About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapters 1 to 2:28
On 1 John
commentary is based on the 1994 edition of the New International Version
of the Bible. The chapter
titles correspond with that of the NIV to make for easy comparison.
one of the original disciples/apostles of Jesus wrote this letter and the
two that follow. He wrote it
should note that John outlived the other original apostles by a few
decades, and when he writes these three letters, he is an old man.
Thus it may be interesting to consider, after all the years of
ministry, what John thought to be important. When we are old, we tend to
think of the more important issues of life and think not so much of what
we think as lesser important issues. John
knew he was old, and so what he says in his letters would be important to
didn’t take long for heresy to set into church life.
Wrong thinking was even around within the first decade of the
the latter years of John’s life there was a false teacher named
Cerinthus. It is
understood that the roots of Gnosticism might have come from this man.
Cerinthus believed that Jesus was not born from a virgin, but
actually was the biological son of Joseph.
At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit came into Him and at that time
became God’s Son. Then the
Spirit left Jesus at some point before He died, therefore Jesus was not
the Son of God on the cross. Of
course, this teaching denies the most fundamental doctrine of
Christianity, and that is the Deity of Christ.
Jesus was God in a human body.
of the church leaders in the second century was named Polycarp.
He was a student of John. He
is quoted to have said that one time when John went to take a bath in a
public bath in
of John’s letter is directed towards Cerinthus’ thinking and false
doctrine, in the same way that many of Paul’s writings were a result of
wrong thinking, so is John's, but he also majors on God's love in the
lives of the believers that is seen in actions.
of the important issues that John addresses is the deity of Christ,
meaning, Jesus was always God, before His human birth to beyond the
ascension, something Cerinthus would not believe.
thing we can learn from this fight against false teaching is that the
original followers of Jesus did not believe in the evolution of doctrinal
truth. If truth was not
constant but evolved as time went on, then people like Cerinthus would not
be considered in error.
might wonder just how John felt after all these years.
He saw Jesus in person. He
was there when the Holy Spirit came into the lives of the believers.
He was there in the early years of the church.
An now, well, he is an old man.
Paul, John does not open his letter with a greeting or explanation of who
he is. He just gets right into
the subject at hand that builds the foundation for the letter.
speaks to the controversy over the false teaching of Cerinthus, who among
other things did not believe in the deity of Christ, that is, Jesus is
God, not just a man. In verse
1 John says, “that which was from the beginning…”
This gets to the point right off the bat.
John is saying that Jesus, the Son of God existed prior to His
incarnation on earth. “From
the beginning refers back to Gen. 1:1, when God created space and time as
we now know it. John also uses
these same words to open his gospel account.
then says that this life which was from the beginning was heard, seen,
looked upon and touched by him and others.
This speaks to the incarnation of Jesus into our time and space as
a human being. John says that the eternal Word of God that was present at
creation has come to earth, and that many people have heard, seen, looked
upon and touched this Eternal Life. John
is testifying to what he knows and believes to be the truth.
He is a living witness to Jesus.
He hasn’t just heard of Jesus, but has actually heard, seen and
touched Him. Thus he says in
verse 1, “this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life”. The
"Word of Life" refers to creation when God, through Jesus
created all there is.
is the “Word of Life” because in Genesis1 the Word of God speaks
creation into existence. Jesus
in fact was that Word according to John’s understanding.
See the first few verses of John’s gospel account and you will
see this very clearly.
approaches his subject matter from a spiritual aspect.
I'm not saying that John isn't practical, because you will see he
is. But when he speaks of the
"Eternal Word", he is speaking in terms that aren't earthly.
verse 2 John says, “the life appeared.”
John is saying that Jesus had life prior to being born of Mary.
Jesus existed in what he calls “Word form” prior to His
incarnation. Yet when Mary
conceived by the Holy Spirit, that Eternal Life entered a human body,
developed in the womb of Mary, culminating in His birth.
This must be believed by Christians.
If you do not believe this, then you believe in a different Jesus,
and I don't think a different Jesus can save you.
goes on to say in verse 2 that “we” (disciples) have seen this life,
testify to this life, and proclaim this life that once was with the Father
and now has appeared to us. This
is just another way of saying that Jesus pre-existed before He was
incarnated into humanity. Before
this incarnation, John says that Jesus actually lived with the Father.
