WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson V) 03/30/21

Heinrich A. W. Meyer (1800-1873) points out that the Apostle John considered, in chapter one verse seven, the blood of the Anointed One and in verse nine the faithfulness and justice of God. Also, on forgiveness and purification of believers, now he encouragingly points to the Anointed One as the Paraclete, complementing the previous thoughts. It is also essential that we recognize John’s reference to the reason for his writing this letter in the first place. It is another way of saying that none of the attributes listed so far are possible without God’s Holy Spirit’s involvement.

Meyer continues by saying that John stays away from any unchangeable explanation of the Paraclete’s involvement here since it would be improper. Still, it is crucial to mark the chief elements, which result from the Apostle’s statement. These are the following: 1. The Paraclete is Jesus, the glorified Redeemer who is with the Father; therefore, neither in His divine nature nor His human nature alone, but the Lord in His divine-human personality. 2. The doctrine in question is the reconciliation of humanity with God by His Son’s blood. 3. His advocacy has reference to believers, who still sin amid their walking in the Light; and 4. It is an actual activity in which He intercedes for His people (that the Anointed One may manifest in their forgiveness and sanctification His faithfulness and justice) with God, as His (and their) Father. In observing these points, says Meyer, no statement by John requiring an outward display, neither is there any justification for doing away with the concept.

Even Bede the Venerable, says Meyer, is not timid. He says that the advocacy consists of the Anointed One presenting Himself as a man to God. He prays for, and, therefore, considers the mediation, not as an actio realis (“real action”), but only as an actio interpretativa (“interpretive activity”). But the work of the Anointed One as an Advocate is further rejected when someone views His mediation as the permanent effect of giving up His life to death.[1]

Robert Candlish (1806-1873) notes a vast difference between these two ways of dealing with the matter of no sin and not sinning. That is the business of your sanctification and holiness to be your standard. The Anointed One presents a sinless model or ideal to you, and you must acknowledge your obligation to be conformed to it.[2] But is not the acknowledgment often accompanied by some sort of reserve or qualification? The expected measure of conformity you attain will depend on how much you are willing to yield to its work. You may even venture to add, by what God may be pleased to give you the strength to reach.

Such a pledge is scarcely honest, says Candlish. It is not equivalent to an absolute determination not to sin. You intend to be without sin, but only so far as your poor spiritual ability, aided by the Divine Spirit, may enable you to be so. Or, concerning some specific work or test that you have in mind, you do not expect to keep all sin out, that is, as much as you can make it happen. And what is at the bottom of this? Is it some secret, perhaps unconscious, lack of respect for the law? For sure, you are not in love with sin; you do not purposely choose to do evil; you would rather, if it were possible, avoid it and be wholly free from it.

But, says Candlish, you feel that is impossible. You’ve made up your mind; therefore, it’s impossible. You wish and hope and pray that you can reduce the evil element to a minimum. Still, it hangs around, and you must admit that it is unavoidable. However, you may try; you cannot expect to be without sinful tendencies or “not to sin.”[3] The fact that Candlish wrote this over two hundred years ago shows how not much has changed in the believer’s battle with sin. It seems like it has only gotten more intense.

Johann Huther (1807-1880) repeats what Candlish said, that it is precisely through one’s union with Jesus the Anointed One that He becomes their Paraclete. In other words, being our Advocate is not some separate office that operates outside His being in us and our being in union with Him. In remarks made on this commentary, they ask: Can we find out how the Anointed One executes His Advocate position with the Father? Yes, we discover them in the chief elements found in the Apostle’s statement. These are as follows: —1. The Paraclete is Jesus, the glorified Redeemer who is with the Father; therefore, neither His divine nature alone, nor His human nature alone, but the Lord in His divine/human personality. 2. The assumption is the reconciliation of humanity with God by His blood. 3. His advocacy has reference to believers, who still sin amid their walking in the Light; and 4. It is an actual activity in which He intercedes for His people (that the Anointed One may manifest in their forgiveness and sanctification His faithfulness and justice) with God, as His (and their) Father.[4]

Charles Ellicott (1819-1905) tells us that the word here translated Advocate was translated Comforter by John.[5] It has two meanings; one, as in Job,[6] he who comforts, or exhorts; the other, as here, the one appealed to – a proxy or attorney.[7] The Redeemer, the Word made flesh, with His human nature, is that part of the Deity, which assures us of the ever-active vitality of divine love. If the justice of God is connected most with the Father, then the Son pledges His mercy. He has exalted our nature, undertaken our interests, presents our prayers, and will one day be surrounded by the countless millions of His human brothers and sisters whom He has rescued, wearing the exact nature as Himself.

