new ideas. But, if it is true it is not new, and if it is new, it is not true.
John tells them that what he is saying is not new; they have always had the command he is giving to them.
V. 8, it was not a novel doctrine. It was novel only in the sense in which Jesus used it:
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
This new commandment was not new in the sense that it had never
been given, for it was in the law. The old commandment to love
one another was new in the sense that now his disciples would
be known by their love one for another. In the Old Testament,
God's people were known by their external rites and rituals, their
dress, and other outward appearances. Since Christ, God's people
are not known by race, nationality, wealth, learning nor fame,
but by their tenderness toward one another. We will not find these
kinds of commands clearly given in the Old Testament:
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Speaking of his own death, Christ said,
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
But John was speaking of our love one for another when he said,
1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
We are to be ready to endure hardships, dangers and practice self-denial to benefit those for whom Christ died? Of course, these things define missionaries many times, but these Christian qualities are not just for missionaries.
The darkness is past. The darkness of error under which men hated each other has passed away in Christ. The new standard for his people is love.
1 John 2:9, notice how v. 9 corresponds our Lord's words in St. John 13:35:
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Notice he does not say that we will be known as Christ's disciples because we go to church nor because we keep certain rites and rituals that are connected with Christianity, nor because we belong to a particular denomination. In fact, in our Lord's words, this love goes so far as a willingness to lay down our lives for the brethren. Basically, Christians are to exhibit a genuine spirit of self-denial, and that spirit is to be clearly seen by those around us.
The Spirit of God is very emphatic through the Apostle John. Several times over, he says that our love for God is revealed by our love and concern one for another. And there is no way around it.
This old commandment is new in that the commandment is now written on the fleshly tables of the heart. Brotherly love is now part of the nature of the new man in Christ Jesus. It is obeyed not because the written law says so, but because the unwritten law of the heart says so. Our motives are now love, not law.
A person cannot have true religion unless he has love for the brethren:
John 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
V. 10 repeats Christ's words of John 11:9, 10:
John 11:9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
V. 10, no occasion of stumbling, or scandal, marg.
Those who hate others are both a stumbling-block to themselves and cause others to stumble. Those who hate are easy prey to lust, envy, covetousness, greed, anger, and all the other works of the flesh.
Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
He will not do any scandalous, or disgraceful, thing. Those who love their neighbors will not envy them; they will not have any malice, nor hatred, nor will they have any intent of doing them wrong. Nor will he stumble into sin, nor will he cause others to stumble.
V. 11, hateth is a word used here to describe anything that is not love for the brethren, as defined above.
Darkness that is, he is ignorant of the whole nature of the true Christian religion. As we see, Christ clearly said that Christianity exhibits itself in love for one another. John has made the same point many times over. Now he says that those who do not have Christian love one for another know nothing about Christianity. For Christianity brings with it love for others, for whom Christ died.
Pick up again.
John writes to three classes of people: Little children, fathers, and then to young men, with the young men in the middle of his exhortation.
V. 12, John's three classes of people can either be spiritual or literal that is, according to one's age in his Christian life, or one's literal age. And maybe he is addressing both. In Biblical terms, under 20 was considered a child, but John seems to be speaking to the younger ones who are well under 20. Scripture does not give any age limit down to those who might join the church by conversion. That has been left up to individual churches.
But John does say that young children can have their sins forgiven. Evidently, the age when one is converted is when he or she can understand sin and forgiveness of sin in Christ. We must not overlook the importance of teaching little children the ways of the Lord early in life. The hope of the future lies in these little children, and we cannot overestimate the importance of training them up properly in the ways of the Lord. They must make a choice some day as to how they will live. Our training of them must be with the prayer and hope that they will follow the Lord.
Scripture also says a lot about spiritual children childhood is a stage every Christian must go through, but it is a stage that we must not remain in.
Not all Christians are at the same stage in their Christian life: there are infants, adults and seniors. But all classes are to have several things in common: Christian love and toleration; obedience to the word of God; and mutual contempt for the world. One of the more difficult responsibilities of a pastor is to minister to all three classes of people.
He could also be writing to his own children in the faith.
V. 13, fathers..., from the beginning. He addresses the more mature Christians. These people probably were eye witnesses to Christ, and were converted at the very beginning of Christianity. Here we see that we never reach a point beyond learning more about the Father and his Son.
Young men. This includes those in the middle, those who are facing the daily hardships of life, up to about 40. John attributes to them victory over the wicked one. I must say that victory over the wicked one demands all the strength of a young man. These were confirmed disciples of Christ, well-grounded in the truth, and very involved in the Christian warfare. These were people in their prime of life, and at the peak of their faith and love for the Lord.
This class of people carry on the major portion of the battle for the Lord.
Little children, new converts to Christ, and/or the young children who are converted to Christ.
The Apostle covers the whole family of God: father, active and working young men and young children.
Abideth in you. Those most active in the warfare against the wicked one are molded into the Christian doctrine by knowing and meditating on the word of God.
V. 15, though the children, fathers and the young men are complemented on their love for the Lord and spiritual strength, the Apostle still issues a strong warning against loving the world.