In terms of the Jews, the Father means the God of Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob. That's Yahweh, or
Elohim. Thus he is associating
Jesus with the God Jews claimed as their own.
verse 3 John mentions for the third time that they have seen and heard
this eternal life that has come into the world.
This time he mentions it to his readers so they can have fellowship
with him and other believers. This
fellowship is based around the very Eternal Life that he has been speaking
of and with the Father. John
says, “our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus
Christians we are joined to both the Father and the Son through the
indwelling Holy Spirit. For
those of us who have the Holy Spirit, we have fellowship with Jesus and
with the Father, and also with each other.
Our relationships to each other should have an added value because
of the Holy Spirit and because of our relationship to the Father and
Jesus. Yet way too often we
don’t put much importance on our relationships in the body of Christ,
those Jesus has joined us to. And,
we don't often think in terms of the Holy Spirit actually joining us
together. As our blood is the
life of our physical bodies, so the Holy Spirit is the life blood of the
Body of Christ, the church.
4 says, “we write this to make our joy complete”. For John and all the
other apostles that he includes by saying “we” and “our”, the
proclaiming of the gospel was a joyous thing.
For them to write things as John is now writing was making the joy
they had in Jesus more complete in their lives.
was saying that he could not have complete joy on his own.
Good fellowship with other believers actually completed the joy he
had from Jesus. This is a
Biblical truth that we should all experience.
The relationships we have with those Jesus has placed us with in
His Body are very important. We
should take them more seriously than we do.
5 says, “this is the message we have heard from him and declare to
you…” The “Him” refers
to Jesus whom John has just spoke about in the first four verses.
John opened up his letter by introducing Jesus and now he is going
to tell his readers what Jesus has told him and the other disciples.
message is, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness.”
The term “light” is figurative, but we often have thought that
God is literally light, and the light is so bright that humans cannot look
upon the light. Yet the light
that John speaks about here is spiritual light opposed to spiritual
darkness. There is nothing
dark or sinful in God. He is
totally pure. This light is
the “light of understanding” we know in Jesus.
verse 6 we see why John has brought this point forward.
He says that “if we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in
darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth”.
Many people were claiming, and still do claim to have fellowship
with God, but their lives do not match their claim.
So John is simply saying that if you really have fellowship with
the God of complete pure light, then you will not walk in sinful darkness.
You will live by the truth of the gospel.
This is similar to what James says in his letter.
all time periods, there are people within the church who claim to be
Christian, but their lives and doctrine don't match this claim.
John is speaking to these people, even those in our day.
uses strong language. He says
that you “lie” if you claim to have fellowship with God yet live in
darkness. John uses the word
“live”, as “live in the truth.”
By using the word “live” he is speaking of a lifestyle of
living according to the truth of God.
Living in the light is not simply a way of thinking, but a way of
living. This does not mean you
won’t slip up from time to time. John
will address that issue later. What
it does mean is that the foundation of your life is righteous, is light,
and should be evident to all. If
it is not evident, then you do not have fellowship with God even though
you claim to have this fellowship. You
are in fact a liar.
verse 7 John goes on to say that if we really do walk and live in the
light then we will have fellowship with one another.
We not only have fellowship with God, but with each other.
The fellowship we have with each other is based on the fellowship
we have with God. This is what
unites us as Christian brothers and sisters which often is stronger than
blood relatives. The Holy
Spirit in our relationships with other Christians is like the blood line
in our family relations.
same Holy Spirit that comes to live within the individual believer unites
us with each other. It is as
if He flows down to us and then through us to each other.
John knew that there were some outside of this circle of fellowship
who claimed to be in the circle, but their lives just didn’t match up.
Once again, the same is seen today.
fellowship with the Light does something else for us, other than having
fellowship with others. The
blood of Jesus “cleanses us from all sin”.
This is real blood, not symbolic blood as Cerinthus claimed, since
he believed that Jesus was not God when He hung on the cross.
Cerinthus believed in some sort of ethereal or spiritual blood that
would forgive our sin. But
this is not the case. As in
the Old Testament where real lamb’s blood was shed, so real blood was
shed in the case of Jesus.
should note that John does not say that the blood of Jesus “has”
cleansed us from sin, as in the past, but it “cleanses” us from sin,
as in right now. Jesus’ one
sacrifice for sin forgave us when we first came to Him, but in many ways
we still sin, and it is Jesus’ blood that was once shed for all time, as
Hebrews puts it, that still cleanses us and forgives us every day.
