WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XIII) 04/09/21

Albert Barnes explains that the proper meaning of the Greek verb hilaskomai also occurs in the Gospel of Luke, “God be merciful to me a sinner,”[1] and in Hebrews, “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”[2] The idea expressed by these words is reconciling, appeasing, turning away anger, rendering promising or favorable. The idea is that if there is anger or rage or that something offended someone, it is needful to avoid their irritation by appeasing them. It may be done by way of a sacrifice, by songs, by services rendered. The word is often so used this way in Greek poet Homer’s works, [3] says German Franz Passow (1786-1833), an expert in the Greek language.

We have similar terms in everyday use, as when we advise someone who has been the offender and needs to do something to keep them from retaliating. We most often do this by urging them to make restitution or by acknowledging their wrongdoing. Furthermore, lower the tension by yielding on points they insist on in any controversy or expressing regret if we offended them and promise never to do it again in the future. We cannot apply this idea to God in a literal sense, says Barnes, nor should it be discarded as a possibility.[4]

Matthew Henry has unique comments about the Roman Church professors who try in vain to distinguish between an Advocate of redemption and a Mediator of intercession. The Mediator of intercession is our Advocate of redemption, who paid the ransom for our sins. It is because of His work on the cross that He pleads for us. Some might conclude that His blood loses its value and effectiveness if no mention was made of it in heaven since its shedding on the cross. But now we see it is of high esteem by the great advocate’s intercession (the attorney-general) for God’s Church. He lives on to make intercession for those that come to God through Him.

Neither is it confined to one nation, says Henry, and in particular to ancient Israel. He is our divine Reconciler with God because of our sins. Not only for past or present believers but all future sinners who come to God through Him. The extent and intent of the Mediator’s death apply to all tribes, nations, and countries. Not only is He the sole provider, but He is the universal atonement and reconciler for all that are saved and brought home to God’s favor and forgiveness.[5]

Augustus Neander says that when John speaks of the reconciler for our sins, he feels the necessity to guard against limiting His work of redemption to any single period, or nation, or race, or ethnicity, or language. He remembers the words of the Anointed One concerning His followers being of one-fold with one Shepherd.[6] It was John’s vision to embrace all humanity, both those who believe and those who are yet to believe in Jesus as the Anointed One, their Savior. Those of the kingdom of this world He invites to become part of the kingdom of God. If there is to be one Shepherd, they can only be one flock.[7]

Robert Candlish points out that God is not only our Judge, and His Son the Anointed One, our advocate to the Judge. His advocacy has respect not only to the Judge’s court but to the Father’s house. Our elder brother’s advocacy is what brought us home to His Father and our Father. It is a home of love and light, a house of love because it is a home of light. It is not a home in which we can allow ourselves to sin. There is no darkness to hide our sin, no room to conceal any lie. Our elder Brother has suffered enough for our sins to make them unacceptable and hated.

Therefore, says Candlish, we must sever any connections we still have with old haunts or habits. That way, we can be placed at once in the best and likeliest position for them not to entice us. The Son agrees with the Father that we are immediately embraced as His children, given a robe and ring of honor, and welcomed to the children’s table. There is no bullying, no intimidation, no word or look about what we were in the past. Our elder Brother has taken care of all that for us. There are to be no more nightmares about past doubts, suspicions, or fears. All is well with our souls, as we live in the Light and Love of the One who died for us. That’s why we pledge there will be no more sin.[8]

Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) points out that Jesus the Anointed One satisfied the Law’s demands by acquiring forgiveness for our sins. There is no need to repeat His death; the effectiveness of His once-and-for-all sacrifice never ceases.[9] Wordsworth noted that even the learned Dutch Roman Catholic expositor, Willem Hessels van Est (1542-1613) – known as “Estius,”[10] does not hesitate to agree that the Anointed One’s one-time death on the cross continues to meet the Law’s demands. His sacrifice is sufficient to remove the sins of those who come to Him for pardon.

