WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson VII) 04/01/21

Samuel Ashton Keen (1842-1895) illustrates that the method of grace for spiritual repair and preservation in the state of salvation is the same as justification. Keen recalls a beloved fellow minister, widely known as a writer, who became exasperated with a disobedient daughter. In the heat of the moment, he used some hasty, cruel language to chastise her. Keen happened to drop by to see him that same evening, and the brother confessed to his bad behavior. He was discouraged that he lost the joy of his salvation and positive influence over his child and home. Keen told him we all make mistakes, but if he confesses his guilt and shame to God and his daughter, the blood of Jesus, the Anointed One, would not only wash away those stains but heal the wounds as well. Keen went on to a scheduled prayer meeting, not sure if the brother would attend. But to his surprise, the treasured minister showed up.

Keen tells us that when the service finished, the precious brother reported that his joy was back. In fact, he had more blessed assurance than ever. Here is God’s covenant promise, says Keen, with those saved by His grace. When a believer unintentionally sins, our High Priest takes up their case at once. He calms the spiritual storm and keeps them from the unholy waves until the Holy Spirit can deal with the failure and cause. In doing so, the Spirit points to the atonement provision for the spiritual healing to heal it. If the soul heeds this message, confesses, and maintains its faith, it can go on its way, rejoicing, established, strengthened, advanced in the fullness of love. The soul overtaken by failure does not understand this excellent provision or, knowing it, does not avail itself of the same; the fullness of salvation becomes forfeited, and they fall from grace.[1]

In speaking about the Holy Spirit’s personality, R. A. Torrey (1856-1928) talks about how the Spirit searches, communicates, and prays. For example, we read that the Holy Spirit searches the profound things of God.[2] Here He is represented not merely as an illumination that enables us to understand the mysteries of God. Still, a person who goes searching will find that the Holy Spirit will reveal what He wants us to know. In many passages, we see the Holy Spirit represented as speaking, crying out, helps our infirmity by making intercession for us with unutterable groaning.[3]

Torrey goes on to say that the Greek noun Parakleetos helps us understand what John is saying here in verse one. It becomes even more apparent when we bear in mind that the word translated “Comforter” means counselor plus a great deal more. But in examining this word and who it refers to, we must keep in mind that He is on our side. Translators find a great deal of difficulty in translating Parakleetos. They have suggested “comforter,” “helper,” or merely transferring the Greek word into English literature. Others render the same term as “advocate,” but it does not give the full force and significance of this term etymologically. Advocate means about the same as the Greek Parakleetos but in a restricted sense.[4]

Robert Law (1860-1919) sees what the Apostle John is saying here to continue the theme “Walking in the Light.” In this case, with Love. However, John continues, “If we confess that we have sinned, we have a Paraclete with the Father, Jesus the Righteous Anointed One.” But before he writes this, his pen pauses by the sudden fear that some might misinterpret these broad evangelical statements into an excuse for moral laxity. He, therefore, interjects the caution, “My little children, these things I write you, that you do not sin,” then carries forward the train of thought in slightly different forms, “And if any man sin …” etc.[5]

Law has another way of illustrating what he calls the Darkness-Series and the Light-Series.

DARKNESS-SERIESLIGHT-SERIES
1:6 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and live in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”1:7 “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1:10 “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”2:1 “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the righteous Anointed One.”[6]

Thus, says Alan E. Brooke (1863-1939), the evidence of use by early church writers supports the form of the word Paraclete, which is naturally passive. Its meaning must be “one called to the side of” those needing promised service. The help it describes is general assistance of some sort or other in connection with the courts of law, but it has a broader signification – to help anyone who is a friend. The context surrounding Paraclete suggests any type of help, such as advocacy, intercession, or mediation. In itself, it denotes “one summoned to help.” This Epistle indicates one who pleads the Christian’s cause in front of God, and the term “advocate” is the most acceptable translation.

