WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson III) 03/26/21

William Tyndale (1340-1396) sees the Apostle John writing this to those on one side to warn them that no one can willingly participate in the unproductive feats of spiritual darkness and have any fellowship in the Light with God. So, it only makes common sense not to continue sinning because none of God’s promises will apply. Then, he writes about those on the other side who decided to remain in darkness under the influence of the devil and evil spirits. However, once they come to their senses and their rebellion is over, God is still ready to respond to a repentant heart with love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.[1]

Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560), addresses the worship of the saints in the Roman Catholic Church by saying they teach that our memory of saints can serve as an example for us and follow their faith and good works.[2] But the Scriptures do not teach appealing to the saints asking for help. We have before us the one Anointed One as our Mediator, Reconciler, High Priest, and Intercessor. He is to be prayed to and has promised that He will hear our prayer. And above all, He can be called on at any time, as John tells us here in verse one: “If any person sins, they have an Advocate with the Father – Jesus the Anointed One.”[3]

John Calvin scolds the Vatican for modifying what Peter said about how the Anointed One carried our sins in His body on the tree by introducing the theory that we can lower all the temporal penalties of sin by baptism. In addition, they are lessened even more by using repentance with the Anointed One’s cross cooperating. The Apostle John speaks very differently here in verses one and two. Here He addresses believers while presenting the Anointed One as the remedy for sins. He shows them that there is no other way for God to be satisfied except when our offenses are paid for and forgiven, and the Anointed One is the only person who qualifies to pay that price.

He does not say: God was once reconciled to you by the Anointed One; now, seek other methods; but makes Him a perpetual advocate, who permanently, by His intercession, reinstates us in His Father’s favor — a continuous remedy to cleanse and heal the scars of sin. For what was said by John will remain true: “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sins of the world.”[4] He took them away and no other; He alone is the Lamb of God; He alone is the offering for our sins. It was He alone who paid the ransom; He alone satisfies God’s demands for the penalties of sin.

We know that all authority and power to pardon belongs to the Father. But when Jesus said God passed on all power and authority to Him,[5] it places Him who took the punishment for our sin upon Himself, as the one who can wipe away our guilt with God’s approval.[6] So, it follows that become beneficiaries of the ransom Jesus paid. Without such power and authority, the Anointed One could not deliver forgiveness and salvation. Anyone who tries to appease God by their good works is seeking to rob the Anointed One of His rightful place as our Advocate.[7]

Calvin goes on to say since no one is worthy to come forward in their name and appear in the presence of God, our heavenly Father, the Father gave us His Son, Jesus the Anointed One, our Lord, to be our Advocate and Mediator. Under His guidance, we may approach securely, confiding that with Him as our Intercessor, God will not withhold anything which we ask in His Son’s name, as there is nothing which the Father can deny to Him.[8] The promise gives us the Anointed One as our Mediator, so, unless our hope of obtaining what we ask for is through Him, it deprives us of the privilege of prayer. For it is impossible to think of the revered majesty of God without being filled with reverence. And since the sense of our unworthiness keeps us far away, only when the Anointed One intervenes and a throne of judgment becomes a throne of grace, can we “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”[9]

We have a promise that God will hear those who pray, so we are encouraged to pray in the name of Jesus to receive the blessings of the Father.[10] It follows then that those who pray to God in any other name than that of the Anointed One are stubbornly ignoring His orders and regard His will as nothing, while, all along, they have no promise God will hear and answer their prayer. For, as Paul says, “All the promises of God in Him are Yea and Amen.”[11] That is, they are confirmed and fulfilled in Him.[12]

Calvin blames those who tamper with the Gospel, guilty of inventing hearsay when they allege that Christ is the Mediator of redemption but that believers are mediators of intercession. It could only be possible if the Anointed One’s death on the cross were a temporary relief from the guilt of sin and left eternal mediation to His followers on earth. Sadly, this represents the treatment our Lord receives from those who want to steal even the most minor portion of honor from Him.