John Stock (1817-1884) lets us know that just as water quenches fire, so the very thought of doing wrong, which is sin,[11] if consented to, and allowed to happen, instead of being shaken off, as the Apostle Paul did the viper at Melita,[12] quenches the spirit. That’s why the Scriptures tell us to keep our hearts pure with all carefulness, for that’s the source of abundant life.[13] That we are to live a fruitful and meaningful experience to the glory of God that we may be reborn in the divine image of the Creator who made us, at the beginning,[14] which serves as a revelation of God.[15] God did His part; now it’s up to us to do our part for sin to be quenched, not the spirit.[16]

Augustus Strong makes an interesting comparison between the Anointed One being our Mediator and the Holy Spirit as our Advocate. The Holy Spirit’s role is that of plea-bargainer with God on behalf of our needs for wisdom, strength, comfort, etc. It places God in a Caretaker’s role; the Anointed One’s position in being our Attorney with God is on behalf of forgiveness, cleansing, sanctification, etc.  It puts God in the role of being a Judge.[17]

In another place, Strong points to the constant Scriptural representations of the infinite value of the Anointed One’s atonement and the union of people with God. It is possible only when we regard the Anointed One as simultaneously human and divine but existing with these two natures united in one. Whatever Jesus performed, He did as coming from both characters. It verifies that the general Christian awareness recognizes in the Anointed One a single and undivided personality and expresses this recognition in its services of song and prayer.[18]

Robert Cameron (1839-1904) has an interesting way of explaining what the Apostle John says about having no sin and yet sinning. He notes that the obedience of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One was both inward and outward. There was no sin in Him; there was not even a tendency to sin. He was inwardly pure holiness. He also resisted all temptations from without, coming to Him through the devil. His whole life was one continued act of obedience to the will of His Father.

However, we say Cameron is inwardly sinful, and our inner nature is opposed to God. This condition of our innermost being is sin-prone, and to neutralize this sinful tendency, we have the blood of the Anointed One. Outwardly also we may allow our bodies to commit sins even after we are born again. To be free from a righteous judgment, we must make our confession to God, who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. The blood cleanses from all sins of the past. Once those sins are gone, any other sins require an honest confession to receive forgiveness, reconciliation and to remain in union with the Holy One.

Cameron continues by looking at John’s words, “If we deny that we have sin in us, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.” Not only that, but we make God out to be untruthful, which further exposes the fact that His word is not in us. In any case, we prove ourselves to be liars because neither His truth nor Word is in us. The truth within would reveal the sin within; the Word coming from without would convict us of those sins. John recorded these things to keep us from sinning in the first place.[19]


[1] Luke 18:3

[2] Hebrews 2:17

[3] Homer, Iliad, Translated by Alexander Pope, 1899, Bk. I, p. 4; “reconciled by address of Vulcan.” Also see p. 28, fn. #67; p. 186, fn. #166 Bk. XIX, p. 349; Concluding Note p. 453

Also, in the Odyssey, translated by Alexander Pope, Bk. V, p. 284, “for mercy pleaded.”; Bk. XIII, pp. 356, 381, Bk. XVIII, pp. 466, 471-472; Bk. XXII, pp. 558, 569, 571

[4] Barnes, Albert: New Testament Notes, op. cit., p. 4808

[5] Henry, Matthew: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 837

[6] John 10:16

[7] Neander, Augustus: The First Epistle of John, Practically Explained, op. cit., p. 59

[8] Candlish, R. S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., pp. 68–69

[9] See Hebrews 10:12

[10] Estius (1542-1613) was a famous Dutch commentator on the Pauline epistles. In 1580 he received his Th. D.

[11] Proverbs 24:9

[12] Acts of the Apostles 28:5

[13] Ibid 4:23

[14] Genesis 1:26

[15] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle general of St. John, op. cit., p. 65

[16] 1 Thessalonians 5:19

[17] Strong, Augustus H. Systematic Theology, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 586

[18] Ibid. Vol. 2. Pp. 558-559

[19] Cameron, R., The First Epi8stle of John, or, God Revealed in Life, Light, and Love, op. cit., pp. 38–39

About drbob76

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