Covetousness is the main vice of old age. Profit, pleasure and honor is the main vice of young men. Though the temptations of the world may be different from each age group, the warning is the same: love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
Not in him. The Lord himself said that it is impossible to serve two masters. (Mat. 6:24, Luke 16:13.)
Vv. 16, 17
These are two of the more significant verses for Christians. John now describes everything the world has to offer, and sums it up it will all pass away. Either we will pass away, or the world will.
All that is in the world... That is, all the world promises, or boasts of is only temporary.
Lust of the flesh... sensual, impure desires wine, women and song.
Lust of the eyes... excessive or unusual desires for the fine things of life houses, cars, clothing.
Pride of life... seeking after honors, titles, boasting of family connections, acquaintances.
V. 17, none of these things are from the Father above, but from beneath. These things may flourish for awhile, but they will pass away. They are very temporal, and will soon perish.
On the other hand, those who are converted and who seek first the kingdom of God will abide forever, and so will their works:
Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
To here, February 23, 2000
Vv. 18, 19
V. 18 is a much discussed verse, and the word, antichrist, is greatly misused and misunderstood. We should remember that John is writing in the context of a primarily Jewish economy, of which Saul had been typical before he was converted.
Anitchrist Against Christ, or an opposition Christ, a rival Christ. The word is used only by the apostle John. Referring to false teachers, he says #1Jo 2:18,22 4:3 2Jo 1:7 "Even now are there many antichrists." (Online Bible.)
Antichrist shall come Who is this anticristov antichrist?
Is he the Emperor Domitian, the Gnostics, Nicolaitans, Nazareans,
Cerinthians, Romish pontiffs, etc., etc.! Ans. Any person, thing,
doctrine, system of religion, polity, etc., which is opposed to
Christ, and to the spirit and spread of his Gospel, is antichrist.
We need not look for this imaginary being in any of the above
exclusively. Even Protestantism may have its antichrist as well
as Popery. Every man who opposes the spirit of the Gospel, and
every teacher and writer who endeavors to lower the Gospel standard
to the spirit and taste of the world, is a genuine antichrist,
no matter where or among whom he is found. The heresies which
sprang up in the days of St. John were the antichrist of that
time. As there has been a succession of oppositions to Christianity
in its spirit and spread through every age since its promulgation
in the world, so there has been a succession of antichrists. We
may bring this matter much lower; every enemy of Christ, every
one who opposes his reign in the world, in others, or in himself,
is an antichrist; and consequently every wicked man is an antichrist.
But the name has been generally applied to whatever person or
thing systematically opposes Christ and his religion.
Many antichrists Many false prophets, false Messiahs, heretics, and corrupters of the truth. (Clarke's Commentary, 1 John. Emp. added.)
So antichrist refers to anyone or any system opposed the Christ and his gospel. It especially describes the Roman Pope. The Jews are Antichrist, if they are true Jews.
John is probably referring to the Lord's words in Matthew 24:5, 24, 25. And Christ was there referring to the end of the Hebrew economy, the destruction of Jerusalem. However, the warning and description is good for all time. It refers to every person and system that attempts to lower the Gospel to man's level, or to suit the taste of the world and flesh. It also includes all who would be opposed to the reign of Christ.
Ye have heard probably refers to they heard it from those who heard it from Christ who warned that there would be many who would corrupt the truth of Christ.
Whereby we know that it is the times of which our Lord predicted and warned.
V. 19, continues the thought. These people now opposed to the gospel and the reign of King Jesus were at one time part of the Christian assemblies. They left the true gospel to start their own group. John says that these false teachers have shown by their actions that they were never really part of the truth, or they would not have departed.
In using the term us, John probably refers to the disciples who were instructed by the Lord. Though these teachers struck out on their own, John says they were not really followers of the Lamb, or they would have continued their identification with the disciples.
(19) A digression against certain offences and stumbling blocks
at which that young age especially might stumble and be shaken,
Therefore that they should not be terrified with the falling back
of certain, first he makes plain to men that although those who
fall from God and his religion had a place in the Church, yet
they were never of the Church: because the Church is the company
of the elect, who cannot perish, and therefore cannot fall from
Christ. (o) So then the elect can never fall from grace.
(20) Secondly, he shows that these things happen to the benefit of the Church, that hypocrites may be plainly known. (Geneva)
Not all of us... probably refers to sincere people who were drawn away by the smooth words of the false teachers.
V. 20, John's desire is to protect the little children, probably his students or disciples, from the errors of the antichrists, those who change the gospel of Christ. He tells them that by being Christians, they have been anointed by the Holy One, so that now they should be able to recognize the antichrists.
This verse tells us that the many antichrists, plural, being warned about by John look and act like the truth, so observers must have the inspiration of the Spirit to recognize them.
Little children could also refer to immature Christians, who might be easily swayed to a corrupt gospel.
V. 21, John writes to them because they know the truth. He writes to remind them to compare what the antichrists are saying with the truth of the word of God. Note that a teacher may have the truth in every area, but if that teacher is missing one area, that teacher is an antichrist. And that area is Christ, who alone is the truth. (Jn. 14:6.) Antichrists deny that Christ is the only answer and the only way to the Father, vv. 22, 23. Therefore, they are found in every denomination and race of people.