Here in this verse, the Paraclete stands as our continued advocate, says Ellicott. Otherwise, His work might appear a mere separate earthly manifestation. He also qualifies as “righteous” because He is the only example of innocent human nature. Therefore, He alone can intercede for our right standing before God.[8] Ellicott notes that the Armenian translation adds “and blameless.” Also, Augustine remarks that John did not set forth any apostle or saint as intercessor (here, if anywhere, had he done so), but only the Anointed One.[9] That sounds like good fundamental teaching.

James Nisbet (1823-1874) tells us that Bishop Handley Moule of Durham (1841-1920) has an interesting perspective on the Anointed One’s atoning sacrifice. For him, humanity is not its primary aim, but God. It directs God’s response with Divine precision by a short, inspiring course of love and blessing flowing into a person’s heart, showing them in word only, but by indescribable action, what God will do. In fact, says Nisbet, I dare say what God would endure for a sinner’s salvation. But the direct aspect of the sacrifice is towards God. It sets God’s Love free in line with His law, “that He may be just and the Justifier,”[10] the Accepter, of the sinner drawn into union with Him.

Not for one moment, says Nisbet, does the Bible allow us to mistake this aspect of the Atonement as to dream of a fierce and hostile Deity wishing to condemn but bought off by the woes of a sinless Victim. The Father Himself finds the ransom, who gives His Beloved, who lies on Him the immorality of us all. From the deepest recesses of Fatherly love comes forth the Lamb. But then the Lamb bleeds on an altar that looks toward the dread shrine of that awesome Holiness, which means the eternal moral order personal in God. Jesus the Anointed One crucified is the Gift of God as love, that we may stand without criticism, welcomed, adopted, beloved, before God like fire.[11]

William Alexander (1824-1911) believes we should know that the Apostle John’s life was not free from any form of the power of sin. He proves that sanctity is not sinlessness and trying to explain wickedness away is both unwise and unsafe. In doing so, says John, we make God out to be a liar. The main point in John’s message is that we do not allow any such foolish missteps to cause us to stumble back into darkness and lose sight of Jesus, who is our Light. However, the blood of the Lamb flows like a fountain to purify us from all unrighteous acts that may blot out our names from the Book of Life.

The Apostle John wrote this Epistle, says Alexander, for those with faith and trust in the Anointed One as their Savior so that they can experience the abundant life that comes by walking in the footprints of our Lord. Yes, we may swerve for a moment, but there is no reason for despair. Confess, said John, and He will faithfully forgive us our sins and cleanse us from the stains our sins have caused.[12]

Alexander then shares another thought: John’s message urges us to maintain a saturating sense of holiness in each recurring circumstance of life. “That you may not sin” is the bold universal language of the principles of God. People only understand moral teaching when it arrives in a series of essays on the virtues, sobriety, morality, and the rest. Christianity does not overlook these, but it comes first with all-inclusive values. Human ethics are like the sculptor working line by line and part by part, partially and successively. Like nature, which works in every aspect of the flower and tree, God’s integrity permeates the believer’s heart, soul, and mind with a feeling of omnipresence. “We write these things to you.”[13] No dead letter – a living Spirit drenches the lines; there is a timeless principle behind the words that energize and soak every individual relationship and development of conduct. “I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.”[14]

[1] Heinrich A. W. Meyer: Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. 11, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1880, p. 496

[2] Romans 12:1

[3] Candlish, R. S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a series of Lectures, op. cit., pp. 58–59

[4] Johann Huther: Handbook on Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 303-305

[5] John 14:16, 25; 15:26; 16:7

[6] Job 16:2

[7] Cf. Romans 8:26; Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25

[8] Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 3:18; John 16:8-10

[9] Charles Ellicott: First Epistle of John, p. 476

[10] Romans 3:26

[11] James Nisbet: Arnold, Thomas; Maurice, F.D.; Burgon, John. Church Pulpit Commentary (12 vols. Now in One) (Kindle Location 92722)

[12] Alexander, William, The Expositor’s Bible (Funk & Wagnalls, 1900), First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 62

[13] 1 John 1:4

[14] Ibid. Expositor’s Bible, (Hodder and Stoughton, 1889), op. cit., Discourse I, p. 102


About drbob76

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