This means that the cross, the blood, was a one time event that is
effective throughout our lives.
verse 8 John says, “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves
and the truth is not in us.” John
is saying that even as redeemed people we still sin.
This leads us into a discussion of what sin is all about.
In brief, sin is more than not obeying the Ten Commandments.
Paul says in Romans 14:23 that anything outside of faith is sin.
This broadens our definition of sin immensely. The simplest
definition of sin is “missing the mark.”
We miss the mark of God’s righteousness all the time.
For this reason we need His ever present forgiveness that was paid
for by the shed blood of Jesus.
9 says, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our
sins…” Remember, John is
talking to Christians. Christians
sin. Christians need to ask
for forgiveness. When they do,
God is faithful, therefore He will forgive. Yet John also says that God is
just, meaning, if we ask for forgiveness, and since Jesus paid the price,
God must forgive our sins. If
He didn’t, He would not be
just. That being said,
forgiveness is only granted after repentance.
Repentance is recognizing the sinfulness of our ways.
It is important to note that God does not forgive sin without the
sinner repenting. The same is true for us.
We do not forgive without repentance.
We do love the unrepentant sinner, but we can't forgive him until
he repents. Forgiveness is not
love. It is the actual
cancelling of the sin.
this point we should note the difference between sinning, as in individual
sins committed and living a sinful lifestyle.
Everyone commits sins, even Christians.
But not everyone lives a lifestyle of sin where the underlying
motivation to life is sin. Many
don’t have a clear understanding of this point.
doesn’t leave things at the forgiveness stage.
He also says that God “will purify us from all
unrighteousness”. This is
what we call “sanctification”. Sanctification
is the process whereby God purifies us from the sin He forgives.
This means that God is more than able to forgive our sins.
He is also able to make us righteous.
Yes, He counts us as righteous because of our faith, as Paul says,
but He also wants us to become righteous.
John says that God is able to help us in this.
then says in verse 10 that if we claim not to have sinned then we are
basically calling God a liar, and if that is the case, God’s word has no
place in us. We all have
sinned, and we all do sin. For
this reason, we trust the provision that Jesus has made for us on the
cross. If we call God a liar
by saying we don't sin, that means God tells us that we do sin.
If God didn't say we sin, then we couldn't be a liar when we say we
chapter 2 verse 1 John gives us another reason why he is writing this
letter. He says that he is
writing these things so his readers won’t sin.
John clearly tells us that Christians can sin, even though I’ve
heard some say that they don’t sin.
In the case of those people who claim they don’t sin, are they
actually calling God a liar as John says in the last verse?
I don’t think so. They’re
claiming they don’t sin based on a wrong understanding of sin.
Those that John has been talking about claim they don’t sin,
meaning, they feel they are perfectly righteous and do good all the time.
also note that John calls his readers little children.
The reason for this is that John is an old man at this point.
He could possibly be as old as 85 years old.
the second half of verse 1 John tells us that if we do happen to sin that
we have an advocate that stands before the Father in our defense. This
is one main theme of the book of Hebrews.
The writer of Hebrews calls the one who stands before the Father
our High Priest. Of course
this High Priest is Jesus. Jesus
always stands before God in our defense, and He always will, throughout
all of eternity. God the
Father sees the scars on Jesus and is reminded, if He actually does need
reminding, that Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for our sins, past, present and
verse 2 John says that Jesus “is the atoning sacrifice for sins”.
A simple definition of “atonement” is the process by which
Jesus made it possible to be friends with God through His shed blood.
We can now be God’s friends because that sin the separates us has
been removed, even though we still sin.
The is the miracle of it all. God
views us as sinless even though we are still sinful.
This is amazing when we think of the justice of God and how He
hates and detests sin so much.
goes on to say that this atonement, this new found friendship with God
that Jesus brought about does not apply only to believers, but to the
whole world. Jesus died for
the world, not only for Jews, and not only for those who would believe. We
must note here that this does not mean the whole world has accepted
Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. This does not mean that the whole world is
saved. Scripture makes it
clear that those who give their lives to Jesus and receive this atoning
sacrifice are those who are God’s friends.
If you don’t want to be God’s friend, then you don’t have to
be, but you will reap the consequence.
3 says, “we know that we have come to know Him if we obey His
commands.” This sounds very
much like the apostle James who states that faith without works is dead.
