WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XV) 04/13/21

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) discussed earlier about those who show no interest in theology or doctrine in understanding how to live as a good Christian in this world. He notes that the Apostle John showed no fear of this attitude and begins his first chapter by saying that God is Light and those who wish to walk in the Light must be in union with Him and His Son. Now, John is not hesitant to proclaim, “Yet, if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus, the Anointed One, the one truly righteous One. He is the sacrifice given to pay the ransom price for our sins – and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” Not only does John introduce the Advocate, but he also alerts the believers that no matter how holy they think they are, they can still sin.[1]

Paul W. Hoon (1910-2000) says, in his exposition, that the atonement of Jesus is universally sufficient because the sins it exposes and cleanses are ancient and universal. In other words, humans in every generation and every location sin are the same sins that brought Jesus to His death on the cross. Prejudice today is the same prejudice of the first century. We spot it easily in Jewish Pharisees, German Protestants, Italian Roman Catholics, and American Pentecostals. But Jesus died for all of these sins that He might then appeal to the Father as our Advocate in securing our forgiveness so that His blood can wash away every stain.[2]

Donald W. Burdick (1917-1996) calls what John says here in verses one and two the foundation stones upon which the practice of confession rests – the Anointed One’s intercessory work and His intervention work. It allows Him to be both Savior and Advocate. But John’s insistence that they try to keep from committing even one sin is a recognition that our sanctification is not yet complete. In other words, what John says in these first six verses concerns our ongoing sanctification. Walking in the Light does not guarantee sinless perfection. If the shadow of sin darkens our Light, we immediately confess and have our Savior plead with the Father for our forgiveness, based on the effectiveness of His blood to wash us clean. However, this is not something that should become a habit.[3]

John Stott (1921-2011) notes that John now unfolds God’s provision for the sinning Christian. It is to be found in Him who is described first as one who speaks to the Father in our defense (in most English versions “Advocate with the Father”), secondly as Jesus, the righteous Anointed One, and thirdly (in verse two) as “the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” So, not only does He abide in us, but He serves as our Mediator, Intercessor, and Helper. That’s because He has both human nature and divine nature. He consistently looks for what is proper for us. And as our atoning sacrifice, it qualifies Him for the position. As our Advocate, He does not plead that we are innocent or offer extenuating circumstances. He acknowledges our guilt and presents His mediated work as the ground for our acquittal. The Anointed One’s intercession is the continual application of His death to our salvation.[4]

D. Edmond Hiebert (1921-1995) writes about the awful possibility of a believer sinning. As dreadful as it may seem, the Apostle John wanted his readers to be made aware of this sad fact. The conjunction “and” implies that John also tried to make them aware of this unpleasant fact. He was fully aware of human frailty and the seductive power of sin and Satan. Because the conjunction “and” joins two antithetical clauses, (the NIV rendering “but” seems better here). He does so in the sense that the act of disobedience went contrary to the believer’s conscience. Such a sudden fall into sin does not destroy their membership in the family of God, but it will disrupt fellowship between the Father and His child. God’s holiness demands it must be dealt with and not swept under the rug.

Hiebert then goes on to say that John fully believed that the only way a person can get to know God is by keeping His commandments. The term “knowing” is synonymous with having fellowship with Him. This fellowship brings with it the assurance that a person has entered into an intimate state of being better acquainted with Him. That’s because we gain this awareness through experience and instruction.[5]

Raymond E. Brown (1918-1998) reminds us that in Jewish writings, we find that Rabbis were discussing where Torah says, “Sin crouches at the door.”[6] So, someone asked, “But what about Satan?” Rabbi Judah answered: Satan has no permission to act as an accuser of Israel’s children on the Day of Atonement. Here we find the Apostle John tells us that Jesus stands before the Father both as Intercessor and defending advocate. He is not there to plead for sinners but God’s children. That’s because Satan has no place in heaven to accuse God’s sons and daughters. The triumphant Messiah, says Brown, established His Advocate position before a heavenly court and our High Priest in a celestial temple.[7]

Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) shares a story that can help us and others deal with the thought that they may still sin after they are born again. A pastor counseled a lady who tried to live up to the Christian standards proposed by the Church and failed to turn her life over entirely to the Lord. “I would like to become a Christian,” she said to the pastor, “but I’m afraid I can’t hold out. I’m sure to sin again!” Turning to the Apostle John’s first epistle, the pastor said, “No doubt you will sin again because God says, ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’” But if you do sin, God will forgive you if you will confess your sin to Him.[8]

Therefore, says the Pastor, Christians don’t need to sin. As we walk in fellowship with God and obey His Word, He gives us the ability to resist and have victory over temptation. Then the pastor remembered that the woman had gone through surgery some months before. “When you had your surgery,” he asked, “Was there a possibility of complications or problems afterward?” “Oh, yes,” she replied. “But whenever I had a problem, I went to see the doctor, and he took care of it.” Then the truth hit her! “I see it!” she exclaimed. “Christ is always available to keep me out of sin or to forgive my sin.” Real life is a life of victory, says Wiersbe. In this letter, John tells us how to draw on our divine resources to experience victory over temptation and sin.[9]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) looks at the Greek noun hilasmos (“propitiation”) from a neutral position. It means to appease, to make atonement. Therefore, His actions are directed toward God, not toward us.[10] The appeasement or atonement was to satisfy God’s demand that all who sin must die for their sins. The Anointed One’s sacrifice alleviated this curse on the cross for our sake and God’s sake. By doing it that way, Jesus allowed reconciliation between His Father, reuniting the Father with His family through Him.

Theologian John Painter (1935) says we must understand God’s love for the world, both in John’s Gospel and Epistle, in the context of His mission to save the world.[11] It may pose problems for those who think that such a frame of mind betrays an attitude of superiority.  When they offer such criticism, the Johannine Gospel author and Epistles is more than willing to accept it. Such an approach, they declare, is well-intentioned. Actually, it grows out of concern for the well-being of a lost and dying world.

Professor Painter goes on to say that the forbidden love for the world is the kind of love that wishes to possess the world for what it is. But in this way, the world owns the person and takes control. This kind of possessive love is made clear by reference to “the things in the world.”[12] But here in verse two, it has an entirely different sense. The word “world” means choosing worldly possessions so that they become life-determining. That’s the world for which the Anointed One offered His atoning sacrifice. Jesus had a clear warning about trying to serve two masters.[13] [14] James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) gives us some needed insight into John calling Jesus “righteous.” That does not mean the judicial righteousness applied to believers – becoming right with God according to the Anointed One’s work on the cross.[15] Instead, it is what our Lord does right as our Advocate with the Father.[16] He does not bargain with us, saying, “If you do this for Me, I’ll do that for you.” Nor does he put us on parole so that if we ever sin, the punishment we initially deserved will come back to haunt us. He hears our earnest plea and simply shows the Father the nail prints in His hands and the scar on His side and says, “Father, forgive them for My’ sake.”


[1] Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Life in Christ, op. cit., pp. 173-173

[2] Hoon, Paul W., The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII, op. cit., p. 228

[3] Burdick, Donald W. The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 27

[4] Stott, John. The Letters of John (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), op. cit., pp. 85-86

[5] Hiebert, David E: 1 John, Bibliotheca Sacra, op. cit., pp. 338-340

[6] Genesis 4:7

[7] Brown, Raymond E., The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 217

[8] See verse eight

[9] Wiersbe, Warren W., Be Real (1 John), op. cit., p. 28.

[10] Smalley, Stephen, S., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., p. 39

[11] See John 3:16; 4:42; 17:20-26; 20:21; 1 John 2:2; 4:14

[12] 1 John 2:15; See John 3:16; 1 John 4:11

[13] Matthew 6:24

[14] Painter, John. Sacra Pagina: Vol. 18, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 4601-4605, 4884-4887)

[15] Cf. Romans 10:4

[16] Boice, James Montgomery, Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 38-39

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s