John is straightforward by declaring that everyone’s sin is mediated before the Father by His Son. That eliminates the idea that when Jesus was on earth, He was His follower’s advocate, but after He left for heaven, He ceased acting in that role. As a result, the ongoing need for an Advocate was left up to others far less qualified. Paul did not hold back when he wrote: “Now He is on God’s right side, appealing to God for us.”[13] Paul also said, “There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man, Jesus the Anointed One.[14] Calvin points out that Augustine agrees that Christians mutually call out to God in prayer. But there is One who intercedes for all, and He is the authentic Mediator – Jesus the Anointed One, our Lord.[15]

John Trapp (1601-1669) does not mince words commenting on what the Apostle John says in verse one about believers continuing to sin. He criticizes the established Church in his day, who presumed there was an easy and speedy pardon. The worst of those are when the church says, when we sin, we must confess, and after we confess, we will undoubtedly sin again, that we may repent once more.  In doing so, they treat confession as drunkards do vomiting, so they can drink more.

But we do not understand the teachings of the Anointed One this way. If His word dwells in us, it will teach us that ungodliness is unacceptable. We must forsake as well as confess sin. After confession, we must not return to living foolishly as a sick dog returns to its vomit. We must not follow our confession of sin by covering our sins.[16] [17] Do not be like a man who spills something red on his white shirt and tries to cover it with his tie. Or a woman who notices a run in her nylons and attempts to conceal it with a clear fingernail polish. God sees through all of that.

John Owen (1616-1683) reminds us the Jesus told His disciples, “I tell you the truth. It is better for you that I go away. If I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.”[18] [19] The Holy Spirit’s coming was not to replace the Anointed One’s position in heaven next to the Father as our Advocate but to take the place of the Anointed One’s ministry here on earth. As such, we can see the Holy Spirit as the Intercessor with the Advocate on our behalf.

Nathaniel Hardy (1618-1670) paraphrases what he hears the Apostle John saying here: It goes like this: “And (O beloved) that every soul in this congregation might be able to say of me, ‘My father;’ oh that I might be able to say of you, ‘My children.’ Why tell me why, do you force us to complain along with the prophet,My work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.’”[20] When, oh when, will you, by receiving this heavenly seed, make us joyful fathers and mothers, asks Hardy? Indeed, what Abraham said to God, “O Lord God, what will You give me? I have no child, is what we say to you, what will you give us? Reverence, caring? All this is nothing if we go childless.”[21] While we do not see these words in the parchment John used, Hardy believes they were in the Apostle’s heart.

Hardy goes on to address his congregation: “Our desire is like that of the king of Sodom,Just give me back my captured people; keep for yourself the riches stolen from my city, that we may give them to God.’”[22] As Isaiah prophesied concerning the Messiah, “He will see what the suffering of His soul brings, and will be pleased,”[23] so this is our prayer to God, and desire of you, that you may see the grieving of our souls in the conversion of yours; then, and not till then, will we be satisfied. Oh, that you would do us this honor, afford us this relief, by your spiritual birth, and growth under our ministry, that we may be able upon solid ground to call you, as John did those to whom he wrote, “My little children.”[24] Such passion is hard to find today in many pulpits.


[1] Tyndale, William, Exposition and Notes, op. cit., p. 152

[2] Cf. Hebrews 12:1-2

[3] Melanchthon, Philip: The Augsburg Confession, Article 21, pp. 17-18

[4] John 1:29

[5] Matthew 28:18

[6] Matthew 9:5

[7] Calvin, John: Institutes of the Christians Religion, op. cit., Ch. 4, p. 675

[8] 1 Timothy 2:5

[9] Hebrews 4:16

[10] John 14:13; 16:24

[11] 2 Corinthians 1:20

[12] Ibid. pp. 906-907

[13] Romans 8:34

[14] 1 Timothy 2:5

[15] Ibid. p. 909

[16] Proverbs 28:13

[17] Trapp, John: Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 725

[18] John 16:7

[19] John Owen: On Communion with God, Vol 3, Part 3, Ch. 1, p. 293-294

[20] Isaiah 49:4

[21] Genesis 15:2

[22] Ibid. 14:21

[23] Isaiah 53:11

[24] Hardy, Nathaniel: The First General Epistle of St. John the Apostle, Unfolded and Applies, Edinburgh; London; Dublin., 1865, James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, p. 117

About drbob76

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