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1st John Series
Last time we closed chapter one with John using the phrase “If
we say” three times—“If we say we have fellowship with Him,”
“If we say we have no sin,” and “If we say we have not
His point is always to reveal whether or not what we say is
true, or if we’ve become deceived. As we begin chapter 2, John
will use another phrase three times—“He who says.” But first,
he brings good news about our Advocate, Jesus Christ:
2:1-2 “My little children, these things I write to you, so that
you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with
the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the
propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the
Advocate means “a legal advocate that makes our case for us.”
It is the word for an attorney. When we sin as believers, we
have an attorney, Jesus Christ, who makes our case before the
Father, testifying that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb.
John also says that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins and
that of the whole world. Propitiation means something that
appeases an angry, offended party. Christ's atoning blood
appeases God's wrath on all confessed sin!
Next, John provides a test for those who claim to truly know
the Lord by using “He who says” for the first time:
2:3-6 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His
commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not
keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is
perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who
says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He
We know that we truly know the Lord by our desire to keep His
Word, to obey Him, to walk in His commandments. Jesus
Himself said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My
Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our
home with them” (John 14:23 NIV).
If a person says they know Jesus, but live a worldly lifestyle
that clearly runs against the grain of His teaching, or if they
walk in a hateful, non-loving spirit toward the brethren, John
says they are a liar.
2: 7-8 “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an
old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The
old commandment is the word which you heard from the
beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which
thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing
away, and the true light is already shining.”
What I’m telling you is nothing new, says John. He’s employing
an old commandment reaching all the way back to Moses’
words, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone
among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am
the LORD” (Lev. 19:18).
And when Jesus came, He applied this old commandment about
walking in love directly into the light of the New Covenant.
One day Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the great
commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and
with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and
the Prophets’” (Matt. 22:36-40).
So next, John leaps right into how loving one another is directly
linked to walking in the light. He’s going to use his second “He
who says” to make his point:
2: 9-11 “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is
in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the
light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who
hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and
does not know where he is going, because the darkness has
blinded his eyes.”
There are only two kinds of people on earth—those who walk in
spiritual darkness and those who walk in spiritual light. There
is no in-between. If we say we are in the light, walking in
lockstep with Jesus, but hate our brother, we are deceiving
John contends that hate and light are like oil and water, they
can’t mix! Hate in the Greek language is very strong; it means
to detest a person, to loathe, despise, to wish evil upon.
Jesus warned in His Sermon on the Mount that it is hatred that
leads to the physical act of murder. So He taught us to deal
with our heart before what’s in our heart brings us before a
court of law.
So we can’t hate and at the same time walk in the light of
fellowship with God. Hence Jesus’s constant admonition to
forgive others before an offense becomes a root of bitterness
that devolves into hatred.
If you are walking in hate, John says you don’t even know
where you’re going. You’re like a blind man that can’t see the
path you’re walking on!
Next, the Apostle turns his attention to three kinds of people—
little children (spiritual newborns), fathers (those with many
years in the faith), and young men (those in their prime years
who growing strong in the faith).
2:12-14 “I write to you, little children, Because your sins are
forgiven you for His name’s sake.” The first thing a newborn
child of God experiences is the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’s
13 “I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who
is from the beginning.” Thank God for spiritual fathers who
have known Jesus for a long time and are able to mentor
others in the faith!
“I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the
Here we’re given a key marker of positive spiritual growth—
overcoming the wicked one—walking in victory over temptation
and Satan’s attacks.
“I write to you, little children, because you have known the
Father.” Praise God for the day we become God’s child and cry
out, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15)
14 “I have written to you, fathers, because you have known
Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young
men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in
you, and you have overcome the wicked one.”
Here John provides an insight as to HOW the young men have
become spiritually strong. “The word of God abides in you!”
The word “abide” is a picture of someone that visits a house
and decides to stay there. The word of God has stayed in,
remained in, found a home in these young men!
Next, John warns the church against loving this present world:
2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If
anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of
the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the
world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but
he who does the will of God abides forever.”
The Greek word for “world” here is kosmos, which we get our
own word “cosmos” from. It refers to the world system ruled
by evil, not the beautiful creation of God.
The Bible says the devil is the “god of this world,” who has
“blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the
light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the
image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).
John tells us that the devil’s world system revolves around 3
killers—“The lust of the flesh” (living for sensual pleasure),
“the lust of the eyes” (focused on sensual things), and “the
pride of life” (pride in your achievements and possessions
without giving glory to God).
He says that all of this is passing away, along with the lusts.
But if you do God’s will, you will enjoy eternal life!
Next, John mentions for the first time the antichrist:
2:18-19 “Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard
that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists
have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come.
19 These people left our churches, but they never really
belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us.
When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.”
Notice that he says it’s “the last hour.” We talk a lot about
being in the last days, and indeed we are. But the last days
began when Jesus arose from the dead and ascended to the
Father. Hebrews says,
“Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers
through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face to face,
telling them little by little about his plans. 2 But now in these
last days he has spoken to us through his Son...”
So we might more accurately say that we are in the “last of the
John reminds his readers that they’ve already been told about
a singular “Antichrist” that would come. Paul wrote about it,
and apparently it was a common message in the early church
that a “man of sin” (2 Thes. 2:3) would one day step onto the
But John says that many “antichrist’s”—those who hate and
oppose Christ—had already appeared. And their true identity
was exposed when they left the church because they didn’t
agree with the church’s position on Christ. They “left our
churches, but they never really belonged with us.”
Next, John reveals how to spot the “spirit of antichrist.”
2:20-23 “So I am not writing to you as to those who need to
know the truth, but I warn you as those who can discern the
difference between true and false. 22 And who is the greatest
liar? The one who says that Jesus is not Christ. Such a person is
antichrist, for he does not believe in God the Father and in his
Son. 23 For a person who doesn’t believe in Christ, God’s Son,
can’t have God the Father either. But he who has Christ, God’s
Son, has God the Father also.”
Our world is filled with this spirit of antichrist. People in high
places of learning, or with strong media influence, insist that
Jesus is not the Christ, that He’s not the only way to salvation.
This is a “spirit of antichrist” working in them.
Next, John encourages them to stay true to the truth they’ve
2:24-26 “So keep on believing what you have been taught from
the beginning. If you do, you will always be in close fellowship
with both God the Father and his Son. 25 And he himself has
promised us this: eternal life. 26 These remarks of mine about
the Antichrist are pointed at those who would dearly love to
blindfold you and lead you astray.”
Paul told young Timothy the same thing, “But as for you,
continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed,
knowing from whom you learned it” (2 Tim. 3:14).
John reminds them of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as
2:27 “But you have received the anointing (the Holy Spirit),
and he lives within you, in your hearts, so that you don’t need
anyone to teach you what is right. For he teaches you all
things, and he is the Truth, and no liar; and so, just as he has
said, you must live in Christ, never to depart from him.”
The Spirit of God Who lives within every believer will always
point to the Person of Christ and none other.
Finally, John closes chapter 2 with an admonition to stick with
2:28-29 “And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with
Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and
not shrink back from him in shame. 29 Since we know that
Christ is righteous, we also know that all who practice right
living are God’s children.”
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