1 John 2

1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Love and Hatred for Fellow Believers

3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.
4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:
6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.
8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness.
10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.
11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

Reasons for Writing

12 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

On Not Loving the World

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[d] is not in them.
16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Warnings Against Denying the Son

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[e]
21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.
27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

God’s Children and Sin

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

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1 John 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

The apostle directs to the atonement of Christ for help against sinful infirmities. (1,2) The effects of saving knowledge in producing obedience, and love to the brethren. (3-11) Christians addressed as little children, young men, and fathers. (12-14) All are cautioned against the love of this world, and against errors. (15-23) They are encouraged to stand fast in faith and holiness. (24-29)

Verses 1-2 When have an Advocate with the Father; one who has undertaken, and is fully able, to plead in behalf of every one who applies for pardon and salvation in his name, depending on his pleading for them. He is "Jesus," the Saviour, and "Christ," the Messiah, the Anointed. He alone is "the Righteous One," who received his nature pure from sin, and as our Surety perfectly obeyed the law of God, and so fulfilled all righteousness. All men, in every land, and through successive generations, are invited to come to God through this all-sufficient atonement, and by this new and living way. The gospel, when rightly understood and received, sets the heart against all sin, and stops the allowed practice of it; at the same time it gives blessed relief to the wounded consciences of those who have sinned.

Verses 3-11 What knowledge of Christ can that be, which sees not that he is most worthy of our entire obedience? And a disobedient life shows there is neither religion nor honesty in the professor. The love of God is perfected in him that keeps his commandments. God's grace in him attains its true mark, and produces its sovereign effect as far as may be in this world, and this is man's regeneration; though never absolutely perfect here. Yet this observing Christ's commands, has holiness and excellency which, if universal, would make the earth resemble heaven itself. The command to love one another had been in force from the beginning of the world; but it might be called a new command as given to Christians. It was new in them, as their situation was new in respect of its motives, rules, and obligations. And those who walk in hatred and enmity to believers, remain in a dark state. Christian love teaches us to value our brother's soul, and to dread every thing hurtful to his purity and peace. Where spiritual darkness dwells, in mind, the judgment, and the conscience will be darkened, and will mistake the way to heavenly life. These things demand serious self-examination; and earnest prayer, that God would show us what we are, and whither we are going.

Verses 12-14 As Christians have their peculiar states, so they have peculiar duties; but there are precepts and obedience common to all, particularly mutual love, and contempt of the world. The youngest sincere disciple is pardoned: the communion of saints is attended with the forgiveness of sins. Those of the longest standing in Christ's school need further advice and instruction. Even fathers must be written unto, and preached unto; none are too old to learn. But especially young men in Christ Jesus, though they are arrived at strength of spirit and sound sense, and have successfully resisted first trials and temptations, breaking off bad habits and connexions, and entered in at the strait gate of true conversion. The different descriptions of Christians are again addressed. Children in Christ know that God is their Father; it is wisdom. Those advanced believers, who know Him that was from the beginning, before this world was made, may well be led thereby to give up this world. It will be the glory of young persons to be strong in Christ, and his grace. By the word of God they overcome the wicked one.

Verses 15-17 The things of the world may be desired and possessed for the uses and purposes which God intended, and they are to be used by his grace, and to his glory; but believers must not seek or value them for those purposes to which sin abuses them. The world draws the heart from God; and the more the love of the world prevails, the more the love of God decays. The things of the world are classed according to the three ruling inclinations of depraved nature. 1. The lust of the flesh, of the body: wrong desires of the heart, the appetite of indulging all things that excite and inflame sensual pleasures. 2. The lust of the eyes: the eyes are delighted with riches and rich possessions; this is the lust of covetousness. 3. The pride of life: a vain man craves the grandeur and pomp of a vain-glorious life; this includes thirst after honour and applause. The things of the world quickly fade and die away; desire itself will ere long fail and cease, but holy affection is not like the lust that passes away. The love of God shall never fail. Many vain efforts have been made to evade the force of this passage by limitations, distinctions, or exceptions. Many have tried to show how far we may be carnally-minded, and love the world; but the plain meaning of these verses cannot easily be mistaken. Unless this victory over the world is begun in the heart, a man has no root in himself, but will fall away, or at most remain an unfruitful professor. Yet these vanities are so alluring to the corruption in our hearts, that without constant watching and prayer, we cannot escape the world, or obtain victory over the god and prince of it.