Our faith, our trust in Jesus is evident in our good works.
Good works don’t save us. Good
works don’t precede salvation, they follow initial faith.
The good works that count in the eyes of God, and that will be
rewarded for, are god works that are a product of our faith, or, our trust
in Jesus. Good works that are
done in a humanistic since, don't count for anything in the eyes of God.
verse 4, and in light of Cerinthus’ false teaching John has to say that
not everyone who claims to know God actually does.
The question is then asked, “how can we know those who really
belong to God”? John’s
answer is clear and simple.
If you obey God, you know Him.
The first thing we need to know in obeying God is to obey the words
of Jesus and put your trust in Him. Giving
ones life in a trusting relationship to Jesus is the first command we obey
as New Testament Christians.
we say "we must obey God," we must understand what God we are
talking about. We are not
talking about a generic god that everyone believes in these days.
We are talking about the God of the Bible.
He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We cannot separate Jesus from God.
this point of first believing we need to follow Jesus in other things that
He has commanded us. We
don’t believe that New Testament people have no commands to follow.
We obey what Jesus has told us.
gets right to the point and speaks very bluntly when in verse 4 he says,
“the man who claims to know Him but does not do what He commands is a
liar and the truth is not in him.” John
is calling Cerinthus a liar and telling him and his followers that there
is no shred of truth in them. The
same applies to anyone today, or throughout history.
Those who claim to know God and do not obey the truth of the gospel
as seen in Scripture are liars. They
are lying when they say they know God.
This includes all other world and regional religions.
This also includes the non-religious who claim to know God but live
a life of sin. This also
includes some post-modern church people who mix Christianity with other
verse 5 John tells us that if we obey Him, “God’s love is made
complete” in those who obey Him. It’s
not that our love is made complete. It
is God’s love that is made complete in us.
God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to earth, but that love
does not find its completion in the person who rejects His love.
It is like the love of God that is left standing out in the cold
while the person refuses to let it into his life. Our
own love cannot be made complete. We
are unable to love as we should on our own.
doesn’t seem to be a complicated person.
He’s not like Paul that goes into great detail about the great
doctrines of our faith. He
says things clear and simple. In
verse 6 he says, “whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus
walked.” Our lives must
emulate our words. Our lives
must also imitate the life of Jesus. So often our words speak louder than
the way we live. They should
go hand in hand. We need the
words, but if our lives don’t match our words, our words have no value.
But with our lives backing up our words, people will know why we
live the way we do. Without
the words they will never know. They
will only think that we are nice people. This
is one reason why we should speak the gospel, not only live it.
verse 7 John uses the words “dear friends”.
Everyone has different character qualities that can be used in both
good and bad ways. Peter was
impulsive, maybe not so sensitive. He got things done, thus made for a
good leader. I believe John
was quieter than Peter, maybe more sensitive.
You can see his pastoral care for the people of God when he calls
them “dear friends”, not just “friends”, but “dear friends”.
has been speaking about “commands”, as in more than one command.
Now he uses the word “command”, as in one command.
Jesus commanded many things but there is one command that John
wants to point out here. He
says that this is not a new command because it’s been around since the
command that John is speaking about here is our love that we should have
for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The command to love has been around for ages, since creation.
It was codified in the first of the Ten Commandments. Then Jesus
had brought it into a new light in His teaching.
says it’s and old command and then in verse 8 he turns around and tells
us that it is a new command. So
what is John getting at? It is
a old command that has been brought into a new light.
The command to “love your neighbour as yourself” has been made
new to say, “love your brothers and sisters in Christ”.
This was implied in the prayer of Jesus in John 17.
will notice that many of the Old Testament commands have been redefined
into New Testament commands. This
is one example. Another
example is that adultery has been redefined as lusting in your heart.
Killing has been redefined as being angry at your brother.
the end of the first century schisms and factions had entered the church,
much like the church of our day. I
am sure that this made John’s heart extremely sad.
He is reminding his Christian readers to look at the old command
that he is presenting in a new way.
verse 8 John says that the truth of this new command is being seen in Him,
meaning Jesus, and his readers. It
is fully realized in Jesus, but not yet fully seen in his readers, thus
the need for the admonition.
does John say that this truth of
loving one another is being seen? In
verse 8 he tells us that “darkness is passing and the true light is
shining”. In context this
means that the darkness of understanding was being replaced by the light
of understanding in the Christian readers that John was writing to.
have just seen John tell us that those who claim to know God yet don’t
obey Jesus really don’t know Him and are liars.
