WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson 1) 03/24/21

2:1a My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will stay away from sin. But if you do sin, there is an Advocate to plead your case before your Father in heaven – His name is Jesus the Anointed One who always does what’s right.

EXPOSITION

This idea of a mediator between humanity and God was not new to John’s selected readers for this letter. In Rabbi Eliezer’s book on ethics, the son of Yaakov (Jacob) is quoted as saying: “He who fulfills one mitzvah (commandment), acquires for himself one angel-advocate; he who commits one transgression, acquires against himself one angel-accuser.” Repentance and good deeds are a shield against retribution. Rabbi Yochanan, the Sandal-Maker, would say: “Every gathered that is for heaven’s sake will endure; that which is not for heaven’s sake, will not survive.”[1]

Furthermore, one Rabbi taught that whoever ascends the scaffold to be punished [hung], if he has great advocates, he is saved, but if not, he is lost. And these are man’s advocates: repentance and good deeds. Even if nine hundred and ninety-nine argue for his guilt, God will save him while one pleads for his favor.[2] [3]

The Apostle Paul seems to have had the same emotion when he wrote the Corinthians, telling them that he was not trying to make them feel ashamed but was writing to advise them as a father would his children. They may have thousands of Bible teachers, but they didn’t have many fathers. Like Paul, through the Good News, John became their father in the Anointed One Jesus.[4]

Furthermore, John is quick to let them know that, as the Psalmist said,[5] that he was writing them so that they would not let their sinful tendencies overcome them, so they ended up transgressing against God and His teachings. The Psalmist warned them that as they stand before the Lord in reverence, think about what they were planning to do. But John now tells his readers that there is someone who stands before the heavenly Father who will do that for them.

Perhaps John was reminded of God’s instructions to the prophet Ezekiel about warning His people not to dismiss the oncoming spirit of wickedness. God told Ezekiel that by alerting them so that they repent, he too would live and would have saved his life also.[6] Paul had a similar message for the believers in Rome when he wrote to them that anyone who is in the Anointed One Jesus is not judged guilty. That is because, in the Anointed One Jesus, the law of the Spirit brought them life and made them free from the Law that brings sin and death. Furthermore, the Spirit they received does not make them slaves of the Law through fear, but children of God in love.[7] It is the message John wanted those he wrote to understand.

No doubt, John was hoping and praying that his message would have the same effect as Paul’s plea for the Corinthians that they would come back to the right way of thinking and stop sinning. Perhaps some of them didn’t have a personal relationship with God, and should be ashamed of themselves.[8] I’m certain that in the heart of every pastor, there is that same fear even those same people have heard sermon after sermon on God’s grace and forgiveness. Honestly, there was such a spirit of insubordination in Ephesus, where John would pastor, that Paul warned them not to sin by nursing their grudges against other believers. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry – get over it quickly.[9]

In fact, in his letter to Titus, Paul passed on this word of wisdom:  That is the way we should all live because God’s saving grace is available to everyone. It teaches us not to live against God, says Paul, and not to do the wrong things the world wants us to do. Instead, it teaches us to avoid ungodly lives filled with worldly desires so that we can pursue a self-controlled, moral, and significant lifestyle in this present world to God’s glory. We should live like that while we are waiting for the coming of our great God and Savior Jesus, the Anointed One. He is our great hope, and He will come with glory.[10]

But Paul and John were not the only ones who preached this principle. The Apostle Peter also agreed when he wrote his constituents that they are to be sanctified in everything they did, just as God is holy. After all, He is the one who chose them to be His own. Isn’t that what the Scriptures say?[11] Oh yes, they pray to God and call him Father, but He judges everyone by what they have done, and he doesn’t play favorites. So, during their time here on earth, they should live with respect for God. Peter tells them, you know that in the past, the way you were living under the Law was useless. You must realize that you aren’t set free from the worthless life handed down to you from your ancestors by a payment of silver or gold, which are destructible. The Anointed One bought your freedom with His precious lifeblood, a pure and perfect sacrificial Lamb.[12]