Verses 18-23 Every man is an antichrist, who denies the Person, or any of the offices of Christ; and in denying the Son, he denies the Father also, and has no part in his favour while he rejects his great salvation. Let this prophecy that seducers would rise in the Christian world, keep us from being seduced. The church knows not well who are its true members, and who are not, but thus true Christians were proved, and rendered more watchful and humble. True Christians are anointed ones; their names expresses this: they are anointed with grace, with gifts and spiritual privileges, by the Holy Spirit of grace. The great and most hurtful lies that the father of lies spreads in the world, usually are falsehoods and errors relating to the person of Christ. The unction from the Holy One, alone can keep us from delusions. While we judge favourably of all who trust in Christ as the Divine Saviour, and obey his word, and seek to live in union with them, let us pity and pray for those who deny the Godhead of Christ, or his atonement, and the new-creating work of the Holy Ghost. Let us protest against such antichristian doctrine, and keep from them as much as we may.

Verses 24-29 The truth of Christ, abiding in us, is a means to sever from sin, and unites us to the Son of God, ( john 15:3 john 15:4 ) . What value should we put upon gospel truth! Thereby the promise of eternal life is made sure. The promise God makes, is suitable to his own greatness, power, and goodness; it is eternal life. The Spirit of truth will not lie; and he teaches all things in the present dispensation, all things necessary to our knowledge of God in Christ, and their glory in the gospel. The apostle repeats the kind words, "little children;" which denotes his affection. He would persuade by love. Gospel privileges oblige to gospel duties; and those anointed by the Lord Jesus abide with him. The new spiritual nature is from the Lord Christ. He that is constant to the practice of religion in trying times, shows that he is born from above, from the Lord Christ. Then, let us beware of holding the truth in unrighteousness, remembering that those only are born of God, who bear his holy image, and walk in his most righteous ways.

Cross References 67

  • 1. ver 12,13,28; 1 John 3:7,18; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:21; S 1 Thessalonians 2:11
  • 2. S Romans 8:34; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 7:25
  • 3. Romans 3:25; 1 John 4:10
  • 4. S Matthew 1:21; S John 3:17
  • 5. ver 5; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:13; 1 John 5:2
  • 6. S ver 4
  • 7. S John 14:15
  • 8. ver 3; Titus 1:16; 1 John 3:6; 1 John 4:7,8
  • 9. 1 John 1:6,8
  • 10. S John 14:15; John 14:21,23
  • 11. 1 John 4:12
  • 12. S ver 3
  • 13. S Matthew 11:29; 1 Peter 2:21
  • 14. S 1 Corinthians 10:14
  • 15. ver 24; 1 John 3:11,23; 1 John 4:21; 2Jn 5,6
  • 16. S John 13:34
  • 17. Romans 13:12; Hebrews 10:25
  • 18. John 1:9
  • 19. Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5
  • 20. ver 11; Leviticus 19:17; 1Jn 3:10,15,16; 1 John 4:20,21
  • 21. 1 John 1:5
  • 22. 1 John 3:14
  • 23. ver 11; Psalms 119:165
  • 24. S ver 9
  • 25. S 1 John 1:6
  • 26. John 11:9; John 12:35
  • 27. S ver 1
  • 28. S 1 John 3:23
  • 29. S John 1:1
  • 30. S John 16:33
  • 31. ver 14; S Matthew 5:37
  • 32. S ver 1
  • 33. S John 1:1
  • 34. Ephesians 6:10
  • 35. S Hebrews 4:12
  • 36. John 5:38; 1 John 1:10
  • 37. S ver 13
  • 38. Romans 12:2
  • 39. James 4:4
  • 40. Genesis 3:6; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 2:3
  • 41. Proverbs 27:20
  • 42. S Hebrews 12:27; 1 Corinthians 7:31
  • 43. Matthew 12:50
  • 44. S Romans 13:11
  • 45. ver 22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7
  • 46. 1 John 4:1
  • 47. Acts 20:30
  • 48. 1 Corinthians 11:19
  • 49. ver 27; 2 Corinthians 1:21
  • 50. S Mark 1:24
  • 51. Jeremiah 31:34; Matthew 13:11; John 14:26
  • 52. 2 Peter 1:12; Jude 5
  • 53. 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7
  • 54. John 8:19; John 14:7; 1 John 4:15; 1 John 5:1; 2 John 9
  • 55. S ver 7
  • 56. John 14:23; John 15:4; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 9
  • 57. S Matthew 25:46
  • 58. 1 John 3:7; 2 John 7
  • 59. ver 20
  • 60. 1 Corinthians 2:12
  • 61. John 15:4
  • 62. S ver 1
  • 63. Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2
  • 64. S Ephesians 3:12; 1 John 4:17
  • 65. S 1 Thessalonians 2:19
  • 66. 1 John 3:7
  • 67. S John 1:13

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or "word, God’s love"
  • [b]. The Greek word for "brother or sister" ("adelphos" ) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family; also in verse 11; and in 3:15, 17; 4:20; 5:16.
  • [c]. The Greek word for "brother and sister" ("adelphos" ) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family; also in 3:10; 4:20, 21.
  • [d]. Or "world, the Father’s love"
  • [e]. Some manuscripts "and you know all things"

1 John 2 Commentaries