Now he says in verse 9 that those who claim that they walk in the
light and hate their brother, don’t walk in the light as they claim.
He goes on to say in verse 10 that if you love your brother, you
live in the light. How important is this in our day in age of
denominational back biting?
was all about love and justice and so should His followers be all about
love and justice. As Jesus is
just so we should be just. As
Jesus was loving, so we should be loving.
The two go hand in hand. John
is speaking about the love here. Like
James, he is saying that if you love your brother, then we will all know
you live in the light, because in fact you do.
is also speaking of justice in this passage.
The love he is speaking of isn't sloppy love.
It's based on justice. You
don't compromise the truth of the gospel in order to love.
Love has boundaries. This
means that you don't overlook sin in the attempt to love.
You confront the sin when you need to.
That is what John is actually doing here.
He is pointed out sin. If
he did not do that, he would not be loving as defined in Biblical terms.
is, and has been a lot of dislike between brothers and sisters in Christ
in the church. For those who
don’t love their brother in Jesus, John says they are living in
darkness. I'd suggest many
people in the church today are living in darkness.
and his followers, or at least some of his followers, were most likely
true believers at one time. Yet
they forsook sound teaching and took hold of heresy.
In taking hold of these heretical doctrines they separated
themselves from the church and began to despise those who were once
their brothers in Jesus. John
claims that these people are not living in the light of the truth of the
gospel. They are living in
darkness, no longer obeying the truth that brings light.
verse10 John says that those who really do love their brothers walk in the
light of the truth. They also
don’t bring any occasion to cause their brother to stumble and fall away
from the faith. How many times
have we seen brothers in Christ act in such a way that it causes a brother
to fall away from Jesus. This
is a very bad sin. That being
said, if you confront a sin in a brother that needs to be confronted, and
then he falls away, that is a different situation.
verse 11 John says that the person living in darkness who hates his
brother has been blinded by the darkness.
Usually we think of light blinding a person, but in this context it
is the darkness that causes the person not to see.
The darkness is so dark that the person is totally blind.
This blindness is both spiritual and doctrinal. This light of the
truth of the gospel is nowhere to be found in these people.
says here that those who walk in darkness due to not loving their brothers
in Christ walk around not knowing where he is going.
This tells me that decisions these people make, both personal and
church decisions, are probably wrong decisions.
They can't make the right decisions and choices because they are
walking in darkness. When it
comes to the individual life, and the life of the church where leaders are
walking in darkness, that means both the individual and the church are not
in God's will. I think many of
our churches demonstrate that to be true.
need to be people who love our brothers and sisters in Jesus.
Again, this love is not sloppy love.
It is “agape love” – God’s love.
God’s love is built on a clear sense of justice.
We love, we are loyal, but our love and loyalty does not preclude
the truth. We stand on the
side of truth, and sometimes the truth separates us.
The truth should be the thing that brings separation, and nothing
else. Too often we bring the separation between us and others on ourselves
by the sinful way we live.
the next few verses John tells why and to whom he is writing to.
He directs his letter to, “little children, fathers, and young
men”. In fact he is
directing this letter to everyone who has true trust in Jesus.
verse 12 he says he is writing because “your sins have been forgiven on
the account of His name”. Even
though John is directing this phrase to “little children”, we know
that all true believers have their sins forgiven.
verb tense in the Greek says that their sins were forgiven when they came
to trust Jesus and are still in the process of being forgiven.
No sin has gotten unforgiven.
verse 13 he writes to fathers because they “have known Him from the
beginning”. There might well
have been a few old men and women around, like John himself, who actually
was a part of the church since its inception, or maybe even had met Jesus
in verse 13 John writes to young men “because they have overcome the
evil one”, meaning the devil.
It is young people who are considered to be strong and vibrant
people. They have physical
strength to overcome many things that older people can’t overcome, but
John is not speaking of physical strength here.
He is speaking of spiritual strength. In
the same way that these young people who are strong overcome physical
obstacles in life, they’ve overcome spiritual temptation set in their
way by satan, such temptation that is directed to the young.
For example, young people are tempted sexually in many ways.