In other words, the spirit of the antichrist may not take on the form of a Nero, who set out to destroy Christians, but may take on the form of even a "Reformed" preacher who ever so slightly undermines the Gospel, which must consist of understanding the doctrine of sin and of the substitutionary work of Christ as the only way to the Father. (Rom. 10:14, 14.)
Of course, I cannot get this close without referring to a "pet peeve" of mine, "pray this prayer for salvation," e.g., "Ask Jesus into your heart" without a clear understanding of sin and the atoning work of Christ.
Vv. 22, 23 sounds like the many antichrist very openly deny who Christ is and the work he did. Again, John is writing in the context of the Jewish religion of his day, a religion based upon this denial (as it still is; Paul typified that Jewish denial before his conversion).
However, I do not believe the context will permit such a restricted understanding of the verse. For one to deny that Jesus is the Christ, and thus deny the Father, he does not have to outright say, as do the Jews, that Christ is not the only way to heaven. The context tells us that all who compromise the gospel and reign of Christ are antichrists (plural). And that denial started at the very beginning of the Gospel Church.
Vv. 24-27, the thought continues: John urges these little children to continue on in what they learned in the beginning, either the beginning of their faith, or the beginning of the Gospel Church. He is telling them to not let the smooth words and appealing character of the false teachers sway them from what they know is the truth, Christ. t is the truth that assures them they are continuing in the faith.
Evidently, the false teachers were not only undermining the true gospel of Christ, but even the doctrine of eternal life.
V. 27 says about the same thing as v. 20 they have the Holy Spirit, and they know the truth. And now the Holy Spirit will confirm or deny what they are being taught by the false teachers.
Need not that any man teach you. We are told by the context that John is warning the people against the many antichrists, false teachers, that are out and around, teaching contrary to the truth. He is not saying they do not need a teacher, but that the final authority is the word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thus when the teaching is not according to the truth, they must ignore it need not that any man teach you.
Vv. 28, 29, the message is again, "Live what you profess." Those who are in Christ will seek to walk as he walked, righteously. And our righteous walk proves to others that we are his.
The Lord warned of the false prophets, i.e., antichrists, in sheep's clothes, as did Paul in Acts 20:29-31. Moreover, God commands his people to try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 Jn. 3:2.) The Apostle thus implies that the spirit of the many antichrists is a spirit of good works and words, even "Biblical" works and words, yet that spirit is missing one ingredient, Jesus Christ. (3:3.) Therefore, knowing that one is a child of God is based on more than just keeping his commandments. (5:3.) Keeping his commandments must be in addition to saving faith in Christ. Those who may promote his commandments yet lack saving faith in Christ are of the many antichrists that are gone out into the world. (3:3.) Rather than the antichrist being a raging beast against Christianity, John's understanding is that the spirit of antichrist offers Biblical morality without Christ. And the hardest statement of all is John's, when he says that those who do not have the doctrine of Christ must not be allowed into our homes. (2 Jn. 7-11.) So antichrist refers to any person or system that opposes the true Christian religion.
Note that hatred from the world does not mean one is a Christian, for Cain slew Able because Able's actions were according to God's standard, not necessarily because Able was a "Believer." (1 Jn. 3:11.) The world will hate anyone who will not bow to its system.
Note 1: John warned about the many antichrists. As previously mentioned, more than likely, those many antichrists walk in righteous manner, though they are against Christ. If they did not have a "right" life, they would not gain the followers who sincerely want to follow the Lord, v. 19 not all of us. In other words, they may preach and practice righteousness right living without the necessary ingredient, Christ, which is what makes them so dangerous. They are especially dangerous to the fallen nature which wants answers without Christ.
Note 2: John's statement in v. 29 is strong those who do not desire to do righteousness are not born of him. This chapter has emphasized that the Lord has placed his Good Spirit in his people, and He will give them the desire to follow all the word of God, vv. 20, 27. Those who depart from the faith did not have the faith to begin with, v. 19.
Note 3: No matter how "righteous" a person might appear, if that person denies the Son, that person is a liar, v. 22, and an antichrist, 4:3. (Note that every time John refers to the antichrist, it basically means those who deny Christ, e.g., 2 John 1:7. John's definition does not include wicked activity, nor anything except the denial of Christ and his true gospel. Hence, even the Protestant church contains many antichrists.) Those who deny Christ, deny also the Father. Again, this is written in the Jewish context of John's time, and applies just as much to the followers of the Jewish religion today as it did then.
Note 4: There are several marks of the antichrist: First and foremost, one can reach the Heavenly Father without Christ; second one can live a "good" life without Christ; third, one can be a "Christian," yet not have a righteous life according to the entire word of God, 3:24; fourth, sin can be defined apart from the law, 3:4; fifth, one can be a "Christian," yet be friends with the world, e.g., "Christian" rock music; sixth, one can be a "Christian" apart from loving the brethren, 2:10, &c.; seventh, one can have love for God yet not love Christ and his commandments, the law, 5:2, 3.
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