This sense suits some of the passages seen in the Gospels. In others, it suggests one who called on to give help when needed on a broader scale. There is no authority for using “Comforter” to define the Paraclete, either in the sense of “strengthener” or “consoler.” This term found its way into English translations (KJV) harmonizing with translators John Wycliffe and Martin Luther. The NIV has, “Advocate.”[7]

It is impressive that Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, born in 25 BC and lived until 50 AD, was a contemporary of Jesus. The Apostles spoke of the one God chose and anointed to be the High Priest. He said, “The high priest, then, so equipped, is properly prepared for the performance of all sacred ceremonies, that, whenever he enters the temple to offer up the prayers and sacrifices in use among his nation, all the world may likewise enter in with him, by imitations of it which he wears, the garment reaching to his feet, being the imitation of the air, the pomegranate of the water, the flowery hem of the earth, and the scarlet dye of his robe being the emblem of fire; also, the mantle over his shoulders is a representation of heaven itself; the two hemispheres are further indicated by the round emeralds on the shoulder-blades, on each of which were engraved six characters equivalent to six signs of the zodiac; the twelve stones arranged on the breastplate in four rows of three stones each, namely the logeum,[8] is also an emblem of that which holds together and regulates the universe. For it was indispensable that this holy man consecrated to the Father of the universe should represent a paraclete, His Son, the most perfect in all virtues, to procure forgiveness of sins of God’s people and a supply of unlimited blessings.”[9]

Now, Philo was not a Christian. He was a Jew who adopted the Greek philosophical way of thinking. But being over in Alexandria, Egypt, far from Israel, there were many Jews who traveled between the two places. We cannot dismiss the possibility that he never heard of the Yeshua of Nazareth. But while he was describing the ministry of the High Priest in the Temple, he, perhaps unknowingly, was describing the ministry of our High Priest the Anointed One. Since the word paraclete was part of the Greek language, C. H. Dodd suggests that perhaps that is why John selected this word to describe the Anointed One as our High Priest Intercessor.[10]

Albert Barnes (1872-1951) explains how Paraclete is used here in reference to the Lord Jesus, it is employed in the more limited sense of the word “advocate,” as the term is frequently used in the Greek writers to denote an advocate in court; that is, one whom we call to our aid; or to stand by us, to defend our suit. When applied to the Lord Jesus, the language is figurative since there can be no literal or actual pleading for us in heaven.[11] Still, it is expressive of the great truth that He has undertaken our cause with God and that He performs for us all that we expect of an advocate and counselor. However, it is not to be supposed that He manages our cause in the same way or on the same principles on which an advocate in a human tribunal does. An advocate in court is employed to defend his client and see that the accused suffers no injustice.[12]

Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951) shares that he frequently met people who say they never sin. I ask them, “Just what do you mean by that? Do you mean that you never break any of the ten commandments?” “Yes,” they say. “Do you mean that you never commit any actual overt acts of iniquity?” “Yes.” “Do you also mean that you do everything for God, that you take advantage of every opportunity of doing good of every occasion to praise the Anointed One and every chance to glorify your Lord and Savior?” If there is the tiniest bit of honesty, says Ironside, they bow their head and say, “No, I am afraid that I do not.” Then you sin. Sin is not merely the violation of particular moral principles; it is also a failure to do the good that you know you should do.[13]

[1] Samuel Ashton Keen: Salvation Papers, pp. 40-41

[2] 1 Corinthians 2:10

[3] Revelation 2:7; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:26

[4] Ibid. Torrey, Volume 3, pp. 78-79

[5] Law, Robert, The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., pp. 8–9

[6] Ibid. p. 65

[7] Brooke, Alan E International Critical Commentary, op. cit., p. 26

[8] Logeum is the Greek word for a “platform” or “stage.”

[9] Philo of Alexandria, The Life of Moses II, Section I:133-134

[10] Dodd, C. H. The Johannine Epistles, op. cit., p. 24

[11] Barnes says there is no need looking for heaven’s courtroom, it can only exist in our imagination. How the Father and Son communicate is between them.

[12] Barnes, Albert: New Testament Notes, op. cit., pp. 4806-4807

[13] Ironside, H. A. Addresses on the Epistles of John (Ironside Commentary Series Book 43) p. 12


About drbob76

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