John might have had this in mind.
in verse 13 John writes to the children because they have known the
Father. Young children are
depended upon knowing their fathers, and mothers as well.
This is imperative to
successful growth, and so in the spiritual sense.
Knowing God the Father through Jesus His Son is imperative
for spiritual growth.
verse 14 John speaks to the fathers again, in the sense of knowing Him
from the beginning. Once again
“from the beginning” is used by John.
The fathers have been around a long time, since the beginning.
They need to be reminded of all the things they’ve believed in
over the years and not let them fall by the wayside.
in verse 14 John directs his words to the young people because they are
strong, the Word of God lives in them and because they’ve overcome the
devil. As before, John
mentions and compare the
strength of youth over the length of years, or wisdom of the fathers.
It is interesting that John feels the need to point out these three classifications of people. Each age group has their own strength and weaknesses, yet given the chance they can work together in the church. The young have the strength to do what the wisdom of the old would like to do but can’t. Yet way too often there is a great gulf between the young and old in church life which only serves to slow down the pace of growth. In our own human strength the separation between young and old is natural and will occur, but if the Holy Spirit is allowed to rule in the church, then this separation disappears. Young and old can work together. I have seen this to be true in my own personal experience.
verse 15 John tells his readers not to love the world.
If they do love the world the love of the Father is not in them.
The Greek word “agape” is the word translated for love in this
verse. “Agape” is often
seen to be God’s type of love, which is correct, although somewhat
did John use “agape” and not “phileo”?
In my thinking John is saying that we should not give ourselves to
the things of the world in the same way we give ourselves to the Father
and to Jesus. Giving ourselves
to the world with “agape” love would be idolatry in my thinking.
simple fact to what John is saying here is that someone who claims to love
God, but by their actions you see they really love the things of the
world, don't love God. So, to
the degree you don't love the ways of the world is the degree to which you
really love God.
verse 16 John lists 3 worldly sins; the craving of sinful man, the lust of
his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does.
These are three areas of sin that we often fall prey to.
Craving of sinfulness is basic to man.
Our basic instinct is to sin. Lust
of the eye is more than sexual lust. It
is lusting after material things and many other things.
Boasting of what we have, and what we do, is the pride of life as
the KJV says. It is not living
a humble life but living in pride over our own accomplishments.
These things should not be found in the believer, but sad to say
they are. What John describes
here is the decedent of our day, both in the world and in the church. We
are consumed with consumerism today. It
is our god.
believe our churches are structured more after the world's way of doing
things than God's way. In this
sense of the word, the church loves the world more than it should, and we
reap the consequences.
verse 17 John tells us that the “world” and all these things will
“pass away” but he that does the will of God will not pass away.
There’s more to life than worldly endeavors.
Following Jesus and doing what He wants is more important than any
worldly activity because it leads to eternal treasures.
As Christians we should do all things in light of eternity.
Many things we spend time and effort on have little impact on
eternity, and therefore should be rethought.
verse 18 John says, “dear children, this is the last hour…”
In the New Testament the words, “last hour, last times, or last
days” has 2 meanings. One is
that the last hour is the
exact time right before the return of Jesus.
The other is the whole church age, or age of grace, from Pentecost
to Jesus’ return. So in what
sense is John using it here? Some
say that John and Paul, as well as others, believed that Jesus would
return very soon, that is in their life time. I’m not convinced that
they did believe this, but I can certainly understand why people would
think they did.
they really did believe this, then they were obviously wrong.
Then If they taught that Jesus would come in their life time, then
they obviously taught wrong. If
they taught wrong in this case, how could we fully trust them in other
things they taught?
do know, at least from what is written that they did not date the return
of Jesus. They simply did not
know and there is no hint of them suggesting a date, or even a proximity
of a date.
when John uses the term last hour, it is quite possible that he meant the
time from Pentecost to the return of Christ, whenever that was, not just
the few short years before Jesus’ return.
thing we need to note is that both John and Paul spoke more about end time
events than what they wrote. So we don’t have total understanding of
these things, or at least as much as the readers did back then.
Some may dispute this, but it is clear that Paul spoke more about
these things than he did in writing as can be seen in 2 Thess. 2.
further this thought, John tells his readers that they have heard of the
“Antichrist” who would come. Who
told them about this Antichrist? Well,
John certainly did. Paul did.
Peter probably did too, among others.
