WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXI) 04/21/21

2:5 But when we obey God’s teaching, His love is truly working in us. This is how we know that we are living in Him.

In fact, the wise young writer of Psalm 119 states that great blessings belong to those who follow God’s rules because they seek Him with all their heart, don’t do wrong, and follow His guidelines. Lord, you gave us your instructions and told us always to obey them.[1] Being in union with God is the only way to accomplish things that please Him and bring joy to others. And King Solomon agrees with Wisdom, who said that “So now, O my children, listen to me, for happy are they who follow my instructions.[2] On the other hand, says Solomon, an intelligent child, conducts themselves with modesty, but a child who spends time with worthless people brings shame to their parents.[3] Solomon then goes on to say that people who do what God has instructed them to do and know the right time and place to do it will end up doing what is correct at the right moment.[4]

And for those who are worried about doing something wrong or harmful, God had a remedy that He gave to the prophet Ezekiel that says, “I will put my Spirit inside you and change you so that you will obey my laws. You will carefully obey my commands.”[5] But even more so, this same principle was announced by Jesus the Anointed One Himself.[6] And it was confirmed to John in his revelation where the angel said that God’s holy people must be patient while keeping His teachings, so they remain faithful to Jesus to the very end.[7]

So, continuing to stay in union with God and His Son was also a point that the Apostle James said that even Abraham was able to see both his faith and actions succeed by working together. It then is what made Abraham’s faith complete. No wonder the Apostle Paul declared to the Romans that those in union with the Anointed One would not be judged guilty. And in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul expounded more on this by telling them it is God who has made you part of the Anointed One, Jesus. And the Anointed One has become for us wisdom from God. He is the reason we are right with God and pure enough to be in His presence.[8] So, we should never forget that the Anointed One is not only God-like but was God in human flesh. So, when you are in union with the Anointed One, you are complete.[9]

COMMENTARY

Didymus the Blind (313-398 AD) raises a very interesting point. He notes that the person who loves God keeps His commandments and, by so doing, realizes that they know the love of God. Obedience results in His love.[10] You don’t have to be a Christian to be familiar with this principle. As children, we all learned that when we did what our parents told us to do, they showed their love for our obedience. When we did it independently without them having to explain or ask us, it made them even happier. Not only did they smile and compliment us, but they also hugged us. Didymus is telling us the same is true with God. He loves us when we follow His commands, but when we do it without Him having to say anything to us, that brings a smile and a hug.

James Macknight (1721-1800) says that to “be in union with the Anointed One” is to be a member of that fellowship of which the Anointed One is the head, and to enjoy all the blessings peculiar to that fellowship; and in particular, to be the object of the Anointed One’s love.[11] In other words, we are not in union with the Anointed One, just on our own. Now maybe, you are isolated from other brothers and sisters in the Lord, but you are still a member of His body. You have something to give to God, and He can use you as part of His body where you are.

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) says that the Apostle John speaks of the internal and external evidence that proves our being born of God. It’s a matter of remembering His Word: walk in harmony with the Gospel. All this proceeds from inward and spiritual principles. As such, they carry evidence with them proving such and such belongs to the Lord. External behavior that differs from internal beliefs shows if our walk is within or without the Anointed One.[12]

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) feels that John emphasizes keeping the Savior’s commandments as the valid token to establish that a person who says they belong to Him is telling the truth. By obeying His Word, a person shows they are admitting their need for lasting loyalty. Only by being connected to Him can anyone find God’s will for their lives to be what He wants them to be. It takes total surrender to His will. Let’s put it this way; the only way to prove that an electric lamp is connected to the power source is to turn it on. If the bulb is new, the lamp is fully functional; if the bulb does not come on, then, it’s obvious that the cord is not plugged in. It’s the same way with those who claim to be in union with Jesus the Anointed One. They are called to be a light in this world, but they are not connected with the Lord’s spiritual power if that light does not go on.[13]