Peter goes on to say that since the Anointed One suffered while He was in His body, strengthen yourselves with the same way of thinking the Anointed One had. Every person should have nothing to do with sin, which has experienced the consequences of sin in their body. Strengthen yourselves, so you won’t be spending the rest of your life chasing after evil desires but will be anxious to do the will of God. In the past, you wasted way too much time doing what nonbelievers enjoy.[13] There is no doubt that John wanted his readers to understand this same message and stay on the right path toward heaven. Can’t they see no one will condemn them? The Anointed One died for us, and more importantly, God brought Him back to life. That placed Him in a privileged position – right next to God the Father on the heavenly throne. It is there that the Anointed One intercedes for us.[14]

So, don’t go looking for someone else to represent you and plead your case with the Father in heaven. There is one God and one mediator so that human beings can reach God. That way is through the Anointed One Jesus, Himself, a human.[15] And that means Jesus lives forever, so He will never stop serving as our priest forever. That is why He is always able to save those who come to God through Him. He can do this because He still lives and intercedes for them.[16] That’s because the Anointed One did not go into a Holy of Holies made by human hands. He didn’t go into a replica of the real thing. Instead, He went into heaven to appear in God’s holy presence on our behalf.[17]

John addresses his readers affectionately as his spiritual children. He views them as a family. The word “children” is an affectionate term regardless of age. It is a title God gives to all His children; it is His name for His family. The purpose of writing this epistle is that believers would have a means for addressing sin issues. It is an argument against the idea that Christians must engage in inevitable habitual sinful behavior. John does not write so that his readers justify sin but conquer sin – “so that they can keep from sinning.”

John writes with the purpose that his readers will have a safeguard against sinning. If we practice sin, we will become more proficient in it. That is how we were before we received Jesus as our Savior. Now, it is altogether different; we have Someone and something to live for. John desires that his readers not sin when confronted with temptation. Although believers are not free from sin, they can overcome their sinful tendencies with obedience to God’s Word and Spirit.

Should a Christian even think about sinning? That’s a question John wants answered, especially when the believers have everything they need to deal with sin – a Lawyer in heaven who satisfied the absolute demands of the Father. The words “we have” indicate that the advocacy of Jesus begins at the moment we commit a single sin. Jesus instantaneously and constantly is at our disposal, whether we realize it or not. This is true, regardless of whether we appreciate it or not. He will always come to our side to help us with our sin issue before an absolute God.

Jesus is more than a Savior and more than a Lord, He is our Advocate or Lawyer. He is with the Father and intercedes on our behalf to the Father. An advocate is someone called alongside to help. An advocate comes to someone’s aid. Secular Greek writers used “advocate” as a court term to denote a legal assistant, counsel for defense. Jesus, as our Advocate, pleads our cause; He is our Intercessor. The word “advocate” occurs 5 times in the Greek New Testament. Other occurrences translate it as “comforter.” All 4 of the other occurrences refer to the Holy Spirit. We have a Defense Attorney in Jesus the Anointed One and another Defense Attorney in the Holy Spirit. Jesus defends us against the accusations of the Devil because of our sin.[18] The Holy Spirit gives us the power to live a triumphant Christian life.[19] God has already made provision for any believer’s sin.

[1] Pirke Abot, “Ethics of the Fathers,” Ch. 4:11

[2] Job 33:24

[3] Babylonian Talmud: Seder Mo’ed, Shabbath, folio 32a

[4] 1 Corinthians 4:14-15; also see Galatians 4:19

[5] Psalm 4:4

[6] Ezekiel 3:21

[7] Romans 8:1-2, 15

[8]  1 Corinthians 15:34

[9]  Ephesians 4:26

[10] Titus 2:11-13

[11] See Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20; John 7

[12] 1 Peter 1:18-19

[13] Ibid. 4:1-2

[14] Romans 8:34

[15] 1 Timothy 2:5

[16] Hebrews 7:24-25

[17] Ibid. 9:24

[18] Revelation 2:10

[19] Romans 6:12-14; 8:12-13; 1 Corinthians 15:34; Titus 2:11-12; 1 Peter 1:13-16


About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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