The churches John was writing to were established by Paul for the
most part 30 years earlier.
says that the Antichrist is coming. This
clearly means that he has not already come.
The Antichrist is associated with the last few years of the age of
grace, just before Jesus comes back. Thus those who believe that there is
a literal 7 year tribulation period and that it actually took place in and
around 64 to 71 AD would have to suggest that the Antichrist had come at
that point. But when John
writes this letter, at least 15 to 25 years later, he says the Antichrist
had not yet come. We should
then conclude that the 7 year tribulation period has not yet come either,
assuming one believes in a literal 7 year period, which I do believe in.
this time comes at the very end when the Antichrist will come, John says
that there are many antichrists now. These
antichrists would be like Cerinthus, the false prophet.
They were growing in abundance and this abundance would culminate
in the one superior Antichrist at the end of the age.
then says, “this is how we know it is the last hour.”
So according to John, the more these smaller antichrists increase
in number, the closer we get to the end.
I suggest that the anti-Christs that John is speaking about here
aren't necessarily men who claim to be Christ, or the Messiah.
These men might claim that they come in the name of Christ and
teach false doctrine, teach "another gospel" as Paul puts it.
In this sense of the word, there are many anti-Christs right now in
the world. There are more than
ever. I would go as far to say
that the post-modern church as seen in the Emergent movement would be one
example of anti-christ.
verse 19 John says that these antichrists “came out from us,” meaning,
these men were once apart of us and now have left us.
If this is the case with the many antichrists, this may well be the
case for the final Antichrist. Thus
we might be able to conclude that the Antichrist will be a religious
use the words “religious leader” and not Christian leader because John
himself says that even though these antichrists came out from us, they
weren’t really part of us. As
it now stands, and as Jesus Himself said, the wheat grow with the weeds.
So not all that claim to be apart of the church are really Christian.
They may attend meetings, do good service but still not be a true
member of the
says that if these antichrists had really been a part of us they would not
have left in the first place. This is a verse that some who believe in predestination
use in defense of their teaching. That
is, those who are really saved won’t leave the true church.
Those who do leave, weren't saved in the first place.
I believe there are sufficient Scriptures that prove this idea
verse 20 John says that the
true Christian “has an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know
the truth.“ The Holy One
refers to Jesus. The anointing
refers to the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, or whenever the
individual reader received the Holy Spirit. The word anointing is similar
to the word baptism. It is the
way in which the Holy Spirit is given.
It is like the Holy Spirit is poured out from above onto and into
the believer. The way in which
the Holy Spirit is given is not
the important thing. The
actual receiving of the Holy Spirit is the important issue.
Some have over emphasized how we receive the Spirit, when in fact
they should emphasize the need to receive the Holy Spirit.
Receiving the Holy Spirit into our lives is more important than how
we receive Him. In my thinking the doctrine of the Baptism in the Spirit
over emphasizes the “how” and not the fact of the Holy Spirit Himself
coming into our lives.
the person who has the Holy Spirit, they are those who know and understand
the truth. Cerinthus, and
those like him don’t have the Holy Spirit and that is why they have gone
so far astray from the truth.
verse 21 John tells his readers that he is not writing because they
don’t know the truth, but that they indeed do know the truth.
Thus to me, part of the reason for this letter is to expose the
false teaching, not to teach on the correct teaching. This
also tells me how important it is to teach Biblical truth, something I
feel the church is weak on these days.
John had already taught these people these things.
He is now reminding them what he already taught them.
In once sense of the word, he was teaching them again.
says that the truth does not lie. That’s
an understatement. Yet then in
verse 22 he asks, “who is a liar”?
We’ve seen John use this word “liar” before. John’s answer
is that the man “who denies that Jesus is the Christ,” meaning, the
Messiah, God’s Son – this man is the liar.
Cerinthus was thus a liar because he did not believe in the Deity
of Christ. He did not believe
that Jesus was God in flesh. This is the basic doctrine of Christian
thinking. If this is not true,
then all else concerning what we believe cannot be true.
Our whole Christian theology is built on the fact that Jesus is God
in human flesh. In light of
these strong words by John, you can look around you and see who is a liar
in the eyes of God.
a man is the antichrist,” John says.
So we know that all antichrists and the Antichrist himself does not
believe in the Deity of Christ. He,
or they, are not true Christians and never were.