Robert Candlish (1806-1873) tells us that there were those in John’s day who pretended to know God very profoundly and intimately, in a very subtle and inspirational way. They put tremendous stress on being well-informed about God personally, so much so that they earned the label of the “know-it-alls” or Gnostics. They claim to know all about the essence of God or His mysterious manner of being. Furthermore, they know all His attributes and inward properties and outward presence. They claimed familiarity with all His thoughts choices from His beginning to the point of offering insight into everything God did and said, even giving it a name.”[14] Candlish went on to list what they professed to know about heaven and hell, the galaxies, the stars, the universe, and His role.

English Baptist minister John Stock (1817-1884) tells us that obedience is the proof of saving faith. A fruitless faith is Satanic. The devils believe and tremble. But the saints of God, who are His formation – believe and love. We are His work. He has made us to belong to the Anointed One, Jesus, so that we can work for Him. He planned that we should do this.[15] In love, they follow the Anointed One and keep His word, or commandments, as our Lord expressly says: “If a person loves Me, they will keep My instructions.”[16] Obedience is a choice, as foretold by the prophet, who said: “Your people will join you on your day of battle.” This keeping of God’s word or commandment, observing it practically, and seeking to keep it as written, is not a faultless performance. There is not a mistake-free person on earth who only does good and does not break the law.[17] That blessedness will be found only in heaven when to sin will be an impossibility; for then, resemblance to God will become a reality. So, the blessedness issuing from it. To be holy is to be happy. The Anointed One’s yoke is easy,[18] and His burden is light, and wisdom’s ways, which are His, are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace.[19] [20]

Daniel Steele (1824-1914) admits that we may not be sure of the meaning of this equivocal phrase, “the love of God is perfected,” whether it is His love for us or our love toward Him. But when we attribute perfection to the love of God, it seems to imply that it relates to our love toward God since our desire is capable of imperfection. At the same time, His is always perfect, and it seems to be a truism to assert its perfection and a paradox to say that it is “perfected.” Our love is indeed kindled by His passion as a spark dropped from the skies. God is said to give His love to us when by His Spirit, He announces our adoption. Then love’s response to that of our great Benefactor springs up in our hearts as the first beat of spiritual life. In a sense, it is God’s love throbbing in our bosoms because He originates it. But in an important sense, it is human because it is the activity of our spiritual susceptibilities unfolding according to the laws of mind, as gratitude toward a benefactor.[21]

Ernst Drylander (1843-1922) tells us that the Apostle John, first, bids us take note of how serious is this demand of obedience to the Father. To him, it is the one and infallible sign of our fellowship with God. Nothing can take the place of this one indispensable condition; no confession, however faithful; no “Lord, Lord,” however earnest; no church-going, however regular; no calling, however high. Nothing can take the place of obedience to the Father. Not to sin is, in other words, to obey the commandments of God. Look at it this way, if you drive under the speed limit, turn your blinker on at every turn, stop at every red light or red stop sign, stay on your side of the road, drive with your seatbelt on, do not text while driving, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need not fear of being ticketed.


[1] Ibid. 119:2-4; See Psalm 146

[2] Proverbs 8:32

[3] Ibid. 28:7

[4] Ecclesiastes 8:5

[5] Ezekiel 36:27

[6] John 14:21, 23

[7] Revelation 14:12

[8] 1 Corinthians 1:30; See 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21

[9] Colossians 2:9

[10] Didymus the Blind, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 179

[11] Macknight, James: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 42

[12] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 127

[13] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., August 1890, p. 260

[14] Candlish, R. S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., pp. 79-80

[15] Ephesians 2:10

[16] John 14:23

[17] Psalm 110:3

[18] Matthew 11:30

[19] Proverbs 3:17

[20] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., pp. 81–82

[21] Steele, Daniel: Half-Hours with John, op. cit., p. 34

About drbob76

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