1 John 2 Study Notes


2:1 Jesus’s death was not the end of his ministry but the move to a new phase. Now he serves as our advocate or helper and mediator at the Father’s right hand.

2:2 Jesus’s perfect obedience and sacrificial death satisfied God’s just demand for sin to be punished (atoning sacrifice). But his punishment was for others, not for himself. The phrase for those of the whole world does not mean the salvation of all people. It does mean that, in keeping with God’s promise to bless all the nations through Abraham and his descendants (Gn 12:3), Jesus’s saving death extends the offer of salvation to all nations.

2:3 John taught an understanding of Christian faith that includes profound assurance, not just the “maybe” of spiritual optimism.

2:4 The words his commands mean the same thing as “his word” in v. 5 and Jesus’s example in v. 6 (“just as he walked”). The true follower of Jesus is not just a talker but a doer (Jms 1:22).

2:5-6 The life of Jesus Christ is the paradigm or pattern for the believer’s life. The love of God in v. 5 could be either God’s love for us or our love for God. The former is probably correct.

2:7 Dear friends is literally “Beloved.” This was a favorite term of address for John (3:2,21; 4:1,7,11). It is a reminder that Christians are what they are—“beloved”—because God has loved them (4:10). The love command was intensified and perfected in its expression by Jesus. Yet it is old, rooted in God’s love and his commands in the OT (Lv 19:18; Dt 6:5).

2:8 God is light (1:5), and Christ has come into the world. This means the gloom of present evil and sin is giving way as the true light is already shining.

2:9-11 Relationships with fellow believers are key indicators of whether one is walking in the light or in darkness. Walks, here and elsewhere in 1 John, is a metaphor for the course of a person’s life.

2:12-14 While 1 John lacks a formal personal address in its opening lines, the author used two terms of endearment in these verses (little children, v. 12; children, v. 14). Then he included all readers with the inclusive terms fathers and young men.

2:13 The one who is from the beginning could refer to either the Father or the Son. They share the attribute of eternality (Jn 1:1; 17:5).

2:14 Believers are strong not in themselves but because of the one in whom they have placed their trust. God’s word refers to the saving gospel message that Christ brought, now embodied in the Bible.

2:15 Things in the world are not just material objects. They are things that absorb human love of the Father to an undue degree, even to the point of supplanting God (see John’s warning about idols in 5:21 and note there).

2:16 John warned against what the body desires, what the eyes itch to see, and what people work hard to acquire. These are not from the Father but from the world.

2:17 Like the darkness in v. 8, the world with its lust is passing away because of the coming of Christ. This opens the way for doing the will of God and establishing fellowship with him forever.

2:18 John warned against many antichrists. This is probably a reference to misguided or diabolical individuals who were guilty of the sins that he described and condemned. They opposed and sought to replace the true Christ.

2:19 The phrase they went out from us shows there had been a division among the church members to whom John wrote. But not all who were in the church were authentic believers. Their departure from the fellowship and the apostolic truth was proof of this.

2:20 The anointing in this verse could be the Holy Spirit, but it more likely refers to the gospel or the saving message—the teaching that believers had received.

2:21 A mark of those who truly know is the ability to admit their lack of knowledge and their desire to learn more. True believers are always “disciples” (learners).

2:22 The error John referred to here was not ethical but theological—false teaching about the Father and the Son.

2:23 This verse affirms the unity and identity of God the Father and the Son. Yet it also affirms their distinctiveness.

2:24 The phrase from the beginning refers to the earliest exposure of John’s readers to gospel teaching. There is a direct tie between what they have heard and the status of their souls as residing (or not residing) in the Son and in the Father.

2:25 Despite John’s earlier ethical warnings to remain faithful, salvation is a matter of God’s faithfulness, not human achievement.

2:26 God’s people cannot always avoid conflict; usurpers and destroyers arise, trying to deceive.

2:27 On anointing, see note at v. 20. John was content to entrust his readers to the powerful message they had received.

2:28 Ashamed refers to the guilt and terror of judgment by God. Those who remain in him avoid this grim prospect.

2:29 The doctrinal knowledge of John’s if statement sets up the ethical response implied by does what is right, but the response is a function of spiritual rebirth (born of him) and not human effort.