He, and they may well be a part of the church, but not apart of
Jesus, and when Jesus meets them on judgment day, He will tell them that
He never knew them, even though they did so much in His service.
verse 23 John says that these antichrists deny the Father.
John has already said that they don’t believe in the Deity of
Christ, so they’ve denied the Son. Well
Christian teaching teaches that Jesus is the Son of the Father, and if you
deny Jesus, then by virtue of that denial, you also deny the true God, the
Father of Jesus. It is only logical that if you deny the existence of a
Son in relation to the Father, you’ve changed the definition of who the
then says that if we acknowledge the Son, we have the Father.
The issue here is the relationship between the Father and Son.
Christians believe that the God they serve is the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ. This is
not the same God that other religions claim to serve.
Therefore if we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, then it is
only logical to say that we acknowledge the Father.
So as we have Jesus, we also have the Father.
believe that acknowledging the Father and the Son is
living a life that represents Jesus well, which includes giving more than
lip service to our way of life. We
acknowledge to others that we are followers of Jesus by the way we speak
and by the way we live. The Proverb says that if we acknowledge the Lord,
He will direct our steps. This
is what acknowledge means.
point to what John is saying in this passage is very important today.
Many, if not most, people and religious leaders, claim to believe
in and acknowledge God. This
is the place where Christians are separated from others.
If people claim to believe in God, but do not believe that Jesus is
God's son, that is, God in human flesh, then they do not believe in the
God of the Bible. They do not
believe in the real God.
verse 24 John exhorts his readers to have what they’ve heard from the
beginning remain in them. If
they do allow the Word to remain in them, they will remain in the Father
and in the Son. This sounds
very much like what Jesus told
the disciples as John recorded in
John 15. This also suggests to
me that it is possible not to remain in what we’ve learned and therefore
we depart from Father and Son as a result.
If we depart from God the Father and Jesus, I suggest we clearly
lose our salvation.
verse 25 John reminds his reader that Jesus has promised eternal life.
This eternal life with Jesus is only promised to the who accept who
Jesus really is.
verse 26 John gives another reason why he is writing as he is.
He’s writing so those who are trying to lead
them astray will fail in their attempt.
This would be Cerinthus and men like him. John is simply speaking
the truth of the gospel as both a reminder to his readers and a witness to
the false teachers.
is being an apologist in his first letter here.
That means he is defending the true gospel of Jesus.
Thus we see the defense of the gospel as an important part of the
Bible. Paul also was one who
defended the gospel. If the
Bible is actually a defense of the gospel of God and Jesus, then we should
have no problem today defending the gospel and being apologists as well.
Many church leaders today do not believe in such a ministry today.
verse 27 John reminds his readers that the anointing they received remains
in them. That is to say, the
Holy Spirit which the readers had received is still in them, and He, the
Spirit, will teach them all things.
of the Spirit within, John says that they don’t need anyone to teach
Christians have taken this verse the wrong way and out of its context.
John is not saying that we should not listen to God given teachers.
If this was the case, he wouldn’t be writing this letter because
it is a form of teaching. We
also know from other Scriptures that teachers in the Body of Christ is a
gift of Christ as noted by Paul in Eph. 4:11.
In context John is saying that they don’t need men like Cerinthus
teaching them. They have the
Holy Spirit within, and if they listen to the Spirit, then they will know
that Cerinthus is in error.
see the importance of history in this verse.
Unless you know the historical setting of this letter it is easy to
take this sentence out of context. But
we know from studying, that there were false teachers such as Cerinthus in
the first century that distorted the gospel and the Holy Spirit should be
allowed to speak to us from within and show us the error of false
verse 27 John says that this anointing, the Spirit, is real, not
counterfeit, as is Cerinthus. We
need to remain in this teaching and not depart from it.
What John is saying is that as individuals, we need the Holy
Spirit, we need to listen to Him and be in tune with Him as we read and
understand the Word of God. We
need to find our own convictions. They
need to be strong and based on sound doctrine.
We cannot depend solely on what other people say and believe.
It is my thinking that strong conviction in the teaching of
Scripture is lacking in the church today.
We’ve given way to the world in the sense of “relativism”.
By this I mean we say to one another, “whatever you believe is
fine, and whatever I believe is fine.
Our belief systems are not important anyway.
What is right to you is right for you and the same with me”.
This kind of thinking is not New Testament thinking.
You would not see Paul, Peter or John say such things.
And John is clear on this in his letter.